MRU To Host Extraordinary Summit To End Ebola

Sierra Leone’s President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and his Guinean counterpart Professor Alpha Conde Tuesday 10 February expressed the urgent need for an Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State of the Mano River Union in Conakry, Republic of Guinea to intensify the fight against Ebola and also assess the challenges facing the national and sub-regional dimensions of post-Ebola recovery programmes.

The two leaders took this position following the signing of a joint communique climaxing the one-day working and friendly visit of President Conde to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The Guinean leader is also the current Chair of the Mano River Union (MRU).

The purpose of the visit was essentially for the two leaders to engage in an exchange of ideas on the progress made and remaining challenges with respect to the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola in the MRU basin.

President Alpha Conde and his host also noted the need to continue their social mobilization campaigns against cultural and traditional practices that have significantly undermined painstaking efforts by both governments and their development partners in breaking the chain of transmission of Ebola.

Furthermore, the two Heads of State described the continued stigmatisation of their nationals and consequently, the imposition of travel restrictions and suspension of flight services to the affected countries as a distraction to collective efforts in fighting the epidemic. Both presidents agreed that travel and other restrictions imposed on the three worst-hit countries should be reviewed without further delay.

In all of this one sees a clear path and determination to fend off and finally eradicate this dreadful disease. It also shows that African leaders are also anxious to tackle their problems head-on, especially following the signing of three separate joint communiques between Mauritania/African Union and GOSL; Togo/ECOWAS and GOSL and between GOSL and Guinea/MRU. All of these communiques tend toward one direction; to defeat Ebola and address post-Ebola socio-economic recovery. It shows the determination to utilize the double-edged nature of the Ebola outbreak.

Of course, there is no gainsaying about the fact that Ebola is a double-edged sword considering its ugly and positive side effects. Negative, because of its toll on not just the lives of our people but, also its devastating impact on our socio-economic, cultural and traditional practices. It has essentially robbed us of our humanity, an old man with great insight told me in Makeni.

But then the outbreak will end up helping to strengthen our health care delivery systems, it will engender massive awareness in personal hygiene and sanitation and also help to revamp the educational system as clearly mentioned in the presidential broadcast to the nation quite recently.

As he aptly observed during the ensuing press conference at the Presidential Lounge at the Lungi International Airport, President Koroma said that “Until Ebola is defeated in the three worst-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, any national success will be less meaningful and less sustainable,”

This is why I also fervently and unflinchingly welcome the need to convene an Extraordinary Summit of MRU member states to consolidate efforts in the fight against Ebola and also drum up support for swift post-Ebola socio-economic recovery.

Jaramenajara©2015

LET’S ALL BE MONITORS OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE POST EBOLA RECOVERY PLAN

President Ernest Bai Koroma has called on the people of Tonkolili, Kambia and Port Loko districts to be monitors of the implementation of post Ebola recovery programmes launched by government with support from development partners to drive social and economic recovery over the next 6 – 9 months, putting Sierra Leone back on the Agenda for Prosperity pathway and move the country towards a resilient zero.

The president made this call over the weekend during his working visits to those districts to reiterate the message of vigilance to attain and maintain a resilient zero for 42 days after the last Ebola patient would have been discharged from treatment center. During the trip, the president also officially released the largest quarantined of homes, including a whole village – Massesebe in Tonkolili district.

According to President Koroma, government’s post Ebola recovery plan will target four major priority areas – health; education; social protection; and revamping the economy and livelihoods by facilitating private sector recovery and growth.

He informed the people that it was imperative that everyone monitors the implementation of post Ebola recovery programmes to ensure mutual accountability and transparency. This, he said, will help ensure service delivery is effective and maximizes the chances of beneficiaries receiving government’s support to restore livelihoods and enhance private sector recovery.

This latest call by the Head of State reechoes his keynote address during the formal launch of the Post Ebola Recovery “Battle” Plan at Miatta Conference Center, Brookfields on 24th July, 2015. He warned that “seeds must get to farmers; medicines to the sick, educational materials to the pupils.” He went on to note that the post Ebola recovery plan is to ensure that frontlines of the battle get far more of the resources than the backlines. “That must be the guiding principle, for that is what will get this country resilient and our people well-served,” he pointed out.

In view of this, the president disclosed that his next working visits will focus on conducted tours of services and support transferred to targeted beneficiaries to ensure efficiency and real time accountability in the implementation of the recovery plan.

