Journalist Released from Jail

0
88

Ms. Fatu Koroma, the Head of the Millennium Challenge Coordination Unit (MCC), said Sierra Leone’s scores up in the MMC Financial Year 2019.

Fatu Ndeye Koroma, CEO, which functions from within the office of the Vice President, told pressmen at a briefing last week at the Ministry of Information and Communication, while sitting next to Mamadi Gobeh Kamara, the Deputy Minister, that the scorecard has shown Sierra Leone doing well for the second time in a row.

Ms. Koroma said, “This year’s scores have illustrated a progressive trend in the fight against Corruption in Sierra Leone with an 8% leap to 71% in FY2019.” She said that “there is a significant improvement on girl’s primary completion rate at 67.2%.”

Ms. Koroma said that the US Government has been using the scorecard to assess a range of indicators, such as good governance, economic freedom and justice, among others. “You will have noticed that Sierra Leone has only passed 9 in 20 on the scorecard.” Consistency is expected to be in for future gains for a Compact. 

Countries’ performances are adjudged on three broad categories: – ‘Economic Freedom,’ ‘Ruling Justly’ and ‘Investing in People.’ The scorecard update shows Sierra Leone with 11 red boxes. The IMF scored it low on Fiscal Policy and Inflation. The World Bank scored it low on Government Effectiveness. ENESCO and UNICEF low on Child Health, Immunization Rates, Access, Girls Primary Education Expenditures. Of these, Land Rights and Natural Resource Protection, Sierra Leone scored poorly.

Those ‘red boxes’ upon which the scorecard noted poor performances by this country were in sync with the low indicators highlighted by Stats SL on child health, immunization, education, and poverty. The MCC Scorecard began in 2004. But Sierra Leone’s relatively improved performance in the Lower Income Countries’ bracket in the nine areas passed has made it qualified for the US Government’s Assistance Program. It means that the question is asked, ‘whether Sierra Leone will be selected in December for a Compact by the MCC Board in the US?’ When Liberia got it, the Compact agreed to offer it $240m and Indonesia received a whopping $750m.

However, “The $44.4m threshold program would still be allocated by the American Government to fund financially viable enterprises, such as electricity and water supplies and also for unlocking private sector investment, which will be the engine for sustained economic development in Sierra Leone,” said Koroma.

The MCC, she said, is ‘working with EDSA and the Water Supply Agencies in providing them with financial supports to improve their service delivery in the country. Ms. Koroma told the presses that the $3.5m that was given to EDSA is to quickly help it with emergency on electricity faults across the country.’

Fatu Koroma in a buoyant mood, after the deputy minister, Mamadi Gobeh Kamara has introduced her, went straight to the point. She told of how there are moves to assist with pipe borne water rehab and installations of water meters to be able to monitor water wastages. They will be setting up large water kiosks in Kingtom, Aberdeen and Lumley. It is hoped that they will serve the people for a few months during water shortages.

Journalist Released from Jail

By Pastor Prince Coker

By Pastor Prince Coker

The United Nations Chief said “Locking up journalists hinders the

development of a country and stymied its societies.”

According to SLAJ President, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, “the release of the journalist (Sallieu Jalloh) is a plus on the fight for press freedom and free expression.” Nasralla, however, called on the government to repeal all laws that trample on free press and the rights of journalists. In dismay, he said SLAJ condemns the arrest and detention of the journalist, which it described as unlawful and a way to silence the press on public issues. The Guild of Editors Chairman, Theo Harding came out strongly against the arbitrary arrest of a colleague.

Journalists all over the world do a damn good job. A thankless job per se. Working as a journalist is on par with working as a teacher. Countries where journalists are dehumanized, abused and arrested are countries where you would see teachers are in the lower rung of the wage ladder. In other words, some African politicians are still in the dark. Little do they know the world is watching? And that brute force has been relegated to the pre-colonial era when slavery, the denial of humanity, was considered the ‘in-thing?’ No wonder this country is taking one step forward and two steps backwards behind Ghana.

When a journalist has made an effort in his investigative work to cross check the facts before going to press, and he could ascertain that he has done what is required of responsible journalism, any attempt by a politician to muzzle him, by the use of a secret police or allegations of extortion, is tantamount to human rights abuses. This is exactly how it has been portrayed in the light of the arrest and detention at the CID of the editor of the Times Newspaper, Mr. Sallieu Tejan Jalloh.

There is no IMC Code that stops a journalist from texting a politician or a Chief Minister to confirm a piece of information that has been reliably learnt. No IMC Code of Practice states anything of that nature. But there is an area where it states ‘must not persistently pursue.’ Where there is public interest it’s another story. The Sierra Leone Government Rights To Access Information Act 2013 states that a “public authority,” under Act No. 6 of 1991, includes any body ‘carrying out a statutory or public function.’ If a journalist in his attempt at doing a thorough job submits a request by texting the Chief Minister in Part 11 under section 2, subsection 3 (1) of the RAIC, he has fulfilled what the Act legislated for. To avoid giving him an answer and result in his arrest and detention is abuse of power. Simple!

One colleague journalist, who has been incensed by the abuse of office by a certain politician that led to the arrest and detention of Mr. Jalloh, said in the Police Press Conference WhatsApp “This is how they used fake corruption charges against Isha Johansen and Chris Kamara of SLFA, yet nothing came out of it.”

In 18 months, journalists have been detained nine times. Two female journalists had been brutally attacked and brute force unleashed at them, leaving them bruised and battered beyond recognition at the Siaka Stevens Stadium. The British High Commission Press Officer bemoaned the practice of arresting and detaining journalists. When he was invited to speak at the SLAJ Conference at Campbell Street recently he enumerated the number of journalists who have been arrested and detained or killed. Journalists don’t have to lose their lives doing their job. They don’t have to be beaten because bodyguards are eavesdropping on their conversations.

