John Baimba Sesay-CHINA
Ahead of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections slated for 2018, the governing All People’s Congress has selected Dr. Samura Kamara as flag-bearer. I wrote, prior to the ‘Makeni Family Meeting’ that events leading to such historic Convention were not only sounding positive and intriguing but were “generally, excellent for the growth of the APC.”
I submitted that notwithstanding the number of intending flag bearer aspirants, one choice and only one person was to emerge flag bearer of the Party. That person, we all today know, is Dr. Samura Kamara. And since he is the person, the chosen candidate, the Party must come together and work collectively in support of him. The APC’s interest must be the primary focus.
The Party should not afford to let go the growth efforts the country has pursued in the last decade, by handing over governance to an Opposition Party. An APC victory is victory for all! The choice of Dr. Samura Kamara is one that will take the Party to VICTORY and one that has a National Appeal. His choice will ensure a continuation of the legacy of President Koroma.
The SLPP, as we have seen, is going to the elections through two different patterns; an entity-the Party itself and secondly, through Political Party surrogates in the form of the National Grand Coalition. Check the membership of the NGC, the conclusion will be it is SLPP part 2. What that means for the APC therefore is, it must remain united behind a common purpose and candidate.
Dr. Samura Kamara is a respectable figure nationally and globally. He has successfully built a rich pedigree we are today proud of. His rise to becoming flag-bearer for the governing APC comes in with huge expectations but above all, with a promising future, firstly, for growth of the country and secondly, a strengthened Party.
By 2015, Africa’s premier Bank – the African Development Bank was working on having a new president. In the race for the best to take over the huge governance responsibility was Sierra Leone’s foreign minister and former finance minister- Dr. Samura Kamara. He was seeking that job at a time that he was tremendously contributing to his country’s growth process.
As Finance Minister, he effectively hosted the African Union Caucus of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Freetown. As Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sierra Leone was to Chair the African Union Committee of ten on the reform of the Security Council, leading negotiations on the issue of fair global representation.
He remains an eloquent, consummate and unpretentious Diplomat, having served the International Monetary Fund as Alternate Executive Director for Africa Group I Constituency- Commonwealth Secretariat as Senior Economic Officer (Economic Affairs Department) and as Chief Programme Officer. His years of experience in International Economic Cooperation, and Partnership Agreements with bilateral and multilateral development agencies successfully positioned Sierra Leone’s international profile.
Both as Finance and Foreign Minister, he succeeded in lifting ties of cooperation with the country’s development partners and friendly nations. As Foreign Minister, he was a key player when, by December, 2016, Sierra Leone signed six cooperation agreements with China. Under his watch, both nations also scaled up their bilateral relations through comprehensive, strategic cooperative partnership in a bid to fully exploit the ten point cooperation package announced during the 2015 Johannesburg FOCAC Summit.
The country has expanded her bilateral relationship, reaching out and strengthening ties with countries such as Brazil, India, South Africa and Middle Eastern countries. We have got mechanisms in place for promoting growth through strong private sector participation in the country’s economy. This was against the backdrop that, active participation of the private sector is central to the country’s transformation process.
We have witnessed a paradigm shift from depending completely on donors to being able to fund our own development, with the National Revenue Authority playing a lead role. But for the troubling effects of ebola and drop in price of commodities like Iron Ore, etc in the global market, Sierra Leone was having a robust economic growth.
Through the efforts of this Government, we have had a surge in international investors in various sectors of the economy. We broadened the tax base by the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), modernized and increased our revenue collection efforts, by introducing the Automated Systems for Customs Data-ASYCUDA and tax payer identification numbers, aimed at tackling tax evasion and tax avoidance.
We are in a post ebola recovery period and despite all of the achievements, we still have a long way to go with huge challenges ahead. The election of Dr. Samura Kamara would therefore help in ensuring a continuity of what the current government has been working on and handling the challenges we have ahead of us.