(Freetown, Friday, 28 February 2020) In its bid to maintain fair play, transparency and inclusivity of all Stakeholders of the Civil Registration, Vital Statistics and Identity Management, the National Civil Registration Authority and its Director-General, Mr. Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi on Friday 28th February 2020 held a one-day stakeholders’ meeting with Political Parties in Sierra Leone at the Immigration Department’s Conference Hall in Freetown. The meeting attracted Political Party leaders and their representatives.
In his opening address, the Director-General of NCRA, Mr. Mohamed Massaquoi welcomed and thanked members present for their attendance at short notice which demonstrated the commitment and importance they continue to attach to the CRVS and ID Management System in Sierra Leone.
He informed Stakeholders present that when he took office as Director-General of the Authority in October 2018, he created the platform for collaborative engagement and consultation with CRVS stakeholders for every aspect of the Authority, for which he said that records including minutes and videos among others are available to underscore his inclusive partnership leadership style.
He informed participants that in November 2019, stakeholders were updated on the status of the Civil Registration landscape after the Voter and Mass Civil Registration exercises and plans for next action for which funding is now expected from the Ministry of Finance.
Mr. Massaquoi said that he called the meeting to update CRVS stakeholders on the upcoming confirmation of registrants’ details and the registration of all those who had not registered with the Authority effective 24th March to 25th May 2020. Mr. Massaquoi referenced the NCR Act 2016 Section 25(b) which he said mandates him to provide information to other institutions among which is the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for the purpose of getting an updated register of voters for the conduct of public elections and referenda. He reassured all that NCRA is not doing anything extra ordinary, rather that he was only implementing what Parliament had agreed on as law of the land.
To further throw clarity on the operations of the Authority, Mr. Massaquoi informed members of political parties that he called the meeting to brief them on the plans for the Confirmation and Registration exercise, The Authority, Mr. Massaquoi reported was under pressure to provide biometric identity cards to the population to help reduce identity fraud and prevent human trafficking. The opportunity is now and he called on all participants to meaningfully contribute to the process.
NEC, the Director-General said, wants the data by the end of 2020 and early 2021. The Foreign Missions, the Director General informed, make recourse to NCRA to identify and authenticate their clients’ credentials.
Dr. Denis Bright expressed concern about the conspicuous absence of the two main Political Parties (SLPP and APC) although the SLPP was later represented. He said that their absence spoke volumes since they both have huge followership in the political landscape of the country.
The Acting Head of NEC, Mr. Edmund Alpha, commended the NCRA Director General for engaging Political Parties. He reported that NEC has been in close collaboration with NCRA when it was the then National Registration Secretariat (NRS) where he chaired most of the Steering Committee meetings in 2004. He expressed disappointment about the absence of the main opposition party- the All Peoples’ Congress (APC) to deliberate on issues of national importance. He supported Dr. Denis Bright’s statement on the APC and SLPP that if the APC has concerns, then the right forum to discuss them was at the stakeholders’ meeting.
Mr. Alpha further informed Political Parties representatives that the ‘marriage’ between NEC and NCRA had started way back in 2008 and it has been fruitful and cordial to date. “For us at NEC this marriage had started years back, dating from 2008 when we started this exercise of collaboration with the NRS by then; we for us at NEC we are a democratic institution and the activities that have been going on have been done in collaboration with us”, the Acting Head of NEC confirmed.
He further went on to ally the fears of all Political Parties representatives present by assuring them that the NCRA has not in any way taking over the powers of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), and until such happens, Political Parties have the responsibility to remain calm and work towards the betterment of Sierra Leone. “The assurance I want to give political parties here is, the NCRA has not in any way usurped our responsibilities at NEC, they have not. What I want to assure is that our marriage is intact and we are going to continue this marriage,” Mr. Alpha announced.
He encouraged the NCRA to continue to engage the Political Parties in the sensitization drive of the process since they are in constant touch with their people.
The Director of Operations and Services Abu-Bakarr Javombo, made a PowerPoint presentation titled, “The Update on NCRA Activities” showing the importance and benefits of confirming registrants’ personal details and the registration of all citizens and non-citizens who had never registered with the NCRA.
He informed the participants that they have produced the Confirmation and Registration centers and they will be made available for public consumption.
Members of the Political Parties present applauded the process and pledged their unflinching support and commitment to the entire CRVS and ID Management exercises.
IEC DEPARTMENT, NCRA.
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