“I call on everyone to get involved to help monitor the implementation of the recovery programme,” President Koroma who has been dubbed the chief social mobilizer, urged.

From the analysis by President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma (informed by the respective briefings of the different Ebola point men in the three districts), it’s quite clear that if the two remaining patients in treatment centers countrywide are discharged without any new positive case, Sierra Leone will soon begin the countdown towards a resilient zero for the next 42 days as stipulated by WHO. The call now is for all Sierra Leoneans to not just support, but also act as monitors of the recovery programmes in order to accelerate government’s quest for prosperity for all citizens.

The president was accompanied on this trip by the British High Commissioner Peter West, DFID Country Representative Marshall Elliot, the Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Abu Bakarr Fofanah, the CEO of NERC Major (Rtd) Paolo Conteh, the UNMEER Crisis Manager Bintou Keita, the Special Adviser to the President and Ambassador at Large Professor Monty Jones, other senior government officials and State House staffers.

Discharge of last Ebola Patient: the countdown begins in earnest

As implementation of Post Ebola recovery programmes gathers momentum, government is set to begin the countdown towards a resilient zero on Tuesday 25th August.

Mateneh Ebola treatment center is located on the outskirts of Makeni city. It was constructed by the British Army with funding from Department for International Development (DFID) during the height of the epidemic in 2014 and is being run by the International Medical Corps (IMC). Since then the center has admitted a total of 108 patients with 45 survivors.

The last Ebola test result for female patient Adama Sankoh came out negative and she was officially discharged by His Excellency, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma today (Monday 24 August), marking the beginning of the countdown towards a resilient 42 days without a positive case.

Steven Gaojia of the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) described the discharge of the last EVD patient as a significant milestone in the fight against Ebola as well as the countdown towards a resilient zero.

Delivering the keynote address, President Koroma described the discharge of Adama Sankoh as the last remaining patient nationwide as the beginning of the end of Ebola in Sierra Leone. He said that the outbreak was announced 456 days ago. “Before we get to 42 days, we must stay the course and remain vigilant,” he urged.

The president called on the people of Sierra Leone to continue to call 117 when someone is sick. “It’s a moment we should celebrate and we have to give thanks to Almighty God that we have reached this point,” adding that we should remember the over 3, 500 citizens who had succumbed to the disease in our prayers.

President Koroma also lauded the efforts and support of development partners, health workers, including doctors in the fight to end the outbreak. He also commended NERC and the various DERCs across the country as well as the police, RSLAF, political parties, religious bodies, traditional leaders and all Sierra Leoneans who in diverse ways contributed to the fight against EVD.

Giving the vote of thanks, Adama Sankoh prayed for President Koroma for long life and good health for his personal leadership of the fight against the receding virus. She also thanked the Mateneh treatment center for their tireless efforts to ensure she survives EVD, adding that she will be the number one messenger to sensitize her people that although Ebola is on the run, vigilance should be the watchword.

Adama called on all citizens to continue to observe health measures of hand washing, safe burial among others. She pleaded with government not to forget Ebola survivors as most of them are now very vulnerable in terms of economic wellbeing.

The discharge and certification ceremony was attended by cabinet ministers, senior government officials, development partners, journalists and stakeholders of Bombali and Tonkolili districts.

By Jarrah Kawusu-Konte

International community extols president’s social mobilization drive against Ebola

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared this morning Sierra Leone as Ebola free at a colourful and well attended ceremony at the Bintumani International Conference Centre at Aberdeen in Freetown.

The ceremony was attended by cabinet ministers, members of parliament, senior government officials, traditional leaders, members and Dean of the diplomatic and consular corps, the media as well as ordinary Sierra Leoneans, including survivors of the evil virus called Ebola.

However, this event could not have come without a price in terms of collateral damage as thousands of Sierra Leoneans, over 200 health workers and 11 doctors lost their lives to the disease.

Furthermore, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma’s nationwide social mobilization drive for community involvement and ownership of the fight against Ebola made considerable progress to break the chain of transmission of the disease.

The significance of his nationwide social mobilization tours stem from the fact that paramount chiefs, religious leaders, MPs, traditional and cultural society heads, Councilors and other stakeholders accepted and believed his message that they shoulder the responsibility of driving the Ebola virus out of their communities. It was this social mobilization by the president that turned out to be the game changer in the fight to eradicate Ebola from Sierra Leone, and consequently the WHO declaring the country as Ebola free today Saturday 7 November, 2015.

