*By Lahai Daramy.*
The Presidential Spokesman of the Republic of Sierra Leone, *Mr. Abdulai Bayraytay,* has told students of Fourah Bay College *(FBC),* University of Sierra Leone , that the role of the media is crucial in a democracy .
As a result of the importance of the media in Sierra Leone’s democratic dispensation, the Presidential Spokesman called on journalists of the print, electronic and the new media comprising WhatsApp , Facebook Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to complement Government’s efforts in promoting messages of peace as the country marches on to the multitier elections slated for *March 7, 2018.*
MR. ABDULAI BAYRAYTAY
*Mr. Bayraytay,* who spoke on the theme *”The role of the media in the electioneering process”* was guest speaker at a well-attended symposium organized by the Mass communications Students Association *(MACOSA)* as part of their annual week-long celebrations , held on Wednesday, *July 26* at the Mary Kingsley Auditorium at *FBC* . He underscored the fact that the media remained very much relevant in a democracy.
Mr Bayraytay told the students that the role of the media in a democracy cannot be underestimated, recognizing that even though the three arms of the Government could be separated for good governance and best democratic practice, the media could always play the role of being the Fourth Estate and that of a watchdog by promoting the people’s agenda in political discourse.
The eloquent Presidential Spokesman who is a also a highly respected journalist, a Political science lecturer at *FBC* and social worker, reminded his audience about the events that precipitated the *Rwandan*genocide in the *1990s* and the complicity of the media. This, he said, should continue to serve as a solid reminder for Sierra Leoneans to go into the *2018* polls with civility and decorum. *“We must celebrate the positive accolade given Sierra Leone by the Global Peace Index (GPI) as the most peaceful country in West Africa, third in Africa and coveted the 39th position globally”,*
*Mr. Bayraytay* said amidst thunderous applause, that *“every Sierra Leonean should be proud of such accolade recognizing that President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma will be on record as the only President since independence not to have any prisoner of conscience”.*
The Presidential Spokesman said the high level of religious tolerance in Sierra Leone should also be attributed to political tolerance. He stated that the negative use of tribal cleavages and regional groupings by political bigots should be discouraged and called on the media to be mindful not to be co-opted into the dissemination of hate messages with the potential to undermine the peace and tranquility the country continues to enjoy.
Other panelists include *Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas,* the Executive Director of the Attitudinal and Behavioral Change, *Mrs. Marcella Samba-Sesay* of the National Elections Watch, and one of Sierra Leone’s celebrated entertainers and motivational speakers, *Usifu Jalloh* aka the Cowfoot Prince.
The event was ably chaired by *Rev. Dr. Salifu Suma,* a senior lecturer at the Mass Communications department at *FBC,* and was climaxed by the award of certificates to the distinguished panelists for what the President of the *MACOSA,* Theriyeh Koroma, described as *“in appreciation of eminent Sierra Leoneans who continue to serve our country in furthering democracy and peace and for being role models to us students, especially ”.