British High Commissioner faces Parliament

The British High Commissioner faced questions for Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday. Chaired by Dr Kandeh Yumkella, the panel asked His Excellency Guy Warrington questions on development assistance in Sierra Leone, the environment, and border security.

The High Commissioner was invited to outline the broad support the UK Government provides in Sierra Leone. He started by detailing the similarities between the British and Sierra Leonean Parliaments. He welcomed the opportunity to speak to the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, recognising the unique political situation and so the unique opportunity for Parliament to make itself relevant, and to promote inclusive politics. He appreciated the important role scrutiny plays in Parliament, and how the meeting was part of the scrutiny process.

The High Commissioner applauded Parliament’s recent debates on the Commission of Inquiry and the Finance Bill, which he assessed as proper and meaningful. He highlighted the UK’s support to Parliament and the democratic process, most recently via the support the UK gave to the multi-tiered electoral process. He made clear that the UK did not have any influence over the result.

He praised the work of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; and the wider work they do to build democratic institutions. He said the UK would always support Parliamentary prerogatives, but would be quick to comment when Parliament exceeded those prerogatives.

His Excellency outlined the support the UK provides to Sierra Leone and the wider world, quick to note that the UK was the only country to meet both the NATO commitment to spend 2% on defence and the UN commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on development.

The High Commissioner spoke about the historic relationship between the UK and Sierra Leone. He described the UK as Sierra Leone’s oldest friend, and the record the UK had of answering the call when Sierra Leone was in need, citing examples such as the Civil War, the response to Ebola, and the 2017 landslide.

The High Commissioner went into detail about the assistance the UK Government gives to Sierra Leone. The UK has been one of the largest contributors of aid to Sierra Leone over the past few years. This year (2018/2019) more than £132.5m of UK aid will come to Sierra Leone through bilateral, multilateral and centrally managed programmes. This makes the UK the biggest bilateral donor in Sierra Leone.

This assistance, provided by UK aid programmes, is clustered around three core themes – Economic Growth; Governance and Social Development; and Basic Services – which covers support for infrastructure, governance, macro-economic support and rural (and urban) development. 

The Water, Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene programme is providing improved WASH for 250,000 people by providing boreholes and latrines. It is also improving waste management services for 600,000 people. The Rehabilitation of Freetown’s Water Supply System programme is replacing and improving the water network in the city. It is improving the access to safe drinking water for 600,000 residents and businesses. The Rural Electrification in Sierra Leone programme is providing health centres and communities (including businesses) with solar power to benefit more than 200,000 people. The Increasing Access to Electricity in Sierra Leone programme is improving the availability and reliability of energy for more than 200,000 people in Sierra Leone’s second and third cities (Bo and Kenema). And the new Invest Salone programme will support private sector firms to grow while providing technical assistance to Government to tackle the constraints to growth in Sierra Leone.

To support good governance in Sierra Leone the SABI programme (Strengthening Accountability and Building Inclusion) empowers citizens to hold service providers to account and improve service delivery. UK aid supports anti-corruption in Sierra Leone through an anonymous citizen bribe reporting platform and campaign, and support to strengthen the Anti-Corruption Commission. The UK helps improve revenue collection in Sierra Leone by providing technical assistance to the National Revenue Authority to increase revenue flows through improved data, revenue enforcement drives and customs reform. The UK also provides support to basic services in Sierra Leone. The Saving Lives in Sierra Leone programme is reaching 2 million women and children, building health systems to improve health outcomes for under-fives, adolescents, pregnant women and mothers. The Leh Wi Learn programme is working in every non-private secondary school in Sierra Leone to reach 1.4 million children.

The UK also funds the International Security Advisory team (ISAT) that is working with the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces and the Sierra Leone Police to strengthen security and stability in the country. The UK-funded ISAT delivers advice, technical assistance and training to help the Government of Sierra Leone address some of the greatest needs in the security sector. ISAT’s priority themes include professionalism and accountability, human rights compliance, readiness for deployment on peace support operations and security sector coordination. The team consists of British civil servants, serving military, and police officers. Where appropriate, ‘train the trainer’ methodology is used to ensure sustainability. 

