Six Years in Power: Sierra Leoneans in the Arab Gulf States Give High Marks to President Koroma
Last week, I looked at the six-year rule of His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma – a rule that has brought unprecedented changes on the developmental landscape of Sierra Leone and reformation in good governance, economic governance and public financial management. (Photo: HE President Ernest Bai Koroma)
This week, it’s the turn of Sierra Leoneans living and working here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States. What do they make of their President’s six years in office? Has he made progress since he assumed power on Monday 17th September, 2007? Well, a good number of Sierra Leoneans here say their president deserves commendation and should be saluted with every pride for the series of developments he has so far realized for Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans. Below are their opinions published verbatim.
Sheikh Mohamed Bayorh: CEO/President of Alpha Capital International and Financial Advisor Royal Emirates Group in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The six years of H.E Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s rule and governorship of the Republic of Sierra Leone has brought unprecedented progress and development to our beloved Sierra Leone and of equal importance, the profound trust and confidence of the international community. Good governance is the catalyst for economic growth in which private and public sectors are able to thrive when world donors, organizations, and business people alike are able to have faith in the leadership of a country.
As a businessman based here in the Middle Eastern country of Dubai, UAE, it is refreshing and inspirational when one can speak highly of the leadership that is in place in our great country of Sierra Leone to prospective investors, along with the renewed business friendly environment of Sierra Leone. Government should continue to build on the successes it has had in re-branding itself in the Gulf Region by establishing further adequately represented missions in these strategic gulf countries.
Ismail Amin Tarawalie: Student, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt
Sierra Leone was the epitome for every negative description of failed nations and states until in recent years when one of the truest sons of our beloved nation assumed the mantle of power. The majority of Sierra Leoneans across the country and in the Diaspora strongly maintain that, under the leadership of the man in whose heart all the dreams for development and progress in Sierra Leone as a nation were sealed, Sierra Leone has made incredible achievements. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s assiduous work and relentless efforts to extract the country from the constricting trap of poverty in which it was diminishingly derailed by corrupt and self-centered politicians. The remarkable development our dear president has secured for our nation has brought us pride and esteem as Sierra Leoneans for the first time.
Today, Sierra Leoneans enjoy electricity in many big towns and cities, good road networks, free medical care for children and pregnant women, stable food prices, young learners are more encouraged than ever before as the environment for a better Sierra Leone whereby young graduates can easily obtain jobs has firmly been created under the leadership of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. The overwhelming testimony “The Pa don woke” on the immense development the President and his government have made is a common believe held by the absolute majority of our youth across all political classes the country over.
It is certain that visitors who had been to Sierra Leone before President Koroma took office easily notice the immense development made under his leadership. Lungi Airport is no longer an ordinary airfield as was the case before President Koroma became president. Our International Airport is today a highly standard international airport with adequate modern facilities. As every book has a title to attract its potential readers, so does the airport of every country. The smartness, high standards and elegance of a country’s international airport signals the economic strength of that country. This fact is mentioned in a book entitled “The Dark Continent I love” authored by a former Egyptian Ambassador, Saad El-Fatatiri, published in1881. “The airport is always the address, interface and banner of the country”, he stated.
I personally describe President Koroma’s leadership as the golden age of our nation. He has been able to put the country in the right direction for development. With the love and patriotism of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, we are confident that the country has something in store for the generations to come as the Green, White and Blue train for our nation’s development and progress has left the station. I equally exhort all Sierra Leoneans to exert maximum effort to proceed with the president’s progressive work to make Sierra Leone a better place to live in.
The Sierra Leone community in The Arab Republic of Egypt kindly requests the Sierra Leone Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Wusu B. Munu and his staff to extend its congratulatory message to H.E Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and his members of government for their remarkable performance over the past six years. Long live Sierra Leone, long live the President!!
Fuad Mahmoud Fofanah: Teacher and Administrator at AL-Ibdaa International School, Muscat, The Sultanate of Oman
All what I’ll write about our charismatic president “His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma”, is to thank him for his continuous efforts towards the development of our beloved country and his great contribution to bringing Sierra Leone into the forefront of development. Though I’m out of the country, but I’m always following the news about the country. His tight relationship with the outside world and their leaders is a sign of good leadership.
