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Sierra Leone’s Health Ministry exonerates Zainab Bangura

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Ministers of the government anxiously waiting for announcement of the new cabinet were not the only ones who became victims of the  dangerously malicious and envious press  media attacks that were aimed at influencing President Ernest Bai Koroma from re-appointing them. Another Sierra Leonean victimized by the destructive journalism of Sierra Leonean media practitioners was the newly-appointed United Nations Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on sexual violence in conflict, Mrs . Zainab Bangura.

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MRS. ZAINAB BANGURA

When news broke out that millions of dollars  allocated by the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) programme that has been supporting Sierra Leone for immunization services (ISS) and Health System Strengthening   (HSS) since 2001 has been misappropriated, Sierra Leonean newspaper writers  and internet media commentators began defaming the former Minister of Health and Sanitation, Mrs. Zainab Bangura, without first trying to find out whether the story was true and if true, whether  the alleged misappropriation happened  during her incumbency. All kinds of nasty stories were written against her , many of them targeting her new high-profile job at the UN.  A Sierra Leonean even had the gumption to write a letter to the UN Secretary General accusing Mrs. Bangura  of being corrupt and asking that she be fired from her job. Why Sierra Leoneans like to target the dream jobs of their fellow countrymen and women  is puzzling but it is a known fact that some of our journalists are susceptible to expatiating the worst kinds of envy and malice for their more successful compatriots.

The writer of the e-mail to the UN Secretary General fails to realize that Mrs.Zainab Bangura is not only representing herself but the nation at the UN and that whatever smear campaign that Sierra Leoneans engage in against her will only harm the reputation of Mama Sierra Leone.

Now, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has exonerated Mrs. Zainab Bangura. We bring you the press statement released by the Ministry today :

GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE

MINISTRY OF HEALTH AND SANITATION

PRESS RELEASE

REACTION TO NEGATIVE PRESS REPORT ON GAVI

AUDIT CASH SUPPORT TO SIERRA LEONE

 

Freetown, January 2013

 

The attention of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has been drawn to allegations being peddled on the internet and tabloids by some anonymous writers that the erstwhile Minister of Health and Sanitation, Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura had presided over alleged misappropriation of funds allocated by the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) programme that has been supporting Sierra Leone for immunization services (ISS) and Health System Strengthening   (HSS) since 2001.

 

Whilst the GAVI team is expected to visit Sierra Leone in January 2013 to discuss the draft  findings in order to finalize the audit report and discuss the way forward that would address any indication of misuse of funds, the Ministry would like to state the following;

 

  1. That the Ministry of Health and Sanitation would like the public to know that whilst the present GAVI support for Sierra Leone covers the period from 2008 to 2011, the released Audit Review Report covers the period from 2008 to 2010;

 

  1. That allegation of Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura to have presided over alleged misappropriation of GAVI funds was false since she effectively took up office  as Minister of Health and Sanitation in January 2011;

 

 

  1. That  the letter written to Mrs. Bangura  notifying her about the audit mission was dated 12thNovember , 2012, two months after she had left to take up her assignment in New York;

 

  1. That the Ministry of Health and Sanitation deliberately did not contact nor inform Mrs. Zainab Bangura of the draft audit report because it covers a period prior to her assumption of office as the Honourable Minister of Health and Sanitation;

 

 

  1. That the Ministry of Health and Sanitation views  the anonymity and the circulation of internet messages with request of informing the Secretary General of the United Nations and associating the name  of Mrs. Zainab Bangura with financial impropriety as a calculated attempt by few who want to tarnish her hard-won credibility both locally and internationally;

 

  1. That the Ministry of Health and Sanitation continues to be grateful to erstwhile Minister Zainab Bangura for the commitment , probity and accountability she brought to the Ministry to the pleasure and admiration of staff and international health development partners;

 

 

  1. That the Ministry appeals to internet peddlers and members of the Fourth Estate to always cross-check with the Public Relations Unit in the Ministry before going to press.

THE PRESS RELEASE BELOW FROM GAVI CLEARLY SHOWS THE PERIOD UNDER REVIEW AND IT DOES NOT FALL WITHIN THE TIME OF INCUMBENCY OF MADAM ZAINAB BANGURA :

GAVI reviews health system support to Sierra Leone

In-depth review of health system strengthening support launched.

The GAVI Alliance has recently discovered indications of misuse in its health system strengthening (HSS) cash support to Sierra Leone, following a Financial Management Assessment conducted by the GAVI Secretariat’s Transparency and Accountability team.

Given these concerns, GAVI subsequently launched an in-depth review of HSS support to the country for the period 2008-2009 and is discussing preliminary findings with the Government of Sierra Leone. Further information on any misused amounts will be published once the review is completed.

The Alliance takes all suspected and confirmed cases of misuse of funds very seriously. When GAVI suspects misuse of a grant, all cash disbursements to the relevant programme are halted.

As a result of this discovery, GAVI is holding back payment of the last undisbursed tranche of HSS support to Sierra Leone – totalling approximately US$ 530,000 – and no new HSS funding will be disbursed to the country until the matter is resolved. GAVI support for vaccines, however, remains uninterrupted to ensure that Sierra Leonean children continue to benefit from life-saving immunisation.