Since 2016, 2,860 Sierra Leonean soldiers have received direct ISAT training, while a further 2,190 soldiers have been trained annually by ISAT-enabled army instructors. ISAT has directly trained 2,000 Sierra Leone Police officers, and they have then trained 1,000 of their own staff and 900 soldiers.

The High Commissioner said that the underlying philosophy was to work in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone. Under the New Direction there is a strong focus on education and empowerment of girls; and so the UK’s priorities here reflect that.

The Deputy Finance Minister, who was also present, praised the “dialogue and close collaboration” between the UK and Sierra Leone. She thanked the donor partners particularly on judicial sector reform and the UK on support to the security sector reform. She called for predictability of assistance, to reduce delays and to not affect implementation progress. She asked that the Government of Sierra Leone and the donor partners deepen their cooperation on strengthening financial institutions,and looked forward to working with partners on the new Development Plan.

In discussion about trade and investment the High Commissioner said it was important that donors and government worked together to address the barriers to investment. Part of this included making sure existing investors had a positive experience. Investment was necessary for wealth creations, which is how eventually the UK’s relationship with Sierra Leone would move from aid to trade.

The High Commissioner spoke briefly about Brexit, confirming that the United Kingdom leaving the European Union would have no bearing on trade between the UK and Sierra Leone. He said that the UK wanted to increase the amount of trade done with Sierra Leone, as did the EU.

The High Commissioner spoke about the strong cultural links between the UK and Sierra Leone, mentioning the very popular Premier League, and the presence of the British Council, who were celebrating their 75th anniversary in Sierra Leone. The British Council’s ‘Spheir’ project will improve tertiary education syllabuses in Sierra Leone. And their ‘Connecting Classrooms’ projects linked classrooms in Hull and Freetown; as well as UK and Sierra Leone cities which shared names.

On Brits in Sierra Leone, the High Commissioner mentioned the hundreds of NGOs that operate here who have a UK connection. This was a large population in Sierra Leone, all working to develop the country.

Facing questions, the High Commissioner explained that UK aid projects were spread across the country. He asked that Sierra Leoneans continued to submit good proposals, explaining that Sierra Leone was competing with other places for funds. And he mentioned how environmental protection can be beneficial for industry, as demonstrated by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds-funded project in the Gola Rainforest, where environmentalists and security services had collaborated.

The High Commissioner made clear that it was not the responsibility for the UK government to secure the borders of Sierra Leone. But the UK did provide training to the RSLAF, ONS and SLP, who did have the responsibility. The porous border caused issues for security, finance and environment. Police should be manning this border, he said. The High Commissioner detailed some of the work the UK is doing to support education in Sierra Leone, particularly for pregnant girls. He called on the Government to ensure that this different support was not necessary. He said that re-forestry needed to be commercial, as was the case with Miro Forestry. Illegal logging needed to be stopped so commercial forestry and export was attractive. This was a 20-year project.

In a final round of questions the Deputy Finance Minister said that there would be efforts to strengthen Parliament’s oversight function. The High Commissioner called for the devolution of resources from central to local government, in line with the devolution of responsibility. In a final statement the High Commissioner asked that the role of the private sector not be ignored in the development of Sierra Leone.

Unisa Sesay hands over the Chairmanship of RAIC to Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw

The out gone Chairman of the Right to Access Information Commission RAIC, has pledged his unflinching  support to the work of commission. He made the commitment during the official handing over ceremony of the office of the Chairman and Information Commissioner, RAIC, at its national secretariat on St. Paul Drive, IMATT.
Mr. Sesay said the commission was established at the height of the ebola scourge but was yet able to make strides that attracted institutions like the World Bank to support the commission to popularise the RAI Act, which he described a solid foundation for his successor.
He said despite the limited resources allocated to the Commission, he and his team were able to put together and validate a regulation that will give force to the Act.

