Campaigning on President Koroma’s record
Ni Hau? Did I get that right? (laughs). This is one of the two Chinese words I have been taught upon arrival in Beijing. The other I can’t recall vividly. O yes, my first few days were literally terrible for me, since I only can speak English. I wanted to make payment for something. No way, the lady can’t understand what I was saying, likewise myself, not understanding Chinese. The intervention of a Sierra Leone friend helped I saving my day. Did you ask me about their currency? It is of great value, I tell you. My experience for now is this- I want to buy something, I first will have to ask for the equivalent in dollars and then I covert same into Leones. Allow me to inform you that the Embassy Staff have been of great deal to me. The Acting Head ofMission, Paul A. Minah and theMission’s Second Secretary, Dr. Kargbo have all been like elder brothers. The drivers are just too great. ‘No need to fear’, I have been saying to myself. What has been great also is the fact that the Secretary can speak fluent English just as she can, with Chinese. (Photo: John Baimba Sesay, Information Attache, China)
I arrived in Beijing, China on the 13th of December to commence my new assignment, given me by His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as Press Attaché in our Embassy in Beijing China. My departure from Sierra Leone was greeted with a positive feeling that we should as a country, in one way or the other contribute to the country’s socio-economic and political development. The Sierra Leone Mission in Beijing, China is covering nine countries, including Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Australia and Indonesia et el.
The diplomatic ties between China and Sierra Leone have been on for years and precisely since 1971. China, no doubt has been of great help to Sierra Leone in terms of completing a number of projects, “such as station for popularizing rice-cultivation techniques, road bridges, National Stadium, sugar complex, office building, hydropower station, power transmission and substation projects, civil housing…’ On the educational front, China had offered scholarship to 311 Sierra Leone students since 1976 (ttp://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-05/25/content_11434075.htm) Also, since China and Sierra Leone established diplomatic ties on July 29, 1971, China is reported to have invested “33.9 million U.S. dollars in the country and helped build more than 30 projects including hydropower stations, a national stadium, hospitals and government buildings.
China, found in the Asian continent, is an emerging world economic market and are second in the world, with reports that they are working very hard to catch up with the United States of America. You really can sense this in the life of the Chinese people who are always seen working and coming up with new ideas at any given opportunity. South Africa’s Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, is quoted by CHINAFRICA Magazine as saying that “…if China could teach us anything, it is in its excellent and enabling management of their state-owned enterprises, which has successfully supported the creation of a fiercely competitive and robust private sector…” This is the greatness of China and China, no doubt has been of tremendous help to Africa and Africans.
Taking into account the great things that China has continued to do in support of Sierra Leone’s development agenda, coupled with the President’s Agenda for Change, I came to realize that, I have a Herculean task, especially from the viewpoint of government’s rebranding efforts and my contribution therein. Sierra Leone had a destructive civil war which largely helped in undermining our development efforts. But with President Koroma as President of Sierra Leone, we are today in the process of repositioning ourselves in moving ahead with our development pans, ranging from energy and power, infrastructure, the fight against corruption and the provision of free medical facilities for children under five years and lactating mothers. And it therefore behooves all and sundry to be supportive of the President’s development plans. Politics, just as said recently by Victor Bockarie Foe, is not a matter of life and death. Sierra Leone is a small country, which should therefore mean, we must try to demonstrate great love for the country. The political campaign messages of then Opposition Leader, Ernest Koroma have not been ignored even when he has occupied the seat of the Presidency. He promised to improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans and that is what we are seeing today. His promises are now bee seen as great realities. There is therefore every need for the ruling APC party to start putting strategies in place, aimed at using the records of the President in asking for another political term in office.
Why would anyone try to discredit the peace we are today enjoying as a country just in the name of attaining political power? (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/12/sierra-leone-elections ). Power should be attained in a clean, transparent and acceptable manner and should not be at the detriment of a country’s future. Sierra Leone’s democratic credentials, under President Koroma could not be compared to any past leader of that country and it is therefore ridiculous when people make attempts to compareSierra Leone to other countries where democracy is not known.
In fact as a result of the outstanding work of President Koroma and his team of able government functionaries, we now witness a situation where people will complain a proposed budget cut in Heath Care for the 2012 budget (http://www.awoko.org/2011/12/19/free-health-care-beneficiaries-protest-proposed-budget-cut/). This has never been the case in Sierra Leone and in fact the introduction of the free health care scheme in Sierra Leone is a very novel idea in the West African sub region. Don’t be surprised if you see Cuban Doctors in Sierra Leone within the next two weeks as the head of the brigade has reportedly already arrived. The Awoko online newspaper of December 21st reported that Sierra Leone has signed a new agreement with the Nigerian government for another deployment of Nigerian medical personnel to the Districts in February 2012. (http://www.awoko.org/2011/12/20/health-ministry-introduces-performance-based-financing/) . This is a big boast for the country’s health sector under the President Koroma’s leadership. And it is a record that he is going to campaign on.
