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Archive for December, 2013

SUDDEN DEATH IN SOMERSET, NEW JERSEY : Michael Samba passes away

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

condolences (1)

 Death has hit the Sierra Leone community in New Jersey once again. Mr. Michael Samba, the brother of socialite Dr. John Samba, passed away suddenly this evening.
According to John Samba, Michael was found lying face-down at home but apparently still alive. A 911 distress call was responded to by the Rescue squad who on arrival performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation ( CPR ) to revive him but it was all in vain. He was  pronounced dead by the squad .  As at the time of writing this story, the body was still home, waiting for the Andersen Funeral Home to remove it for funeral preparations. We wish to extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family . We will bring you the funeral arrangements when released by the family.

BOAT ACCIDENT IN SIERRA LEONE : TRANSPORT AND AVIATION MINISTER CLARIFIES

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

The Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Leonard Balogun Koroma has just called me to give the correct details of the tragic boat accident in Sierra Leone today.

The minister said that the accident happened at Tagrin this evening when a PAN-PAN BOAT was rammed into by an African Minerals speedboat, just a few knots from the landing pad. Hon. Logus Koroma, in his desire to correct any misleading report that may be carried on the social media , disclosed that as of the moment he was talking to me at 1: 15 am (GMT ), 5 PEOPLE have been confirmed dead and 4 unaccounted for.

Balogun Logus Koroma_3

 

The minister went on : ” I am just from there with the General Manager of Ports Authority and the Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Maritime Authority. While I was there, 42 people had been rescued and taken to the Ports Authority Clinic , out of whom 30 have been moved to Connaught Hospital , where they are receiving emergency treatment . Those are the details as of 1 :15 am as I am speaking to you . The details might change ” .

The minister further stated that the accident took place so close to the jetty that some of the passengers on the boat had already started removing their life jackets. According to the Minister, a last rescue effort has gone out tonight.

Mr. Logus Koroma is one minister that should be highly commended for being very proactive , hands-on and transparent , keeping the media always fully abreast with any event happening under his watch.

THE MINISTER WILL PROVIDE MORE DETAILS TOMORROW.

Kandeh Yumkella addresses Freetown Dinner Club

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Distinguished Members and spouses of the Freetown Dinner Club
Invited Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you very much for inviting me to this year’s dinner. Let me at the outset congratulate all the members and their spouses for keeping this institution alive for so many decades since 1944.  I have been a guest at your dinners for the past four years. So, I suspect that someone decided that this time, I should pay for my dinner by delivering some remarks.  In the course of the remarks, I will exert my own revenge by giving you three homework assignments (SWOT Analysis). The person or group that has the best essay could receive a generous reward.

Kandeh-Yumkella (600 x 555)

DR. KANDEH YUMKELLA

I was not sure about what to say to this August group, the crème-de la-crème of Freetown. But then I got my “Eureka Moment” two weeks ago due to some events. Nelson Mandela passed away and I asked myself what did I learn from his life of 90 years?   What can we all learn from his life?  He taught us about perseverance, patience and forgiveness.  His exemplary ability to forgive ensured lasting peace.  He also voluntarily gave up his presidency after one-term.

China successfully landed a Rover on the moon and I said to myself, all nations can be great if their people are determined.  So if China with almost a billion  poor people in the 1960s (during the success of the Soviet Sputnik space craft, followed by the Kennedy Administration’s Apollo project to land a man on the moon) can reach the moon. Perhaps Africans/Sierra Leoneans can also send a rocket to space by 2023.

I once did a public lecture at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy on development prospects in Africa. I spoke about only positive things.  During the Q & A session one of the people said,    “but Dr. Yumkella, you said nothing about the conflicts in Darfur, DRC and Somalia”.  I replied, “Yes you are right, the international media does the negative stuff regularly, because they report

only the 3-Ds of Africa, Disease-Disaster-Death, so I chose to talk about the other part of Africa (The Bold-The Better- The Best“). Therefore, by choice, I chose to speak to you today on the theme: “A Decade of Stability and Progress: What Next?

I will talk about Sierra Leone’s successful achievements in the Decade of 2002-2012. I have divided the period into two segments 2002-2007 and 2007-2012.  Of course there is a lot, a lot, more work ahead, and of course everything did not go as planned.

SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS

During the past two decades. I have observed a lot of cynicism among our people. Perhaps part of it is due to the 11-year war.  Perhaps, it is also a sign that it is our nature to pull-one-another-down, or vilify our leaders. So, in preparation for this speech, I asked myself what have we as a people achieved in the past decade since the war ended.

I ask you (the crème –de la-crème of Freetown), is there anything that the nation has achieved in the past decade that you are proud of?    Having been here four times this year, I know times are hard.  In fact, that is also why I want to have you reflect on your strengths (those attributes that made you recover from the worst period in our history) so that you can overcome your current hardships and challenges.

