Speaking over 98.1 Democracy Radio on Wednesday, 29th September, 2021, the Chairman and Leader of the National Grand Coalition, Dr. Denis Bright accused the ruling SLPP Government of behaving like a cartel that is grabbing every important entity to use to its advantage.
He maintained that since the SLPP of President Bio came to power they have been busy making inroads into viable and credible public institutions like the ACC, the NRA, ASSL and several others all in a bidto get these institutions to do their bidding like a lap dog.
He warned however that posterity will judge them because there will come a day when the people of this country will decide that enough is enough and vote them out of power.
He mentioned that the creation of the CoPPP is not to divert the attention of the people from the real burning issues affecting the livelihood of the economy but to serve as a pressure that would articulate and press forward issues that are for the general good which the current SLPP government is neglecting.
S/Leonean Elites/US Embassy Should Pay Reparations for Mudslide Tragedy
By J. Hunter Lovine, Rocky Mountain Institute, Colorado, US (1992)
“The problems that we face are complex. Our need is not for simplistic solutions. One of the ingredients or survival, therefore, is flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity, and creativity in facing issues that will unfold. Our need is not so much for specialists (valuable though they can be in providing particular pieces of the puzzle), but, for generalists, who can see the interconnected-
Over the past twenty something years, I have used the above quotation about a hundred times in my writings – especially in my professional growing-up years as a fulltime environmentalist in Liberia and Nigeria. I jumped into the then brewing hurricane of environmentalism as a “Generalist” – being the brain/Executive Secretary of the Save My Future Conservation Society (SAMFU) in Liberia in 1987. SAMFU had to compete for international-
Sourced funds with largely the Conservation for the Society of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) – whose membership at that time comprised of mainly professional European and American expatriates, and Liberian elite in diverse forms of environmentalism; including an avid bird watcher, the British Ambassador to Liberia in 1989, H.E. Michael Gore, who was the SCNL’s Vice Chairman of SAMFU got sponsorship from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-
Internationally, the German Forestry Mission to Liberia collaborated with the Forestry Development Authority of the Republic of Liberia…to produce and publish GREENLOVE magazine in 1989. I was the Editor of the GREENLOVE magazine. In unprecedented cartoon stories I had written (and cartoons done by Liberian cartoon genius, Ronnie Siakor). GREENLOVE magazine showed how issues of the environment are connected to everything else – from creation myth, Poro Society traditional schools to biblical truths, politics to erotic love story… Let’s step out of that time machine of history (In my recent articles on the mudslide disaster, I keep on making references to my history in environmentalism deliberately, so that some narrow-minded elite here would not think I am targeting them for vilification) to …That August 14, 2017, mudslide that buried in mud over 500 people….
Thou shalt not make them into forgettable statistics
On September 8, 2017, as I continued in my quest to unravel the mudslide tragedy, I met with Gibril Sesay (popularly known as “Gibo”) in the Mortema area of Regent. Gibo, born on February 2, 1986, at Lungi Town, Kaffu Bullom chiefdom, Port Loko District, is presently in charge of News at Universal Radio FM 98.7, located at “IMATT”, not too far from the mudslide catastrophe. Gibo, who had built a house in the valley where the mudslide rushed down, was one of the survivors – but, he said his 14 year old daughter, Messeh, who was Head Girl of the Sayo Elementary School in the area, was hit by a rock in the avalanche. She died!! Eleven other people in Gibo’s household survived the mudslide tribulation. “It was God that got so many of us to survive. I know many of my neighbours whose entire families were wiped out by the mudslide – some with 16 people in one household”, Gibo said, his 31 years old face solemn, trauma racking his bearded features, not a smile reaching his face in the over one hour I interviewed him, and as he took our video camera man down rocky paths to show us where his house used to be.
Gibo said that at about 4:00 a.m. that fateful morning, one of his adult brothers woke up all the other adults in his household, saying, “This type of heavy rain…we should not be sleeping”. Then, about two hours after, “We just saw ourselves covered in mud”, Gibo said. Two of his infant children had to be dragged out of the mud. They were taken to Connaught Hospital downtown, where they were admitted for about a week; his entire family of wife and children have been relocated to the Don Bosco Fambul Home on Fort Street. His brothers and their families who were with him are now homeless. He had a kiosk close to his home – all the goods he would sell daily in the kiosk were carried away by the mud. He has still not been registered by the government or the relief agencies. “There were probably less than fifty survivors of that disaster; now, there appeared to be hundreds being registered; with some of us the real survivors left out…”, Gibo moaned.
