Mission accomplished, now to the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’!
There was a national mission that we needed to accomplish and that was the reelection of President Ernest Bai Koroma and the All Peoples Congress party. This was national mission/responsibility as a result of the transformational development that we saw in five years, following the election of President in 2007. (Photo: John Pa Baimba Sesay, IA, China)
Sixty months of achievements: In five years, Sierra Leone was turned around. The economy showed positive signs of growth. Freetown kept enjoying electricity generated from the Bumbuna Hydro Dam, supplemented with thermal plants at Blackhall Road and Kingtom, after years of darkness. In five years, the country’s service delivery was bettered and during this period, participatory politics was brought closer to Sierra Leoneans. In five years we got a youth commission, aimed at creating the needed space for mainstreaming issues affecting the young people into governance and national development processes. As a country, we achieved a lot in the area of road infrastructure. The Government of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma embarked on the largest road rehabilitation, reconstruction and construction ever in the history of this nation. What we saw was the resurfacing of the Makeni–Matotoka Highway and the Bo–Kenema Highway; we saw the completion of the Masiaka–Bo Highway; the rehabilitation of 600km of feeder roads in Port Loko, Kambia, Pujehun and Kenema Districts; rehabilitation of twenty five (25) km of selected streets in Freetown; rehabilitation of a combined total of 250km of streets in all of the 12 district headquarter towns and Lunsar township; and the reconstruction of the Freetown –Conakry Highway.
In agriculture, Sierra Leone was able to utilize the National Sustainable Agricultural Development plan, which still remains the platform for increasing agricultural productivity, promoting commercial agriculture through extension delivery systems and promoting efficient sector resource management. President Koroma gave a new and true meaning to agriculture, when in five years the Smallholder Commercialization Programme was used to construct 193 Agricultural Business Centres with at least one in every chiefdom, equipped with mini rice mills, cassava grating machines, drying floors and water sources to assist small farmers in processing, adding value and marketing their products. Through agriculture, we also saw how feeder roads were rehabilitated and village banks established to facilitate farmers‟ access to financial resources and services and today there has been tremendous increase in cultivation in inland swamps. So in five years, we achieved a lot in terms of sustaining our democratic credentials.
Elections 2012, Sierra Leone won: The reelection of President Koroma on the 17th of November is a win for all Sierra Leoneans. It is now time for us to come together, give our support to the new government and see what can again be achieved in the pending five years. I must congratulate us all for peaceful elections. The win by the President, especially in the south east shows he is a national leader and one that is loved and appreciated by every Sierra Leoneans. We must be proud of ourselves. The fact should be stated that during the electioneering process, we had series of challenges but we now should work as a team. Time or politics is over, the work should start now. The use of provocative images should now stop. It helps not in our push for national reconciliation, peace and harmony. And it also would make sense for Julius Bio to realize that he was defeated. Making public statements that tend to undermine the outcome of the results will also not help in terms of fostering national peace and reconciliation. Julius was defeated by over 20% and the margin is so wide that any attempt to cry foul will be met with the strongest of opposition by the general public, especially when international observers have commended us for the great outcome of the elections. President Koroma’s victory was obvious, because whilst some of us who are in love with the President, flew into the country and were in the provinces campaigning for him, those in love with Bio were out there in the Diaspora, writing and challenging us, but never had the zeal to come and make a case for their candidate. Whilst APC supporters and party Executive members were all over the country making a case for President Koroma, those from the other side were all over in Freetown, using a selected few radio stations, making false and fabricated stories about how the government spent billions of dollars to construct few kilometers of roads. Whilst President Koroma was moving all over the country, from Bonthe to Samu chiefdom, to Briamia and Tonko Limba chiefdoms, those from the other side never saw the need to do that. Rather, there were telling us of how they were going to ‘torment’ us with fabricated lies. So even as they were ‘tormenting’ the nation with false propaganda, the ‘world’s best’ entered the race and scored several goals. But he did that for all Sierra Leoneans. So Sierra Leone won by over 58%.That was our mission-reelecting President Koroma democratically and we accomplished that
An ‘Agenda for Prosperity’: The Agenda for Prosperity has brought another win for the country. The shift from an ‘Agenda for Change’, to an ‘Agenda for Prosperity’, speaks volume of the commitment by the government in fostering national development. Scaling up from an Agenda for Change to an Agenda for Prosperity is one positive development in our country’s quest for socio-economic and political growth. What we saw in five years tells us, with the next decade or so, with a determined leadership in the person of President Koroma, Sierra Leone will be among the rising tigers in the African continent. Key highlights of the Agenda for Prosperity ranged from, but not limited to the accomplishments by this government since September 2007, to his efforts made in bolstering the country’s economy, improving and expanding road infrastructure, expanding energy generation and distribution promoting job creation and self employment, scaling up agriculture and promoting trade and industry, amongst other. From a general perspective, I have no doubt that the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’, is as realistic and credible as the reelection of President Koroma and this should be accepted by all and sundry.