GAVI’s HSS support contributes to resolving major constraints to immunisation delivery; increases equity in access to services and strengthens civil society engagement in the health sector.

HERE IS ANOTHER DOCUMENT THAT EXONERATES MRS. ZAINAB BANGURA

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NEWS FLASH : NEW CABINET ANNOUNCED

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Just as COCORIOKO announced yesterday, President Ernest Bai Koroma today  released names of ministers in  his new cabinet. Here is the list so far :

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PRESIDENT ERNEST BAI KOROMA

 

ENERGY= Dr. Olunyi Robin Coker

Deputy : Mr. Bash Kamara

WORKS=Alimamy Petito Koroma

Deputy : Mr. Bagalleh Jalloh

EDUCATION=Dr. Minkialu Bah

Deputy : Osmond Hanciles

Mahmoud Tarawallie

AGRICULTURE=Dr. Sam Sesay

Deputy : Mrs.Marie Jalloh

Mr. Lovell Thomas

LOCAL GOVT. =Diana Konomani

Deputy : Ibrahim Hadiru Kalokoh

INTERNAL Affairs =JB Dauda

Deputy : Sheka Tarawallie

HEALTH= Miata Kargbo

Deputy : Dr. A.B. Fofana

Mr. Foday Sawi

DEFENCE=A Palor  Conteh

LANDS=Musa Tarawally

Deputy : Ahmed Saybome Kanu

TRANSPORT=Vandi Minah

Deputy : Ibrahim Mansaray

TRADE = Usu Boye Kamara

Deputy : Allie B. Mansaray

MARINE Resource =Pat Sowe

Deputy : Charles Rogers

MINES=Minkialu Mansaray

Deputy : Mr. Ignosis Koroma

SOCIAL WELFARE= Mojueh Kai Kai

Deputy : M.B. Atilla

INFORMATION= Alpha Kanu

Deputy : Mr. Theo Nicol

RESIDENT: North=Alie D. Kamara
RESIDENT: East= William Smith

RESIDENT : South : Muctarr Conteh

CHIEF OF STAFF : Dr. Richard Konte

SECRETARY TO THE PRESIDENT : Mr. Osho Coker

___________________________

 

THE FOLLOWING MINISTERS WERE  APPOINTED  TWO WEEKS AGO

Finance – DR. Kaifala  Marah
Finance Ministers of State (2)
Momodu Kargbo
Alhaji F.B.L . Mansaray
Deputy Finance – Mabinty Daramy

Foreign Affairs – Dr.Samura Kamara
Deputy – Mrs. Ebun Jusu

Attorney General & Justice – Frank Kargbo
deputy Justice – Mr.Arrow Bockarie

 

_________________________________________________

The  names of people for the following ministries are yet to be announced:

*Youth Employment & Sports
*Labour/Social Security
* Tourism
*Political & Public Affairs
* Minister of State in VP’s Office

EXCLUSIVE : Ministers Celebrate After Being Re-Appointed By President Ernest Koroma

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

This is the kind of quick-fire information you will get only in your popular COCORIOKO.  Shortly after the new cabinet list was announced to an anxious nation and diaspora this afternoon , many of the ministers re-appointed by President Ernest Bai Koroma drove first to State House where this newspaper interviewed some of them, and after that they went out to celebrate.

We bring you pictures of the ministers celebrating at Hill Station Club . Some of them had been targets of bitter  attacks by P.H.D ( Pull-Him -Down  ) journalists who had been writing malicious articles against them during the tense wait for the formation of the new cabinet . The so-called journalists thought that by writing defamatory stories against these ministers, they will influence President Ernest Koroma from re-appointing them. But we did say yesterday that these pressmen were wasting their time because President Koroma does not pander to gossip and foolish articles in newspapers. He knows members of his team who are doing a magnificent job and thus many of his ministers will retain their jobs. How true our declaration ! ! ! Many of the ministers returned to their posts. Some who were removed from their previous positions were re-assigned to other ministries.

HERE ARE PHOTOS OF THE MINISTERS AT HILL STATION CLUB THIS EVENING, SHORTLY AFTER THE NEW CABINET WAS ANNOUNCED :

MINISTERSCELEBRATE1 (600 x 450)

 

THEY WENT OUT TO CELEBRATE , AND HOW WELL THEY DESERVED TO DO IT :  FROM LEFT-DEFENCE MINISTER PALOR CONTEH;  TRANSPORT MINISTER VANDY MINAH; ENERGY AND POWER MINISTER OLUNIYI ROBIN-COKER AND FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER J.B. DAUDA WHO HAS BEEN RE-APPOINTED INTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER. 

