The people of Tonkolili District in the Northern part of Sierra Leone have unreservedly registered their admiration for President Ernest Bai Koroma’s soberness in ranking the change of negative attitudes and behaviours of his subjects supreme to usher a dawn of economic, social and political transformation in his postwar country.
They made this remarkable observation during a one-day workshop that was organized by the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change (ABC) Secretariat at the Tonkolili District Council Hall in Magburuka on Monday June 4th, 2012 basically on the theme of the ABC Concept, Political Tolerance and Political Motivated Violence. It could be remembered that Tonkolili District is no stranger to the controversies surrounding Sierra Leone’s political history; a region despite its respect for gold and other valuable mineral deposits is alleged to have reared the former Revolutional United Front (RUF) leader Foday Saybanah Sankoh. Who pryed this endowed region to immeasurable political high tensions Making a position on behalf of his people Paramount Chief Alhaji Masakama Kanamanka III maintained that Tonkolili Districl, like other parts of the country, is rife with ugly attitudes and behaviours.
Dr Ivan Thomas
He was speedy to thank President Koroma for earmarking the transformation of citizens’ negative attitudes and behaviours paramount in attaining his ‘Agenda of Posterity’. The traditional head called on his people to join the bandwagon of President Koroma in transforming the country devoid of partisan, tribal and regional connotations. In his view Sierra Leone can only triumph in the mist of her numerous blessing when the attitude and behavior of the citizens are well refined. P.C. Kanamanka III took the stance that the Novembers 2012 polls are very sensitive for the progress of the country and as such must be peaceful and transparent. People’s attitudes and behaviours he concluded are major determinant for this possibility. In his opening remarks the Chairman of Programme who doubles as the Tonkolili District Officer, Mr. Simeon Fatoma registered his appreciation for the ABC Secretariat’s move to sensitize the people of his region of operations.
According to him the attitudes and behaviours of the Tonkolili District citizens really needs to be polished because according to him the postwar effects are still telling on the inhabitants to the point that development programs are seriously undermined. He cited the misuse and plundering of government assets and the attitude of people towards work as an eminent feature of the district. The Tonkolili District Officer however maintained that in the midst of this mishap there are still people with exemplary habits and called on others especially the younger generation to emulate them.
Making a position statement the Local Unit Commander of the region, Superintendent Alfred C. Dassama complained of the demonstration of violence among youths and called on the ABC Secretariat to use more of their time to sensitize pupils of various schools in the area on the benefits of putting up positive manners. He used the occasion to admonished parents on the seriousness of their role of bringing up their children and wards in the best possible ways so that they can avoid being problematic for society. This he said is very much important because the children who society depends on to serve as future leaders are not up to the task due to their misconception of the real ethics of life. Talking at the gathering Mr. Peter Brima representing the National Electoral Commission observed that the tranquility and transparency of the coming November 17th election will indicate that democracy is actually at play in postwar Sierra Leone. He made a clarion call on all political actors to ensure that tolerance and respect for the existing electoral laws are observed.
Paramount Chief Alimamy B.Y. Koroma 111 used the occasion to register his profound gratitude for President Ernest Bai Koroma in adding credence to the need to change the negative deeds and manners of his subjects. He called on the people of Tonkolili District to revere the President’s vision of establishing the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change Secretariat to undertake the assignment of transforming the retrogressive ways his compatriots have accustom themselves. P.C. Koroma 111 called on his people to avoid the temptations of politicizing the President’s ‘Agenda for Change’ which he pointed out principally hinges on the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change Secretariat. The religious representatives, Alhaji Sallieu Conteh and Pastor Joseph Koroma took their time to implore on other religious and traditional leaders to inculcate the habit of including attitudinal and behavioral change concepts in their sermons. According to the religious heads change is a complex which heavily depends on the individual and that no form of preaching can change the poor manners of people in the absence of their personal willingness.
The Community Liaison Manager of a company that has immensely sliced on unemployment and other economic constraints, African Minerals Limited, Tim Fofana underscored the importance of good manners towards the development of any nation. He mentioned the views of plenty indigenes of mining communities as unimpressive as according to him they always fail to maintain an amicable relationship with foreign investors. These uncanny manners he said are not just a hindrance to the development of the country but also help to taint the international image of Sierra Leone.
Tim Fofana called on the ABC Secretariat to come to the aid of mining investments by sensitizing their workers and community members on the rational of maintaining peaceful coexistence. Other speakers including the Office of National Security Representative, Mr. Abdul Karim Will, District Magistrate, Mr. Ernest Gooding, NGO Representative from Concern International, Mr. Edward Koroma, Youth Representative, Yusuf Sankoh, Women’s Group Representative, Mrs. Ramatu Sankoh and a member of the crop and live stock Farmers Association Haja Isatu Conteh (commonly known as Haja Network)termed the visitation of the Secretariat as a big blessing for the inhabitants of Tonkolili District. In their views the sensitization of the community members ahead of the impending democratic elections is very prudent as political motivated violence is a common occurrence in the political history of the country. They called on the participants, more so the political party leaders, to make good use of the sensitization as its content will go a long way to help in bridging the political divide in the district.
