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THANK YOU GOD FOR LETTING MEN GIVE ME MY FLOWERS WHILE I AM STILL ALIVE

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

 BY LEEROY WILFRED KABS-KANU : 

In Liberia, we have a saying : “GIVE ME MY FLOWERS WHILE I AM STILL ALIVE .” This saying probably emerged because often, only when you die do people come forth to start pouring lavish praise and adolation on you. Thus, people in Liberia want to be praised for their good work when they are alive, not when they are dead and in all probability not hearing the tributes paid to them while they are keeping that grim date with the worms down there six feet below.

GEMS OF AFRICA AWARD1 (600 x 448)

 

One day , a long time ago , news came out that somebody was dead. In no time, obituaries started pouring out in one of the first online forums we once had whenthe internet just arrived and Sierra Leoneans first started coming online. That was way back in the late 1990s. Later on, we learnt that the person had not died after all. It was a hoax, and the person came online and joked : “I DID NOT KNOW I WAS SUCH A GOOD MAN. I WISH TO THANK THOSE WHO STARTED THE FALSE DEATH RUMOURS BECAUSE THROUGH THEM I NOW KNOW THAT I AM A GOOD MAN AND HAVE BEEN AFFECTING MY COMMUNITY. I WOULD NOT HAVE KNOW THIS BECAUSE ALL I HEAR ABOUT ME FROM SIERRA LEONEANS WAS  NEGATIVE. BUT SINCE MY DEATH RUMOUR, I HAVE RECEIVED SO MANY PRAISES FOR MY GOOD WORK.

Blessed man. If his death news was true, he would never had known he was such an asset to his society.

GEMS OF AFRICA AWARD2 (600 x 448)

 

One of the honorees last night, Mr. Pavi Jalloh,  said something very poignant . He told all of us being honoured that we must count ourselves blessed to be honoured in public .He said it was a unique experience because you do not receive praise and appreciation often , especially  among Sierra Leoneans. Therefore , when it happens, it is something worth cherishing.

Well, I am running away with that great statement from Pavi Jalloh . I count myself blessed because yesterday, I RECEIVED YET ANOTHER AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING JOURNALISM AND COMMUNITY SERVICE –THE GEMS OF AFRICA Award —from as great an organization as SPRINGS OF JOY . The quality of people at the Hall yesterday attested to the quality of SPRINGS OF JOY. Only yesterday did I know  with great pride that we have a Sierra Leonean medical doctor –Dr. Mohamed Sannoh —working right here in Somerset, New Jersey. The talk had often been : Oh, we Sierra Leoneans ! ! ! we never excel. Look at all these Nigerian and Ghanaian doctors . No Sierra Leonean doctor. All Salone man sabby nar for eat fufu en bitter lif en talk about Aunty Modu en Uncle Alagbaja ” (Though as the REBRANDER OF SIERRA LONE, I KNEW IT WAS NOT TRUE . SIERRA LEONEANS ACTUALLY DO EXCEL. IT IS JUST THAT WE ARE A MUCH, MUCH MORE SMALLER COUNTRY THAN NIGERIA AND GHANA AND YOU DO NOT EXPECT THE NUMBERS TO BE EVEN WITH THESE OTHER MUCH LARGER COUNTRIES. SIERRA LEONEANS ARE AS SMART AS ANY NIGERIAN OR GHANAIAN. IN FACT, WE TOOK WESTERN EDUCATION TO THESE COUNTRIES. LET THIS FACT NEVER BE FORGOTTEN. WE WERE ONCE THE ATHENS OF WEST AFRICA ).

Anyway, let me go back to the topic. I received my 7th AWARD YESTERDAY FOR JOURNALISM AND COMMUNITY SERVICE.And I am very glad because the society continues to demonstrate to me that it appreciates  whatever I seem to be doing well. 7 awards show that I am doing something right after all.  In 1975, the Fourah Bay College Students Union gave me an award for excellent journalism and service to the students community; In 2008, I have received an award from the great NOSLINA ( National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America -where all the “BOOK PEOPLE” are domiciled ) . I was recommended for the award by the illustrious Mass Communications Professor Cecil Blake , who had to first  famously chisel my rough edges openly at LEONENET -UMBC  before thinking that I deserved an  award . Before that , even while criticizing them left and right in 2005 , the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) NEW YORK CHAPTER decided that I deserved an award during their honoring program for personalities impacting the New York and New Jersey communities; In 2011, I was one of the Sierra Leoneans honored with an award during the 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations of my beloved country. That same year, I also got an award from the umbrella UNION OF SIERRA LEONEAN ORGANIZATIONS IN NEW YORK ; Last year, the great SAVE SIERRA LEONE FOUNDATION honored me as recipient of their HALL OF FAME Award.

These awards are also very important to me because I am really sacrificing rest, leisure and even my health to remain on top of this news business and I am glad that God is  showing  me  that my sleepless nights are not in vain. While others are often enjoying their sweet repose and snoring , I am up until the wee-wee hours of the night  ensuring that my readers receive the news when they log into Cocorioko OR other media the next  morning. It is not an easy job and my wife, who is the closet person in my life , and my children , know how much efforts I expend on making sure that Cocorioko continues to pump the news. Those sleepless nights are a concern to my family, but at the end of the day when they see all these awards I am receiving, they are satisfied that it is well worth the efforts. I know there are many other journalists going through the same rigors and I encourage organizations and institutions to include more journalists in their awards because ours is a very hard and difficult job.

It is very necessary for me to feel this way because we live in a society of negativity, witch-hunting, unforgiveness , vindictiveness and envy. You cannot help appreciating your awards within the context of these problems in our society because at times it seems that you do nothing good as all you get is bad-mouthing. These awards come in however to show that you are doing well after all.

In this regard, I want to thank God forletting  men not to wait until I die to start coming out with all the praises and appreciation( through these awards I keep receiving ) . Given the dog-eat-dog world we live in,  It is good to get your flowers in this world while you are still alive for you to know how you are appreciated . I do get the stick from those who do not agree with my views or anti-government agents; I do get the stick from people who are inadequate and feel that I am outshining them, though I do not go out to achieve this outcome. I just serve my community and country and try to do my job very well . To some people, it is Pappy Show. To us, it is devotion to our society. All we want to do is serve our society. Nothing more, nothing less. I am thankful that  God has provided consolation in the form and shape of these awards, which I cherish so much. At least, I am appreciated by my country and society at large and it is comforting and motivating to know that.

I also want to thank all those providing moral support to help me accomplish my goals , especially working with me on the editorial board. The award is for all of us, even as I endure the sleepless nights.

Some of these awards are not for journalism alone but for community service. I serve the community also as a MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL and in this respect, I also want to thank those who are working with me in the church, since my christian service is included in the package . The award is for us all .

I want to thank the President of SPRINGS OF JOY, Mr. Abraham Siaffa , and members of the organization for becoming the 7th organization to recognize my service .I have never known or met Mr. Siaffa or any of the members of the organization all my life . But this is a lesson that whatever you are doing, you must do it well, because as my late Dad of blessed memory used to tell me , you never know who is watching and observing you.

I also want to thank my family at large for their support in making me what I am today.

Thank God . I am receiving  my flowers while I am alive.

And for that, I am thankful to God.

This Is No Longer A Question Of The SLPP Fighting The SLPP

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Tony-Bee3 (1)By Tony Bee :

The recent frequent opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP’s) so-called intra -party political violence is a case for concern. It should therefore, be condemned by all peace-loving and development-oriented Sierra Leoneans.