I have started collecting stories such as Gibo’s. My aim? To ‘bring to life the mudslide deceased’ and to turn a spotlight on the survivors – to let them not be buried in the Graveyard of Statistics. There has always been the propensity of Sierra Leoneans to shed profuse tears over victims of national calamities. Then, forget them. I hope to let Sierra Leoneans know that the issue of environmental degradation in Freetown (and around the country) is not just going to disappear because too many of the governing elite bury their heads in the sand, or insulate themselves from harsh national realities in their affluent ghettoes that are largely side-by-side the literal slums of the Freetown poor. The mudslide tragedy is a harbinger!! This time, the elite who own houses in the Regent mountain area above the Green Line should be made to legally pay reparations for ravaging the forests, and, ‘aiding and abetting’ in the deaths of the over 500 people in the mudslide; and, henceforth, be made to pay regular ‘green taxes’ – for massive reforestation; and, preventative actions on the forests remaining. This is a political issue – and politicians and political parties that do not make it part of their agenda will be punished by the electorate. It’s also a moral imperative!!
Churches & Mosques Urged to Combat Damage to the Environment
The frenzied drumming and dancing that is typical in our churches in Sierra Leone today is energy that should be harnessed and directed towards environmentalism; for after all, the first and second of Jesus’ Greatest Commandments – “To love thy Lord thy God with all your heart and with all thy soul.”
“To love your neighbour as you love yourself” – is implicitly about man living in harmony with God’s laws as in nature; and showing compassion to one’s neighbour. If about a thousand rich people chop down the forests in our mountains that help with water getting down to about two million people in Freetown; if forests that prevent landslides and mudslides are destroyed… that is a perfect example of non-Christian love. Over 75% of the verses in the Quran touch on extolling nature; and also, the Justice which is insisted on in Islam intrinsically means Environmental Justice. Christians and Muslims in living up to their creeds have to get intense with environmentalism in Sierra Leone.
Construction of US Embassy at Regent was ‘Worst Environmental Crime
The construction of the US Embassy in Freetown was an Environmental Crime. It is above the legal ‘Green Line’ of Sierra Leone. They used slash-and-burn method to clear the rich tropical rainforests of the area to construct their huge grayish formidable structure. That is not the way to construct buildings in tropical rainforest mountains. The construction of the US Embassy at Regent ‘opened the road’ for locals to move into the area to construct their expensive concrete homes – so much so that today their houses almost clinging to the US Embassy are touching each other, with no vegetation in between.
The US Embassy’s devastation of the environment at Regent is dramatically differently from what the British government did in developing their military advisory mission buildings, “IMMAT”, close to the US Embassy. The British’s IMMAT is a model of how to manage tropical forests when constructing on a mountain – they have left intact nearly all the huge trees, and bushes, clearing only the exact spots they constructed their buildings. Civil society and religious groups should develop a case against the United States government for the reckless destruction of these tropical rainforests, and for giving the cue for others to destroy the forests – including making them accessories in the death of over 500 people in the recent mudslide. That is just the beginning of what could be a series of Environmental Crime cases against the US government, the apparent principal culprit for Climate Change
Deepening Sierra Leone’s Democracy: Prospects and Challenges
By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, President of SLAJ
I ask, what does it take His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio to drive to Makeni into the compound of former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to have a chat?
Both presidents have been there before and so they have knowledge about deep seated national challenges that are stagnating this nation. So there’s a lot they can talk about in the interest of the people of this country. They can discuss the potential for an Ex-Presidents Club, which will make them relevant and useful to national cohesion and development after the presidency. This can be factored into the current constitutional reform discussions. I ask again, why is former President Ernest Bai Koroma conducting himself like he is an opposition President?
I further ask, why did President Bio not attend the opening of the New City Hall? To achieve political national cohesion and peace we need our presidents current and former to participate at levels of our democracy.
Alpha Wurie, Others Discuss Higher Education Needs’ Assessment Report
By Bampia James Bundu, Strategic Communications Unit – MIC
Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, has launched the Needs Assessment Study Report on Higher Education Institutions in Sierra Leone done by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), in the Great Hall of the Milton Margai Technical University, Goderich Campus.