Receiving the mantle of leadership, the new RAIC Chairman and Information Commissioner Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw thanked his predecessor for holding the fort. Dr. Shaw highlighted three areas of priority which among them is  the popularization of the Act which will take the mandate of the commission beyond the promotion of accountability, transparency and good governance, but will as well promote socioeconomic development of the country, citing the misused of the Ebola funds which a fully implemented RAI Act could have salvaged, a reason why the commission under his leadership will establish synergies with public authorities to ensure they properly keep records both analog and digital to be able to promptly respond to requests when they are made.

The new RAIC chairman said he will lay emphasis on ensuring that the commission serves as a catalyst to prevent  corruption, working with public authorities to follow the provisions of the act which includes proactive disclosure of information.

He added that he is not oblivious of the fact that there are challenges that range from understaff, lack of a website, mobility, staff capacity building among other, which he will ensure are addressed during his tenure.

He promised to maintain the independence of the commission and build the confidence of stakeholders including the media, civil society, and international partners to ensure accessing  of information becomes an effortless endeavour.

Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw assumes the leadership of the RAIC at a time when there is a global thirst for data and whilst  the commission is rebranding its name and activities to suit what the RAI Act  stipulates and how it can filter down to the least Sierra Leonean.

Coming from the fields of journalism and academia, Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw will bring the Right to Access Information Commission to its best as a good governance institution.

The handing over ceremony was also witnessed by officials of the ministry of Information and Communications.

UN police officer recognized for protecting vulnerable Somali women from abuse

United Nations Police Officer Phyllis Osei has been awarded the 2018 UN Female Police Officer Award, in recognition for her outstanding work with the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), at a ceremony in New York on Monday.

Since joining UNSOM in February, Ms. Osei – who holds the rank of Superintendent with the Ghanaian police force – has swiftly made a direct and positive impact on the community and host state police in Jubaland.

Superintendent Osei has played an important role in enhancing the protection of women and girls, sparking initiatives to promote women’s rights in the Jubaland state police force, and successfully initiating adult literacy training for 49 female police officers: Ms. Osei also formed a Female Peacekeeper Network to support female peacekeepers working with the UNSOM and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

UN Police Adviser, Commissioner Luis Carrilho, praised Superintendent Osei for her exemplary conduct. “Ms. Osei was deployed to Somalia earlier this year in February 2018”, he said.

“By April, she had already identified and trained two [staff to tackle gender issues] in AMISOM who went on to mentor and advise police officers in the host state police. Soon after, Ms. Osei established four gender desks in the host state police, facilitated a training on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and initiated a proposal that called for the establishment of a police post near the community thus ensuring access for SGBV survivors”.

Nominations for the Award are requested annually from all peacekeeping and special political missions where UN police are deployed. Based on criteria for high performance, a selection committee, comprising policing and peacekeeping experts, evaluate the conduct and achievements of the nominees with an emphasis on impact of policing service delivery.

The Award aims to establish a role model for women police peacekeepers and to promote the UN Secretary General’s Gender Parity Strategy and DPKO’s Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy, through encouraging Member States to deploy more female police officers to peacekeeping and special political missions.

UN chief commends African Union on adoption of institutional reforms

United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres has commended the African Union, a UN peace partner, and its leadership for progress achieved on institutional reform, adopted at the continental organization’s Assembly meeting.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General said the organization’s key decisions on new infrastructure and leadership “send a strong message” of its membership commitment to a Union guided by “accountable and effective leadership.”

The 11th Extraordinary Summit of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government was held in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia on 17 and 18 November, bringing to the forefront new commission structure, election of senior leadership and chairpersons, among other key financial and administrative reforms for the regional Union’s 55 member countries.

Mr. Guterres also welcomed the official launch of African Union Peace Fund, and appointment of its Board of Trustees, explaining that such reworkings can provide “predictable and sustainable financing” of the Union’s peace and security initiatives.