I know some unpatriotic and short-sighted partisans will tend to disagree with me. Most people are much more concerned with party politics than with the safety and development of Sierra Leone. Some will say that expressing concern over another party’s welfare is a gross interference into the party’s internal affairs. Well, I don’t think it is wrong to say the truth to your brother Sierra Leonean if he is not doing the right thing for the interest of the country. Therefore it is good and commendable for all right-thinking Sierra Leoneans to tell the SLPP to stop tearing itself apart before the elections next year. “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.”

SLPPFIGHTINGSLPP

Those who can remember will recall that the destructive war that has plunged our country into backwardness began with petty crude politicking until it became a raging volcano that engulfed the whole nation. Such intra-party politics can easily extend beyond its own confines to involve all Sierra Leoneans in its conflict. Who doesn’t know that big things come from small things, especially in terms of conflict issues? Do we want another bloody war on our hands as 2012 elections approach? A big NO!

The genesis of the 11-year-long brutal civil war, which was the creation of corrupt, greedy and self- seeking politicians and the so-called senior civil servants, started on a very small scale in the country. Many Sierra Leoneans initially took it with a pinch of salt and brushed it off as a minor political or tribal/regional conflict.

SLPPSUPPORTERSCRIESAFTERDEFEAT

SLPP SUPPORTER CRYING AFTER NOVEMBER ELECTIONS DEFEAT

The symptoms of the war were noticeable in the late 1960s, just after the death of the first Prime Minister of the country, Sir Milton Margai, which followed his late brother, Albert Margai, taking over as Prime Minister. To be precise enough, it was just after the 1967 general elections that Sierra Leoneans began hearing about rampant cannibalism in the country and about Ndogborwusu, accompanied by school and college unrests. This situation was fanned by the introduction of Ghadaffi’s Green Book ideology, especially at Fourah Bay College, the University of Sierra Leone, where student demonstrations against the ruling government became more prominent and more frequent in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of those rebellions were quickly nipped in the bud by the action-oriented President at the time, late Siaka P. Stevens. President Stevens, with all his ruthlessness and poor human rights records, never compromised his government or the nation’s security.

Sierra Leone’s conflict situation came to the head in the late 1980s when rebels from neighboring Liberia invaded Sierra Leone through Charles Taylor the Liberian leader’s quest for diamonds to fan his war of attrition. The rebel leader, who later became President of Liberia, made some very acidic remarks about Sierra Leone and its chances of tasting the Liberian war. Indeed, he did put his words into action and Sierra Leone was eventually invaded in 199

Sierra Leone wouldn’t have gone to war if the opposition parties at the time were not keen on ousting the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) government of late President Joseph Saidu Momoh, who was much more preoccupied with frivolity than affairs of state. As a result, many people who were opposed to the APC joined the rebellion and went into the jungle. They were more concerned with party politics and were ready to destroy the whole of Sierra Leone if only they could eventually succeed to unseat the APC government. Indeed, they succeeded and the opposition SLPP came to power. The SLPP came to power through a flawed and manipulated election which the people of Sierra Leone at the time could not oppose because of the fear of the dangers of war that had eaten deeply into the country. If the elections were conducted in ordinary times, the SLPP wouldn’t have attained the throne of government; late Karefa-Smart would have been among the list of Sierra Leone’s Heads of State.

Whether that unforgettable brutal war that brought untold suffering on poor, innocent and defenseless Sierra Leoneans was a tribal or regional conflict will be left for posterity to judge. What matters now is that after the war, anything that borders on fiery conflicts should be avoided. As SLPP is busy seriously fighting against itself, it should be a cause of concern for all peace-loving Sierra Leoneans, because when their internal conflict blows out of proportion, it will be a repeat of our ugly past of 11 years of brutality. No right-thinking Sierra Leonean would want that revolting history to happen in Sierra Leone again.

As a result, it is not a matter of SLPP fighting SLPP. It should be a national concern by all patriotic Sierra Leoneans. The condemnation of the situation should not be done through political undertones as it is already evident through the political comments made by die-hard supporters of the party. We should not forget that in spite of the destructive years in our country, there are still some people, because of political reasons, including power hungry ambition and political hatred, who would want those destructive years to come again. They are enemies of progress who wouldn’t mind burning down a whole building to kill a rat!

Moreover, if the main opposition party starts to eat its own party members, which party will be strong enough to stand against the ruling APC government when 2012 elections come? It will be a clean-sweep for the APC, which is not what is expected in a democratic situation.

My Sierra Leonean brothers and sisters let us put aside our unpatriotic tribal, political and regional hypocrisy and learn to call things by their real names. Let us condemn when necessary and give praise where praise is due. Let us not allow our corrupt, unpatriotic and power-hungry politicians to divide us through the use of their outdated divide-and-rule tactics which has succeeded in branding Sierra Leoneans as “northerners, easterners, or southerners”. It will only benefit them and their families and not us. Therefore we should stand firmly against such divisions and call ourselves Sierra Leoneans – undivided Sierra Leoneans. If we continue to bow to their calls, they will surely abandon us as they had been doing in the past after they have achieved their hideous aims.

In view of that I would suggest that SLPP take serious measures against any violent-loving party member(s) in order to save the name of the party and to save the nation from becoming another battle field. My advice to the ruling APC government of President Ernest Bai Koroma is that the government should put all state security apparatus in place to deal accordingly with any individual or group that may engage in any act that would disrupt the peace and quiet of the country. All skirmishes or unrests that may be at the detriment of the poor masses should be dealt with accordingly without fear or favor, otherwise the present light Sierra Leone is seeing at the end of the tunnel will disappear completely out of sight. Therefore, I am appealing to all Peace and progress living Sierra Leoneans to wage war against any form or forms of violence in the country, regardless of which corner or political party it will come from. We should say NO, NO to violence to our beloved mother SALONE. NO MORE VIOLENCE TO OUR SWEET SALONE.

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A Personal Analysis of President Koroma’s Six Years of Governance

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

 

By Ibrahim Sillah —

True, six years in one’s lifespan is indeed a very short period of time; but in politics it is a whole lifetime. Leaders are often judged and assessed by what they achieve for their nations in their prescribed mandate, not by the number of years they may stay in power.

IBRAHIMSILLAH (594 x 586)

 

Former and first president of Ghana after independence, His Excellency, President Kwame Nkrumah, is one of the best models of leaders who were able to institute meaningful changes and realize monumental developments in their countries in so short a period of time. As a matter of fact, it should be recalled that President Nkrumah was the first African president who nurtured the vision of the then lofty African dream of having a ‘United States of Africa (USA). History would always remember him as one of the truest, most visionary and most patriotic sons of Africa.

I was in Ghana in the mid 80’s (precisely 1986) before the second take-over by the former dynamic and charismatic Ghanaian President, Jerry. Rawlings. That was a time when Ghana’s economy was in a shambles; and walking on the streets of Accra, one could see how destitute Ghanaians were; the abject poverty they were living in at the time was indeed palpable and deplorable.

However, what impressed me the most during my strolls on the streets of Accra was the marvelous infrastructure I saw, and most which was said to have been put in place by President Nkrumah. And, taking into account the span of his tenure of office before he was deposed, those developmental strides would be deemed, by all standards, as a colossal monumental achievement for any first leader after independence.

