In a bid to ensure that the August 11 presidential and parliamentary elections are conducted in a free, fair and non-violence manner, Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) has launched a citizens’ handbook on electoral process and has also trained journalists, traditional and religious leaders.
In his poetic opening remarks at the double barreled programme, which occasioned at the Sanntano House, Howe Street in Freetown, the chairperson for the launching ceremony Raymond De’souza George stressed the need to change our mental attitude for the emancipation of our beloved country from its present socio-economical and political melancholy.
Mr De’souza George strongly noted the need to give women equal opportunities to partake in state governance, pointing out that he was “looking forward to our own Helen Johnson Salif.”
He argued that over the years the continent had been dragged by its sex to the bottom rung of world civilization and as such “we’ve been regarded as primitive.”
As for the youth who are always blaming the government for their predicament, he vehemently stated that, “I do not sympathize with the youth, they are willingly gullible…” noting that they always gave in to be “used, misused and abandoned.”
Mr De’souza George also pointed out that, “we tend to vote against something rather than for something.”
The reason for this, he explained, was that opposition parties had been fuelling this concept but propagating what the ruling party failed to accomplish only to come to power and continue the same trend.
On behalf of Centre for the Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA), Ngolo Katta argued that young people were now positively involved in politics, noting that “the state of young people in this country is the conscience of this country.”
Mr Katta expressed his gratification to CGG for involving them to be part of the process in the publication of the handbook, which would benefit the society at large.
A representative of 50/50 Group, Mrs. Harriet Turay explained that the group had undertaken voters’ education exercise for women. She explained that experience from past elections had taught them that most of the nullified votes were women’s.
Showing her appreciation towards the CGG initiative, Mrs. Turay averred that, “therefore on behalf of the 50/50 group I congratulate the CGG for this booklet. It is going to be part of our training manual”.
In his statement, the President of Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Alhaji IB Kargbo, reiterated the need to incorporate women into state governance. “Women and men need a fair chance to vie for office,” he said.
From the National Election Watch (NEW), Mrs. Francess Fortune explained that there were two parts to the election process, “which are the free and fair facets”.
She stressed the need for voters’ education to ensure that the elections were conducted in a free and fair atmosphere.
Giving the keynote address which apparently was followed by the launching of the handbook, the deputy commissioner of the National Electoral Commissioner (NEC), Alhaji Al-Gassimu Jah maintained that, “election is a process which involves several electoral events…”
These processes, he added, “Need thorough planning and preparation.”
The launching was heightened by a workshop in which journalists, religious and traditional leaders came up with strategies to ensure that the relevant information with regarding the elections were adequately disseminated.