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Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh Launches National Open Data Portal

Monday, May 18th, 2015

 

By John Baimba Sesay -Freetown

Deputising His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma, Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh on Friday,15th May, launched the National Open Data Portal at the Credentials Hall,State House, Freetown.

Speaking,at the event,Vice President Foh said,the launch of the Open Data Portal today, was a milestone continuation of government’s zeal for openness and transparency.

open data

 

“In our modern world, communications through electronic media is becoming a major way of ensuring transparency; more information could be transmitted via electronic means, and this Portal will utilize this new means of communication to reach out to many more people”,Vice President Foh said.

According to Vice President Foh, Government established the Open Government Initiative to open up the avenues for communicating with our people. Through government’s meet-the-people tours and other information- driven programs “we have leveraged inclusive governance and have progressively positioned ourselves as a country with rich credentials on inclusiveness. ”

Few countries in Africa,the Vice President said, have freer spaces for discussions on most topics than Sierra Leone. From radio discussions, to television, to newspapers to the social media, Sierra Leoneans,he said, were increasingly very engaged in discussing matters of relevance to this country.

The establishment of the Portal,he went on, will ensure Sierra Leoneans have access to more facts when discussing matters; “we are establishing this Portal to improve discussions based on facts rather than speculations; we are establishing this portal to advance the maturity of discussions over the radio, on newspapers and in the social media.”

Speaking on governance, the Vice President said, the country is today a forerunner in open governance in Africa as were amongst the first to transform the government’s Broadcasting unit into a publicBroadcasting and, in the process greatly increase the diversity of views on television and radio.

“We are amongst the first to legislate access to information; amongst the first to launch open discussions of matters between the heads of the three branches of government and ordinary people; and amongst the first to be involved in the Open Government Partnership and amongst the first today to launch this Open Data Portal.”

The country, Vice President Foh went on, still has challenges, but that “we are moving faster than most countries in Africa and the world at large to improve access to information; and by the establishment of this Portal, we are also moving faster than most countries to ensure quality public conversations based on facts.”

It is because of these credentials, he said, that we were today prominent partners of the Open Government Partnership in its global drive to ensure information free-flow between governments and their people.

“Because of our actions, we have attracted the support of the World Bank, through its Open Aid Partnership, in establishing this very important Portal.”

The Vice President applauded the World Bank for what he called an “affirmation of faith in our transparency efforts” whilst also applauding the Steering Committee of the OGP which had been tasked with drawing up a National Action Plan that would serve as a blueprint for OGP engagement in Sierra Leone.

According to Vice President Foh, the first and eleventh of such commitments are the signing of a Public Integrity Pact with 5 MDAs and the establishment of an Open Data Portal and ” we are here to bring to life these two commitments in the National Action Plan.”

The Open Data Portal,Vice President Foh went on, is a national Registry for providing comprehensive information on the affairs of government as It will give Sierra Leoneans opportunities for leveraging diverse information on government for comments, suggestions and questions.

In the short term,he said, the portal will provide information relating to the Ebola crisis and government’s response to it. “In the medium and long term, it will be expanded to include additional information relevant to economic recovery, public services, and also, open contracting data, budget data and data on development assistance.”

The Open Government Initiative,he said, will work closely with Ministries and other Departments and Agencies to maintain the Portal by introducing more datasets reflecting the diversity of our country.

Climaxing the event was the signing of an Integrity Pact with five pilot MDAs in a bid to improve public trust in public service delivery and ensure more effective accountability of public officials.

This,the Vice President said, was in line with section 8 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008. “The pact with 5 MDAs shall represent a pilot phase and it is to clearly identify services provided, timeframe to expect service to be delivered and associated costs developed and displayed with clearly visible complaints mechanisms.”

The Public Integrity Pact will serve as the first step towards creating a Public Integrity Policy that will serve as a safeguard measure for improving timely access to public services. The pact will promote ethical and proactive performance by public officials in the discharge of their duties.

Vice President Foh said, there was no stopping this forward march, and that the “Portal is a testimony of our commitment to advance matured discussions of matters of great relevance to the development of our country.”