Having succinctly narrated about President Nkrumah’s historical and meaningful achievements during his short political lifespan, I strongly believe that there are a number of ways one could make a reasonable comparison between him and our dear President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. Considering the sort of vision every good leader should be expected to have for his nation and the kind of legacy they would like to leave behind for generations to enjoy, I would have no qualms in making a comparison between the two leaders, as far as positive attitudes, good vision, objective planning and patriotism are concerned as a sine qua non for the progress of any nation.

Objectively talking of President Koroma’s achievements since he occupied the highest office in the land in 2007, every Sierra Leonean, irrespective of political, regional, tribal and sectional affiliations, should be honest enough and stand upright to salute him with every pride for the series of developments he has so far realized for Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans. Making a flashback to the years preceding his tenure of office, one can definitely witness the gigantic and palpable changes he has made in our country in a number of sectors.

On the political arena, as far as modern history of Sierra Leone is concerned, the maturity, tolerance and good governance he has manifested are enough cause for him to be seen as a towering figure among his predecessors. Here is a president who is so cool in his comportment, so shrewd in his judgment, so concerned about the general welfare of his nation, and so calculated in his decisions. It is no hidden fact that his political maturity has apparently sent tremors to his political opponents’ nerves and rendered their political agendas asunder. For the first time we have seen an incumbent president helping out his opponents to put their house so as so to maintain their political integrity, because he believes that, to achieve good governance in a democratic country, there has to be a strong political opposition that can objectively define the checks and balances. That, in itself, speaks volumes of his political astuteness.

Speaking of infrastructure, President Koroma has so far done a splendid job. The road network in the country is improving tremendously. The plan is to ensure that most of the intercity roads get fully constructed by the end of President Koroma’s tenure of office in 2017. That done, intercity travel will be immensely smooth; something that would indeed facilitate trade and business in many domains.

Although many would say that the much-talked-about-energy has not been sufficient enough to brighten the whole of Freetown; yet we should be cognizant of the fact that a lot of improvement has taken place in this regard. And we should also recall how ugly the power status was before President Koroma took over six years ago. This is just to name but a few among the many laurels he has accomplished for Sierra Leone.

Internationally, President Ernest Bai Koroma has made the international community respect and appreciate him for his democratic credentials. His ruling style has been most admirable. Suffice it to say that he is one among a few African leaders that the President of the United States of America, President Barrack Obama, holds in high esteem. This did not come out of vacuum; it was obviously the result of his political astuteness and his devotion to good governance.

In his first term, President Koroma focused in his ‘Agenda for Change’ on attitudinal changes; because for a nation that had gone through such bitterness and traumas as a result of the economic decadence and the senseless decade-long rebel war, he must have realistically concluded that the need for Sierra Leoneans  to change their attitudes towards one another and towards government was a paramount necessity, if his government was to positively impact on the already dilapidated economic and infrastructural situation. And, I think, to a great extent, he has extensively in achieved that.

To buttress the above, for instance, look at the positive attitudinal change that has permeated the ranks of Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora. Before President Koroma’s tenure of office in 2007, the prevalent mood and thoughts of Sierra Leoneans living abroad towards their country were the least favorable and were marred by despair and derision. At the time, not many of them would even think of going back home with the intent to stay and contribute in any form of nation building. However, due to President Koroma’s inclusive vision and accommodating attitude to all the

factions of his nation, we have seen how Sierra Leoneans have started returning to their homeland in droves. And, what is more, some of these Sierra Leoneans returning from the Diaspora have been appointed in key positions to grant them the opportunity to effectively partake in the building process of the only country they can proudly and naturally belong to-Sierra Leone.

Also, as I write, I am aware of the intention of a number of Sierra Leone nationals in the Middle East who, in one way or another, have begun nurturing the desire to finally pack up and go home. Undoubtedly, this change of attitude can, by and large, only be attributed to the broad vision President Koroma has adopted and put in place since his tenure of office.

Another significant faction of the nation that is immensely enjoying and duly attracting a larger portion of President Koroma’s attention right now is the youth. In his second term, Ernest Koroma has, in earnest, embarked upon improving the oft-long neglected status of the youth. He is determined to ensure that the youth’s various concerns are properly and appropriately addressed. It is President Koroma’s perception that youth are the future leaders, and, therefore, should be provided with all they need to get them groomed adequately for their future national roles. No doubt, what President is doing for the youth is what any leader with foresight should do for his nation. Failure to cater for youth welfare, who are indisputably the backbone of any society, would spell gloom and doom for any country.

However, it is hoped that the ministry and officials concerned with youth affairs should make sure that meeting the various needs of Sierra Leone youth is deemed as a top priority. The youth of Sierra Leone are in dire need of everything that takes to prepare a national for a brighter future such as: healthy nutrition, free health care, proper education and the latest state of art in technology and a continued and close follow-up with respects to their comportment and academic achievements. Of course, the follow-up process here has never been and can never be the sole responsibility of government; rather, it should be a shared responsibility. All the forces concerned, particularly the parents and guardians, should effectively perform their given and assigned duties accordingly. That done, society will soon see significant desired changes in youth’s behavior, attitudes, performance and achievements.  And that is exactly how President Koroma and parents would envisage the youth of Sierra Leone to prove themselves to be.

However, irrespective of the laurels and accolades that His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has deservedly earned himself so far as a result of his good and peculiar governance, he should not feel complacent or look back at his achievements as a mission already accomplished. Rather, he should be cognizant of the fact there is lot more to be done for Sierra Leone and for Sierra Leoneans. Our country is still just at the threshold of development. Taking into account our abundant God-given natural resources, Sierra Leone should be more developed in every aspect. I have no qualms that the President’s dream is to make Sierra Leone the pearl of the African sub-Saharan region. And indeed, despite the fact that he has only four years remaining on his second term, with shoulders put to the wheel in earnest, he still has the opportunity to transform Sierra Leone into a modern state with comprehensive infrastructure in place. When one looks at how Angola has been transformed into a highly admirable, or even enviable modern state today after coming out of one of the longest civil wars fought in an African country, as Sierra Leoneans, we see no reason why our country cannot be blessed to have a similar fate, because we have all it takes to have a modern state with the latest state of art in infrastructure and in other developmental areas of vital importance.

Nevertheless, for Sierra Leone to be transformed into that modern state that should match our dreams and aspirations, Ernest Koroma needs to have a truly patriotic, responsible, committed and formidable team ready to translate his vision enshrined in his ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ into a reality on the ground so that Sierra Leoneans of all sectors would, in one way or another, truly feel prosperous by the time he hands over the mantle of power four years from now.

To ensure that President Koroma’s dream is translated into a reality, that cancerous disease, coined as ‘CORRUPTION’, MUST be eradicated and uprooted from the echelons of his Government, who are supposed to be his eyes and hands, and who should be totally committed to embody the vision of the President who placed them in those key positions of national responsibility. To achieve this end, the Anti-Corruption Commission should be totally empowered and be provided with all the necessary mechanisms that would enable them to effectively carry out their mission without let or hindrance. There should be no room for impunity in the echelons of power, irrespective of who the culprit might be. Failure to combat corruption from its roots would certainly leave Sierra Leone wallowing in the same vicious circle for many years to come, regardless of how angelic our president might be. It is a known fact that corruption has for so long permeated the nerves and circles of successive government officials in Sierra Leone; a painful fact that has woefully served as an anti-thesis to any form of true progress and development in Sierra Leone.

