5 To Replace N’fa Alie

 

Whether or not the current Chief Electoral Commissioner of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Mohamed N’fa Alie Conteh would conduct the 2023 national elections remain a one-million-dollar question.

The Chief Electoral Officer holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in History and Political Science and postgraduate diploma in Education from Fourah Bay College (FBC), as well as postgraduate degree in Administration and Management from the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) in the University of Sierra Leone (USL).

The National Returning Officer upon graduation from FBC was recruited by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and posted to NEC 28 years ago, where he rose from the junior to senior cadre until he was appointed by former President Ernest Bai Koroma as Chief Electoral Commissioner on 5th February, 2015 and was unanimously approved by Parliament. For meritorious service to the state, he was made an Officer of the Order of Rokel by the former President in April 2014.

Notwithstanding, many people hold the view that the N’fa Alie led NEC poorly conducted the March, 2018 national elections, particularly the highly contestable presidential election which controversially saw the Commission in the first round announcing results that gave a total of over 100% of the all the votes cast. The result led to a disgruntled stalwart in the then ruling All people’s Congress (APC) party taking NEC to court, calling for the court to put a hold on the conduct of the runoff, a delay that cost NEC, according to N’fa Alie, over US$2 million.

If it pleases His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio to replace N’fa Alie with a new Chief Electoral Commissioner, he can choose from within NEC that has a crop of seasoned electoral administrators that have worked with the Commission for nearly thirty years.

Commissioner for the Southern Region, Augusta Bockarie oversees NEC’s Training and Electoral Education Department. She was responsible for the 2016 constituency and ward boundary delimitation exercise, as well as issues relating to infrastructure and special assignments.

Commissioner for the Western Area, Miatta Lilly French heads the oversight committee responsible for overall supervision and control of the media and external relations. She was responsible for NEC’s 2016 deliverables to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

Commissioner for the Eastern Region, Stephen Aiah Mattia, has logged in 28 years active service with NEC. In 2016, he served on secondment to the United Nations as Senior Planning Officer in the Electoral Assistance Division of the UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in the Central Africa Republic.

Another name muted for the position, should it fall vacant, is the current Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) elected Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Hon. Sidi Tunis, who also is the Chairman on the Parliamentary Appointments and Selection Committee. He is one of the longest serving Members of Parliament and is highly respected by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle for being impartial, friendly and open minded.

Last but not the least is Hon. Foday Rado Yokie, whose name became popular after the SLPP 31st March, 2018 presidential runoff election victory, when he was appointed by President Bio to head the Government Vehicles Recovery Committee. He entered Parliament in 2007 under the SLPP ticket in the Bo district.