President Julius Maada Bio Pledges Commitment to National Cohesion, Calls on Parents and Teachers to Support Government’s Free Quality Education

Makeni City, Northern Province, Friday 23 November 2018 – His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has concluded his thank-you tour of Makeni, northern Sierra Leone, where he pledged his government’s commitment to national unity and cohesion and called on parents and teachers to support the Free Quality Education programme.

President Bio told the mammoth crowds, who had thronged the streets of Makeni City and converged on the Wusum Field, that after the elections of March 2018 and his assumption of office in April, his government has been busy with inclusive development projects that are devoid of political or tribal considerations. He added that his responsibility as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone was to take tangible and sustainable developments across the country.

The President also used the occasion to condemn all forms of political violence across the country, emphasising that the elections were over and citizens had made their decisions in electing him President. While he urged the jubilant crowds not be seen to be accepting or promoting hate and division, he called for everyone to embrace one other for the good of all.

“Today, I am President for all Sierra Leoneans and not one tribe or region. We must stop all forms of tribal and divisive messages to allow the development process to succeed. Elections are now over, so the focus should now be turned to development. My government will continue its efforts to change and transform every district in this country and will ensure that development reaches every corner,” he assured.

President Bio also mentioned the introduction of the free quality education, his government’s flagship project, as a testament to his determination to improve on the country’s human capital. He reminded them that education was good for both personal and national development. He added that he had made the conscious effort to choose education as his mega project because it was the bedrock of development. Noting that human beings were the most valuable assets of any country. He, therefore, called on parents and teachers to support the education project to succeed throughout the country.

Fatmata Bah, a senior secondary school pupil who spoke on behalf of her colleagues, said that they were particularly happy with the president’s tremendous strives to transform the country. She also commended the new administration for providing free quality education, which she said had reduced the burden on their parents. She expressed appreciation to President Bio for improving the welfare of teachers across the country and for following through his campaign promise with action.

Deputy Mayor of the Makeni City Council, Santigie Mansaray, said the visit of President Bio to Makeni “demonstrated his commitment to opening up the democratic spaces, promoting democratic dialogues and creating a more just and equal society”. He added: “I will particularly thank your Government and for the positive steps you have taken to address issues of financial management, cleaning communities and the free and quality education”. He closed by pledging his council’s commitment to pushing forward all development programmes in Makeni.

Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Lawyer Alpha Osman Timbo, who spoke on behalf of the appointees from Bombali District, said they were delighted to have been given the opportunity to serve their country under the New Direction. He said as an inclusive government, the Sierra Leone People’s Party government would continue to bring more development projects to every region across the country. He noted that President Bio was here to stay and to deliver on his campaign promises.

Catholic Relief Services Pays a Courtesy Call on President Julius Maada Bio, Discusses School Feeding Programme

State House, Freetown, Monday 26 November 2018 – A high-level delegation from the United States’ based international humanitarian agency, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and led by its Vice President of government relations and advocacy, Bill O’Keefe, has met His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio at State House.

Country representative for CRS Sierra Leone, Paul Emes, said the US government had made a huge investment in the country’s education sector. He disclosed that the US government had donated $ 25 million to the country to support teacher training, school feeding and nutritional education, water sanitation and hygiene, infrastructure, quality education and literacy. He also said that CRS would launch the school feeding programme in Kabala later this week.

“Your Excellency, we are adopting an integrated programme that is aimed at achieving a sustainable school feeding programme because the school lunch attracts children. We are adopting an integrated approach and the aim is to work with the Ministry of Basic Education for the sustenance of the school feeding programme as part of quality school education,” he said.

Mr O’Keefe thanked President Bio for the audience. He said he was pleased with the ongoing development projects in the country, describing the free quality education as a laudable venture by the new government. He disclosed that he had sensed progress in the country and that his responsibility was to inform the US government on that progress being made in Sierra Leone.

“Sometimes the US leadership does not fully understand the hard work already undertaken by people like you. CRS has been here for a long time and we have stood with Sierra Leone thin and thick. It is really an honour to work with you and to have you lunch the school feeding programme,” he told the President.