Human Rights Lawyers and former ACC Commissioner Ady Macaulay, former Minister of Justice Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, CHRDI, are currently arguing with the police in protest at the arrest of Sallieu T. Jalloh. The Fullah Progressive Union has called for the immediate release from police custody of the Times SL Editor, stating “You cannot order the arrest of a journalist who is doing his job diligently, trying to cross check information. Unfortunately the arrest of Sallieu Jalloh adds to the disturbing trend in the country.”

“We at Amnesty International are concerned about the toxic atmosphere journalists and artists are working under in Africa, especially in countries as Sierra Leone and Liberia, which have just come out of war. Journalists are the focal points of the community. They have a right to ask hard questions,” said the AI.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has published a story dated November 12 2019 in which it repeated the allegation against which the Police have had Jalloh detained. It writes: “Sierra Leone Chief Minister Francis in an alleged $1.5 million corruption scandal.” It stated that the BBC’s Umaru Fofanah, commenting on the arrest this morning on social media, said: “Police in Sierra Leone have confirmed the detention last night of journalist Sallieu Tejan-Jallon of the Times newspaper.”

The Telegraph has reported that the arrested journalist had planned to publish the full details of the bribery transactions today. The editor of the Whispers newspaper, Mr. Prince Coker, said, “It’s a police state that continues to bring into play a Kafkaesque law. It is not that the text sent to the CM played on his susceptibility because he is emotionally vulnerable.”

Office of the Chief Minister’s Press Release dated 12 November 2019 negates allegations of bribery to the tune of $1.5m. The release lists nine refutations. One of them says: “Ninth, Professor David J. Francis did not give any instruction for the detention of a journalist, but however strongly believes that the Police should carry out criminal investigation on serious allegations without undue pressure.”

Sierra Leone in Population Summit in Kenya

By High Commission SL in Nairobi, Kenya

As this year marks the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) which took place in Cairo 1994, where 179 governments adopted a landmark Programme of Action which set out to empower women and girls for their sake, and for the benefit of their families, communities and nations; Sierra Leone has shown dedication by joining several others at the ICPD25 Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Summit is held from 12th -14th November 2019, at the Kenyetta International Conference Centre, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and the Sierra Leonean delegation which is drawn from various sectors including Government officials, youth groups, UNFPA, UN Women, Members of Parliament and Sierra Leone High Commission in Nairobi officials, is headed by Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr Francis Kai-Kai. The Minister is expected to deliver a statement during the ICPD25 Conference where he will present Sierra Leone’s commitment to the attendant challenges of the country’s growing population and in development.

This year’s summit, according to the organizers, “will take an integrated approach, covering five themes and highlighting the power of gender equality, youth leadership, political and community leadership, innovation and data, and partnerships to accelerate progress throughout.”

The five themes are: Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as a part of universal health coverage; financing required to complete the ICPD Programme of Action, and to sustain the gains made; drawing on demographic diversity to drive economic growth and achieve sustainable development; ending gender-based violence and harmful practices; and lastly, upholding the right to sexual and reproductive health care even in humanitarian and fragile contexts.

“Nairobi Summit will reenergize the global community, breathe new life into the ICPD agenda and sustain and amplify gains made since 1994. It will be a springboard for governments and other organizations to announce voluntary, global commitments including financial ones that will accelerate progress. Innovative financial models and far more resources—from governments, international financial institutions and even private sector partnersare required to finish the ICPD agenda by 2030” organizers confirmed.

Also key amongst the Sierra Leone delegation to the summit are the Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura; Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Nairobi, HE Joseph Francis; Minister Plenipotentiary at the Sierra Leone High Commission in Nairobi, Abdul Karim Kargbo; Director of Gender, Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, Charles Vandi; UN Women Representative, Dr Mary Okumu; UNFPA Representative in Sierra Leone, Dr Kim Dickson; Honorable Member of Parliament Rosemarie Bangura and others.

SL Brewery Gets 4 Beer Tanks

Again once more demonstrating clearly that it is here for real and to passionately continue to meet the demands of its esteemed customers in and out of the country, the nation’s number one brewer of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited (SLBL) on the 8th November 2019 cleared four massive storage bright beer tanks from the Queen Elizabeth 11 Quay meant to be installed at its Wellington Industrial Estate production site in the far East End of Freetown. The four massive storage bright beer tanks are meant to further expand the company’s capacity as well as to help improve the quality of its beer products.

Some may like to jump to conclusion that it is because we are in the festive season, when the level of consumption of beverages keeps going up that could be the underlying objective why SLBL decided to import those massive tanks. That could be partly true in the sense that the company is very dedicated and committed towards giving its numerous customers and even new ones the best of the services and products it offers without complaints being heard which is why it always endeavor to go the extra-mile to ensure that customer satisfaction is prioritized and guaranteed. But going beyond that, as it is well known for, SLBL plans way ahead of time and the intermittent initiatives rolled out in the importation of state of the art machinery or equipment is just part of its modus operandi.  

It will be recalled that in July 2017 SLBL successfully installed seven new fermentation tanks to enable it satisfy current and future consumer demand.   At that material point in time it was calculated that SLBL’s total investment in Sierra Leone during 2014-2017 rose to more than Le. 180 Billion. With the installation of the Seven Massive fermentation Storage tanks (“FSTs”) the production capacity of the brewery doubled.

Distinctly, one remarkable thing that had been very impressive about the company is that it has been progressively and significantly increasing its production output since September 2016 after the implementation of the Finance Act 2016 which supports the growth of local production and manufacturing.

By increasing the number of its equipment SLBL has full confidence that it can meet future demands for its high quality products and therefore people should not be thinking of finding it difficult to access their favorite drinks.

“Our current sales growth is encouraging, so it makes good business sense to capitalize on this momentum in the marketplace and to continue to invest in our brewery,” said Daaf van Tilburg, SLBL’s Managing Director. “We are proud of this investment in tanks, which meet international brewing standards. This will enable us to double the production of our high quality beer and beverages which are very much enjoyed by all our consumers.”