A number of diplomats have commended the efforts of President Koroma in his social mobilization drive for community involvement and ownership of the fight against Ebola culminating to the end of the outbreak today.

Please read below the testimonies of some of our development partners as well as the CEO of the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC):

State House Communication Unit:

QUESTION – Ahead of Sierra Leone being declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization (WHO), what is your assessment of President Koroma’s social mobilization drive in the fight against Ebola?


British High Commissioner Peter West – ANSWER:
I am full of admiration for President Koroma’s leadership and I think an outstanding aspect of that leadership has been his work on social mobilization. From the onset, I knew that President Koroma believes that without the cooperation and understanding of the people of Sierra Leone we will not be able to overcome the disease. Over many months I have travelled with him to every district in this country. In some cases, more than half a dozens times to problematic districts. I have seen him explained, persuade, cajoled and insist on people doing the right things to end the transmission chains. In his recent tours, I have seen his emphasis on building from the lessons we have learnt during Ebola so that Sierra Leone emerges stronger and more resilient with structures which are able to provide the services which the people of Sierra Leone deserve.

As we get to zero plus forty-two, I am proud that the UK along with other international partners has been able to play a full part in this fight against Ebola. But most of all, I want to congratulate President Koroma on a job very well done.

QUESTION 2: Moving forward, you have been very supportive of government’s action in stemming the virus, what areas do you think government should strengthen to equip the response for future outbreaks?

Peter West – ANSWER: I think it’s very important people learnt lessons from this episode. There is more capacity and more qualified people now to deal with this sort of crisis in the future. I think it is important also we embrace those people and those institutions so that there is a stronger structure to deal with this crisis in the future. And I think now in the next few years we are working very closely with President Koroma and his government on a recovery package on six specific areas which the government has set out and to make sure that the country develops and returns to the ambitions set out in the Agenda for Prosperity.

Discussion with WHO Representative – Dr Andres Nordstrom

State House Communication Unit –

QUESTION: Ahead of Sierra Leone being declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization, what is your assessment of President Koroma’s social mobilization drive in the fight against Ebola?

Dr Andres Nordstrom – ANSWER: I think the socio mobilization part of the response possibly has been most important and critical element because not until we really began to reach out to people to engage them, to communicate with the people that we can see the difference. Because we need the people to fully engage and fully also to trust and to also change some of the behaviours. So I think the social mobilization the president has been providing leadership for has been extremely important for this outbreak. I think there is a good platform; there is a lot of good experience and resources reaching out to people in communities that we need to build on to tackle other health problems in the future.

State House Communication Unit

– QUESTION: Dr Nordstrom, how would you describe the leadership of President Koroma?

Dr Andres Nordstrom – ANSWER:
He is really a leader that is providing both inspiration and leadership but also is a person that stays very calm and somebody also you both feel trust with and somebody who you can like as well.

Interview with CEO of NERC Major (Rtd) Paolo Conteh

State House Communication Unit –

QUESTION: Ahead of Sierra Leone being declared Ebola free by the WHO, what is your assessment of President Koroma’s social mobilization drive in the fight against Ebola?

CEO NERC – ANSWER: I think the president’s own contribution particularly in the area of social mobilization was key to the fight. I say so for two reasons because in terms of social mobilization it is not only about the message, it is about who carries the message – the messenger – and in President Koroma you have a good messenger because when he speaks people listen. People are drawn to him. So his contribution in my view was immense and I think it helped. He took the message to every district and I was with him.

He went around the country; spoke to paramount chiefs, religious leaders, tribal heads and so on. So I will say his contribution was immense in particularly social mobilization, getting the message to people to listen and do the right things.

SHCU©2015

President Koroma urges UN to move with the times

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma delivered a rousing speech at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday September 22, 2016, calling on the international governing body to move with the times and speed up the reform of the UN Security Council.

As chairman of the African Union Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government on the Reform of the United Nations Security Council, the president stressed that no matter what they as leaders do at the national or global level, the world “will not be able to deliver on the SDGs’ promise of an inclusive, fairer and better world without the reform of the United Nations.”

