By correspondent Matthew Kanu
Sierra Leoneans will be going to the polls on the 7th March 2018. Over the past weeks the University of Makeni engaged presidential aspirants in a series of public lectures on their development vision of Sierra Leone 2018/2023 and beyond . Hundreds of students turned out to listen to the aspirants.
First year Mass Communication student Patient Kargbo is a first time voter who said the public lectures of the political aspirants helped her a lot to know the issues of national development across the country. She said the presentation of the various manifestos shaped her worldview of politics as compared to before when she thought politics was not her business.
A student of the Faculty of Commerce and Management Abibatu Tarawalie is also a first time voter who said she was expecting the aspirants to enact scholarship scheme policies for university students across the country.
45 years old resident of Makeni Amadu Sesay is an unemployed man who witnessed the public lectures and thinks education should be prioritized by all aspirants because there is every need to focus on the human resource development of the country.
This is the third election public lecture series organized by the University. It is part of the tradition of the University to engage political party aspirants during national democratic elections. The Alliance Democratic Party presidential aspirant Mohamed Kamaramba Mansaray, the All Peoples Congress Party Presidential Aspirants Dr. Samura Kamara, the running mate of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party Dr. Mohamed Joldeh Jalloh and the Peoples Democratic Change presidential aspirant Charles Francis Margai honored their invitation and presented their vision for Sierra Leone to the general students body and staff of the university.
Speaking to reporters before the lecture the UNIMAK Development Studies Head of Department Unisa Partick Kamara said the University of Makeni is not partisan. “As a University we promote sustainable development and not party politics” Mr. Kamara noted.
The first elections public lecture series was held in 2007 and the second in 2012 respectively . The majority of the presidential candidates discussions around the elections were centered on better health delivery, quality education, free press, agriculture ,job creation and infrastructural development.
All March 7 2018 presidential aspirants interviewed by the this medium indicated that the public lecture series organized by the university is a better initiative for peaceful democratic process before, during and after the 2018 general elections in Sierra Leone. They also opined that such an initiative at university level is step in the right direction for Sierra Leone emerging democracy.
Over 3million Sierra Leoneans will be voting during the March 7 elections out of a population of 7 million people.
In his address to political party aspirants and students, the University of Makeni Vice Chancellor Professor Joseph Turay said the university is a platform for democratic discussions that will shape the future of Sierra Leone at local and international level. “Our aim is to generate new ideas that will strengthen our democracy” Professor Turay emphasized.
As the country prepares for the March elections many people at home and abroad are expecting a nonviolent electoral process .