The continuous investment in production equipment is indeed part of a large scale investment program in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone Brewery Limited has now invested a total of more than Le. 180 Billion and the investment program is ongoing. The investments to date have upgraded and transformed the brewery, which was founded in 1962 and has been operational ever since.

“The investment in the tanks and the full investment program is a clear commitment of Sierra Leone Brewery Limited in Sierra Leone. This will also create more jobs in Sierra Leone and with our business partners, including the sorghum farmers,” Daaf van Tilburg said.

Indisputably, the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited is one of the established business entities that have stood the test of time as it had weathered many storms but out of the sheer determination to succeed it has survived and is still going strong. This singular accomplishment within the business landscape could only be interpreted within the confines of good managerial steering amidst stiff competition by importers of foreign beverages.

The operations of the Brewery have made it possible for an exponential increase in the number of sorghum farmers in the country. It is important to note that any expansion in its production line means that there must be a corresponding increase in the number of sorghum, an ingredient used for production. SLBL has been creating awareness about the need or significance of cultivating sorghum and indeed the number of sorghum farmers is increasing and statistics place it at over 25,000 farm families. In a country with an arable land suitable for various agricultural purposes the presence and operations of SLBL gives an opportunity where farmers could realize their full potentials and derive financial rewards from their efforts.

Expansion in its production chain definitely will result to the creation of more jobs especially those that are skilled-driven. Since inception, the SLBL has been a source of offering various employment opportunities and such has been growing over time.

As an ambitious business entity that is always thinking of positively forging ahead Brewery creates employment along the way. It is highly likely that with the installation of the four massive beer storage tanks additional tasks will have to be accomplished which will warrant more people to be employed. Factually, in offering employment opportunities the company is playing an instrumental role in reducing poverty.

When cognizance is taken of rolling out of its Corporate Social Responsibility the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited is an exemplary entity especially doing so for residents living within its area of operations, the Wellington Industrial Estate. It is on record how the company has contributed greatly in enhancing water and sanitation within the Wellington Industrial Estate and in other places.

The company has so far facilitated the construction and commissioning of standard water facilities which have changed the narratives in communities where people hitherto found it extremely difficult to access those facilities. Indeed standards of living in those impoverished communities are changing for the better.

The Sierra Leone Brewery Limited is a major contributor to the Government’s revenue coffers as it timely honours its tax obligations. Besides, at any given time that it is clearing imported equipment at the seas port to beef up its production line various custom duties are paid. Prior to the clearing of the aforementioned four massive storage beer tanks SLBL paid all the requisite custom duties to the National Revenue Authority.

Through such means, the country’s premier brewer of variety of beverages is contributing in capacitating Government to undertake the implementation of different development projects country-wide.

What is really certain for now is that old and new customers are well assured that with the soon to be installed four massive bright beer tanks they will always or 24/7 have enough and to spare for all entertainment purposes and other social gatherings. Bartenders are guaranteed of this and there is no need to panic and hoard the favourite drinks that so many are finding refreshing and good for purpose.

ACC CONVICTST 3 JUDICIAL AND NRA OFFICERS

By ACC PR

The High Court of Sierra Leone, presided over by The Honorable, Justice  Bintu Alhadi, has on Tuesday, November 12 2019, convicted ADELE FAYA, FORMER ACCOUNT CLERK

OF THE JUDICIARY OF SIERRA LEONE, ISATU ULAIKATU KIAMP KAMARA, and ABUBAKARR BANGURA, both FORMER REVENUE OFFICERS OF THE NATIONAL REVENUE AUTHORITY, on two counts of Conspiracy to Commit a Corruption Offence, Contrary to Section 128(1) and Misappropriation of Public Revenue, Contrary to Section 36(1), of the Anti-Corruption Act, No 12 of 2008.

HON. JUSTICE ALHADI fined ISATU ULAIKATU KIAMP KAMARA the sum of THIRTY MILLION LEONES and ordered her to pay TWO MILLION LEONES restitution. ADELE FAYA was fined THIRTY MILLION LEONES and ordered to pay TWO MILLION LEONES restitution; whilst ABUBAKARR BANGURA was fined THIRTY MILLION LEONES and ordered to pay FIFTY ONE MILLION LEONES restitution.

The Court ordered the three convicts to pay the fines and restitutions on or before December11 2019 or serve a jail term of three years.

It could be recalled that, ADELE FAYA, ISATU ULAIKATU KIAMP KAMARA and ABUBAKARR BANGURA, between the 12th and 20th March, 2019, at Freetown, misappropriated the sum of SIXTY MILLION LEONES, being revenue due the National Revenue

Authority as fines paid by MR EMMANUEL EKUNDAYO CONSTANT SHEARS-MOSES, irrespective of sentence in the High Court of Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, the first accused in the same matter, STEPHEN YAYAH MANSARAY, FORMER MASTER AND REGISTRAR OF THE HIGH COURT OF SIERRA LEONE, was acquitted and discharged on both counts. He is however still standing trial on a separate indictment for various corruption offences.

In this regard, the Commission wishes to advise all public officers who are in control of public resources to comply with laid down laws and procedures in the handling and disbursement of same.

The Anti-Corruption Commission was represented by Lawyers Victor T. Biandorma and Mohamed Sow, whilst the defendants were represented by Sahid Sesay for the 1st accused, J.B Dauda for the 2 and accused, E.T Koroma for the 3 rd accused and F.K Gerber for the 4th accused.

IMC ON MONITORING TOUR

The Independent Media Commission, led by the Chairman, Mr.  George Khoryama, has started a nationwide tour to media institutions to ascertain their compliance with regulatory requirements. These include the media institutions’ governance and management structures, editorial policies, constitutions, Memorandum and Articles of Association, payment of staff salaries, adherence to NRA and NASSIT obligations and labor laws, including the minimum wage.