One good example was the visit of Prince Waleed Bin Talal, one of the Arab billionaires who visited Sierra Leone on Monday 10th June, which was done through the good leadership of the Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, H.E Wusu B. Munu and Staff. The Ambassador and some of his staff had paid a courtesy visit on Prince Waleed in order to strengthen both countries relationship. H.E Ibrahim Bakarr Kamara, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the State of Kuwait also deserves commendation for his splendid job in this region. These ambassadors are really supporting the President’s “Agenda for Prosperity.”
Alpha Umar Bah: Sierra Leonean Student, Qatar University
As a student based in Doha, in the State of Qatar, I have been following with keen interest the ongoing developments back home. It’s an open secret that President Koroma’s administration has achieved a lot in the areas of Infrastructure, Agriculture, Mining, Health, Tourism, Women’s Empowerment, Security, to name but a few during the last six years. These achievements within this period in office are indications that the APC Government is committed to sustainable development in the country.
One impressive thing about President Koroma is that he has the country at heart and, his vision for the country’s total transformation is unfettered. He only needs the people’s support, commitment and dedication to pursue his agenda for prosperity.
Alusine Bai Kanu, Chairman of Sierra Leonean Workers, Tanzifco Company, State of Kuwait
Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is the president who brings Sierra Leone on the world map once again by responding to the needs of the people. Freetown – the capital city of Sierra Leone used to be called the darkest city in the world but through the hard work of President Ernest Bai Koroma, the city and the major headquarter towns can now boast of about 70% electricity supply in the country. For decades, infrastructure has been one of our major thorny problems in Sierra Leone. But now we can boast of first class road constructions all over the country as well as State of the Art – buildings like the newly constructed Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office of National Security, National Elections Office, the solar lights as well as shopping Plazas all over major district headquarter towns and the newly commissioned International Airport at Mamamah. Agriculture has improved greatly across the country. The Government of President Koroma has supplied machineries, equipments, seedlings and micro credit to our farmers and citizens respectively. There has been tremendous improvement in agriculture productivity of our farmers as well as increase in export earnings. I sincerely believe President Koroma’s six years in governance has impacted positively to the development of Sierra Leone than any other former Head of State of our country so far.
Uthman M. Kargbo: President of the Sierra Leone Nationals’ Union, Saudi Arabia
Looking at the vision he has for Sierra Leone, President Koroma first assailed the dilapidated economy of Sierra Leone. He achieved by bringing back the economy of Sierra Leone to life as revenue generation has been at the heart of government policy to increase on the country’s potential as it drives through fiscal policies that will impact growth and reduce debt.
In the area of agriculture as one of his most top priority, the sector has seen an increase in budgetary allocation from paltry 1.6 percent in 2007 to 7.7 percent in 2009 and now stands at close to 10 percent. The president established the Small Holder Commercialization programme, he further provided planting materials and machinery to every district including power tillers, rice threshers and rice cutters, rice mills, drying floors, fertilizers, assorted livestock, packing, storage and input and output marketing outfits. He also provided 265 tractors and other agricultural machinery were bought and deployed all over the country. In continuation to the president’s achievements after his victory in 2007, he also took electricity as another top of his agenda. Expenditure on electricity projects increases from meager Le 483million in 2007 to 80billion in 2010. Immediately President Koroma assumed power in 2007, as a short term emergency measure to provide electricity to the capital of Freetown which was rated as the darkest city in the world, this was done in a period of ninety days. He also vigorously pursued the completion of Bumbuna Hydro Electric project; the project had been delayed for over twenty years. Bumbuna now generates 50mw of electricity in the country. In pursuance of electricity, his government also installed a 16.5 thermal plant at Black Hall Road in the east end of Freetown to further increase the supply of electricity in the capital.
The Government has also placed serious emphasis on revenue collection. The National Revenue Authority has been modernized to make it more effective and efficient. The president also throw his weight on the building blocks of democracy, the respect for the rule of law, freedom of speech, and religious tolerance have all now been enshrined into our way of life and has become the legacy of an outstanding leadership.
