The Freetown City Council (FCC) has provided another 40 tricycles to improve waste collection in Freetown. The 40 tricycles were handed over to youth groups to build on the gains made by the Waste Management Micro Entreprises Program.
In January this year, Freetown was chosen as 1 of 5 cities from low-middle income countries that have been granted the Global Cities Fund by the Mayors Migration Council.
The Global Cities Fund for Inclusive Pandemic Response is an initiative to respond to the unmet needs of cities as they support migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people during Covid-19 pandemic. In Freetown, the grant will provide direct financial and technical support over one year to help youths from informal communities set up 40 new waste collection businesses to provide this indispensable service to new households.
50% of the cost of the tricycle will be paid by the youth group as part of the loan repayment scheme and an “Osusu” scheme will be created for the maintenance of the tricycles. The Program will also facilitate and mentor youth groups on business development.
This ambitious program directly contributes to the council`s target to have at least 60% of solid waste collected and safely disposed of by 2022. More importantly, it helps us create jobs at a time when COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges for many young people that have migrated to Freetown from rural areas. The FCC will continue to work tirelessly to make Freetown a cleaner city, and to transform the lives of some of our most vulnerable residents!
Information Minister Addresses at Presidential Media Cocktail
At the just concluded presidential cocktail Mohamed Rado Swarray addresses journalists and highlights government achievement since 2018.Below is the speech of the Information minister.
Please permit me to congratulate the Statehouse Press Secretary Yusuf Keketorma Sandy and his able team for successfully organising this third edition of the Media Cocktail.
There is no doubt that the Media Cocktail has become a proud tradition of this Statehouse. It is now a hallmark of Your Excellency’s presidency.
I am very delighted to be here tonight, to wine and dine with my colleagues of the Fourth Estate. It is not often that media practitioners are in this light-hearted mood when they meet with those of us in government. It is not often that we get the opportunity to banter, backslap, laugh and poke fun into the vagaries of life.
Yet, as cheerful as we all are today, let us not gloss over a few pertinent media-related issues. And I would like to focus on the future of journalism as we know it, its associated business models, and the continuing relevance of the profession to national development, especially in this age of the 4th industrial revolution.
Your Excellency, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have a very good backdrop for journalistic practise, which is that the media under President Julius Maada Bio has enjoyed more freedom, more engagement, more access to government information and more support than under any other leader since independence.
But I have also said, and I will repeat today, that with more freedom comes greater responsibility. As the saying goes: To whom much is given, much is expected.
The emphasis on media responsibility or accountability is not a contrivance of His Excellency’s government; it is a clarion call that is anchored in the principle of ethical universalism. In other words, the truth is the truth; we cannot call it anything else. Conversely, what is a lie in Matotoka, Sierra Leone is a lie in Managua, Nicaragua.
The acclaimed Nigerian storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, expounded on this Universalist underpinnings of facts-based journalism some time ago when she charged journalists to: “Change the media, make it about truth, not about entertainment, not about profit-making, but about truth.”
She added: “And while you’re doing it, be astute about when you need balance and when you don’t. Because sometimes seeking balance gets in the way of telling the truth. If you’re reporting about the sun rising in the east, you do not need to hear the other side because there’s no real other side.”
Your Excellency, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Indeed, we do have several the-sun-rising-in-the-east narratives about President Bio’s administration. I am talking about accomplishments that are cast in stone and whose positive impacts do not and should not lend themselves to any political or intellectual debate.
Let me mention a few of those media-related achievements.
1. President Bio repealed the Criminal Libel law because of his strong political will and conviction about the role of the media in national development.
2. President Bio institutionalized the payment of subventions to SLAJ, in fulfillment of a commitment enshrined in the manifesto he ran on for president.
3. President Bio is the only president in living memory to calendarize a media cocktail every year. That is the reason we are here today. In addition, he has personally visited radio and TV stations to be interviewed.
4. Under President Bio, journalists are now paid salaries and making social security contributions. These contributions provide much-needed security in old age or in the event of death.
5. The country’s rating has improved considerably on all global media rankings.
6. Sierra Leone has won global acclaim and has been admitted as the fifth African member of the Global Media Freedom Coalition, which serves as an inspiration to other countries to imbibe the values of press freedom and free speech.
I could go on and on. These are truths. There is no other side to them.
I must acknowledge that SLAJ rightly bestowed on President Bio the Champion of Media Freedom award during their fiftieth-anniversary celebrations earlier this year. I commend SLAJ for that recognition.
Your Excellency, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The media is at a crossroads. Editors and other media owners now face a stark choice: innovate or die. Newspaper, radio and television audiences continue to dwindle as people seek alternative sources of information. As you well know, anyone with a mobile phone is now a “journalist.” Sadly, the more outrageous the content churned out these days the more engagements such contents receive.
