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HomeGlobalView Point: Pres. Koroma, Zainab Bangura, I.B. Kargbo Deserve Commendation

View Point: Pres. Koroma, Zainab Bangura, I.B. Kargbo Deserve Commendation

View Point: Pres. Koroma, Zainab Bangura, I.B. Kargbo Deserve Commendation

In an earlier article, I gave a brief account about the Embassy of Sierra Leone in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since its establishment in the late 1970’s. My focus in that article was generally on the names of the Ambassadors who had the privilege to represent our nation in the Middle East and particularly the meaningful contributions made by His Excellency, Ambassador Umaru Bond Wurie. (Photo: Ibrahim-Sillah, author)

This time around, I want to shed some glowing light on the performance of another patriotic official whose posting to the station has tremendously changed the image and direction of the Sierra Leone Embassy here in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

From my personal experience, patriots do not sing their praises, and neither do they honk their horns to draw people’s attention to their deeds. Rather, it is their performances that truly speak volumes of what they are, what principles they strive to put in place for others to emulate, and, above all, what legacy they stand to bequeath to their compatriots and off springs so that, in the final analysis, meaningful changes and decorum can be the norm of the day.

This is the kind of message that true lovers of their country usually deliver through their performances. This patriot is the Sierra Leone Press Attaché to this region, Alhaji Jalloh. Prior to Mr. Jalloh’s posting in 2009, very little was known to the world as regards the significance and functions of our Embassy in Saudi Arabia.

Alhaji Jalloh, Information Attache, Sierra Leone Embassy, Riyadh

Shortly after his tenure of office, Mr.  Jalloh effectively embarked on his mission by defining and identifying the areas of national interest related to his functions. In a very short period of time, Sierra Leone nationals in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States were overwhelmed visa-a-vis the expertise and professionalism that he displayed. It was no wonder that he became the talk of the town as  one of the officials who has come to join the hard working Ambassador, H.E Wusu Munu and his team to gloriously give  a face-lift to the embassy.  Alhaji Jalloh was able to create communication channels and contacts with most of his compatriots all over the Kingdom and the Gulf States in keeping them abreast with significant events pertaining to Sierra Leone and Sierra Leone nationals in the Diaspora as they unfold.

On the national arena, the Information Attaché has been able to sell Sierra Leone to the Governments and citizens of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. He has done this on a number of occasions. In an economic forum organized and hosted by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) and the Gulf Research Center (GRC), last year, Mr. Jalloh was privileged to take the podium on behalf of his Ambassador and the Sierra Leone Mission to address over 400 investors, academics, economists, decision -makers and experts.

On that occasion, he took the opportunity to educate and update the audience about the “New” Sierra Leone under the wise leadership of His Excellency, President Ernest Bai Koroma.  He was able to convince his audience and potential investors that Sierra Leone was no longer that war-tainted country as presumed by people; rather, it is now a stable and democratic nation with investment opportunities. He made it abundantly clear that the current Government of Sierra Leone is willing and well-prepared to warmly welcome investors and that all security and legal measures have been put in place to protect investors from doing businesses in Sierra Leone.

Locally, shortly after his arrival in the Kingdom, Alhaji Jalloh, as a press man, realized how vital it was to establish good rapport with the local press. Thus, he made every effort to have a good relationship with the most widely read papers locally; papers like: The Saudi Gazette, Arab News, Saudi Press Agency, Al- Riyadh, to name a few. As a matter of fact, he is now an occasional columnist in some of these papers. His primary objective is to re-brand Sierra Leone to the Saudis in order to change the image of that war-affected country into a secure and vibrant country with abundant investment opportunities.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a strategic key player in the world economy, one can see the wisdom and rationale behind Alhaji Jalloh’s impressive initiative.  And, thank God, his move has already started to pay dividends. It won’t be too long when Sierra Leone would start witnessing potential investors from this part of the world pouring into the country as a result of the Press Attaché’s strategic re-branding of our beloved country.

