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ABC is the gateway for development says Kenema Mayor

ABC is the gateway for development says Kenema Mayor

The initiative of President Ernest Bai Koroma to establish the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change (ABC) Secretariat is the gateway to the development of Sierra Leone; says the newly elected Mayor of the Kenema Municipality, His Worship, Mr. J.S Kaifela.  (Photo: Mayor of Kenema His Worship Mr.J.S. Kaifala)

“The establishment of the ABC Secretariat is an entry point towards national development,” he said.

The Mayor made this statement on Monday 7th January 2013 at the Kenema District Council Hall, while delivering his keynote address to mark the opening of the month-long regional post-election workshops that are being organized by the ABC Secretariat.

Cross section of participants at the workshop

Addressing the jam-packed hall, the Mayor started off by congratulating President Ernest Bai Koroma for establishing an institution as important as the ABC Secretariat to target and rebrand the negative attitudes of Sierra Leoneans. According to him, the task of changing the attitudes of humans is more difficult than transforming a country to infrastructural prosperity. The Mayor stressed that the ABC initiative of the President should be seen by all and sundry as a call for renewal of the spirit of service of the citizens of this country. The Mayor made no secret over the fact that the challenges faced by this nation are enormous, though he said they are not insurmountable.

“We can overcome the challenges we face as a nation if selflessness takes precedence over selfishness,” he noted.

He however stressed that the fight against bad attitudes needs enormous financial and human resources. He therefore called on the central government to bolster its support to the ABC Secretariat.

Chairman of the program, Dr. S Mansaray

In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Kenema District Council, Dr. S. Mansaray, who doubles as Chairman for the occasion, said the must for the citizens of this country to guard against the challenges facing the country cannot be overemphasized.

He emphasized that the time for leaders to isolate themselves from the electorates is over. He however added that the electorates must also endeavor to provide the enabling environment for the leaders to govern accordingly.

He called on all to be law abiding, tolerant, use resources accordingly, and be accountable to the people. He said the leaders will not have the moral authority to tell the people to change their attitudes, if their own attitudes are nothing to write home about.

“We must speak the truth because we will not achieve anything if we continue to be hypocrites,” he said.

The Provincial Secretary of the East, Mr. George Banya, in his statement, recalled that the ABC Secretariat was in Kenema prior to the general elections to preach on political tolerance. He said the efforts of the Secretariat, backed by those of others, yielded dividend because the elections ended peaceful.

Now that the elections are over, he continued, the citizens must focus on sustaining the peace and salvaging democracy.

He said all hands must be put on deck to fight bad attitude, corruption, lawlessness and intolerance.

Members of the high table

Representing the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), Lietenant J. Kabbah said the army played a pivotal role in protecting lives and properties during the election. He advised everybody to put aside all petty things and concentrate on moving Sierra Leone forward now that elections are over.

The OIC Prisons, Mr. L. Bangura said his department is a major partner of the ABC Secretariat in the fight against bad attitudes, as according to him, the prisons department is responsible for housing and reforming the attitudes of people that society has frowned against. He said the prisons department must be congratulated over the fact that there was not a single incidence of prison break before, during and after the elections. He however informed his audience that the prisons department is always on the alert to welcome people who are refusing to change their attitudes for the better.

Fire Officer Samuel Gbla expressed disappointment over the attitude of people who make calls to the fire force to report false fire incidences.

Religious Representative from the Christian faith, Pastor Mark Vandi spoke on the importance to forgive one another. A good start in the concept of forgiveness is to be able to forgive yourself, he said.

“Everybody should begin now to pray to God to empower him or her to be able to forgive his or herself,” he said. He stressed that God only blesses nations that reign in peace.

ONS Representative Denis Jumu said negative attitudes are a major security threat to national development and good governance. He called on the citizens to change their attitudes for guaranteed security.

Human Rights Representative, Mr. Hassan Yarjah, said everything in post-election Sierra Leone is being politicized, thus making it difficult for the police, judiciary and other sectors to operate effectively. The time for politics and elections, he said, is over, noting that we must now concentrate on doing the things that unite and develop us.

“As Sierra Leoneans, we must know that the things that unite us are more than the things that divide us,” he concluded.

Women’s Group Representative Nancy Yoko expressed happiness that no woman was arrested for bad electoral behavior before, during and after the elections.

“It is an open secret that if women change their attitudes for the better, that change will reflect on the attitudes of the men and children,” she disclosed.

She reiterated that nobody in authority should attempt to preach change when he is not a model of change.

The fact that people are yet to recover from the elections fever is a cause for concern, she said.

Youth Representative Emmanuel Farmah thanked the Secretariat for recognizing the youths in their work. He expressed optimism that positive attitudes will become a social norm in Sierra Leone in the not too distant future. He described the workshop as timely and crucial, while encouraging all to put forward positive behaviors in all they do.

NGO Representative, Mr. Patrick Ardu, said the government should look at the possibility of reinstating civic education in the school curriculum. He recalled the important role played by civic education during the days it was in the school curriculum.

PPRC Representative Victor H. Kamara said in his two years in Kenema, he has never attended a jam-packed and well organized workshop in the district council hall as the ABC programme.

He advised everybody to forget about the elections and move on, while noting that people are still engaged in election misunderstandings.

Sierra Leone, he said, is bigger and better than any political party. He disclosed that the opposition is very much important in governance as the ruling party. Democracy, he continued, is tied up to political tolerance.

All People’s Congress (APC) Representative, Moijueh Gbetuwa, said President Koroma is a man of peace and tolerance, which explains why he alerted everybody that elections were over on the very day he was announced as the winner. He described the ABC workshop as timely, and thanked the ABC executives for what he described as job well done.

Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Representative, Maada Puawui Sellu said politics is all about respect. He furthered that it is important for politicians to be consistent and truthful, noting that the cross-carpet politicians are responsible for most of the problems in Sierra Leone politics.

People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) Representative, Mr. Saffa Koroma, emphasized the importance of community cohesion.

“The time to put tribe, religion, and region aside and work towards a common goal is now,” he said, adding that we must all now engage on positive transformation regardless of political colours.

Representing the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Ibrahim Sorie Kuyateh said if state resources and properties are used judiciously, Sierra Leone will move forward.

At the interactive technical session, the Executive Director of the ABC Secretariat, Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas, lectured on the role of the opposition in Parliament and the importance of political tolerance, while his National Coordinator cum Second-in-Command, Nanette Thomas, preached on democracy, good governance and citizenship, with special focus on lawlessness.

Vote of thanks was delivered by Ishmael Cole, Program Manager ABC Secretariat.

The theme for the ongoing ABC regional workshops is “Democracy, Good Governance and Political Tolerance”.

Courtesy ABC Communications Office

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