Chairing the event was the Hon.Minister of Information and Communications, Alhaji Alpha Kanu who underscored government’s commitments to ensure an opened and accountable government.

The event was attended by Government Ministers, Civil Society activists,Council Chairman,Paramount Chiefs,Development Partners and the Media.

Zainab Bangura is not the author of letter circulating

Monday, April 6th, 2015

ZAINAB BANGURA 8

 

STATEMENT BY ZAINAB HAWA BANGURA

I have been forwarded a letter being circulated on the internet and on social media, purportedly written by one “Zainab Bangura”, asking all Sierra Leoneans to support the creation of a whistleblower website to fight against the corruption taking place in President Koroma’s government. I would like to make it crystal clear that I am not the author of that letter. In so denouncing it, I want to make the following points known:

1) As a member of the APC party, and a former senior government minister, I still have access to the leadership of the party and to the government including the President. If and when I have issues that are of critical concern to me or against my principles and values, I can and will call them to express those concern(s). They have always and still continue to respect that.

2) I have the utmost regard and respect for authority. I do not believe that the best option to disagree with a leadership is to insult them. Over the years, I have had serious disagreements with, Julius Maada Bio, when he was Head of State, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, and various Presidents in my present job. That being said, I have and will always respect their offices and dignity. That is what democracy demands. The respect is not for them as individuals but for the offices they hold, which is the highest in the land. So, as and when I have disagreed with them, I confront them and express in a very open and civilized manner my disagreement. As such, even when I lead the demonstrations for elections in Sierra Leone against Maada Bio, we stuck to the issues and made our views known publicly. That was and still is my method of engagement.

3) Throughout my various career journeys (from an Insurance Executive, to a civil society activist, to a UN staff in the field, to a senior government Minister and now an international civil servant on the global stage), I have never been a coward. I believe in confronting problems and trying to solve them. I have fought and continue to fight for the truth and justice. In that regard, if I strongly feel the person I have issues against needs to be confronted with facts and figures, I do it with all modesty and honesty, and I have always succeeded in getting results. It is only cowards or people without concrete facts who use pseudonyms or other people’s names to attack the people they disagree with or hate.

4) Written content on social media and the Internet can be traced. It might be an expensive endeavor, but it can be done.

5) I have never and will never be involved in social media and Internet chats with the exception of promoting my work or communicating with friends, family and colleagues. My journey in life that has taken me from Yonibana to New York warrants that I behave with dignity and respect. I cannot disrespect my current status and position by dragging myself to the lowest level of indignity by writing such a letter against my own government. President Koroma is my President and will continue to be my President until he leaves office.

Against the background of 1-6 above, I am pleading with fellow Sierra Leoneans to keep me out of all ill-conceived political, religious and ethnic differences and arguments. It is extremely sad and unfortunate that most Sierra Leoneans do not respect one another or our country; cannot handle or deal with the successes of other people; and think that the only way they can achieve their objective is by dragging the names of hardworking Sierra Leoneans into the gutter. Yet, we complain about how successful other countries are. That success did not happen by accident, but by the concerted efforts of its people, working together and respecting each other.

A country is made up of its people, tradition, culture and landscape. When the people of a country have abandoned their culture and adopted a foreign culture and respect it better than their own; and have developed the habit of condemning their country and its people; and see nothing good in their country and so they work and scheme endlessly to destroy any successful person, then that country is doomed. Sierra Leone can only join the likes of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Cape Verde and the rest of Africa that is moving far ahead when we all realize that we as a people have a common destiny, and that we have to move as one.

Nobody can develop Sierra Leone but us. We can only do that however when we start to realize that, (a) some people are born to lead and others are born to follow; (b) our leaders get their authority and strength from their followers;  (c) insults and/or personal attacks are not the best way to address our differences. When we are all cognizant of the above realities, then, and only then can we move ahead with sincerity, strength and dignity to build a very prosperous and successful Sierra Leone that we can all be proud of to call home.

Thank you and Happy Easter.