I believe every Sierra Leone national is conscious of the fact that Sierra Leone, with its God-given natural resources, does not have to be a permanent recipient of aid money. It is high time Sierra Leone stood by both its human and natural resources, and this can best be done by encouraging investors to the country. This is the kind of job our Press Attaché has been effectively and efficiently doing since his posting to this economically vital region.

It is an incontestable fact that activities of the annual pilgrimage over the years had never received full comprehensive coverage as it happened in 2009. Thanks to the enormous and selfless efforts exerted by the Embassy.  Those who followed up the sequence of activities of the Sierra Leone pilgrims last year from the day they arrived in Saudi Arabia until the moment they departed after the completion of their Hajj rituals were indeed remarkably thrilled and overwhelmed by the wide coverage and timely reporting of events by the Information Bureau of the Embassy as they unfolded.

Haja Zainab Bangura

A number of high ranking Government officials, including Haja Zainab Bangura, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation, Alhaji Dauda Sulaiman Kamara, Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development, Haja Jenneh Kandeh, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, to name but a few had the opportunity to perform last year’s pilgrimage. These high level Sierra Leonean officials were guests of the Saudi Royal Protocol and were accommodated at the Jeddah Royal Conference Palace Guest House, a zone under normal circumstances that cannot be penetrated by reporters.

The Embassy’s detailed oriented Press Attaché, Alhaji Jalloh was amongst the few pressmen who were allowed to meet some officials to conduct interviews with them. That privilege helped Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad to be well informed about the welfare of their state officials, including other pilgrims who were here to perform the Fifth pillar of Islam (Hajj).

Notwithstanding the location of majority of the Sierra Leone pilgrims at different holy sites, the Embassy made sure that they monitored the conditions of the various groups of pilgrims as they were commuting here and there to ensure that they were given a first-hand report about the pilgrims.

Those who have had the privilege to perform Hajj definitely know how demanding it was to move around amid a congregation of three million or more pilgrims composed of a wide range of nationalities, all assembling in the same vast areas of Mina and Arafat. Despite all the complexities, our Embassy was able to perform its duties accordingly and satisfactorily.

Their coverage of last year’s pilgrimage was not only unprecedented, but was also splendid in terms of quality and accuracy of the reports they sent to both the domestic and international press.

Like me, I also believe, the Press Attaché is highly appreciated by H.E. Ambassador Munu, his staff and most of the Sierra Leone nationals here.  His posting here is considered a blessing and a pride for Sierra Leone.

Based on all the above, I think Sierra Leoneans both at home and abroad should commend and appreciate the APC Government under the wise leadership of our President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma for dispatching Information Attachés to some of our Missions like UK, US, UN, EU, AU, ECOWAS, MRU and here in Saudi where we have the OIC headquarters. I think these are strategic areas in the world which requires representation.

That explains exactly why Ernest Koroma and some of his ministers also deserve accolade for nominating these Attaches to some of the most important Organizations/Countries around the world.

Alhaji IB Kargbo

Therefore, my letter would not come to a conclusion without extending the same gratitude to these ministers – Honourable  Ibrahim Ben. Kargbo, the Minister of Information, his former Deputy, Mohamed Daudis Koroma, (now deputy health minister) and Hon. Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Foreign Affairs Minister for their  recommendations  to assign Press Attaches at the Sierra Leone Embassies around the world.

The appointments of these ladies and gentlemen have significantly created a strong impression about the way Sierra Leone is perceived internationally. At this point in time, it is very important to put some mechanism in place that could change the war-torn image of Sierra Leone – a rebranding strategy that is being currently pursued by our entire Press Attaches.

The world should know that Sierra Leone, under the wise leadership of H.E., President Ernest Bai Koroma, is now a country that is enjoying the hard-fought delicious fruits of peace, security, and stability. The people and government of Sierra Leone deserve to know the good works of their Embassies abroad and those unsung heroes who never made headlines on our national front pages.

by Professor Ibrahim Yousuf Sillah

The author is a former president of the Sierra Leone Nationals’ Union, Lecturer at King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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  • I live in al Riyadh and I am in Riyadh newspaper editor and thank you for this wonderful site Regards Riyadh

    14th October 2010
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    30th August 2010

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