Thus, President Koroma should be aware ( I guess he already is) that unless he takes the boldest steps to ruthlessly eliminate those corrupt elements from his government; unless he makes sure that the Anti- Corruption Commission is armed with the right and required tools to implement the law against law breakers and abusers of power; and unless he ensures that his appointed officials are truly committed to carrying out their prescribed duties and functions accordingly, his efforts to fully resuscitate the economy of Sierra Leone and put in place the development strides would only yield little dividends.  Hence, Ernest Koroma must wake up, sharpen his eyes and ears and extend his sense of smelling so that he would be abreast of all that is going on in the corners and nooks of his government. This in turn would definitely enable him to make informed decisions based upon which he could take the right steps to rectify and remedy malpractices and abnormal situations arising from lack of commitment and abuse of power. That done, President Koroma would absolutely have a smooth, effective and flawless running of his Government, which will culminate in true translation of his ‘Agenda for Prosperity’.

 

Prepared by:

Ibrahim Sillah,

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Te: +966 567042967

A MODERN AIRPORT IS A GATEWAY TO PROSPERITY

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

LUNGI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

BY MC Bah- Atlanta, Georgia- USA

Among all the Presidents of Sierra Leone – Mr. Koroma has made the modernization and expansion of Lungi airport and even the construction of a new one at Mamamah in the Koya chiefdom, Port Loko District a center piece goal of his administration. To the extent that the dilapidated Lungi airport recently experienced an $8.9 million renovation from World Bank is indeed a commendable stride. And the President deserves accolades for doing a good job in enhancing the appearance and image of our International airport.

Sierra Leoneans everywhere should embrace President Koroma’s ambition to upgrade and develop our airport system to the new technological and aviation standards around the world. We must support such towering effort if Sierra Leone is to become a giant player in the global market or seek to improve trading partnership with other developing or developed countries. No longer can visitors and investors be bothered with the poor condition and lack of public facilities at the Lungi International airport.

Now, all modern amenities such as enhanced security, CCTV, Fire Alarms, PA system, full air conditioning have been put in place to compliment the new facilities, which include 4 VIP Lounges with Air Conditioning, 2 Duty Free shops, 8 airline offices, massive space for immigration, security and customs, 4 boarding gates, 14 check in counters, Flight Information Display system, 3 restaurants, convenience shops, bar, new baggage conveyors, fully computerized check in, shatter proof windows, and many more have earned the new Lungi Airport accolades and praises.

But the upgrading and expansion of Lungi airport is the beginning of a long road to modern aviation. Rehabilitation should be ongoing and the expansion project should not stop from the provision of logistical amenities alone. The improvement of ground transportation and cargo handling system must be another envisioned project. The Barrows Construction Company Ltd. and Ovie Arup group have completed the first phase of the project. And Group Europe Company which was awarded the contract to improving passenger and cargo handling must work on the other projects which include: a new terminal building, a modern car park, construction of a new runway, and repair to the existing terminal and runways.

Indeed, the new loan, according to the deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, in the amount of $315 million received from the Chinese government will be utilized for the construction of the proposed new airport project at Mamamah in the Koya Chiefdom, Port Loko District. While it is expected that government has the blueprint plan of executing such a landmark project. Many transparency advocates are worried about the ability and competency of the Ministry of Transportation and Aviation to adequately manage such resources.

The accountability and transparency standards of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) are serious obstacles to development in Sierra Leone. We have resourceful individuals capable of producing amazing results, but the culture of corruption and the lack of national focus are what stalled many ambitions projects in Sierra Leone today. For example, the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) on the construction of the Bonthe Jetty, construction of medical stores nationwide; the installation of over 200 water stand pipes in Freetown; the rehabilitation of Njala University and Makeni Government Hospital and, the construction of a solar Technical center in Port Loko District are among pending projects that have not seen any noticeable results.

A modern airport is a gate way to prosperity for any nation. However, the $315 loan from the Chinese government should not be a “birth cake” for few unscrupulous greedy people. It must be a gift to the people of Sierra Leone with the construction of a new airport that meets international standards and facilitates local aviation opportunities. The proposed Mamamah airport should be the new regional envy – a hub that provides flight services to neighboring countries and create new flight routes to Europe, Asia and America.

Aviation progress brings job opportunities to our citizens. It builds strong communities with rising middle income class demography. Farmers are able to transport their goods via air cargo to trading posts and investors can access export potentials with massive production of available goods. While our economy can be stimulated by such commercial activities, local councils, cities and government can benefit immensely from increase tax revenues. The chain reaction of economic growth spreads from every corner of Sierra Leone if we put more effort on the value of service than the value of money – that troubling concept of stealing money from the resources of the state.

The population of 6 million (Sierra Leone) – less that the city of Atlanta (USA) – is not impossible to develop and equip with the privileges and opportunities like any industrialized country. Development begins with the love of country and the willingness by those who today are managing the resources of our beloved nation to do so with the character of honesty and integrity. To do so with the faith that nothing is more redemptive than the desire to change the lives of our struggling people. And to transform their dashing hopes into a more prosperous future.

Many Sierra Leone therefore join President Koroma’s dream of moving Sierra Leone’s aviation future into a modern airport with sophisticated air tower system, a safe baggage check in with affordable amenities, an adequate ground transportation with reliable hotel services, a 24 hour uninterrupted electricity with busy flight schedules. And Transportation and Aviation Minister, Mr. Leonard Balogun Koroma also deserves commendation for a vibrant job well done.

As we see the mistakes and the missteps of our statesmen and women, we must sometimes honestly take the time also to catch them when they are doing their best for the good of our country. After all, as Winston Churchill once said: if we look at the difficulties of every opportunity, how can we see the opportunities in every difficulty.

May our nation continue to be the realm of the free!!

Sierra Leone on a take-off stage to prosperity

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

 

 By Unisa Kanu :

To a frequent holiday-maker with a whetted appetite for newsfeed, I found myself switched into an active observation mode the moment we touched down in the land of bliss! You just can’t help but notice the new broadness of the airport, to the extent that, you’re left guessing as to where the terminal bus will eventually dock. That was just too obvious in the past, isn’t it! But wait for the fine tune of airport reception! The airport security staff has suddenly turned professional service-providers, with rehearsed lines of courtesy code utterances as they welcome new arrivals to the land of Sierra Leone. The ‘chalk’ deal on baggage in exchange for small denominations of ‘Forex’ is now a thing of the past. If you so wish, you can walk right out of the airport, ignore the tamed approach of drivers outside cajoling for Taxi Charter, then walk straight down to the main ‘highway’ and join other local commuters heading for the Ferry in Tagrin, where gushing winds of the sea freshens your skin and helps on-lookers pick you out easily from the rest as the new JC!

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I honestly can’t point a finger at it, but there’s this unmistakable calmness in peoples’ attitude that tells a story of its own. From the street vendors to the mini-market stalls, there is a significant level of confidence that floats around – a feel of lesser burden of worry, perhaps – that signals a new dawn in the era of business prosperity …. as the regular sales/turnover/mark-up of the day hovers within the expectation range. The accustomed scenario of competitive rush, knock-over tussle to present foodstuffs to potential buyers has reduced drastically. The Ramadan fasting effect could noticeably be a contributing factor, but the totality of the sanguine mood could well be rooted to other broader factors including a tangible growth in the national economic development index, however abysmal that might be!

