As part of His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s 2007 manifesto promise to promote participatory governance in the West African state of sierra Leone, the National Publicity and Outreach Coordinator in the Office of Government spokesman, Abdulai Bayraytay is all set to address Sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27, 2017 at the famous Suya spot on Western Road in Toronto, Canada.
As one of President Koroma’s Government spokespersons, Bayraytay has over the past three weeks been engaging Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora particularly those in the United States of America and Canada on a wide range of issues that include, but not limited to, the country’s post Ebola recovery program, transparency and accountability, economic recovery and the building of a robust and resilient service delivery system.
Addressing Sierra Leoneans in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and in the tri states of Washington, DC, Maryland and Virgina on the post Ebola recovery plan being put in place by the Government, the Outreach Coordinator indicated that the vision of President Koroma is to build a stronger health system that will stand the test of time in the event of an emergency. This, Bayraytay went on, has started with the training of 30 specialist doctors and for the first time we have just completed the training of 20 biomedical technicians.
Responding to what incentives Government has put in place to continue to encourage front line health workers to stay in the health profession, Bayraytay responded that Government is going to introduce a national health insurance scheme in order to retain and continue to improve on standards. “As I am speaking to you now, we now have a bio level 3 laboratory at Jui that can test in rapid time viral hemorrhagic fevers like malaria, cholera, typhoid and Ebola, among others. For this we are particularly indebted to our excellent bilateral relationship with the People’s Republic of China”, the outspoken spokesman said amidst thunderous approval.
Commenting on Government’s efforts in the fight against corruption, Bayraytay indicated that President Koroma’s zero tolerance to corruption is still in force and that the Government remains committed to support the prosecution of anyone found wanting for graft. Bayraytay cited the real time transactional auditing conducted by the Audit Service Sierra Leone after President Koroma had, during his Ebola sensitization tours, been reminding all and sundry that “Ebola is blood money”.
The Outreach coordinator indicated that it was rather preposterous for some political pundits to skew the argument by accusing the Government of pilfering Ebola funds instead of joining the international community in commending the President for this singular, bold initiative”, Bayraytay said. Commenting on the constitutionality of the removal of the erstwhile Vice-President Chief Alhaji Samuel Sam Sumana from office, Bayraytay said it is the policy of Government not to discuss any details about the legal ramifications since Section 124 of the 1991 Constitution is very clear that it is the Supreme Court that has the constitutional and legal mandate to do so. “We don’t want in any way to prejudice the matter since it is presently before the Court”, Bayraytay said.
He however admonished his compatriots that holding contrary views against that of the Government is okay but that it is so uncivil to unleash unprintable invectives of the President and Government officials whose only crime is because of providing leadership in the country by being politicians” Bayraytay softly said amidst outright concurrence from the audience.
In his contribution on the fight against corruption relative to the Ebola funds, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Ambassador at the United Nation Mission in New York, Amadu Koroma said at the wake of the Ebola in West Africa, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon established a Multi Partner Trust Fund to solicit financial support from donors and appointed Dr. David Nabarro as Special Envoy. “I can categorically say here no monies were given directly to the three countries hardest hit. Rather, Koroma went on, 13 specialized UN agencies like the WHO, UNDP, FAO, WFP, UNFPA, UNICEF, among others, submitted proposals for interventions and once approved they are given the monies to implement’, Ambassador Koroma explained, disappointingly adding that “it is therefore unfortunate for anyone to bring in politics into a national tragedy like Ebola by accusing the Government of eating Ebola funds when in fact it is the Government of President Koroma that remains focused in ending the virus whilst at the same time fighting corruption. I challenge anyone to pinpoint where a Minister is named in the audit Report let alone the President”, Koroma emphasized.
In his contribution, the Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Nations and Coordinator of the African Union Committee of 10 on UN Security Council Reform ( C-10), who also speaks for the Government in the diaspora , Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, highlighted President Ernest Koroma’s impressive action to bring the government to the people in the diaspora, attesting to his commitment to the principles of transparency and accountability in Government. He said that this was the firest time in the history of the nation that government had been so transparent and accountable to the people for whom it is working. He also said that Sierra Leoneans should be proud to also have a President who is one of the most democratic in Africa. “The degree of political tolerance, freedom of speech and freedom of association in Sierra Leone is unprecedented. We have over 50 newspapers with most of them belonging to the opposition and no journalist has ever been jailed for his views” , the Minister noted. “There is no prisoner of conscience in Sierra Leone.”
The Press Attache of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington DC , Mr. Pasco Temple , did a tremendous job to facilitate and coordinate the town meeting in Washington . He helped to mobilize Sierra Leoneans to come to the Embassy to listen to the truth about current events in Sierra Leone.
The Head of Chancery at the Sierra Leone Mission to the UN, Minister Counselor Mr. Alhusine Sesay, also gave a big hand in facilitating the publicity and outreach program embarked upon by the Government of Sierra Leone , through Mr. Bayraytay. He gave the opening statement at the meeting in New York where he outlined the reasons for the outreach program by the Government.
So far, the outreach program has been immensely appreciated by Sierra Leoneans. They are delighted that many concerns they had been harbouring through misinformation and distortion of facts in the press and the social media have been resolved. The entire government PR team is being highly commended for helping to clarify matters of dire national concern and projecting the image of the President and the Government.
The meeting in Toronto has generated lot of interest among Sierra Leoneans .