Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 March 2017
Although the electoral registration process that kicked off two days ago in Sierra Leone is fraught with immense technical, logistics and human resource difficulties, several of the country’s opposition presidential aspirants have been out and about registering their intention to vote and to be voted for in 2018.
Yesterday – Tuesday, 21st March, 2017, Alie Badara Sanjan Kabba of the SLPP registered at a designated registration centre near his residence in Freetown, after facing difficulties on the opening day of registration.
“The successful practice of true democracy is the unfailing adherence to the processes that give real meaning and true value to governance,” said Alie immediately after his registration.
Alie urged all qualified Sierra Leoneans to come out in their numbers and “take this first vital step towards ensuring that our democratic rights are secured and the hope to achieve a free and prosperous country is kept alive”.
He also called upon the National Electoral Commission (INEC) to take every necessary step to address all issues that have been highlighted by the Sierra Leone People’s Party about the voter registration process, based on observational evidence seen across the country.
He urged all involved in the voter registration process to be vigilant and “act to protect and promote the sanctity of our democratic values”.
Alie Kabba reiterated his “ONE for FIVE” clarion call for each eligible citizen to take five people out to register. “This basic formula will ensure greater civic participation and mass mobilisation in all regions of the country.”
According to the Alie Kabba Campaign Team, “voter registration is the right of all eligible citizens to participate in the affairs of government and is one of the cornerstones of Democracy. For citizens to exercise their democratic right to vote, there must be a comprehensive and inclusive electoral register called ‘a voters list’ and it must be maintained to ensure that each eligible citizen is registered to vote once in a single election.
“Elections are the heartbeat of Democracy. Only free, fair and inclusive electoral system and associated processes can contribute to the meaningful institutionalization of democracy and gain popular trust. This is possible if citizens come under the voter registration process and participate in election. Voter registration brings eligible people into the election process, and it ensures the equality of the vote and prevents ineligible people from voting.
“Voter registration is important to policymakers, academia, government, researchers, political parties and citizens. It is an indicator of free, fair and fearless environment in elections. Let us embrace the process and go all out in numbers to register for the betterment of Sierra Leone. Alie Kabba – the radical progressive nationalist, is calling on all qualified Sierra Leoneans to come out in their numbers to register to vote – come 2018 elections.”
After registering Alie Kabba said; “I registered with 5 others. Please do same as a formula designed by Alie Kabba – the Nationalist, to ensure greater civic participation and mass mobilization”
Also out on the streets of Freetown to register was the former United Nations Industrial Development boss and special executive assistant to the head of UN Chief Ban Ki Moon – Dr Kandeh Yumkella.
Dr. Yumkella (Photo) left his Naimbana office and headed for the central district registration centres of the capital Freetown to register and to observe the process.
He went to Campbell street, Adelaide street, Kroo Town road, Siaka Stevens street, Waterloo street, Lightfoot Boston street, Ecowas street, Swiezy, Rawdon street, then to PZ and back to his Naimbana street office – via Pademba road. He promised to visit other centres this week, covering the West End of Freetown.
As he visited those registration centres in Freetown, Dr Kandeh Yumkella urged people in the Western Area to go out and register to Vote. He reminded everyone that to register so as to be able to vote in the March 7th, 2018 elections was everyone’s civic responsibility.
“I hear a lot of people saying they are frustrated, tired and feeling cheated by the current state of our country and therefore don’t want to register for elections in 2018. That’s the more reason why people should register, because the change we need will not come if we don’t register and go out to vote,” Yumkella said.
Dr Yumkella said this is the start of his nationwide message to Sierra Leoneans to go out and register to vote for hope, opportunity and transformation to happen in our country.
The opposition SLPP’s former presidential candidate who lost the 2012 elections by a massive margin to the APC – Julius Maada Bio, was also out to register to vote.
According to his media and communications team, the retired Brigadier Bio and his wife – Mrs Fatima Bio, went out yesterday, 21st March 2017 to register in the Ward 423, Constituency 132 registration centre located at the Services Secondary School in Juba Barracks, Freetown.
On arrival at the registration centre with reassuring smiles, Bio and his wife are reported to have attempted to join the queue as the procedure demanded, when spontaneously people in the queue shouted “We will not allow our next President to stand in the queue”.
According to the Bio media team, “with their usual humility, Bio and his wife accepted the honour and complied with the requirements of the registration process.”
After completing the registration process, a throng of young people mainly first time voters are said to have rushed to the scene of the registration to catch a glimpse of a man they referred to as the “next President”. But Bio could not miss the opportunity to continue his voter registration sensitization message especially to the young people who seemed energised, his campaign team reports.
In addressing the crowd and journalists, Bio appealed to them that everyone should take the registration process with utmost seriousness, adding that the registration process is a lifetime opportunity every citizen should embrace. “It is our right and responsibility to register, vote and be voted for. Therefore, nobody should be left out,” Bio told the crowd.
With the many concerns that have been raised by citizens relating to delays and machine malfunctioning, Bio also admonished the gathering to be patient with the process as he pointed out that indeed the process is slow due to the many questions on the questionnaire.
As a listening politician, Bio also stated that he is aware of the concerns raised by many citizens about the slow nature of the process. From many of those concerns, Bio stated that many centres across the nation did not meet the threshold set by the National Electoral Commission because many machines malfunctioned on the first day of the registration exercise.
However, Bio told the people that they should take that as a challenge and come out more to register so that their votes can make Sierra Leone a better place.