In introducing the ABC Concept and giving a lecture on the Importance of Political Tolerance the Executive Director of ABC Secretariat, Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas urged the participants of the current economic gains Sierra Leone is scoring under the President Koroma led government. According to him the country has fast developed from a mere consumer to producer economy. And for this internationally recognized economic boom Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas disclosed that Tonkolili District is playing a vital role. Notwithstanding the economic potential of the district which houses several mineral deposits Dr. Thomas stressed the importance of putting up positive attitudes and behaviours. In the absence of the demonstration of these could render the community incapable of making good use of the natural endowment. On the ABC Concept the Secretariat’s Executive Director described attitudes as innate mindset and feelings which he said are demonstrated through behaviours. He went on to inform that attitudes and behaviours can be both positive and negative. When positive he maintained would not only improve the individual’s life, but equally in the community in which it is demonstrated.
Dr. Thomas complained of the prevalence of negative attitudes and behaviours among Sierra Leone and substantiated how this is rendering the social, economic and political state of the country vulnerable and pleaded with the audience to see reason with transforming these poor ways of doing things. He cited how bad attitudes and behaviours have crippled laudable ventures like the Free Medical Service Delivery that was meant to better up the lives of pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of five years. Sierra Leoneans he said are supposed to be patriotic, nationalistic and royal to their motherland. Sectionalism, tribalism, political party divide and regionalism he furthered are typical examples of poor manners that are holding Sierra Leone to ransom. Dr. Thomas while lecturing on the importance of political tolerance called on the political leaders to show respect for each other before, during and after the coming elections which he classed as a litmus test for Sierra Leoneans to demonstrate their readiness to uphold the virtues of democracy. He encouraged those present to espouse putting the interest of the country ahead of their diverse political associations. He advised the electorates to vote on performance basis the coming elections rather than other sentimental issues like tribes, religions, sex and region. Making her presentation on ‘Positive Attitude and Behaviour is Everything’ and ‘Attitude and Behaviour for Peaceful Co-existence, National Cohesion and Development’ the National Coordinator and Second- in- Command of the ABC Secretariat, Madam Nanette Thomas craved for the empowerment of women in politics and other related developmental issues. According to her if the country is really interested in rapid development then women must be given their basic human rights to fully participate in politics. She classed the barring of women from making personal political decisions on their own as bad attitudes which are supposed to be changed for the betterment of the country. She also hastened to advocate for the sending of girls and their retention in schools as the country’s future she emphasized heavily depends on them.
Ms. Nanette Thomas making a presentation
Madam Thomas cautioned the youths over their involvement in political violence and decried politicians that are in the habit of luring youths with few handouts and drugs to unleash the crime. She went on to inform the participants that long gone are the days when electorates misunderstand criminality with campaigning and assured that there are now instituted measures that will pursue violators of electoral laws and if found blameworthy will bear the brunt of the law. She therefore tasked parents, especially women, to counsel their children and other relations from the demonstration of violence in any sphere of life. Madam Thomas also called on professionals including police, prison and military officers to desist from taking bribes and indecently involving into active politics as their institution is meant to be an apolitical one. She further urged those present to judiciously use their finances, relationships, environment, spiritualities and health in the best way possible. By this she assured they could easily change from bad attitudes. Madam Thomas concluded by encouraging the people to be courageous, understanding and patient. Political representatives from all the registered parties for the coming elections made meaningful statements and agreed to abhor political motivated violence and try to start to worship political tolerance as the best virtue of democracy.
Making his point the APC Representative, Mr. John S. Tholley commended the ABC Secretariat for bringing the political bigwigs in that region together to iron out their ongoing petty palavers and called on his colleges from the other opposition parties to take the message preached by the ABC Secretariat right down to their respective party sympathizers and members. Talking on behalf of the main opposition SLPP Mr. Daniel K. Jalloh joined his counterpart politicians to assure the visiting Secretariat that they will virtually imbibe and inculcate political tolerance and ensure that the outcome of the next elections will be peaceful and totally violent-free. Representing the PMDC and UDM were James H. Laikah and Ibrahim Kamara who said the Secretariat’s sensitization would be made good use of not only for the 2012 elections but equally for other latter elections. Climaxing the occasion was an interactive session that permitted top executives of the Secretariat to answer meaningful questions that were advanced by curious but well satisfied participants. The Northern Region Coordinator, Mr. Daniel Sara Turay supervised this part of the sensitization workshop. Making the vote of thanks the Program Manager of ABC Secretariat, Mr. Ishmeal Cole commended the participants for their active participations and challenged them that if they properly use the lectures Sierra Leone would soon become a prosperous nation. .