Giving a background to the report, the Chairman Tertiary Education Commission, Professor Aliyageen Mohamed Alghali, explained that the Needs Assessment Study on Higher Education Institutions in Sierra Leone is the first of series of documents to be published by the TEC on the status and needs of higher education institutions in the country. The institutions captured in the report, according to him, include both public and private universities, polytechnics and teacher training colleges accredited by the TEC. Prof. Alghali said the report was the result of holistic, painstaking collection and recording of data provided by survey participants in various accredited Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and on-site verification visits by TEC staff under his supervision.
“The study is evidence-based, graphic and in some cases grim,” he pointed out, adding that the key indicators are good governance, financial sustainability, staff and programmes quality, relevance of academic programmes, parity of esteem community services and effectiveness and efficiency of the service delivery system. He expressed thanks and appreciations to the dedicated and hardworking team who worked with him throughout, stating that the recommendations are in line with national and international benchmarks as well as the AU Agenda 2063 titled ‘The Africa We Want’.
Launching the report, the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, thanked the TEC for taking the bold step in evaluating and assessing the needs of public and private institutions across the country.
He maintained that the over 400 pages survey report would now help TEC to identify the strengths, weaknesses, skills and competency gaps in public and private universities nationwide.
The Minister recalled during the war in 1991 to 1996 upon the country’s return to democratic rule when the then government had a 40 or more million dollars support from the World Bank and the African Development Bank to uplift Sierra Leone to a basic operational level with focus mainly on primary and junior schools dubbed the Sababu Education Project.
He lamented that much input has not been made to higher education in the country, saying the launch of the report will help give life to it.
Professor Wurie informed that the TEC was created in 2001 with clear mandate to advise government on issues that have to do with tertiary institutions and also to ensure that there is quality assurance in Higher Institutions.
He noted that the Commission has been in existence for almost 20 years, describing the report as timely and one that will stand the test of time.
The Minister asked his audience to go through the recommendations and come out with solid action points.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Finance, the Deputy Director of Budget Madam Ilara Mahdi, described the report as timely more so when the Ministry of Finance is preparing the FY 2022 budget.
She assured the TEC of the ministry’s continued commitment towards providing enough resources to the education sector and informed that ove the past three years the Ministry of Finance has been able to meet its target by providing 21% of the country’s budget to education, noting that by 2022 the ministry will be providing 22% budgetary support to education.
This, she went on, is in fulfilment of His Excellency’s commitment towards human capital development.
Statements were also made by the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, the World Bank Country Manager, Head of EU Delegation in Sierra Leone, Embassy of Ireland, GIZ Country Director, among others.
UN Country Migration of Issues in its Core Work
By Alfred Fornah
On the 22nd September, 2021, participants from UN Agencies in Sierra Leone gathered for a training on how to integrate migration into the Common Country Analysis (CCA) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF).
The training covered sessions with an in-depth overview on Migration Governance, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals’ Agenda, Migration and the Common Country Analysis and the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework and Financing & funding the SDGs.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator (RC) in Sierra Leone, Mr. Babatunde Ahonsi, in his statement noted the importance of setting up the UN Network on Migration in Sierra Leone and also emphasized the relevance of migration to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 which he said cannot be achieved without due consideration of migrants and mobility; as a cross-cutting issue, migration is relevant to all the 17 SDGs, he noted.
The RC also explained that the inclusion of migration in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) present a momentous opportunity for the UN Country Team (UNCT) to systematically integrate migration into all relevant areas and stages of their work, in alignment with and as part of the implementation of these two frameworks.
IOM Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms. Sophie Nonnenmacher, who facilitated the training said, “When we have a global and regional architecture like the UN Migration Network, the country network serves as a critical element in the set of tools. Therefore, the network in-country team can be a driving force to create more impacts”. She added that the network also gives UN Agencies an entry point to help the Government of Sierra Leone address migration-related issues and implement the GCM objectives.
Tanzila Sankoh represented the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at the training. According to her, the exercise was timely and very useful especially at this time when the Common Country Analysis is being reviewed. “Migration-related issues should be well captured and detailed in the CCA and the Cooperation Framework. It is necessary to even add migration into specific areas including the outputs and outcomes components of the framework”, she added. The UN Network on Migration, established by the UN Secretary-General in 2018, has been tasked with ensuring coordinated UN system-wide support to States in implementing the GCM. In Sierra Leone, the National UN Network on Migration was launched on 1st June 2021, to facilitate effective, timely and coordinated UN system-wide support to Sierra Leone on migration governance
S/Leone Ambassador to Belgium Engages EEAS
By Betty Milton , Information Attache Belgium
The Sierra Leone Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, Kingdom of Netherlands, France, Greece, Dutch-of Luxemburg, Vatican and European Union, Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa has met with Mr. Richard Young, Head of West Africa Division of the European Union External Action Services (EEAS).