We have actually achieved a lot. But these achievements did not occur in a vacuum. They occurred under the leadership of successive governments, with the support and participation of our people, and the generosity of the international community.  So allow me to give you my own score card of our successes.

Score card for 2002-2007

A decade of war destroyed everything we held dear. Our sense of dignity was shaken, it uprooted and displaced almost half of our population and badly degraded key administrative and governance institutions (see Stanley Kaplan 1994, The Coming Anarchy, and Paul Collier, 2007, The Bottom Billion).  So the Government at that time started almost from ground zero, rebuilding every institution one-by-one and brick-by-brick. What did they achieve?

1.  They gave us Peace (asking us to forgive each other and even allowed the RUF to form a party, similar to Mandela forgiving the Afrikaners)
2.  Reconstruction was launched (which laid plans for major infrastructure projects);
3.  NASSIT was established (guaranteeing every worker in the public sector and the private sector a pension);
4.  The National Revenue Authority was created (bringing some sanity to fiscal management);
5.   The Anti-Corruption Commission was formed (to deal with probity in governance);
6.   They rebuilt Local Councils which were dissolved in the 1970s (devolving some authority back to the provinces and empowering local communities).

7.   The team institutionalized democracy with a functioning parliament and free media after almost three decades of one party and military rule (they were so successful that we have had three peaceful elections from 2002-2012, and the ruling party was defeated in an election as a hallmark of a strong democracy).
8.   They Rebuilt the Education & Health infrastructure – Sababu project rebuild schools destroyed during the war laying the foundation to increased school enrollment, particularly for the girl child. Health centers or posts were rebuilt in almost every chiefdom in the provinces staffed with qualified health workers.
9.   Finally, the team rebuilt the security apparatus with the support of DFID and IMAAT (revamped the police (remember IG Keith Biddle), and rebuilt an army that had been badly fragmented).

So, your first assignment for tonight is; Go ahead and make your own list……you are also free to include the failures too.

The Score Card for 2007-2012

Building on the foundation of the previous years, the new government established the path for growth and prosperity. What have they achieved?
1.   They launched critical infrastructure projects to enhance systemic competitiveness of the economy. They completed the Bumbuna-1, increased electricity supply in some cities, rehabilitated major roads linking Freetown and some major provincial cities and also commenced new road projects. Some of these projects required significant boldness to take up a challenge of that magnitude.
2.   They improved the cost of doing business to encourage greater private sector participation in the economy.
3.   The Team gave us Free-health care, in an attempt to guarantee access to basic health care for all.
4.   They have struggled to stabilize monetary policy in the context of a global financial meltdown, (the worst the world had seen) since the Great Depression and the effects of which linger in many economies around the world). I say “struggled” because even the great USA or the Eurozone economies have not fully succeeded yet.
5.   They Increased FDI, and GDP growth rates roses above 5% (the later would be the  envy of many countries), African Minerals, London Mining, Addax-Biofuels Project, injection of new capital into Sierra Rutile, the diamond mining company was able to raise millions of dollars of finance from international markets,. At the same time, 8 new oil and gas exploration licenses have been issued.
6.   Then there is the introduction of fiber-optic cabling coupled with liberalization of the Gateway in order to catapult the Sierra Leonean people and businesses into the 4G digital age.
7.   This team has attracted significant numbers of Diasporan’s to return home and be part of the change they want to see (remittances are now over $150 million per year and rising);
8.   In a few years they will build a new modern airport ending our humiliation as the only

country where you spend as much time getting to the capital as you did crossing the continent of Africa.
9.   The port facilities will be revamped expanding shipping possibilities and enhancing trade facilitation.

Assignment 2 – Go ahead and make your own list……..you are also free to include the failures too.  CYNICISM VS. CRITICISMS 

 

 

Could we have done better? I believe we could have. But it is certainly not all doom and gloom. Nor is it all rosy today. Remember success breeds success. If one is always negative, one will never see the good in anything, or in anybody and sometimes not even in ones-self. Creativity and innovation do not thrive in an atmosphere of cynicism; they require the freedom to explore, to dream about what can or ought to be, and the willingness to accept some failures and constructive criticism.
So did you make your lists of achievements? If your lists are longer than mine, then you have to put each item through the “Sustainability Test” i.e. are the achievements of the decade sustainable overtime? For example, are the local governments and other institutions functioning the way they should? School enrollments are high, but is the quality of education what it should be for a 21-st century workforce? Will the infrastructure and/or the new airport last for 30-50 years? If you are sick, are you the elite confident to be admitted at Connaught Hospital?
For the second team, I wanted to stop at a score of 8 to provoke a debate. If I had done so, the cynic will not focus on the main spirit of my message. Instead, he/she will waste time telling the word that KK or Yumkella is biased because he gave 9 successes to the first team and only 8 for the second Team.
However, the constructive critic will say since the second team still has more matches to play in the next four seasons, they have a better chance to increase their aggregate score to outperform the first team. The creative thinker will ask a series of questions. How can the people of Sierra Leone and their leaders avoid the failures of the past? How could they scale-up and strengthen the institutions established, deepen economic reforms, and maintain the new infrastructure, and consequently achieve lasting prosperity for the future generations?

