By Mustapha Jallow
Two months ahead of the Local Government Elections, the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) on Saturday 17th February 2017, urged the people of Wuli East and West in the Upper River Region North, to come out in their numbers and vote for their choice of candidate, by voting in honest individuals who will take care of the welfare of their community. According to Senior Programme Officer Mr. Yusupha Bojang, the outreach is the first phase of the Local Government Election Sensitization Campaign activities, and this will cover the length and breadth of the country. The first phase covers forty selected communities in the URR. The aim of the campaign is to sensitize the general public on the forthcoming Local Government Elections, to enlighten the citizens about the importance, roles and functions of Mayors / Mayoress, Chairpersons and Councillors, in the development of communities, such as the provision of basic social services, to enhance citizen’s political awareness and to promote massive participation in the forthcoming Local Government Election, in order to address the perennial Voter Apathy that has characterised past Local Government Elections. Mr Bojang said the sensitization engagements will seek to promote unity and political tolerance among citizens and to ensure peace during and after the elections.
Speaking at Passamass-Mandinka, a senior official of the NCCE Mr. Junkung Saidy, told the community to put aside their political differences and take a common stand in campaigning for the upcoming Council Election.
‘‘When voting, make sure you rethink about your choice of candidate before casting your ballot. Avoid all forms of threats and intimidation, violence and bribery, and the selling of your voters’ cards. And avoid using abusive words and languages towards your opponent during the election period’’, Saidy said.
He said a person qualifies to be elected or nominated Councilor must able to speak English with degree of proficiency to be able to take part in the proceedings of the Council. ‘‘The person contesting has to make a declaration of his/her assets and should have paid all his taxes and rates as well,’’ he said. Tolerance, he said is a key factor to a successful and peaceful electoral process, adding that people should tolerate each other during and after the election.
‘‘When one is declared winner, all should come together as a ward and work together for the benefit of our nation,’’ he said.
According to Mr. Saidy, Area Councils are responsible for the provision of basic services such as water, street lights, markets and feeder roads to communities and give support to women with labour saving devices such as milling machines, gardens and scholarship for the sponsorship of children’s education.
Mrs. Jarra Danso commented on issues affecting rural people such as poor roads and lack of portable water. She called her colleagues to come in their large numbers and vote. ‘‘Let’s vote for people who can benefit us and ease our long suffering’’, Mrs. Danso said.
For Abou Kieta, candidates mostly come out during campaigns and make lots of promises but when elected, they will never fulfil those promises. ‘‘We’ve to think wisely before voting’’, Keita said.
Similar messages were delivered at Brifu community by the NCCE’s Mr. Kebba O. Jobe. Mr. Jobe said their mandate is to enlighten people on the voting process; that officers such as soldiers, police officers, prisoners, immigration officers and other security personnel, cannot be voted as Councilors.
A villager Mustapha Darboe, urged his fellows to be conscious enough before casting their ballots. ‘‘We should be very observant. If we are to vote, let’s observe the person we vote for because we know how we have suffered’’, he advised.