The president spoke about some of his administration’s biggest achievements, including access to justice, women and youth employment and empowerment. He also thanked the outgone UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for Sierra Leone’s successful fight against the Ebola epidemic; a fight won with the help of the UN and bilateral partners.

President Koroma also talked about the significance of the Paris climate agreement, which he signed soon after addressing the General Assembly. He pointed out that although Sierra Leone contributes almost nothing to global warming, it is the third most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change. He therefore delineates climate change as an urgent life and death matter. “That is why we welcome the Paris Agreement,” he said, and told world leaders about his government’s commitment to implement its provisions in Sierra Leone. “My Government, in collaboration with our development partners, is implementing projects on adaptation, including climate information and early warning systems. We remain committed to these efforts and we seek further collaboration in confronting this global threat against humanity,” he assured.

The speech was also a stark warning to the UN of the grim international consequences should the premier governing body continue to hold on the edicts and structures established 71 years ago, calling on the UN to move with the times by carrying out the relevant reforms. Straight from the shoulder, President Koroma told world leaders that the UN lacks the democratic competencies to tackle the developmental, security and other challenges facing Africa and many other parts of the world today. “Without strong African voices at the highest level of our premier global decision making body; without the energetic voices of the region with the largest number of young people, without the decisive contribution of the continent that is mostly affected by Security Council decisions, no solution proffered to our challenges by the United Nations would be sustained, inclusive or lasting,” the chairman of the C-10 declared amid rapturous applause by the audience.

As the voice of Africa under the aegis of the C-10, the Sierra Leonean leader told the UN that Africa stands united behind the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration and urged against any attempt to take down their position through divide and rule reminiscent of colonialism.

President Koroma also told the assembled representatives of the UN’s member states that Sierra Leone is now ready to deploy its newly Formed Police Units (FUPs), Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) units as well as Police Guards to the UN Standby Arrangement System (UNSAS) at short notice in fulfillment of the country’s pledge made to the Leader’s Summit on Peacekeeping in September, 2015.

The president reiterated his government’s commitment to good governance; address the underlying causes of fragility and drivers of conflict, effective management of the country’s natural resources in a bid to transform Sierra Leone into a middle-income nation by 2035. He also reminded the international community, including its bilateral friends to fulfill their pledges to the country’s recovery programme. President Koroma further expressed the urgent need for all parties to cooperate with global initiatives in finding enduring peace in Syria, South Sudan and Libya, and called for action in resolving the Israel Palestine conflict, in fighting terrorism, and what he described as “dangerous escalations in the arms race”.

Certainly, many of the arguments by the president were aimed at the UN which has failed to adopt measures, including text based negotiations that will lead to a comprehensive and early reform of the Security Council to reflect contemporary realities. He urged the assembled leaders to speed up the reform process so that Africa can take its rightful place in the UN Security Council.

After the speech, President Koroma had bilateral meetings with the President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson, the outgone UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and attended a reception ceremony hosted by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also took interviews with the CCTV and BBC in between his bilateral meetings.

IMF praises Sierra Leone’s Economic Reforms under President Koroma

On Monday September 26, 2016, the Chief of Mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), John Wakeman-Linn, paid President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma a visit at State House.

The purpose of the visit was to update the president on the outcome of the sixth and final review under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). This facility is a lending arrangement that provides sustained program engagement over the medium to long term in case of protracted balance of payments problems. The IMF Executive Board approved the arrangement for Sierra Leone in October 2013.

Following consultations and constructive discussions with the Sierra Leonean authorities, the IMF has in an end-of-mission press release described the economic reforms undertaken by the Government of Sierra Leone as largely on track and largely successful. “The economy proved resilient in the face of two major exogenous shocks: the Ebola epidemic and collapse of iron ore prices and associated loss of production in 2014 – 2015,” the fund said in its press release issued on September 27, 2016.

It extolled the changes the government has implemented: “Prudent fiscal policy throughout the program contributed to the achievement of a relatively low fiscal deficit. Credible monetary policy contributed to price stability, bringing inflation down from over 20 percent at the beginning of the program to single digits, although in recent months it has begun to increase somewhat.”

“The current account balance has strengthened. International reserves have risen to more than $500 million,” the release added.

Amid concerns that the economy needs revamping after the Ebola epidemic, the IMF encouraged the government to put emphasis on price stability, while remaining attentive to second round pressures on prices. “Exchange rate and market policies should be transparently implemented,” the fund urged.

