Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 December 2017:
Few weeks ago, the SLPP presidential candidate, Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio presented a broad outline of his New Direction Strategy to the nation. In his presentation, he promised to consult with members of the party in all the districts, on the development challenges facing the country and how to overcome those challenges.
On December 8-9, 2017, seven teams were formed under the leadership of the Chairman of the Manifesto Committee – Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio and Co-Chairman – Dr. Abass Bundu, to conduct consultations in all 16 districts. This was to ensure that the Party’s Manifesto 2018 – otherwise known as The People’s Manifesto, reflects the views and aspirations of the people and is collectively owned by them.
The consultations involved focused group discussions (FGDs) with different categories of people. A total of 40 persons participated in the consultations in each district.
Four FGDs were conducted in each district covering four thematic areas: the economy, human development, governance and infrastructure.
Each FGD was facilitated and recorded by Manifesto Committee members using guidelines to ensure uniformity across districts.
The participants included party executives, chiefdom authorities, representatives of women’s groups, religious leaders, representatives of youth groups, traders, farmers, teachers, health workers, law enforcement, transport owners (motor driver/okada), Persons Living With Disabilities, mines workers, fishermen, paid employees and artisans.
The basic framework of the discussion was identification of the current challenges and prescription of policies or strategies to overcome the challenges.
Participants welcomed this approach of consulting with people on their development priorities. Mabinty Sesay, a women’s representative who is a trader from Kambia enthusiastically said that: “This is the first time a political party has consulted the grassroots on what to include in its Manifesto. I thank the SLPP very much for this. Since this is the only party that has consulted me on where I want Sierra Leone in the next 5 years, I have no option but to cast my vote for Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio.”_
A farmer in Bonthe, Andrew Williams also applauded the process stating: “Now that I have been consulted for the first time for what I want, I am confident that all will be well when our saviour, Maada Bio, is made president.”
The Manifesto Committee has also participated in dialogue sessions conducted by various international organisations on different themes, and is currently engaging development partners to inform its manifesto. The Committee is expected to retreat this month to finalise the writing of the Manifesto.
Article written by the SLPP Information, Media and Communications Committee.