© Zainab Hawa Bangura
Under -Secretary General and Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Sent from my iPhone
Zainab Hawa Bangura
Under – Secretary General and Special Representative of the
Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Nationwide address by President Ernest Koroma

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, we have all just concluded the launch of the Zero Ebola National Campaign. This required us to stay at home for three days to allow health workers, social mobilizers and Ebola response workers to visit our homes with messages of activities against Ebola within our communities, all intended to help get us to zero. The National Ebola Response Centre is still compiling comprehensive reports, highlighting the level of success and the major challenges confronted during the launch. Preliminary reports however, show that thanks to the high level of compliance from the public, we were successful in bringing out the sick from the communities.

PRESIDENT KOROMA BEST

Let me therefore as your President take this opportunity to thank each and every Sierra Leonean from all Walks of Life and every corner of this country, for once again showing great sense of patriotism and discipline, and for adhering and giving support to the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) during the three days campaign. I ask that we continue in this manner in our households and communities as we continue to fight this wicked virus, until it is removed from every community across the country.

 

Let me also extend my sincere gratitude to all our healthcare workers, volunteers, Ebola Response Workers, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), staff of the Ministry of Health and NERC, the security forces and all those who contributed in diverse ways to the Zero Ebola National campaign. A big thank you also to all our International Partners for their financial and moral support in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). It has been a difficult battle for all of us, but you have stood with us and supported us. As we plan for our post Ebola recovery, we hope that your support will continue.

 

In a communiqué on February 15, 2015, my fellow Mano River Union Presidents and I agreed on the target of zero new Ebola infections in our respective countries within 60 days. I am still committed to the agreements in the communiqué bringing Ebola to Zero in my country by April 16, 2015. Therefore I am reminding us all that the exercise that ended on Sunday, March 29th is by no means the end of Ebola in Sierra Leone. Unless and until we record no new Ebola cases for 42 consecutive days, we must not relax, we must not let down our guard and we must remain committed to the fight against Ebola.

 

New Ebola infections in our country have continued to decrease week by week and, as the numbers continue to dwindle, we need to scale down the treatment and holding facilities and the staff numbers in these facilities. This move will in turn impact the hazard pay policy, which officially ended March 31st, 2015. For those who will be laid off because of the scaling down of facilities, let me express my sincere thanks to you for your brave national service to your country. You have been great heroes of the battle; your patriotism has been unparalled. Because you have all done a good job, because you have also gained valuable knowledge and skills that are forever now required in this country, the government is working towards providing employment and absorbing some of you into the service as soon as possible to revamp the health system and sustain our recovery.

 

Let me also state that schools will re-open on the 14th of April as planned, and the Ministry of Education is working very hard to ensure that all necessary measures are in place for the safe return of pupils to school. No tuition fees will be paid in public schools for the next two years, and a national schools feeding program will be implemented in due course. We are also paying NPSE fees for all pupils in public and private schools; and BECE and WASSCE fees for all students in public schools. Government is also providing learning materials including free exercise books for public schools. No head teacher or principal in public schools should collect monies for these tuition and examination fees.

 

As we head towards the Easter breaks, let me also remind the general public that all the laws covered under the state of public emergency remain in force and must be strictly adhered to by all. The following restrictions will also remain in force for the Easter break:

  • No public gathering as covered under the state of public emergency laws
  • No trading activities after 6 PM and on Sundays
  • No activities around the beaches and restaurants during the Easter break

 

We have been through a great trial, and it is not yet over. But if we continue to show courage, discipline and act on the knowledge that every individual, every family, and every community is a major part of this fight, we will be able to rid our country of this evil disease and to properly begin our recovery. The battle to get to zero cases is truly on; we must not bring down our guard until we get there.

 

A Blessed Easter to you all.

 

God Bless Sierra Leone!

Glimmer of Hope for the Mining Industry…As Shandong, AML Recommence Mining Operations

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

 

By State House Communications Unit

As government is putting together a robust post-Ebola recovery plan, the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources together with Shandong Steel and Mining Company have expressed strong commitment and willingness to recommence mining operations in the country by mid-April, 2015. This expressed commitment was made during a meeting with Executives of Shandong Steel Company, the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources and representatives of the Tonkolili Iron Ore Mines at State House, Freetown.

