Zenith Bank Denies “Money Is Missing From Vault”

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BY Abdulai Koroma

At a conference held at Howe Street in Freetown on Wednesday, 16 October 2019, the Communications Officer for Zenith bank, Mr. Irom Arekong disclosed to members of the press that rumors all over the social media, including some tabloids, that 116m missing at the bank, is not true.

He added that the Zenith Bank is one of the leading financial institutions that is treating its customers with integrity.

He continued that the bank has never encountered such a loss at any time and customers doing business with it are very satisfied.

“Zenith Bank is a credible. They will continue to lead the way and that most Sierra Leoneans employed by the bank are happy,” said Mr. Arekong.

He also said if things happen to go out of the way, they have Sierra Leonean lawyers to advise them.

“We are not boasting,” he said, “but our staff are doing well in the field of financial management and none of them will grumble for salary, as they are well taken care off.”

Mr. Irom told journalists that his office is open to the public, not only for journalists, but also customers and staff, as they are serving their customers in high esteem.

The Management of Zenith has maintained that what was reported in the media that the bank had made a loss of over one Le100m is false and if any staff is attempting to paint a bad image to blacken the reputation of the bank, a court action will ensue taken against that staff member.

Mr. Irom has assured the customers of the monies being safe. 

NOTORIOUS ARMED ROBBERS JAILED

BY FEIMA SESAY

Magistrate Mark Ngegba of Court No2 has jailed two alleged notorious armed robbers.

Mohamed Bangura and Christopher Dixon Pratt of Goderich Village were on Tuesday 14 October 2019 refused bail and remanded at the Male Correctional Center for stealing from Mohamed Abu Turay a list of items that amounted to Le27m.

Both the alleged dangerous robbers, Mohamed Bangura, alias “the game” and Christopher Dixon Pratt, alias “Jordan,” were docked in court, arraigned before Magistrate Ngegba on two counts of Conspiracy, Contrary to Law and Robbery with Aggravation Contrary to Section 23(1(a) of the Larceny Act 1916, as repealed and replaced by Section 2 of Act No 16 of 1971.

According to the offences, the police have alleged that the robbers on Saturday 14 September 2019, at Fudia Lenghor Drive, Marjay Town, Goderich in Freetown, had conspired with other persons unknown to commit a Felony with Robbery and Aggravation.

The police further alleged that the robbers being armed with machetes robbed Mohamed Abu Turay of a Sylva Chain, 2 Iphones, a Techno cannon mobile phone, and other items, together with some cash to the tune of $700 United States dollars, all of which amounted to a total of Le27 million. Allegations also levied against the pair indicated that, at the time that the robbery was being done, they exerted violence upon the complainant.

When the charges were being read and explained to the alleged robbers in the dock, no plea was taken.

The prosecutor, Police Sergeant 8998 Kadie Taylor, intimated to the court that her witness was not present in court, she, therefore, requested for an adjournment, and a subpoena for him.

Defense Lawyer C. Campbell Esq. representing the first accused Mohamed Bangura and Lawyer M. Jaffa for the second accused Christopher Dixon Pratt applied for bail on behalf of their clients, pursuant to Section 79 of the Criminal Procedures Act 1965. The Application for Bail by both defense counsels was objected to by the prosecutor on grounds of the severity of the offences.

Magistrate Mark Ngegba, however, acquiesced to the objection and the bail was refused. Both alleged robbers go remanded. The matter has been adjourned to 21 October.

MOTOR BIKE RIDER ASSAULTED A MILITARY OFFICER

BY FEIMA SESAY

Sam Alpha, a motor biker, of Seven Battalion Barracks, was imprisoned for breaking into the home of Aiah Gbeinda, a military man at Goderich Barracks in the early hours on Thursday.

Sam Alpha was accused of illegally entering into the property with the intention to steal. In the event of the breaking and entering the home, he allegedly wounded the officer with a pair of scissors.

Alpha appeared in court charged with four counts of Burglary Contrary to Section 25(1) of the Larceny Act 1916, wounding, ABH and carrying offensive weapon, all contrary to the Laws of Sierra Leone.

The police alleged that the Sam Alpha on Tuesday 24 September 2019, at Block D-12 Goderich Military Barracks, Seven Battalion in Freetown, broke into and entered in the home of Aiah Gbeinda with an intent to commit a Felony.

It was further alleged that the Sam Alpha on the same night maliciously wounded and assaulted the complainant, Aiah Gbeinda, in a manner that occasioned ABH. It further stated that the Alpha, during the process was found in possession of an offensive weapon, a scissors, without lawful authority.

Aminata Gbeinda, the wife of the complainant, in her testimony in court, recognized the Alpha as the culprit. She said that she is a waitress at Eddies Restaurant, Aberdeen in Freetown, adding that, on the day of the incident, at around 4.am, she was asleep, but was woken up by a loud bang.

She said when she heard the noise, she rushed out to see what was happening.  When she saw the accused person holding a scissors in his hands fighting with her husband, and saw blood running through her husband’s nose and side, she felt afraid.

“My husband then told me to go out and asked for help, which I did. I went to one of our closest neighbors, RSM Samura, who came to our aid and arrested the accused. He was later taken to the Adonkia police station, where I made a statement,” she said.

No legal representation was made on behalf of the Sam Alpha in court to cross examine the witness.

Police Sergeant 8998 Kadie Taylor was prosecuting the matter on behalf of the IG of Police.

Magistrate Ngegba remanded in prison Sam Alp. The matter was adjourned to the 23 October 2019.

WHEN LAWYERS WASH THEIR DIRTY LINING IN PUBLIC …

Jusu Kallon Esq.

Basic Ethics of the Legal Profession presupposes that every lawyer owes a Duty of Care to a colleague. In other words, respect for one another. The late Master R A Caeser (May Allah be pleased with him) would stress this duty to the rooftops.

We were told that the Legal Profession is a noble one. Truth be told, it used to be respectful indeed.

During my formative years back in the land of my nostalgia, Kenema, I can vividly recall the way P P B Kebbie and J B Dauda (May their gentle souls rest in peace) hobnobbed before and after a legal spar in the Courtroom.  It was definitely not different from the way S T Navo and Pa Dakowa would do. My beloved father, Joseph Saffa Momoh Kallon (Late) served in the Magistrate and High Courts in Kenema as Registrer for decades and, would share with me his experiences working with them  all. Perhaps my motivation to become one started back then.

Over the past decade, there has been this unfounded and illogical murmurings around court corridors that the huge number of turn out from the Law School has caused more harm. To her credit, the then Chief Justice, Umu Hawa Than Jalloh, disagreed.

Statistics from the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Counsel (GLC) cannot say whether the ‘Under Tens’ since call to the Bar are bringing  the noble profession on its knees in the eye of the public.

Besides, am yet to see a duel played out in the public square between two lawyers Called to the Bar under the past decade.

While serving as Attorney General and Minister of Justice and by extension Titular Head of the Bar couple of years ago, Mr Frank Kargbo and Mr Charles Francis Margai (who has more than four decades under his belt as a Legal Practitioner in the realm) were involved in (am afraid), public redicule of the Bar. Their exchange as played out on social media was disgusting, distasteful and disheartening.

Few days ago, social media was awashed with  letters and write-ups from the Chief Justice, His Lordship, Babatunde Edwards who is  head of the Judicial arm of government, another from the Acting Director of the Law School, Ms Pamela Davies followed by another from Mr. Yada Hashim Williams. All calling out one another in public.

To show that the earlier exchanges were  rehearsals, we were bombarded (again), yesterday, by letter and counter letter this time, from the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ms Priscilla Schwartz, another from the Acting Director, Ms Pamela Davies and again a piece from Yada Hashim Williams all, playing not-cool I must say.

What is frustrating the more, is that these ought to be pacesetters to us the younger counsel. They should exume finesse. With utmost respect to their persons and personalities, one can be excused for going proverbial –  “when gold rust …” Talk less of the fact that much has been given to them all …

My understanding is that the tool of the Legal trade like  the Journalism Profession is word(s). We know that these words have the habit of coming out when we least want them to. This explains why lawyers must be discreet and circumspect in the use of them and dealings with colleagues.

Indeed, the Law School has perennial problems that cannot be solved with a wave of the magic wand.

It means all stakeholders must maintain cool head and approach the issues dispassionately and patriotically with a Duty of Care to the Profession. Certainly, one does not need to like another before working for the common goal and good.