The meeting was held at the EEAS Building in Schuman, Brussels.
In his remarks, Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa thanked Mr. Richard Young, Head of Division, and his team for accepting the Embassy’s request for a meeting.
He stated further that the meeting is geared towards establishing a direct link with the EEAS and to inform the team about some of the transformations taking place in Sierra Leone, noting the opportunities and challenges and possibility of intensifying cooperation.
The Ambassador noted the importance to connect with the Department directly as to exchange ideas and build relationships and the need for the two sides to continue their collaboration to help Sierra Leone.
Ambassador Musa also stated that as Mr. Richard Young has toured and worked a lot in Africa, and that he must be familiar with the situations in the continent; further revealing that Sierra Leone has achieved a lot of transformation through partnership with the European Union.
The issues raised by the Sierra Leone Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa included the EU-SL Cooperation, the MIP and current pipeline, digitalization- building scientific and technological capacity, Green Deal Operationalization, Infrastructure Support, Investment Plans and the Schengen Visa from the EEAS.
Sierra Leone’s Ambassador highlighted some of the achievements made by the Government as it has removed the Death Penalty from the law books and has also repealed the Libel Law which was an impediment to the practice of journalism in Sierra Leone.
In the area of peace, he stressed: “the Government has set upa Peace Commission following a peace conference involving key stakeholders including all political parties and civil society for the consolidation of peace in the country”.
The government he added has rolled out Free Quality Education and developed a digitalization strategy and is further committed to reinforcing the support for the digital technologies and services such as access to education, health and governance.
He further revealed that the government is deepening decentralization and has revised the Sexual Offences Act; set up the Sexual Offences Court and is at an advanced stage with the Gender Empowerment Bill.
On the issue of the Schengen Visa, he said this remains a thorny issue in Sierra Leone as people have to travel out of Sierra Leone to be issued with visa. He asked that ways be explored to see how the EU could help facilitate the issuance of Schengen Visa in Freetown.
In his statement, Head of the EEAS West Africa Division, Mr. Richard Young expressed his satisfaction for the initiative taken by the Ambassador and his delegation. He commended the Government for the steps taken in the various areas highlighted by the Ambassador.
He noted that the Death Penalty is of concern to the EU given the challenges associated with situations where there are weak judicial systems, and where a person will not be given a second chance when once they have been sentenced so he appreciated the effort of the government.
He highlighted the priority areas for the EU including Human capital development, energy, education and the environment, which are being elaborated between the EU delegation and the government of Sierra Leone.
On the issue of the Schengen Visa, Mr. Young highlighted the challenges associated with the Schengen visa issue on the EU side. And that this issue he emphasized, requires careful dialogue.
The EEAS is the European Union’s diplomatic service. It helps the EU’s foreign affairs chief – the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – carry out the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Financial Secretary Hosts ICAI Review Team
The Financial Secretary Sahr L Jusu and the Team at the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday 28th September 2021 played host to a team from the International Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) on a review mission on the UK and World Bank’s International Development Association.
According to the Team Lead, Dr. Tamsyn Barton, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) is responsible to scrutinise the UK aid spending to ensure that the aid is effectively spent on those who need it most and delivers value for money for the UK taxpayers. She furthered that the International Development Association (IDA) is part of the World Bank Group and provides one of the most important multilateral channels for development assistance for the world’s poorest countries. Stating the UK has been the largest bilateral donor to the last two IDA replenishment for IDA18 (2018-2020) of 2.5 billion pounds and IDA19 committing another 2.5 billion pounds.
He continued that as a major donor to IDA, UK seeks to ensure that IDA’s operations are aligned to UK development priorities and that it makes the most effective use of its resources and that the World Bank continues to build its capacity as a development agency.
The purpose of the review is to assess the value for money of the United Kingdom’s contribution to IDA and the approach will include literature reviews, consultations, desk reviews among others.
Speaking to the team in his office, the Financial Secretary Sahr L. Jusu welcomed the team to Sierra Leone by stating that World Bank through the IDA has contributed a lot to the development of the country through funding of various projects and direct budget support.
