• January 1, 2020

Bio Using NCRA, NEC to Secure Second Term

Bio Using NCRA, NEC to Secure Second Term
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 By Joseph A. Kamanda

With uncompromising determinations by the electorate including opposition political parties to render the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) one term in office and replace it with a better political party that can deliver the much needed goods to the people, government in a hurry reaction to such revulsion to the intended wishes and aspirations of the people, has through the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) exposed its diabolic aim to rig the approaching 2023 general elections with a quick fix voter ‘verification’.

This time around they collectively intend to execute the planned rigging far before the elections are even here, by way is using the criminal NCRA to come up with an unwarranted ‘verifications’ of the National Civil Register by citizens and all public and civil servant on government pay roll.

The gimmicks have clearly uncovered the ruling SLPP election rigging tactics, trying steal the people’s verdict for the second time through largely flawed processes intended to be undertaken by the NCRA. And by ways of trying to justify its politically motivated dishonest dealings, the authority said they want to capture all data and hand it over to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to publish them in the voter register, as if the NEC lacks the capacity to update its voter data, and why the rush.

To say the least it is not the business of the NCRA to tamper with the voter register except if government now wants to make it a normal phenomenon to wherein meddling with the country’s democratic process in every step of the way in rapidly becoming a norm for the ruling SLPP and president Bio. No wonder our present democratic dispensation is being widely described as a dead democracy after all what former president Dr Ernest Bai Koroma did in consolidating Sierra Leone’s democracy only for such legacies to destroy so soon by his successor.

The NCRA controversial ‘verification’ is presently the most topical national issue in the country’s democratic dispensation that is on the lips of all and sundry, with fears of the unforeseeable outcome of the 2023 elections in favour of the ruling SLPP. Some people hold the views that the incumbent party is playing a fear game considering its poor performance in state governance in the last twenty-three months or so in office, whereas others believe that the government should have followed the right procedures since elections are still far away yet.

In what appears as if president Bio rely very much on using the civil registration authority to protect his party from any electoral misfortunes in the 2023 polls, and secure his second term of office, is being faced with strong resistances with controversial arguments across traditional and new media platforms across civic and political landscapes.

And so far a red flag has been raised against this political attention-grabber ‘verification’ by the SLPP using the NCRA to disenfranchise Sierra Leoneans from taking part in approaching elections. Opposition political parties have also expressed serious concerns about the issue of the said ‘verifications’ of civil register by citizens, with suspicions of government trying to rig the elections through the voter register before even they are even conducted.

But that NEC and the NCRA share no similar tasks and mandates, the authority should therefore not just grab the mandate of NEC under guise of dubious ‘verifications’ it intend to embark on, when in fact the elections commission prior to the March 2018 elections former chairmanship, Mohamed Alie Conteh, told the nation that they were going to issue to the electorate multi-purpose voter identity cards, but ended up issuing poorly designed laminated voter ID cards. What we have all come to learn over the years, is that as by law, the commission’s work starts with the commencement of national elections schedule, which has not been declared yet by NEC, which is why it the wholes thing appears so inconceivable for the NCRA to be in a rush for ‘verifications’ of citizens’ particulars to be published in the voter register by NEC when the time for election is still far from the normal schedule, if at all the failed SLPP Bio led government does not have anything off its sleeves to rig the process come 2023. And how do they want the public and international partners to trust the process when everything has started with fraudulent tricks by ruling party stooges? So, let the NCRA wait until the 2023 election timetable is out from NEC, rather than trying to play tricks with the voter register now ahead of elections, only to claim another stolen victory against the wishes and aspirations of the whole country in the end.

Verifications of particulars were done long ago that is why the pending event seems to be attracting more attentions with mountain pressure on government, NCRA, the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), from All Political Parties Association (APPA) expressing grave concerns about the credibility of the entire process, which the ruling party and government must listen to keenly and reverse the intended ‘verifications’ process the NCRA is set to embark on in favour of the SLPP ahead of the approaching elections. The fact that so many eye brows have been raised on the ploy to rig an election that is still over two years away, there is every need by the NCRA and the SLPP government to be ashamed to refrain themselves from such act that has the propensities to undermine the peace and stability of the country.

What needs to be made categorically clearly with emphasis in all of these is that Mohamed Massaquoi of the NCRA does not have the powers and authority to disenfranchise the people from voting in the 2022 municipal and other elections 2023. He should not go beyond the scope of his mandates and start to grabbing powers of other institutions as NEC. That is unacceptable and he must be cautioned now by key players in the democratic process including his employer president Bio, development partners and the likes of civil society organizations, who were all part of the ‘put Sierra Leone first’ campaign hiding under the canopies of regime change. No one political party is bigger than the Sierra Leone. So let NCRA, the ruling SLPP and government play strictly by the rules.

As stated in a press recently issued from the NCRA office in Freetown date 25th February, it was declared that: “only those whose details are in the Permanent Civil Register will be eligible to obtain Biometric National Identification Cards and to vote in all public elections beginning with the 2022 Local Council Elections”.

The NCRA is totally wrong in its attempt to disenfranchise people from voting in the forthcoming local council and all other elections. The authority should therefore review the statement and reconsider correcting itself thereby ensuring to create a level playing field for all political parties in the democratic process not just the ruling SLPP.

In a strongly worded letter from the national Secretariat of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) signed by the party’s Secretary General Ambassador Dr Osman Foday Yansanneh is clearly spelled out that; “Section 22 of the Public Elections Act (Act No. 4 of 2012 under the rubric “Notice of intention to compile Register of Voters”. For ease of reference, I here produce the full text of that section: Section 22: Upon notification by the Electoral Commission, the President may, from time to time, by statutory instrument, make orders –

(a) declaring the intention of the Electoral Commission either generally or in such wards as he may specify in the order to have new Registers of Voters prepared; and

(b) specifying a date for the publication of notices inviting claims from eligible voters under section 23; but any order already in existence, if issued not more than two years earlier, shall be sufficient for the purposes of this section.

The APC however described the act by the NCRA as treason, reminding president Bio of his responsibility; “you are the ONLY person with the sole mandate to declare for the registration of new Voters or verification of old Voters. Similarly sir, you cannot just make a declaration orally (viva voce) but it has to be done through Statutory Instruments that first need to be laid in Parliament procedurally and with specific legal timeframes within which such declarations can mature and become functional”, the letter reads.

This however implies that the NCRA chief has nothing whatsoever to do with the voter register which is said to had been long dealt with even before Massaquoi took up office a Director General of the authority and his moves are accordingly been referred to as ploys to commit treason and to deliberately feed NEC with the wrong data that can help them rig the 2023 elections in favour of the incumbent SLPP to secure a second term ‘paopa’ by all means.

President Bio is also being in the letter by the opposition the NCRA boss Massaquoi is ‘usurping’ his constitutional mandates and that of NEC as stipulated in Section 33 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, all of which the Office of the President, NEC Secretariat neither the NCRA directorate have not come out with any comment on the most topical issue government is presently confronted by opposition parties. And in their desperate bids to secure a ‘paopa’ second term for a non performer president Bio will only dents the reputation of the government, Massaquoi of the NCRA and NEC whiles the system is fully aware of the fact that a one term regime is furiously hunting the SLPP, that is why they all have sleepless nights putting pressures on the authority to verify details to place them in a more comfortable position before elections are due

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