Posted by Cocorioko Newspaper on September 19, 2013 :
By KABS KANU AND PASCO TEMPLE :
The Sierra Leone Embassy to the United States and the Millennium Challenge Corporation ( MCC ) conducted a successful Town Meeting last evening at the Silver Spring Civic Center in Maryland. The theme of the joint meeting was the MCC Compact Award won by Sierra Leone last year.
MAHMUD IDRISS MAKING HIS STATEMENT
GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN AND HEAD OF DELEGATION, HON. ALPHA KANU, SPEAKING
The MCC requires that a compact winner must conduct a constraints analysis of the principal constraints to economic growth and poverty reduction . She must also consult with the people to identify areas of priority for development.
A FEMALE ATTENDEE ASKING A QUESTION
A large number of Sierra Leoneans from around Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia attended the meeting. People also came from Philadelphia and New Jersey to take part in the all-Sierra Leonean and non-political event. Representatives of the MCC, Montgomery County and Maryland State officials as well as friends of Sierra Leone and stakeholders were also in attendance .
THE ATTENDANCE WAS VERY SATISFACTORY
During the question -and-answer-series, Sierra Leoneans at the meeting asked very pertinent questions surrounding the MCC, the Compact Award , governance in Sierra Leone and the way forward for the country, questions that were competently answered by Mr. Mahmoud Idriss and Ministers Alpha Kanu and Richard Konteh.
THE BIG CROWD AT THE MEETING
President Ernest Bai Koroma was represented at the Town Meeting principally by the Minister of Information and Communications, Hon. Alpha Kanu , who gave the keynote address . After being masterfully introduced by his Special Assistant, Mr. Ajibu Jalloh, the eloquent minister, who is also a wordsmith and a master of colorful images, took the podium to deliver a masterclass—a vintage Alpha Kanuish statement loaded with philosophical and psychological instruction and this time with religious parallels that held the large crowd spellbound.
ONE OF THE MOST BITTER CRITICS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND PARTY, MR. ALPHA SAIDU BANGURA OF THE OPPOSITION SLPP ASKING A QUESTION. HE SUGGESTED THAT THAT THE MCC OFFICE IN SIERRA LEONE SET UP BOARD OF DIRECTORS WHO EMPLOY AND GIVE OUT CONTRACTS SO THAT MCC OPERATIVES ARE NOT SUBJECT TO DISMISSAL SHOULD ANOTHER PRESIDENT OR GOVERNMENT COME IN.
Hon.Kanu powerfully and convincingly portrayed his boss, President Ernest Koroma, as a very committed, patriotic and productive leader whose tenure has been a blessing to Sierra Leone. President Koroma laid the marker for hard work from the very day he became President of Sierra Leone when he was declared winner of the 2007 elections. Alhaji Kanu said he was expecting the newly-declared President to join him and jubilant party stalwarts to a celebration at the party headquarters but when he called Dr. Ernest Koroma, he was at State House , where he had been sworn-in, working. The new President told him that there was no time to lose as they had to hit the ground running. President Koroma told him that there will be no celebration when the whole country was in darkness with no light ; potholes all over the country ; lots of women dying at childbirth and food was unavailable to the people.
DR. RICHARD KONTEH TALKING DURING THE MEETING
The next day, President Koroma gave him a list of priorities to be immediately handled by the new government and this list included the restoration of light to the then darkest country in the world, infrastructural development , agriculture , health care and human development.
Mr. Kanu described the choice of the President’s priorities as having been determined by divine inspiration. Using a fitting religious situation , Mr. Kanu said the President Koroma drew his inspiration from the Biblical story of the creation in Genesis Chapter One. When God started to create the earth, it was dark and formless and he said “Let there be light” and there was light. President Koroma did the same thing when he started to develop the country. His first and foremost priority was restoring electricity in the country .The President went all out to ensure that light was restored in the first 100 days of his rule. After bringing electricity , President Koroma turned next to infrastructural development which God had done next after decreeing light. God said “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters”. God also said : “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.” This , according to the minister , was infrastructural development. Continuing his thrilling religious parallels, the minister stated that God next said : Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. This was agricultural development and President Koroma followed the same sequence.
According to the minister, God then said : “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” .This was HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, which President Koroma treated in the same sequence, thus demonstrating the fact that President Koroma used the Creation to outline and implement his priorities during his first term . “Our strategy is the The Agenda For Change “, the minister told the meeting. “That is why today we are talking about the MCC “, he emphasized.
The Government Spokesman described the MCC as a God-sent yardstick for the government. He stated that every year the government would check what the MCC is saying about Sierra Leone “ and we will use it to help get us where we want “. Continuing , the minister said : “The MCC to us is an inspiration and the money is only secondary but we will get it to promote the Agenda For Prosperity.”
Amidst cheers , the minister named the many achievements of the government which made it win by overwhelming majority last year’s presidential, legislative and local council elections : The impressive road projects, the installation of solar lights through the length and breadth of the country , the increase in the salary of teachers, and the health care insurance.
Minister Kanu proclaimed that with the Agenda For Prosperity, “Now, we need to put prosperity in the pockets of the people. We also need to provide jobs for our people and we also have to develop agriculture to enable us to feed ourselves . “ The management of the country’s natural resources was key to the achievement of these goals, postulated the Minister.
Becoming very academic , the Minister said that the other resource that Sierra Leone has to utilize to achieve her goals is the Electromagnetic spectrum. He was referring to Information Technology.
Also making very salient remarks at the meeting were the Chief of Staff ,Dr. Richard Konteh , Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States , H.E. Bockarie Stevens and the MCC Program Manager, Mr. Amadu Massallay.
Dr. Konteh said that the MCC will be a catalyst for Sierra Leone’s development projects. But he said also that Sierra Leone has other sources of development .He disclosed that the government was planning to set up a catalytic fund to help Sierra Leoneans return home and engage in business. The government, he emphasized, was not able to employ every one so some of our people should think about engaging themselves in business and commerce.
Dr. Konteh also raised a vexing problem in the country : The White collar job menace. He lamented the fact that the country does not have the right Sierra Leoneans with the right skills mix. He stressed the need for a change.
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