Archive for the ‘SPECIAL FEATURE’ Category
PLANTING SEASON FOR 2016 LAUNCHED, AGRICULTURE MINISTER EXPECTS BUMPER HARVEST
Titus Boye-Thompson, Communications Expert
The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) Prof. Patrick Monty Jones, on Saturday 7th May 2016, launched the planting season for 2016. The Minister made the symbolic launching at Makeni, Bombali District, a predominantly agricultural economy where over 80% of the economic activities are linked to agriculture. In the event, The Minister informed farmers present at the ceremony that he expects Bombali District to do well in registering good results on the twin targets of increasing production by a marked increase in the area under cultivation and also to increase productivity by an increase in the yield per hectare. The Minister also used the occasion to validate the distribution of seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers across the country and in the same ceremony, made a conducted tour and inspection of farm inputs of the items being distributed at the stores of the Seed Multiplication Centre in Makeni.
Demonstrating his depth of knowledge and experience in agriculture in general and rice cultivation in particular, The Minister, who is a World Food Prize laureate for his work in the creation of NERICA RICE – a variety of rice that performs very well in the Sierra Leonean environment, cautioned farmers to use the seeds, fertilizers and other inputs for the purpose that they were being delivered to them. He admonished them to engage on better farming methods and to avoid the temptation to spread the seeds and fertilizers over a larger area than is already advised to them as such would produce a lower yield.
Speaking to a large crowd of farmers, agricultural extension workers and other stakeholders in Makeni, Prof. Monty Jones confirmed that the immediate priority for his Ministry is to meet the Presidential priorities for agriculture recovery in the 10 – 24 months period of restructuring of key economic sectors and to re-align sector priorities to fit with the Agenda for Prosperity. He assured the country of his determination to see the vision of His Excellency the President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, fulfilled for agriculture by focussing on farmer’s welfare and enhancing their ability to provide better yield of the more nutritious and healthy crops that this country is accustomed to producing.
The Minister announced that his Ministry is currently working on several large projects that will benefit farmers in the country. He indicated that talks were already far advanced for a massive investment in agriculture by the Islamic Development Bank that is scheduled to start in January 2017 and would focus on four specific sites across the country, targeting large scale agricultural production of food and cash crops. He also made mention of a potential expansive farming of cassava for flour and ethanol production, noting that the country would save up to 40% on foreign exchange spent on the importation of wheat flour into the country. He also indicated that the Ministry is focussing on Onion cultivation with a view to ending importation of that crop entirely in the very near future.
One of the key projects in the Ministry of agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, the Linking Farmers to Market was represented t the ceremony and its Co-ordinator Mr F S Kanu echoed the Minister’s statements when he advised farmers that they should concentrate on making very good use of the seeds and other items being provided to them. He announced that the logistics are already in place to get the inputs to farmers all over the country and that a team of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) officers will routinely inspect farmers use of the items and verify that they were following the correct procedures.
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, Mr Abdulai Koroma admonished farmers to seek advice from the team of officers located at the District Agriculture offices across the country, re-stating his Ministry’s determination to ensure that farmers get the best support that can be provided to them.
Speaking on the occasion, the president encouraged local leaders at all levels to determine their roles in ensuring that communities have access to solar and other renewable energy technologies in return for a minimal fee and also called on Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the private sector and international partners to help create a thriving environment for renewable energy; and parliamentarians to debate and ratify this compact and financial institutions to create a financing model to catalyze this market.
Sierra Leone as a country, the president emphasized, is naturally blessed; blessed with sunshine that can be converted into solar power, rivers which can be utilized for hydro power, wind which can be used as power turbines to provide electricity and other substantial material that can be converted into biogas.
He disclosed that the Ministry of Energy has been given a target to provide more than 50,000 homes with solar units this year and a minimum of 200,000 by 2017. ”I have also tasked the Minister of Energy to bring together all the key stakeholders in 100 days to report to me the progress on this target,” he said.
“Government has set concrete goals for 2017. As part of our recovery priorities, we have committed to double access to electricity from 125,000 to 250,000 households and before I leave office, all 149 chiefdoms will enjoy access to energy,” President Koroma declared amid euphoric ovation.
Being aware of the importance of electricity to national development, the president, under the Agenda for Change, prioritized electricity generation and distribution by increasing the national capacity from below 20 megawatts inherited in 2007 to over 90 megawatts, and presently with an installed capacity of over 168 megawatts.