He further said that the Bank has improved its interaction with countries through its decentralized approach with the country manager and country director staying at the same time one thereby increasing interaction and fast-tracking feedback and decision making.
In his statement, Alpha Sesay Team Lead at the Project Fiduciary Management Unit stated that the procurement portal system has been very instrumental in fast racking project procurement that has been a very big challenge over the years. He also stated that there has been a general increase in funding for various portfolios and diversified in various sectors.
Stating that Lots of emphases are been placed on safeguards on the environment and social issues, climate change equity, and inclusiveness. In his submission, Mathew Dinge Principal Deputy Financial Secretary stated that the Bank has eliminated the issues of counterpart funding which according to him has been problematic in project implementation especially infrastructure projects.
Climate Change and the Atlantic Slave Trade
In Nigeria in 1994, and in Sierra Leone in 1996, I developed projects that link the Atlantic Slave Trade…Sports… Climate Change – especially the destruction of the Tropical Rain Forests in West Africa.
The core of that idea is that the European/American THOUGHT of domination, greed, unbridled development that was rationalized in the Atlantic Slave Trade, the Industrial Revolution…created that THOUGHT of rapacious Capitalist consumerism which is principally responsible for Climate Change today. One of these projects in Freetown, titled “The Blind”, was sponsored by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1996, through Nigeria’s High Commission in Freetown, when H.E. Chedi M. Abubakarr was High Commissioner. At the end of the Atlantic Slave Trade, the largest number of freed slaves from the Americas to Africa were made to establish the town we know today as “Freetown”.
The mildly repentant British (apparently!!) gave the freed slaves the land on the mountains – like Regent, Leicester, Gloucester, Charlotte, etc. – to construct their new home. The Krios, survivors of the Protracted Holocaust of the Atlantic Slave Trade, have been pushed out (are now being pushed out) of what should be their ‘traditional lands’ in their mountain villages – pushed out by too many of the descendants of those who SOLD their forefathers into slavery. In the calamitous mudslide, the environment appears to be metaphysically fighting the cause of the Krios – just as with planet earth being buffeted by caprices of Climate Change the environment has started waging a war on the descendants of those who enslaved Africans for over three centuries.
Instead of destroying the forests on the mountains of Freetown, we can conserve and preserve them, and use the history of the Krios to tap into the global Historical Tourism market – which will benefit all the citizenry of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone can also begin the process of using its unique history and geographical position to catalyze those thoughts that could help in saving humanity from the worst of Climate Change.
ANOTHER BATTLE FOR NEXT BEGINS
By Foday Jalloh
The Sierra Leone Police force currently under the leadership of IG Sovula, with many credible officers is now facing heated battle as to who will replace the current I.G. Sovulla, who is being supported by the Deputy IG Elizabeth Turay.
This institution is responsible for internal security and are doing their best to police the nation.
But leadership will end however good and vibrant that leadership is and there must be others around the corner to take over the reins from IG Sovula who is past retirement age and is expected to vacate that seat anytime now and could possibly be replaced by his current Deputy IG Elizabeth Turay.
Reports gathered by this medium, indicates that majority officers prefer a new Support Officer who is currently an AIG. People say a lot of good about him whenever he is out there to exhibit his police duties, even his relation with the general public. They describe him as a hard-working man who frowns at lawlessness, and practices free and fair justice, and seeks the interest of all whether poor or rich. This man is AIG Hanciles..
This man they say has a clean record and has served the force for over twenty years now.
SALONE TO GET PROPHECY COLLEGE
By Foday Jalloh
Sierra Leone will soon get a School of Prophecy, after decades of its existence around the world. This good gesture will be led by a young Sierra Leonean, Bishop Mathew Tamba Duwai.
In an interview with this medium he said that the School of Prophecy will start with an educational program that will be open to all religious persons.
He maintained that a seminar will be hosted in Freetown on the 10th October, 2021 and would last for five days.
Efforts are also being made by the New Day Ministerial Association Chapter formed in the United States by Apostle Paul Oxen who is a Black American to support this new school.
This five days’ seminar and revival will be held at the Eagle Chapel International at Old School, and people will learn about prophet-hood as there are many of them out there but they don’t know that they can prophesize, but now if they are trained and certified they will always be out there to deliver, with good conduct.
Bishop Dwai maintained that with the guest from Nigeria, Mummy Ochi who owns one of the biggest churches in Nigeria they will award certificates to participants after the seminar.