As we cruised into the capital from Ferry Junction, you begin to blame yourself for spending too much time overseas! God! The local folks are challenging the hills and mountains with mighty mansions! The sheer audacity of building a four-storey house automatically engages a calculative mind about the total cost of construction, stating from the cost of getting the building material up the mountainous landscape in the first place. The bold, brazen, go-for-it zealousness can only be attributed to the new lease-of-life economic confidence that the leadership of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has successfully infused into the business sector. People just have to take him seriously, can’t they! After all, he has proven to a large extent that he is a man of his words. The natural interpretation is that, an Agenda For Prosperity could never have been pronounced by the President if he has not already figured out the visionary dynamics or supportive mechanisms that should make it happen! Perhaps, this is one unavoidable fact that has made the entire opposition visibly jittery with malfunctioning attributes! The collateral fear that surreptitiously remains unspoken by the majority of the opposition is that: When President Koroma finally leaves office, he would have ruled the country in such a tremendously successful manner, the standards will be too high for any opposition to convincingly make a contrasting case in an election campaign! A further stark reanalysis is that, the potential continuity of the ruling APC could see the main opposition playing no part in the making of a national record-breaking developmental history! Understandably, the recent rumors that President Koroma is using the constitutional review as a ploy for a third term are emanating from confused minds needing regular doses of assurances to ‘morphine’ the unsettling possibility that the World Best might go for a third term. But then, who should be held responsible for a self-inflicted disillusionment that originated from nothing but selfless visionary statesmanship!

As I go about my daily observation routine, I realized that the country is entering a new phase of political reality. I had to turn down vehicle offers to avoid driving in the traffic that has refused to go away. You can’t see much, hear much, ‘jam-body’ much, or even engage much in ‘raw’ political discussions as we normally have it in the taxis, busses and Poda-Podas. In fact, the truth is, driving around the center of capital during the day is like being re-colonized by technology. I found healthy freedom in just trekking it out in the length and breadth of the capital, thus avoid the extra responsibility of vehicle care. Yes, back to the new phase of political reality! President Koroma is setting the hurdles of governance up to such a high standard of assessment, the people can no longer be taken for a ride by politicians who talk the talk that builds castles in the air but then fail woefully to walk the walk that constructs the foundation of such a castle. Politicians can only cut a deal with the people if there have result-oriented programs on the offing. The majority of the youth are well updated nowadays with latest regular mobile ‘newsfeed’! Politicians will have to stay close to sincerity when making their campaign case, or they risk being quoted from the rampant fashion of mobile recordings these days! Mobile phones are now the new accountability devise archive!

Largely evaluated through the lenses of EBK’s leadership, you can sense a moderation in the tone of blanket condemnation of government, compared to what people used to do in the past. The speculatively tangible hope created by the pronouncements of the Agenda For Prosperity must have sunk deep into the mood of the people! You now begin to see the cool and cozy attitude of the 80s re-emerging in peoples’ way of life! Even those who condemn do so with some element of caution – pinpointing areas of dissatisfaction! I’ve heard on many occasions people expressing impatience about the Agenda For Prosperity! Those who ‘Ponder Their Thoughts’ keep saying that the change in the Agenda For Change had not been fully realized when there came a jump-skip into the Agenda For Prosperity! I get to hear much of the grumbling while walking under the rain… while struggling in soaked clothes, soaked shoes and fighting to get transportation to return home! Transportation is one area that surely needs fixing! One can import a fleet of vehicles for transportation purposes, but the defying trend of population growth meant to go side-by-side with the proportionate increase in transportation services remains an unavoidable reality!

Then, by mere coincidence, I found myself thrust deep into the circles of disgruntled youths who have an axe to grind with the government. These are all young graduates, well articulate in their presentation aptitude! In fact, one had already stood but lost in the last general elections under the main opposition ticket. Admittedly, they are all equipped with some sort of negatively synchronized views and, unsurprisingly well-versed with current political issues to their finger tips. I am forced to rely on my regular offshoot of internet news material, but crucially, I owe my phenomenal defense-to-attack debate strategy to a key bank of wisdom: Alhaji M. B. Jalloh, the Press Attache of Sierra Leone Embassy in Saudi Arabia! Maintaining a good relationship with those who know led us to develop the culture of asking questions. The ensuing fireworks, the logical dismantling of allegations, the unraveling of counter-accusations, the punching of holes in defense walls,….. and the total mouthwatering scenario of that intense political discourse should better be left for another day! A Part 2 post, perhaps!

From Freetown with love!

Shifting the trajectory from Change to Prosperity

Monday, July 15th, 2013

 

 Pa John Baimba Sesay-China  :

In the coming hours, we are expecting a great shift in our development trajectory as a country; from our initial drive to change through the ‘Agenda for Change’ to a call for a prosperous nation, as contained in the “Agenda for Prosperity’, slated to be launched by President Koroma on Friday, 12th July in Freetown.

In a launch trailer issued by my colleague in the Communications Unit of Government, Jarrah Kawusu-Konte who also happens the Communications Manager, Office of the President “President Koroma is expected to talk on a number of issues bordering on the continued development and transformation of the country during and after his term of office. He will commit himself to accelerating the eradication of hunger and malnutrition, with a strengthened focus on women and children from conception to two years of age, to prevent the irreversible effects of stunting. The president will talk on the establishment of a multi-sectorial nutrition coordination secretariat to address these issues.” This is also expected to take into account issues of youth unemployment, “better management of our natural resources for the good of all citizens of Sierra Leone, and also expand and sustain the Free Health Care and Scaling-Up Nutrition initiatives, reform the educational system to make our graduates more competitive in the job market, as well as concluding all ongoing road, energy and water supply projects all across the country.” These are amongst the core components of the prosperity agenda.

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Fine and encouraging! But as Jarrah states in his update, the country’s s vision for 2013 to 2035 is to become a middle-income country. “It would be an inclusive, green country, with 80% of the population above the poverty line. It would have gender equality, a well-educated, healthy population, good governance and rule of law, well-developed infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, with private-sector, export-led growth generating wide employment opportunities; there would be good environmental protection, and responsible natural resource exploitation.

The gains we made in the ‘Agenda for Change’ especially in relation to transforming the country in the areas of infrastructure, to ensuring free health for our lactating women and children, to the progress made in rebranding our country’s image at the global arena, all remain just too impressive. Change and development do not come in a day; they are not an event, rather, they are a process that will take time and resources to achieve. But leadership comes into play in achieving thus. With an astute and effective leadership, a country is bound to enjoy international trust, recognition and support. A country that enjoys international recognition, support and trust is bound to go beyond the description of a failed nation. Sierra Leone has got such support and is therefore not a failed nation. And this is because of the leadership that we have got in the last half a decade or so. I mean the Koroma leadership. Simple logic.

I spoke of international recognition. Only few days ago, President Koroma was in China. China and Sierra Leone entered into diplomatic relations in 1971. His visit was not only meant to bring in more laurels into Sierra Leone from the framework of the Chinese government supporting our development programmes, rather, it was also meant to forge and lift the bars of cooperation ties that have been in existence between the two countries. At the end of his visit, I and Jarrah Kawusu-Konte, whilst flying the airspace of China with the President and his Ministers, were able to solicit some information from the President (thanks to his State Chief Of Protocol) in terms of the outcome of his visit. Impressively, he told us of an offer of 250 million RMB, which was given to us as a grant with a commitment of supporting the construction of the Centre of Excellence and other ongoing programmes, by the Chinese government. He also was able to have several meetings with the private sector-companies that are already doing business in Sierra Leone and those with the desire to do business in Sierra Leone .Most importantly the President and his delegation had a meeting with EXIM Bank with a view of preparing a kind of package of support by the bank to programmes in Sierra Leone. Another outcome was his meeting with China Kingho Energy Group, a group that has agreed to replicate the kind of industrial park that they have in Inner Mongolia in Sierra Leone. This should take into account the fact that they have already signed a 6.5 billion dollars agreement with the Sierra Leone government to develop a mine and a Port. Not forgetting also, 1.5 billion dollars that will grow rubber and embark on irrigation of rice which was another success story of the President’s visit to China. All these have to do with the astute leadership of Preside not Koroma.

