In his welcome remarks on behalf of the nationals, the President of the SLCT, Victor Sulay Kamara who is also pursuing International Relations at the Istanbul Zaim University, welcomed Sierra Leone’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Arab Emirates, (UAE) with multiple accreditations to the Republic of Turkey and the State of Qatar, H.E Ambassador Siray Alpha Timbo.
It could be recalled that, Ambassador Timbo officially presented his original Letters of Credence to the Emir of Qatar, His Highness, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and His Excellency, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey as Sierra Leone’s non- resident envoy in both countries last November.
Kamara commended them for converging in their numbers to welcome their new Envoy. He thanked everyone for showing up at so short a notice; a gesture he described as an indication of true patriotism. He also, on behalf of himself and the Union wished the Envoy and his family a happy stay in the UAE and a successful tour of duty in the Emirates, Qatar and Turkey.
Victor Kamara pledged that the Union will cooperate with the Embassy on national issues and will continue to be of service as it has invariably been in the past years. He assured the new Ambassador that the community will cooperate with him like they cooperated with his predecessor, Ambassador Dr. Muhammad B. Fofana, to ensure his success.
Before he took the podium, the new Envoy was introduced by Sierra Leone’s Press Attaché to Saudi Arabia covering the Gulf States and Turkey, M.B. Jalloh. After the introduction, the Information Attaché stated that Ambassador Timbo has made it a point of duty to meet with Sierra Leoneans in all the countries of his accreditation which started in the Gulf State of Qatar (where he also received massive welcome) and to be continued in all major Turkish cities where Sierra Leonenans are living.
The primary purpose of Ambassador Timbo’s meeting with his fellow Sierra Leoneans, Jalloh said, is to familiarize himself with his nationals as much as possible and to take Government to the people by giving them the opportunity to ask questions about Government policies and developments in their home country, and to make a difference in the Embassy’s working relations with its nationals.
When His Excellency Ambassador Siray Timbo eventually took the stage, the audience was mesmerized, first by his humility and charisma, then by his captivating oratory skills. Addressing his nationals, the new envoy thanked Allah, the Almighty, for His extraordinary bounties. He also thanked them for making it possible for converging at the Hotel on that day safe and sound to give him such a rousing welcome.
The top Sierra Leonean diplomat in the UAE took the opportunity to express his sincere appreciation and profound gratitude to his nationals for the spectacular welcome he was accorded in Doha – Qatar and Istanbul in Turkey.
Ambassador Timbo also conveyed the warm greetings and appreciation of H.E. the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to the Sierra Leone Community in the Republic of Turkey and stated that the President is aware of the fact that there are good Sierra Leoneans resident in that Eurasian nation. He intimated that the President is appealing to such Sierra Leoneans to take their good back to Sierra Leone in order to contribute in nation building. He appealed to his nationals to be Ambassadors of Sierra Leone in Turkey and to make meaningful contributions to the economy of their country.
The Ambassador made it abundantly clear to all and sundry that he has been honoured with the ambassadorial appointment to Turkey and Qatar in order to seek the interest of his country and to serve the Sierra Leone nationals resident in those countries. And he hastened to declare that his mission is not to represent a particular political party; but, rather, it is to serve Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans, irrespective of their political, regional and tribal affiliations. In a nutshell, he said he is an Ambassador for all, without the least discrimination.
He admonished his nationals to always have Sierra Leone in the back of their minds as priority number one. On the other hand, Ambassador Timbo strongly advised all his nationals to abide by the laws, rules and regulations of Turkey. He said Sierra Leoneans should continue to steadfastly maintain the good and impeccable image they have portrayed about their country over the years. And, he fervently appealed to Sierra Leoneans to embrace themselves and work in unison in order to help develop their country in whatever capacity possible.
