By Millicent Senava Mannah
Institute of Governance Reform in collaboration with other Civil Society Organizations and with support from the Embassy of Ireland has launched the Citizens’ Manifesto and the National Results and My vote My life App, on the 13th April, 2023. The Manifesto includes citizens’ policy priorities, citizens’ commitments, and other relevant data collected from their survey across the country. This auspicious occasion took place at the City Hall in Freetown.
Giving the opening statement, the Ambassador of Ireland, commended the Institute of Governance Reform and the Steering Committee for putting citizens at the center of their discussions continuing that elections should focus on the welfare of the people and how with this Manifesto they have gained so many insights.
She continued that as a development partner, it is a priority for them to work with civil society organization’s to engage the citizens on developmental issues, and how this Manifesto is one of such.
‘’This Manifesto is the voices of citizens of their lives experiences and this should be closely reviewed by those who wish to represent them. Proudly we see from the outcome of this process the importance placed by citizens on accountability, transparency and issues with they are trapped with,’’ the Ambassador stated.
Chief Fasuluku, the Head of Traditional leaders in the country and Alhaji Muthada, the Head of Inter-Religious Council, did the official launch of the Manifesto, and they both assured the audience that they will take the message to their various organizations and ensure that their members implement the recommendations in the Manifesto.
The Executive Director of IGR, Andrew T. Lavali, and the President of 50/50, Dr. Fredline McCormack-Hale stated that over 2,400 people across the country were interviewed to put together the National Results, and according to the result of the survey, the people made the commitment to stop the burning of bushes, bribery, begging of politicians etc.
They continued that they focused on the behaviors of citizens and politicians as well, and how these negative behaviors can be changed to promote national development. They also called, on politicians to start treating citizens as their priority and not just as voters and how they must also prioritize the needs of citizens.
Three paintings were unveiled by Isha Forfanah , a representative of 50/50, Koi Demoh Executive Director of Christian Aid, and Mr. Tommy , these paintings were all depicting unity, and how that will bring about change in the country.
The representatives of various districts right across the country emphasized the need for more street lights and the reduction of police personnel in the street, as a way of eradicating bribery or minimizing it, the provision of jobs for youths and skills development, infrastructure, reduction of prices, health care etc.
The district representatives also stated their resolutions that they are committed to keep their districts clean, to stop bribing police and people of authority and to allow the law to take course, and to stop the begging of politicians.
The closing remarks were made by the Executive Director of WANEP followed by performances by the Milton Margai School for the Blind band.