Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with Statistics Sierra Leone has launched the 2019 Demographic and Health Survey Key Indicators Report, which shows that infant mortality rate, is fast decreasing in Sierra Leone.
Executive Director of the World Bank Group for Africa – Group 1 Constituency, Anne Kabagambe, has informed President Julius Maada Bio that his government’s vision of constructing a bridge across Lungi to mainland Freetown will be one of his greatest achievements for Sierra Leone, according to a State House report.
A press release from State House dated 26th November, 2019 reads, “His Excellency the President has returned the Finance Bill, 2020, through a Memorandum to the Clerk of Parliament, pursuant to Part V, Section 106(7). In the Memorandum, the Secretary to the President stated the reason for the refusal of the signature of the President. “His Excellency the President has perused the document and has expressed grave concern over the open-endedness of the non-accountable imprest” as provided for in the said Act. He is of the view that this is prone to improper use of public funds”. The long and short of it all is that, the President has refused to sign the Finance Bill, 2020. It has been sent back to Parliament for the necessary to be done. Period! I will return to this issue later!
I would have been a dead man by now because of two heartless Sierra Leonean truck drivers who were driving the Chinese trucks when they had almost finished constructing the Jui-Regent Road. But I thank God, they could not kill me for their habitual bad heart driving.
Bad heart driving by drivers in Sierra Leone has killed many people. Most or all gruesome road accidents that occur daily along all the tarred roads in Sierra Leone are caused by drivers whom I believe have no love for their fellow drivers, pedestrians, okada/keke riders and their passengers.
It was 24 April 2014. I left Bo City at dawn to travel to Freetown same day in order to come and deposit a filled-DAAD Scholarship Form at German Embassy. While in the car, I was worried that I will arrive after the Embassy had closed for the day. But I was fortunate to arrive at Jui before 11 A.M.
A Commonwealth Observation Group (COG) led by Sierra Leone's former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and former Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations, Haja Zainab Hawa Bangura, has arrived in Dominica to observe the upcoming elections.
Despite the fact that the government of Sierra Leone alongside national and international organizations is fighting assiduously to eradicate sexual penetration and violence against young girls in the country, some lawless and shameless individuals are hell-bent in thwarting this noble venture.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has capacitated staff of Falaba and Koinadugu district councils and various ministries, departments and agencies devolved to these councils on the implementation of the 2019-2023 National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) Action Matrix.
The engagements were conducted by the North-East Region Office of the ACC at the Falaba and Koinadugu districts council halls respectively.
The 16 days of activism against gender-based violence started on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and ends on the 10th December, Human Rights Day. In December 2018, the AJ Foundation used this period to raise awareness on the alarming rate of rape and sexual penetration cases in the country, particularly bringing to spotlight the issue of the five-year-old girl, who was sexually abused by her uncle through a one-day campaign event. What started as a campaign a year ago has now transformed into the Black Tuesday Movement.
.A Commonwealth Observation Group (COG) led by Sierra Leone's former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and former Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations, Haja Zainab Hawa Bangura has arrived in Dominica to observe the upcoming elections.
Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to China, Ernest Mbaimba Ndomahina and Major General Ci Guowei, Chief of the International Military Cooperation Department of the Ministry of the National Defence of the People’s Republic of China, have signed an agreement between Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the National Defence of the People’s Republic of China, for the supply of ‘military assistance’ to Sierra Leone valued at over $7 million (50,000,000 Chinese Yuan).
The Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. Patricia Laverley after her earlier absence from parliament to personally present the agreement to MPs, has spoken in parliament about the importance of the agreements in terms of their job creation potential, improving the livelihood of those suffering extreme poverty, and the development of the country’s infrastructure.
Sierra Leone is a step closer to fast and efficient health care delivery of medical supplies, thanks to the drone corridor launched by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio in Njala past Friday 29th November, 2019.
During the launch, test drones were launched from the 250m runway to demonstrate the capability of drones to travel in a 200km square airspace to deliver supplies to health centers, which have traditionally experienced delays due to distances and typology.
The Government of Sierra Leone in collaboration with the World Bank, has launched the Integrated and Resilient Urban Mobility Project, supported by a $50 million grant to improve access and quality of public transport, address climate resilience and road safety in selected areas in the Western Area, as well as enhancing institutional capacity across the transport sector.
The project offers an integrated approach in responding to the challenges faced by the urban transport sector, as Greater Freetown is now at a turning point to become an engine for transformation of the country.
The Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Transport and Aviation and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has signed a Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) agreement, for the establishment of a single standard interface for invoicing and payment between travel agents and airlines.
In her closing remarks the Secretary General of MRU Madam Medina Wesseh said the four day conference they worked so hard to plan has come to an end and she is very pleased of the outcome, she is very happy that all they wanted to achieve they had and hope that come next year they will start the implementation phase as they want to make sure that the four countries in the MRU are secured and stable so that the continued development process will be achieved.
Honourable Ibrahim Tawa Conteh is fast living up to his “Tawa” name, taking up issues that may be anathema to most of his colleagues. It would seem that more lately he has been on a personal “Jihad” against what he considers poor financial accountability of Parliament in its own internal matters and in addressing issues brought before the house.
And so his ”Jihad” led to a public spat with the Clerk of Parliament, Honourable Paran Tarawalli over the airwaves. Parliament could be a rowdy place as has been experienced more lately, with disagreements resulting in angry outbursts and walk-outs. In this case however the outbursts extended to the airwaves. Well, not everybody likes to be accused in public of embezzling funds and certainly Honourable Paran Tarawalli did not take kindly to Honourable Tawa’s accusations. Radio Democracy, living up to its reputation of impartiality got both gentlemen to discuss the issues. Let us just say it was a most unfriendly encounter, with accusations and counter accusations of misappropriation of funds.
The issue of poor accountability for funds allocated to Parliament and the proposal for the non- accountable travel imprest for the President, proposed by the Finance Minister in the Finance Act, 2020 and its extension to the Vice President and Speaker suggested by MPs, also opposed by Tawa has come under scrutiny. The argument has played out in public and the Parliamentary Leadership and the government have not come out of this smelling rosy. The public outcry against what they consider condoning of poor accountability practices by Parliament and government have been unprecedented.
Many Civil Society groups have come out swinging. Center for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL) hit the nail on the head. Their press release stated : “It is about time that the fight against corruption was taken to our elected representatives in parliament. It is commendable that the ACC felt that it was not enough to investigate only the two officials who traded the accusations on public radio, but has chosen to look into the financial management practices of all MPs and the parliamentary administration”. Other Civil society groups like CHRDI and CGG echoed similar sentiments. Members of the public have made particularly scathing remarks and it would seem that the thinking that Parliament and the government are turning a blind eye to accountability seems to be gaining currency.
Not surprisingly some ardent supporters of the ruling party have come out swinging against the “messenger”. “Tawa”, who is generally regarded as a good MP by his constituents in Constituency 132 in Lumley.
One press release titled “No 9 community constituency 132 speaks for leadership transparency and accountability” starts by lamenting the state of the Number 9 Community in Tawa’s constituency starting with the statement “No. 9 ……..ohh our lovely No.9!!! Indigenes of No.9 community by extension constituency 132 feels rubbed off on a broad daylight and are desperately in search of “Leadership transparency and accountability”. The release continues: “Amongst many other things but with particular reference to Hon. Tawa Conteh “if ar tok den go chase u wit cutlass na u constituency (statement attributed to Hon Paran)”, in concert with the principles of participatory democracy, No.9 community feels deeply rubbed of well over six hundred million Leones (Le 600,000,000) school project, as the current structure could not reflect the money in question.” The press release accuses Tawa of stealing “a whooping 600 m on behalf of the people of NO 9”. And who is the writer of the Press release? It was “Faithfully submitted by iron lady of No 9”.
Well its seems the constituents of No. 9 and of constituency 132 do not agree with the “Iron Lady of No. 9”. A “vox pop” done by Radio Democracy and many statements in the media paint Tawa in a good light, referring to several development projects he has undertaken in his constituency including the No 9 school and several others. The Deputy Minister of Defence, whose ready supply of petrol to put out fires is always on hand has said Hon Tawa could be accused of “anti-party activities“
Whilst some rabble rousers have accused Tawa of treachery and even mooted the ideas of expelling him from the party, or refusing him the party symbol at the next election and accusing him of being APC, most have been more circumspect, acknowledging his contributions as a popular MP to the party.
