Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of information and Communications who doubles as the Co- Government Spokesman, Hon. Sheka Tarawalie, has on Tuesday August 14, 2012 assured top All Peoples Congress (APC) Party caucus in New Jersey, USA, that “the November elections will not only be peaceful , transparent, free, fair, credible, unique and admirable, but will produce a landslide victory for our party because of the concrete results we have registered under the able leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma.” (Photo: group photo of some of the caucus members)
Addressing the august body of over thirty men and women at the Somerset residence of APC strongman Foday Mansaray, Co- Government Spokesman Tarawalie said New Jersey played a significant role in the pre-election consolidation of President Koroma’s campaign in 2007 “and I am here to tell you that your efforts have yielded great dividend, the President has delivered, and I am here to galvanize New Jersey again because we are on the verge of delivering not only the most convincing but the most significant victory of our party on first ballot. The signs are clear, the defections are glaring, the development efforts are concrete, the people are aware.”
He categorically stated that the government has put in place all necessary mechanisms to ensure that the elections are not rigged, by giving autonomous powers and all the support necessary to the National Electoral Commission; and also ensure a peaceful conduct of the elections by equipping and marshaling a robust security apparatus which would include at least one thousand five hundred military personnel in addition to the police and paramilitary forces.
He said the government is working in consultation with all the relevant stake holders including opposition political parties, the National Electoral Commission, the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), civil society groups, and the security forces.
He said the newly introduced biometric system will forestall the notorious malpractice of over-voting.
“I am not here to make a campaign speech, because I cannot preach to the converted since all of us here are APC, yet I will take this opportunity to tell you that the All People’s Congress (APC) party is poised to deliver a landslide victory in the November polls,” he had reiterated.
The Hon. Minister confirmed that there is a scramble for the APC party symbol, and stressed that President Koroma has prepared the minds of all aspirants, that the party will not be moved by any sentiment in the awarding of symbols, as only deserving aspirants that are chosen by the people would be awarded through a kind of primary election system that has been put in place at all levels.
He systematically told the top guns of the New Jersey All People’s Congress North America chapter how the President Ernest Bai Koroma led Government has done a lot to improve and rebrand Sierra Leone.
He said President Koroma restored electricity in record time through the completion of Bumbuna Phase 1 and changing Freetown’s image from that of the darkest city in the world to one of West Africa’s cities with regular electricity supply. He said even Bumbuna Town and Makeni are now enjoying a constant supply of electricity, while other mini hydro projects are being pursued around the country.
He said the marine sector that had once lost much-needed revenue has been boosted through the construction of modern well-equipped fish-landing jetties that would see fish being processed to international standards and could then be acceptable in the international market. He also said President Koroma’s private sector approach to investment has seen a big boost in large-scale investments like the First Step economic zone from where fruit concentrates are now being exported to Europe, London Mining, African Minerals, Addax Bioenergy, the Gold Tree Foundation, and Sierra Rutile which are all improving the communities through corporate social responsibility activities and also providing lots of employment opportunities. “While people are losing jobs in Greece, Portugal, Italy, England, and even here in the United States, we in Sierra Leone are actually recording an increase in employment opportunities. I cannot say we have achieved everything, I cannot say we are already there, but the government has laid a solid foundation during its first term, and the President therefore deserves a second term to complete the work,” he maintained.
Hon. Tarawalie said President Ernest Bai Koroma has demonstrated some of his unique qualities to Sierra Leoneans in particular and the world at large. His government stands unique to be the first to rein without orchestrating treason charges against his opponents. His Government has never arrested and detained any Sierra Leonean for political reasons. Soon after his assumption of power, when many people thought President Ernest Bai Koroma was going to prosecute some alleged corrupt officials of the Sierra Leone People’s Party, he decided to retain them in office for almost three months contrary to what used to happen. President Koroma introduced a transition sytem in Sierra Leone.
At the international level, the Minister said President Koroma is respected at the Mano River Union level (where he has excellent relations with his colleagues and was instrumental in particularly the resolution of the Ivorian crisis), the ECOWAS level (for which he has on several occasions acted as Special Envoy), the AU level (where he has acted as Chairman), and the UN level (where even President Obama publicly acknowledged him).
In the area of Agriculture, the government met thirty (30) tractors, and now there over three hundred tractors and all of them are currently with the farmers, through the smallholder commercialization programme.
Minister Tarawalie said President Koroma has made immeasurable progress in five years, and therefore need another term to lift the country higher.
Almost all attenders were given an opportunity to ask questions, and the minister responded to all of them.