The team has just arrived in Kambia Town to engage managers and staff of media institutions and civil societies in Kambia District. After the meeting, the IMC will visit the media institutions to complete the checklist.

This first tour covers the North and North-West Regions. It will be followed by tours to the Southern and Eastern Regions and then the Western Area.

The engagements come ahead of the ongoing moves by the Government  to repeal Part 5 of 1965 Public order Act, which criminalizes libel.

20 Years Still On Top – A Tribute To Innocent

By Ibrahim Sorious Samura

It’s not quite normal in our society to notice that someone keeps up to his best and consistency for about a decade in Sierra Leone. This scenario fits in any field, especially in music. We have seen many Sierra Leonean artists excelling for a short period and then got relegated and became a ‘spent force’. But there is one Sierra Leonean artist, musician, songwriter, sound engineer, poet and MC, who has beats all the odds in ‘two successive decades.’ To some, he is the ‘Political Gena musa,’ others know him as the ‘Fela Kuti’ of Salone music, but his parents named him Prince Kuti George, popular on stage as Innocent, an emblem of a success story.

Sierra Leone is blessed to have such a multi-talented superstar, who has been making some of the biggest headlines in Salone music. Many people believe that Sierra Leone music has evolved around him for a massive period of 20 years, all filled with his signature. He has never been on vacation throughout his music career. He remained steadfast and consistent, with hits after hits.

He started off his music career in 1999 with ‘Igwe Society’, a music group he co-founded with a childhood friend known as Decent. They released their biggest song titled ‘Igwe’, which became an anthem in the earlier 2000s. Igwe was a mega hit that crossed the boundaries of Sierra Leone. As a solo artist, Innocent has released countless number of hit songs.

Some of the major hits to his credit include ‘De Yai Dae Watch’, ‘Gi Dem Notice’ ft Chema B, ‘Apple of Me Eye’ ft Nega Don, ‘Blessing Bornor’, ‘DNA’, ‘Love Letter’, ‘Pray For Me’, and more. In 2011, Innocent’s song (Mama Salone) won the theme song for the 50th Independence Anniversary of Sierra Leone.

Innocent was honoured as member of the Order Of The Rokel for his outstanding contribution to music in Sierra Leone. He has several awards and recognitions to his credit, at both local and international levels.

He is the founder and CEO of one the country’s biggest recrd labels, Money Making Machines  (MMM), under which he has managed a couple of superstars like Sara D Great, M2, Coolest, Rahim Da Wezard, and more. He was also part of the Noble Squard music crew, headed by rapper, YOK 7. He was a Founding member and the first President of the Eastern Artists Union (EAU) before he migrated to United Kingdom years back.

Innocent is well regarded for his social commentary songs, sweet rhyme schemes, melodies, and his versatility to do any genre of music, including rap, afropop, RnB, dancehall/raggae, tecno, etc.

On the 15th November 2019, Innocent will be celebrating 20 years in Sierra Leone music at the Hotel 5-10 in Kissy, Freetown. The entire music industry will be in attendance to pay tribute to a living legend, whose latest song (Pray For Me) is currently number one on all playlists and music charts across the country. This shows that he will not leave the music scene soon. He has bigger dreams for the music industry; let us help him achieve this together. 20 years, still trending.

Ministry of Environment to abolish the EPA

Abu-Bakar S. Massaquoi, Ph.D.

Like his predecessors, the Minister of Lands, Housing and the Environment (MLHE)- Dr Dennis Sandy- could not effectively galvanize the public around the globe’s most critical issue- the environment. It is not just the brevity of his term that made it largely uneventful; a Minister with his kind of interest in environmental issues should have been able to mount the obstacles and sear a clear meaning of this issue into the awareness of the public. On land matters, he seems very effective, but on environmental issues, he appears only to react, not to lead. Undoubtedly, due to political weakness not linked to him personally, he found it difficult to enable the Ministry’s Environment Directorate to wield influence in key issues, including the management of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), which was placed under his watch by the President in his first address to parliament in early 2018. The public relations campaign around land grabbing gave the impression that the minister had difficulty in promoting environmental issues. He only hoped that his televised statements at meetings organized by environmental organizations would place him at the fore of action on the environmental front.

Moreover, some fatigue was felt in the Environment Directorate’s handling of the land degradation neutrality target setting process, which was the most significant campaign it had led in many years. My experience as National Consultant in the ministry for two UNCCD-funded assignments indicates that this may not be Dr Sandy’s fault since the efforts were well underway when he got appointed. His failure, however, is that a capable and charismatic leader should have done better to galvanise the public around this important cause, particularly findings for land cover, land productivity, and soil organic carbon that have significant implications for the government’s food security and environmental sustainability missions.

Furthermore, under Dr. Sandy’s leadership of the country’s environment regime, we have not done better in the global Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The latest publication (2018) ranks us 155 out of 180 countries, which might seem an improvement when compared to the 2010 EPI that places Sierra Leone at 163 out of 163 countries. I have long provided reasons why we cannot celebrate this jump, because it does not show better environmental performance (see reasons in an opinion piece I authored in 2018- https://standardtimespress.org/?p=8056). These and many instances show that for a country so proud of the worth of its immense environmental resources, we suffered a significant loss of face under the previous ministerial arrangement.

My opinion, therefore, is that the work done on environmental governance so far does not adequately reflect the urgency necessary to tackle environmental change, which is one of the principal challenges facing humanity today. It’s critical, I think, to suggest that for the last couple of years the ministry, including under the watch of the New Direction government, has still been stuck in this old mould and has not progressed. The Government of Sierra Leone is clearly behind the progress in environmental governance in many other jurisdictions and the gap continues to widen. This is why I consider the formation of a Ministry of the Environment a welcome and timely development, because it shows that the President and his government consider environmental governance a national priority rather than an element in the game of box-ticking to attract donor support.

