By Our Toronto Correspondent :
The National Publicity and Outreach Coordinator in the Office of Government Spokesman, Abdulai Bayraytay had told Sierra Leoneans in Toronto, Canada that His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma was resoundingly re-elected for a second term not just because of the impeccable achievements he made during the past five years in the “agenda for change”, but because he has brought integrity into the governance of the country alongside addressing incidents of corruption and lawlessness.
Bayraytay, who was addressing a cross-section of Sierra Leoneans at the famous Suya Spot on Weston Road in Toronto Friday, February 1st, 2013 said during the past five years, President Koroma had delivered on the promise he made to Sierra Leoneans that he would increase the supply of electricity, drastically reduce infant and child mortality rates, improve the infrastructural development and promote the commercialization of agriculture for self-food sufficiency.
The outspoken Government spokesman further informed his audience that government had just signed a hundred and ninety million dollar agreement with the Chinese Railway Construction Company for the construction of a brand new airport at Mamamah in the outskirts of Freetown and the continued promotion of a congenial economic atmosphere that would attract direct foreign investment for the eventual creation of employment for particularly the youth.
Speaking on government’s efforts in addressing corruption and lawlessness, Bayraytay said President Koroma has on several occasions reminded Sierra Leoneans that his government would have no sacred cows and that he had demonstrated that by strengthening the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC). This, he went on, was recently demonstrated by the suspension of ten senior officials in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation by State House on allegations of misappropriating GAVI funds in the range of about one million dollars. “Today, under the leadership of President Koroma, Sierra Leone is among the few countries in the world with the strongest legislations in the fight against graft by the passing the 2008 ACC Act that would no longer require the ACC to seek the pre-approval of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General before prosecutions could be made, Bayraytay said amidst applauses.
Commenting on the recently launched operation WID by President Koroma in a bid to address reckless driving and street trading, Bayraytay said President Koroma made a manifesto promise that he would address lawlessness and operation has so far been acclaimed by many Sierra Leoneans as a bold step in particularly limiting access of motorbike (okada) riders to the business district of Freetown as well as demolishing make-shift shacks in designated areas in and around the city. According to Bayraytay, the project is bound to succeed because President Koroma had reiterated that anyone found culpable of sabotaging it would have to face the full consequences of the law.
Dilating on the human rights record of the country, the erudite spokesman said President Koroma enjoys international respect because he would stand tall and proud for being the only President the country had produced since independence who had placed as moratorium on any form of political executions, and promoted freedom of the press to unimaginable levels. Bayraytay reminded his audience that the Human rights commission has been slated as a class “A” by the United Nations, and that all Sierra Leoneans should be proud with the prestigious Award given to President Koroma for being the “Abolitionist of the Year” by the Italian-based international human rights organization, the Hands off Cain.
Touching on the “Agenda for Prosperity”, Bayraytay said it is a blue print development policy that would build on the successes of the “agenda for change” during the past five years. He said the “Agenda for Prosperity” would focus mainly on a diversified, inclusive and competitive economy, a caring society with greater access to quality education and health care, job opportunities and social protection, sustainable management of the country’s natural resources, and a people-centered investment of the projected increases of revenue from the country’s vast natural resources, and above all, an accountable and service delivery focused public sector.
He said one would only have to see the multitude of direct foreign investment in the country like the revamping of the Marampa Mines, after almost 30 years of non-operation, by the London Mining Company, the Chinese investment in African Minerals, donor-confidence in the country with multilateral agencies like the Food and Agricultural Organization, the European Union, and World Bank, the IMF, and DFID, among others, in providing the much needed assistance to the government ” Bayraytay confidently said, stating that “It was based on this track record that President Koroma expectedly garnered 58.7 percent of the votes during the last polls so that he can continue another five years of change and transformation”.
In his concluding remarks, Bayraytay, a former student leader, civil society advocate re-echoed the call of President Koroma for sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to return home and join hands in the development of the country. He said the new political dispensation in Sierra Leone is about the visible and concrete transformation of the country as evidenced in the many nation-wide infrastructural developments, the provision of clean drinking water and electricity, and the building and strengthening of democratic institutions. “Just go to the airport and see the new transformation with renovated arrivals and departure terminals, the installation of brand new navigational equipment worth about 3.8 million dollars, an increase in the number of business and VIP lounges and the general security of the airport now manned by the UK-based Westminster Aviation Security Services (WASS), he said.
Bayraytay used the occasion in calling on Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to think of going back home and join hands with the government in the drive to rapidly transform the country and improve the livelihood our people. “I must reiterate that President Koroma recognizes the tremendous contributions, especially remittances you in the Diaspora are making to friends and families back home, and therefore becomes imperative for you to effectively participate in determining the political future of the country, he concluded.
Earlier, in her opening remarks, the chairperson of the occasion, Toronto-based activist and budding Environmentalist Barlu Dumbuya expressed appreciation to Mr. Bayraytay for taking time off his busy schedule to address Sierra Leoneans in Toronto on the achievements of President Koroma and the government.
Ms. Dumbuya went on to state that Bayraytay’s efforts to address Sierra Leoneans “is a sure way of bringing the country closer to the heart of other Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora. She further paid tribute to President Koroma for making them proud Sierra Leoneans by virtue of the international recognition the country is receiving across the world. She however called on government to increase the provision of water, create public toilets and address loopholes in the free health care initiative as well as empowering women and youth who are the future of the state.
In his contribution, a highly respected Sierra Leonean socialite, Usheak Koroma aka Kokofele said President Koroma indeed won the last presidential polls because of his track record and the sincerity Sierra Leoneans saw in him to deliver. Kokofele, who doubles as a radio broadcaster also called on Sierra Leoneans to go beyond politics and support President Koroma’s vision of developing the country. This, according to Kokofele, would also include changing our attitude for the better and development of our beloved country.
In her contribution, Mrs. Onike Bendu called on all Sierra Leoneans to unconditionally support the vision of President Koroma in developing the country as already demonstrated in the “agenda for change”. Mrs. Bendu further stated that “some of us and our children would one day return home to join hands in the development of our country but we are calling on government to promote equal opportunities and the professional performance of state functionaries.
Other speakers included Hassan Sesay aka Geebo, Abu Samu, Mohamed Bundu, Saidu B. and Ms. Abioseh Kanu, Osman Kamara aka “the Police”, and APC Secretary-General in Ontario, Canada Said Nixon Bangura who all declared support for the government and called on President Koroma never to renege on addressing incidents of lawlessness and corruption.
Abdulai Bayraytay, with the support of Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States with accreditation to Canada, His Excellency Bockarie Kortu Stevens is expected to address Sierra Leoneans in similar town hall meetings in Philadelphia and the Metropolitan cities of Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. on February 10, 2013 before returning to Sierra Leone.