But all of these, it should be noted are in line with our drive to prosperity from our change agenda. A shift in the nation’s development trajectory is timely given what we got in the first agenda. The change drive, which is about to be put in our history books in few hours from now, scored several goals and as such could be described as successful and commendable. A post President Koroma presidency assessment won’t be complete without referencing his change agenda.

When he assumed office in 2007, President Koroma did promise to effect several changes in the lives of the ordinary Sierra Leonean, with particular reference to the provision of electricity, the fight against corruption, the provision of a politically tolerant environment for the operation of all political parties and many others. Though with challenges, we made great gains therein. Take corruption as a case study. Prior to 2007, though there were efforts to address such governance challenge, the political will was lacking. President Koroma came and enacted the strongest legislation in the sub region that eventually gave prosecutorial powers to the anti corruption commission. Not only that we saw how top government officials were chased with no government interference. This is not to say we have succeeded in that area. But the fact remains; we have made progress which therefore makes complete nonsense for international body to want to make nonsense of our commitment toward tacking corruption. I refer here to Transparency International recent presentation of events in Sierra Leone from the perspective of fighting corruption.

Generating electricity to, firstly, the capital city and later all provincial headquarter towns was another of President Koroma’s priority areas in the change agenda. At least Freetown now enjoys relative supply of electricity, with solar lights in most, if not all the provincial headquarter towns. Governance must go beyond mere political promises; it entails communicating to and with the electorate and it is only when this is done that a government is appreciated. This has not been lacking in the governance style of President Koroma. A practical example is his recent engagement with the media after his China trip and his good and cordial ties with the media generally.
So generally the first five years of the change drive/agenda helped to put the needed structures in place for the smooth implementation of the components of the prosperity agenda to be launched Friday 12th July. The government is committed to meet the basic needs of our people and it is only with support to the country’s leadership that they are bound to succeed. The trajectory shift from the Agenda for Change to the Agenda for Prosperity demands a lot. Support is one of the several requirements for its success. Let us join the drive to a prosperous nation.

Happy weekend and forget not to take your daughter to the beach on Saturday.

TRAUMATIC POLITICAL DISASTER AT MAADA BIO AND HIS SLPP CAMP!!

Monday, May 27th, 2013

By Tony Bee, Sydney, Australia :

The term trauma can generally be caused by any event, action or sound that may bring serious shock, stress, depression or life-threats to a human being’s normal life.  This can be in the form of, for example, losing a very hopeful political election to an opponent, the loss of a loved one, a horrible accident, war, a fire disaster, earthquake, even the sound of a gun or other objects, etc.  Trauma can also affect people by their conscious or unconscious reflection on past horrible events, like reflecting on the 11 years of an uncivilized and brutal war that devastated our country Sierra Leone and left indelible scars on the minds of citizens.

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TONY BEE

In most of my recent writings, I have always not hesitated to remind Maada Bio and his tribal and regional-minded SLPP “Pa-O-Pa” that the political situation of the country would result in their facing a horrific traumatic political disaster that would be difficult to be treated by any specialist therapist.  I also did not mince my words to remind Bio and his SLPP that they would have to seek the services of specialist psychiatrists,  psychotherapists, and therapeutic counsellors because of the traumatic stress, the uncontrollable anger and the tormenting  depression that they would experience after a dramatic hands-down defeat in the hands of the ruling APC.

Well, Bio and his supporters obviously thought I was joking, their usual reaction to serious things, including serious national issue. To prove me right, I am challenging sober-minded Sierra Leoneans to take a closer scrutiny ofMaada Bio and his Pa-O-Pa cabal and you will see the anger and depression that are eating deep into their hearts and souls after Dr. Christiana Thorpe announced the unquestionable victory of Ernest Bai Koroma and his APC party. To tell you the truth, they are all seriously sick, inwardly and outwardly, and I suggest that the government increases the size of the Kissy Craze- Yard, the only psychiatric centre in Sierra Leone. Dr. Nahim, our only and hard-working psychiatrist, can help in that direction.

All those SLPP blind supporters, the so-called educated blokes who wrote spurious articles in newspapers in order to poison the minds of the electorate before the elections, are now as silent as a broken bell. Disappointment has made them so dumb that you will think they are no longer in existence. This is what disappointment can do to over-ambitious fools who would rather betray their country for their own self-aggrandizement. Take the case of one destructive half-baked media outlet, The New People online newspaper, which was one of the vociferous SLPP newspapers but which has suddenly gone underground or, to put it more appropriately, gone into coma since their SLPP lost the elections in November 17, 2012. Not until few days ago when it starts recovering from it long sleeps.

Those who are knowledgeable enough will know that the SLPP executive and supporters are presently seriously engaged in their usual political blame-game and regrets. While some are blaming their executive and political advisers for their preference of Maada Bio over Usman Boi Kamara and Kadie Sesay, others are eating their heads for being so naïve in blindly following a party that is steered by greedy and mediocre politicians. SLPP has been like this from time immemorial and they need drastic transformation if they really want to win the hearts of the people of Sierra Leone.

Wise Sierra Leoneans know that the reason why SLPP chose Bio was that being a former junta leader who betrayed his former boss and colleague by toppling him in a coup d’etat and took his place as Head of State, he would therefore be able to plunge the country into another war if the SLPP lost the election. The SLPP wanted to use him as a cat’s paw to pick their chestnut out of the fire! They later became disappointed when they realized that Maada Bio’s troubled past and financial impropriety were haunting him and Bio himself became afraid that if he made any false moves in present-day Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Court (ICC) would handle him for both his past and present crimes. As a result, the lion that the SLPP wanted to build out of him disappointingly became a lamb.

Another school of thought says that Maada Bio could not get hands on the millions of dollars he stole in Sierra Leone and deposited in foreign banks. He and a few of the SLPP executive members thought the only possibility of Bio getting his wealth back from foreign banks was by becoming a Head of State. According to the school of thought, Bio therefore made a deal with the said executive members that if he became the president of Sierra Leone and got his money back, he would share it with them. Nobody knows how true this is but rumours in Sierra Leone are usually built out of authentic happenings.

To prove that the SLPP is in regrets and that one member of the party is ignominiously blaming the other for their demise, read an article by one James Fallah-Williams in the Patriotic Vanguard online newspaper and you will see what I mean. Fallah-Williams wrote a very brilliant and educative article about some of the causes of SLPP’s never-to-rise fall.  He says the SLPP are always sleeping in their wings because of their chronic tribalism.

I knew for sure the effect of the elections on the SLPP and I have therefore often advised President Koroma and the APC, in my writings, to give more encouragement to the country’s psychiatric doctor, Dr. Edward Nahim, so that the doctor would be able to treat the numerous SLPP patients that the elections have produced.

The country should also create numerous counseling centres and should appeal to international organizations for professional counselors to practise in Sierra Leone. Moreover, the APC government of Ernest Bai Koroma should train more professional psychiatrists and trauma counsellors in the country.

The reason is that only a few fortunate SLPP die-hards are able to get psychiatric treatment and counseling therapy abroad; I sympathize with those thousands who cannot afford to go abroad and who are not able to get treatment in the country. Lack of appropriate treatment will make them face some serious post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). President Koroma and the APC government, please help. The SLPP may be your opposition but we should also not forget that they are your brothers who got entangled in their own web.