He informed that government has invested in two phases of the development of the Bumbuna hydro project while additional investments in generation, transmission and distribution have been made to bringing power to unserved communities in Freetown, Bo and Kenema.
He said government has initiated several other energy projects in Port Loko, Lunsar, Magburaka, Lungi, Kono and other parts of the country; adding that government’s medium and long term goals is to provide modern power to one million people by 2020 and power for all by 2025.
President Koroma noted that although the Ebola epidemic had a devastating toll on the county’s economy compounded by the drastic fall in commodity prices, government did not vacillate in its commitment to provide power supply across the country.
Energy minister, Ambassador Henry Macaulay, described President Koroma as the biggest supporter of energy generation, adding that the power grid has increased rapidly and it is extending transmission to every part of the country.
He disclosed that government is also constructing mini power hydro projects to further increase access and generate power to benefit everyone, and noted that energy revolution should go with community ownership and hence the involvement of paramount chiefs.
The ceremony climaxed with the signing of energy compact between Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom, which provided funding for the programme.
By State House Communication Unit
President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has cautioned officials of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) that free and fair elections form the basis of true democracy.
He made this statement whilst receiving the NEC Annual Report and Strategic Plan at State House.
The presentation of the Commission’s annual report to the president, according to the Chief Electoral Commissioner N’fa Alie Conteh, is a mandate pursuant to section 32 (12) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
Receiving the report, President Koroma thanked the Commissioners for their efforts, expressing hope that the report might have highlighted activities involved in the electioneering process. “As president, I am focused on the professionalism of the Commission,” he said, adding that “this is why government is capacitating NEC in every aspect.”
The president emphasized that the government and people of Sierra Leone have trust in the professionalism of NEC personnel as demonstrated over the years. He expressed strong hope that with the provisional results presented to the Commission by Statistics Sierra Leone, it will help the institution to accordingly map out its activities. He said the introduction of the biometric voting system in Sierra Leone has helped to eliminate over voting and hence whoever wins an election will reflect the views of the people.
In terms of funding the Commission to fairly discharge its duties, President Koroma assured of government’s commitment, informing the Commissioners that he would look into the Strategic Plan to see whether there is need for another engagement.
Giving an overview of the reports, Chief Electoral Commissioner N’fa Alie Conteh said the year 2015 marked the start of the new electoral cycle, spanning from 2015-2019. He noted that the 2015 Annual Report was structured into seven chapters, including chapter one which has to do with the profile of the National Electoral Commission, chapter two, the Departmental Reports Review, chapter three, the Conduct of Elections in 2015, chapter four, the Implementation of other Programmes/Projects in 2015, chapter five, the Preparation for the next electoral Cycle: 2015-2019, chapter six has to do with finance and chapter seven draws the conclusion and recommendations respectively.
The Chief Commissioner also reported of the Commission’s effort in discussions and validation of the Strategic Plan-2015-2019 by internal and external stakeholders to ensure transparency in the whole process. He disclosed that just in 2015 his Commission succeeded in conducting seventeen (17) elections which included three Parliamentary bye elections, five Local Council bye elections, one village head bye election and eight Paramount Chieftaincy elections.
Mr N’fa Alie Conteh said copies of the Annual Report will be distributed to various stakeholders including ministers and parliamentarians for further discussions.
Titus Boye-Thompson Communications Consultant
Every so often, the vexed question on State authority to act and impose law and order diminishes to
an argument over Police brutality, the limitation on rights and freedoms, the imposition of
restrictions on the right to assembly and self-expression, the constraining of artistic forms and the
disposition in relation to political biases.
The containment of potentially volatile situations cannot
but require a strong show of force and the ability of the State to wield its mandate to secure life and
property notwithstanding, the limitations on human activities that could pose a potential threat to
the rest of society is immutable as a reason for strong decisive action than anything else. The lack of
strong will or the hesitancy to act when the need arises all combine to weaken the very fabric of a
law abiding society.
It is against this background that the events surrounding the Independence day
fracas between the Sierra Leone Police and the Sierra Leone Peoples Party should be viewed.