Accordingly, am minded to call on the Head of the GLC, Mr. Mohamed Pa-Momo Fofanah and the President of the Bar Association, Mr. Robert Kowa to intervene and stem this unfortunate display by these very senior colleagues.

THE ACC OFFICIALLY OPENS NEW NORTH-WEST REGIONAL OFFICE

 BY Public Relations Unit, ACC

As a major deliverable of the current leadership of the Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission has on Thursday 17th October 2019, formally opened its new North-West Regional Office in Port Loko Town amidst great aplomb; under the distinguished Grand Chief Patronage of the  Resident Minister of the North-West Region, HON. Haja Isata Abdulai Kamara. Giving the welcome address at the well attended ceremony, Deputy Commissioner of the ACC, Augustine Foday N’gobie, thanked all present for making it to the event which he termed as an epoch making one.

Chairman of the occasion, Ibrahim Santigie Bangura, the Chairman of the Port Loko District Council, expressed gratitude to the ACC for extending the fight against corruption to this part of the country. He encouraged the regional office to bolster its public education drive, as more people are yet to come to terms with the dangers of corruption.

Representing the Paramount Chief of the Bakeh Loko Chiefdom, Adikali Mella II,  Section Speaker Chief Malapi M.A Tarawallie, stated that the people have long waited for this momentous day; and assured the ACC that the people are wholeheartedly in support of the President’s genuine war declared on corruption, which, according to him, has held the destiny of the country to ransom.

 In his keynote address, Commissioner of the ACC, Francis Ben-Kaifala Esq thanked the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency, Brig. (Rtd.) Julius Maada Bio, for his unwavering commitment to the fight against corruption. He referred to the event as historic, in the sense that, the formal opening of the North-West regional office has sealed the establishment of the ACC all over the country. *”Our country has suffered a lot under the myth that nothing can be done about corruption; I want to challenge you all that something can indeed be done in rescuing our country from the cancer of corruption. All that is required of us all is unity of purpose”*, he said. Making an analogy of the Gospel of Christ, the ACC Czar stated that the Gospel of corruption had to be preached all over the country; and that the establishment of the office will serve as the temple where all indigenes of the region can commune to further the crusade against corruption. He ended by rallying the leadership and people of the North-West Region to continue providing the enabling environment and support to Regional staff of the ACC to successfully lay the foundation for a healthy and thriving nation.

The Deputy Mayor of the Port Loko City Council, Zacharia Bangura, referred to the occasion as a new dawn in the region, and encouraged all to join the fight actively, efficiently as corporate members of the ACC.

Councillor Hajaratu Kamara of Ward 234, Port Loko City, called on her colleague females to become players to clamp down on graft. “No nation can succeed in its development aspirations with rampant corruption in the public sector, ” she added. She reminded all of how corruption served as a major trigger to the the ten year senseless and bloody war in our country; urging all to make a commitment to never again go down that path.

The Resident Minister of the North-West Region, HON. Haja Isata Abdulai, the distinguished guest at the occasion representing His Excellency the President, did the formal opening of the new regional office.  In her statement, she referred to the opening of the Port Loko Office as “the beginning of end” of rampant corruption in the region and termed the Anti-Corruption Commission as “a valuable partner” in President Bio’s vision to transform Sierra Leone.

The North-West Region which covers Kambia, Karene and Port Loko Districts, is the fifth regional hub of the Commission; and was borne out of the desire to bring the work of the ACC to the door step of the newly established Regional hub; and consistent with the ACC’s strategic objective to making the ACC the People’s Commission–  ensuring that all citizens are brought along in the national crusade against corruption.

The opening ceremony was attended by hundreds of guests, including Assistant Inspector General of Police of the North-West Region Jorwulor Ansumana Gbonnoh; Mohamed Kamara of Campaign for Good Governance and Chairman of Civil Society, Sitting Magistrate of the Region, Augustine B Samura; Civil society activists, market women, school going pupils, University students; amongst others.

Newly appointed Manager of the North-West Region, Mr. Alhassan Sesay gave the vote of thanks; and assured all present that the fight against corruption in the region will be highly robust. He called on the residents of the region to Resist, Reject and Report corruption at all times, for the transformation of the region.

Key Highllights in the statement by ACC Commissioner FRANCIS BEN KEIFALA at the official Opening of the North-West Region ACC Office on the 17th October 2019.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans we have today completed the efforts to have the ACC represented in all Regions in Sierra Leone. This is to ensure we confront corruption at all times in all places.

Everywhere in the world we have corruption, it is an emergency, but when it affects the very survival of humankind e.g. affecting projects delivering needed social services like education, health, agriculture etc, must be confronted fiercely. This is what is Killling this nation.

The masses who are victims of corruption do sadly at times rally behind the corrupt instead of standing with the ACC. This must stop. We are on a national crusade to save Sierra Leone from the terror of corruption.

We are not claiming perfection in the fight against corruption. We shall deal with corruption fiercely but fairly  irrespective of who is involved in it.

We have planted the temple to fight corruption today in Portloko,  we call on you all our people to support and nurture this office.

*We urge all; Resist, Reject and Report all suspected instances of Corruption to the ACC*

PEO Team ACC

Dog Bites and Prevention of Rabies Campaign Begins

The Information Education and Communications Department of the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone participates during an orientation Meeting on Communication Campaign for Preventing Dog Bites and Rabies across the country. This is part of the One Health Platform in which the Agency, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the Ministry of Agriculture are key members.

Information on Rabies is vital for the Sierra Leonean public especially for those who are close with pets such as dogs. In that case, the IEC Department was represented by Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya made presentations in Bo and Bombali in the presence of key representation from government and other functionaries across the country.

The IEC presentation on Educational Information on Dog Bites and Rabies looked at Educational Information on Dog Bites and Rabies, signs and Symptoms of Rabies in humans and animals, and how to Protect Your Animals from Rabies and how to Keep Your Dog from Biting people.

The orientation which was supported by the Breakthrough Action with funding from USAID aimed at giving orientation on the issue of dog bites and rabies to key stakeholders at district level, and what actions the government is taking to respond to the issue of dog bites and rabies.

Earlier the Regional Manager South-East of the Environment Protection Agency, Aiah Wurie Kembay on behalf of the Executive Chairmand and management gave a statement in which he emphasized the commitment of the EPA towards the One Health Platform. Kembay also expressed the need to raise awareness on rabies as he is a living testimony of the benefits that come with it.

AUREOLE RENAISSANCE MOVEMENT (ARM)  AND ADVOCACY NETWORK FOR CHANGE (ANC)  CONDEMN THE INCONSIDERATE PRESS RELEASE BY THE FOURAH BAY COLLEGE ADMINISTRATION WHICH SLATES THE RESIT EXAMS TO COMMENCE ON THE 21ST OCTOBER.

The Aforementioned Groups have read the Press Release by the Fourah Bay College Administration stating that Resit Exams have been scheduled for the 21st -25th October, 2019 with utter consternation and disbelief. We are shocked by the Administration’s consistent show of disregard for its students concerns regarding missing grades and a host of other acute problems that have had major toll on our academic journey.

We wish to emphatically reiterate that such a Press Release is inconsiderate and somehow tyrannical. We condemn it ab initio.

The Exams Department has been lackadaisical and careless in the manner they handle and process students’ grades. It is shocking to reveal that a greater percentage of the student populace at Fourah Bay College have not seen their complete grades for both first and second semester of the 2018/2019 academic year. Any sober and well-structured Academic Institution in this modern era will not keep its students waiting for a whole academic year without publishing complete and accurate grades.

 It is frustrating to state here that Fourah Bay College that was once the Athens of Africa has not been able to pick itself up from slumber and embrace modernization with seriousness. The college has been on a free-fall since it lost its touch of class.

 The students have been the victims of bad administrative policies for too long. The time to demand for what is right is imminent. Students deserve better.

The *Aureole Renaissance Movement and Advocacy Network for Change* are dissatisfied with the Press Release and believe it is unfair and against the interest of every students on the shores of Fourah Bay College. We condemn it in entirety.

Therefore, we want to urge the Administration to reconsider its decision and alter its Press Release which is disappointing to say the least.

We implore the Administration to take the following recommendations into cognisance or else we shall embark on massive peaceful protest.

 1. That the scheduled dates for the Resit exams be deferred until all the grades for both first and second semester are published. 

 2.That the Exams office be ordered to process and publish all grades within 1 week.