I still continue to launch my appeal to all peaceful and development-oriented Sierra Leoneans to continue opposing fellow Sierra Leoneans who are enemies of the state, enemies of progress, and enemies of the hard-earned peace in the country. In view of that, I encourage all patriotic journalists, the Independent Media Commission (IMC), National Electoral Commission (NEC), Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), the Bar Association, Teachers Union, religious groups, civil societies, human rights organizations, Labor Congress, women’s groups, youth organizations, musicians and other artists, traders associations, market women’s associations, student unions, disabled organizations, cassette sellers associations, booksellers associations, photographers associations, newspaper vendors, etc. to rise up and oppose the promoters of tribalism, violence, regionalism, hatred and dishonesty, especially the turn-coat politicians and the devil- incarnate political chameleons in the country before it is too late.

PLEASE, PLEASE, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, THIS IS THE TIME TO PROTECT OUR COUNTRY; THERE IS NO OTHER TIME MORE SUITABLE THAN NOW. WE SHOULD NOT WAIT UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS BEFORE WE BEGIN TO SHOUT. NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME TO SHOUT ALOUD TO SAVE OUR MOTHERLAND FROM ANOTHER CATASTROPHIC WAR. BULLETS FROM AK-47 RIFLES AND OTHER DANGEROUS WEAPONS DON’T DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN A JOURNALIST, AN SLPP OR APC SUPPORTER; EVERYBODY IS A TARGET IRRESPECTIVE OF WHAT TRIBE YOU BELONG TO, WHAT REGION YOU COME FROM, OR WHAT POLITICAL PARTY YOU SUPPORT. WE SHOULD THEREFORE WEAR THE COAT OF WISDOM BEFORE DESTRUCTION COMES.

WHEN GOD SAYS YES, WHO WILL SAY NO?

 

 

 

Aan Mant -Annant : Water and electricity must be pursued if prosperity is considered a succcess story

Monday, March 18th, 2013

 

 By Dr. Augustine Kamara :

President Koroma has done a lot to improve Sierra Leone and her entire lot. Unfortunately it would appear to some that the president must be a magician or should possess Aladdin’s wonderful lamp to conjure it and satisfy the wishes of everyone in Sierra Leone. Well it is just too bad if some of us as Sierra Leoneans have forgotten too soon the state of affairs we took off with Dr. Earnest Koroma and his government.

The first hundred days saw the flow of electricity into Freetown. Road networks were sprouting throughout the country. Water and environmental sanitation are being tackled as we speak. The mining industries are on the rise. The president is vigorously pursuing agriculture for self-reliance in food agronomy. Social and religious rites are improving. Over and above the country is enjoying peace and tranquility.

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Does this mean it is the end of the road to progress? Definitely no!! . Dr. Earnest needs to be reminded that all that glitters is not gold and needs to do more. Yes he might have good intentions but these intentions must follow through. He needs to watch his back. If it causes him to sack and employ public servants who do not measure up to expectations he should do that. He might not have all the answers though and we pray god continues to guide him in his leadership to succeed with his good intentions.

Four months after elections leaves the agenda of prosperity with four and half years to deliver the promise to mama Salone and her children. The president definitely is in in a hurry to meet with his agenda of prosperity. In the midst of that detractors and want to be megalomaniacs or presidents are waging a wicked campaign of hatred to sabotage the peace and progress of the nation. Are we children or morons that cannot think simple reasoning that the entire world including developed nations are devising new ways of how to meet with the challenges facing our political, social and economic strides? The sad thing is that the so called educated Sierra Leonean is proving to be difficult to rule. With so much criticism and less to offer we have become bastions of disgruntled elements. The infighting between political party stalwarts in Sierra Leone demonstrates our immaturity and intolerance for one another in promoting progress of our country.  Definitely president Koroma is not a baby sitter for all this nonsense. We have to be our own diplomats, ministers, parents’ watchdogs for peace and prosperity of our land irrespective of political party, religion, tribe or region.

Dear beloved president the ball is in your court. We humbly ask you to press on the sufficiency of good water supply and electricity. Do not allow your good works to be destroyed. These are basic needs that can attract tourism and all Sierra Leoneans return back home. Please continue in your benevolent ways in supporting good health programs for Sierra Leone. We know it is not easy but with your good intentions Sierra Leone would make it to the top. Please continue to curb down on corruption which I believe your detractors are bent on and will always capitalize on to falter you. Whilst the clock is ticking I am appealing to all Sierra Leoneans to move on with positivity and avoid negativism. LONTA.

 

Sierra Leone Government plans affordable housing for people’s prosperity

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Pa John Baimba Sesay-China :

On the 5th of Marc h, 2013, I was among dozens of diplomats that attended the First Session of the 12th National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of china in the Great Hall of the People, where the Premier of the State Council, Wen Jiabao delivered a report on the work of the government. In his report, he gave a review of work in the past five years. He highlighted how, in the past five years they were able to build millions of government-subsidized housing units of various types and millions of housing units areas upgraded. In the Report On The Implementation Of Central And Local Government Budgets In 2012 And On Draft Central And Local Government Budget 2013, it was indicated, that , the country appropriation for guaranteeing adequate housing was 260.16 billion yuan, up by 44.6% and 122.9% of the budgeted figure…” This reason for this was as a result of an increase in subsidies for building government-subsidized housing “and supporting infrastructure in urban areas as well as renovating dilapidated rural houses…” This indicates development is something that goes with huge finance resources, no wonder, the efforts we keep making in Sierra Leone.

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PA BAIMBA SESAY :

Sierra Leone is at the crossroad of her socio-economic development. From the framework of infrastructural development, we have been making great progress especially in the last five years of state governance by President Koroma. This is not to imply we have reached the apex of national development. However, explicitly from what we have been seeing, we are moving to that direction more so when we all decide to give our collective support the process of change and development. From roads, seaport, airport to social infrastructure, we have been making gains. The prosperity agenda is very specific in terms of government’s commitment to meeting the social needs of her people, especially that which deals with the need for delivering affordable housing for the citizenry. With specific reference to chapter five of the said document, it states, amongst other things, that one of the most basic needs of human existence is housing. In developed nations as in the West; the practical provision of house mortgages is assured. But for a developing nation like Sierra Leone, it may not sound as easy as it is in developed nations. This still remains a major challenge; given other set priorities of government, especially in her dream to not only meet the social needs of her people, but in also tackling other societal problems and governance challenges. The prosperity agenda takes into cognizant the fact that houses in the country are still provided through an intricate and protracted long-established processes of first buying land and erecting a building over many years that could last for years. That is not all. Government has therefore been thinking of the urgent need to rejuvenate the mortgage market to address this situation. We surely will reach there one day. Nassit has been doing some great job in providing housing.

Shelter Afrique, in line with the UN Millennium Development Goals, is working “with development partners, member states (and their agencies) and microfinance institutions on social housing initiatives that promote access to affordable housing and infrastructure services to low income groups. We particularly favour large-scale projects, which have government support (Public-Private Partnerships) and are environmentally sustainable (http://www.shelterafrique.org/index.php/social-housing-). They recently had a Road Show in at the Bank Complex, West of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, according to media reports, where Sierra Leone’s Minister of Works and Infrastructure, Alimamy P. Koroma was requested to deliver a key note address. (Awareness Tomes of March 5th 2013). In his speech, Minister Koroma disclosed plans toward the construction of one thousand (1000) houses countrywide, in line with government’s drive to the prosperity agenda. Online media reports quoted the Minister as saying, that most of the materials to be used in the construction of the said houses will be local ones and that that government is providing incentives in the form of land and duty waivers on related materials for this venture through sensitization and promotion. (http://news.sl/drwebsite/publish/article_200522198.shtml). To say this is a positive trend in our development plan could be an understatement, given that a determined and success-oriented government is one that always thinks of how the needs of people are met. Providing affordable housing for people is a way of taking them to prosperity. President Koroma, no doubt, will leave a legacy that could always be used to discuss his governance successes.