GLIMMER OF HOPE 1

 

President Ernest Bai Koroma expressed delight about the development and stated that it was a timely and welcomed development as the pronouncement was in sync with the country’s recovery programme about to commence after the outbreak. He said government is committed and focused on ensuring the continuity of the mines as such development will give joy and renewed hope to Sierra Leoneans and the continued development of the country. “We have to continue mining operations, and as a government, we are fully committed to supporting this project,” he said, and expressed encouragement for the participation of Sierra Leoneans to develop the local content of the mines in the country.

GLIMMER OF HOPE 2

 

The president pointed out that he was encouraged by the process of securing funds for phase two of the operations, which clearly gives the country a “futuristic hope that you are not only here for today but even planning to move on to phase two wherein we can fully realize the potentials of the mining industry.” President Koroma also expressed hope that the partnership with the company would ensure a win-win situation for everybody.

GLIMMER OF HOPE 3

 

The Chairman of the board and party secretary of Shandong Steel Company Mr Ren Haoregistered his commitment to continue the project, saying that the venture is critical to the development of Sierra Leone. He said Shandong has already purchased the debt and the next step is to have 75% share from African Minerals Limited through auction, adding that they are now focused on resuming full operation and at the same time reducing cost.

Making a statement during the meeting, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray said Shandong has bought the debt AML owed on behalf of the project and have secured enough funds to ensure that even phase two will be taken care of. He added that the company had initially set aside Six Hundred Million United States Dollars but noted that the company’s target is One Billion United States Dollars that is reserved to ensure the second phase takes off the ground.

The Acting Chief Executive Officer of Tonkolili Iron Ore Mr Moseray Fadika pointed out his countless engagements to resuscitate mining operations in the country and assured that through his leadership the project will become the best in the world. He also assured that every Sierra Leonean benefits from the project.

President Ernest Koroma is very happy for the new VP, Victor Foh

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

NEW VP 4

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has said that the newly appointed Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh is coming in with a wealth of experience having served as provincial secretary almost in all the districts nationwide.

The president highlighted the qualities of Vice President Foh and noted that he will be bringing a lot of experience to the table.

He called on the new VP to add value to ongoing efforts of government to getting to zero in the fight against Ebola. He noted that after the end of the epidemic government will move on to the socio-economic recovery path to restore livelihoods and promote sustainable development of the country.

“I feel very very happy that you are now coming in as VP, a position you opted for in 1996 without success. But today I want to congratulate you on behalf of government on this appointment. I pray that you live up to expectations,” President Koroma said.

STATE HOUSE

PRESIDENT KOROMA : He is still the man of the People

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Nothing people say or write against President Ernest Bai Koroma has changed anything . The President  remains the Man of the People. President Koroma does not only remain a crowdpuller wherever he goes; the crowd cannot help showing their excitement for him.

Today, when President Koroma stepped out to attend the program where the Chinese  Government handed over the Bio Safety lab, crowds of supporters turned out to demonstrate that the still love the President. Women took off their lappas and spread them on the ground for the President’s car to drive over them. In Sierra Leone, when women remove their lappas ( Clothing wraps ) to spread on the floor for somebody to walk or drive on, it signifies  one of the highest acts of honor and respect. It signifies the universality of the person’s honour and respect, given the procreative nature of women.

A picture tells the story of a thousand words.

president, man -of-the-people

 

LAPPA

Exclusive Cocorioko Interview : President Koroma calls on Sierra Leoneans to wait for the law to take its course : Vows he will not shield any individual or institution found culpable

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Exclusive Cocorioko Interview

 

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma has called on all Sierra Leoneans to wait for the law to take its course in the matter of the recently-released audit report on the alleged misappropriation of the ebola funds by some officials.

The President was speaking to COCORIOKO ‘s Publsher , Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, during an exclusive interview this afternoon.
President Koroma, who was calm and assured, said that his government empowered the Sierra Leone Audit Department to carry out the functions it is undergoing presently by conducting audits on the disbursement of funds within the arms of government, because he believes that any government worth its salt must be transparent and accountable.