Well, this seems to have caught the ruling party napping especially about the issue of the unbridled non accountable imprests for the President, Vice President and Speaker. There were attempts initially to defend this especially for the President but when it appeared that there was a public outcry in favour of accountability, the government relented as reflected in the Press release from State House. The well written press release did not make it appear like a mea culpa, Titled “President Julius Maada Bio Returns the Finance Bill, 2020 Unsigned”, it went on to say:
“ The Secretary to the President stated the reason for the refusal of the signature of the President: “His Excellency the President has perused the document and has expressed grave concern over the open-endedness of the 'non-accountable imprest', as provided for in the said Act. He is of the view that this is prone to improper use of public funds". Therefore, to address the carte blanche provision of Section 42, His Excellency the President has proposed to Parliament that Section 42(6) be amended so that it makes provision for a ceiling for the non-accountable imprest. Unlike the past, the fact that Parliament and members of the public are now discussing Presidential imprest demonstrates the President's avowed stance on transparency. “
The positive spin has been well taken by many observers who praise the President for being a “listening President”, mindful of the views of the Sierra Leone populace. It would seem Parliament and The Finance Minister have been hung out to dry for being “so insensitive to the needs of the populace”. Attempts by the Presidential Spokesman on Radio Democracy to answer so many questions were hollow. The combative presenters asked the following salient questions:
“Was the Finance Bill reviewed the President and Cabinet before being presented to Parliament and if so did they approve it? If it met with their approval, why is the President distancing himself from these provisions? If the issue is real accountability, why merely call for a ceiling and not for accountability of the funds? As these relate mainly to travel, why does the government not make public members of teams travelling with the President so that the public may be aware that attempts are being made to cut down on costs? “
There were also questions for Members of Parliament:
“Why extend the provision to the Vice President and Speaker? Why has Parliament not made any attempts to know who goes on overseas trips with the President? Why extend the non-accountable provision to the Vice President and Speaker? Does the fact that the Speaker himself or the Parliamentary Leadership of the SLPP not come out against these provisions signify their acquiescence?’
Tough questions indeed! The hapless Presidential Spokesman tried to do a good job of answering these questions, but realizing they were tough questions invoked the oft repeated “ legacy refrain: “The past government never referred to this issue. Our President is a listening President”.
On further reflection there are many positive sides to this public debate and I will attempt to list a few
1. The President is a listening President
Whatever the criticisms and thoughts about the government spin going on overdrive, the President has indicated he listens to public opinion. Mistakes are inevitably made and it takes courage to backtrack and accept your initial reaction may have been wrong. Though the spin machine does not accept mistakes were made, it is good that he has given the nod to the situation being revisited. A listening President is a good thing.
2. Sierra Leoneans are very mindful about accountability
The outcry from all angles- Civil society, the public etc. indicates that Sierra Leoneans are mindful about accountability and won’t accept washy answers from those in authority. Politicians will now acknowledge that the public will hold their hands to the fire.
3. Tawa has indicated that politicians can break out of the pack.
For an SLPP MP to bring the issue of accountability of the SLPP Leadership in Parliament up indeed takes courage. Tawa could have easily acquiesced to the whims of the Leadership and asked for small favours for his personal benefit but chose to challenge the status quo. Paran claims the accusations are misguided and they are each going all out to prove their point. Let the ACC and Audit authorities be the judge.
4. On hindsight, the Parliamentary leadership should not have been politicised
The previous government politicised the issue of Speaker causing the criteria for elections to this position to be overtly political. This government perfected it by politicizing the appointment of the Clerk of Parliament which had hitherto been held by seasoned Administrators. No doubt we are seeing the negative outcomes of these decisions play out in public.
5. Serve your people to the best of your ability
Tawa has shown that with his current stellar service to his constituents “no weapon fashioned against him will prosper”. It may be foolhardy for his party to attempt to ditch him. This may be an own goal.
6. The cost of Presidential trips has appeared on the public radar
Criticisms have been made of the costs of Presidential trips abroad and their frequency. The government has retorted that all trips have been for a good purpose. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the public wants to see evidence of more tangible benefits of these trips and an indication of the composition and cost of the accompanying entourages.
7. It is obvious that the functions of Parliamentarian
Thursday 27th November, 2019 was an epoch-making day for East End Lions Football Club executive, players and fans.As the 2019/2020 Premier League commences on 4th December, 2019, Chairman of EE Lions (the Killers), Ambassador Anthony Navo Jr. who doubles as CEO of AYV Media Empire informed journalists at the club’s secretariat at Pademba Road in Freetown that the club is prepared and eager to emerge champions as they did in the last premier league season.