In December 19, 2012, President Koroma was awarded the Millennium Challenge Corporation MCC compact Award worth millions of dollars which he won at the end of last year. The award was given in recognition of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s Government record of good governance, economic freedom and investments on people. The MCC board has unanimously agreed that Sierra Leone has passed the test for compact due to the extraordinary achievements by president Koroma in the last few years. Under infrastructural development, when the president came to power in 2007, he gave great attention to the aspect of infrastructural development, the president has transformed the transportation network by designing and implementing the largest road construction plan in the history of Sierra Leone, new highways have already been completed between Masiaka and Bo, and Makeni and Matotoka. Over 780km of feeder roads all over the country are also being rehabilitated through the Rural and Private Sector Development project. The airport has also not been left out in this developmental strives of the president.
By 2007, our travelling system was in bad shape; our airport was below standard when compared to others within the sub region. Today under the dynamic leadership of president Koroma, the airport has got a face lift in terms of rehabilitation and now better than many airports in the sub region.
Another significant development is the area of Education, more schools have been built and a new university has been established in Makeni in the north. The relocation of Njala University to its original campus at Mokonde ; Moyamba District, and the refurbishment of the Magburaka Islamic College are all progress in the area of education.
With his exemplary leadership, he brought the Free Health Care Delivery for lactating mothers and children under -five. He further strengthens the fight against corruption in making Sierra Leone an investment friendly nation, thus being able to bring in more investors and investments in the country.
Dr. Sorie Gassama: Lecturer at the King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
During a recent short visit to Sierra Leone, I witnessed firsthand some of the accomplishments of His Excellency during his six years as President of the Republic. Before delving into things as they truly are, I must mention one fact, which is that there seems to be a colossal difference in the love the President embodies for his country to that of any of his predecessors of recent times.
The fact is that he has what I can quite simply describe as a “Big Heart.” It certainly is true that only “Big Hearts” engage in the grooming and manicuring of their countries as he is currently doing. At present, he can only be compared to Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, and Paul Kagame of Rwanda. His Excellences, Eduardo of Angola, and Paul of Rwanda are full proves that one must not let the past weigh you down. Seeing the progress both of those countries have made today, one can hardly believe that not long ago they were battlegrounds.
As I look up to these leaders as role models, I must give His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma the thumbs-up for embodying the same vision. What is more than improving one’s country to match those of our then colonial masters? Keep your house clean and good looking so others can visit you instead of you visiting others, because theirs is cleaner than yours.
Besides, it will go a long way to boost the life spans and self esteems of the people who put you in power. President Koroma’s reign has seen the return of power supply to Freetown, where ten years ago, you needed a torch to go buy you a loaf of bread at the local grocery itself powered by a Kerosene Lamp. The Wilkinson road thoroughfare has also become one of national pride. I took great pride in driving on it. The roads leading up-country have also been repaired thereby making commuting from Freetown to the provinces easier and faster than in the past.
The medical system has also seen a lot of improvement. Today, one can visit Connaught Hospital and see that patients are being cared for with medications readily available though at a price. This same hospital ten years ago was in a state of dilapidation. The Sierra Leone Police Force is also something worth commending. As it is at present, Sierra Leone has the most disciplined Police Force unlike any in Africa. Though it is to be agreed upon that former IG, Mr. Brima Acha Kamara was phenomenal in this respect; his successor IG Munu has also followed the footsteps of his predecessor.
In conclusion, considering his time in office the president deserves a lot of commendations for a job well done. He needs to remember though that as the captain, the ship’s safety depends on him. All successes are and failures are attributed to him. He must therefore take all precautions in monitoring his workforce if the ship’s safe sailing must continue. He is a good man, and I pray for his success.
Ibrahim Yousuf Sillah: Human Resource Department, King Saud University
True, six years in one’s lifespan is indeed a very short period of time; but in politics it is a whole lifetime. Leaders are often judged and assessed by what they achieve for their nations in their prescribed mandate, not by the number of years they may stay in power.
