VP Sam-Sumana takes Open Government Initiative to Sierra Leoneans in Italy
After his successful meeting with potential Italian Investors in both Milan and Rome respectively, Vice President, Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana took time-off to meet with Sierra Leoneans in both cities and presented them a succinct picture of the government’s achievements since assuming power in September 2007. (Photo: From L-R: Brima Bangura (President of the Sierra Leone Community in Rome), VP Sam Sumana and Ambassador Jongopie Stevens (Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Germany)
The VP touched on all sectors including electricity, road network, education, agriculture, marine, tourism, mining and health amidst intermittent applauses from the audience.
At the end of the VP’s address, Sierra Leoneans and even non-Sierra Leoneans took the opportunity to ask as many questions as possible.
One Mrs. Aminata Fullah and a Mr. Bundu who are apparently descendants of Port Loko, questioned the Vice President on why the Rogbere/Pamalap Road, a project that was started and abandoned by the former ruling SLPP but now reawakened by the development oriented ruling APC government had to skip Port Loko town.
In response, the Vice President said that is a practical example of a government with no focus neither a direction. The money for the road which was provided by the International donor community was squandered by the then SLPP government which led to the contractors to abandon the project.
He disclosed that because of the confidence the donor community has on the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma, they agreed to continue the sponsorship for the completion of the road. The same story could also be said of the Lumley/Tokeh and the Masiaka/Bo roads.
The Vice President however assured his audience that even though the main road did not go through Port Loko town, but all the major roads in the township and all other district headquarter towns will be rehabilitated. He added that the decision of the contractors to skip the main township of Port Loko could also be a blessing in disguise for the expansion of the town. “If you decide to build a house now in Port Loko after your sojourn in Italy, you might just decide to construct it along the new road, in this way the town will continue to expand”, he said jokingly amidst laughter.
An 18 year old Sierra Leonean lady who gave her name as Millicent asked the efforts the government is applying to attract tourists, since according to her, tourism is one of the main sources of income of the Italian government.
Responding, the General Manager of the National Tourist Board, Cecil J. Williams who is part of the VP’s delegation, gave a vivid picture on the government’s efforts to revive the tourism industry which he said is gradually picking up as two renown international airlines, Air France and KLM have indicated their desire to start flying to Sierra Leone in March next year. “With these two airlines coming to operation in Sierra Leone, it will cut down on the cost of air tickets to Sierra Leone hence more tourists will be encouraged to visit the country”, Williams added.
An apparently SLPP stooge who gave his name as Massaquoi, asked the Vice President to respond on the allegations by the SLPP Chairman, John Benjamin on the corruption allegations against the current APC government.
Responding in a cool and calculated manner, the Vice President gave a retrospect on the reports submitted to the President after the completion of the work of the Presidential Task Force set up by the President upon his assumption of office in 2007 to look into the activities of the past SLPP government.
“What was discovered in some ministries is appalling to say the least. We decided as a government not to start looking back but to forge ahead. Since our coming to power, we have not arrested any political opponent for either their utterances or past activities. We are a focused government. We are in a hurry to develop our country. This is why we are not involved in pettiness. We’ve never engaged ourselves in cheap politics. Our government has enacted the toughest Anti Corruption laws in Africa with total freedom to prosecute any corrupt individual with no exception. If any individual has any strong evidence of corruption against any member of our government, let that individual bring it forward and present the facts to the Anti-Corruption and see if no action is taken. But for you to just sit in your office and make sweeping statements that the government is corrupt, smells mischievous and tantamount to cheap politics”, the VP told his audience amidst thunderous applaud.
The President of the Nigerian Community in Rome who also attended the meeting, praised the Vice President for the initiative of meeting his people to explain to them about the happenings in Sierra Leone. “I really admire your courage to meet your fellow citizens in the Diaspora to tell them what the government is doing. This is the first time I have witnessed such in Italy for the past 20 years I have been here. When some of our African leaders visit here, they are only and always with the big ones up there. But you came down to meet the ordinary Sierra Leonean. This is great”, he stated and presented a calendar of the executive of the Nigerian Community in Rome to the Vice President.
By Chernor Ojuku Sesay, Rome, Italy
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