PRESIDENTKOROMA--469x390

PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA

President Koroma indicated that when he came to power in 2007, the Auditor-General’s Office was toothless and lacked clout.It was also the case with the Anti-Corruption Commission ( ACC) , which he empowered in keeping with his zero tolerance policy  to corruption. . He decided to empower the Auditor-General’s Office and give it the clout it is exercising today because he wants every penny spent in government to be accounted for. He wants his government to be transparent. The President said that in consonances with his threats that ebola rogues will face the full force of the law, his government empowered the Auditor-General’s Office to audit the Ebola funds . Now that the Auditor-General ‘s Office had conducted the audit , the next step is to send it to Parliament, which has been done.

President Koroma said that his administration is a government of law. Parliament will debate on the findings of the Audit Department and all the persons and institutions named will have the opportunity to defend themselves and after Parliament comes out with its own findings  the law will take its full course. The Government will come in and those found culpable will be charged.

Asked why the matter was not sent directly to the Solicitor-General’s office as suggested by some Sierra Leoneans in the social media, President Koroma said that it was the law that the report be sent to Parliament.The people elected their parliamentary representatives and trust in them. He assured every Sierra Leonean that neither he nor his government will interfere with Parliament’s work.” If we were not going to give Parliament the authority it requires to get to the bottom of the case, we would not have empowered the Auditor-General to conduct the audit in the first place ” , President Koroma emphasized.

Asked why he did not come out with a strong statement after the release of the report as some Sierra Leoneans are enquiring in the social media, President Koroma said it was the individuals and institutions named in the audit report who should make such a statement. He , as President , cannot do it now because first of all he might be construed as defending those accused and secondly, the government is following the full processes of the law. After Parliament would have released its findings, then he will be able to come in and make a statement , explaining Government’s position . But President Koroma told COCORIOKO that during the Chamber of Commerce /Government Post -Ebola Round table today in Freetown, he did say that those found guilty of tampering with Ebola funds will face the full force of the law.

President Koroma assured international stakeholders that his government had a firm grip of the ebola situation and thanked them for their continued support to the country.
Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu

Courage, tenacity , Action –Three traits that changed the tide in Sierra Leone’s Ebola fight

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

By KABS KANU :

He has certainly booked his place in the pantheon of Sierra Leonean heroes and by the time this is all over, three characteristics that epitomize his personality will be cause for celebration –Courage, tenacity and positive action.

JEBUHELICOPTER

PRESIDENT KOROMA IN A HELICOPTER HEADING FOR THE EBOLA HOT SPOTS . THE HELICOPTER WAS LATER FOUND TO HAVE MECHANICAL PROBLEMS. PHOTO CREDIT : STATE HOUSE

He will be IMMORTALLY known as the President who presided over the nation when it was hit by its worst crisis ever, an excruciating crisis that threatened the future of the nation .But more importantly, he will be known as the President who led the nation through that crisis to victory, a feat that often provides Presidents a special place in the history of their countries. WHOEVER BELIEVES VICTORY OVER EBOLA WILL NOT MAKE PRESIDENT KOROMA A HERO ONCE AGAIN HAS NOT STUDIED WORLD POLITICS.

PRESIDENT KOROMA ENGAGES CHIEFS 1

PRESIDENT KOROMA ENGAGING COMMUNITY LEADERS , CHIEFS AND THE PEOPLE : PHOTO CREDIT : STATE HOUSE

Some of the most famous world leaders whose names feature prominently in their nation’s roll-call of heroes — war time President George Washington, who even became the first ever head of state to become a prisoner of war; First and Second World War leaders F.D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman of the U.S and Winston Churchill of Britain , earned their fame and immortal respect because they led their countries to victory from difficult situations . President Koroma will earn the same distinction when Sierra Leone would have defeated the ebola scourge. Nations a;ways lionize and consider heroes Presidents who extricate them from intricate situations. The opposition and anti- EBK  zealots will not like it, but this is the reality of life.