I have spent about thirty years in international development. I have learnt that development is a process of accumulation of knowledge and capital; it is also underpinned by building of institutions, establishing values and norms, and creating new ways of doing business.
Sometimes it is a process of experimentation, with successes and failures. Leaders craft the vision, mobilize their people to believe in it, and work for it. Leaders also learn to avoid the
failures, they adjust the sequence, timing and pace of executing public-policy, and with determination build on the successes either by replicating them or scaling them up.
Failing the US-sponsored Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) account is not an end in itself. In fact, it is an opportunity since it provides a menu or check list of macro-economic and institutional reforms to be put in place so that the country can be on a growth-and-opportunity pathway like Ghana and Tanzania; two countries that have dedicated themselves to two decades of very deep reforms.

WHAT NEXT?

The challenges ahead are daunting. Our population could double in the next decades. Like most other African countries, youth unemployment, widening income inequality, environmental degradation and the lack of women’s empowerment, are  real dangers to peace and stability on the one hand, and the agenda for prosperity, on the other.  Defining the future is difficult but doable.  The good news is – that is your next homework assignment.

Assignment 3:  You the distinguished professionals of the Freetown Dinner Club, what is your vision for 2023? What kind of Sierra Leone do you want to bequeath to your children and grandchildren? Are you ready to help create that new and better future?

Let me put it in another way, what if the topic for the guest speaker in 2023 was “The State of the Nation in 2023″, what nation should he or she describe, (A) one that looks like the Niger Delta rich of natural resources but with the lowest standard of living, highest pollution and armed robbery and kidnappings every week;  (b)  Or one that resembles Dubai, the city of superlative, where you have one of the leading logistics hubs, they earn more from services and tourism than their natural resources; they have built the tallest building in world, they have established one of the largest sovereign funds in the world to save money and wealth for the future generation? If it is the latter, are you ready to help build it?

In a dinner speech, I cannot present a full package of solutions.  But here are some elements to serve as your digestive after the dinner and maybe food for thought for further discussion with your family and friends during the holidays.

1. Strengthen public institutions for health, education, security, and governance – Douglas North and Robert William Fogel received the Nobel Prize in1993 “for having renewed research in economic history by applying economic theory and quantitative methods in order to explain economic and institutional change.” They demonstrated that successful economic performance requires solid institutional frameworks (such as the norms, values, cultural and legal structures that define what the society stands for or aspires to be).

I see many educators here tonight, some of my own role models in the room, such as Prof Kpakima and Yekini Alghali.  I also know that you have respected medical doctors among you who gave us our medical school, doctors like Dr. Bernard Frazer, Songo-Williams, Gordon Wright, Ishmail Peters, Hakim Gibril, Robin Coker, Victor Willoughby, many of whom served as role models for people like me. Yes, you cannot retire yet. Mandela continued to be the moral compass for South Africa up to age 90.  I pray that you stay with us much longer to guide us to revisit our values.

2. Vigorous application of the Rule of Law and the Enforcement of Order – For economies to be inclusive and thrive over the long run (as opposed to short-term quick fixes), the legal and judicial frameworks must be set in place to protect civil liberties, enforce contracts, protect property rights and private assets, and citizens must respect each other’s rights. I see many lawyers and judges in the room, I am sure they will join hands to lay the foundations for this.

3. Significant investments in human capital and skills formation beyond just access to basic education – To deal with youth employment, you need a flourishing private sector, but you also need youth that are employable.  We must reform the educational system even more. As I said at the CKC event a few weeks ago, we must invest in functional literacy.  Functional literacy rate refers to the percentage of literates imbued with enhanced adaptive capabilities to use modern technology and devices and to commercialize new knowledge. To this end, the future workforce should be empowered with adaptive thinking and skills to blend with and adapt to the rapidly changing facets of industrialization. Functional literacy rate facilitates creative and innovative thinking skills in order to remain dynamically relevant, to face the challenges in global market place, and to seize emerging opportunities.