What is also encouraging in this initiative by the government, though the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure is the decision to get the local councils fully involved. The Third Schedule of the Local Government Act 2004 outlines the functions devolved to the local councils as a result of the creation of the of Act itself. Under the Ministry of Works the function of maintenance of council buildings/premises falls under the local councils. Bu the Minister of Works is going beyond that by promising that government will empower the councils to undertake the development of low cost housing schemes for their communities as his ministry has requested for the provision of some resources to both the Freetown City Council and the Western Rural District Council to initiate the construction of these units in partnership with the private sector. This is an impressive initiative and one that will definitely be in line with the common good of Sierra Leoneans, for which I would want to commend the Minister of Works, Alimamy Koroma

Also, the involvement of private local and foreign investments groups in our development drive is crucial and important as the very determination on the part of government to always provide the basic needs of the people. Their involvement has often been ensured by government through the provision of the enabling environment that will attracts not just local business entrepreneurs but also attracting resources and joint ventures from foreign business partners. In tandem with the desire on the part of the President to addressing the issue affordable housing in the country , it is well featured in the prosperity agenda, that government will also focus on attracting investment into this sector, will “continue to provide the necessary infrastructure, and mortgage insurance to first time home buyers and low-to middle income families.” Plans also are there, as stated in the prosperity agenda to “continue to encourage the use of local materials such as clay and other local building materials as a way of cutting down the cost of constructing homes.” Delivering affordable housing to our people will surely take them to prosperity. The time is now and thanks to Alimamy Petito Koroma for thinking big.

Energy generation and distribution for national prosperity

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

 

 By John Baimba Sesay-(China)

A government that performs will always see her citizen asking for more. This is what is happening with the Koroma administration. In five years, following his election into office in 2007, President Ernest Koroma performed exemplary well, that there was the strong desire on the part of voters to reelect him, especially so when they came to know that the contents in the Agenda for Prosperity are as rich and promising as the commitment on the part of the President himself to move Sierra Leone to the apex of development. The energy sector, just as it is with other sectors, has always been part of the government’s strong success indicators.

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Notwithstanding the few challenges we are faced with, the fact remains, there was a time, in the history of our energy sector when students even at the university will shout and dance on mountain tops, when they get a brief supply of electricity and those where the days when electricity will be supplied for just few hours and would only come after a month or so. So, no matter what one would want to say, today is far better than yesterday when it comes to electricity. The ‘Kabba (b) tigers’, have disappeared today. President Koroma has always believed in the need for an ideal energy environment. He knows with an ideal energy environment, the contents in the Agenda for Prosperity will be fully met and addressed. We therefore should do our best to appreciate what we have done in five years in terms of energy provision, even as we also would want to see more.

By June 2009, the President spoke of his belief that “the multiplier effect of adequate and reliable energy will impact on all sectors of the country and revitalize the economy and improve the standard of living of our people.” That for Sierra Leone to power her economic development without harming the environment, it was committed “to harnessing the enormous hydro-electric potential in our rivers and waterways, as well as to developing biofuels and solar energy….” (President Koroma, Trade and Investment Forum, 2009) Government’s commitment towards the provision of electricity to the general public has been a major issue in the last couple of years of the Koroma administration. Our electricity sector, when compared to how it was, prior to 2007, has changed positively. Not only was the country the darkest in the sub region, but by September 2007, the little electricity supply that was coming was only available in Freetown, Bo and Kenema. Even at that, it was not trustworthy and consistent. What we witnessed was an increase in the national electricity generation capacity.

In a bid to meet the people’s growing demand for electricity with reliable and affordable power supplies, government signed an agreement in July 2011 for the construction of thermal plants with an installed capacity of 1000MW on a ‘Build, Operate and Transfer’ basis. With a soft Loan from the Chinese, it also officially commenced construction works for Mini-hydro projects at Bankasoka (2MW), Charlotte (3MW) and Makalie (170Kw).In September 2007, total electricity generation in the country was way under 15 Megawatts but the Koroma government made energy provision one of the five key sectors in his Agenda for Change in the first five years of his governance. As such, there an increase in the national electricity generation capacity to over 90Mw, with a target for 218Mw by 2013.( Source: Presidential Address Delivered By President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma On The Occasion Of The End Of The Fifth Session Of The Third Parliament Of The Second Republic Of Sierra Leone In The Chamber Of Parliament Building, Tower Hill, Freetown On Tuesday, 25th September 2012)

In fact, given government’s strong desire to always work in line with people’s expectation, in 2010, we saw the installation of a 10MW thermal plant at Kingtom and in 2011, a 16.5MW plant at Blackhall Road which was meant to support the energy supply to Freetown. Several homes in rural communities, including Mamusa, Blama Massaquoi, Kissy Koya, Makandeh and Mambioma already benefited from solar home systems through a government project funded by the Bare Foot College of India. There has been the commissioning of a Bare Foot Solar Engineers Training Centre at Konta Line Village, the first ever in the continent of Africa. The government is fully aware of the fact that to bolster the country’s economy, there is every need to look at the aspect of energy supply. That is why when you look at chapter 3.3 of the Agenda for Prosperity, government recognizes, that there still are core challenges faced in this sector like that of ensuring the expansion of Hydro-power generation across the country, reducing the use of high cost thermal generators, improving the transmission and distribution of electricity and improving the collection of payment from consumers, amongst others. This is especially so given government’s objective of working toward increasing power generation from current level, sustaining the functioning of the Bumbuna and Dodo Hydro Dams, reducing dependence on thermal plant and ensuring greater access to power supply in cities, towns and communities. But there also, are strategies outlined in the Agenda for Prosperity aimed at meeting the challenges in the energy sector. They include; continuing with the identification and exploration of additional hydro electricity power potentials across the country; increasing investment in clean energy sources by harnessing solar power; strengthening the distribution function by rehabilitating and replacing where applicable non- functioning transmission lines in the cities; encouraging public-private partnership in the provision of energy; increasing coverage and regularity of power supply within the cities; installing prepaid meters for all consumers to ensure payment of bills; and instituting more robust monitoring of distribution and consumption to apprehend and punish perpetrators of illegal connections.

People expect more, given the way President Koroma has performed in five years. There still remains the highest level of public trust and support to the government. But it is also crucial that we try to manage our expectations. We can question our state authorities on issues, but it should be done n a respectable and acceptable manner. President Koroma himself is aware of the fact, that the transformation of the energy landscape is the country will lead to an improved quality of life of our people. As he started in the speech referred to above, “We are not yet fully there, we still have more to do, but many more Sierra Leoneans, from the ginger beer seller to the welder and the electrician are all registering improved business activities. These actions for enhancing business growth and job creation will continue; for that is how we will transform the Agenda for Change to the Agenda for Prosperity.” There have been some national efforts, with the government taking the leadership, in meeting our challenges for national development, to which improving the energy sector is paramount. We should recognize such efforts, I think.