 3. That all matters of missing grades  be resolved before the final publication of grades.

 4. The Lecturers and  Exams office be in  position to produce all the booklets of the various modules sat to as long as there is evidence that the students in question wrote their names on the attendance list(s) which is usually passed round prior to the commencement of every paper* 

 5. That Every lecturer ensure to give a comprehensive list of all the students who sat his/her module to the Exams office and they should work hand in glove with Exams to resolve the mysterious cases of missing grades .

 6. That the Resit exams should hold 1 week after the final publication of grades to give students some time to prepare. This should serve as a concession for the delay in publishing the grades since first semester to date,  which have been mind-boggling and dreadful for students.

 7. That the Administration  also considers the economic hardship in the country at the moment and therefore allow students who have not paid full tuition to take the Resit Exams .

 8. That an Inquiry on the causes of missing grades  commence immediately in order to troubleshoot  solutions to ameliorate this continuous defect that we believe have not been given the serious attention it deserves .

As Student Pressure Groups,  we the Aforementioned are ready to champion a robust Reformation drive that will be based on dialogue between students and the University Administration.

We believe it is time to mount the necessary pressure through peaceful means to ensure our advocacy for enormous improvement in the system is taken seriously.

In solidarity We (ARM and ANC) have taken a position to outrightly condemn the College’s Press Release and implore the Administration to rethink and come up with a decision that will serve in the students’ interest.

 Until all grades are published, we believe it is unwise to schedule the Resit Exams for 21st-25th October, 2019.

We solicit the Administration’s cooperation and understanding in this regard.

 Long live Students’ unionism.

 Long live  Fourah Bay College.

AUREOLE RENAISSANCE MOVEMENT AND ADVOCACY NETWORK FOR CHANGE.

Signed

……..   

Fayia A. Fayia

Mamoud Bah

Leaders.

Dear Council members,

At the meeting of Council of the 24th September 2019 I was appointed to give the keynote address at the 20th November 2019 certification / “call to the Bar” ceremony which I accepted. I regret to turn down that appointment in view of recent developments at the Law School. Council should therefore proceed to appoint somebody else as a replacement.

Furthermore, I hereby step down from the following sub-committees of Council with immediate effect-

1. The Fund Raising Committee for the construction of the new Law School building.

2. The admissions Committee.

I shall however remain a member of Council representing the Sierra Leone Bar Association and hopefully fight for those things that have lifted the Law School from the abyss of depravity of several years ago.

Best regards,

Yada Williams

THE NATIONAL REFORMATION MOVEMENT (NRM-APC)

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CHAIRMAN AND LEADER OF THE ALL PEOPLE’S CONGRESS (APC)

Dear Chairman and Leader,

Over the past few months, following the submission of the draft constitution to the APC Secretariat, the party leadership requested suggestions from the membership to improve on the draft constitution.  We had already stated our dissatisfaction about the exclusion of the mass membership from participating in the constitution-making process — something which has to do with everyone’s future. We are of the firm belief that participatory review of a constitution is a democratic norm. But, sadly, it seems the participation of the mass membership in the review of the party’s constitution is to the APC leadership what garlic is to a vampire.

However, we at the NRM write to follow up on the status of the draft constitution of our party, the APC. As Frederick Douglas, a famous abolitionist once remarked, *”power concedes nothing without a demand,”* we undertake responsibility for ourselves and demand for an explanation on what is happening to the draft constitution. *It’s not lost on us that the  submission of suggestions on the draft constitution ended over sixty days ago.* Quite frankly, we are bewildered by the APC leadership’s  decision to make the whole constitutional review process a travesty, as the shadiness that engulfs the process itself casts doubt on the leadership’s commitment to internal democracy.

Moreover, we have observed over the years that the APC under your leadership has often used undue delay and shadiness as vehicles for the maintenance of the very dictatorial order that democracy seeks to guard against. For us, this is an effort to distract the unsuspecting public from the main task of producing a democratic constitution.

Furthermore, this foot-dragging in the constitutional review process is a serious cause for concern. It has the tendency to undermine the objective of the whole review process.  At the very least, the bulk of the APC membership deserves to be regularly informed on the reasons for the prolonged silence in the whole review process. The party leadership has to learn from historical mistakes that it’s not business as usual, and for a constitution to be credible the voices of the members from across the board must be heard and incorporated in its creation. *Sir, with respect, that document must not be allowed to gather dust! The bolts of dictatorship must not be allowed to be tightened by a few!  Such a mentality, backward as it is, must be shot down!*

At this point, it is important to reiterate our demand to the APC leadership for an explanation on the status of the draft constitution — a document we hope will reflect a commitment to democracy and mass participation in decision-making. *With respect, we ask that you make full commitment to the reforming of a political system that allows a small ruling class to deprive the majority of their basic democratic rights.* To use the language of Peter Tosh, the Jamaican reggae  musician and activist, “all we need is equal rights and justice” in the APC. This ought not be too much to ask!

The NRM remains committed to the struggle to democratize the APC.

Sincerely,

Abdul Karim Kafoir,

Head of Research and Strategic Planning, NRM.

Since The Government Has Introduced The Free Quality Education (FQE) Programme In September 2018, The Consumer Price Index (CPI) Basket Has Changed

          By: Ahmed Bangura

What Is the Consumer Price Index Basket – CPI?

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket is a measure that examines the weighted average of prices of a basket of consumer goods and services; such as: transportation, food, medical care, housing and services. It is calculated by taking the price changes for each item in the predetermined basket of goods and averaging them. Changes in the CPI are used to assess price changes associated with the cost of living. The CPI is one of the most frequently used statistic by Statistics Sierra Leone to identify  periods of inflation or deflation as a tool or model recommended by IMF.

Although it measures the variation in price for retail goods and other items paid by consumers, it does not include things like savings and investments; So it often excludes spending by visitors from other Countries.

Reasons For the Change of Consumer Price Index (CPI) Basket

The Consumer Price Index in Sierra Leone has increased to 264.80 Index Points in March 2019; from 260.90 Index Points in February of 2019. The CPI in Sierra Leone averaged 188.08 Index Points from 2007 until 2019, reaching an all time high of 279.15 Index Points in August 2016 and a record lower of 97.54 Index Points in January 2007, according to the trading economic index.

Comparing the CPI for July to September 2018 last year to March 2019, the national monthly CPI (2008=100) has increased from 234.13 percent in June, 2018 to 238.79 percent in July, 2018 resulting in 1.99 percent inflation. Similarly, the monthly rates of inflation

increased in all the regions.

Also, the national monthly CPI (2008=100) has increased from 257.25 percent in January 2019 to 260.93 percent in February 2019; resulting in 1.43 percent inflation that month. Similarly, the monthly rates of inflation increased respectively.

(Source: SSL CPI press release July 2018 and February 2019).

We also noticed that in July and August 2019, the national monthly CPI (2008=100) also increased from 274.35 percent in July, 2019 to 279.34 percent in August, 2019; resulting in 1.82 percent inflation that month. Similarly, the monthly rates of inflation for the three regions declined in August, 2019 compared to July. Eastern region 0.23 percent comprising Kenema (-1.34) percent and Kono 1.69 percent, Northern region 1.34 percent, Southern region 0.65 percent and Western Area 3.14 percent.

INFLATION

Inflation as measured by the consumer price index, reflects the annual percentage change in the cost of living to the average consumer acquiring a basket of goods and services that may be fixed or changed at specific intervals (monthly and or yearly). The inflation rate has increased over the previous month as at September 2018 to date; this has posed negative effects on the economy and prices of goods and services. According to trading economics, the inflation rate for 2018 was 16.86% and as March 2019, is 17.46%. Which shows that, even though the introduction of the free quality education programme (FQE), prices of other basic necessities like school commodities and goods and services have increased. Thereby resulting in the changed of the CPI.

EDUCATION

Looking at the educational aspect under the consumer price index, which is also a key indicator for the changes in the CPI basket. Let us compare 2018 prior to the introduction of the FQE programme and after what changes has occurred between these period*. As at July 2018, Education has increased from 12.49% in June to 13.14% in July. The inflation rate also has

increased by 0.65 percentage point year-on-year. And looking at February 2019, Education has declined by 0.58 percentage point from 17.70% in January 2019 to 14.12% in February, 2019. (Source: SSL CPI press release July 2018 and February 2019). As of July and August 2019, the education aspect further declined from (-21.36) percent in July, to (-22.22) percent in August 2019.

