26 years in Electoral Administration, now Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Mohamed N’fah-Alie Conteh has decide to put his experience in electoral administration into a book as he published his first book titled ‘Paramount Chieftaincy in Sierra Leone’.
In an interview with the writer at his office yesterday, he said “this is not a shift but to show my other skills, this is another side of me but it has been part of me but all about the book are elections related”.
Given a reason why he decided to write the book which is published by Lambert Academic Publishing, he said the book gives a background to the history of Paramount Chiefs and how elections are conducted for them.
Commissioner Conteh said “since I joined elections process 26 years ago, there were no books or literature; if Paramount Chieftaincy elections were to be conducted, no literature was available on these issues. So I started doing research on Paramount Chieftaincy and other elections related activities”.
He said he did this because he wants people to know more about elections and its related activities; also another reason he wrote the book is “for the other generations not to find themselves in similar situation. Also, for elections officers, stakeholders, political parties and others who want to contest paramount Chieftaincy elections, local council and general elections to know about it.”
Explaining further, which is mainly on Paramount Chieftaincy, he said the book looks at the “history of Paramount Chieftaincy and how it started from Pre-colonial days to date.” The said the book also stress more on how we conduct paramount Chieftaincy elections at chiefdom level. The book looks at the Ruling Houses, stating that the Ministry of Local Government has legislation that qualifies one to contest chieftaincy elections as he/she has to belong to a ruling house, “but there is no particular area that you will go to get all the Ruling Houses, so I did that research. This book also has the list of Paramount Chiefs in the country and the time they were elected”.
Another issue that is in the book, he said, is the decline of the Paramount chiefs, because before colonial time Paramount Chiefs were called kings; this changed during the colonial time when the colonialists came they decide to call them ‘chiefs’.
Before this time, these chiefs had lot of powers but there has been a decline in their powers and one of the reasons for this “is the conflict between certain authorities and local council though there are other issues but the major one is the struggle for power between Paramount Chiefs, Local Council authorities and in some areas Members of Parliament and Councillors”.
Questioned on the number of books written, Mohamed N’fah-Alie Conteh disclosed that “this is the first book that I have published but I have five that I have in waiting. I want this to serve as motivation for others in the National Electoral Commission to let them go into writing especially on elections”.
About the other books he has written, the NEC Chairman said “most of the books deal with elections; one is Management of Elections in Sierra Leone – an Introduction. This tells exactly how we go about conducting elections. Its talks about the origin of Political Parties, how Political Parties developed, the first being the SLPP and then the APC – from 1961 to date. It also has a brief history of elections conducted in the country”.
The other book, he said, “is a short history of the Electoral Commission as people need to know about elections – tracing the process to pre- independence when there was no NEC office until the 1961 constitution with the mandate that there should be an independent electoral commission”.