It is interesting to note that it was with an almost crisp clarity that the Head of Media at the Sierra
Leone Police dispelled the emerging innuendos characterized of such incidences by a carefully
worded and sequential analysis of what transpired immediately preceding the events that unfolded
on April 27th. With such clear language as to leave no room for ambiguities, ASP Brima Kamara
shattered the innocuous defence that those who were invariably law breakers had already started to
push out to a gullible public as high handed policing against them motivated by political
Nothing is further from the truth and the cause of the imbroglio was squarely laid
where it had to be, at the foot of the SLPP masquerade that failed to seek a police permit through
the recognized agency and not only that but failed to adhere to reasonable timing of a request for
permit in the circumstances, and to the extent that the umbrella group that was to have applied for
a permit on their behalf refused point blank to support their individual application for a license to
undertake what would have been an unregulated procession, illegal under the requisite ordinances
and law of Sierra Leone.
For this piece, the emphasis here is on the execution of a smooth communications machinery that
was effective enough to disquiet what would otherwise have been a volatile situation and to quell a
riot in its infancy. The Police showed remarkable courage under fire, stood their ground and was
able to defend their actions in the face of the wanton recklessness imposed on innocent bystanders,
Government offices and private property in the immediate proximity of their clash with the
It can easily be imagined that much worse would have happened had the attempt to
regain the legal upper hand had been allowed to spread over a wider area of engagement. The swift
action of the Police and security forces saw to it that the impending upsurge of lawlessness was
contained within a relatively small part of town. This was made possible by policing at a community
level, ensuring that the effectiveness of relationships and networks within communities allow for the
smooth functioning of the Police, served by credible intelligence and local needs assessment.
In all, the argument that the style of Policing deployed in the communities of Freetown are effective
cannot be frustrated by such an abrasive attempt to disobey the law but look to an obscure
legitimacy to support that tactic.
The decision to masquerade without a permit was wrong, even as
the party Chairman was saying in effect, what tantamount to an acceptance of guilt by association,
some were still defensive that an opposition party should not be held to the same rules of
accountability as an ordinary ordehlay. What they fail to realize is that those very same rules applied
to lesser mortals are the ones if left or allowed to go unheeded would lead to a greater catastrophe.
There is a simple lesson to be learned from this situation.
Public institutions that serve the public
must first of all established clear and concise procedures for effective service delivery and they
should ensure that they strictly adhere to these rules of engagement. Secondly, institutions should
work through their systems for weaknesses and where possible, work through third parties or
intermediaries so that the responsibility for delivery and feedback is shared.
Finally, the most important lesson is that of effective communications. The clear instructive
communication that was put out by the Sierra Leone Police shamed the SLPP into admitting they had
some blame in what transpired on that fateful day. If the SLP had not put that information out in
such a clear and easy to read manner, had they used Police speak to convey the sentiments that
resonated so well with the general public, had they instead relied on going round to radio and TV
stations only to explain their side of the story, they would have lost the battle for understanding of
their position that they so easily gained this time round. It is significant that recent work with the
Police Media Team is now paying such dividends but the greater good is to the public that was not
so easily led to believe false stories of their Police force.
The confidence that the public regained on
the force by this method of communication cannot be easily measured but what is certain is the fact
that the Police gained a higher profile and they had the evidence to show for that gain. It is a good
day when communication is used so effectively to dispel malicious and false rum
S/Leoneans in U.S. Metropolitan States hold Interfaith Prayer Service for Country
An Interfaith prayer service which saw a group of formal religious leaders from the Christian and Muslim faith conducting prayers and preaching sermons in turns using the same lectern to end the fifty fifth independence anniversary of Sierra Leone, took place Saturday April 30th, 2016 at the Good Samaritan Lutheran Church on 10110 Greenbelt Road Lanham Maryland.
Organized by some members of the Sierra Leone Community in collaboration with the Embassy of Sierra Leone, the clergy men and women (Imams and Priests) representing different Muslim jamaat and Christian denominations alternatingly referenced the Holy Quran and the Holy Bible and prayed for President Ernest Bai Koroma, the Country Sierra Leone, the people and admonished government officials to judiciously govern the country and also for the people to change their attitudes.
Led by The Rev. Gloria Cline-Smythe Host Pastor and Alhaji Teslimi Alghali of the Sierra Leone Muslim Jamaat, the service was opened by a processional hymn “ O God Our Help in Ages Past” followed by a welcome and opening prayer including the “Lord’s Prayer.