The great charade of the many visions we have promoted in this country merely continue the history of politicians doing squat about serious issues of environmental change. The country today is filled with the reality and repercussions of a changing climate. Intense storms are forming, droughts are looming, floods are intensifying, and the loss and damage that all these events bring to people in all parts of the country are increasing. We cannot continue to treat environmental issues as an institutional externality and lose the name of action in the heat of resolve, despite stark and deadly warnings from scientists. We cannot continue to wait for rich countries to come through with the money promised to help poor countries like Sierra Leone deal with the costs associated with the war on global warming. We need a stand-alone ministry that can move Sierra Leone toward a green economy and spark not only a conversation about environmental change, but also lead efforts to make Sierra Leoneans more acutely aware of the importance of accelerating and adapting responses to changing circumstances while addressing the cries of the poor and marginalized in affected settings.

Insights from the cabinet reshuffle

Debates in WhatsApp fora have taken a new intensity in the face of the cabinet reshuffle of Nov. 7 that created a new Ministry of the Environment. While some of the opinions reaffirm conventional thoughts about the need to streamline environmental governance authority, others call for efforts to better align the activities of the EPA and other environmental organizations with the government’s interest in building a more inclusive, equitable, and green economy. Some environmentalists are highly critical of the move, saying it may lead to weaker oversight of environmental governance processes, shift responsibilities from the EPA to the ministry and create a policy crossfire rather than coherence. Others posit that the government is not in a financial position to handle the new tasks that come with the establishment of a new ministry. Many also believe that tough regulations get better results than new structures.

This debate may appear to be purely theoretical and best left to academics, but its practical implications are far-reaching. In a country where opposition parties keep calling for greater clarity of the government’s purpose, the government should endeavour to give these points serious consideration and take steps to confirm that the people and those with the new charge of leading the ministry have a shared vision and understanding.

Although it is interesting to delve further into the raging debate, this article only seeks to describe the consequences the move (the establishment of a Ministry of the Environment) may have for the EPA in terms of whether it is easy and necessary to abolish the EPA, and whether the government would have any regrets doing so. I hope this opinion piece will be helpful to decision-makers in government and other (technical and non-technical) readers who may be grappling (now or later in the future) with the issues presented.

Consequences for the Environment Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA has remained one of Sierra Leone’s most important institutions since its establishment in 2000, and formalization through an Act of Parliament in 2008 (later amended in 2010). Since the amendment of the Act that saw the appointment of an Executive Chairperson (a position requiring the Chair of the board to also manage the day-to-day affairs of the agency, the purpose of the agency has long been a matter of debate. For at least two decades, there have been two dominant schools of thought: one holding that the agency is a ‘legal fiction’ designed to facilitate what is essentially a private interest cloaked in a public garb, and the other holding that the agency is a ‘real entity’ enabled by law to serve the needs of society. The former view gives primacy to the interests of the presidency then, while the latter gives greater weight to the interests of environment and society at large.

From these two schools of thought, it is easy to discern that the decision to create a Ministry of the Environment will have two possible consequences for the EPA: first, a reorganization of authority, and second, the total dismantling of the agency.

Reorganization of authority

I should be able to think that one possible outcome of the restructuring is to organize the roles of agencies in environmental governance on many levels in order to enhance and recognize their contributions to the care of the environment. A well-versed friend in the subject has argued that he sees no real movement, as streamlining the EPA is not a new concept. As mentioned earlier, actions taken between 2000 and 2010 brought substantial changes to the EPA that directly impacted its powers, roles and responsibilities. Further reorganization of authority will see some responsibilities shifting from the EPA to the Ministry, such as the responsibility for policy design and delivery and environmental mainstreaming. These are mere speculations, because any shifts in current responsibilities would require eliminating some powers and carefully planning for a seamless transfer. The point is that you cannot effectively shift or even slash roles in exactly the time the ministry needs to be fully ready for operations. More time and a clear framework are needed to avoid any form of disruption and confusion that would undermine the objectives of the intended reform.

As the government is yet to produce a guiding framework for the ministry’s work, moving responsibilities (such as EIA monitoring, licensing, environmental outreach etc) will create a whole new set of problems. As new businesses form, they would need to know which agent of government to negotiate with and how long the process will last. Assuming staff in the Directorate of the Environment in the MLHE will have to move to the new ministry, there would clearly be less sophistication and less capacity to handle any new applications and grievances from new investors. There is also the fact that international development agencies such as the World Bank and IMF are now deep into the culture of valuing environmental performance as a prerequisite for financial aid, so this new development might come at a higher relative cost as the ministry will need time to fully design and launch its operations. Thus, reorganization of authority should be viewed in terms of how the ministry would make work better and more efficient in the shortest possible time without eroding the essential ingredients of the EPA system that has been a driver for the environmental quality that we enjoy today.

Abolition of the EPA

Being widely criticized for wasting most of its time and resources addressing small environmental impact issues that don’t help the larger environment, and being accused of compounding an already bloated bureaucracy and a severe misuse of funds, some practitioners I have spoken to think the establishment of a ministry should engender efforts to rewrite existing laws to remove the EPA as a responsible party in what Ostrom calls the ‘action arena’. While many have dismissed such action as unrealistic or too radical, it, nonetheless, represents the most substantial debate in environmental fora since the cabinet reshuffle was announced.

In my view, abolishing the EPA is a surprisingly difficult task that involves navigating a complex bureaucracy bound by powerful laws like the 2010 Amendment of the 2008 EPA Act that still places the agency under the Office of the President (with powers of oversight still wielded by the President, not ‘any’ Minister). The points to make are two-fold: first, dismantling won’t be easy, and second, dismantling won’t be necessary.