Objectively talking of President Koroma’s achievements since he occupied the highest office in the land in 2007, every Sierra Leonean, irrespective of political, regional, tribal and sectional affiliations, should be honest enough and upright to salute him with every pride for the series of developments he has so far realized for Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans. Making a flashback to the years preceding his tenure of office; one can definitely witness the gigantic and palpable changes he has made in our country in a number of sectors.
On the political arena, as far as modern history of Sierra Leone is concerned, the maturity, tolerance and good governance he has manifested are enough cause for him to be seen as a towering figure among his predecessors. Here is a president who is so cool in his comportment, so shrewd in his judgment, so concerned about the general welfare of his nation, and so calculated in his decisions. It is no hidden fact that his political maturity has apparently sent tremors to his political opponents’ nerves and rendered their political agendas asunder. For the first time we have seen an incumbent president helping his opponents to put their house in order so as so to maintain their political integrity, because he believes that, to achieve good governance in a democratic country, there has to be a strong political opposition that can objectively define the checks and balances. That, in itself, speaks volumes of his political astuteness.
Speaking of infrastructure, President Koroma has so far done a splendid job. The road network in the country is improving tremendously. The plan is to ensure that most of the intercity roads get fully constructed by the end of President Koroma’s tenure of office in 2017. That done, intercity travel will be immensely smooth; something would facilitate trade and business in many domains.
Although many would say that the much-talked-about-energy has not been sufficient enough to brighten the whole of Freetown; yet we should be cognizant of the fact that a lot of improvement has taken place in this regard. And we should also recall how ugly the power status was before President Koroma took over six years ago. This is just to name but a few among the many laurels he has accomplished for Sierra Leone.
Internationally, President Ernest Bai Koroma has made the international community respect and appreciates him for his democratic credentials. His ruling style has been most admirable. Suffice it to say that he is one among a few African leaders that the President of the United States of America, President Barrack Obama, holds in high esteem. This did not come out of vacuum; it was obviously the result of his political astuteness and his devotion to good governance.
Unisa Kanu: Chairman of the APC Saudi Arabia and Gulf States Chapter
It’s been six years since President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma took over office amidst clear signs the country was yearning for a total and systematic overhaul in its political hierarchy. In no uncertain terms, the country craved for a leadership that would usher in a new sense of direction and a subsequent change in fortunes. Indeed, it’s been six years since the exasperated citizenry of Sierra Leone courted fate and destiny in voting him into the highest office of the land, and today, as a nation, we have all come to acknowledge that the six years were not wasted years! Even members of the political class with differing convictions have come to admit that his vitality and tremendous zest for visionary politics stand out as his unique quality.
Political pundits have been left mesmerized by his expressive display of calm and maturity under criticism and under immense pressure – something that has culminated into a situation where there is still no political prisoner since he came to power. But that does not necessarily mean he is complacent when the state is threatened with frivolous comments or destabilizing mutiny. His swift response and reaction to matters of national security have been commended by all and sundry because they are commensurate with the duties and responsibilities of the Commander – In- Chief of the Armed Forces.
What we have seen over these six years under the Agenda for Change in terms of infrastructural development is awe-inspiring. Credit and accolades to President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, his dedicated team of Ministers and public servants.
Under the Agenda For Prosperity, we have full confidence that, after recent successful visits to the USA, Dubai, China and elsewhere, the expected goodies will precipitate a windfall of job opportunities, procure better and more equipped hospitals, result in improved public services, facilitate the professional training of more Sierra Leoneans in diversified disciplines, enhance the relocation of people in slums to a more healthy environment, among many. We will keep beaming with confidence because we have lived the reality of six remarkable years under President Ernest Bai Koroma. The remaining four more years of his second term will still leave us in high spirits of expectation!