A recital of the Al Fatiha (Opening Prayer), followed by Al baqura (Cow), Al iqra (Knowledge), Al insan (Time) Sura Al maida (Pass over) and the recital of some Dua’s including Rabana (Goodness),Ashifa (Protection)Adara (Guidance & Hope) also formed part of the opening prayer.
Alhaji Teslimi Alghali recited “Al-Tawhid” Quranic verses asserting that “Allah, is peerless and can never have a partner in His authority, or a similitude, while the sacred reading from the New Testament was done by Dr. Abdul K. Sesay followed by reflections and prayer.
Dr. Abdul K. Sesay cited several passages from Ephesians, the Book of James etc. and likened independence to Freedom and work towards economic, social and political freedoms. He advised Sierra Leoneans to move forward with positive thinking and admonished them to refuse being held back by negative talks and to refrain from all sorts of blame games.
He warned against the practice of tribalism and other evil isms and said, he had scanned through the Sierra Leone Passport and “i have not seen any provision for a passport holder to show the tribe he/she belongs to.
Sheik Muhammadu Cole & Rev. Gloria Cline Smyth prayed for the blessing of our leaders in Sierra Leone. According to her, leadership comes from God, and they must be respected.
“If something wrong happens, please add respect and say it.” Said Rev. Gloria Cline Smythe. She cited several references in the scriptures where respect was used as tool for counselling and admonishment.
Rev. Dr. V. Fakondo interceded on behalf of the Country, while Rev. Ghazi Fackie and Imam Alhaji Teslimi Alghali prayed for the Houses of Worship. According to them, Houses of worship should be used for their intended purposes.
Rev. Cannon Prince Decker and Imam Alhaji Teslimi Alghali prayed for God/ Allah to have mercy on our Country and not to allow any sickness, curable and incurable in our Country.
From the chapter Al-Insan” meaning Time or Man, Imam Alhaji Teslimi Alghali recited several Quranic verses and prayed to Allah for Forgiveness, Mercy and for the aversion of any unforeseen disturbances in our land that we love our Sierra Leone.
The Rev. Dr. William Bultman and Sheik Momoh Kallon prayed for Hospitals, Clinics, Doctors, Nurses, Medical personnel and all workers of Hospital.
Citing the Chapter- Al-Maida Meaning “The Table Spread verse 32, “if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind”.
Sheik Momoh Kallon said nurses provide healthcare services to patients, families and communities as a manifestation of love for Allah. In Islamic traditions, caring is the manifestation of love for Allah and Muhammad. Caring in Islam, however is more than act of empathy: instead, it consists of being responsible for sensitive to, and concerned with those in need, namely the weak, the suffering and the outcasts.
Rev. Mrs. V. Beckley and Imam Alhaji Teslim Alghali prayed for men, women and Children who work for Public safety, while Rev Gloria Cline –Smythe and Alhaji Ahmed Sheik Nabay prayed for Educational institutions (public, Private and parochial).
Rev. Raymond Max Jones and Imam, Alhaji Teslimi Alghali prayed for those who care for the needy, and warned against greed.
In his sermon, Rev. Frank Hume Dawson related his address to the scriptures and further recited many other authorities which dwells on Love, Unity Freedom and Justice.
He abhorred the vices of religion and appealed for a turn to a new pages which have all the virtues of growth, progress, development and love.
He thanked Ambassador Bockari Kortu Stevens and staff for encouraging such a development in the United States, and appealed for such tolerance to be extended to one and other.
In his keynote address, Ambassador Bockari Kortu Stevens thanked the clergy for their sacrifice and members present for their time.
He said the momentum regarding the 55th anniversary celebration of Sierra Leone in the United States is a true replica of what happened in Sierra Leone (Low Key).
He said the time is changing and things are now turning around for the good of the Country.
Sierra Leoneans are now going home and the number of visitors from the United States to Sierra Leone is on the increase.
He said President Ernest Bai Koroma is working very hard to improve the Economic, Social, Health and Infrastructure of the Country.
Offering of prayers in different Sierra Leonean dialect by members of the congregation formed the highlight.
By State House Communication Unit
President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma Friday 29 April, 2016 received a high-powered delegation from the Global Fund International at State House in Freetown.