EBK UNPRECEDENTED COMMITMENT 2

EVEN STUDENTS WERE NOT LEFT OUT IN PRESIDENT KOROMA’S SOCIALIZATION AND SENSITIZATION BLITZ : PHOTO CREDIT : STATE HOUSE

The President’s detractors and antagonists will not like to hear this. The knives will be out once again for another “praise-singing article”,(When they praise satanic elements and nation-wreckers it is not praise-singing and sycophancy ) but one has to be an idiot not to see victory in the making and who stands head and shoulders above all to inherit the praise. . The Devil’s disappointment is God’s appointment. Ebola ravaged our nation beyond measure and the tears are still in our eyes and will remain there for long. But what Satan meant for evil, God has turned into good. Praise be the name of the Lord. Through Ebola, we now have one of the best health care delivery systems in Africa, ready to combat any other outbreaks of ebola and other diseases.

PRESIDENT KOROMA ENGAGES CHIEFS 1

 PRESIDENT KOROMA SENSITIZING CHIEFS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS : PHOTO CREDIT : STATE HOUSE

Whenever a nation experiences an ebola outbreak, there are always recriminations because no country is ever prepared for ebola. Even the great United States tottered on the brink of seeming defeat with a whole nation blowing its stack at the President, the Leader of the Free World, Mr. Barak Obama, when ebola struck the richest country in the world.

 

SUPREMO TOGETHERNESS 2

PRESIDENT KOROMA GEARING THE COMMUNITY IN THE PROVINCES FOR ACTION AGAINST EBOLA : PHOTO CREDIT :STATE HOUSE

It was therefore unsurprising when the President’s detractors went overdrive with all kinds of accusations and allegations when Sierra Leone experienced the dreaded ebola outbreak. The opposition had been praying for an evil happenstance to take the President off course from his brilliant socio-economic and political initiatives. When Ebola came, their prayers appeared to have been answered , so who will be surprised at the extremes they went to lambast President Koroma for all they thought he should have done , some of them impracticable, like closing the borders ?
But qualities that define President Ernest Bai Koroma’s character that this nation is beginning to admire are his courage , calmness and composure under fire. His detractors will not admit this, but all reasonable Sierra Leoneans know it is the truth.

PRESIDENT KOROMA INAUGURATES PORT LOKO

PRESIDENT KOROMA AND INFORMATION MINISTER ALPHA KANU, ANOTHER EBOLA FIGHTER, IN PORT LOKO : PHOTO CREDIT : STATE HOUSE

Any other President would have buckled and would have been unsettled by the din of antagonistic fuscilade of criticisms about the government’s initial response. He would have joined them to play the blame game. He would have taken issue with the media for their unfair attacks and unsubstantiated allegations. However, those who have been closely observing President Koroma since the ebola outbreak will not help admiring him for the unruffled, but determined manner he immediately went to work to fight the monster. His courageous and composed attitude instilled confidence in his citizens that bad though the situation, ebola will eventually be defeated.

Like a true gladiator, the President unsheathed his sword and entered the enemy’s battlements with ferocity and boldness. He sacrificed sleep ,rest and food in the interest of the nation. The enemy saw the blind determination and countered it with fierce devilry. Ebola proved a hard nut to crack, but President Koroma did not give up and pushed on, remaining undaunted and determined for victory. He put his life on the line , flew defective helicopters , and walked miles on rough terrain , shunning the concerns of those who loved and cared for him and went to the ebola hot spots to stir health workers and frontline fighters into action. As long as his nation survived, his own life was not reckoned that important. The welfare of his people was more important than his own life. That is the mark of a true leader. He lays down his life for his people.

My Roget’s Thesaurus gives the synonyms of tenacity as : persistence, determination, perseverance, doggedness, strength of purpose, tirelessness, indefatigability, resolution, resoluteness, resolve, firmness, patience, purposefulness, staunchness, steadfastness, staying power, endurance, stamina, stubbornness, intransigence, obstinacy, obduracy, pertinacity. All of these adjectives fittingly describe mindset, body language and actions of President Koroma as he intensified his assault on Ebola.