Therefore, we can see that there is a changed in the consumer price index  basket as a factor of the free quality education programme. After this implementation, we noticed that there has been a persistent rise in prices of goods and other commodities. For example, School materials,and other various learning equipment. Even though education is free for all government schools (both primary and secondary), yet still we notice the declined in education from 22.22% in July, to 21.36% in August 2019. This shows a clear evidence in the changes of the CPI basket, due to the high inflation rate on commodities. In an expense of free education, we noticed that government has to stiffing other sectors’ budgets for the FQE programme which difinately is affecting key sectors in the economy that needed more funds to carry out their activities; and also the common Sierra Leonean on high prices of goods.

We can also confirm from statistics Sierra Leone press release that, one of the major factors that has influence the change in our CPI basket from September 2018 to current release which is August 2019, is that the monthly price on inflation is 1.82 percent reflects a general increase in the price level in all the four regions which affected all of the components in the CPI basket. As a result, the increase was due to the fact that real prices of certain product/items have been implemented and the impact of Free Quality Education has been captured in real terms.

Finally, in line with the above you will surely agree with me that, since the introduction of the FQE programme in September 2018, the consumer price index (CPI) has been changing continuously; also the inflation is at an increasing rate every month. We also noticed diversion of some key government sector budget to FQE programme. Our key concerns as patriotic citizens is that, would the FQE programme has to be in implementation for the next 10 years?  Due to the finance mobilization and political atmosphere? — I am afraid of its long term continuity –. Even though it has shifted the CPI basket, its quality is questionable; because the massive failure at the recently published WAEC results for WASSCE and NPSE pupils are appalling. Indeed, due to the introduction of the FQE programme in September 2018, the consumer price index basket has changed.

What a Billion Leones loss of Money at EcoBank?

It has recalled recently by the general public that an amount worth  912 Million Leones  got missing at the eco bank, Makani Branch Northern Provinces. What a big loss of money? In deed.

It reaches the media that, this is not the first time of such loss at ecobank and that very branch but the management are playing it on low keys. In September 2018 an amount of 200 million got missing at the same branch, no arrest and no further investigation were made on that issue. Today it is at an alarming rate of such huge amount got missing.

According to media investigation we noticed that arrest were made where in, the managing director and his deputy director were arrested and in police custody for further investigation. They claimed that, it is an amount of taxes that to be paid to NRA which was been diverted to a personal account called Alienate and Santos clearing and forwarding agency. According to there internal audit report, two staff at the operations department, Karimy Mansaray and Raymond Paris were involved in this fraudulent activity to divert government fund to a private account.

It is a huge concerned by the general public and people are loosing trust on these commercial banking institution. If a reputable institution like ecobank a huge amount of money get missing? am afraid and hope is lost on there integrity and repetition to handle the public money.

The general customers of ecobank are questioning the integrity of the bank and need an urgent answer’s to these questions

(a) Why did the huge amount got missing and the management want to play low keys on this issue?

(b) On what basis are staff been recruited in ecobank? Are there any proper induction on the area of employment training before they got employed?

(c) How sure and secured is our money in the hands of the bank?

(d) Is there enough capital adequacy ratio, especially with large NPA that do not have enough capital that might have an impacts on the ability to lend and in urgent need of re-capitalization?

(e) The public is calling for revisiting of all your internal I.T system. Are your staff acquitted with the newly internal I.T system of your company for the posting of transactions and payment? If yes, How adequate and effective are the training and posting?

(f) Is there any proper auditing of your financial statements and internal control? If yes, why did the internal audit department can’t pick up this big fraud?

(g)  What are the necessary action taken on these suspected staff? And how and when would the NRA going to have their tax money pay back to their account?

November 1st Is National Multi-cultural Day

(L-R) Director of SLLCA Mr. Darbo (center) and Mr. Dwarty

The Director General of Sierra Leone Local Content Agency Mr. Fodeba Darboh has on Thursday, October 17 2019 unveiled the National Multicultural Day at the SLLCA Office, Stewards Street.

The ceremony, sponsored by Africell, Afri Radio, Planet Drinks and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, was spear-headed by Fayandi Communications Team, led by its Director Mr. Dwarty, a performing art organization that does sanitize Sierra Leoneans across the country.

“The National Multicultural Day,” said Dwarty, “is a necessity because Sierra Leoneans are behaving like foreigners. They have lost their culture. We must start to consider our foods, drinks and clothing and set aside every Friday as a national cultural day.”

Mr. Fodeba Darboh said the Local Content Agency will lobby the government to make it into Law.

Dwarty appealed for Sierra Leoneans to begin to place value on things made in Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leonean people, he pleaded, could model themselves after the Ghanaians, who are proud of wearing their kenti cloths and the Nigerians don’t attend international conferences without wearing and promoting their Agbadas.

Sierra Leoneans are being encouraged to promote the wearing of the Contri cloths, Ronkos attires and Prints, including Cotton outfits. “Ambassadors and foreign visitors should also follow our culture to drink, dress and eat Sierra Leone. We sef for support the government and lobby for pass it into law,” said Dwarty.

“Our children should start playing games like ‘Ar Die’ and ‘Kick seed,’ despite our political backgrounds. Nominate A Best African Dress at the workplace for a prize,” he said.

Mr. Darbo said that the ‘Local Content Act cuts every sector to enhance our socio economic development,’ adding, among others, that President Bio has a clear vision as where he wants to see sierra Leones in a few years’ time”

Asset’s spokesman said that the Lebanese and Indians who are the bigger players have access to finance. Mr. Massaquoi said “We are happy to partner with Fayandi and our target is to produce drink in SL. Now its imported from Guinea, but in a year’s time, we will be able to produce the drinks in this country.”

The Frontline in the Presidency: Who are they?

By: Miracle D Seer

Almost 18 months or thereabout in State House, the question that keeps occupying the minds of many Sierra Leoneans is; who are the front-liners in President Bio’s State House?

Are they made in Sierra Leone and manufactured in the West?

Do they have the local knowledge?

Are they rounded or matured politicians or technocrats, can the make decisions for generations yet unborn? Are they dedicated to a common goal?

Do they actually know the political history of Sierra Leone?

The presidency in most of its critical role is reactive and therefore,  having the right think- tankers in the corridors of State House  is fundamental to a successful tenure. That brings to mind Michael Wolff’s bestseller “Fire and Fury – inside the Trump White House”. The inside workings of the Presidency is as important as the make-up of his inner circle.

From the office of the gate keeper (Secretary to the President) to State Protocol, from the office of the Vice President to the Chief Minister, from the office of the First Lady to the Presidential Advisers, from Presidential Aides including the Media Team to the security architecture there should be an established command process and enforced organizational hierarchy – directing decision funnel to the Commander- in- Chief. In the absence of these structures, the Presidency lacks the necessary political and governance machinery/experience to handle the everyday inter-play of state power and demand for decision – making. If somebody meets the President, it has to be explained why other people are not seeing him. The front liners should know that there is law-based and and courtesy- based precedence.The frontliners should be reminded that there are certain positions under the Constitution or an Act of Parliament in which the office holders should see the President most often to debrief him.

This reminds me of a recent Radio interview on FM 98.1 by the Ombudsman of Sierra Leone – who was literally begging to have frequent audience with the President. Besides the Ombudsman who went public, it is shocking to note that some Ministers and even some top government officials heading accountability and transparency institutions are having difficulties to see the President. For instance, the Auditor General, the Managing Director of SALCAB, the Anti-Corruption Czar, the DG NATCOM, the Chief of Procurement, the Director of Financial Intelligent Unit and of course the Ombudsman should not be given even 24 hours notice to see the President. The Leadership of Parliament including even the Opposition Leaders shouldn’t have difficulties to see the President in good fate. In like fashion, the President should re-organize his diary and look beyond the everyday faces he sees in the presidential entourage.

Mr President, there are some office holders you need to frequently call for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They might not be part of your inner circle but they need your attention and your sense of direction. Sometimes, have a weekend out with them around the countryside. Take them to visit your farm, remind them about your plans and commitment to the people of Sierra Leone. Hear from them and encourage them to be frank with you in that state of nature where the pageantry of state power is diluted.

What is clear after almost 18 months or thereabout inside Bio’s State House is that some frontline actors or gate keepers do not want the President to grant virtual carte Blanche to some equally important office holders in governance. The failure on the part of the inner circle to understand that the corridors of the President should be receptive to the duty bearers of state power is worrying and that this omission or commission from them would lead to *”executive paralysis”* a symptom that is already here with us.

