SLAJ President Engages Journalists in Kono Ahead of June 2023 General Elections


By Amin Kef (Ranger)

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), has concluded a two-day visit to Kono District, Eastern Sierra Leone on engagement with journalists in preparation for the public elections in June 2023.

The visit to Kono is the first out of a series of planned visits to all districts of the country and it is the first visit of Nasralla to the diamond district since he became President of SLAJ. He was accompanied by Vice President, Sahr James Bangah and the National Secretary General Alhaji Manika Kamara.

The objective of the visits is to engage Station Managers and journalists across the country ahead of the general elections and to also say thank you for their support over the years. The delegation was received by the Vice Chairman, SLAJ Eastern Region.

The SLAJ President and his team first met with radio Station Managers in the district and expressed thanks and appreciation for the confidence they reposed in him as leader of their Association, and for the excellent work they are doing to keep the people of Kono district informed about what is happening in their district and across Sierra Leone.

The Station Managers discussed the challenges they are facing as media owners and journalists, their strengths, weaknesses, and prospects, while President Nasralla explained plans by SLAJ to position the media professionally as a referee, set the agenda for the forthcoming public elections, and fight against disinformation, fake news and hate speech.

The President emphasized the need for unity among Station Managers in the district, independence and professionalism in the discharge of their duties.

“As Station Managers, you play a critical role in not only promoting free, fair, transparent, nonviolent, and credible elections but also ensuring peace and stability among the Kono people,” said Nasralla.

Nasralla urged the Station Managers to stay clear of politics, work as a team, and put the interest of the Kono people at the heart of their work.

“It is your right to belong to or support a political party or politician but as media practitioners please do so professionally and maintain a level playing field in terms of access to your stations and content generation. Do not decide for the Kono people, let the Kono people decide for themselves and let their decision be based on the correct information you are providing them on the elections on a daily basis,”Nasralla admonished.

He also warned the Station Managers to be very careful when handling paid-for discussion programs by political parties/politicians, stating that they should not allow the political parties to moderate their programs.

“Paid-for political discussion programs should be moderated by you the professionals, and you should guide the discussion and phone calls to avoid diversion from the topic of discussion,” said Nasralla.

President Nasralla also met with reporters in the district and discovered that majority of them were not SLAJ members. He encouraged them to become members of SLAJ so that they will be guided by the Association’s Code of Ethics, and would benefit from training opportunities.

The SLAJ President responded to questions from the reporters ranging from welfare, training, scholarships, safety and security during the elections, and encouraged them to aspire to become professionals with credibility and integrity like the Kelvin Lewis and Umaru Fofanas.

The SLAJ President and his team concluded by paying courtesy calls on key stakeholders in the district including the Mayor, Mathew Komba Sam of Koindu City, the Kono District Security  Coordinator- Ibrahim Turay, the Local Unit Commander of the Tankoro Police Division, Musa Bandabla, Resident Magistrate, Alpha Sallieu Ndolleh and CSO Coordinator, Mohamed Alpha Jalloh.

“It is good that the Station Managers have a good relationship with district stakeholders. I am impressed by the show of cordiality and mutual respect. The need for constant engagement, consultations, and mutual support toward the development agenda of Kono district cannot be overemphasized. I encourage both sectors to continue to work together and support each other, while the media carries out its sacred duty of holding the stakeholders to account in a responsible manner,” said Nasralla.

Meanwhile, the SLAJ National Secretary General, Alhaji Manika Kamara, explained to the reporters about the SLAJ membership and some of the benefits of becoming a SLAJ member. He also urged the journalists to submit stories for the Annual SLAJ National Media Awards as almost always all the entries would come from journalists in the Western region only; while Vice President Sahr James Bangah urged Station Managers to meet regularly to address their challenges and plan for the national elections.

The visit was climaxed by a simulcast radio discussion programme with the SLAJ President and his team as panelists. They informed the Kono people about the objective of the visit, about SLAJ and its work, and responded to questions and comments from listeners.





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