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THE MINISTERS ARE JOINED BY COCORIOKO’S FODAY MANSARAY ( FAR RIGHT ), WHO FACILITATED THE INTERVIEWS AT STATE HOUSE AND MR.ABU BANGURA, THE GENERAL MANAGER OF THE SIERRA LEONE PORTS AUTHORITY , WHO SENT US THESE PHOTOS

Development News : Ambassador Bockarie Stevens propounds on what Sierra Leone stands to benefit from winning the MCC Compact Award

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Just before Christmas, as  Sierra Leoneans celebrated the successful staging of the landmark Presidential, Legislative and Local Council Elections, good news came that Sierra Leone  has won the United States Gvernment’s  Millennium Challenge Corporation ( MCC ) Compact Award  by dint of the splendid achievements of the Government led by President Ernest Bai Koroma during the past years. 

The  “THIS IS SIERRA LEONE”  Website put in very clear perspective how this award is won by countries.  : “In March 2002, in the fight to reduce global poverty, President Bush announced an increase of five billion dollars per year over current bilateral assistance levels to be vouchsafed to poor countries. In a fastidious mood, the president enunciated clearly that this assistance will be channeled through the creation of an independent agency, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Based on set criteria, the MCC is empowered to give money only to honest governments pursuing sound economic policies that influence it with a proposal of their own choice: governing justly, promote basic education and reduce corruption.

This week, COCOORIOKO  decided to conduct an exclusive interview with Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States , H.E. Mr. Bockarie Kortu Stevens , on  the implications of the award and what Sierra Leone stands to benefit from it.

ambassadorbockariestevens

H.E. AMBASSADOR BOCKARIE STEVENS

COCORIOKO : Good morning, Mr. Ambassador , Cocorioko  has  just learnt that the Millennium Challenge Corporation   has selected Sierra Leone as one of the countries to benefit from the Millennium Challenge funding .What is the implication of this ? What do we hope to benefit from this achievement?

 

AMBASSADOR STEVENS : This is a momentous day for Sierra Leone. For more than five years Sierra Leone has been competing in this programme. In 2010 our score card rating was five out of twenty. This was not because we were failing or not doing the right thing but mainly because the statistics required to generate pass marks were not forthcoming from the various government departments. Therefore in 2011 the president set up a special unit at State House to collate the required statistics. This has paid off. In 2012 we scored more than enough to qualify for the compact. Let me explain further that there are two tiers of entry into the MCC i.e. Threshold and Compact. For some countries they had to qualify for the Threshold and then the Compact. Sierra Leone had double promotion to be selected straight into the compact; a testament to the good work done.

The implication of been selected to the compact is that we are now eligible to receive grants for approved projects. Grants under this scheme can range from anything between 300 to 700 million dollars depending on the in-country programme or projects developed by Sierra Leone. Let me further add that this programme as it is called Millennium Challenge is a competitive programme with very robust means testing. Going through it straight to the compact stage assigns you as a credible country and as a result a lot of doors will now be open to Sierra Leone. The beauty of this programme is that the projects to be chosen for implementation are not dictated by the donor i.e. USA. The projects are conceived and directed by Sierra Leone; all that is needed is that it must be poverty alleviation driven. By any standards this is a huge amount of money which will excite the budgetary commitments of the President’s Agenda for prosperity. Also you are aware that in the last couple of years we as an embassy have been engaged in the rebranding process of our country. Many Americans link Sierra Leone with Blood diamonds, and a barbaric civil war. A program like this fits into our re-branding efforts. At the announcements press conference we felt very proud. For Sierra Leone this was a fitting moment to sell our country to the entire United States. It is indeed a very proud moment. Every patriotic Sierra Leonean must be proud of this achievement. These positive signals and vibes are good for investment and development.

 

COCORIOKO : What is the implication of this achievement in terms of the performance of the reigning All People’s Congress ( APC ) Government , headed by President Ernest Koroma ?

 

AMBASSADOR STEVENS : Beneficiary countries need to work hard and really hard to meet the robust criteria set by the MCC. Selectivity deals with core fundamentals that demonstrate commitment to a development agenda, creation of policies through reforms, good governance and anti corruption are key. Sierra Leone was selected for the gigantic strides made in areas like access to maternal and child health care, educating girl child,  anti corruption, freedom of information and human rights amongst other indicators. The government will now need to put in place a team of experts to design the projects aimed at poverty alleviation and minimizing the constraints to economic growth. The Good thing about the MCC is that the countries design their own projects for which the funding is to be used.  We have to satisfy the MCC how coherent the projects are and once decided upon by both parties the amount is allocated. It is a very busy process and already the president says he will personally supervise the implementation and planning of this MCC project. This programme has very rigid performance criteria to justify the use of America’s tax payers money. In fact some candidate countries contracted lobbying groups in the USA to assist. We never did that we relied on the performance of the government which has yielded this huge dividend.
Love or hate the APC government this is no mean an achievement. The government sailed through with the agenda for change and now with the agenda for prosperity there could be no better a New Year’s present for the leader of the APC party, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.

Apart from the monetary value there are other accolades ranging from boosting the Image of Sierra Leone in the corridors of power in the USA. Been accepted into the MCC recognizes that the country is doing the right thing. The funding arising thereof will to a large extend support the programme especially those associated with addressing  the problems of Youth employment in Sierra Leone. This is a blessing that recognizes the achievements of  the APC government especially with regards to the Agenda for prosperity. By all imaginable standards these are the programmes that President Koroma and the populist APC party had evolved over the years for the people of Sierra Leone. The MCC award is the dividend paid for these development strides .