Statistics show that about 87 percent of our population are connected by mobile voice and about 27 percent are connected to various social media platforms where many now prefer to consume information.
Getting the eyes and ears of people is now a challenge as well as an opportunity. I would like to see the Sierra Leonean media latch on to the opportunity, using innovative approaches. I want to see you compete in that space, neutralize the peddlers of fake news, and provide for your audiences rich alternative platforms for accessing factual information.
Your Excellency, last month, we had the second Annual Media Retreat in Bo, which brought together over 200 journalists and civil society leaders. That forum provided a unique opportunity for many journalists and civil society leaders, especially those in the provinces, to interact for the first time with some of my colleagues.
At that retreat, we reviewed the progress made by your administration in the last three-and-half years in delivering on the commitments in the New Direction manifesto. There was generous information sharing followed by robust debates on key development issues.
I am pleased to report that by their very admission, the journalists and civil society leaders who participated in the retreat left Bo better informed about government activities, more appreciative of the challenges that the country faces, enthused by the ongoing progress in the country and with hope rekindled of the possibilities of our beloved country.
Truth be told, since the Bo retreat, we have witnessed an increased media coverage of the development strides of this administration. And to that I say: Long may it continue!
Permit me, Your Excellency, to share with my colleagues in the media space here tonight your recent directive that I hold such media engagements on a quarterly and rotational basis starting next year. I wish to assure Your Excellency: consider it done.
Like other directives you have given me in the past, this one will be implemented with uncommon efficiency.
In addition, Your Excellency’s very successful media blitz in Freetown last December triggered unrelenting requests by provincial journalists for a similar experience in their regions. I lend my voice to those requests.
With Your Excellency’s permission, I intend to coordinate with the State House Press Secretary for such presidential interaction during your future visits to the regions. I believe that the opportunity to hear from the proverbial horse’s mouth will democratize government information throughout the nooks and crannies of Sierra Leone.
Your Excellency, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we celebrate the extension of the frontiers of press freedom and the deepening of the culture of responsible free speech, it is with regret that I inform you of a few instances of partisan bickering impeding progress.
For example, not long ago, a presentation of a cash award and media equipment to a group of student journalists at St. Francis Secondary School in Makeni, Northern Sierra Leone, was aborted because the award was dubbed “President Julius Maada Bio Award for Media Excellence.” It was during the 63rd-anniversary celebration of the school.
You can imagine how disappointed the students felt, the letdown experienced by Abu Bakar Bah, our press attaché in Saudi Arabia, who donated the equipment and cash.
That incident was painful insofar as it undermines our resolve as Sierra Leoneans to be on the same development bandwagon.
The man after whom the award was named, President Maada Bio, is neither the president of a region nor the chairman of a political party. He is the President of Sierra Leone. He is our leader—all of us—the fountain of honour entrusted by Sierra Leoneans to pilot the affairs of our country.
I have a message for those who quashed that event: Stop playing politics with the lives of especially the young people. Stop playing politics with the destiny of Sierra Leone. I challenge the OMFA members here present and SLAJ to investigate this matter and expose those behind the incident.
Your Excellency, in your last address to Parliament, you promised an investment conference for the media. In fact, holding such a conference was a key tenet of your advocacy during the libel law repeals process, given that a free press will attract private-sector investment.
I am pleased to inform you that we have actively engaged SLAJ and other partners and have already designed a programme for the conference. We expect funding for it before the end of the year.
Similarly, the funding for support to community radio stations is being processed. This is another good news and underscores Your Excellency’s exemplary—and now customary—talk-and-do leadership style.
Let me end by saying that I have enjoyed our partnership with the media. We sometimes disagree without being disagreeable. We appreciate each other’s work and our collective sense of purpose because, let’s be frank, Sierra Leone is the only country we can truly call ours.
As we match toward greatness, we have no choice but to work together, hand-in-hand, under Your Excellency’s able leadership.
I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. And please don’t forget to register for the midterm census.
Minister of Planning Launches Inaugural DDCC Meeting in Kambia
The Minister of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), Dr. Francis Kai-Kai has launched the inaugural meeting of the District Development Coordination Committee (DDCC) in Kambia District.
The setting up/reactivation/strengthening of the DDCC meetings are geared towards addressing the development issues, help shape the delivery process in the districts and act as a coordinating platform for development communication that enhances service delivery with the structures already set up in Pujehun, Bonthe, Karene and Falaba, Kailahun, Tonkolili, Moyamba and Western Area Rural Districts.
The Deputy Chairman, Kambia District Council, Mohamed Suma, in his statement, commended the Ministry for initiating the DDCC’s. He said the committees would revitalize the essence of development in the district, where they should actually be anchored.
