Titus Boye-Thompson, Communications Expert
The Mano River Union, the intergovernmental economic integration institution consisting of four countries of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cote D’Ivoire has its Secretariat in Freetown Sierra Leone. The Union held a three day staff and Management orientation seminar from Thursday 20th July to Saturday 22nd July instant. The seminar was attended by all staff located at the Secretariat and a range of thematic areas were covered with presentation by team leads and Departmental Heads.
The new Liberian Secretary General, Her Excellency Amb. Medina Wesseh was on hand to provide executive oversight on the deliberations. The Seminar was conducted and led by Madam Jacqueline Konan, Deputy Secretary General in charge of Peace, Security, Institutional Revitalization and Social Development.
In her opening remarks, Madam Konan expressed the hope that this meeting will enable staff of the Secretariat to make best use of the resources available to the institution. She declared that the meeting having come along at a time when the new Management team is being convened, te priority that the Secretary General has put on its implementation was critical for the current state of engagement between the staff and the Management team despite the challenges faced by the incoming Secretary General at the beginning of her tenure. She furthered the hope that the results of this meeting will contribute to the work of the Secretariat and would help the new Secretary General, Her Excellency Ambassador Medina Wesseh to effectively carry out the heavy responsibilities of her position during the next four years of her tenure. Madam Konan informed the seminar that in the preparation of the event, she had worked with a dedicated team drawn from the staff and technical personnel at the Secretariat and thanked the team for their diligence and hard work.
The contextual analysis of the seminar is construed to have been drawn from the vision elaborated by the Heads of States and governments and has been further developed within a particular preserve. The post war situation that was prevailing within the sub-region and the consequences of the wars such as declining infrastructure and worsening energy necessitated the overhaul of the Union’s framework. It is clear that where there is poor infrastructure, development and investment are slow.
One of the consequences of retarding growth is that peace and security were constantly threatened within such fragile environments. Another consequence was a de-constitution of the Secretariat and a dampening of its core functions. The Heads of States gave a new vision thereafter to sustainably promote a peaceful environment favourable to socio economic integration. That was supposed to revolve within the pillar of revitalisation and restructuring. Revitalisation does not only cover the Secretariat alone but also the member states because without peace and security, no development is possible. Social development on the other hand concerns itself with the livelihood of the people.
The new mandate given to the Union and especially to the Secretariat was to implement projects to contribute to the improvement of the lives of the people in the Union. In this regard, the Secretariat must ensure that there is peace and security to promote investment and development and to foster closer integration within the member states. The Heads of States had already created a platform on which the Union will stand to deal with these issues, and these are called protocols. The 15th Protocol for example is the legal framework that coordinates the member states deliberations on peace and security. The Secretariat has therefrom proposed to the Heads of states a new strategic plan to outline all the problems surrounding the functions of the Union. This strategic plan should be built on four pillars, specifically, Institutional Revitalization and Restructuring; Peace and Security; Economic development; and Regional Integration and Social Development.
Thanking Madam Konah and her team for putting together this technical format of the event, the incoming Secretary General from Liberia stated that the idea of this seminar is in line with the mandate of the last meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Mano River Union held in Liberia in June 2017. She stated that as she was expected to assume the responsibilities of the Secretariat and ensure that the Secretariat has a plan of action for the revitalization and restructuring mandate given to it by the Heads of States and Governments of the Union. She recalled that the Creation of the Mano River Union is to ensure closer economic integration and social development amongst its member states.
While the Organization has struggled over this for the past forty Years, “the new team has to use the structures already established to bring new ideas, new attitudes and a new work spirit to ensure that integration in the union is possible. “ She expressed her anticipation for the deliberations and discourse over the next three days, “to get a new spirit to acquaint staff and Management with the protocols, policies, procedures and of the institution,” admonishing the seminar that it is from that engagement that they would be able to demonstrate the capacity of the institution to the Technical Committee and the Ministerial Council and subsequently to the Summit of Heads of States as to what is being done to ensure that the vision of integration of the four countries are realized.
Ambassador Wesseh extended her wishes for a well-constructed technical and administrative discourse to ensure that the responsibilities to reporting authorities are met and that the Secretariat would appropriately demonstrate that by working more effectively and efficiently, the impact of the Union can be seen in the lives of the people of the member states. Concluding, she thanked Madam Konan for the tireless efforts she and her team had put into organizing the seminar and indicated her trust in their ability to make the three day event a success and beneficial to the Institution.