According to the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Abu Bakarr Fofanah, who led the delegation, Global Fund has been providing great support to addressing tuberculosis, HIV and malaria in Sierra Leone since 2002. He disclosed that the Fund has a current portfolio of 103 Million United States Dollars to help address health issues in the country.
Welcoming the delegation, President Koroma thanked the Executive Director of Global Fund Mark Dybul and delegation for the support they have been rendering to address tuberculosis, HIV and malaria, but however called for holistic support in the health sector. “Our focus is to build a robust health system that will effectively address all health issues,” he said.
The president highlighted some of the outcomes of the 6-9 month recovery programme which he described as good, although he noted that “we still have challenges in the health sector which need financial support to addressing them.”
In his response, Mark Dybul thanked the leadership of President Koroma, saying that before the Ebola outbreak Sierra Leone had an ‘economic miracle’ which was impressive. The Executive Director assured of Global Fund’s continued support to Sierra Leone’s health sector to help address health issues across the board. He also promised to establishing offices in the country to provide effective support to the sector.
In another engagement, President Koroma sworn in two deputy ministers following their parliamentary approvals respectively. The two ministers include Momoh Vandi, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development and Madam Rugiatu Neneh Turay, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs.
Congratulating the new ministers, the president said the two have been selected due to their experience. He urged them to continue with the strides government had embarked on and admonished them to work as a team in their various ministries in the best interest of the nation.
Speaking on behalf of himself and colleague, Mr Momoh Vandi thanked the president for the trust reposed in them, saying that they were fully aware of the challenges facing the country and promised to do their best.
World Press Freedom Day : UN officials underscore importance of free flow of information and democracyTuesday, May 3rd, 2016
3 May 2016 – Top United Nations officials today highlighted the dependency of human rights, democratic societies and sustainable development on the free flow of information and press freedom, stressing that these fundamental rights are vital in providing information to citizens around the world and for progress itself.
“Press freedom and the free flow of information are necessary not only to inform citizens about the [Sustainable Development] Goals, but to enable them to hold their leaders accountable for fulfilling the pledges they have made,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message marking World Press Freedom Day, which is observed on 3 May each year. “The media – including, and increasingly, new online media – serve as our eyes and ears. We all benefit from the information they provide,” he added.
In particular, Mr. Ban emphasized that human rights, democratic societies and sustainable development depend on the free flow of information, and that the right to information depends on press freedom.
Each year, World Press Freedom Day is observed to emphasize these fundamental principles, to protect the independence of the media, and to honour media workers who risk and have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession, the Secretary-General said.
The UN General Assembly designated 3 May as World Press Freedom Day in 1993. It aims to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world; to defend the media from attacks on their independence; and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. This year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day is ‘Access to information and fundamental freedoms – this is your right!’
In his message, the UN chief highlighted that this year, World Press Freedom Day coincides with three important milestones. It is the 250th anniversary of the world’s first freedom of information law, covering both modern-day Sweden and Finland, and it is the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration of press freedom principles. In addition, 2016 is also the first year of implementing theSustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mr. Ban also said that he is very concerned about the increasingly restrictive environment for media workers in many countries, stressing that “constraints on freedom of expression place shackles on progress itself.”
“A free, independent and safe media environment is essential. Yet, all too often, journalists are threatened, harassed, obstructed or even killed in the pursuit of information. Many languish in detention, some in appalling conditions, for shedding light on governance failures, corporate malfeasance or societal problems,” the Secretary-General said.
He urged all Governments, politicians, businesses and citizens to commit to nurturing and protecting an independent, free media.
“Without this fundamental right, people are less free and less empowered. With it, we can work together for a world of dignity and opportunity for all,” Mr. Ban said.
Along those lines, Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), stressed that access to information is a fundamental freedom and part of the basic human right to freedom of expression.
“Receiving and imparting information, both offline and online, is a cornerstone of democracy, good governance, and rule of law,” she said.
Ms. Bokova noted that this past year, the world had agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to guide all efforts over the next 15 years to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity and lasting peace for all. The new SDGs include a target on public access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms – two interrelated objectives that are key accelerators of progress across all of the new agenda, she stressed.
“At this time of turbulence and change across the world, including new challenges that require global cooperation and action, the need for quality information has never been so important – this requires a strong environment of press freedom and well-functioning systems to ensure the people’s right to know,” the Director-General said.
