Statement by HE Ambassador Bangali on Sierra Leone’s 51st Independence Anniversary
Statement by HE Ambassador Andrew G Bangali (in photo) at a reception marking the 51st Independence Anniversary Celebrations Friday 27 April, 2012
Last year on this same date, we celebrated fifty years of Independence and that Golden Jubilee was marked by a number of activities organized by the staff of the Embassy and the Sierra Leonean Community in Ethiopia at which the members of the International Community and friends of Sierra Leone fully participated and for which we convey our profound appreciation. During his Address to the nation also last year on that auspicious occasion, His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma enjoined all Sierra Leoneans to, inter alia, take a critical look at the elapsed 50 years of our country’s history with a view to effecting meaningful and productive changes in the direction Sierra Leone should and must take in the next fifty years in such areas as economic emancipation and self-sustainability, social development, Education, i.e. making requisite changes in the curricula for schools, colleges and other higher institutions of learning to ensure that graduates and Diploma or Certificate holders from those institutions are employable or can engage in self-employment; in other words, there is a need for aligning our learning environment with our labour market needs; health and the provision of more affordable health services to the indigenes of the country, like the current free medical services to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five years of age; politics and the strengthening of multi-party democracy, devoid of violence etc.Your Excellencies, Fellow Sierra Leoneans, Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen,
In order to establish a sustainable culture in the body politics of Sierra Leone and how things will be done in the next fifty years of our country. His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has introduced the following six major elements under his Agenda for Change vision which have the potential of building a new and middle income country; the first is evidence based leadership whereby he has set such a high standard of presidential leadership that his successors will be hard pressed to emulate; the second is the Attitudinal and Behavioral Change initiative whereby Sierra Leoneans are called upon and urged to change their everyday behavior and attitude for the improvement of the country; the third is Proactive Citizenry whereby he has bestowed on every Sierra Leonean the role of Public Monitor, thus obligating us all in the effective participation in the governance of the country through his transparent Open Government Initiative; the fourth is the Private Sector Development Policy through which the country has attracted huge foreign direct investments from which Sierra Leone has benefitted tremendously and will continue to do so in the future; the fifty is performance based patriotism through which H.E. the President has introduced a mantra that “challenges every Sierra Leonean now and in the future to prove their individual worth through performance contracting”; in this vein, such state owned enterprises, regulatory agencies and local government bodies as the National Power Authority (NPA), the National Revenue Authority (NRA), the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), the National Commission for Social Action (NACSA); the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO), the Makeni City Council and many others have signed performance contracts with Government and are busy implementing their contracts; the sixth is a “proactive and deliberate engagement of the Diaspora” which is responsible for huge remittances and job creation in the country.Your Excellencies, Fellow Sierra Leoneans, Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen,
Upon assuming power in September, 2007, His Excellency President Koroma made a number of pronouncements and gave undertakings to make changes in the living conditions of the Sierra Leonean by improving on the educational system, the health service delivery system, the energy supply particularly to the capital Freetown and its environs and subsequently to the whole country, infrastructural and economic development, human rights, gender equality, women’s empowerment, national and international peacekeeping and a host of other areas with demanding attention. It is now crystal clear that the priority areas for his vision were not vague promises or words to hoodwink the people of Sierra Leone and the international community but sincere promises that are now actualized, as evidenced by tangible results on the ground. In the last three years, for example, electricity supply in Freetown and its environs have improved remarkably. Tremendous strides have also been made in the area of Agriculture and Government remains committed to the Maputo Declaration of allocating 10% of the national budget to Agriculture. Concrete measures have been taken and a number of viable programmes have been put in place to encourage farmers to move from subsistence farming to commercial farming and this has taken sway in the country.
To ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment, women have been given prominent positions in government viz Cabinet Ministers, the Chief Justice, the Master and Registrar, the Solicitor-General, Supreme and High Court Judges,
Ambassadors and the latest addition is the post of Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the first time a woman is holding that position in the history of Sierra Leone’s Foreign Service. In addition, His Excellency the President has allotted to the Sierra Leonean women 30% of all governance positions in the country.