Notwithstanding, the mission was pleased that all quantitative performance criteria for end-June 2016 were met and consequently, Sierra Leone’s sixth and final review under the ECF arrangement is tentatively scheduled for consideration by the IMF Executive Board in November 2016.

Click on link to read Press Release :http://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2016/09/27/PR16428-Sierra-Leone-IMF-Staff-Completes-Review-Mission

Click on link to read story on the visit of the IMF Chief of Mission:http://www.statehouse.gov.sl/index.php/component/content/article/34-news-articles/1622-president-vows-to-stay-engaged-with-the-people

Despite the challenges, Sierra Leoneans are paying attention

Despite the current socio-economic challenges facing the country, majority of Sierra Leoneans are paying attention to the efforts of the government to turn things around for the betterment of everyone. Even in times of trails and difficulties, our people have shown the capacity to keep their eyes on the ball; they had shown resilience during the Ebola epidemic that almost brought the country to its knees.

At a recent emergency pre-cabinet meeting, His Excellency the President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma said that if we were able to fight and defeat Ebola, we should be able to put up a fight that will turn around the economic fortunes of the country. I cannot agree more with the president. Sierra Leoneans have shown resilience time without number. Our recovery after the war in the 1990s to early 2000s is a case in point in support of our capacity to fight back and come out strong which eventually endeared the country to many multi-lateral organizations like the UN, IMF and World Bank. Sierra Leone was affectionately singled out as an example of a post-war country that recovered in record time.

There’s no gainsaying that the Ebola outbreak disrupted every aspect of life, and economic growth particularly, was hit like a thunderbolt. Considering the deadly nature of the virus and the horrific narrative accompanying it, it wasn’t easy to break the back of the disease. But with perseverance, determination and resilience, Sierra Leoneans, led by their result-oriented leader, embarked on a massive social mobilization campaign for community ownership and responsibility of the fight against Ebola, which ultimately led to victory against the stubborn virus.

Similarly, if this engendered spirit of ownership and responsibility were replicated in the current economic conditions, it would not only bring an end to the economic crisis, but will accelerate growth in almost all sectors. It would be logical therefore to draw an inference that effective engagement of people would create effective and practical ways of proffering solutions, hence, reiterating the president’s call to look at practical ways to minimize the challenges facing the country.

The recent policy measures adopted by government have been a topical debate in almost every quarter of the population. These comprehensive measures have captured a significant proportion of public imagination concerning government spending and have led some sections of the public to liken President Koroma to the Tanzanian President, John Mogufuli, fondly called the “Bulldozer”. Like Mogufuli, Koroma is determined to cut unnecessary expenditure, shrink the number of overseas travels and put stringent measures in place to turn around what many knew was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Such public display of prudence is bound to be a lasting legacy of President Koroma’s leadership to restore equitable and sustainable economic growth in this country.

Unfortunately, the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), in a press release issued on Thursday October 6, 2016, blamed the current economic slowdown on what they described as “lack of vision…and mismanagement of our economy” by the government. Apart from the fact that the APC assumed the mantle of office on the eve of the global financial crisis, with high commodity and oil prices, affecting almost every country on earth, the Ebola epidemic and a slump in iron ore prices have had their own devastating impact on the country’s economy as the SLPP itself admits.

Recently, the IMF, in an end-of mission press statement, described the economic reforms undertaken by the Government of Sierra Leone as largely on track and largely successful. “The economy proved resilient in the face of two major exogenous shocks: the Ebola epidemic and collapse of iron ore prices and associated loss of production in 2014 – 2015,” the fund said in its press release issued on September 27, 2016. What does the SLPP mean by “…it is deceitful for this government to wilfully blame our economic woes on the EVD…”? So is the IMF also “deceitful” for praising the economic reforms undertaken by the Government of Sierra Leone?

The World Economic Outlook (WEO) published a few days ago by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) presents IMF economists’ analyses of global economic developments, issues affecting advanced, emerging, and developing economies like ours. The global economy is expected to slow to 3.1 percent in 2016 before recovering to 3.4 percent in 2017. However, risks to the outlook remain and include uncertainty regarding the impact of the UK Vote in favour of leaving the European Union (Brexit), weakness in aggregate demand and investment and low commodity prices.

Big and small nations all stand to be affected by this but the IMF has already recommended that countries need to rely on all policy levers—monetary, fiscal and structural—to lift growth prospects. Just yesterday the British Pound tumbled to lowest level against the dollar since 1985. This year, the US dollar index also hit a five month low.