This document contains a lot in terms of plans for national development from the viewpoint of strengthening our macroeconomic and financial management, improving and expanding road infrastructure, expanding energy generation and distribution, promoting job creation and self employment, to scaling up agricultural productivity. In the area of agriculture, we all know that since 2007 the Koroma government identified agriculture as a top development priority. There was an increase in investment in the sector from a discouraging 1.6% in 2007 to almost 10% of GDP in 2011. Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, believed to be contributing about 46% to the GDP. The ‘Agenda for Prosperity’, according to the APC manifesto 2012, will be used to strengthen support to increase productivity and revitalize growth in the agriculture sector.
There are several challenges now facing the sector, like phasing out subsistence agriculture, motivating higher indigenous private sector investment in value addition, large scale agriculture and agro-marketing, opening up rural areas to increase access to market and services, increasing crop yields and reducing post-harvest losses and changing farmers‟ attitudes and perceptions towards farming as a business by adopting new skills and strategies to increase economic returns amongst others. It is therefore, the goal of the government to sustain promotion of commercial agriculture through the Smallholder Commercialization Programme, attracting private sector investment in large scale commercial agriculture, enhancing year-round cultivation of rice and vegetables through Inland valley Swamp development and irrigation, expanding support for mechanization and enhancing promotion of the agricultural value chain amongst others. There are strategies to be used in meeting these goals. The country will continue to provide investment incentives to the agricultural private sector including foreign direct investors. We also, as a country, will continue promoting efficient and effective resource management both human and material in the sector; provide Cash Reserves in order to help cope with food emergencies and natural disasters, to stabilize grain prices during price hikes. The country will also continue to expand the tractor hire purchase scheme and complement that with an effective hire scheme for poor farmers who cannot afford hire purchase, as well as expand research institutions to cater for all the sub-sectors and specialized thematic issues of the agricultural sector of Sierra Leone and amongst others.
In the area of promoting job creation and self employment, the government of President Dr, Ernest Bai Koroma remains committed to creating more prospects for citizens to be meaningfully engaged in livelihood activities. In the next five years, the county will do its best to re-establish/establish functioning career and employment advisory centres at district and regional levels including Western Area, establish a reliable unemployment tracking mechanism, raise awareness and increase focus on service industry skills acquisition and will encourage acquisition of skills in technology including modern auto mechanics, assembling and maintenance of mobile phones, computers, solar panels assembly and installation, installation of washing machines, dryers and cooling system. It is encouraging, therefore, that as contained in the APC manifesto 2012, the country will, in the next five years, be working towards enhancing national integrity and security, improving service delivery by strengthening the public and civil service, bolstering the economy by strengthening macroeconomic and financial management and maximizing and sustaining benefits from our natural resources by adding value to our forest resources. The country will continue to pursue sound policies and best practices to ensure proper and sustainable use of the forest resources.
So as we have maintained the trajectory, continue to be part of the process of taking Sierra Leone to her rightful position in world’s development.
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