Six years have passed, but not on a smooth sail. Like any other government of the day, there have been challenges and loads of issues that threatened to tear apart the fabric of the ruling government’s powerbase. Ministers, Public Administrators and government officials have all presented singular and plural challenges that left the government in difficult situations, but the Head of State had never disappointed in tackling issues head on, either by appointing a special commission to look into matters, or mandating the respective arm of state security personnel to handle public and social disorder. Our message remains categorically clear, and I’m sure it will resonate well across the land. We all as a nation will do everything humanly possible not to go back to those ill-fated days of coups and counter-coups that had left us with nothing but a broken state in dire strait – not only morally and financially bankrupt, but perceptively hopeless!
Reflective analysis have plainly indicated that, the most significant quality that has proven to have an immediate impact on the nationals abroad was President Koroma’s pent up initiative to rebrand the image of our country to the outside world. Though distant in location as I might have been, I can confidently claim that ‘Image’ and ‘Confidence’ must have been buzz words within his backroom staff while laying out the early details of his political vision. It has been translated into action when he boldly visited several African States to declare his capacity of protective governance for Sierra Leoneans through international diplomacy. Struggling Sierra Leoneans who had earlier fled the rebel war had the worth of their national pride restored from those visits.
In fact, some of those visits were to establish bilateral relations with other countries so that, apart from the search for business partners and technical know-how aimed at facilitating job creation back home, there was also the foresight to mutually regularize the status of nationals living inside sisterly countries. And indeed, he was to follow it up with the appointment of Press Attaches who were entrusted with the responsibility of engaging and sending a comprehensive feedback on the plight of Sierra Leoneans abroad.
Our country is renowned for its deep religious roots, thus, the struggles and devastation suffered during the rebel war had left us with no option but to continue to pray for a caring leader that would embody the lessons learnt from our past mistakes and remain guided by the blissful wisdom of our forefathers. Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to refer to President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as a product of prayers. Thus, if we can recall the way and manner in which the advantage of incumbency was made irrelevant during the elections that brought him to power – take into consideration his genuine efforts in trying to transform Sierra Leone into a prosperous nation – then one would want to keep praying for him to have a long life, as well as a long political life! No doubt, his extended political lifespan would bring more development to our country! There is enough evidence to the effect! The evidence is so overwhelming, one can even say the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) Party has got the special formula that unlocks leadership troubles in Sierra Leone.
Yet still, if politics is all about transforming a nation and its people into what we are fast becoming today compared to the lackluster life we had lived in the past, then we all wish the ruling APC party to rule for another countless number of years because any other option will not only reverse the gains we have made, but simply derail the gradually flourishing Agenda for Prosperity that we are sure to achieve. The resulting repercussions will seriously obstruct the thriving progressive momentum that we currently enjoy!
Isatu Sandy Demby : Secretary at a prestigious Riyadh School
During his six years in office, the President Koroma has done a lot in the area of national cohesion which I think is needed more than anything else in the country. If we are to continue with the ongoing development and transformation of the country, I think there is need for national unity.
I was impressed in 2008 when the president said in an interview that: “I believe I am president of the country and I have a responsibility to unify the country. I have a responsibility to let everybody develop a new concept of democracy, a new culture of democracy, and that is, you are not an enemy with anybody. You are just maybe opponents on political issues, but at the end of the day, we must present ourselves as Sierra Leoneans, united in the development of our country.”
And not only that, he is working hard to leave Sierra Leone very unified and peaceful by the time he retires in 2018.
Mohamed Sahid Badamasi: Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Students Union, Islamic University, Madinah and currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Islamic Jurisprudence
I left Sierra Leone for neighboring Guinea –Conakry and then to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since August 2009. Since then, I have been a regular 9-12 weeks holiday maker in the country -where my beloved family is living.
I share the opinion that all governments have something good to show for its stay in power, the questions are; how much each has to show for the duration spent, and at what rate? How much have each overcome natural obstacles to development? How much have each done or is doing to improve the living standard of the greater majority and not only for individuals who are connected to the powers that be?
In my personal opinion, President Koroma’s Government has done remarkably well in the areas of Agriculture, Health, Transport & Aviation , Infrastructure, Energy, to name but a few. He deserves commendation from all Sierra Leoneans, irrespective of political, regional, tribal and sectional affiliations.
Reports compiled by Alhaji M.B. Jalloh, Press Attaché, Saudi Arabia
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