According to the World Economic Outlook, “Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economies continue to struggle with lower commodity revenues, weighing on growth in the region. Nigeria’s economy is forecast to shrink 1.7 percent in 2016, and South Africa’s will barely expand. By contrast, several of the region’s non-commodity exporters, including Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Senegal, are expected to continue to grow at a robust pace of more than 5 percent this year.” The Monetary Policy Statement issued by the Bank of Sierra Leone following their Q3 2016 Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting on September 28, notes that, in spite of the weak global economic environment, especially low commodity prices, real GDP growth is projected at 4.9 per cent in 2016, up from an earlier projection of 4.3 per cent. The MPC concluded that there is potential to further diversify the economy from ongoing investments in the agricultural sector, as domestic output was still below its potential.

But in all of this, one thing that gives some of us comfort is the fact that Sierra Leoneans are paying attention. They understand and appreciate the developmental and transformative efforts of this government since 2007. They know that the roads today are far better than 9 years ago; they know that electricity generation and distribution is far better than 9 years ago; Sierra Leoneans know that there has been considerable improvement in agricultural production and value addition. We all know that marine and fisheries sector is making tremendous contribution to the GDP more than ever before. A lot has happened on the legal landscape insofar as access to justice is concerned and the ordinary man and woman are paying rapt attention to the work of the Legal Aid Board.

In addition, it is good that the SLPP has found time to “rub some tongue” (a Mende saying) on the current economic challenges facing our country. It’s a good thing to find time to weigh in on our country’s socio-economic melancholy, especially when they are only well known over a decade now for infighting and political bickering. But then the people are paying attention to all this and many still believe the SLPP is unfit to serve as an alternative for now. They still don’t have a clue as to how to run their party let alone a whole country in a world plagued by recession.

President Koroma expresses hope of bright days ahead in his traditional New Year message

In a national broadcast on New Year’s day, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has expressed hope of bright days ahead for Sierra Leone, saying that the new year “has come upon us with the assurance of an economy on the path to full recovery.”

He pointed out that every citizen must be commended for the sacrifices and adjustments they made in order to overcome the challenges facing the country. “…from the fisherman at Funkia to the farmer at Buedu; from the petty trader at Abacha Street to the bike rider in Pujehun and our compatriots in the Diaspora – Sierra Leoneans have shown great resilience and have been at the forefront of discussions and actions to turn this country around,” the president said.

He thanked the people of Sierra Leone for their support in rolling out the recovery priorities as well as in returning the economy back on the pathway of the pre-Ebola era and pre-drop-in-iron-ore-prices days.

In 2014, Sierra Leone was hit by the twin shocks of the slump in iron ore prices in the world market and the Ebola outbreak, which we already know reversed the gains made as one the fastest growing economies in the world. With help from the international community and the personal leadership of the His Excellency the President through his social mobilization drive for community ownership of the fight against, what many described as a “horrific” virus, the country triumphed.

During this period, President Koroma showed great and remarkable leadership and he always had the backing of the people. Sierra Leoneans endured huge challenges but were determined to support their leader in fighting Ebola as well as the economic difficulties the country is facing, which I’m sure the president has already promised to review by mid 2017. He added: “…we will review the austerity measures we are implementing and we will reassess the progress we have made under the Recovery Priorities to determine where we are and to define our new actions going forward.”

The president said that although Sierra Leoneans have shown the world their ability to pull together in times of adversity as well as to succeed against all odds, he urged his countrymen to approach national issues with nonpartisan lenses; “…we must adopt the imperatives that put Sierra Leone first in our actions.” The Commander-in-Chief noted that the destinies of Sierra Leoneans are bound together and their “fortunes intertwined” and, therefore despite tensions that may arise between aspirants seeking political office, he encouraged all and sundry never to lose sight of the fact that Sierra Leone is bigger than everyone; “is it bigger than every group and every political party.”

He called on citizens to pay attention towards the development programmes and act as monitors of the implementation of projects in chiefdoms, constituencies and districts.

In the foregoing one clearly sees that President Koroma is setting the tone and mood of the next general elections in terms of appealing to the better nature of Sierra Leoneans for peace, development and a sense of patriotism. He is not oblivious of the challenges that lie ahead in the country’s transition as a viable democracy. He takes on them head on by appealling to the better nature of all Sierra Leoneans because after all, we owe it to posterity to stay together, work together and build our beloved country together. By and large, the speech is forward looking and full of optimism for the land that we love.