 

COCORIOKO : That is indeed very good news for our nation. Ambassador, in the interest of our wider readership, can you tell us the efforts that went into this?

 

AMBASSADOR STEVENS : Lots of hard work on both sides of the Atlantic. Staff at the embassy, State House, strategic government departments, individual Sierra Leoneans both in Sierra Leone and the USA, U.S legislators and other functionaries and many more

Most important were those responsible for collecting the relevant statistics on which the score cards are based. It was a multi faceted task.
As an embassy we got engaged in this process almost five years ago. No stone was left unturned as it was done without a lobbying organization. Some successful countries took on lobbying organizations in Washington but we lacked that luxury and money to do it. We went out alone and succeeded mainly relying on our record of achievement.  

 

COCORIOKO : With such an achievement, what is the way forward for Sierra Leone?

 

The good thing about the MCC award is that it is not a loan. It is an outright grant. Early in the new year the MCC will be sending a technical team to start working on the processes and project development immediately. The President has identified the corner stone of his Agenda for Prosperity on youth. This a wonderful opportunity to fund this initiative and get it off the ground. Sierra Leone will now need to design its project for poverty alleviation, good policy performance and human development to promote economic development and prosperity. This will be done  in tandem with the MCC technical committee. The President has indicated to me that he will take personal charge of this implementation stage of the MCC account. Sierra Leoneans should now put politicking aside and support a development oriented President to attain prosperity for our people. Sierra Leoneans need to give their full support to the programme as we must keep up with improving on the criteria to move ahead. Having passed at this stage is not the end. We need to maintain the momentum to enhance guaranteed funding.       

COCORIOKO : What have you got to tell our Sierra Leonean people who will be really excited to hear this news?

Sierra Leoneans must celebrate this epoch making event. This was no guess game the results achieved were as a result of the well-crafted and successful programmes undertaken by the government of President Koroma. If we continue on the right track  the sky is the limit for Sierra Leone. The massive mandate given to the President will catapult this country to even higher heights and achieve salvation for our young people under the guide of the Agenda for prosperity.

Perhaps I should take this opportunity to advice our Sierra Leonean compatriots in the Diaspora who sometimes for political aggrandizement will use every opportunity to besmear their motherland. Some of them using the social media have incessantly agitated for mayhem and chaos just because the party of their choice lost the just concluded elections. Some even go to the extent of inciting violence in Sierra Leone from the comfort of their luxurious surroundings in the USA and elsewhere. Let us respect the mandate of the people and support the government to deliver on its agenda. We are earning respectability from the international community; let us play our part. If we have not learnt anything from the western world the least to comprehend and absorb is political tolerance and country first.

This is a poignant warning by President John F Kennedy. “Those who want to gain power by riding on the back of a tiger will eventually end up inside”.

COCORIOKO : Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador for granting us this interview . We are sure it will leave Sierra Leoneans rejoicing. 

AMBASSADOR STEVENS : Thank you too for the great work your paper is doing in the rebranding of Sierra Leone. Keep it up.

COCORIOKO : Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. 

 

 

Fullah Progressive Union Ushered the New Year in a Spectacular Fundraiser

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

By Jacob Sax Conteh, Cocorioko Editor-in-Chief :

 

On New Year’s Eve, as hundreds of Sierra Leoneans in the Washington, DC metropolitan area clogged area churches, executives of the Fullah Progressive Union (FPU) converged at the Days Inn on New York Avenue in Washington, DC to set up for their annual fundraiser.  After the New Year was ushered in with special Sierra Leonean music, the huge hall punctuated with neon lights, immaculate evening dresses, miniskirts and suits pulsated with life as more people arrived.  Imam Cole opened the ceremony with prayer after Dr. Fuambai Sia Ahmadu, a medical and symbolic anthropologist and Executive Director, of MSLDC Inc. and her co-MC made brief remarks.  Following prayers, Mr. Mohamed Bah, President of FPU took the mike.  He called all his members to the podium, and thanked them for a superb job.  He later presented awards to various people who have helped the organization over the years.

fula dance1 (600 x 448)

TWO AFRICAN BEAUTY QUEENS

One of the highlights of the evening was a speech by Mr. Ben Jalloh, a veteran Fullah leader from New Jersey.  In his speech, he reiterated that after a recent trip to Nigeria where he attended a meeting with Fullahs from around the world, he has come to find out that there are over 70 million Fullahs around the world, living in different countries.  He explained that the Fullah organization started way back in Sierra Leone during the dark days when they used to round up Fullahs (many of them Sierra Leoneans) and lock them up.  Mr. Jalloh and others organized the Fullah Union to help free up Fullahs.  Today, the organization has grown exponentially both in the US and around the world.