4. Further Deepen Systemic Competitiveness through expansion of carefully selected infrastructure and energy investments to support more rapid growth and job creation – but each project must be subject to the sustainability and value-for money tests. For example, does your dream include a country in 2023 where there is universal access to reliable and affordable energy?  I am sure your club members the honorable Minister of Energy, Mr. Robin-Coker, Professor Ogunlade, and other engineers in the room are determined to lay the foundation for ending energy poverty. (So how can you help them?).

5. Accelerate Structural Change and Economic Diversification – Your dream might include a country where the returns from the extractive sector and natural capital have been properly reinvested in such a manner as to diversify the economy, with a strong service, agribusiness and manufacture base. I am sure our brothers Alex Kamara, Andrew Keili, Tanni Prat, John Sesay, Dunstan Spencer, Ibi May-Parker and others in the room; they must have answers for this. I see many members of the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, Diane Carol, Ahmed Labii, and others, and formidable captains of business who can form a coalition of the willing to lay the foundation for an inclusive, equitable and solid economic transformation.

Thus, what will happen next, say in a decade by 2023?  Consider one of Einstein famous statements, “we cannot solve our current problems if we use the same thinking we had when we created them“.  Since we live in a globalized world, we must think global and act local. We must learn how others are creating wealth and spreading prosperity for their citizens and generations yet unborn.

Thus, what will happen next, say in a decade by 2023?  Consider one of Einstein famous statements, we cannot solve our current problems if we use the same thinking we had when we created them“.  Since we live in a globalized world, we must think global and act local. We must learn how others are creating wealth and spreading prosperity for their citizens and generations yet unborn.

I watched the movie “Job” the biography of Steve Job the college-dropout and the founder of the Apple Computer Company, who people thought was crazy for suggesting that the desk-top computer could replace the main-frame computer. He and a team he put together later invented the desk-top personal computer, the iPod, iPhone and iPad. As I watched the movie, I said to myself, so one man can indeed change the world. His life story, like Mandela’s, shows that the path to change or success is an arduous one, and requires passion and dedication even when the world thinks you are crazy.

So In 2014, I challenge you to sometimes see the glass as half full and not always see it as half empty. But strive to fill the rest of the bottle through creativity, determination, and a sense of responsibility.  May God bless our nation and may God bless us all. Thank you very much.

APC-USA Interim Chief sends Christmas Greetings

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013
IBRAHIMSASPOKAMARA (337 x 600)
MR. IBRAHIM SASPO KAMARA

 

All People’s Congress

United States of America (USA) Branch

From the Office of the Chairman

Comrades:

 

As we embark on the celebrations of the holidays, I want to, on behalf of myself and my team (APC-USA Interim Executive), wish you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous 2014. As it has been proven through studies, Sierra Leone is considered a beacon of religious tolerance in that the love and acceptance of one another transcends religion. Hence, we are not afraid to wish one another a happy holiday by its name, in this case Christmas. Political correctness is not a problem amongst us.

Our innate loving nature should not be used in isolation, but in every encounter we may have with one another, politics included. This year, we have just been given the gift of peace and togetherness by our able and charismatic leader, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the APC party leadership. I ask and pray that we nurture and sustain that gift as a testament of who we are as Sierra Leoneans and as APC party loving people. Let us be mindful that progress can only be achieved under an atmosphere conducive for peace. Let us remain forgiving and caring of our comrades. I want us all to emulate the love of our leader and President who would even forgive those equating him to a lowly animal.

As your Chairman (interim), I am encouraging all of you that at the dawn of peace in the APC-USA branch, to turn to each other and say good morning and let there be peace, a gesture asked of us to demonstrate at the convention by the deputy leader of the APC Party, Hon. Minkailu Mansaray.  Remember, in the APC, we must celebrate, not merely tolerate one another because we are the party of love.

May God bless us all.

 

Long Live the APC-USA Peace

Long Live the APC-USA Branch

Long Live the APC (the party that lives forever)

Long live our President and Leader

Long Live our Beloved Sierra Leone
Ibrahim Sanpha Kamara                                                                                                                                                                                          Chairman (interim)                                                                                                                                                                                                                 APC-USA Branch                                                                                                                                                                                                                   703-862-5094

Port Loko gears up for a rousing welcome for President Koroma

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

By Hassan Bruz

Rumours that His Excellency- President Ernest Bai Koroma is so much disgusted with the people of Port Loko over what is perceived to be infightings and unhealthy competition among politicians as well as descendants in high offices, that he had vowed to have less dealing in the District, have now been discarded and even replaced by rumours of his pending visit to the District.

port loko gears up1 (448 x 252)

 

This has not only been evident in the levels of busy preparations  of most Local dignitaries including the Local Council Chairman –Ahmid Munirr Fofanah, the Assistant Inspector General of Police in Charge of the North/Western Region – F U K Daboh, but has even been confirmed by no less a person than the Member of Parliament for Constituency 049- Hon, Alhajie Serray Dumbuya. He made the disclosure about 24 hours ago, in a Meeting that was fully attended by Candidates and Members of the Bekeh Loko Paramount Chieftaincy Ruling Houses.

