From the Editor’s Keyboard

NEC:The agony and trauma of vote counting

12 September 2007 at 22:18 | 837 views


By Gibril Koroma
Vancouver, Canada.

I am a supporter of the East End Lions soccer club in Freetown, Sierra Leone. People who know about Sierra Leonean soccer will tell you Lions is one of the greatest soccer teams(perhaps the greatest)in that country in terms of age and performance. Most of the Lions supporters are based in the east of the city while their arch rivals, Blackpool(another great team) commands the west. When both teams meet, it’s like war. You can stretch your hand and hold the tension; emotional outbursts are common. Whoever is the referee on a day like that would have to be very brave and very cautious.

The run-off contest between the APC and the SLPP reminds me of a Lions-Blackpool soccer match.

And this brings me nicely to the ongoing vote counting and tallying at the headquarters of the National Electoral Commission at Wellington in Freetown.

I sometimes wonder why the vote counting in such a small country like Sierra Leone with less than three million voters is taking so long. Bigger countries with bigger populations on the continent usually take less than a week to do this.This process has taken over a month(it began August 11, 2007)and it’s still crawling, tortoise-like, to its final destination.

Sierra Leoneans have never experienced such a chameleonic, agonising and traumatic electoral process since independence. We have received numerous emails and telephone calls from our readers( a lot of whom are used to the rapidity of Western electoral processes) seeking explanations as to why NEC is "punishing" them with such slowness. We normally reply that NEC is facing enormous problems in terms of logistics,manpower and other resources. The bad weather and bad roads are also factors, we explained, although we ourselves are not totally convinced.

NEC therefore has to devise strategies whereby the pace could be quickened. We also advise that NEC avoids the practice of announcing figures and later withdrawing them because of complaints. That’s a recipe for chaos in a country where most of the people have never benefitted from formal education. That’s like a referee in a Lions-Blackpool match saying a goal has been scored by one of the teams and later changing his mind or disallowing the goal. NEC should carefully investigate each figure before announcing it. PLEASE don’t announce and then recant. Older Sierra Leonean soccer fans will remember referee Adejobi and those Blackpool-Lions matches. He used to do exactly the same thing and the fans were never amused and they let him know that.

On a more serious note, I would like to end by encouraging Madam Thorpe and her team to continue to do what appears(so far) to be a good job and make sure the process is clean and proper till the final vote is counted. Long live Sierra Leone.