He disclosed the Turkish Government’s plan to open an Embassy in Sierra Leone and Sierra Leone’s Government plan to reciprocate. He prayed for the continued welfare of Turkey and the leadership. He concluded by paying special tribute to his predecessor, Ambassador Fofana for the good job he did during his tenure as Sierra Leone’s non –resident Ambassador to Turkey, adding that, his predecessor’s good job will make his job easier in Turkey.
After the Ambassador’s address to the nationals, the President on behalf of his compatriots raised some issues and concerns for the new Ambassador’s attention and action. Among them; renewal of their expired passports, for them to register in Turkey to vote in the local, constituency and presidential elections in their country slated for 7th March, 2018, for the Embassy’s support to celebrate their national day in Turkey this year and personal allowances for Sierra Leonenan students studying in Turkey.
Responding respectively, the Ambassador said, he would inform his Acting Head of Chancery to use the diplomatic channel for the renewal of their expired passports at the Immigration Department. For the registration of the elections, the Ambassador said, “unfortunately, no provision has been made by the National Electoral Commission for Sierra Leonenans to register abroad,” stressing that, “it’s not only Sierra Leoneans in Turkey are affected.” But he also hastened to inform them about the importance of the biometric voter ID card and encouraged them to go and register, if they have the means. He said every single vote is very important. For the independence celebration, the Envoy said, that would receive the active attention of his Embassy. On their allowances, he promised to contact the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology officially, through the usual diplomatic channel and revert.
In his statement, the Honorary Consul, Mr. Ihsanoglu, expressed his happiness to take part in what he described as “a magnificent and memorable gathering” comprising Sierra Leone nationals and their envoy. He commended Sierra Leoneans in superb terms for this great opportunity presented to them by their Ambassador. He said he has always held Sierra Leoneans in high esteem before and after he took up his assignment. He encouraged all Sierra Leoneans living in Istanbul to register with the consulate in order to know them and to make it easier for them to be reached in times of difficulty. To crown his remarks, the Turkish born Consul lauded Ambassador Timbo for the patriotic stance he has taken and for his willingness to meet and consult with his nationals. He described the Ambassador as a true representative of his President and his people. He then prayed for Ambassador Timbo’s success in his new mission.
Speaker after speaker thanked Ambassador Timbo for his initiative to meet his nationals in every nook and cranny of Turkey and Qatar. They expressed in no uncertain terms their readiness to work and cooperate with the Envoy and his staff in order to achieve laurels for their beloved country. They also commended President Koroma for making the right choice in posting Ambassador Timbo to their country of residence.
The nationals without exception described Ambassador Timbo as ‘a rare breed of an envoy” who is most willing to go the extra mile to ensure that he is touchable and reachable. They highly commended his affability and camaraderie, factors that made them so comfortable conversing with His Excellency and expressing their concerns without any form of constraints. They expressed their happiness for having such a down-to-earth Envoy in the person of Ambassador Alpha Siray Timbo.
Giving the vote of thanks on behalf of the nationals, the Deputy Secretary General of the SLCT, Mariama Abassie Kargbo thanked the Ambassador and team for the remarkable national interest they manifested in meeting with their nationals and the open door policy the Envoy has introduced. She said they hope such meetings would be held from time to time. Mariama also thanked his fellow Sierra Leoneans for displaying their national spirit by responding to the call at a very short notice. She expressed special thanks to the Honoray Consul and all the other foreign attendees for sharing with Sierra Leoneans the joyous and memorable occasion.
She also said that as Sierra Leoneans in Turkey, they are committed to making a meaningful contribution to the discourse of development back home. She prayed to Allah to guide and help His Excellency, President Ernest Bai Koroma spearhead Sierra Leone to the promised and long coveted prosperity enshrined in His Excellency’s “Agenda for Prosperity”. She also prayed for Ambassador Timbo for greater wisdom and glowing successes in his mission.
A donation of $ 1, 000 USD to the Sierra Leone Community in Istanbul for the smooth running of their Union by the Ambassador and presentation of a plaque by the Union to the Ambassador climaxed the meeting.