Wizard Complex, Damabala Road, Bo, Tuesday May 9,2023 ———– The National Youth Commission through its partners, commenced another two days thrilling and interactive session for youths as part of their preparedness and efforts aiming at stemming violence and broadening the horizons of youths in understanding the current electoral system by ECSL, and also helping to align their thoughts and actions in conformity to the Codes of Conducts and guidelines set out by the PPRC for the June 24 general elections. This regional youth forum which began in the western area, targeting young people is part of series of lined up of activities that the Commission is undertaking with the principal objective of having a peaceful, credible and violence free 2023 elections.

Whilst welcoming participants and other stakeholders to Bo, the Paramount Chief of Kakua Chiefdom, PC Prince Lappia Boima, dilated on the need for peace, before, during and after the June 24 elections in sierra Leone. He underscored the importance of peace in any society as he expressed that we can only talk about development in a country where there is sustainable peace. He went on to plead with the youths in the southern region and by extension the country at large, to give peace a chance as he drew the attention of all young people to have a deeper reflection on the civil war and the atrocities it unleashed, which most people have still not completely recovered from, and which scars are still visible in some parts of the country. He further encouraged them to be nationalistic and imbibe the culture of patriotism in them by allowing Sierra Leone to be their focus and not their political parties.

Speaking on behalf of the United Nation Development Program (UNDP), the Gender and Inclusion Specialist, Bola, acknowledged the presence of youths present in the workshop from within the Southern region, cutting across the spectrum of youth councils, youth wing of political parties, youth organizations, and as well thanked NAYCOM for bringing all these youths and their leaders together on a dialogue forum that geard towards the achievement of violence free 2023 elections. She disclosed that the rationale of the engagement is to ensure that they have young people to participate either as candidates to contest elective positions or as agents to uphold the peace of the country during the election period. She further disclosed that, the future of sierra Leone lies in the hands of the young people and that the capacity to also driver Sierra Leone forward squarely rest on their shoulders. She also noted that, the youths are not just tools to be used and misused by politicians, but they are a group of people with huge potentials that if channel properly could be able to deliver exceeding result that can take the country to higher level. She reminded that in about forty-four days from now the country will be going to the polls, and the significant number of people who will be voting on that day are essentially young people and among them many are first time voters.

She ended by disclosing that UNDP has joined hands with partners such as Irish Aid, the European Union, the government of Canada and the government of Ice land to establish what she referred to as the Election Basket Fund which UNDP and the other donors have contributed resources, with the specific aim of supporting the June 2023 elections to ensuring that it is peaceful, credible and inclusive. The UNDP chose to work closely with the National Youth Commission because they don’t want to leave the youths behind, hence one of their mottos, which says leave no one behind, especially the farthest behind.  

Delivering his statement on behalf NAYCOM, the Commissioner Mr. Thomas Ngolo Katta, set off on the relevance of the forum to them as a commission and to the youth as their constituents. He disclosed that as a country we are cut in the web of fake news dissemination, misinformation and disinformation which to a larger extent, those engaged in this act are predominantly young people. He explained that the young people are the king makers and that they also have the opportunities to change the face look of the current Sierra Leonean context, and to make the country looks the way we want it, rest in the hands of the young people.

He drew the attention of young people to the United Nations security Council Resolution 22(50), that speaks about the role young people should play as leaders in peace and security of their nations and across the world, and member states must ensure that they play those roles. He further referenced the African union Charter of article 12 to 14 which speaks to young people having the level plain field where they can participate. By participation, it means the involvement of young people from planning, implementing and monitoring of activities that involves them with the view of ensuring those outcomes that are expected are achieved.

Commissioner Katta ended by informing participants about another important component which the commission will be introducing to achieve a violence free 2023 elections. For the first time the National Youth Commission will be piloting the National Youth Innovation Lab. The primary objective of the Election Innovation Lab, is to provide an effective platform for youths to actively engage the public through social innovations and competitions, in promoting violence-free and youth participation in the electoral process and meaningful participation in governance through the use of technology.

The engagement of youths and other stakeholders for a violence-free 2023 elections regenerates in other regions of the country.

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