Kailahun Residents Extol APC Government Over Road Project

Kailahun lies in the far east of Sierra Leone, approximately 515 kilometers (320 miles) east of Freetown; and about 121 kilometers (75 miles) north east of Kenema.

It is the headquarter town of the district that bears its name, a trade center, and is one of the major towns in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone.

On February 4th, 2017, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma was in Segbwema and Pendembu on a working visit where he officially opened the newly constructed 84.5 kilometer Kenema – Pendembu road as well as commissioned the construction of the 28 kilometer Pendembu – Kailahun town road project.

During these events, the people of eastern region came out in their numbers to express their gratitude to President Koroma for the construction of the Kenema – Pendembu highway, on the one hand, and the commissioning of the construction of the second leg of the project from Pendembu to Kailahun town, on the other.

This Kenema – Kailahun – Koindu Corridor had been neglected since the days of colonial administration. Despite claims of certain areas of the country being the stronghold of certain political parties, it is actually the APC that has stepped up to the plate in not just road construction but also many other areas of development like water, health, energy, education, agriculture among others.

After decades of perennial road problems along this road corridor, residents of Segbwema, Pendembu and Kailahun town expressed joy and praises for the government for constructing the road and now launching the construction of the second leg of the project, and when President Koroma disclosed that discussions with the European Union on the last leg of the road from Kailahun town to Koindu were at an advanced stage, the people understandably erupted into further jubilation, which reverberated throughout the evening into the cold night.

According to a 42 years old resident of Segbwema, the headquarter town of Njaluahun chiefdom, Jenneh Kangoma, “The road was in a terrible state to a point that it almost stopped all economic activities in the district. As a business woman, the bad state of the road then affected my business greatly and my goods almost perished before reaching the market,” she said.

According to her, the construction of the road has eased the constraints faced by commuters particularly business people. “Everybody is happy. We now have fast movement of people and businesses; it has increased our profit because we now pay less in terms of transportation.”

Another resident, Amos Kai, and Councilor, told our team that the construction of the Kenema – Kailahun highway was a blessing. Before this time, he stated, transportation cost was high and that affected business adversely. “It was very difficult to transport agricultural produce to the market and we are happy that this has been addressed by the construction of the road,” he stressed. Kai called for ownership of the road by the people of Kailahun district and urged against any misuse of the road or do anything that will destroy it.

Alhaji Kallon is 35 years old and lives in Pendembu. He pointed out that the road was narrow and deplorable. Kallon went on to thank God and the Government of President Koroma for the road because it has facilitated business and also reduced the cost of transportation. “This is good for us as business people. We were really suffering because of the bad state of the road but thanks to President Koroma for making sure we have one of the best roads in the country,” he said with tears struggling down his cheeks.

Mohamed Yusif Sannoh is an Imam and is 55 years old. He explained that the road was an eyesore. “It was very deplorable,” he said and noted that people were highly constrained. “No matter the forms of transportation used, whether it was a car, truck or Okada, you have to go through a lot of challenges. People were really suffering. I can now leave here (Segbwema) and go to Kenema or Bo and come back within the shortest possible time,” he expounded.

Imam Sannoh admonished the people of Segbwema to show appreciation for what the government is doing to transform their locality, and urged them to support the government in the development of the nation. “We must all be supportive of government programmes and activities,” he said.

“As a driver, I am proud to have good roads. The road was deplorable and before this project, there were lots of accidents mainly along the Segbwema Hill which was notable for gruesome and fatal accidents. Lots of lives were lost,” said Mohamed Tarawalie, a 46-year-old driver who lives in Bombohun, Kailahun district. Tarawalie noted that good roads are essential in a country, and that the newly opened Kenema – Pendembu road has now increased the earnings of business people because they now pay less in terms of transporting their goods. “It has also shrunk the number of times you visit the garage for maintenance. Maintenance cost has reduced drastically and subsequently the life span of the car will increase,” Tarawalie stated.

But Tarawalie has a word of advice for the people of Kailahun. “I am pleading to the locals to take good care of the road and they should all be public monitors. They should not spill oil on the road and all of these put together will eventually revive the international market that was held in this part of the country.”