Although the meeting was in fulfilment of some of the conditions in the Performance Contract Parliamentarians signed with His Excellency, wherein Members of Parliament are required to meet with their Constituents at regular intervals on Proposed Bills, Laws Passed and General Concerns, the purpose of the above meeting as outlined by its Chairman- Mohamed Tarawalli popularly known as ‘Malapay’, was to map out ways through which the President can be accorded a rousing welcome against his pending visit to the District in a few days time.

According to Hassan Bangura and as buttressed by Pa Amadu Seaport Kamara who spoke on behalf of the respective Chieftaincy Ruling Houses in Maforki Chiefdom, the public is very much displeased with what is referred here as an unnecessary delays in the electioneering process of a substantive Paramount Chief. Several other Contributors saw it as a financial ruin for which blames were levied on President Koroma and his Government.

Interestingly, all the misconceptions and ill feelings were laid to rest after the analysis of the Senior District Officer- Mohamed Sheik Kargbo who stressed the need for Locals to adhere to the dictates of the Law. He said Government had put modalities in place for the conduct of the Maforki Paramount Chieftaincy Elections but that the Process was brought to a halt by an injunction from the High Court of Sierra Leone .He said it would therefore be difficult for President Koroma to interfere with the decisions of the Court which seemed to be the expectation of most people .The Senior District Officer said this is largely because there is a separation of powers between the Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary especially when President Koroma himself is a respecter of Democratic principles.

Hon. Alhajie Serray Dumbuya in his wrap – up message, said he is equally constrained in having to operate without a Substantive Paramount Chief in the District Central Chiefdom. He prevailed on all and sundry to exercise restraint and refrain from all forms of lawlessness as there are a lot of good things in store for the Government. The Member of Parliament went further to disclose plans to rehabilitate the Bai Burreh Memorial Complex which is incidentally the District Head Office of the Ruling ALL Peoples Congress Party with the Maforki Local Court Barray. He said plans are also afoot for the recommencement of Road Networks in the Township of Port Loko.

Meanwhile, the issue of the lack of a Town Football field, the unreliable source of Electricity Supply at the Port Loko Government Hospital, the acute need for an expansion of the Solar Street Poles and Water Supply Facilities to the rest of the Port Loko Town, were some of the concerns raised by people in attendance.

At the moment, a series of meetings are being observed in readiness to accord President Koroma a befitting welcome to what is believed his second home…

South Sudan’s growing conflict reflects rivalry between president and his former deputy

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

(Goran Tomasevic/ Reuters ) – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir wipes his face during a news conference in Juba on Dec. 18, 2013.

(Goran Tomasevic/ Reuters ) – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir wipes his face during a news conference in Juba on Dec. 18, 2013.
By , Sunday, December 22, 7:52 PM 
JUBA, South Sudan — They were an unlikely pair to lead the world’s newest nation — from different tribal groups and different regions, having taken vastly different paths to power. President Salva Kiir, a field commander with little formal education, was known for his black ­cowboy hat. His vice president, Riek Machar, had earned a doctorate in Britain and preferred Western suits.The men are at the center of what could be the unraveling of this fragile African country into full-blown civil war, 21 / 2 years after it became an independent nation backed by the United States and its allies.
A sculpture is silhouetted against the full moon in Hanover, central Germany, on December 16, 2013.        AFP PHOTO / DPA / JULIAN STRATENSCHULTE / GERMANY OUTJULIAN STRATENSCHULTE/AFP/Getty Images

 

Since then, the fighting has spread, leaving hundreds of soldiers and civilians dead. Nearly 40,000 South Sudanese and foreigners, including Americans, have taken refuge at United Nations bases. By Sunday, soldiers who claim allegiance to Machar controlled the remote town of Bor and several other areas, reportedly including the vital oil-producing state of Unity.The State Department is urging all U.S. citizens to leave the country immediately and said it has evacuated 380 Americans and 300 other foreign nationals on charter and military flights. Three U.S. aircraft seeking to rescue Americans from Bor were fired upon Saturday, injuring four U.S. servicemen. President Obama told congressional leaders in a letter that he is prepared to take further action to protect U.S. citizens and the embassy in Juba.Analysts and diplomats say they are not convinced that Machar was attempting a coup. Instead, they say, last week’s fightingwas probably triggered by long-simmering ethnic and political tensions within the government and the military.

But now the fighting appears to have become a move to overthrow the government, or at least significantly weaken its ability to rule large portions of the country.

