Gbarnga, Bong County – September 15 each year is observed as International Democracy Day. The day was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2007 following the Inter Parlimentary Union adoption of a Universal Declaration on Democracy in 1997. The date seeks to promote and uphold the principles of democracy.
The theme for the 2023 International Day of Democracy “Empowering the next generation,”, which focuses on the essential role that young people play in advancing democracy and ensuring that their voices are included in the decisions that have a profound impact on their world. It is against this backdrop that ForumCiv, a politically and unaffiliated orgnaization, collaborated with some youth organizations such as the Bong County Student Union (BONSU), the Bong Chapter of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), the Passion for Youth Education Foundation (PTEF), the Community Solutions Aid (CSAID), and Miss Eco Bong to commemorate the day.
Held in Totota, Lower Bong County, the event brought together close to one hundred young people and four of the ten contestants for the senatorial seat for Bong County in this year’s Presidential and Legislative Elections. Though communication was served to nine of the candidates, those in attendance were former Minister of Agriculture Dr. Mogana Flomo, Jr., former superintendent of Bong County, and a former deputy minister at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Dr. Renny B. Jackson, the Political Affairs Officer in the office of Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor Hon, Amos D. S. Barbu, Jr., and Hon. Alexander Zogbaye a longstanding advocate for Democracy.
The dialogue created a platform for young people to assess and understand how the senatorial candidates intend to discharge their cardinal responsibilities (lawmaking, oversight, representation) to address issues relating to: Climate justice, Gender Equality and Equity, Land Rights, Land Government Act, Drug Addiction, Menstrual Health.
Speaking to the gathering, Dr. Mogana Flomo Jr. said he believes that economic empowerment and decentralization of the governance of the state are the key to addressing all issues. He also intends to support the enactment of new laws to improve rural health, education, and access to credit for farmers. And he will engage the supreme court for actions in areas where the laws are not respected.
For his part, Dr. Rennie B. Jackson insisted on empowerment of local governance structures in the county, and that he would and push forward an amendment to the Local Government Act to ensure that 10% of all annual budget is directed to counties for development purposes. He promised to resurrect the Madam Suakoko Scholarship Program to empower young people.
Amos D. S. Barbu promise to promote economic empowerment and fight for accountability to ensure that young people become a part of decisions that affect them. While Alexander Zogbaye believes that there are existing laws and policies on the books to address all of the issues which the dialogue covered. He will use the Supreme Court of Liberia to compel the Executive branch of government to implement the laws that are on the book.
Members of the audience had the opportunity to question to candidates regarding the contributions that had made to the county before seeking for leadership role at the level of the Liberian senate. There was no exchange between candidates, and all interactions were between the candidates and the young people.
In separate remarks, citizens of the area including Hon. Robert Clinton the City Mayor of Totota City appreciated ForumCiv for creating such platforms which promotes constructive dialogue and accountability. For his part Mr. Asa D. Chon the Country Manager of ForumCiv lauded the participants and highlighted that ForumCiv has no political affiliations and does not support any candidates of parties in the elections.