By Alhaji M.B. Jalloh, Press Attaché, Saudi Arabia
The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has disclosed plan to visit Sierra Leone to dialogue with the Government of His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and different stakeholders in the country.
OIC Sec. Gen. (right) receives Ambassador Kargbo
His Excellency Iyad Ameen Madani disclosed his plan of visit during a courtesy call on him by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Permanent Representative to the OIC, His Excellency Alhaji M. S. Kargbo at the General Secretariat of the OIC in Saudi Arabia’s second capital of Jeddah a few days ago.
The Sierra Leone Envoy, who was accompanied by his newly arrived Minister Counsellor/Head of Chancery, Sulay –Manah Kpukumu was there to express appreciation and gratitude to Member States, through the OIC Chief, on behalf of His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone, for the organization’s enormous contribution to fighting the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Sierra Leone, which ended in November 2015. This progress interjected until early January this year, when the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) jointly announced the first suspected Ebola death in Tonkolili District, an index case that emanated from Barmoi in the Kambia District.
During his courtesy call, Ambassador Kargbo emphasized that the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone deemed it expedient to send a special message of thanks and profound appreciation to the OIC and its Member States for their meaningful contributions to ending the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.
Ambassador Kargbo also commended the two key Jeddah based organizations, the OIC and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) for the Joint Resource Mobilization Conference held at the OIC General Secretariat in November 2014, adding that, the initiative went a long way in adding value to the fight to defeating the dreadful virus in Sierra Leone and in the other worst affected sister Republics of Guinea and Liberia in the Mano River Union Basin.
He went on to re-assure the Secretary-General about the Sierra Leone Government’s determination to further strengthen the country’s long-standing relationship between Sierra Leone and the OIC. The Envoy also assured that the country would remain committed to the ideals of the organization which he described as a blessing to the 57 Member States. The top Sierra Leone diplomat in Saudi also recalled that the OIC had always come to the aid of Sierra Leone during trying times and expressed optimism that the organization would always be there in times of need.
The Ambassador however, reminded the OIC Secretary General of the enormous task ahead after the end of disease in Sierra Leone. He explained the devastating effect of the Ebola outbreak on the country’s economy and the loss of over three thousand five hundred lives in the country, adding that the outbreak reversed all the economic gains that were made under President Koroma’s Agenda for Change and brought socio-economic hardship in the country.
Envoy Kargbo therefore, appealed for more support from the OIC to bring the country’s economy and development strides back on track and to support Sierra Leone in her Post-Ebola Economic Recovery programme which will seek to address health, education, social protection, energy, water and economic recovery.
In his response, the OIC Secretary General empathized with Sierra Leoneans for what they went through during the Ebola outbreak. He also extended condolences on behalf of the OIC to Sierra Leoneans who lost their loved ones during the Ebola outbreak and appealed to them to have faith in God; as there are better days ahead.
“Our decision to aid Sierra Leone in the Ebola fight was an indication of show of solidarity to a Member State that was in need of help at the most crucial time when her people were in danger of dying of a strange disease,” the Secretary General said.
The soft-spoken OIC Chief hailed the strong commitment of Sierra Leone to the ideals of the OIC and its bilateral relationship with most countries in the Arab World. The OIC boss assured the Sierra Leone Ambassador of their determination to support the country’s Post-Ebola Economic Recovery programme with the objective of promoting development and the long-standing bilateral relationship between the organization and Sierra Leone.
The OIC Secretary General and Ambassador M.S. Kargbo also discussed various bilateral issues that are beneficial to both Sierra Leone and the organization.
Though the discussion of the bilateral issues was done behind closed doors, the beaming of Ambassador Kargbo with smile after the meeting indicated that their discussion was concluded on a very positive note.
The Ambassador and the Head of Chancery also held fruitful discussions with the key Directorates of the Organization, including, the Directors of Science and Technology, Economic, Political, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs.
A friend of Sierra Leone at the Department of International Affairs at Qatar University in Doha, Dr. Ahmad Hussein Ibrahim had this to say after the Ambassador’s visit: “From all indications, Ambassador Kargbo’s visit to the OIC this time around is sure to rekindle Sierra Leone’s relationship with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on a firmer footing which would definitely pay more dividends in the long run.”
The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations, according to the OIC website, and it currently has membership of 57 states. Sierra Leone became a member of the Saudi based organization in 1972 under the Presidency of Dr. Siaka P. Stevens.