Kiir and Machar “are very different men, with very different kinds of political instincts, and a very different standing with both the body politic of Sudan and, until recently, with the [army],” said Eric Reeves, a well-known analyst on South Sudan and a professor at Smith College in Massachusetts. Given the ethnic diversity within the army, he said, “the events of the last days were, if not inevitable, all too likely.”

The men’s rivalry reflects the turbulent path South Sudan has taken to independence as well as the country’s uncertain political and economic future. Its people have endured one of Africa’s ­longest civil wars. Violent infighting split the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the 1990s. Since independence in 2011, political, ethnic and tribal rifts, along with growing corruption, have hindered the development of a unified national identity.

“What we are seeing in South Sudan is the convergence of two parallel conflicts that have been developing over time,” said Douglas Johnson, author of “The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars.” “One is the emergence of an internal opposition within the political party of the SPLM. The other growing conflict is within the army.”

Machar has made it clear that he wants Kiir ousted. “He must go, because he can no longer maintain the unity of the people,” Machar told the French broadcaster RFI on Thursday, speaking from an undisclosed location. “Especially when he kills people like flies and tries to touch off conflicts on an ethnic basis.”

The rivalry between Kiir and Machar stretches back more than two decades. Kiir is from the Dinka, South Sudan’s largest tribal group, while Machar is from the Nuer, the second-largest. They rose through the ranks of the SPLM and its armed wing in very different ways.

Kiir, who is 62 or 63, was a guerrilla commander in the 1960s in Sudan’s first civil war. As part of a 1972 peace pact, he was absorbed into Sudan’s national army, reaching the rank of major. In 1983, Kiir joined a second rebellion and helped found the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which fought the Khartoum government for more than two decades.

For much of his rebel life, Kiir worked in the shadow of John Garang, a charismatic leader and fellow Dinka who died in a 2005 helicopter crash shortly after becoming first vice president of Sudan and months after helping negotiate a peace deal to end the second civil war. Kiir became the SPLM’s leader and assumed the post of first vice president.

Known for his blunt speech, Kiir proved to be a deft political operator. He ensured that Khartoum held up its end of the peace deal, which paved the way for South Sudan’s independence. While other SPLM leaders, including Garang, sought greater rights for southerners in a united Sudan, Kiir had always wanted independence.

Those who know Kiir describe him as humble, honest and meticulous. Some say he is a reluctant leader, forced into his role. They disagree with Machar’s statements that he is autocratic.

“He is a consensus-builder,” said Luka Biong Deng Kuol, a South Sudan expert and a fellow at Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. “I did not see in him a dictatorial tendency. He is not so keen on being in power.”

Reeves, the Smith College professor, said Kiir is honest but has been “overwhelmed by the tasks of the presidency in a new country that has seen no development efforts for decades.”

Kiir, Reeves added, may resent Machar’s formal education and “political glibness.”

Machar, 61, was a college student at the end of Sudan’s first civil war, one of a small number of South Sudanese allowed to attend the University of Khartoum. He studied engineering, and continued his education in Scotland and later in Britain, earning a doctorate in strategic planning in 1984.

It was then that he joined the SPLM and SPLA, entering at a high rank because of his education.

Machar’s marriage to British aid worker Emma McCune, and their life in war-ravaged southern Sudan, became the subject of a book titled “Emma’s War.” In 1993, at the age of 28, McCune was killed in a car crash.

Machar had split from Garang and Kiir in 1991, creating a breakaway faction of the SPLM that drew support from some ethnic Nuer groups. Later that year, he was blamed for a massacre in Bor, where Nuer soldiers loyal to him killed hundreds of ethnic Dinka. Over the next several years, Machar collaborated with the Khartoum government, who viewed him as a useful tool to weaken Garang, Kiir and the SPLM. He signed a peace accord in 1997, alienating him from Kiir and the rest of the SPLM leadership.

“None of this is forgotten — by anyone,” Reeves said.

In 2002, Machar switched sides again, formally mending fences with Garang and rejoining the SPLM. When Garang died, Kiir anointed Machar vice president, largely to appease ethnic Nuers, Reeves said.

Machar’s open criticism of Kiir grew louder in the first half of 2013, resulting in his ouster this past summer. Two weeks ago, Machar and others purged by Kiir released a statement accusing him of “dictatorial tendencies” and of leading the SPLM and the country toward “the abyss.”

“He has always been overly ambitious and willing to see lives lost as he takes great risks on his own behalf,” Reeves said of Machar. “In that sense, what we are seeing now is entirely in character. We don’t need to ask whether it was a coup. It clearly is an attempted coup now. “

Remembrance : The Late Pa Thinker Tanner Kargbo

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

in-memoriam

 

The Kargbo family in Sierra Leone and abroad remember with fondness the late Pa Thinker Tanner Kargbo , a loving father ,Uncle, brother and grandfather . Gone but not forgotten; Died 19 December 1977.  We miss you but you are resting in the arms of God Almighty. May you enjoy eternal bliss.