While the 18 months of President Bio has seen steady investment in human capital development, improvement in domestic revenue mobilization, sustained fight against corruption and disciplined public financial management – public feeling is sending a way too different a message and this message is loud and clear – bread and butter.

The Presidency has to open up to new ways of doing things and a new thinking of embracing those outside the inner circle to meaningfully contribute to the governance process.The inner circle or the frontline commandoes in State House should be a point of calm in the storm but in the absence of such cooling point in 18 months, 24 months in Bio’s presidency will be too little too late to cure the paralysis.

In my next article, *Miracle D Seer* will endeavour to talk about the nuances between frontliners and operatives in a presidency and how the Presidency alone cannot answer all the governance questions in a democracy.

©The Miracle Media House

Indian Vice President meets President Bio, announces major areas of cooperation

Honourable Vice President of India, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, has met His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio at State House where he announced major areas of support to Sierra Leone that will impact economic development in the immediate future. 

He praised the government for ongoing economic reforms and disclosed that the agreement with Export–Import Bank of India would, therefore, open a credit line of US$ 30million to support Sierra Leone with a major irrigation development project, boost agricultural productivity at the Tomabom rice project and eventually achieve food self-sufficiency. He encouraged public private partnership and private sector enterprises. 

In a joint press conference, Sierra Leone’s Vice President Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh and his counterpart said other agreements the two governments had signed were for the establishment of a joint commission, cultural exchange programme and capacity building, which resonated with the President’s flagship human capital development programme. 

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Nabeela Tunis, and Director of Telecommunications Consultants India, Mr. Kamendra Kumar, also signed an MoU to participate in the e-VBAB Network Project, a technology upgradation Pan-Africa e-Network venture.

Emphasising the importance of the meeting, Vice President Naidu, who concludes his 3-day visit to Sierra Leone on Monday 14 October as one of only two countries in Africa, said that was the first-ever high-level visit the West Africa nation had had from the Republic of India.

He was accompanied by the country’s Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries, Shri Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, a Member of Parliament in the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of India, Shri Ramvichar Netam, and senior officers of the Government of India.

President Bio paid tribute to the long-standing relationship between the two countries, citing the role they played as peacekeepers with the United Nations in post-war Sierra Leone. He said the Indian community had also contributed through business to the economy of the country.

“Sierra Leone and India have had a long-standing relationship. Today, as a country, we want to assure the people of India that we will continue to strengthen that relationship for our mutual benefit. Enjoy your stay and thanks for visiting Sierra Leone,” he said.

Ken Philip Sondai Set To Transform Maritime

Almost 10 months since he was appointed as Executive Director at Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, Mr. Ken Philip Sondai has worked hard to turn things around at SLMA. With a more effective, productive and efficient work force, the Administration can now boast of a functioning Audit Department with a more accountable and transparent accounting system.

Below, is a list of some of the bold steps Mr. Sondai has taken at SLMA in the short time he has been there as Executive Director.

He inherited over 16 Billion Leones in debt owed to NASSIT, NRA, Vendors, Newspapers, and international organisations.  To tackle this issue, a payment plan has been initiated and payment has even begun.

In terms of SLMA’s international obligations, the institution has incurred over $500,000 in arrears, of which Philip Kendai has ensured for payments to be begun right away.

And he has also averted the blacklisting of Sierra Leonean ports by the US Government by implementing security requirements – that is international ships and ports facility security code (ISPS Code).

What is even of interest is the payment of backlog salaries, including outstanding leave allowances. Currently, he has instructed for a wholesome review of the human resource policy of SLMA.

Furthermore, Ken Sondai has decentralised the operation of SLMA. The activities of the institution are now known in communities where SLMA didn’t exist, through their robust outreach mechanism.

Another plus, is the supply of 150 safety life jackets to the Mabang community and a further 150 to the Mende Gorama chiefdom.

“SLMA has also increased revenue collection,” said a humble Sondai. “And we have employed over 70 new staffs to enhance efficiency.

“And it will interest you t know that SLMA has signed a memorandum of understanding with N’jala University College, to help develop a curriculum that will enable maritime courses to be offered here in Sierra Leone. And SLMA intends to purchase search and rescue boats to be able to conduct inspections and respond to emergencies as soon they occur. Look, the procurement of radio communications equipment is underway as we speak.”

And what will interest many people is that SLMA contributes 20 percent of the revenue it generates to the Consolidated Fund to help fund the Free Quality Education and other government priorities.

The media team at SLMA also added that the institution joined the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other global partners to commemorate World Maritime Day – in order to raise awareness on the activities of SLMA and to push for the empowerment of women in the maritime community.

And SLMA under Ken Sondai has supported staff training both at local and international levels.

Another huge success is leading in the domestication of International Instruments which will boost revenue generation at the international level; and SLMA’s intention to construct a state of the art Search and Rescue Centre in Bonthe which will enhance relations in the global maritime community.

Since the rains started, the SLMA has run jingles on radio and tv on sea safety to guide commuters in riverine areas – and this has helped to drastically reduce accidents at sea.

“Ken Philip Sondai is truly an innovative person,” admitted most of the staff. “He is a God-send to SLMA. We are proud to say, ‘Bravo Ken Philip Sondai, SLMA Boss.’”

Is the APC chairman & Leader finally stepping down?

Since the Julius Maada Bio led SLPP was announced winner of the April 2018 presidential run off, there has been a great deal of agitation among the APC rank and file for a new leadership and for a review of the party’ s constitution, particularly the ‘Selection Clause’. About 18 months since the election, what has changed so far and what is the Chairman and Leader, former President Koroma, saying about all these thorny issues? Is he going to lead the APC to Convention sooner rather than later and is he finally going to step down?

Well, to know the answers to all those crucial questions, grab a copy of the Nationalist newspaper of Tuesday October 15th, 2019

Former President Koroma says…

APC Must Go To Convention Earlier Enough

By Sheriff Mahmud Ismail

The outcome of the 2018 presidential polls shocked the All People’s Congress (APC), punctured the nerve and fibre of the Party, causing dissonance and disorientation among its rank and file. The vast majority of the membership and followership have therefore been demanding constitutional reforms and for a new party leadership. While some have been doing so rather quietly; others have been tempestuous, almost contemptuous. The divergence on how the changes should be brought about constitutes one of the few hindrances to the process.

The outgoing chairman and leader, former president Ernest Bai Koroma, on his part, had expressed desire to step down even before the elections results were announced. But as the sage would say, “If the hook didn’t catch the fish, someone should account for the bait”. That accounting process had begun with a nine-man committee to investigate what was responsible for the party’s 2018 electoral performance. One of the recommendations of that Committee is a reform of the APC Constitution, particularly relating to the filling in of national and other officers of the party. That Constitutional Reform Process itself had been commissioned but understandably, the fallout from the unexpected outcome of the 2018 presidential polls and the lack of magnanimity on the part of those who were announced as winners warranted some amount of delay in the APC’s internal transition process.

About 18 months after the April 2018 presidential runoff, that sluggishness has engendered palpable anxiety among a good number of APC faithful. Many agitate that the continued delay in concluding the constitutional reform and the declaration of a timetable for a National Delegates’ Conference (NDC) doesn’t serve the collective interest of reorganizing into a formidable party ready to govern once again. This incontrovertible fact is not lost on the man who has led the APC since 2002. The former president is expected in Freetown this week for an engagement with the Party leadership on the revised constitution and possible timetable for the party’s NDC.

“My position has always been that after being at the helm for this long, it’s really time for fresh heads and hands to carry on with the business of running our beloved APC. Eventually, a new leadership has to emerge – it is inevitable”, said the outgoing chair and leader to a cross section of the APC Northern Region Executives.

The APC leader, who still enjoys considerable goodwill among the party’s rank and file, holds the view that “the Party must go to convention earlier enough to conclude the election of flag bearer, parliamentary and council candidates”. 

To achieve this, the Party, especially former flagbearers should close ranks, rein in their many supporters; focus on getting a new leadership under the new Constitution and reenergise the Party ahead of 2023.

Already, the outgoing chair and leader has reiterated that, the Consultation Clause in the Draft Constitution should not stall the process saying: “Whatever that is deemed as controversial and objectionable should, in the interest of the general good, be expunged in order for the process to forge ahead”.

This renewed determination by the outgoing APC chairman and leader to expedite and conclude the reform process in collaboration with his Comrades at Old Railway Line in Freetown, could not have been more reassuring to both the APC and the country at large. It comes amid an increasing national consensus that those who skidded to State House since 2018 appear to be insipid and puerile; suffocated by a dearth of administrative tact and a scandalous detour from nation-building.

