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Hands On Deck Sensitizes Waterloo On Governance

April 5, 2017 

Some of the participants

Hands on Deck for Community Development with funding from Bread for the World Protestant Development Services through the Sierra Leone Adult Education Association on Thursday 30th March 2017 organized a day’s round table discussion between women and youth group leaders and community stakeholders on the topic ‘Strategic Plan of Action to Promote Citizens Participation in Governance’ at the Ward 342 office, Cole Town, Waterloo Western Rural District.

The over 26 participants were drawn from Bolima, Cole Town, 555, Lumpa and surrounding communities in the Waterloo Rural District.

Reflecting on the hindrances of citizens participation in governance, the lead facilitator, Mr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah enlightened that the people cannot change their situation without voting, that their leaders must be accountable and transparent, that Members of Parliament do not account to their subjects about the Constituency Development Fund nor discuss their felt needs, that the people have the right to impeach their leaders for non-performance and other offences, that politicians use, especially youths, as tools and commended Hands on Deck for the sensitization.

Among the resolutions and concrete action points were to increase political awareness, promote and consolidate political tolerance, how to improve the governance system, that power belongs to the people, that Sierra Leoneans must be patriotic, that the roads are deplorable in the communities, that stakeholders are uncooperative, that the people must unite and mobilize to consult their leaders who must be impeached for non-performance, that the people must be allowed to demonstrate that is their civic right and that they must be content so as not to be misled by politicians.

Earlier, Councilor Abu Bakarr Kamara of Wards 342 (old) and 359 (new), who officially opened the round table discussion, underscored the importance of voter registration that would qualify people to vote and be voted for, that he is a surveyor by profession, built a house and bought vehicles before his election, has helped a lot of his subjects but that he could not do much due to the lack of funds adding that most of his projects, including roads, are not reflected in the communities.

Councilor Fatmata Kamara, a teacher for 24 years and a caterer, lamented that unlike Members of Parliament, councilors are not paid monthly salaries nor entitled to Constituency Development Fund but quarterly sitting allowances of Le250, 000 that was increased to Le830, 000 after they advocated but that they only receive about Le600, 000 after tax, that the money is not paid on time, that they have not been paid this year, informed that there are two wings in Council-administrative and political and commended the people for their patience.

She continued that she has offered 60 scholarships to pupils in various schools in her wards, that she is the Chairperson of the Education Committee in Council, that councilors are now afraid to meet the people to vote for them again and apologized for the information gap and not organizing meetings to inform them about developments.

Participants also discussed the qualities of a good leader, how to screen candidates vying for political offices underlining that their choice (s) would advance or retard the country as others warned against dancing and jubilating on the streets during political rallies as well as correcting their past mistakes during elections.

Others stressed that politicians should work for the people and not self, that the people would no longer allow themselves to be fooled again, misused or abused, that they would no longer accept drugs, alcohol, food and money from politicians, that they would refrain from violence and that only role models and people with integrity should be elected into office in a non-partisan manner.

Tommy Kajue, the coordinator of Hands on Deck recalled the earlier meetings held in various communities in Waterloo where participants highlighted that politicians do not hold meetings nor report to them about laws and other developments in Parliament and the state as well as discuss issues affecting them adding that they should catalogue the problems in their communities and proffer solutions with others and suggested that people should vote for a new party as the old ones, the APC and SLPP, are responsible for the dismal state of the country maintaining that this is the first time for them to know their Councilor and Member of Parliament.

He continued that the people also highlighted poor communication between politicians and them, lack of accountability and transparency and that youths now challenge politicians on national issues.

Alhassan Conteh, Youth Leader of Lumpa, disclosed that there are a lot of issues relating to citizens participation in governance including their registration to vote and be voted for.

Mr. Moses Ndomahina articulated that Parliament is yet to approve the delimitation of boundaries, that the Speaker of Parliament has been relieved of his duty and replaced by Hon. Leonard Fofanah who is deputized by Hon. Hassan Sheriff, that some people are calling for a referendum of the revised constitution before elections and reminded participants that now is the time for them to register to be eligible to vote and be voted in the next elections reiterating that power belongs to the people.

Participants also discussed extension of the registration exercise, that politicians are only seen in their communities when elections are round the corner and promised to sensitize others.

Distribution of sensitization materials on democracy climaxed the well-attended event.

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