Ms. Bokova highlighted that 250 years ago, the first formal Right to Information legislation was enacted in what is today Sweden and Finland. A historical breakthrough at the time, she emphasized that this still provides inspiration today, as Governments increasingly adopt laws that allow public access to information. In addition, 25 years ago, in then newly independent Namibia, the historic Windhoek Declaration on press freedom was adopted, paving the way to recognition by the UN of World Press Freedom Day.
“In marking these anniversaries, World Press Freedom Day this year highlights the importance of free and independent journalism for advancing the 2030 Agenda,” Ms. Bokova said.
“This includes the safety of journalists, at a time when, tragically, a media professional is killed every five days. This cannot stand, and guided by the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, UNESCO is working with Governments around the world to create a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers everywhere,” she added.
“In this spirit, I call on everyone to stand united in defending and encouraging press freedom and the right to access to information. This is essential for human rights and dignity, for our aspirations for sustainable development, for common determination to build lasting peace,” Ms. Bokova said.
CULLED FROM THE UN NEWS SERVICE
Hon.Vice President Foh delivered his speech on behalf of His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma
ADDRESS BY AMBASSADOR DR. VICTOR BOCKARIE FOH
VICE PRESIDENT OF SIERRA LEONE –
GUEST OF HONOUR AT THE SECOND ORDINARY SESSION OF THE FOURTH PARLIAMENT OF THE PAN-AFRICAN PARLIAMENT –
MOUSA IDRIS HALL, MIDRAND, SOUTH AFRICA
Your Excellency, President of the Pan-African Parliament
Hon. Roger Dang Nkodo
Hon. Vice Presidents
Honourable members of the Pan-African Parliament
Ladies and Gentlemen
I bring you fraternal and goodwill greetings from His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the people of the Republic of Sierra Leone. I also bring you profound apologies from President Koroma for not being able to attend this Session of the Pan-African Parliament. He asked me to represent him, and I am sure he is here with us in spirit, because he holds dearest to his heart the Pan-African Parliament and what you stand for, namely, Good Governance and prosperity for the people of Africa.
On my own behalf, I consider this a singular honour for which I am thankful, first to my President for asking me to represent him and second, to the President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Hon. Roger Dang Nkodo, Vice Presidents, Honourable Members and staff of this august Body, for the privilege to address them on this occasion. I am considerably humbled, yet extremely pleased that with PAP, Africa is certainly moving towards integration and development.
It is disheartening to note that while Africa is moving forward, we are confronted with emerging challenges which, otherwise, could be avoided. The threat posed by armed organizations and the unsavoury attacks by these groups are among some of our greatest man-made challenges we are faced with. Let me, on behalf of President Ernest Bai Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone, express deepest sympathy to all those countries affected by such attacks. As a country, we went through it for more than ten years, and we know how frightening and devastating these attacks could be, not least of all the fear and anxiety the people live with. It is a pity that these attacks are happening in our “backyards” and by our own compatriots. While these attacks may target individual countries, we must find a continental and / or global solution to them. We believe PAP, through its mandate, can strengthen continental solidarity and build a sense of common destiny among the people of Africa.
Recently, we were visited by the deadly Ebola Virus Disease. We lost scores of our compatriots. It was a dreadful scourge. As a country and as a sub-Region, we were devastated. Economic growth and development were halted. Our survival as a nation was threatened. With the resilience of our people and through the support of friendly countries of the world, we fought a good fight and defeated the Ebola Virus Disease. Some of our dear African countries banned flights to Sierra Leone and to the sub-Region. We bear no grudge. Suffice it to say, we learnt good lessons, and we will build on lessons learnt to push for greater African unity, and show each other that we should, and must be our Brothers’ Keepers”. Sierra Leone is now Ebola-free, and we are on the path to Economic recovery. On behalf of His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone, let me thank all those friendly countries that supported us and our sister countries in the Mano River Basin to combat the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease. We say so from the bottom of our hearts.
A new Bureau of PAP has been elected into office. I wish them a successful tenure. Let me thank the out-gone Bureau for moving PAP to another level. The secret to success is for the new Bureau to build on the foundation laid by the out-gone Bureau. You can never succeed by quarreling with your past. However, you can learn good lessons from the past to build great institutions. You can learn from the successes and / or failures of the past to promote peace, security and prosperity throughout the continent. You can use the failures and / or successes of the past to be innovative; to facilitate cooperation and development in Africa; to facilitate cooperation among Regional Economic Communities and their Parliamentary fora.