By ensuring an end to the trafficking of drugs in Sierra Leone with the introduction of stringent laws on illicit drug dealings in the country, President Koroma can today be applauded (http://news.sl/drwebsite/publish/article_200519405.shtml) for showing great and outstanding leadership in not just that direction, but for steering the mantle of political leadership in the country in the most acceptable way within the last four years of his rule. Unlike what we have seen as attempts by a selected few in tarnishing the image of the country, there is the urgent need for us to remain united and have continued to make tremendous progress as a people and country. If countries in Asia have today reached the apex of development, it has to do with the determination of their people, irrespective of one’s political beliefs or ideologies.
Our people outside of Sierra Leone are curious to know how President Koroma has transformed the country in terms of development and I have always informed them, that with President Koroma as President of the country, much is bound to happen and that the attention that President Koroma has given towards the fight against corruption, his determination to improve the lives of the average Sierra Leone through the provision of electricity, the infrastructural development now taking place with the opening of major roads in the country, the sky will surely be our limit.
Today, mining companies have seen Sierra Leone as a very business friendly environment. They have continued to help in fixing up our country’s development and even African Minerals Limited has had their first load of Tonkolili iron ore shipment in Sierra Leone (http://www.sierraexpressmedia.com/archives/31886). This in itself is a milestone in our socio-economic development as a post war country.
Never in the history of Sierra Leone has a serving President declared his assets as we saw in the person of President Ernest Bai Koroma. Sorie Fofana, a Sierra Leonean journalist based in Freetown wrote in The Global Times online newspaper that Ernest Bai Koroma is “one of the first and few African heads of state to openly declare his assets to the Anti Corruption Commission. The good thing is that Ernest Bai Koroma has set a standard that MUST be followed by anybody who takes over from him as President of this country.” (http://www.globaltimes-sl.org/manjoroka115.htm). This was solely done with the aim of demonstrating that with the political will on the part of a politician, mountains could be moved. Corruption at whatever level is unacceptable and it has the potential of destroying the future development of a country. The level at which the fight against corruption has been taken is just too commendable and it could be one of several reasons that President Koroma could be re-elected not office in 2012 by Sierra Leoneans. This is a record that President Koroma will campaign on.
But there is this other political issue – the visit by the Secretary General for the ruling APC party and another official, Leonard Koroma to China I must state that their activities in Beijing were political-being politicians, and they succeeded in scoring political marks, which will now even serve as an indicator, that the support base for President Koroma is not just strong in Freetown but there is one strong support base for him now in Asia, with the existence of the APC Asia Branch in China. I noticed this when Victor Foe and Leonard Logus Koroma were in Beijingto launch their party’s Asia Branch. Victor Bockarie Foe is, in my view, an astute politician. His introduction of the Krio slogan- ‘Baboon wait, monkey still dae wok’ meaning ‘ Monkey still working let Baboon wait’ was apt having explained the development strides that President Koroma has embarked upon, thus the need to give him another term. He was fact I assuring his party members that they are set to win the 2012 elections. He assured his party supporters of the growing unity within the party. This was received with thunderous applause as people really wanted to know whether their party is united ahead of the 2012 elections.
The smart appearance of Foe at the hall for the official launch of his party’s branch in Asia must have helped in getting more people into the fold of his party. He appeared red, very red and I could detect that his blood was seriously running red when he was admonishing his party supporters. Least I forget, the Asia Branch has demonstrated the highest level of commitment and readiness to support the re-election of President Koroma. But there was also Leonard Koroma who spent time, in educating people about the voter registration system that has been introduced- the Biometric system of registration.
Hon. Logus believes this system will create an enabling environment for the conduct of transparent and fraud free elections. He elaborated on the records they have to show as a party, which they will use to ask the people of Sierra Leone for a second term in office. He referred to the progress that has been made in the establishment of Agricultural Business Units across the country, the President’s record on infrastructure, his record on electricity “that is scattered everywhere in the country…” Newstime Africa was right in writing that in present day Sierra Leone “… performance exceeds all expectation…(http://www.newstimeafrica.com/archives/23594). What people should do in that direction is to come out in their number, when registration commences in January to ensure they register and then in November cast their votes for President Koroma if we want the present performance to keep going beyond expectations. But sure, there are some many records upon which President Koroma will campaign come 2012.
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