The three Presidential Candidates for the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) elections, Philip Neville outgoing acting President, Ibrahim Karim Sei out going Secretary General and Umaru Fofana, over the weekend showed case themselves at a debate at Fourah Bay College (FBC) in Freetown.
The debate which was organized by the Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU) in collaboration with the Mass Communication Students Association (MACOSA) attracted audiences from all walks of life.
President of SLRU, Amara Samura said that the presence of the three candidates clearly demonstrate the level of respect they have for all of us.
He added that, the three candidates have individually and collectively contributed immensely to the development of Journalism in the Country.
Speaking about their manifestos, Philip Neville said that he gave life to SLAJ during his tenure as acting President.
He added that his manifesto is simple and straight forward, noting that within the 12 months that he acted as President he had worked tremendously to give the association a facelift.
Neville noted that he would ensure that the conditions and services of Journalists are improved upon and also promised to create a level playing ground for every Journalist in the Country in terms of capacity building. He stated that he would move the Secretariat from its present location to an ideal environment. The Acting President pointed out that he would ensure that Journalists are exposed to the international world by negotiating with Embassies to organize exchange programs. “I will make sure that I talk with Managing Editors and Station Managers to ensure that Reporters have health insurance and medical allowances” said Neville.
He stressed that the core values of the Association is to protect Journalists and let them contribute meaningfully towards the development of the Country. When questioned as to how he wants people to remember him, he replied that he wants to be remembered as the man who established SLAJ Offices in the Regions. He also disclosed that he admired Kelvin Lewis, Managing Editor Awoko Newspaper; Lansana Fofana and the Peep Magazine. On the issues of female reporters, he said that he believe that women can also do what men do and therefore would ensure that they take managerial positions in their news room.
Ibrahim Karim Sei said that, when he takes office he would look at the welfare of Journalist to ensure that Reporters have a good decent take home pay at the end of every month.
To accomplish this, he promised to work with Managing Editors and Station Managers. On trainings, he said that he would establish partnerships with international institutions to provide funding for training Reporters.
He stated that “we have expanded SLAJ without compromise of our values and will ensure that nobody compromises our values and we are not going to mortgage”, he said. The outgoing Secretary-General said that he would continue to strengthen the legal arm of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) to ensure that they do their work effectively.
Umaru Fofana promised to ensure that the mistreatment of Reporters by their employers be a thing of the past. On capacity building for Journalists, he disclosed that, he would engage authorities at the FBC to admit Journalists who have practiced for 2 to 5 years. On the issues of Female Reporters, Fofana said that he would build their capacity and make them be part of editorials and take administrative positions.
When questioned as to which Journalist he admired most, Fofana replied that he admire Awoko and Olu Gordon, Managing Editor of Peep Magazine.
The elections are slated for 29th November 2008.
By Abibatu Kamara