Political analysts agree that the current dire governance and socio-economic realities berating the nation, have underscored that the APC was on the right path and if the party were to put its act together and function more effectively in unison, reclaiming State House in 2023 will be less difficult.

That truth, like a cork, remains stubbornly afloat no matter the number of times anyone tries to push it down the water.

SLCAA Celebrates ICAO 75th Anniversary

By SLCAA COMMUNICATIONS

The Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA) has celebrated the International Civil Aviation Organization’s 75th Anniversary of Connecting the World.

The event was organized to commemorate ICAO’s 75 years of enhancing global civil aviation, producing global plans to coordinate multilateral strategic progress for safety and air navigation, auditing States’ civil aviation oversight capabilities in areas of safety and security, and connecting the world to sound economic opportunities.

In her opening address, the Deputy Director General, Fatu-Maria Wurie Conteh recalled the establishment of ICAO, following several studies conducted by the United States and its Major Allies. She observed that the US Government extended invitations to 55 States to attend the International Aviation Conference in Chicago of which 54 States attended and 52 two out of the 54 States signed the new Convention on International Civil Aviation.

“Today is the first ever event Sierra Leone is undertaking to commemorate ICAO’s existence as a body responsible for civil aviation. We join ICAO to celebrate 75 Years of not only connecting the world, but also providing opportunities and stimulating economic growth globally. I consider it a major achievement because it demonstrates Sierra Leone’s determination to join the rest of the world in improving the safety and security standards of its aviation industry as provided by ICAO,” she said.

She added: “ICAO’s core mandate, since establishment, has been to help States achieve the highest possible degree of uniformity in civil aviation regulations, standards, procedures and organization. Today, the story of ICAO is, in many respects, changing the topography of air transport and its related fields.”

The Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Sadiq Sillah, in his key note address re-emphasized ICAO’s significance in enhancing global aviation safety and security by constantly developing technical standards, legal regulations and operating procedures which have been essential to the development of aviation.

“The 75 years of connecting the world has been a great milestone for the aviation community. We must reflect on our contributions in making sure air transport is safe, secure, accessible and affordable. Today, I implore us all to not just celebrate the anniversary, but to collectively embrace the opportunity to look back on the principles of ICAO, with a determined mindset, re-strategize and chart the way forward for a better aviation industry in Sierra Leone,”he said.

The occasion was graced by the Deputy General Manager of Sierra Leone Airport Authority, Chairman of Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Aviation who randomly spoke on the development of aviation industry and the inclusion of more women in the sector.

ICAO is a UN specialized body that came into being as result of the International Aviation Conference held in Chicago in 1944. Sierra Leone became a member on the 22nd November 1961.

Ports Authority Appeals for 50% of Annual Concession Fees from Government

By SLPA Communications

The Management of Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA) has called on the Government through the Ministry of Finance to look at the possibility of releasing Fifty percent of funds from the Annual Concession fees paid by Port Private Operators to be paid to the Authority to carry out major infrastructural projects and thereby meet the expectations of the Government agenda for a transformed Port.

The Ag. General Manager Mr. Yankuba Askia Bio made this plea during the Authority’s 2020 budget presentation to the Ministry of Finance at the presence of non-states actors and other Civil Society groups at room 3 at the Miatta Conference last Saturday.

The Acting GM’s presentation featured pictorial slides of major port facilities including the Ferry Terminals, the berths at the Freetown Port, the Kissy Oil Jetty, Huge capital-intensive projects and other major infrastructure which are ruined due to age and badly in need of maintenance.

Mr. Bio, during his presentation pleaded with the Government on behalf of the Authority for the release of funds to address the challenges on maintenance on port facilities.

 “These challenges involve huge finances. The Port management cannot finance these projects, and we are therefore calling on the Government through the Ministry of Finance to look at the possibility of releasing fifty (50%) percent of funds from concession fees paid by Port private operators (Concessionaires) to the SLPA”.

The budget showcased the institutional profile and area of control, the Authority’s contributions to the consolidated funds, expenditure, sources of revenue, projected statement of cash flow, projected statement of financial position, summary of capital investment and challenges.   

The budget was designed to promote the corporate image of the Port and ensure that it can be compared to other ports around the world; increase revenue generation in Ports operations; eliminate micro and macro wastages and leakages in managing the Ports; improve customer service delivery in Ports operations; and develop Ports infrastructure and build capacity of staff.

On its contribution to the consolidated fund, the Authority continues to meet its responsibilities of contributing Le 70bn annually from concession fees and royalties from private Port operators to the Government. Additionally, government has 20% shares in the operations of Freetown Terminal Limited (FTL), the Chief Accountant Mr. Malcolm Leigh noted.

According to the revenue figures for 2020, the authority will source its funds from Marine Services, Stevedore (Liquid Bulk), Container Terminal, Break Bulk and Marine Slipway Throughput Fees.

The Budget hearing Technical Committee, CSOs and other non-state actors commended the management of SLPA for its presentation and promised to make a follow-up on their appeal for Government’s attention on major capital-intensive maintenance on Port facilities.

SATIRE | ECONOMY

E.X.C.L.U.S.I.V.E.!!!

ILLEGAL ENTRY!

Hard Ship enters Sierra Leonean waters without permission

By Ticha Lemp Lemp

The Government of Sierra Leone has refused the landing of a gigantic charity vessel believed to be carrying tons of bags of rice, canned foods, loaves of bread and packets of butter for distribution to poor countries across West Africa.

However, the vessel, named Hard Ship, has suffered breakdown and is now ‘temporary’ docked at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay.

Government officials are not forthcoming with details, but our source at the Quay says they have given the crew 12 hours to disappear with the vessel or face charges for landing without permission.

Our source quotes an official of the Internal Affairs ministry of saying the rice consignment is “substandard and unfit for human consumption, and the canned foods are expired”

“We have intelligence that these so called philanthropists trying to feed the poor are hiding behind charity to dump unwanted food stuffs on our people,” our source quotes the official as saying.

The ship`s crew have been warned strictly not to step their feet on Sierra Leone soil, our source further says.

Independent reports say the charity vessel was in Liberia last week where it donated 500, 000 bags of rice and 2000 boxes of canned food to the delight of the Government and People of the former US colony.

The bread and butter were specifically for Sierra Leone, according to our source.

It could be recalled that this same Hard Ship docked in Sierra Leone in early 2007 and delayed for years, claiming it was undergoing maintenance, before the then government ordered it to continue its so-called charity voyage.

Sierra Leoneans have been crying ‘hardship’ all over the place in recent times and we could only speculate how they would react to news of Government’s action against the Hard Ship vessel.

The SLPP Is In Dire Need Of Strategic Thinkers

By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)

The Fullahs have a proverb which, when loosely translated into the English language, says, “A man cannot be running and at the same time trying to scratch his foot.” What that means in my One Dropian disrobed language, as usual, is that an intelligent man who is results-oriented does one meaningful thing at a time.

That brings me to today’s One Dropian dropping. The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) government of Julius Maada Bio has been proverbially trying to run and at the same time try to scratch an itching foot. And in always trying to achieve such a feat, the Bio-led administration has repeatedly been inducing laughter in situations where laughter is being regarded as a sign of lack of good taste.

Imagine while President Paul Kagame of Rwanda was launching the first ever high tech smartphone factory in Africa; our very own President Bio was turning the sod for the construction of a “tapalapa” bread bakery at Wellington, east of the capital. If I should translate that into figurative terms: it is like while students in China are trying to perfect their drone experiment; lecturers at Njala University are explaining the nutrients value of Cassava Leaves to two-year olds. In plain English: the launching of the high tech smartphone factory in Rwanda and the turning of the sod in Sierra Leone for a bakery do not only show both leaders’ preferences but their mind-sets of where they want to position their countries in the league of progressive nations.

And whereas Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, has won the covetous Nobel Peace Prize for “his efforts to foster peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan and Ethiopian ethnic conflicts”; our own President Bio seems to be implementing policies that appear to be creating chasms amongst ethnic groups in Sierra Leone which might have cataclysmic consequences for the future.

And I was glad when, during the turning of the sod for the would-be construction of a bakery at Wellington, President Maada Bio made a Freudian slip by stating that those Sierra Leoneans who were posting the stabbing and wounding of their compatriots on social media were scarecrow-ing potential investors. Maybe it is because the Head of State is a careered soldier that is why he might be unfamiliar with what professional journalists call “news value”. If a mentally-ill person like “Blacka” could be allegedly stabbed and wounded, by alleged SLPP supporters, for simply making political statements that sounded gibberish; then I think such postings on social media fall under the category of “human interest story”. 

