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Enhancing Democratic Accountability… Another Civil Society Organisation Is Born

At a maiden Press Conference of the launching of a new Civil Society organisation, Citizen’s Forum For Democratic Accountability, as well as a Civic Education project that was held at the conference room of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) on Campbell Street, Freetown, graced by a barrage of journalists and Civil Society Organisation representatives, the Executive Director and founder, Marcus Bangura, disclosed that his organisation will work assiduously to sensitize residents across the country about the need for accountability, and in this drive, they will be targeting the young, who he described as the new generation of leaders, to imbibe the culture of accountability.
Speaking on the purpose of the gathering, Marcus Bangura noted that “the purpose of this august gathering is to officially launch Citizen’s forum for Democratic Accountability (hereinafter referred to as C4D), with a civic education project.” He defined Democratic Accountability as: basically, democratic accountability implies feedback, learning experience and consent of the governed. It offers citizens and their representatives the means to voice concerns, demand explanations about, and, if need be, impose consequences for the performance of elected officials, and officials of public or private service providers. The means of democratic accountability include electoral processes and parliamentary oversight, as well as reviews by supreme audit institutions, investigative journalism and public demonstrations.”
Marcus Bangura highlighted several objectives of the organisation, which are:

To embark on extensive civic education and increase public awareness about democracy and good governance practices, rights and responsibilities of citizens.
To promote and defend internet data privacy and freedom of expression vis-à-vis free, open and accessible internet space as part of promoting freedom of expression in online and offline, digital rights, right to internet access, freedom from internet censorship and net neutrality,
To promote and strengthen environmental and natural resources governance. Through consistent and constructive advocacy,
To promote and strengthen ICT, telecoms governance and rural connectivity. Through consistent engagement and constructive advocacy,
To promote elections, the spirit of political tolerance and mediate between political parties to ensure peace and non-violent free and fair elections and peaceful transfer of power,
To monitor and ensure effective service delivery in public institutions,
To promote the struggle for the rights of women, girls, children, youths, persons with disability, the aged, vulnerable and marginalized citizens.

He furthered that the official launch of C4D is accompanied with a civic education project initiative. The project title is: Engaging Public Institutions and Citizens to Cultivate the Ideals of Democratic Accountability. This project will be implemented in phases. The first phase will be implemented in schools and the second phase in public institutions. He disclosed that phase 1 will focus on “Nurturing the ideals of democratic accountability in the minds of school going pupils” with the objective to catch them young, as society and the present generation has failed for lack of accountability.

This project will last for four months starting September within the Municipality of Freetown. The project will run simultaneously with a participatory research where pupils will give account about themselves on accountability issues in their adolescent stage telling their stories. Phase II will focus on public institutions with focus on service delivery.

In his keynote address, Alhassan Kargbo, fondly called ‘ALASKA’, said that accountability and transparency are bed fellows and go together. He expressed delight in participating in the launching of an organisation that will be tasked with the responsibility to hold people to account, as coming from a similar background; he believes that the fight against corruption can only be won with concerted efforts of all, including the Press. He furthered that the media is very important in holding public officials accountable, hence its inclusion in the country’s 1991 Constitution, as the ‘Fourth Estate’. He admonished the Executive Director of the new CSO to hold the fort, stressing that the organisation’s first step to engage schools in imbibing accountability, is a step in the right direction.

Alaska maintained that the current state of the country is as a result of the absence of accountability, as leaders in all the governments have failed to account to the people on the use of their monies. He noted that currently Sierra Leone has made some improvement in terms of accountability, but more needs to be done.

Earlier, Prince Jacob Macaulay, one of Sierra Leone’s finest Economist, who served as Chairman of the Event, in his welcome address said, Advocacy is any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of the people.

He stated that CSOs should be seen as a formidable pressure group that holds authorities to account in the interest of the nation, adding that they cannot do that alone without the support of the media.

Macaulay stated that the media is the weapon that makes the work of activism, very much viable, if they are to succeed in doing what they stand for   

He stated that he believes in relationships, which should be the social capital of every human being and urged all civil society activists to work together instead of the pulling Down syndrome, which is very much common in Sierra Leone today, and suggested a monthly meeting among themselves, to better address issues of public interest.

He furthered that CSOs cannot protect themselves, and would have to rely  on the citizens for protection, but that this can only happen if they work in the interest of the nation. He commended Marcus Bangura for standing up to the task in defending his country at this difficult time.

Other CSOs present made short statements welcoming the newly born organisation and pledged to support and nurture it. They however, noted that its ED is no stranger to CSO, and has been in the CSO world for ages and knows what he is talking about, and they have no doubt that he will deliver on his objectives and foals. They all hoped for a better Sierra Leone with strong democratic accountability.

The ceremony was climaxed by a question and answer session.

@The Times SL Newspaper



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