By the Kargbo Family in Sierra Leone and Abroad.

NCD HOLDS A THREE DAY RETREAT IN MAKENI

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

By Siraju Bah : 

 20th December, 2013. The National Commission for democracy NCD has commenced a three day retreat to assess the challenges of the Commission and to also deliberate on its activities and plan for the coming year at the Makambo Village Resort in Makeni. The event which has been introduced for the first time by the Commission assembled all staff members of the Commission from all the four regions in one place to have an in-depth and thorough look into the activities of NCD.

NCDRETREAT (600 x 450)

NCD Chairman flanked on the right by Commissioner South and on the immediate left by Commissioner North and on the extreme left by the Executive Secretary of the COmmission

The Chairman National Commission for Democracy Dr. Abubakar H. Kargbo stated that the retreat was meant to review the past and to provide a critical assessment of the Commission in order to design a strategic working plan to forge ahead with the implementation of its activities for the future.

He said staff of the Commission will do a thorough introspection to identify reasons for some of the things that they had done that did not go well, challenges the Commission is grappling with and also examine certain tendencies and trends that might militate against the progress of the commission.

He said the retreat will also focus on mapping out strategies for its future plan especially in sourcing fund for its projects noting that one of their major donor partners, UNIPSIL is wrapping up its activities in the country and government’s subvention is not enough to ensure an efficient,  effective and sustainable  Commission in terms of its activities.

He encouraged staff of the Commission to take the retreat seriously and ensure that the issues that will be discussed are examined adequately so that the retreat which is the first ever in the history of the Commission will bear the required result.

He said the Commission needs to improve on its performance in order to change its unpleasant past record whilst calling on members of staff to work assiduously to address the challenges of the Commission so that NCD will be seen as one of the most vibrant governance institutions performing functions that will benefit the people.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission Mr. Abubakar S. Yillah reiterated the importance of the retreat and encouraged staff members to have a frank discussion on the matters that will arise in the course of the proceedings.

In his presentation, the Commissioner Northern Region, Bai John Conteh noted that the annual retreat is a landmark event in the history of the Commission since it is the first time the Commission has held such an important event and was pleased to announce his pleasure of being the first host as he welcomed NCD staff to the Northern region.

He underscored the need for the retreat saying that there is the need for members of staff to be confined in an isolated venue away from the rancor of the town in order to concentrate and think seriously about the matters that will be discussed so that the Commission will realize its goals.

He said the success of every organization depends on its planning and the success of every programme depends on the time spent in planning for it, noting that the Commission has existed for close to 20 years  but had never got the opportunity to have such an important event.

He said they want to begin to set a standard where such an event will be held at the end of every year to think and reflect on the past and to map out the way forward for the organization.

He said when senior members of the Commission from all the regions come together and work as a team to put ideas together about the planning of projects, it is a clear indication that the Commission is bent on succeeding.

He applauded the effort of UNIPSIL for according the Commission the opportunity to hold such a relevant event as he disclosed that the programme is almost entirely sponsored by UNIPSIL and urged colleagues to stay focused and deliberate well on the matters that will ensue.

Commissioner, Independent Media Commission and lecturer in the department of Extra Mural Studies, Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone, Mr. Augustine A. Garmoh, made a presentation on the topic “Art of Civic Education, Norms, Key Values and Practices” with a focus on civic education in a democratic setting.

On a powerpoint presentation, Mr. Garmoh noted that civic education in a democratic society needs to be concerned with promoting understanding of the ideals of democracy and a reasoned commitment to the values and principles of democracy, norms, key values and practices.

He said civic education must be realistic and must also be able to address the central truth about political life of the people and also the rights and responsibilities of citizens should be respected.

Why Sierra Leoneans Should Be Proud of President Koroma

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Why Sierra Leoneans Should Be Proud of President Koroma thumbnail

 

His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma (in photo) is a quintessential politician whose successful romance with the Sierra Leone Muslim Community has dazzled most citizens at home and abroad. Since the patriotic, compassionate and God-fearing leader assumed power in 2007, he has never relented in giving support to the Muslim pilgrimage (Hajj), which is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Born to a cultured and dedicated Christian family in the Northern city of Makeni in the Bombali District, President Ernest Bai Koroma was raised in a Christian home with Wesleyan background. But what has left most Sierra Leoneans bewildered is the President’s vested interest in the Muslim Community. His penchant for supporting the community is clearly manifested in his Government’s robust move to take ownership of the organization of Hajj.