In terms of international peacekeeping, Sierra Leone has been involved in peacekeeping operations in the Republic of Sudan, especially in the Darfur area by providing Military and Police personnel as well as civilian functionaries. Sierra Leone has also signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with the African Union for the provision of a Battalion of Military personnel for deployment in Somalia; that deployment is scheduled to take place in June this year.
Distinguished Guests, the ability to move people, goods and machinery is integral to economic development. This gives credence to the fact that the President’s turnaround in infrastructure is a catalyst for development. To that end, the government has embarked on ambitious nationwide road building programmes, the first in our country’s history, connecting major cities as well as neighboring countries. Enviable strides have also been made in the area of good governance which is a sine qua non for peace, stability and overall development for every nation.
Recently, during the APRM Review process, Sierra Leone again took a centre stage when the President was highly commended for his exemplary action in submitting his country for Peer Review in an election year, especially before elections. This is indeed a manifestation of his selfless and unflinching commitment to promoting good governance and accountability, thus respecting alternative political views. The review also recognized remarkable
strides made by his government in the area of poverty eradication, which was commended by other heads of States and the current Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Jean Ping.Distinguished Guests,
Corruption has been a major problem to socio-economic growth in Sierra Leone but the last couple of years have witnessed some dramatic progress in the fight against corruption. By empowering the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) through granting it prosecutorial powers, the fight against corruption has recorded major successes with the successful prosecution of Government Ministers, Senior Civil Servants and private individuals. Also, the exemplary and unprecedented declaration of personal assets by H.E. the President, Ministers, Parliamentarians and Public Officers has brought the fight against corruption to a higher level and H.E. the President must be commended for his very strong stance on this matter.Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen,
On the 12th of November, 2011, the Chief Electoral Commissioner and Chairperson of the National Electoral Commission declared the 17th November, 2012 as the day for the conduct of Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Sierra Leone. In order to ensure peaceful and transparent elections, the President recommended the Biometric Voter Registration System which process started on the 23rd January, 2012. This system of registration is a novelty in our West African sub region and this is a manifestation of H.E. the President’s commitment to genuine democratization process where the voice of every legitimate voter is heard. It also gives credence to the fact that the forthcoming elections will be the greatest test of Sierra Leone’s transition to a peaceful and democratic Country.
The Biometric Voter Registration was introduced to uphold the principle of “one
person, one vote”, by seeking to avoid duplicated registration. Its successful completion nationwide at the end of March 2012 shows the commitment of Sierra Leoneans to uphold the fundamental principles of Democracy.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, as we celebrate this memorable event, let us do so as patriotic Sierra Leoneans with practical commitment to build upon these achievements and commit ourselves to sustaining our pledge to our nation. We should not stop at saying that ours is one of the most religiously tolerant countries in the world; we should also continue to assert the bonds of friendship between Muslims and Christians. Let us bear in mind that the development of our country is not about political parties or big positions; it is about dedicated service to the cause of Sierra Leone. Let us all be reminded that it is Sierra Leone that wins when elections are conducted in a peaceful and democratic manner.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, I wish to seize this opportunity to thank the Government and People of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for sustaining strong diplomatic relationship with our country, for over 41 years when our first Ambassador presented his Credentials. It is my Government’s desire to see a further improvement in our bi-lateral relationships in such areas as trade, tourism, transportation network and education, since both countries cooperate very effectively at all multilateral fora.
May I now request all of you to raise your glasses in a toast to the health and well being of H.E. The President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, his Government and all the People of Sierra Leone as we celebrate our 51st Independence Anniversary.
May I similarly request you to drink lustily to the health and wellbeing of the President His Excellency Ato. Girma Wolde-Giorgis, the Prime Minister, His Excellency Ato. Meles Zenawi, the Government and People of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,
May I also request you to observe a minute silence for the repose of the souls of the mother of His Excellency Chris Pepani, Ambassador of South Africa who passed away this morning and the mother of Ambassador John Nthakwana, former Ambassador of Botswana now working with the AUC who passed away a couple of days ago.
I thank you all for your attention.
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