The new Bureau is dear to all Sierra Leoneans because this is the first time a Sierra Leonean is elected to the Bureau of PAP and in no mean capacity.
As a Government, we wholeheartedly supported the candidacy of Honourable Dr. Bernadette Lahai, notwithstanding the fact that she does not only belong to the Opposition Party, but also, the Minority Leader in our Parliament. We should practise cross-party politics to do what adds value to us as a country, and as a continent. As recently observed by His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, Politics is not a matter of life and death….let us change the dynamics and see politics as a means to improving the welfare of our people.
The Pan-African Parliament was founded on the principle that the people of Africa would be fully involved in the economic development and integration of the continent. It grew out of the vision to provide a pan-continental platform for the people of Africa through African Parliamentarians, and grassroots organizations to get more involved in discussions and decision-making on emerging challenges in Africa and elsewhere. While progress may be slow, we applaud your achievement, so far. I am pleased to inform you that the Sierra Leone Parliament ratified the protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union relating to the Pan-African Parliament on the 21st April, 2016 making us the fourth country to ratify this protocol in Africa. Let me also assure this House that all the remaining AU legal instruments will be ratified with minimum delay.
It is pleasing to note that the AU theme for 2016 is: Year of Human Rights, with special focus on the Rights of women and girls; the role of women in development and challenges to the full enjoyment of their Human Rights. We feel strongly and passionately about the involvement of women in the Economic growth and prosperity of Africa. We all should march forward, leaving no one behind, as we endeavour to build a strong and productive continent. We must empower women through purposeful education, appropriate exposure and useful resources, so that they would emerge and favourably compete in all fields of endeavours. In our Recovery and Development strategy, namely, our Agenda for Prosperity, the issue of Gender, Women’s human rights and empowerment and human development stand out very prominently. Empowerment and Advancement of women must be a priority to all of us.
In this light Sierra Leone has taken giant strides to enact laws and ratify Protocols in favour of women, including:
The Maputo Protocol
The Domestic Violence Act of 2007
Devolution of Estate Act of 2007
The Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act of 2007
Child Rights Act of 2007
The Prevention and Control of HIV and AIDs Act of 2007
The Sexual Offence Act of 2012
His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is mindful of the role and contributions of women to national development. Critical decision-making positions in Sierra Leone are now occupied by women. We believe women who have been capacitated must be part of state governance at all levels.
There cannot be good reason why it is easier to trade with Asia, Europe and the Americas, than trade with our compatriots in Africa. Why should trade with other continents flourish to the detriment of intra-African Trade? Where is our common destiny? For the most part of our recent history, we are only a source of raw materials; exporting resources and jobs to other parts of the world with, gross imbalance in rewards. Africa must use its raw materials and resources to industrialize; to create jobs for its own people; to significantly open its market to African Products, so that we can together build a prosperous Africa. This way, we can end the risk of insecurity, of radicalizing our youth and promote peace, security and stability. The nexus between Peace, Security and Development cannot be over-emphasized. By this way, we can create a prosperous continent now and for the future. We must see ourselves as competitors for the development of Africa. Our collective destiny lies in our collective hands.
Let me end my remarks by touching very briefly on the African Peer Review Mechanism, the APRM. As we all may recall, the APRM was established primarily to foster the “adoption of policies, values, standards and practices of political and economic governance that lead to political stability, accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration, economic growth and sustainable development”. It is a mutually agreed instrument, voluntarily acceded to by the member states of the African Union as a self-monitoring mechanism. By becoming a member, we all agreed to “voluntarily and independently review our compliance with African and international governance commitments”.
To be able to compete favourably at the international sphere, we must ensure good governance by instituting measures to monitor our progress and build on our successes. The Pan-African Parliament must strengthen its monitoring capacity of member states through established structures, not least the African Peer Review Mechanism. This is how we ascertain and ensure that quality services are delivered on a timely basis. This is how Africa can move forward.
God Bless you
Long Live African Unity
God Bless Africa
I thank you for your attention.
Ambassador Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh
Republic of Sierra Leone
THE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE – DESIGNATE to the United Nations, Ambassador Adikalie Foday Sumah, has hailed Sierra Leone’s return to economic and business growth.