One of Africa’s top most entertainers and music legends, Nasibu Abdul Juma, popularly known by his stage name ‘Diamond Platnumz’ yesterday Thursday 28th November, 2019 landed at the Freetown International Airport in Lungi accompanied by his crew.
The legend is in Sierra Leone to heat the stage tomorrow Saturday 30th November with his old and new songs at the all-awaited ECOFEST event to be held at the Siaka Stevens Stadium in Freetown.
The Tanzanian bongo flava recording artist, dancer and businessman from Tandale, Dar es Salaam will tomorrow join tens of local artists and entertainers to performance at the ECOFEST which is to be MCed by Nigerian comedian Basket Mouth and Sierra Leone’s stage queen Phebi Swill of AYV Media Empire.
Diamond has won numerous awards at Channel O and the HiPipo Music Awards.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), on 27th November, 2019, filed an indictment against Peter Mohamed Kamara, administrative head of the law courts, Abdul Karim Kargbo, High Court Registrar, Kenema district, Umaru Tarawally, Officer-In-Charge, Non-Tax Revenue Department, National Revenue Authority (NRA), Kenema district, Andansu Sombo, a Volunteer at the NRA, Kenema district, on four counts of Misappropriation of Public Funds, contrary to Section 36(1); and Conspiracy to Commit a Corruption Offence, contrary to Section 128(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, respectively.
The Multiple – Dimensional Child Poverty Report 2018 Survey showthat Kenema in the east is the district in which a large majority of children, about 90 percent, have access to safe drinking water source. The water deprivation rate in Kenema is hence lower that Western Urban (15 percent), which is the district with the lowest child poverty rate.
Port Loko district in the Northern Region is where children have least access to safe drinking water, with about 38 percent being water- deprived. Kambia and Tonkolili in the north, as well as Bonthe in the South, are also districts where 36 percent of children do not have access to safe drinking water.
In addition to the aura and authority of the African Union (AU), Sierra Leone's statesman, former President Ernest Bai Koroma, arrived in Windhoek where he is highly acclaimed on his own merit by both the incumbent leader of the ruling SWAPO party, Hage Geingob, and the leader of the main opposition, McHenry Vanaani. Both leaders expressed satisfaction over the presence of Sierra Leone's former president as head of the AU Elections Observation Mission to the 27th November Presidential and National Legislature Elections in Namibia.
St. John the Evangelist Church at Adonkia, in the peninsula area, has held its first Annual Clergy Special effort. The special service was to appreciate the Deacon-in-charge, Reverend Eli O.P Pratt for his initiatives at rebranding the church since he took office one year ago; and also to launch the extension and canopy project of the church.
Delivering the sermon on the theme: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” the Guest Preacher Rev. Doris Kanu admonished the congregation about the need for Christians to always give thanks to God even in the face of difficulty. She noted that it is God who gives and that it is God who takes away.
The Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) field office established in Sierra Leone since 2004 has been upgraded to a country office to accelerate the development assistance window to the people and government of Sierra Leone at a ceremony held on Tuesday November 26, 2019 at Country Lodge hotel in Freetown.
The One Family People Organization is a disability focused organization established with the aim to remove the barriers that hinder the participation of persons living with disability in all facets of society.
Despite the alarming number of children living with disabilities in Sierra Leone, these children are absent from, or referred to only marginally in, health, education and poverty reduction programs. This situation contributes to the neglect of these children’s economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights among which rights, education stands out as particularly important.
Sierra Leone’s Chief Minister, Professor David Francis has opened the 4-day Mano River Union (MRU) peace and security conference in collaboration with UNOWAS at the Golden Tulip Kimbima hotel.
In his address he said the MRU states have often been characterized as volatile and the spillover effects of the past civil wars justified the establishment and operationalization of the joint border security and confidence building units for effective border security, and to prevent illegal movement of weapons, human trafficking, contraband drugs and criminals.
The Elephants of Africa Young Voices (AYV) Media Empire last evening of yesterday Wednesday 27th November, 2019 trashed the Mosquitos of Sierra Leone’s best and leading telecommunications company, Africell Lintel Sierra Leone with a Two goals to One scores in a friendly match.
The Champions in local football, East End Lions (the Killers) Football Club, also doubling as Champions of Sierra Leone Premier League will today Thursday 28th November, 2019 release a surprise bombshell ever in the history of local football in the country.
This medium has deliberately refused to let the cat out of the bag on expected happenings today at the Club’s Secretariat on Pademba Road in Freetown but watch this space!!