Salone News

Attitudinal and Behavioral Change Secretariat Launched

6 June 2008 at 04:54 | 1556 views


By Dr. Michel Sho-Sawyer,
Director of Diaspora Affairs,
Office of the President,
Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Sierra Leone’s recent past was marked by eleven-year brutal war that destroyed almost all its infrastructure and assaulted its culture and tradition. Many years of socio-economic retrogression prior to the civil war because of bad governance triggered the destruction and brutal assault on the people of Sierra Leone. Bad governance had also created a pool of idle and disgruntled youth population that would serve as fuel for the civil war.

Evidently, 65 % of the youth population was involved directly and actively in the conflict. A good majority of the entire population directly or indirectly was affected by the civil war. Women and children were especially exposed to danger that brought about a phenomenon of total indiscipline uncharacteristic of Sierra Leone before the war. Subsequently, the attitude of the people came under serious assault, which adversely affected their behavioural pattern caused by the total indiscipline in the prevailing near to chaotic assembly in post-war Sierra Leone. The aftermath post-war sub-human standard was parallel to further retrogression of the people’s attitude and the subsequent bad behavioural pattern.

When the President emphasized his Attitudinal and Behavioural Change (ABC) vision as the vehicle for the promotion of patriotism and the overall socio-economic development of the state, he was also emphasizing the need to tow all Sierra Leoneans out of the decadence of poverty and retrogression. The ABC campaign, therefore, must be viewed as an important component in the fight to improve the standards of all Sierra Leoneans with the additional realization that it is directly related to infrastructural development and sustenance of the state’s infrastructure and to beef up human capacity in the overall governance of the state.

In the above, the President’s foresight in his inaugural speech that a sustainable socio-economic growth cannot be attained without a positive attitude and behaviour of the national population towards the consolidation of its human and natural resources is grounded. It is a good case, therefore, that the Poverty Reduction Strategy successful implementation would have a better chance alongside the President’s Attitudinal and Behavioural Change (ABC) campaign. In essence, the President is telling the people of Sierra Leone that they need to go back to the basics of learning the attitude and behaviour alphabet. A positive attitude and good behaviour towards any scheme such as unilateral, bilateral, or multilateral grants or loans will eliminate the programme implementation under the old lethargy, nonchalant and rowdy conditions prevalent amongst the majority of the people. Unemployment and lack of job training was the norm. Everybody behaved according to his or her wish and whims including the powers that be because of bad attitude. There was no leadership attention to the changing of the attitude and behaviour of the people towards national allegiance and civic competence.

On attaining peace in 2002, the process of rebuilding started with a reintegration programme aimed at reuniting the perpetrators with the victims of the war.

In the similar vein, the new government has precipitated the ABC to tackle the resulting negative attitude and bad behaviour because of long time pre-war bad governance and the decade-long warring dispositions. Therefore, the President assumed office with a clear vision. This has motivated the leadership and the people to move this country forward in the right direction and uplift the youth, the women, the disabled, the underprivileged, and the very poor. The president’s vision and philosophy must not only be echoed and sung but must be included in the PRSP for funding and effective implementation.
It is the president’s wish that the people of Sierra Leone with the help of the international community come together to behold this difficult decision of abandoning the old ways of doing things in favour of positive changes that will upgrade the country’s status amongst economically vibrant nations and forever remove it from the bottom of the UN-Human Development Index.

Pursuant to H.E Ernest Bai Koroma’s inaugural message at the National Stadium on 15th November 2007, there was the need to move the concept of attitudinal change that formed the core value of his address beyond an ordinary speech. Sierra Leoneans have been challenged to self-examination vis--vis the parlous state of the country and move towards a positive direction. This move, despite the political will from the authorities, must reflect the daily lives and activities of the ordinary Sierra Leoneans. In other words, the concept of positive attitude towards private property, state property, government institutions, authority and even interpersonal and intrapersonal must be inherent in us. The absence or lack of positive attitude among Sierra Leoneans encouraged the President to mention this adage “Attitude is everything. Change your attitude and change your life.”

Attitudinal change among Sierra Leoneans must be taken beyond conceptualization and theoretical framework. The people must exercise some amount of responsibility in practicing positive attitude and good behaviour. With positive attitude and good behaviour, Sierra Leoneans will come on board to strive for a sustainable socio-economic society.

In promoting this concept, the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change Secretariat has been launch in the Ministry of Information and Communication which has design the strategy and the tools to be used, and the logical needs of the implementers of the strategy.