Dismantling won’t be easy (or quick) because the rules that are harder to rescind and roll back such as whether an Executive Chairperson should be maintained versus the 2008 Act’s provision for an Executive Director, and whether powers specified for the president in the 2010 amendment should be moved to the Minister or existing board, are already in full effect. My point is that major factors the ministry should consider when mulling the elimination of the EPA is the timeline, the effect on employees, and the geographical impact. In addition to not having the luxury of time to roll back the legal instruments that dictate the way EPA works and relates across government, new ministry officials will need to have tough conversations with employees to explain what is going to happen and how eliminating the EPA will affect their jobs. Abolishing the EPA will leave the ministry struggling to consolidate provincial offices that maintain a presence on the ground (the ministry will give more time and prominence to high-level, policy stuff).

Dismantling won’t be necessary because I don’t expect the ministry that will be focused on high-level governance matters to be drawn into management issues currently addressed by the EPA. Some officials in the new ministry might call for a sharp line to be drawn between governing and managing, and insist that as EPA currently does both, it should be abolished to allow them enough space to govern and lead. The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources (MMMR) is yet to argue that the existence of a National Minerals Agency (NMA) is dwindling its operational space. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) cannot say same despite having to achieve its mandate through old agencies like the Forestry Division (FD), National Protected Areas Authority (NPAA) etc, and new ones like the Reforestation Secretariat (RS). Even the Office of the Chief Minister (in collaboration with MAF) is thinking about forming a new agency for timber governance (among the many structures it is looking to form); the policy development process for which I was appointed Lead Consultant in July this year. Therefore, we should know that the multiplicity of structures, especially the opportunity for them to exist side-by-side is the beauty of environmental governance- what we call Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM).

Clearly, this is largely not a question of the pros and cons of reforming the EPA, but rather the particular challenges of this type of reform. Any effort to dismantle the existing structure should be preceded by a footprint that ensures the right equities are in place, that ensures fairness (even for businesses reliant upon the role of the EPA), and that is clear in terms of what the ministry will look like once the agency is abolished. The leadership that will handle the overhaul requires a lot of planning and skill, and the government should be prepared for pushback from employees, unions, and opposition parties who may seek to either slow the reform or prevent it from happening.

Lowest hanging fruit

The current administration will find it much easier to create the opportunities that allow the ministry to work alongside the EPA with a shared purpose (with the EPA as an agency of the ministry). A Ministry of the Environment and EPA, as they do their jobs right, should work together to advance their stock of knowledge over time and produce results that stick. The government should find stable and effective ways to define the boundaries of their association; determine the rules that define power sharing, collaboration and learning; and effectively enforce those rules. The current situation with the environment in the country requires a polycentric system of governance where the EPA, the Ministry of the Environment, and other entities have some role in the process. This is the institutional arrangement in many other countries, including the UK (with an Environment Agency and a Department/Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Ghana (with an EPA and a Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation), Gambia (with a National Environment Agency and a Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources), Kenya (with a National Environmental Authority and a Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources), Nigeria (with a Federal EPA and a Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources), Liberia (with an EPA and a Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy), Rwanda (with a National Environmental Management Authority and a Ministry of Tourism and Environment) etc.

Ignoring all the scientific evidence and insights from practice about the failure of monocentric systems of environmental governance will have grave consequences for government and the country more broadly. I expect that any new policy seeking to delineate the functions of the EPA versus the ministry must reflect this understanding and global reality. The agency-ministry relationship will have the ministry performing the following three key functions:

Providing robust oversight, as the EPA board as currently constituted might not be up to the task. The increasing size and complexity of environmental issues, the expanding array of risk areas, and the difficulty the board has in getting the information needed to exercise effective oversight all bode nicely for a promising role for the ministry.  The suggestion is not to have the ministry substitute for the board; rather, the ministry will have the responsibility to constitute the board in the future (once the existing act is amended or annulled) and drive the kind of innovation needed for meaningful engagement and oversight.

•Mobilizing (and allocating) resources (including financing) for the EPA. While decisions about how to use EPA’s resources rest with the board, the ministry should share in the responsibility of exploiting new avenues of funding and allocating resources in a manner that advances the agency’s vision. Done well, the EPA will evolve and renew itself over time, while at the same time producing a continuous flow of products and services that meet the needs of its growing clientele.

•        Defining standards for performance, which includes designing new policy instruments, revising existing practices for programme-level operationalization, and ensuring that government and the public receive accurate and timely information about the environmental performance of various companies/investors and the status of the environment generally.

It is my view that these clear roles for the ministry, once effectively performed, will increase the environmental performance of the EPA (as an agency of the ministry). The clear roles will also reduce tensions between near-term expectations and longer-term needs for the EPA and other agencies under its oversight. The point is that the ministry can make good of the time they have to improve the EPA board’s strategy for oversight and gain more clarity about EPA’s operations to develop metrics that allow the agency to create value over the long-term. Likewise, the ministry should know that the effective functioning of the EPA depends primarily on the type of leadership it has. Ensuring that the right leadership is in place (to fill the gap left by Prof. Jaward’s appointment) should be the next step for the President (who has powers to make the appointment as prescribed in the 2010 amendment of the 2008 EPA Act). The EPA urgently needs an Executive Chairperson who is equipped with a broad set of skills and capabilities and a diverse set of perspectives. Any appointment short of these qualities will further narrow the performance measures in place and create a public notion that the government is creating outsized rewards for individuals who fail at their jobs.

Conclusion

I have argued in favour of the point that the EPA should not be abolished and that the government would regret taking steps to do so (because of the establishment of a Ministry of the Environment). Environment ministries across the world are increasingly unable to address the significant and growing problems plaguing communities and ecosystems, and agencies are seen as having the resources, especially the presence and functional capacity to help mitigate these problems.