The once sluggish international community started stepping up the plate. Ambulances and medical supplies started coming in. Goodwill nations started sending in doctors and health workers. The UN, the UK, China, Cuba the U.S. sprang to action. Everybody started moving. Holding and Treatment centres started going up. Still unsatisfied and giving nothing away, President Koroma for the second time in a couple of months went all over the country on a social mobilization tour to engage, paramount Chiefs, tribal authorities, traditional and religious leaders and the people to promote sensitization lessons about how to stop the chain of transmission. People were wondering when this President ever went to sleep.

The battle has not been easy. Fighting a devious, deadly and unknown enemy like ebola was never going to be easy. We have lost thousands of our most precious citizens and residents, including doctors, nurses and health workers. We have lost economically , politically and psychologically. But one thing we can say today is that there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. Victory is knocking at the door. The numbers are going down, though they fluctuate. Ebola is about to be beaten. With more cooperation from our people in adhering to protocols and precautions and more help from the international community , we will be ebola- free soon.

Thanks to the dramatic reduction in new transmissions, schools are reopening next month. Restrictions in movements of people are being removed.and slowly life will continue to return to normal.What the enemy intended for evil, God is slowly turning it into victory.

May God continue to bless, empower and strengthen our President, our leaders , our nation and our development partners. We are winning and soon we will be back to the Agenda For Prosperity.c

BROADCAST TO THE NATION BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT : EBK hails oncoming victory, eases restrictions but warns against complacency

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

PRESIDENTERNESTKOROMA3 (1)

 

22nd January 2015

Fellow Sierra Leoneans
We have been ensuring a steady downward trend in the number of Ebola cases in Sierra Leone over the past seven weeks and I wish to express my deep and sincere gratitude to all those who have contributed to this achievement. In my working visits to all districts and nearly all treatment centers in the preceding months to urge, endorse and monitor the measures we have collectively taken, I saw first hand the courage and great work of all our Ebola response workers and the determination and commitment of ordinary Sierra Leoneans to fight this disease. We owe the downward trend to this collective commitment This positive development also reflects the significant improvement in the infrastructure that government and our partners have put in place across the nation to combat Ebola; we have substantially more beds and lab capacity, more ambulances, better processes and response time and more trained staff across the breadth of the response.
We are now entering a transition phase. Given the progress being made against the disease, we must take action to enable economic and social recovery.

Starting tomorrow, we are taking the following measures:
First, restrictions on movement will be eased to support economic activity. As such, there will no longer be any district or chiefdom level restrictions on movement. No quarantines or restrictions on movement above the household level will be imposed either by Government or local authorities. But we should not become complacent. I welcome the initiatives taken by District Ebola Response Centres and local authorities to enhance community surveillance and community watch efforts. These efforts must continue as we move into a phase of hunting down the disease.

Second, at the same time as we embark on the second phase of the Western Area Surge, we have decided to ease the restrictions on trading hours in the Western Area. Trading hours on Saturday will now end at 6pm. However, restrictions of trading on Sundays remain in force.

Third, as we move towards our target of zero cases by 31st March, hazard pay for Ebola Response Workers and health workers will be removed at the end of March. We are reviewing the needs of the sector as a whole, to ensure we are able to transition towards a stronger and more resilient healthcare system.

Starting on the 1st of February, we will implement a more rigorous system of payment for hazard pay, ensuring fair compensation for exposure to risk, whilst ensuring that others do not take unfair advantage of the system. Any persons found to have falsified lists or taken advantage of the system will be investigated. We will not let the heroic works of our burial teams, swabbers, doctors, nurses, lab technicians, surveillance officers and others be tainted by those wishing to take advantage of the situation for their own personal gain. In the mean time, the NERC and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation are working intensely to ensure urgent payment of all back pay owed to Ebola Response Workers.

Fourth, we are well into putting modalities in place for the safe re-opening of schools. Our target date is the third and fourth week in March. Towards this, we have designed a Schools Re-opening Programme that will ensure the following actions:

Disinfection of institutions used as holding and/or treatment centres as well as those institutions identified as having accommodated Ebola victims; satisfactory water and sanitation facilities at schools; provision of educational institution with thermal sensors, training of teachers on Ebola safety protocols; incentives to get pupils to schools. This include school feeding programme, education provisions in place for girls who became pregnant during Ebola period and are unable to return to school; and supplementing teaching and learning at all levels through broadcast programmes.

