Kenema residents task government to empower ABC Secretariat
Residents of the Eastern Province headquarter town, Kenema, have on Tuesday November 1st, 2011 tasked the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) government to unreservedly empower the Attitudinal and Behavioral Change (ABC) Secretariat with its required moral and financial supports.
This request was made mainly by political activists during a one day sensitization programme on political tolerance that was organized by ABC Secretariat at the Kenema District Council Hall in Kenema Town.
According to the residents, political violence is just one form of bad behavior that keeps derailing national stability and progress. This bad behaviour, which they described as serious bottlenecks to speedy development, are not restricted to major cities alone, but are also present among community members of towns and villages countrywide. Against this backdrop, they recommended that government should provide more funding for the ABC Secretariat so that all citizens could be reached in spite of their localities. In the absence of this capacitating drive, the residents of Kenema opined that President Koroma’s “Agenda for Change “will not achieve its targeted objectives. Representatives from the five registered political parties (APC, SLPP, PMDC, NDA, and UDM) made very meaningful contributions in support of political tolerance and promised that the elections in 2012 will be violence free.
Officially launching the sensitization session the Resident Minister East, Hon. William J. Smith complained about the progression of political narrow-mindedness among inhabitants of the Eastern province. This he divulged keeps setting families and communities apart. Hon. W. J. Smith informed that this partisan malice renders the district underdeveloped despite being endowed with valuable natural resources and intelligent people.
In this light, the Resident Minister East thanked the ABC Secretariat for sensitizing his people on the disadvantages of political violence and further encouraged them to take this assignment to the least community within the country.
“I am impressed by the new ABC Secretariat for bringing various political parties together to discuss issues of national interest. The impact that the new secretariat has created around the country tempts one to ask what the old executives were actually doing. Let me take this opportunity to thank President Koroma for choosing the right people for this all important job. With them I am confident that the President’s dream of turning the country around by his ‘Agenda for Change’ will soon materialize. This can be done if the least man is reached, because they are those who political heavy weights always incite to unleash violence”, Hon. Smith said and promised that, “The ABC Secretariat has my blessings and I am going to fall on government in my own little way to give them more capacity.”
A civil society activist who chaired the session, Mr. Augustine Sannoh classed the meeting as another golden opportunity for people to unearth that patriotism is more important than party loyalty. Chairman Sannoh called on other organizations to emulate the new ABC Secretariat executives whom he said are addressing the major problems of negative behaviours facing the country.
He pointed out that both the ruling and minority or opposition parties owe great responsibilities to maintain political tolerance. “Ruling parties must by all means exercise patience and understanding, and this has to be reciprocated by minority parties showing reverence for rules and regulations that provoke good governance and national stability”, Augustine Sannoh said.
In his lecture on political tolerance, the Executive Director of ABC Secretariat, Dr. Ivan A. S. Thomas called on political parties to exhibit respect for each other. He denounced incitement, provocation and violence before, during and after elections. According to him, power lies in the electorates’ hands and must be entrusted to politicians whom they believe possess the attributes for leadership. Dr. Thomas concluded by encouraging politicians to start seeing themselves as partners in national development and not enemies.
The National Coordinator and Second-in-Command of ABC Secretariat, Ms Nanette Thomas, classed political violence as serious national and international crime.
According to her, political parties should focus on presenting agendas that are developmentally oriented. These agendas or manifestoes she campaigned should cater for women empowerment, girl child education, affordable and accessible health facilities, education, infrastructural development, food, employment, security and youth empowerment among others.
Madam Thomas underscored that the masses should assess contesting political parties on the basis of how they can efficiently finance their promises or pledges. Political parties she advanced should not use violence as shields for their incompetence. She out rightly denounced political violence of any form or shape because according to her it has no benefit. Madam Thomas commended President Koroma for empowering state institutions to arrest, judge and punish alleged perpetrators of recent political violence in Kono and Bo without fear and favor. This equitable way of addressing the spate of political intolerance she said will set a brighter precedent for those planning to make the 2012 elections. “There are no angels in politics only angles. Ernest Koroma is our angle in Sierra Leone,” she said and entreated every Sierra Leonean to cultivate positive attitudes and behaviours in supporting President Koroma. The National Coordinator and Second-in-Command of ABC Secretariat concluded by stating that politics is a turn-by-turn game and only those who do not understand how it is played look at it from a fanatic point of view. She encouraged everyone to take the 2012 elections seriously, free from violence and intimidation.
By Aminata Tholley and Momoja Lappia
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