While many would hold that the EPA should be abolished because of its inefficacy (over the years) and the mandate it shares with the new ministry, I would call, firstly, for a more robust definition of that purpose, and then, a strengthening of the agency to serve as the face of the ministry on the ground. Shifting responsibilities from the EPA could work, but the process will be fraught with difficulties and concerns about time, methodology, purposefulness, and expected results. Abolishing the EPA will not be easy (or even necessary), because the idea sounds drastic and bad (that’s because it would be drastic and bad). Reorganization of authority (or shifting responsibilities) will require the review of the existing EPA Act and potentially cause problems just as consequential and long-lasting as the EPAs outright abolition.

It is easier and technically straightforward to run EPA as an agency of the ministry, rather than have the ministry performing the roles of an agency. Centrally managing environmental issues will misfire because the ministry would seek to impose schematic visions of environmental governance that cause the administrative ordering of nature and society by the state. There are real limits to what the ministry can do all by itself, and in this time of growing anxiety over deepening environmental change, the solution that is right must be both adaptive and collaborative. A ministry-agency working relationship is not only possible, it can be scaled-up and linked-up both locally and globally. The government should develop the right legal structure to muster and motivate the courage these institutions need to achieve the twin goals of green growth and sustainable development.

Author

Abu-Bakar Massaquoi is the Principal Managing Partner at Hamstead- a top-tier consulting firm with clientele in governments, businesses and international development. He is a seasoned sustainability professional with extensive international experience, and broad depth of environmental, energy, development and climate systems knowledge. Abu-Bakar has worked across the environmental governance and climate change agenda as researcher, consultant, advocate and advisor for governments (e.g., Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in Nigeria; Ministry of Lands, Housing and Environment and Office of the Chief Minister in Sierra Leone etc) and development agencies, including USAID West Africa, UNDP Africa, UNCCD, DFID/GCRF, GEF, AfDB, ECOWAS, AU, and the World Bank. He is currently providing direct technical advice, capacity building and backstopping in environmental and social sustainability and climate change to select agencies in Sierra Leone in support of achieving World Bank development priorities. Abu-Bakar is also supporting research led by the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (University College London) on assistive technologies in informal settlements in Sierra Leone and Indonesia. He teaches masters-level courses in the Institute of Environmental Management and Quality Control, Njala University; and is leading the ECOWAS Commission’s work in Sierra Leone to develop a phased 5-year strategic plan for the implementation of a national framework for climate services.

WE WILL REMEMBER THEM

By Titus Boye-Thompson

London

Many people have suffered because of the effects of war. In England, there is a firm belief that the ravages of war require a corresponding sacrifice to contain tyranny so that the generations to come may know a better life.

These beliefs are not only rooted in the Judeo Christian doctrines upon which the Western World based its democracy.

Those who went through war have given their lives, believing at the time that it was their duty to serve their country in such terminal acts of self sacrifice.

As we remember those who fell in the Wars of Europe, some of us cannot help but open up our hearts to those of our fellow kith in Sierra Leone, unprepared for the calamity that befell an unsuspecting crowd.

The caution seem to be lost however, if in such a small  country,  justice can be a telling experience.

The backdrop to war is not only swallowed up by peace but by the sustaining calm and understanding that never again should so many  suffer the gruesomeness of war.

In the English National Anthem, we celebrate our Queen and the victorious nature if a nation used to World dominance.  God save our gracious Queen, long may she reign a d may she defend our laws. This tells of the recognition of the supremacy of laws that protect the citizens equally and fairly.

In Sierra Leone, the experience of war sadly comes after a national anthem which extols tranquility, realm of the free, firmly united, ever we stand together for the land that we love.

What is pertinent is the will to avoid conflict. Life is too short as many would remark but it’s vicissitudes culminate in many a algorithms.

The hymnist asks to be a channel of God’s peace, to console as to console, to be understood as to understand.

The word is out there, pursue peace, justice and fairness. Let the words if the many afflicted by loss, and sadness due to the calamity of war be our beacon for a peaceful existence.

It is true, however, that it is very difficult to listen when you have never been heard.

Let grace prevail!

WHERE IS YOUR WRAPPER?

Erelu Bisi Fayemi.

I was in Uganda a few years ago for one of the programs we used to run at the African Women’s Leadership Institute. One day, there was a report about something that had happened in one of the local markets. One of the women in the market went into labour unexpectedly.

It seemed there was no time to get her to a nearby hospital or clinic, so the women around went into action. Some of them ran around to look for basins, hot water, towels, and razors. A few held her hand and encouraged her to push.

Majority of the women around took out their wrappers and held them up, creating a protective ring around the woman, shielding her from prying eyes. Every now and then, this scenario plays itself in other markets around the continent, and the response is mostly the same women bring out their wrappers to protect one of their own.

Sadly, this is no longer the case these days. Instead of wrappers coming out, it would be cell phones to record every graphic detail. Sure, help might still come, but not before the person concerned has all their pain and agony out there for all the world to see.

Recently, there was the case of a young woman in Ajah, Lagos, who was found wandering the streets. Reports on how she got there vary, but she was stark naked, extremely emaciated and incoherent. Instead of immediately rushing to help, covering her up and getting her medical attention, onlookers laughed at her, threw things at her and recorded her on their cell phones.

Without any idea of who she was or how she got there, judgements were made on the spot about her being the victim of ritualists which she must have brought on herself in her quest to make quick money. A good Samaritan, Keira Hewatch, stepped in and took her to the hospital. Even though many onlookers where not prepared to help the poor woman on the road, they tried to stop Keira from helping her, saying she too might be bewitched. Essentially, they refused to bring out their wrappers to protect and save someone and tried to stop someone else who was willing to bring out hers.

What do these wrappers signify?

To me they mean protection, solidarity, sisterhood, empathy, kindness, compassion, duty, all those things and more that make us human beings In the market places where the scene I described in Uganda happens, there is an unspoken protocol amongst the women – a responsibility to take care of one of their own who needs them. She is in pain. Afraid. But she has sisters around her, rooting for her and helping her.