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FPU PRESIDENT MR. MOHAMED BAH ( LEFT ) AND SOME MEMBERS

In his speech, FPU President Mr. Mohamed Bah explained the main goal of the fundraiser this year.  Unlike most Sierra Leonean organizations in the United States that send all their funds to Sierra Leone, FPU believes in the development of Sierra Leonean children born here in the United States.  A few years ago, they launched a program to teach their children the Fullah culture and religion.  Recently, they bought a building in Maryland and they need the funds to refurbish and equip the building for the school.

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MR. AND MRS. BEN JALLOH

Following the speeches, veteran DJ, Songo Train, took over, playing successive songs for minutes as men and women took to the floor.  The atmosphere was festive.  After taking several pictures on both my iPad and iPhone, and as the lights were dimed for the dancers, I left for my drive home to Virginia, knowing full well that Sierra Leoneans will continue to be tolerant of each other. As for the Fullah Progressive Union, one of the oldest Sierra Leonean organizations in the Washington, DC metropolis, their superb organization, dynamic leadership, and ability to organize will keep them intact for many more years to come.

Minkailu Bah’s retention is unacceptable : A Rejoinder

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

By Tony Bee-Sydney, Australia. : 

 

I always eagerly follow developments in my country Sierra Leone, be it political, social or otherwise, in spite of the great distance that lies between West Africa, particularly Sierra Leone, and Australia, my country of abode. Politics has become life itself. When it is in operation, politicians, ordinary citizens, police, soldiers, teachers, etc. get deeply involved and it becomes a life-and-death matter, especially in Africa. I don’t hate politics because it makes life move on but I hate dishonest political manoeuvres. I hate what is known as the politics of Pull-Him-Down (PHD) that is widely practised in our country, Sierra Leone. Progressive and persevering patriots are maligned and buffetted by miscreants in order to paralyse their enthusiasm to do the work that has been assigned to them in the interest of the country. PHD is sad in its entirety and it retards all facets of development and progress.

tonybee11

Take the case of Sierra Leone’s present Minister of Education, Dr. Minkailu Bah, who has been hit here and there by enemies of progress who want to pull him down because of his zeal to transform the country’s degrading educational system. Those malevolent people have done the same evil to the reputation of Vice-President Sam Sumana and various other hardworking citizens in positions of responsibility.

 

I don’t want readers to take me as a blind defender of Dr. Bah because, like all humans, he may have his own weaknesses, but I will not hesitate to say that most of the attacks on his reputation and performance as Minister of Education are the products of either jealousy or the desire to put a wedge between the hardest working President Koroma and those he trusts, those he thinks are working selflessly to transform the ugly situation that had overtaken the country for several decades. The disheartening thing is that most Sierra Leoneans don’t like firm and hardworking government officials, officials who are strict on making sure that things are done not for self but for the country as a whole.

 

The Ministry of Education has, over the years, been one of the most corrupt ministries in Sierra Leone. It could earn an award for it! In the past government of the SLPP, officials in the ministry were given free tickets to engage in any nefarious activity and they did that with the applause of the government. I don’t think there are any Sierra Leoneans who don’t know that teachers’ payroll vouchers were full of fictitious names of thousands of teachers known as “Ghost Teachers”, whose salaries were pocketed by head-teachers and principals, through the connivance of Ministry of Education officials. How many Sierra Leoneans haven’t heard of the existence of numerous “ghost schools” (schools that never existed but were on the payroll of government)? What about the millions of dollars worth of educational aid and materials sent for school kids but which found their way in market stalls? The list of heedless corruption in the Ministry of education could stretch from Freetown to Kabala in the north, which has contributed to the slow-growth of teaching and learning in the country’s educational institutions. All those woes were inherited by President Koroma’s government from the decades of corruption that overcame the country. Mind you, those Education Ministry officials and those schools authorities who were gaining from all those massive frauds were still in their positions when Dr. Bah was made the Minister of Education.

 

Being the disciplinarian he is and being an ambitious book-learner, his disappointment was surely beyond measure when he took over a ministry that was ridden with a corrupt and care-free administration and decided that enough was enough. He therefore took certain stringent steps to straighten out the Ministry of Education and, in fact, the whole educational system. Surely, no corrupt official in Sierra Leone would want to be under the scrutiny of a strict and no-nonsense boss. “He is coming to put sand in our bread,” they would say. As a result, when the Education Minister took those hard remedial measures to stamp out corruption by weeding out ghost teachers and ghost schools and by seeing that materials meant for schools and other institutions went through the right channel, anger and disappointments against him began to boil up. His work for the benefit of the country now becomes an eyesore to those he had apparently offended in his patriotic crusade. Isn’t that sad?

