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A call to action- reelect the ‘world’s best’

A call to action- reelect the ‘world’s best’

We barely have less than a week to reelecting President Koroma. This is after years of preparation and after years of hard work by a performing governing with a leader crowned ‘world’s best by the country’s youthful population.  (Photo: John Pa Baimba Sesay, IA, China)

 We have come a long way. We have made several successes in a range of areas, including, but not limited to health, agriculture, and infrastructure, the fight against corruption, in the area of job creation for the youths, in rebranding the image of Sierra Leone both from within and out of the country. We also have done a lot in changing the media landscape in the country, taking into account the tremendous progress that the once state broadcaster, SLBS has been making when it was transformed into a public broadcaster-SLBC by this government. This was a great political decision taken by this President, the ‘world’s best’, just as he did in allowing the ACC with prosecutorial powers.

 In agriculture, we were able, as a country in 2008 to launch the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI) which was in fulfillment of the SLARI Act of 2007 with a renowned scientist from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) as Director General .We also as a country ensured, an increase in budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector from a trifling 1.6% in 2007 to an encouraging 10% in 2010. And because of the seriousness with which government took agriculture in Sierra Leone, the President and his Minister of Agriculture were appointed Champion Head of State and Minister of Agriculture in Africa, respectively. As a result, both the quantity and value of our agricultural export commodities continue to increase, especially so for cocoa where exports US$2.2m in 2006, to US$4.5m in 2007 and to US$9.5m in 2008.  In five years, the Koroma Presidency prioritized the Smallholder Commercialization Programme (SCP) as the investment plan to kick-start the National Sustainable Agricultural Development Programme (NSADP) for the period 2010 – 2014.   The SCP is today supporting the Smallholder Farmers to move from subsistence to commercial farming – “farm for business” – and to connect them to markets. It was in this regard that today, Sierra Leone has  improved planting materials by securing  machinery, equipment and required agricultural enhancing peripherals, including, but not ,limited to 210 power tillers; 201 rice threshers; 266 rice cutters; 200 rice mills; 161 cassava-grating machines.  Also under the Koroma  ma leadership in five years, a landing craft that can move 12 tractors along the coastline of Kambia, Port Loko, Moyamba, Bonthe and Pujehun and two speed boats with a combined capacity of 36 persons was secured,  150 Agricultural Business Centres (ABCs) to house the agro-processing facilities (mentioned above) were  constructed .

In five years and as part of government’s effort to improve farmers’ access to financial services, we saw the construction of Financial Services Associations (FSAs or Village Banks) in the Eastern Districts of Kenema, Kailahun and Kono, as this is also ongoing in other part of the country.  Practically, the country has today attracted private agricultural investments from international companies to include the following: Addax Bio-energy promoting ethanol and electricity production through the development of a sugar plantation; Gold Tree rehabilitating the oil palm plantation in the Daru area; Socfinco promoting oil palm in Pujehun District; Arul producing, processing and packaging rice in Moyamba District; and Africa Felix producing fruit juice concentrates in Koya in the Western Area

On private sector development, we have seen the provision of technical assistance to the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau by Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) which has enabled it to perform its duty in respect of Standards Quality Management Systems. Also, the Rural and Private Sector Development Project has provided technical assistance to the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau to improve the efficiency along the value chain of selected agricultural commodities, strengthening market linkages along the value change (producer, exporter) amongst others. Below is a list of ongoing projects and their expected dates of completion. In five years, we have seen an enhanced Integrity Framework (EIF) established to enhance Sierra Leone’s capacity to formulate and implement trade policies. In five years, Sierra Leone is today attracting huge investment in the mineral, marine and agriculture sectors.

On the political platform, we have been able to maintain a strong political environment wherein, we did not get any political prisoner, no execution was done, those in death row committed to death sentence and most importantly, in five years the rights of people were protected. Also, a culture of rights was strengthened and the social rights of vulnerable women and children promoted through the Free Health Care Initiative. In five year, we saw the creation of  the Open Government Initiative ,as  a way of making provision for an independent and free voice for the citizenry of the country, with  a focus of increasing accountability and transparency amongst the three branches of government by enhancing the visibility of these institutions, and fostering a two-way communications.

In five years, the fisheries sector has been given attention. Prior to 2007, the sector was as chaotic as the way governance was inherited by President Koroma. There were little or no proper implementation strategies and no annual management plans for the sector.  Fisheries outstations were dysfunctional, and revenue collection was neither effective, nor properly coordinated. In the industrial sector, foreign operators dominated and did whatever they wanted – as there was no control. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing was a huge problem within the fisheries and marine resources sector.

Five years after, the story is a different one. President Koroma has focused his attention on the proper governance of the resource and its sustainable use. In line with the governance aspect of the sector, a review process of the governance system of the resource was done and a participatory governance (co-management) model involving all stakeholders in the sector was introduced.  The government has also ensured there are the needed management tools such as the ecosystem approach to fisheries, which took into account the human dimensions of fisheries and the impact of fishing on marine ecosystem, have been introduced and implemented in various communities across the country. A  clear and functional units such as the Policy and Planning Unit; Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Unit and the Commercial Fishery Unit  have been created by this government which are aimed at ensuring, among other things, proper governance; reduction in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and addition of value to the fisheries.

We achieved all of these in five years. Given that we are bound to achieve more, under the leadership of President Koroma, there is a call to national action by reelecting him this Saturday. Vote for him if you think he has worked and delivered. Vote for him if he has met your expectations, vote for him if you are today feeling the impact of the infrastructural development, vote for him if you think he can do more and more… this is a national responsibility. Vote and reelect the ‘world’s best’. A call to action.

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