Let me also state that the fight is not yet over. Even as we ease restrictions,

• We must focus on surveillance and contact tracing, until no new cases are coming from unknown sources;
• We must enhance our social mobilisation and community engagement efforts. We must own the response and Ebola must stop with us.

• We must continue to refrain from washing and touching corpses. Our records show that this is now the greatest threat to our victory over the disease. Law enforcement agencies and chiefs are under instruction to ensure that the full force of the law is brought to bear on those who touch or wash dead bodies.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans
The fight will not be over:
• until we have had zero cases for 42 days;

• until our neighbours in Liberia and Guinea have had zero cases for 42 days;

• until our surveillance capacity can ensure that no new cases are going beneath the radar; and until we have built the capacity and resilience in our healthcare system to interrupt transmission and prevent future outbreaks.

Only then will the fight be over. Therefore, though victory is in sight, we must not relent, we must continue to soldier on, we must continue to refrain from touching the sick and corpses, we must continue to support surveillance and contact tracing activities. These are the actions we must collectively continue to take ensure victory in the shortest possible time, and intensify the recovery of our beloved Sierra Leone.

God Bless You,
God Bless Sierra Leone.

President Koroma continues his Ebola social mobilization

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

President Ernest Bai Koroma has arrived in Kono district to continue his social mobilization drive for community involvement and ownership of the fight against Ebola by engaging paramount chiefs, religious leaders, traditional and cultural society heads, MPs, Councillors and other stakeholders to scale up their efforts and be vigilant to break the chain of transmission of the disease.

PREZZO SENSITIZATION

 

Speaking at a Town Hall meeting at the Diamond Lodge in Yengema, the president said that Ebola is not a political fight but one that requires the input of all and sundry in not just Kono district but the entire country.

He expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that Kono was never an epicenter or hot spot, saying that the local authorities promised to do more to reduce new confirmed cases.

“The increase in new infection rates is good and bad at the same time. It’s good because more people have come out to report symptoms of the virus. And bad because people are still obstinate in terms of general compliance with the byelaws.”

He urged the chiefs to implement the byelaws without let or hindrance, and vowed that any chief whose chiefdom is still recording cases should take responsibility.

President Koroma noted that contact tracing, surveillance and social mobilization must be intensified to break the chain of transmission of the virus, and added that Kono now has more facilities such as treatment and holding centers and laboratory to end the outbreak.

He maintained that the State of Emergency was still in force and can only be relaxed when Ebola is defeated.

The president underscored the need for the unconditional enforcement of the byelaws and lamented the fact that government was busy developing the country when this “evil virus” struck.

With a zeal that never tires, President Koroma vowed that he will cover every inch of the country to ensure Ebola is defeated at all cost.

“In your own little corner, you should always think of the bigger picture and ensure that we treat this outbreak very seriously.”

The Head of State also reminded the people that Ebola is not a money making venture as they did during the war, noting that people should stop the habit of receiving salaries for work they didn’t do, and called for effective coordination at the district level to stop the chain of transmission.

“Let’s close our ranks to fight Ebola,” he urged. He admonished male and female survivors of the disease to observe the stipulated 90 days abstinence period and warned that the law will take its course against male survivors who fail to observe the 90 days period.

Hon. PC Sheku Ahmed Tejan Fasuluku Sonsiama commended President Koroma for his effective handling of the outbreak and called for more assistance to tackle this epidemic.

The paramount chief also paid glowing tribute to the president for ensuring that they chiefs receive the much needed help to intensify their efforts to break the chain of transmission of the virus. He urged for total compliance with the byelaws and the health measures stipulated by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

The District Ebola Response Center (DERC) Coordinator PC Paul N. Saquee V informed that there are still challenges with respect to the behaviour change of the people to comply with the byelaws and health measures instituted by the ministry to help halt the transmission of Ebola. He promised the president that Ebola will be under control by the time he visits next.

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Madam Diana Konomani called on his colleague Minister of Health and Sanitation to continue to encourage health workers especially those at Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) to resume work