 

One of the puny opinion comments I read recently was in the Awoko Newspaper (online) captioned “Education in Sierra Leone”, apparently written by a bloke who had obviously benefitted from the corruption that enveloped the education system before 2007. The unnamed writer, who pointed an accusing finger at Dr. Minkailu Bah as having helped to bring the educational system of Sierra Leone backwards, made an hypocritical comparison between the previous Minister of Education in the SLPP government and the present one. The poor writer, with his mendacious tongue in the cheek, failed to genuinely admit, as a honest and genuine Sierra Leonean would, that education in Sierra Leone began to get a real drastic tumble-down-the-hill before 2007; in other words before the advent of the APC government of President Ernest Bai Koroma. The writer failed to cite the fact that the SLPP Education Minister at the time deliberately gave a blind eye to all the underground deals going on at the Ministry and in educational institutions because the minister Dr. Alpha Wurie, like all SLPP ministers, wanted to keep themselves in power indefinitely and they thought the only way to achieve that aim was to “leave the cow to graze where it was tied”. The end result of it all was the multiplication of ghost schools, ghost teachers, ghost students, and ghost everything, an inheritance that the SLPP passed on to the APC government and which has become a headache for the country today.

 

The writer in the Awoko Newspaper article boasted and I quote, “…SLPP has lots of educated people within; this can be manifested in the just-concluded party candidacy election….” Well, no one can deny that the SLPP is full of educated people but we will not also forget that scholarships and other opportunities meant for all Sierra Leoneans to pursue higher education were given to only those who were affiliated with the Mende tribe, irrespective of whether they were qualified or not. As a result, Fourah Bay College, Njala University College and other institutions of higher learning produced a large number of morally bankrupt people who would rather destroy the whole country for personal aggrandisement. In spite of all that, other tribes in Sierra Leone today can also proudly boast of having massively achieved the education that was denied them for so long.

 

The sad thing is that most of us don’t want to call “a spade a spade” and we always want to condone institutionalised  criminal activities even at the detriment of the nation as long as we and our families and friends are benefitting from it. This is one of the greatest problems of we Sierra Leoneans.  For so long, all the proceeds of the ghost schools, ghost teachers, non-existing lecturers, etc. have been going into the private pockets of dishonest and unpatriotic individuals at the expense of the people of Sierra Leone. Patriotic Sierra Leoneans should applaud Dr. Bah for putting a halt to such destructive practices in our country. We should not toe the line of those who are campaigning against probity and who are in favour of financial improprieties in the Ministry of Education and other public institutions in the present God-fearing government of President Koroma. I tell you the truth, those people can go to any length to achieve their aim – they can bribe some weak newspapers, they can cajole the gullible public and they can spread all types of rumours to achieve their aim.

 

In the Awareness Times Newspaper (online of 3 December 2012), a report says the Ministry of Education was conducting a robust monitoring exercise in all secondary schools across the country to weed out pupils who don’t meet admission criteria to be enrolled in Junior Secondary School (JSS).  This news hardly reported in the so-called SLPP papers because it was a plus for the Education Minister and this news report might have made the guilty ones very uneasy, especially head-teachers who wouldn’t mind putting a square peg in a round hole, as long as money exchanges hands. They would want nothing more but the minister to take his exit before this step and other white-washing steps are taken to remedy the system.

 

Honestly, if President Koroma listens to those PHD people and removes Dr. Minkailu Bah from the Ministry of Education, the enemies of the government will dance with victory and their victory will surely be at the detriment of the government and the people of Sierra Leone. I am quite sure that if the minister is retained, he will perform more than the meritorious service he has already done to our education system and to those who love development and progress in our country. In this second-term of President Koroma, the Agenda for Prosperity will not fully succeed if we don’t  replace “I” with “we” in our daily aspirations.

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO OUR READERS AND SUPPORTERS : Cocorioko plans paradigm shift to Development Journalism this term

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

The COCORIOKO Newspaper Limited is extending Happy New Year greetings to all our readers and supporters and to all Sierra Leoneans living at home and abroad. We hope that God will pour out his abundant blessings on our beloved nation that will filter down to everybody .

We want to thank God for making 2012 a wholly successful year for this news outlet. We fought and won the 2012 elections in Sierra Leone . We also  won two more awards this year in our long string of honours from organizations that believe we are doing a great job for our nation  and we were inducted into the SIERRA LEONE HALL OF FAME by no less an organization than one of Sierra Leone’s most productive  entities –The Save Sierra Leone Foundation. We are once again thankful to God for these awards and we pray that God will continue to guide us in our quest to help promote and rebrand our beloved nation.

ilovesierraleoneresied

The watershed elections are over ; all the acrimony during the heated electioneering campaign are over. The Sierra Leonean people have spoken. They have re-elected President Ernest Bai Koroma to another five years of governance during which time President Koroma and Government will pursue his much -celebrated Agenda For Prosperity ,which will no doubt continue to make Sierra Leone one of the most progressive nations in Africa .

With the elections over , the party of our choice having won and with five long and solid years of governance ahead, COCORIOKO  will be shifting focus this time. We are going to concentrate solely on DEVELOPMENT JOURNALISM and REBRANDING THE NATION IN EARNEST this term  .  We will not waste our precious and valuable time on  Maada Bio and the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) as they are non-factors in our radar after November 17 , except in cases where it would be necessary to set straight  propaganda and divisive articles against the Government and people of our country . The time for pandering to the extreme politics and Poison Journalism in our nation  are over. We are in governance now. Now, our main thrust will be on nation-building ,  national development and rebranding  of Sierra Leone . This is what our people are craving for now.