And I don’t know if President Bio has come across what is called Social Realism? (I know he might have, considering the fact that he was once a PhD Candidate.) And what might have been posted on social media might not be sexed or doctored photos. They might not even be morphed videos. They might have been pictures of what the pictures really are. Hence the concept of Social Realism coming into play!

And I am, humbly with all humility and respect to the Office of the President, disagreeing with President Bio that posting the plights of victims of politically motivated stabbing and wounding in Sierra Leone on social media will scare away potential investors. If that is the premise on which the president is trying to build his case for the seemingly investors’ disinterest in Sierra Leone, after his countless travels abroad seeking them out, then I will have to remind him that in the United States of America and other countries in Europe social media are bespattered everyday with postings of stabbing and wounding, and even mass killings, yet investors flock to those countries in droves.

I am not in any way justifying the postings of stabbing and wounding of Sierra Leoneans by Sierra Leoneans on social media. But as Chinua Achebe noted in his novel, The Arrow of God, “… a man who brings home ant-infested faggots should not complain if he is visited by lizards.” And I think the first step for the Bio administration to solve this investors’ barrenness is for them to employ The Pied Piper of Hamelin who knows how to catch rats effectively. In my figurative opinion, foreigners who want to invest in printing papers will never think of building a warehouse in a rat-infested country.

`

The above is just a hypothetical aside. My point is: genuine investors will always avoid a country in which the government will just wake up one morning and terminate contracts without looking at the contractual small prints in those contracts. No sober-minded investor will go to a country where thugs will storm polling stations and overturn ballot boxes with the ease with which a cow chews elephant grass.

And there is a Chinese proverb that says, “To see what is right and not to do it is the part of a coward.” That’s exactly what is currently happening in Sierra Leone, which might be one of the reasons why investors are treating the country like an Ebola-infested leper! A man cannot be seeking a woman’s hand in marriage and expecting the bride’s parents to pay her pride price. He has to be man enough to do the right thing.

And talking—sorry writing—about being man enough to do the right thing. Common sense tells me that if I am faced with a choice to construct an airport complete with a new city for about $450 million and that of constructing a Bridge from nowhere to nowhere for a cost of about $2.1 billion; I will not hesitate to choose the former even if I am an ignoramus!

And why would any government with strategic thinkers even think of terminating a four-berth project at an established and well-known quay in the capital with the aim of building a $500 million second seaport in the bush? But I can understand the predicament of a carpenter who is tasked to do a welder’s job.

[email protected]/+232-76-611-986

Government Launches Review of Local Government Act 2004

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. TJ Lamina on Tuesday, October 15, launched the Review of The Local Government Act (LGA 2004) and the Decentralization Policy (2010) at the Miata Conference Hall.

During his speech, Dr. Juldeh Jalloh, Sierra Leone Vice President attempted at defining the meaning for the New Direction, calling it a State of Mind, that drives what he said is the methodology of Paopa.

The Vice President told the gathering that Paopa is a methodology that stands for ‘a relentless engagement with strategies to deliver this country.’

A loud round of applause followed his scholarly erudition.

However, he thanked ministers for choosing him for the position of chairman for the inter-ministerial council, adding that politics in Sierra Leone does not favour gender participation because the ‘terrain is rough,’ he concluded.

Minister of Local Government, Mr. Lamina pointed out that the review is fair and democratic for everyone to come and make a contribution.

Madame Lavalie enthused that her finance ministry has allocated Le3 billion to move the President’s agenda, and making it fulfil its objective for 2020, which has been declared the Year of the Local Government.

Prof. GBAKIMA INCITES RANCOR AND RIFT AMONG STUDENTS – NUSS CALLS FOR HIS RESIGNATION

Following a media appearance on AYVTV sometime last week, the Minster of Technical and Higher Education, Prof. Gbakima made firm commitment to holding stakeholders round table dialogue and engagement with the existing leadership of the National Union of Sierra Leone Students* hereinafter referred to as NUSS so as to fully abreast himself and thus get to fully have a firsthand understanding in respect of the dynamics and operations of such a national students body being a new Minister in the said Ministry who had met an existing NUSS body that had been making international representations on behalf the nation.

The meeting was scheduled for Tuesday 15th October, 2019 in the Ministry and to our utter dismay and absolute surprise, Prof. Gbakima invited some other set of students of whom he had prepared to strongly counter us in the course of the said meeting on the sentimental grounds that the current NUSS is not legitimate and hence, he does not recognize it after he had unequivocally and categorically asserted on AYVTV that the current NUSS President, Thomas Gbabai,*has graduated and therefore should relinquish the position forthwith. What an irony here!

What made the matter even worse was that, no sooner he entered the conference room in order to commence the all important meeting than asked his Military bodyguard to frog-match the current NUSS President in question as well as the current NUSS Public Relations Officer out of the meeting without even saying a word in favor of his group he had already incited and prepared to ruthlessly counter us in the said meeting of whom a number of those among that group are not even active students any longer. In fact, in the course of the meeting, whosoever among the legitimate SU Presidents from the various campuses across the nation therein the meeting that the current NUSS President, Thomas Gbabai, officially invited attempted to make a submission, he would also again asked his Military bodyguard to frog-match the individual. We glaringly saw a premeditated foul play and outright intimidation in the said meeting. Does that how a Minister of Higher and Technical Education address concerns among students?

However, it is no gainsaying that prior to the said meeting, we actually went for a constructive dialogue and engagement with the Ministry with the close anticipation that the meeting was going to be stakeholders conversation with a view of charting the way forward thereby devising a clearly comprehensive road map to a peaceful and smooth transition from the Thomas Gbabai led executive to the succeeding President and exexutive since our democratic tenural mandate had lapsed since July 2019. But again, what made the said meeting very questionable was the fact that the Deputy Minister, the Permanent Secretary as well as the Students Secretary of the Higher and Technical Education whom have been adequately privy to all our programs and activities so far were all not in attendance on the understanding that the Minster, Prof. Gbakima did not invite them to the meeting to have their say all as result of the fact that he had surreptitiously masterminded and stage-managed the whole engagement therey inciting possible rancor, rift and controversy among students even at the behest of the *’New Direction’* government which has fundamentally prioritised education as its flagship project insofar President Bio’s agenda is concerned and may not want to hear any issues or acrimonious situation whatsoever erupt among students across the nation. The Minister, Prof. Gbakima was expected to have taken the middle road approach, but he never did due diligence in this regards.

Against this background, therefore, *NUSS calls the Head of State who doubles as the Chancellor of all the Universities in the nation (H.E President Bio) to intervene almost immediately as it is now evidently obvious that the Minister, Prof. Gbakima has doggedly hell-bent on throwing spanner to the peaceful and cohesive nature NUSS has thus far largely enjoyed thereby igniting something counterproductive that will, to a greater extent, make this government which has unprecedentedly placed so much emphancy and seriousness on education look bad particularly to donor and international development partners currently on ground. If a Minister in his capacity could emphatically and in no uncertain terms utter suicidal threats to mercilessly kill students who make any attempt to put forth genuine and legitimate concerns as regards the modus operandi and steady progress of NUSS, by every standard and in all indications (with all due respect though) he does not have the kind of temperament and practical patience to handle students related matters in this circumstance.

Moreover, let it be abundantly noted once again that it should  be sacrosanctly reminded that as per NUSS constitution, NUSS is an independent national students advocacy group which seeks to maximize the welfare and concerns of students indiscriminately across the nation and however does also recognize the Ministry of Higher and Technical Education providing supervisory role to this peak representative body which does not in any way connote or presuppose that it should dictate to or interfere with the operations, functions, affairs and runnings of such a highly responsible union. Hence, seeing this systemic, calculated steps and patterns singularly and most exclusively by the Minister, Prof. Gbakima in directly imposing and squarely dictating, if not interfering with, the affairs and operations of NUSS, raises eyebrows and calls for a serious cause for concern among students across the nation.

