By Siraju Bah :
The National Commission for Democracy has engaged students of the Eastern Polytechnic in Kenema on an interactive forum with the topic “dealing with the twin menace of lawlessness and tribalism: towards a lasting solution” focusing on educating the students on the need to inculcate nationalism in order to promote democracy, good governance and national cohesion.
The programme which attracted over 100 students was also aired live on one of the most widely listened to radio outlet-Eastern Radio on 101.1 FM- in the Eastern region that gave listeners the opportunity to contribute to the discussion that ensued which made the debate more educating.
In his presentation, the Chairman National Commission for Democracy NCD Dr. Abubakar H. Kargbo pointed out that one of the mandates of the Commission is to educate the public about the constitution of Sierra Leone which he referred to as a national document. He said the Commission has been doing a lot in providing civic education for the people noting that most of the people are primordial who believe in customs and traditions that are sometimes diametrically opposed to the principles of good governance.
Commenting on the vices of tribalism, the Chairman stated that where tribalism exists, the socio – economic development of that system collapses and the cancerous element of tribalism will seriously undermine Utilitarianism. He further stated that tribalism has the tendency to orchestrate the marginalization of a single tribe or sect and their interest will not be catered for.
The Commissioner NCD Northern Region Bai John Conteh reiterated that the Commission was established to create an atmosphere conducive for the promotion of democratic good governance saying that, “`the commission was created to provide an enlightened, peaceful, democratic and just society in which citizens are empowered to enjoy their civic and human right and discharge their responsibilities with an attitude conducive to national unity and development.”
He said the focus of the programme is to educate the minds of the people so that they will have a citizenry that is responsible and enlightened and that will also behave in a way that is conducive to a country that is both united and productive. The Commissioner described the task of the commission as herculean due to the fact that more than 65% of the population of the country is illiterate. He said the programme is also geared towards fulfilling one of the components of the commission’s contract on the Performance Tracking Table PTT on which the work of the Commission will be assessed.
In his contribution to the discourse, he likened a state where lawlessness and recklessness prevails to that of a state of nature where only the strong will survive. He said in a state where respect for the rule of law does not exist, corruption, insecurity and lack of respect for human right will be the order of the day.
Commenting on some of the factors that motivate tribalism, Commissioner North pointed out two factors, insecurity and ineptitude saying that sometimes people who do not have qualities to show that will capture the admiration of people throughout the country will tend to cling to tribe in order to bask on the support of their tribesmen to ascend to the top.
He recommended that jobs be provided for the youth in order to get them engaged saying that idleness will lead to one being easily manipulated.
Commissioner Eastern Region NCD Alhaji Sheku Kamara emphasized the need for a robust sensitization saying that most of the people are ignorant of the laws of the land. He said civic education must be taken seriously and further recommended that Local and District Councils should include in their policies laws that will deter or discourage tribalism. He also observed that intermarriages has been one of the reasons for the religious tolerance that the country enjoys and recommended that it should be encouraged further.
Mr. Anthony Kanneh Social Studies Lecturer Eastern polytechnics said tribalism is being motivated by several factors, pointing out that the inequitable distribution of wealth, appointment to government offices from just one region and the award of contracts and scholarships to non deserving individuals.
The Communications Manager NCD Rev. Gibrilla Kargbo who doubles as the moderator of the programme observed that where tribe is emphasized it leads to confusion and encouraged his audience to focus and work for the good of the country and not tribe.