“We have so many successes around the world which CRS started but later handed over to the people of the country where we operate. We look forward to the children of this country being educated and being able to take up responsibility,” he said.

US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Maria E. Brewer, said: “Thank you, Mr President, for taking time off your busy schedule to meet with us. We are thrilled about the $ 25 million support from the US government for the school feeding programme. The idea that education is the central focus of this administration is a laudable one and we are so excited to be able to launch this project”.

On his part, President Bio said he was thankful to the team for their visit to Sierra Leone. He said his government had realised that despite all the efforts in the past, something was missing, adding that so he decided to concentrate on education as the foundation for development. He stated that his government was working hard to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of development with education being at the centre.

“On behalf of the people of this country, I want to say thanks to the US government for the support. When we started talking about free education, we knew it was difficult. As an administration, we noticed that everybody was making efforts but education, being the bedrock of development, was missing. So, we decided that among every other thing education was going to be our flagship programme,” he disclosed.

“It is an extremely expensive project but because it is so important we consider it an existential issue, which must be tackled to make us relevant in society. We want to make sure that the poorest of the poor share the future that we want to build. I want to say thanks to the US government and CRS for taking up this huge challenge. This is a huge help and we need it to overcome the challenges,” he said.

CRS is an American not-for-profit family of human service and development of charitable organisations and projects, connecting those in need with those who care around the world. The organisation is celebrating its 55 years of operations in Sierra Leone.

Parliament Approves New Ombudsman and Seven Others

The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Wednesday 14th November 2018 debated and approved the Eighteenth Report of the Committee on Appointments and the Public Service, chaired by the Acting Leader of Government Business, Hon. Sahr Mathew Nyuma.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker of the House, Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu had said that “apart from the President, the nominees have the confidence and trust of Parliament”, describing them as “some of the finest nominees”, whilst singling out “Leon Jenkins-Johnston who in light of his inheritance and pedigree should be proud of his proven quality and integrity”. He emphasized that the accolades showered on him constitute the best response to the misgivings expressed about him by his detractors outside of Parliament.

The following presidential nominees have been approved by Parliament:

I. Mr. Leon Jenkins-Johnston-Ombudsman
II. Mr. Morie Lengor-Chairman, Advisory Council, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency
III. Prof. Aliyageen M. Alghali-Chairman, Tertiary Education Commission
IV. Mr. Francis Sowa-Member, Independent Media Commission
V. Mr. Mustapha K. Sesay-Member, Independent Media Commission
VI. Madam Assiatu A. Jalloh-Member, Board of Directors, Electricity Generation and Transmission Company
VII. Mrs. Ethel Ruby Johnson-Member, Independent Media Commission and
VIII. Dr. Robert Chakanda-Deputy, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development

Most of the MPs who spoke to the motion recognized the invaluable contributions that had been made by the nominees in the various spheres of life including support to the development of tertiary education, professional policing, journalism, engineering and Law. They also commended President Bio for nominating eminently qualified persons to serve in high offices of State, whilst encouraging them to do their best to succeed in the various appointments to which they have been nominated by the President.

African Bar Association to intervene in the matter of Gross Human Rights Violations committed by members of the Nigerian Armed Forces in Sierra Leone

Umbrella body of lawyers on African continent, the African Bar Association (AFBA) has swung into action on a petition accusing Nigeria Armed Forces (NAF) of abuse of rights of victims of war which broke out in Sierra Leone some 21 years ago.

Sierra Leonean Community in UAE welcomes New Ambassador

Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE)  together with the Sierra Leone Community has on Sunday 11th November 2018, welcomed the the arrival of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic Sierra Leone, designated to the United Arab Emirates.
 
HE Mr. Rashid Sesay, was received by the Sierra Leonean community in UAE  with a warm and rousing welcome as he emerged from the 'Majlis' - diplomatic lounge at the Dubai International Airport. 
 
The young diplomat with a background from the international non governmental sector said he was amazed by the crowd that greeted him whilst also wavering the national flag of the Republic of Sierra Leone  at the Dubai International Airport with excitement and joy. 
 