However, a member of parliament (MP) representing Kenema district argued that the SLPP engaged in massive reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country immediately after the war. He noted that his party, under the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, tirelessly embarked on overhauling and renovating the country’s deplorable road network and as he put it, “We had secured funds for the construction of the Kenema – Kailahun road before we left office in 2007,” he confidently said. But President Koroma had asked during the launching ceremony that if the SLPP had really truly secured funds for the construction of the Kenema – Kailahun road, “which part of the bank did they keep the money?” he asked rhetorically.

There’s no secret about the fact that even the current SLPP MPs could attest to the fact that it was this government under the result-oriented and transformative leadership of President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma that funding for these road projects were secured. What the SLPP hopes to gain by peddling fake news about funding for the Kenema – Kailahun road project is anybody’s guess. But the people of Kailahun are thanking this APC government for a job well done because before now, there was little (or absolutely nothing) any political party (except the APC) could show for their stewardship in their communities, chiefdoms and villages.

PRESS STATEMENT

Freetown, February 26th 2014: We, leaders of specific youth groups operating within Sierra Leone hip hop music industry, gather today to issue out this press statement in which we want the world to know that we:

1. Are appreciative of the efforts of our President, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, in rebranding Sierra Leone and making it an attractive destination for foreign direct investment into Africa.

2. Are further appreciative of love and care our President has been consistently showing over welfare of Sierra Leone youths to the extent of appointing a capable Presidential Youth Aide.

3. Wish to assure H.E. the President and people of Sierra Leone that the least that we, as youths, can do in return of the ongoing admirable show of leadership of the President, is to respect and uphold the peace in the land. Sustainable peace will enable development and prosperity agenda.

4. Have seen mails sent to the manager of Jamaican musician, BUSY SIGNAL which allege unfortunate threats and which have been widely circulated on social media Whatsapp and Facebook.

5. Wish to denounce in its entirety, the threats from these anonymous writers claiming membership of the RED FLAG MOVEMENT (R.F.M.) supposedly in support of our Sierra Leone artist, LAJ.

6. In particular, on behalf of the entire R.F.M. and LAJ the musician, the Manager, Mr. Asheim Sesay and the entire management team are distancing themselves from the illegal threats.

7. Furthermore, the President Alusine Kamara, Secretary-General Gerrard Jalloh and the entire executive and members of the R.F.M. Fan Clubs are distancing themselves from the illegal threats.

8. Have held an international phone call with Mr. KAO DENERO during which we have assured him that all the youths of Sierra Leone are looking forward to welcoming both KAO DENERO and BUSY SIGNAL to Sierra Leone.

9. Members of the RFM and LAJ Fan Clubs, in light of our strong denials of knowledge about these internet threats, hereby assure that if invited by KAO DENERO to join him, are willing to collaborate with KAO DENERO and the BLACK LEO record label to ensure visit of BUSY SIGNAL turns out to be one of the most peaceful and prosperous visits of a musician in entire History of Sierra Leone.

10. KAO DENERO has, during the phone call, warmly welcomed the offer of R.F.M. to collaborate with him to ensure the visit of BUSY SIGNAL turns out most successfully.

Signed by:

Asheim Sesay

Manager, R.F.M./LAJ

Signed by:

Alusine Kamara (aka Ozil Jalloh)

President, R.F.M/LAJ Fan Clubs

Signed by:

Gerrard Jalloh

Sec-Gen, R.F.M/LAJ Fan Clubs

Guaranteed by:

Phylip Tholley (aka GUNSHOT)

Chairman, Youth Awareness for Peace & Development

Guaranteed by:

Shawn Carter

Sec-Gen, Youth Awareness for Peace & Development

Guaranteed by:

Ibrahim Kamara (aka SHINE)

Vice Chairman, Youth Awareness for Peace & Development

Guaranteed by:

Alhaji Kamara (aka BODY&SOUL;)

PRO-I, Youth Awareness for Peace & Development

Guaranteed by:

Mohamed Koroma (aka TIMBERLAND)

PRO-II, Youth Awareness for Peace & Development

Guaranteed by:

Sulaiman Gomez (BEENIEMAN)

Chief Whip, Youth Awareness for Peace & Development

ALL SIGNATURES ABOVE DONE IN THE PRESENCE OF:

________________________________

Bai Mahmoud Bangura

Presidential Youth Aide at State House