Through Development Journalism, we will look at socio-economic and political conditions in our nation and efforts being made to develop them.

We will also strive to empower Sierra Leoneans,  public officials and government ministries , public corporations and agencies as well as private sector individuals and institutions which are making a difference in Sierra Leone. Since our articles are reproduced in Sierra Leone newspapers, it is a national endeavour that will evoke far-reaching benefits locally and internationally. We are going to highlight human development, economic development, infrastructural development, agricultural development, cultural development and how Sierra Leone is  faring with the Millennium Developoment Goals ( MDGs ).  We will look at how our ambassadors and diplomats abroad are helping to redefine and reshape our national respect and national identity.

With so much on our plate , not to mention continuing to propagate the achievements of our development-oriented Head of State, His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma, we will definitely have no time for negativity .Already, many of our journalism and diplomatic colleagues have praised the Publisher and other journalists working with this newspaper for tactfully, professionally and responsibly refusing temptations and baits from negativists to engage in Gutter and unprogressive Journalism. We want to assure all our readers and colleagues that we will continue to blaze the trail to progressive and productive Journalism, the brand of journalism that has earned us 6 awards in only four years. As a news outlet in governance, so much is expected of us and thus  we have no more time for personal fights and tirades, which everybody that has known COCORIOKO  since its establishment know we are duly capable of  delivering  with ruthless and deadly relish , but as the Apostle Paul intimated in I Corinthians 13: 11 , there comes a time when we outgrow these things.

I CORINTHIANS 13 : 11 ( From the New International Version )

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. “

From feed backs we are receiving from all circles , we carry a heavy burden of high expectations from people and we must live up to their expectations as COCORIOKO is no longer only a newspaper but an institution in its own right. When people have high expectations from you, you must live up to them.

We have achieved the laurels we wanted to achieve and we have nothing more to prove to people.

Others who know our worth in society will talk for us, but as for us, it is time to deliver DEVELOPMENT JOURNALISM in the manner that Cocorioko knows best . We assure our readers and supporters that we will make an indelible impression in their minds with our paradigm shift.

Since cultural development will now form part of our emphasis, we call on Sierra Leoneans to send to us reports and photos of their social functions like marriages, engagements, outdooring, baptisms and christening  of children, memorials and church functions.

We congratulate President Koroma and the All People’s Congress ( APC )  for winning the November 17 elections and pray God’s light and guidance on the administration.

May God bless our nation.

 

 

Festive delight : How social media’s ‘infotainment’ capacity helped make it a memorable Christmas

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

By Kabs Kanu :

I have enjoyed this Xmas to the marrow of my bones. This Xmas will go down as one of the  most memorable. Apart from one’s own hectic festive schedule–Church service, carol-singing festivals, dinners, get-together etc–being able to know how others enjoyed Xmas made it so exciting  and entertaining. The converging new age media have brought the world to our fingertips and with it a capacity for information and entertainment that cannot be matched by any generation . Man can no longer be anonymous or secluded from life. He is now able to be at many places at the same time . Thanks to the blooming new age media, he is now able to partake instantly in the joys and sorrows of others all over the world. Media business has now become both information and entertainment wrapped in one morsel. No wonder the new term in the world of Mass Communications–INFOTAINMENT .

MERRYCHRISTMAS6RESIZED-298x250

 

With that IPAD in hand, man  can be at a party or dinner  in New Jersey and still savour the enjoyment of others in different continents   .It was excitement galore since yesterday reading about how others were preparing for the great day and how they heralded the onset of Christmas through the different time zones. The photos of roasted turkeys, ducks, goats , chicken; potato salad , cassava leaves and other festive foods on dinner tables ; the exotic Xmas decorations in various living rooms , The melodrama of festivities in sundry homes and public …..It was a kaleidoscope of endless varieties, as one fresher once told the AUREOL TIMES in the good, old days up Mount Olympus when interviewed about how he found life on campus. Just the entertaining reading  about how others were enjoying Christmas made it a unique celebration indeed. Hats off to Facebook . It has its redeeming values and characteristics.

 

SOMEBODY’S CHRISTMAS DINNER TABLE SHOWN ON FACEBOOK

 SOMEBODY ELSE POSTED HOW HE HAD DECORATED FOR CHRISTMAS

 

The good thing we can gather from this also is that we Sierra Leoneans have shared joys, goals , cultures, preoccupation and social life that are capable of binding us together as a people. The things that unite us as a people are more than the things that divide us. In fact, that was the Sierra Leone in which we grew up –a nation with a commonality of customs, cultures, dreams and shared activities that helped to bind us and keep us as one family. It is real joy to be a Sierra Leonean.

It was very entertaining but also emotionally satisfying  to read about how other people enjoyed Christmas while enjoying yours’ . May God be glorified . May God bless everybody and give us many more Xmas holidays  to enjoy.

For those who were struck by sudden bereavements during the festive season, I say ORSH 0 . May God comfort your hearts and may the souls of the blessed departed rest in peace.