So, I ask you my dear sisters, where is your wrapper?

Where is your wrapper to shield and protect other women and girls who need you?

Where was your wrapper for the little girl who was molested by someone in your household and you said ‘Shhhhh’ and looked the other way? 

Where was your wrapper when someone you know said she was raped by someone she trusted? Did you ask her what she was wearing? Or if she seduced him?

Where was your wrapper when your friend needed succour from an abusive husband? Did you gossip behind her back that it served her right, she is too arrogant?

Where was your wrapper when your sister or daughter told you that her lecturers were harassing her in the University? Did you tell them that they must have done something to encourage them?

Where was your wrapper when a young woman who could have been your own sister, daughter or niece was found on the streets naked? Where you one of the women who stood by and recorded her misery and threw things at her?

Where you one of the men who tried to stop brave Keira from helping? What was in it for you to have a very sick woman die untended in broad daylight, with human beings baying for her blood like animals? Even animals care more for their own.

Our wrappers might all look different, with varying sizes, shapes and colours, but each and every one of us has a wrapper. Bring that wrapper out to shield another woman, or a man.

Use it to help get her a contract, help with her rent, pay her children’s fees, help her with capital for a business or simply a discreet shoulder to cry on. Never let a day go by without bringing out that wrapper.

The way God works is that the more wrappers you bring out for others, the more will come out for you. We don’t only need wrappers when we celebrate and buy Aso Ebi. We need the wrappers for our trials and tribulations and we all have them.

The women in the market place might never see the woman they helped again. She might never be able to say thank you. Yet she will never forget that other women stood by her and gave her dignity and covered her nakedness. Are we prepared to cover the nakedness of others, or do we want to be part of the mob that strips them naked?

These days there seems to be a war against women. Not only is sexual violence at an all time high, these crimes are now committed in full view of the public.

A young woman is accused of stealing and stripped naked, hands all over her and objects being stuck into her. When this happens, what do we do, will we look the other way?

When a woman is being harassed online, do we join in the abuse?

The more wrappers we bring out, the safer we will all be. There is another conversation to be had with the men, with our male leaders, with those who have the powers and privileges that weaken our agency and make us forget that we have wrappers in the first place. Today, we are talking to and about ourselves

Let us all agree to bring out our beautiful, strong, diverse wrappers. Our wrappers of respect, love, dignity, support and endless hope. Thank you for bringing out your wrapper Keira. God bless us all.

This is an expanded version of a brief speech that was given at the ARISE Women’s Conference in Lagos, October 26th, 2019.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She is currently the 1st Lady of Ekiti State.

CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGES

By Oswald Hanciles, The Guru

Dr. Shamsu Mustapha:

A billion thanks for forwarding this well-written piece by “Abu-Bakar S. Massaquoi Ph.D” – doing some critique on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and suggesting the way forward for the new Ministry of the Environment.   

After reading it once (I normally read such articles at least three times before I comment), it is very impressive; obviously glossed with erudition; and with the Resume of the writer added to the piece to awe the reader.

Dr.  Abu-Bakar S.  Massaquoi echoes some of my views on the former Minister of Lands, Housing and the Environment, Dr. Denis Sandy, who he wrote: “…could not effectively galvanize the public around the globe’s most critical issue – the environment.  It is not just the brevity of his term that made it largely uneventful; a Minister with his kind of interest in environmental issues should have been able to mount the obstacles and sear a clear meaning of this issue into the awareness of the public. On land matters, he seems very effective, but on environmental issues, he appears only to react, not to lead….”. Of course I wouldn’t use the tone of Abu-Bakar S Massaquoi in his critique of Denis Sandy. 

On social media over the past few months; on Mercury Radio and Culture Radio over the past two months or so…

I had said that Dr.  Denis Sandy was totally “unfit” to be environment minister.  Under Dr. Denis Sandy’s watch, commercial logging has been restarted by the Bio Administration – maybe, even, intensified – and I lashed out that that is “ecological-genocide”… “insanity”… “like selling a 500 carat diamond valued at $20,000,000 for Le5, 000”.(About $0.50cents).

Dr. Abu-Bakar S. Massaquoi’s piece written with sobriety; punctuated with implicit authoritativeness of an expert who has dealt with the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the former  Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment… is largely banal, and generally lacks credible facts and figures. It is a piece meant to impress, not to credibly inform.

As the new Minister of Environment has been mandated to forge a new government agency to meet the frightening challenges of Climate Change in Sierra Leone, I hope he has the courage to adequately address the core problems of the EPA and the environment component of the former Ministry of Lands, Housing, and the Environment.  As far as I could see, the problems of the EPA and the former environment ministry are (were) not structural, they are psychological and political. The spotlight on environmentalism accentuate the urgent need to overhaul the governance mechanisms in ALL sectors of Sierra Leone – right up to the Office of the President at State House.  As I posted earlier on social media after the announcement by the Office of the President that a new Ministry of the Environment has been established, I rein myself from going into details. Invoking the Access to Information LAW of Sierra Leone, I DEMAND adequate information from the EPA and Ministry of the Environment to justify their existence.

To my “Bonthe Brother”, President Maada Bio, I restate my warning: you either become revolutionary or you winning a Second Term in office will not be assured; or, you will ensure another long political exile for the SLPP after your Second Term in office. Your handling of issues of the “environment” would be emblematic of your success.

As I have pointed out in my radio interviews recently, language like “Climate Change”… “Environment” barely the magnitude of the issues.  It means that HUNGER and lack of adequate drinking water would worsen!! It means exacerbating the “Ticking Time Bomb” problem of youth of employable age who are unemployed. It means dramatically increasing rural-to-urban migration.  It means more slums. More hopelessness.

I pause.

APC to Adopt Constitution in 2020

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here