Ironically, some of President Koroma’s predecessors, (with due respect to them) who are Muslims never put much premium on Hajj. Prior to 2007, there was a proliferation of fly-by-night organizations that received money from Sierra Leonean Muslims for the Hajj and many of these organizations would end up disappointing them. Between 2004 and 2006, for example, hundreds of Sierra Leoneans who had paid some agencies for the pilgrimage were abandoned at the Lungi International Airport, Gbessia International Airport in neigbouring Guinea – Conakry and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

Those were some of the embarrassments and challenges intended pilgrims had to grapple with before the President Koroma assumed office. Some of our former leaders never had interest in protecting the welfare of pilgrims as no action was taken against the agencies that allegedly duped or failed to render services to the intended pilgrims whose money they had received with the pretext that they would take care of their trip to Mecca, accommodation, feeding and other facilities that hinged on their daily welfare. It even come to a time when Sierra Leoneans jokingly called such victims of circumstances as ‘Alhaji Abuja’, ‘Alhaji Lungi’, ‘Haja Conakryi’, the list went on and on.

But today, the multiple agencies that used to handle the Hajj programme have submerged into oblivion while President Koroma and his Government have taken ownership of the Hajj programme, which has been going on smoothly for the past few years. Under his regime, Sierra Leonean pilgrims no longer have to worry about airline, accommodation, medical, feeding, and other issues pertaining to their welfare because of the proactive approach of President Koroma’s Government to put all modalities in place for the pilgrimage way ahead of time. This clearly demonstrates President Koroma’s religious tolerance and accommodation of all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of religion, region, ethnicity or race. It also indicates that his government is responsible, transparent and accountable to the people of Sierra Leone.

President Koroma’s successful romance with the Muslim community that comprises 70% of the country’s population has greatly impressed the Sierra Leonean community in Saudi Arabia, who are extremely proud of his consideration for his fellow Sierra Leoneans.

Their impression come after the President telephoned some of the officials that accompanied the pilgrims this year and requested to talk to a cross-section of the Sierra Leone pilgrims himself to inquire about their general status.

The President spoke to over 50 pilgrims, including, some members of the medical team that accompanied the pilgrims, cooks, the elderly, the disabled, religious and traditional leaders, among many others.

A former President of the Sierra Leone Nationals’ Union in Saudi Arabia described the President’s action as an “unprecedented display of true and responsible statesmanship.” It is indeed worthy to note that never before in the history of Sierra Leone, particularly what has to do with pilgrimage, has a president of Sierra Leone gone this extra mile to find out in person about the general welfare of his nationals in the holy land in the aftermath of their performance of the rituals of the fifth tenet of Islam-Hajj.

Even the Saudi authorities have respect for Sierra Leone now because of the total support President Koroma is giving to the Muslim pilgrimage, especially when he is a leader with devout Christian background. Their perception about religion is that it is very uncommon to see a secular leader with a Christian background being seriously involved in the welfare of his people making pilgrimage to Mecca. Indeed, President Koroma’s religious tolerance and love for his fellow citizens has impressed not only Sierra Leoneans, but also other nationals from Africa who believe that such would never happen in some of their respective countries.

I believe that quite apart from President Koroma’s religious tolerance and consideration for his fellow citizens, it was necessary that his Government took over ownership of the Muslim pilgrimage to save Sierra Leone from the embarrassment and humiliation we suffered some years back, when intended pilgrims were stranded at airports and later returned home without performing the Hajj. I therefore posit that every Sierra Leonean should be proud of the President for restoring the dignity of the Hajj programme. Kudos President Koroma!

Sierra Leone Wins US Government’s MCC Compact Award

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Office of the president

state house

freetown

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FREETOWN

DECEMBER 20, 2012

 

Sierra Leone Wins US Government’s MCC Compact Award

Sierra Leone has won the coveted Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact Award worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Award, announced on December 19, 2012, was given in recognition of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s Government’s record of good governance, economic freedom and investments in people. To be eligible for this award a country must pass at least half of the twenty indicators being assessed (Sierra Leone passed twelve), and must also pass the ‘control of corruption’ indicator and either the ‘Civil Liberties’ or ‘Political Rights’ indicators (the country passed all three).

A Compact is a multi-year agreement between the United States Government supported Millennium Challenge Corporation and an eligible country to fund specific programs targeted at reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth.

The award commences a multi-year partnership dedicated to pursuing economic growth and poverty reduction through the development and implementation of a Compact. Sierra Leone will develop its MCC proposals in broad consultation with the citizenry and in accordance with priorities stated in the country’s Agenda for Prosperity. A National Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) will be set up as an accountable entity to manage and oversee all aspects of implementation.

END

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