I do not know whether it is because I am a journalist; the informative capacity of FB added to my own enjoyment of Xmas to make it a season I will forever relish.

Again, Merry Christmas to you all.

President Ernest Bai Koroma : “We Will Do More In Our Agenda For Prosperity”

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

By State House Communications Unit :

Makeni, Northern Province, Sierra Leone, 22nd December, 2012; His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has reiterated his commitment to continue to strengthen local councils all across the nation, irrespective of which political party controls them. He made this statement during his inauguration of the Mayors, Chairpersons and Councilors of the 19 local councils nationwide. The ceremony took place first, in Freetown on the 20th, Kenema and Bo on the 21st and Makeni on the 22nd December, over a span of three days.

Whilst congratulating the newly elected Mayors, Chairpersons and Councilors, President Koroma reminded them of the very high expectations of the people who had elected them to serve and represent them in the various councils to reconcile with the developmental aspirations of their localities. “The people have reposed their trust in you; they want you to work together, they want you to effectively represent them, and they demand that you honour and uphold that confidence throughout your tenure of four years. You have entered into a social contract; you are part of government; and you must be effective and disciplined partners in the transformation of the country”, he urged.

“In the last five years, my government ensured the biggest ever financial transfers to local councils in the history of our nation”, the newly resoundingly re-elected Commander-in-Chief said, and further confidently maintained, “We gave local councils, irrespective of which political party controlled them, billions to implement development programmes in their localities. This has enabled your Councils to scale up the provision of social service including primary and secondary health, primary and junior-secondary, agriculture extension services, rural water supply and solid waste management.”

President Koroma reiterated the same message right across the four regions where he promised to continue to do more for local councils. “We will continue to give billions to local councils; we will continue to build capacities of local councils; we will continue to ensure that local councils are fully functional and effectively delivering services in their localities. My Government will continue to facilitate timely, predictable and increased performance-based transfers to local councils”, he assured amidst rapturous applause everywhere he made those assurances.

It would be recalled that local governance had been identified as a panacea for socio-economic development especially in emerging economies like Sierra Leone. Sound revenue collection being one of the means to achieve sustainable development was not left untouched by the Chief Executive; “We will introduce legislation on local government finance and property taxation that clearly establish procedures for revenue collection and sharing between local and chiefdom councils and the administration of property rates, respectively. Local councils will be empowered through legislation and policy frameworks to create conducive environments to maximize local economic development.”

The President also reaffirmed his commitment to focus on skills training, acquisition and employment of youths as well as the restoration of discipline, law and order in society. “We have vowed to attract more investment, diversify the economy, and continue with the free health care, smallholder commercialization and infrastructural development. You are our partners in ensuring the delivery of those programmes in your localities; you are our partners in monitoring the effective implementation of these programmes; you are our partners in suggesting modifications of these programmes to suit local development needs and aspirations”, President Koroma also pointed out.

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Alhaji Dauda Sulaiman Kamara fondly and popularly known as Ambassador, noted that

When the righteous is in power, God blesses the nation

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

President Ernest Koroma hails from a devout christian family where the father was a lay preacher and the mother insisted on christian values including saying the grace before family meals. Imbued with these christian values, President Koroma walks in the righteousness of Christ Jesus. Jesus is his righteousness and so for once we have a nation where the President is a very God-fearing, humble, harmless ( Though by no means a push-over ) , sincere, devoted and committed man, in love with people-centred socio-economic and political developments.

Because a man walking in the righteousness of Christ is in power, God is blessing Sierra Leone abundantly.

Jeremiah 23:5,6 Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper…

PROVERBS 29 : 2 : When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice:

God, in his abundant mercey, has raised a righteous branch in Zion and thus the blessings have started pouring in for the nation.

PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA
PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA

 

1. President Koroma has rebranded the nation magnificently with his development-oriented rule, and we have won the Millennium Corporation award which will see us benefiting from millions of dollars for national development. Merely winning the award and placing 4th, above all our West African neighbours, is something to be very proud of.

2. Sierra Leone is about to benefit from millions of millions of dollars in investment from the international world after recently passing the critical test of staging one of the best elections ever in Africa and proving to the world that we have gone truly democratic and ready to take our worthy place as the beacon of light of Africa . Misconceptions and negativity about our country are going to become significantly subdued, and investors will believe whatever resources they commit in our nation will be safe.

3. Sierra Leone is about to become an oil-producing nation.

What we went through in the 1990s was trial and testings. Before God blesses a nation, either he or the devil bring these trials and testings. It happens even in the lives of mortal men created by God. Before you get your blessings, you may have to undergo trials and testings. However, once you conquer these trials, the windows of Heaven open for you and God pours out a blessing for you.

We have gone through our trials and testings . It is now Blessing Time in Sierra Leone. Therefore let us give President Koroma time to carefully form his cabinet. There is no time to rush. He is a very careful and meticulous man -you could even say he is a perfectionist. He always wants to do the perfect thing. Let us all throw our weight behind him with moral support and prayers.

Sierra Leone is on the road to better times. Thanks be to the Lord.