The Thomas Gbabai led executive wishes to make firm commitment with widely open arms to staging a well constituted convention that will assemble all students leaders across the nation who will democratically elect a new President as well as the rest of the other executive members for the 2019/20 academic year so as to leave behind an ever peaceful, cohesive and decorous union charged with a clear, constitutional mandate to stand up in selflessly advocating for the welfare and myriad concerns of students across the nation for we believe the biggest legacy the Thomas Gbabai led executive will record, among other a long list of successes we have already successfully bagged, is by effecting a peaceful and smooth transition of power. Thomas Gbabai has no reason to over-stay as he may not even want to hold the union to ransom for he knows too well that, should he go down that unfortunate path, posterity will not be kind to him but will harshly and negatively judge him.

Whiles the current NUSS leadership looks forward to Fourah Bay College’s Students Union Elections which is hopefully expected to be held anytime sooner rather than later, by the same token, we need not remind the Minster, Prof. Gbakima, that the University of Sierra Leone is not NUSS for it is only a member to NUSS. And by that ipso facto, therefore, even in a situation whereby their SU Elections are still pending, as it was the case for the previous convention that overwhelmingly ushered in Thomas Gbabai as NUSS’ President, NUSS can still carry on with its business for they cannot hold the rest of other universities, colleges and institutions across the nation which are currently having effective up-running students unions in operation and by extension revered members also to NUSS hostage as such will unfairly appear to be the greatest disservice to the larger students populace of Sierra Leone. Thus, a date and venue will soon be duly communicated for the upcoming NUSS convention.

Meanwhile, the leadership of NUSS calls on all students from across the nation who have been reaching us to raise profuse and sincere concerns as to the kind of discriminatory and inciting approach unfortunately manifested by the Minister, Prof. Gbakima to the issues of NUSS, with a particular reference to yesterday’s meeting, to remain calm and also wishes to assure them that a durably lasting solution will be reached in due course. Thanking you all for the usual cooperation, your unwavering support and unflinching commitment to the cause of NUSS.

Prof. Gbakima Must resign!

Signed:

Martin B. Bangura,

Secretary General NUSS.

Approved:

Thomas Gbabai,

President NUSS.

PPASL ORGANIZED WORKSHOP FOR PARLIAMENTRIANS, WOMENS GROUP & YOUTH ON POLICY ADVOCAY FOR SAFE MOTHERHOOD AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH LEGISLATION IN SIERRA LEONE

The People’s Alliance for Reproductive health Advocacy (PARHA) with support from the Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone (PPASL) has organized a workshop on Policy Advocacy for Safe Motherhood Legislation in Sierra Leone Policy Makers and Civil Society Organizations for the incorporation and domestication of the Maputo Plan of Action and the Maputo Protocol to National Strategies and to address the issues of SRHR, including Teenage Pregnancy, Child Marriage and Gender Based Violence.

The workshop was organized on the background of the negative health indicators and SRH treaties, conventions and protocols the Sierra Leone government has signed up to. The goal of the workshop is to enhance better understanding of Parliamentarians, women and youth on Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health issues thereby building the political will in support of a Comprehensive legislation addressing the SRH challenges in line with the Maputo Plan 2016-2030.

SRH health statistics in Sierra Leone:

•          Maternal Mortality Ratio: 1,165/100,000 Live Births (DHS 2013).

•          In 2015, UN estimated that the MMR was 1,360/100,000 Live Births

•          The rate of unsafe abortion is 28 %.

•          Infant mortality Rate 92/1000 Live Births

•          Neonatal Mortality rate: 39/1000 Live Births (DHS 2013)

•          Unmet need for family planning is estimated at 25% for all women and as high as 30% among adolescents aged 15 – 19 years (SLDHS 2013)

•          Teenage pregnancy rate – 34%

•          HIV/AIDS prevalence rate – 1.5% – 61,000 people

•          Total fertility rate – 4.9 %

•          Contraceptive prevalence rate – 16 %

UNDUE STAY IN OFFICE…

FOOTBALL STAKEHOLDERS WRITE FIFA

Following the undue stay in office by President of Sierra Leone Football Association, Isha Johansen, Football Stakeholders have written a strong letter to the Secretary General of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) highlighting series of issues which they said she is well aware relating to the situation in

Sierra Leone Football.

The Football  Stakeholders pointed out in the letter two years of undue stay in office and constituyional violations

by the Isha Johansen led executive.

They are craving indulgence of the Secretary General for FIFA  to set

up a Normalization Committee that will take the membership to Congress

in conformity with the provisions of Article 8 (2) of the FIFA Statutes which stipulate that “Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office in consultation with the relevant bodies and replaced by a normalization committee for a specific period of time” the letter averred.

See Full Letter Below:

SIERRA LEONE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP FORUM

C/o 28 Charlotte Street, Freetown

Email: [email protected]

CONTACT: 232-76-604367/232-76647456

The General Secretary

Federation International Football Association (FIFA)

Zurich

3rd October, 2019

TWO (2) YEARS OF UNDUE STAY IN OFFICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATIONS BY THE ISHA JOHANSEN LED EXECUTIVE

Permit me to reach out to you Madam Secretary-General in this unconventional means and to bring to your attention issues some of

Which I believe you are well aware relating to the situation in Sierra

Leone football.

I write you on behalf of the membership of the Sierra Leone Football Association because there is no shred of redress mechanism within our football. We particularly want to bring to your attention the following.

1.That the SLFA constitution stipulates in Article 58 that the judicial bodies are to be elected by congress.  This was done in the only congress ever to be convened by the present executive on 23 March 2017. We have however, not seen these bodies function to date.

2.The constitution of the SLFA states that the Ordinary Congress for election of new officials is to be held every 4 years. The last election of the present executive committee was held on 3rd August 2013, making it constitutionally imperative for another congress on 3 August 2017 which has not taken place to date.

3.On 2nd August 2017, the present executive committee released a

letter, said to have been issued from your office extending the tenure

of ISHA JOHANSEN led executive indefinitely. Since then there has not

been any mention of any congress. This lack of communication to the

membership on precise dates is a violation of the statute of the SLFA.

4.The Executive Committee has not presented budget and financial

report to the membership through congress since this current Executive

was elected in 2013.  This violates the FA’s constitution in article 22 (f) and (g) which provide that Congress is not only the highest body, but should approve budget, review and vet financial reports in the second quarter of every year at Ordinary Congress or Extra Ordinary Congress as the case may be.

5.In September 2019, the Executive Committee of the SLFA put out a

release that they were adding two (2) teams to the Premier League.

The promotion was precipitated on account of a very successful Premier

League competition and one of the best for decades. 

It was also the first league played in six years in the country where the game has suffered a long break as a result of disagreement between club owners

and the Executive of the FA over constitutional matters.

To our chagrin, the Executive Committee decided that the ‘National Play-off’ to determine the two clubs to be promoted to the premier league would be confined to the Northern region. The exclusion of the other regions has provoked protests from those regions that feel cheated.

Western Area and the Southern region played a fully -fledged first Division league in anticipation of a national play-off. 

The decision to exclusively make the national play-off a single regional affair is more of a political consideration than football.

Worthy of note, is the general rule in football that teams are promoted on playing merit and not on regional representation or demographic consideration. We have always stuck by this until the executive Committee came with this regional preference.

The usual tradition and constitutional formula has been abandoned abruptly

prompting some affected clubs, district and regions to go to court for

interpretation of the SLFA constitution, particularly when there are no judicial bodies in existence. These and many more issues constitute a serious blight to our football.

Finally, at a time when the mandate of the Executive Committee has expired two (2) years ago and the constitutional violations are continuing, we crave your indulgence for FIFA  to set up a Normalization Committee that will take the membership to Congress in

conformity with the provisions of Article 8 (2) of the FIFA Statutes

which stipulate that “Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office in consultation

with the relevant bodies and replaced by a normalization committee for a specific period of time”.   

It is our strong conviction that such a

body with restore trust and confidence in any process aimed at bringing normalcy to our football. If actions are not taken, the membership will be left with no options but to continue to seek redress in the court of law especially when there is no redress mechanism within the FA to look into the myriad of constitutional violations.

We anticipate your kind intervention in resolving this long outstanding impasse in Sierra Leone.

Yours faithfully

FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE SIERRA LEONE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP.

Idrissa Tarawally

CHAIRMAN

Cc:     

1.The Hon. Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone

2.The Hon. Attorney-General and Minister of justice

3.The Hon. Minister of Sports

4.The Deputy Minister of Sports

5.The Chairman, Parliamentary Sports Committee

6.The Executive Director of Sports

7.The General-secretary, Confederation of African Football (CAF)

8.General Secretary, Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA)

9.SLFA Membership

10.The Media.

Courtesy of Satellite News

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