The Ambassador, who will soon arrive in New York to take over at the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN, was responding informally at the social media to the article, titled : “Back To Growth: Sierra Leone Has Re-Opened For Business” , written by Ms. Rebecca Perlman, a pro bono British lawyer of Herbert Smith Freehills , who has worked on secondment with Liberty (the National Council for Civil Liberties) and with the Government of Sierra Leone as legal adviser to the PPP Unit in the Office of the President and also a Trustee of the Prisoners’ Advice Service and a co-founder of the UK Sierra Leone Pro Bono Network.
The article , published by Cocorioko, can be read at : http://cocorioko.info/back-to-growth-sierra-leone-has-re-opened-for-business/
AMBASSADOR SUMAH’S INFORMAL RESPONSE
Fantastic news for us as Sierra Leoneans!
If any thing, to hear that, despite the odds blowing from all angles in checking and balancing the activities of the Ernest Bai Koroma – led All People’s Congress – (Party) Government, the news presaging an over 5 points Economic Growth for the 2016 Fiscal Year as stated by the leading Financial Institutions in the world, thus placing Sierra Leone as the 9th fastest Growing Economies in Africa, and articulating well at the global economic growth trends, should attract the patriotic attention of every well- meaning Sierra Leonean.
On record is the fact, support by the probative evidence that; before the deadly EBOLA Virus Disease struck our Nation between March and April 2014, the Economic Outlook of Sierra Leone was oscillating between the High Point Single and the Threshold Double digits growths. The then economic development trends which, until the Ernest Bai Koroma led All People’s Congress- APC (Party) was only seen as a Hallucinating Set Goal. However, on the dawn of the September 2007, the status of the National Economy was steadily transformed from one of hallucination in target to that of realistic and achieved status. And, it is interesting to note that even at the ravaging episodes of the EBOLA stretching to over one year period, the economic growth of Sierra Leone only scaled down to a four points level: apparently it still remained stronger than her MRU Member States counterparts in same pandemic health tribulations.
Less than a year after the containment of the disease, the IMF and the World Bank have now projected a national economic growth at over 5% for the 2016 FY. This means, the management of the economy under the current national dispensation is, for all intents and purposes, encouraging. And a commonsense analysis of the review would arrow to the direction that it challenges the – largely undistracted Government that, where vigilance is intensified in the area of sound budgetary management, and focus is continued to be centered on developments which champion the transformation of the lives of the majority poor segment of the Sierra Leonean society such as those articulated under the Agenda for prosperity as well as the Post-Ebola Economic Recovery Programme, growth would not only be seen as a dream, but as an actually achievable economic variable under a well disciplined, focused and well determined President Ernest Bai Koroma.
For, no meaningful development of a nation battered by a 11 years protracted Civil War would be realised where the roads network remain appalling to negotiate. Sierra Leone direly needed what President Ernest Koroma has done : opening the country up and connecting communities for the purpose of facilitating the movement of good from the areas of productions to the markets; reducing the loss of lives either through avoidable road accidents or delays in commuting between inner city and rural communities to health centre facilities around the country; enhancing the maintenance of law and order by the law enforcement agencies; bolstering national security through the rapid movement of security personnel between the administrative points and redress mechanism facilities around the country, connecting families; encouraging the retention of rural populations thereby contributing to the decongestion of urban centres up and down the country, promoting intra-social connectivity; improve productive time utility for both local and external investors, and encouraging the plethora of Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to come to their country of origin with the yearning desire of reuniting with their families in the county sides of the nation .
For a long time, my compatriots in the Diaspora were inhibited from venturing to their local communities outside of the Capital city, Freetown, by reason of very poor roads facilities to the countryside before the advent of the current responsible Government.
Since 2007, many of my compatriots are now visiting, and in some cases, returning to Sierra Leone (meaning every corner of the country) rather than staying in Freetown for the rest of their holy day period in the country. Thus Freetown is no longer the limit of Sierra Leone as it were the perception entertained by some in the recent past, but it goes beyond for instance, Waterloo, to encompass the remaining Urban Regional Cities of Bo, Kenema and Makeni. All this has been made possible and easy to travel up and down the territory of the Republic of Sierra Leone, consequent of the well though of and sound policy draftsmanship of President Koroma and his responsible and Government.