By Saikujohn Barrie
Electoral Commission Sierra Leone, has the sole authority with the constitutional mandate to prepare and conduct public elections and referenda in Sierra Leone. From this backdrop, this writer wants to remind the chairman of the commission that it is his sole responsibility to ensure that every eligible and willing Sierra Leone voter is registered in the coming month for the 2023 elections.
Sierra Leoneans don’t want to hear people complaining about not being registered to vote in this coming registration process. Even though the main opposition made efforts to stop their people from being counted in the 2021 census, hundreds of willing people waited to be counted but no enumerators turned up to count them. Cases of people not being counted were reported in many parts of the country, especially in the Western Area and the Northern part of the country.
With that in mind, this writer would want to remind the Chief Electoral Commissioner that free, fair and credible elections start from the voter registration process. The registration system should not be rigged in favour of any particular region of the country. Sierra Leoneans in all corners of the country must be registered so that they will be able to exercise their rights to elect their leaders.
The 2023 election is one of the most important elections in the history of Sierra Leone for Sierra Leoneans because many Sierra Leoneans who started to vote in 2007 have experienced the governance of both the two main political parties in the country, i.e. the ruling SLPP and the main opposition APC, so this coming election is an opportunity for Sierra Leoneans to make a crucial decision to either go with what they have for the past four years or make a change based on their experience from both parties.
I am not talking about a third force here because I am sure Sierra Leoneans are not prepared for that yet. This writer believes that 2023 is the most important election because it gives Sierra Leoneans the golden opportunity to kick the current government out of power which will show politicians that if they don’t deliver what they were elected for, they will only serve one term in office. If the electorates make such a bold decision, they would send a strong warning to the incoming politicians that Sierra Leoneans are no longer fools and if they too fail to deliver, they will be kicked out in 2028.
On the other hand, 2023 will also give the SLPP government the opportunity to know that they are indeed in the right direction if Sierra Leoneans vote for Maada Bio for a second term. Voting for Bio in 2023 will demonstrate that the too many cries, yelling about hardship, and complaining about bad economic policies were just fabricated to tarnish the government. The 2023 election will also allow the main opposition APC to ascertain whether their governance system is indeed better than the current SLPP or not.
This writer believes 2023 will be a historical election because voting SLPP out will send a strong and clear message that if politicians come to power and fail to address the needs of the people, they will be kicked out as soon as their first term ends, while if the SLPP is voted in for the second term, it will show that the opposition APC is so abysmal and rotten that despite the current hardship and suffering in the country, Sierra Leoneans still don’t trust them to run the state.
If the APC loses the 2023 elections, they should just go to their ancestral shrines to pray for cleansing. For the aforementioned, the Electoral Commission must ensure that they provide a level platform for everyone willing to be registered to vote by giving ample time for voter registration to take place in every village and town in the country so that everyone has the opportunity to pass judgement on these two old political parties in our country.
Let the commission be a neutral referee where every player is allowed to exhibit their talent without hindrance. The chief electoral commissioner should know that the future of the country is in his hands and he should have statesmanship and loyalty to the people of the country. This is why Sane Sierra Leoneans are calling for members of Parliament to pass electoral laws that do not deprive any Sierra Leoneans in the country.
The election commission must ensure that everyone is registered so that they will be able to take part in the appraisal of the two main political parties come 2023.
This writer, therefore, thinks everyone should be given the opportunity to register to vote.
I rest my case