Mr Suma registered the Council’s commitment in taking the process forward and ensuring the meetings are held at all times. He called on the district stakeholders to fully participate in the process in order to achieve the required results.
Representing the Council of Paramount Chiefs, PC Alimamy Sorie II, expressed his delight at the initiative, noting that the structure would strengthen the development landscape in Kambia and promote transparency and accountability in service delivery, especially at the Kambia District Council. He affirmed the Paramount Chiefs’ support in achieving the President Bio-led agenda.
Minister Kai-Kai, in his address, recognized the role played by every stakeholder in Kambia District, especially the Paramount Chiefs, who are respected figures in their localities. He said the essence of the DDCC was to support the implementation of the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP 2019-2023) with a call to strengthen development coordination frameworks across all sixteen (16) districts.
“The DDCC Meetings should be represented by every stakeholder in the district, so that people would ask questions and know what is happening in their localities and where. If President Bio’s vision is going to be translated to the ground, we need to organize ourselves at district level, it is not enough to sit in Freetown and plan for any district in Sierra Leone. So, therefore we have to ensure we bring this process down to the district and allow the people to be involved in their own district planning processes”, said Dr. Kai-Kai.
He said the DDCC would address the problems of duplication, service delivery overlap and uncoordinated development interventions in the districts.
Dr. Kai-Kai expressed government’s appreciation to all partners, especially UNICEF for supporting the process from the pilot phases to the roll-out phases, adding that the Ministry through the national DDCC secretariat would continue to provide robust oversight and technical backstopping to enhance the operations of DDCCs in the district.
IMC completes validated media code of practice
The Independent Media Commission (IMC) on Wednesday 15th December 2021 presented the validated Media Code of Practice for Print and Electronic Media to the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, at the Ministry’s Conference Hall, 8th Floor, Youyi Building, Freetown.
In a meeting attended by cross section of Commissioners and staff of the IMC and the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Executive Secretary, Khalil Kallon, gave an overview of the processes involved in the drafting of the document. He said the validated document came about as a result of the need to have a Media Code of Practice that will stand the test of time following the repeal of Part V of the Public Order Act, 1965, and the enactment of the IMC Act 2020. He informed the minister that the draft document is an outcome of series of consultations and validations involving media practitioners, civil society organizations and other stakeholders from across all sixteen districts in Sierra Leone.
Taking the Minister through the draft document, the lead facilitator, Dr. Francis Sowa, informed the Minister that unlike the Media Code of Practice 2007, which comprises five areas, including Advertising, the validated Media Code of Practice is limited to the print and electronic media. He said the new additions were mostly on definitions of certain terms and codes on character assassination, invasion of privacy, threats, abuse and indecency.
The Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, registered his profound appreciation to the Commission for the draft Code which had addressed gaps in the current Code. He noted that he is aware of the fact that a lot of efforts have been put together in drafting the document; noting that he was going to the take his time to read through the document and take the necessary actions. Minister Rahman Swaray lauded the efforts of IMC, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) and other stakeholders for putting together such a sensitive document, and the BBC Media Action PRIMED Project for the financial support.
The meeting was climaxed by the presentation of the document to the Minister by the Executive Secretary of the Independent Media Commission, Khalil Kallon.
ACC convicts former special assistant to ex-president
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), has secured a conviction against SHEKA SAHID KAMARA, former Special Assistant to ex-President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and former Secretary of the Hajj Coordinating Committee, on two counts of corruption offences bordering on Misappropriation of Public Funds, contrary to Section 36 of the Anti-Corruption Act No.12 of 2008.
The High Court of Sierra Leone, Holden at Freetown, and presided over by the HONORABLE JUSTICE REGINALD S. FYNN, JA found the 1st accused, SHEKA SAHID KAMARA, who is also a resident of HS3 Hill Station, Freetown, guilty on counts 4 and 7, Misappropriation of Public Funds, and sentenced him to three (3) years imprisonment on each count to run concurrently.
The public could recall that an indictment was filed against 6 persons; SHEKA SAHID KAMARA; VICTOR BOCKARIE FOH, former Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone; MINKAILU MANSARAY, former Minister of Mines and Marine Resources; MOHAMED ALIE BAH, former Minister of State in the Office of the Vice President; IBRAHIM FACKEH CONTEH, Community Worker; and ABU BAKARR CAREW, former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs in August 2018 on Eight (8) counts indictment related to the 2018 annual Pilgrimage to the Muslim Holy Land of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, dubbed the ‘HAJJ GATE’.
The second, fourth and sixth accused; VICTOR BOCKARIE FOH, IBRAHIM FACKEH CONTEH and ABU BAKARR CAREW respectively, were acquitted and discharged.
The Commission wishes to advise all trustees who are in control of public resources to refrain from misappropriating such resources, as it continues to vigorously pursue prosecution of offenders.