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Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio Passionately Addresses Ministerial Retreat, Urges Cabinet to Correct and Recalibrate Actions for the National Agenda

Galliness Conference Hall, Bo City, Tuesday 21 May 2024 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has addressed ministers, deputies, permanent secretaries and other senior civil servants at the opening of a two-day Ministerial Retreat in Bo, where he urged his cabinet to try to correct and recalibrate their actions for the national agenda.

He described the session as timely and reminded them that the conference was for them to deliver on the promises that his government had made to the people of Sierra Leone.

Speaking on the theme: “Deepening Coordination, Collaboration for Accelerated Service Delivery,” the President reminded members of his government that “it is also an opportunity for us to speak hard truths to each other, to allow us to correct and recalibrate our actions to advance the national agenda within the limited timeframe that we have. This is the essence of this retreat”.

He urged them to know and to bear in mind that the weight of the responsibility they owe to Sierra Leone was great, pointing out that ministers, deputies, and other senior civil servants were called to serve on a contract that “must be fulfilled at all costs”.

President Bio also stated that during his first term, his government had been able to change the landscape for women and their participation in politics and in the economic sphere. He noted the gains made in foundational education for children and the enhancement of democratic space but acknowledged that “it is not enough”.

“I put this team together because I cannot do this work alone, and I am counting on each of you here to step up. We are in a time of great difficulty, both economically and socially, and the expectations of our people are very high. But unfortunately, my observation is that some team members seem to be going silo, with little dynamism, in solving the extremely complex problems that we are faced with. We must show that commitment to drive change. And this must start today, and now.

“Honorable Vice President, Chief Minister, and Ministers assembled here; we must have a candid conversation about our responsibility to deliver on the ‘Big Five Game Changers’. I want to let you know that the time for excuses and exaggerated narration of problems has ended. Whenever you start to narrate the problems, please make sure you already have a solution.

“I have not lost sight of what I promised the people of Sierra Leone, and you can certainly not afford to lose sight of it either. Be reminded that ‘Salone for betteh, na only we go do wam.’ So, you have to play your part with unwavering commitment and dogged determination in the face of great adversity; that is what it takes to lead in a context like ours,” President Bio reiterated.

The President outlined that the glue that held teams and groups together was tolerance, respect, mutuality, trust, and equality, stressing how he had been observing and receiving reports about hostile relationships between some ministers and their deputies and administrative and professional heads.

President Bio outrightly said that the Minister and Deputy are a pair that he put together to work on a ministerial mandate, noting that, as a team, he put them together based on the fact that individuals could not deliver the portfolios.

He acknowledged that, while the buck might stop with the minister, he expected an effective minister to delegate tasks and provide direction, motivation, and an enabling environment for his or her team to work effectively.

“No one can do this job alone. Ministers must seek to cultivate a culture of team planning, ensure proper delegation, reduce bureaucratic red tape, break compartmentalisation in the workplace, and set ambitious but achievable targets to ensure timely delivery.”

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