In his keynote address, the Chairman of the National Commission for Democracy, Dr. Abubakar H. Kargbo, reiterated the need for people to be educated on democracy and good governance whilst positing that governance should be in the hands of those who know which is the more reason why the Commission has embarked on educating the critical masses of the people of Sierra Leone to know more about the people they should choose to run the affairs of the state.
He encouraged the validators that the messages should be couched in a way that will appeal and attract the minds of the people so that the required impact is realized.
He alluded to the aggression theory noting that man in the community has an interest and whenever that interest is threatened or suppressed it then becomes a recipe for chaos. He therefore noted that apportioning the national cake equitably can mitigate conflict according to the conflict theory.
The UNDP representative, Chika Charles, noted that the UNDP is happy that they are collaborating with an institution like NCD that can collaborate with other good governance institutions across the country to ensure peaceful 2018 elections. He said the Commission’s role is crucial and is virtually needed especially during this political period when the country is heading for elections.
He said it is the hope of the UNDP that the messages designed should reflect the purpose of the project and be inclusive of women and the disable and should also be shared across the country to enhance a peaceful 2018 electoral cycle. He said the Country is not ready to go back to where it came from 15 years ago and should therefore be ready to uphold peaceful elections come 2018.
The Focal Person for the Project who also doubles as the Commissioner for the Northern Region for the Commission, Bai John Conteh, recalled that two weeks ago NCD engaged the services of expert message designers to develop messages on peace and national unity. He said the workshop is designed for experts to carefully and critically look at the messages and validate them to become the final product for the project. He encouraged all the validators to be united in the purpose of producing the right kind of messages for the project so that come 2018 Sierra Leone will witness peaceful elections.
The National Coordinator, Office of National Security, Ishmael Tawaralie, commended the National Commission for Democracy for the initiative and thanked UNDP for providing the support for the validation of messages designed on the 5th and 6th October, 2017. He said the more politically tolerant and nationally cohesive our society becomes, the lesser the likelihood of electoral conflicts leading to violence and political pluralism.
He noted that conflict arising from the electoral processes can, to a very large extent, be prevented or mitigated if all should obligate themselves to ensuring that a level playing field is created and the electoral management bodies exhibited in their conduct greater impartiality, fairness and professionalism. He said in the context of Sierra Leone, it is the responsibility of the National Electoral Commission, the Security Sector and other democratic institutions such as the National Commission for Democracy including the civil society to take appropriate and timely actions in creating the enabling environment for the conduct of transparent, peaceful and credible elections in 2018.
Emphasizing the role of the National Commission for Democracy in the country’s current political situation, the ONS boss said the role of NCD is critical in the development and promotion of a matured political culture that would placate the seemingly entrenched belief that the highest political office comes with the phenomenal riches and unimaginable economic empowerment. He further intimated that the Commission’s role is crucial in enlightening the electorate to base their support for political parties and candidates on their potential to stimulate the progress and development of Sierra Leone, rather than on myopic regional and tribal sentiments.
Commissioner Macksood Gibril Sesay of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) congratulated the National Commission for Democracy (NCD) for its effort in ensuring that the forth coming elections meet both national and international standards and applauded the UNDP for supporting NCD to perform tasks geared towards ensuring peaceful, participatory, unifying and credible elections in 2018
He said in order for the Commission to achieve its goal of ensuring a peaceful 2018 electoral cycle, many routes need to be charted to ensure that the electorates are educated on specific electoral issues. He said these educative interactions require a careful study of the most effective ways of reaching out to the target population.
The Representative for the Political Party Registration Commission, Zainab Umu Morseray, said that the PPRC is of the fervent view that Political and Civic Education is integral to the peace, political stability and growth of any and every society. She said Civic Education is essential especially in a country like Sierra Leone where people are not too au fait with their social, political and economic rights and responsibilities as citizens.
She said Civic Education contributes to the shaping of citizen’s ideas, values, norms and belief system more so at this time when premium is laid on colors, tribe and region whilst noting that the Initiative of NCD to engage citizens through civic education messages is timely and of essence. She said the venture will contribute in sensitizing the citizenry about the processes of governance and to be able to make informed decisions free from violence, fear and intimidation.