Flanked by the Head of Chancery of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Abu Dhabi, Mr. Allieu Mansaray and staff at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Abu Dhabi,  Ambassador Rashid Sesay was also ushered in with protocol courtesies  to the anxious  Sierra Leonean community who stood outside the Majlis at the Dubai  International Airport to receive their long awaiting diplomat. 
 
Ambassador Rashid Sesay was presented with  floral gifts and plaque. An eloquent young lawyer, Ms Adija Kamara professionally welcomed Ambassador Rashid Sesay on behalf of the Sierra Leone community, affirming the collaborative efforts of the Sierra Leone community to come together despite their political affiliations, socio-economic standing, ethnicity, and religious beliefs.
 
Ms Adjia Kamara, who is the interim chair of the Sierra Leonean Community in UAE said as a community they are all united to work together to have a common sense of purpose to promote Sierra Leone. Against this backdrop, she commended the effort of the late Ambassador Siray Alpha Timbo who she said gave them the privilege to work in unison as a family to strengthen the bond of friendship in fellowship and to help build the bilateral relationship between Sierra Leone and the United Arab Emirates. 
 
In response, Ambassador Rashid Sesay thanked the Sierra Leone Embassy staff and the Sierra Leone community in the UAE for the honour and solidarity demonstrated and reiterated on the confidence the Sierra Leone Government bestowed on him with the resolve to serve the nation. He affirmed his commitment to throw his full weight towards the aspirations of the government of Sierra Leone and to serve in the best interest of the nation.  
 
The Ambassador appealed to all Sierra Leoneans in the UAE to work acidiously to help in the development agenda of His Excellency, Rtd. Brigadier General Julius Maada Bio who, the Ambassador said, is working assiduously to bring a positive change to make Sierra Leone a better place for all.

Obituaries

Friday, August 21st 2019 marks a year of the passing of Hadja Hawa Khadar Daramy, wife of Late Honourable Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy (First Financial Secretary of Sierra Leone) and Member of Parliament of Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).  Hadja Hawa was born 1st December 1922 to Sowoi Mariama Fortune and Alhaji Ali Khadar.
 
Hadja Hawa Khadar Daramy hails from Mongeray, Kpaka, Pujehun where her mother was born.  Oh! how she just loved Mongeray.   Her father was born in Helba, North Lebanon.
 
Hadja Hawa Khadar Daramy passed away at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday 21st August
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With gratitude to God for a life well lived

Obituary for the late Evelyn Lauretta Idowu-Davies
Sunrise:11 February 1925
Sunset : 10 March 2019
Aged 94
Funeral & Communion service : Friday 22 March at the Ebenezer Methodist Church Murray Town at 2:30
From the Children and grandchildren at home and abroad.

17th March 2019, marks the 20th Anniversary of the passing away of HONORABLE, DR. SHEIKH BATU DARAMY SR, aka, SB Daramy.  Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy, Sr. B.Sc (Economics from London School of Economics, UK), M.A., Ph.D from Howard University, was born on 20th September, 1920 in Makeni.  Today we remember one of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) oldest members.  In 1948, Hon. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy was awarded a Sierra Leone Government scholarship to attend the London School of Economics from where he graduated in 1952 with a B.Sc in Economics. ...

The death is announced of Mr. Fuad Din Gabisi age 84 years whose sad event took place today Monday 12th November, 2018. He is survived by his wife Balkisu Din Gabisi of 3 Ingham Street Fourah Bay Community, Freetown. Sisters: Haja Bola Deen (Late) and Ola Din-Gabisi (UK)
Children: Mrs. Christiana Bultman-Sulaiman of the USA
Mr. Sulay Din Gabisi of USA
Miss Zainab Din Gabisi of Freetown
Mr. Aziz Din Gabisi of Freetown
Mr. Dyfu Din Gabisi of USA
Grandchildren
Miss Blanche Bultman of USA
Mr. Fuad Din Gabisi ...

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