By Razia Bash-Kamara :
President Ernest Bai Koroma has acquainted the Sierra Leonean Community in Australia with Government’s developmental activities of the APC led Government for the past four years at the Scarborough Community Centre in Perth, Western Australia.
In his opening remarks, Chairman of the occasion, Ibrahim Barber Kakay said and Australia has a lot in common in the area of mineral resources and they have earned a lot of experiences since they arrived in Australia and commended President Koroma for bringing development into the country, He congratulated the President for winning the Award ‘ Defender of Democracy’ in Malaysia saying he has brought back pride to Sierra Leone and the nation as a whole. Mr. Kakay assured the President that as patriotic Sierra Leoneans, they will adhere to his clarion call to the Diaspora to return home and participate in national development and expressed appreciation and satisfaction for the granting of their invitation.
Head of the Organizing Team, Alhassan Kamara said the significance of the visit could not be over emphasised being the first time a Sierra Leonean President has ever visitedAustraliain the country’s history. He added that news of the President’s arrival inAustraliaheightened the spirit of Sierra Leoneans which enhanced their determination to organize a dinner in his honour. Team Leader Alhassan Kamara pointed out that the President’s leadership has once more restored integrity toSierra Leoneespecially in the areas of good governance and the promotion of democracy in the country.
Mr. Kamara maintained that Australia has contributed immensely to the education of Sierra Leoneans some of whom are distinction students and professionals and assured the President that with the developments that are now taking place in the country and the type of leadership the country now has, they will ensure that they too return home to contribute immensely to national development. Lauding the President’s efforts for facilitating the Diaspora office, Alhassan Kamara appealed that an Embassy is established inAustraliaasSierra Leonestands to gain a lot being that the two countries have a lot of things in common including good governance, rule of democracy and mineral resources.
Chairperson WesternAustraliaChapter, Mrs.Olivia Boatteh said the Sierra Leonean women inAustraliahave been putting things together with other groups of African women to help the needy ones back inSierra LeoneandGhana. She emphasised that they have been also working assiduously to create a network wherein the Sierra Leonean women will come together to ensure that they too play a part in the transformation process of the country especially in the area of women. Madam Boatteh also assured President Koroma that they will give him all the support and assistance needed to ensure that he wins the 2012 elections.
President Ernest Bai Koroma registered gratitude for the great and warm welcome accorded him and his entourage saying it is indeed very impressive and appreciative. The President added that although that was his first visit, the comments he has heard from the women about giving support and assistance to other women and his developmental efforts in the country. He maintained that as that was the first opportunity of talking to them personally since he assumed office four years ago, he deems it fit that he acquaints them with the development that have taken place in the country despite the fact that they might have got a lot of information about his developmental strides.
President Koroma made it clear that it is no time of campaigning but as Sierra Leoneans it is their right to know what happens in their country saying when he was given the mandate by his people in 2007, he wasted no time but went to work as he was aware of the challenges that were ahead of him. The President noted his belief thatSierra Leonehas to transform itself by effecting changes in the attitude of Sierra Leoneans and by providing a conducive direction for the people. In that regard, he said, they tried as a government to harmonize the aspirations of the people and the promises in the manifesto and those of the campaign in the Agenda for Change where they prioritized the most predominant sectors.
The President pointed out that they were aware of the situation the country was coming from and as such they further endeavoured to consolidate the peace and stability that existed and build upon the democracy. He maintained that with the development that is taking place in the country, they no longer need to bother about proposals instead they look forward to what has been done, the challenges encountered along the way and what needs to be done in future. President Koroma noted that as a government, they are aware that every sector needs development , but based on the resources that are available, they needed to make their priorities with sectors that form the basis of the economy including health, education, infrastructure, agriculture and energy.
The President Koroma highlighted the achievements the country has made so far in the areas of education, health, agriculture, energy and the infrastructure accepting that there are still challenges on the way. He reiterated that with all the progress that is taking place in the country, there is a need for the further promotion of good governance and the private sector and as such government has enhanced the status of the Anti- Corruption which has yielded results in the area of transparency. The President also informed them about the various investments that are now in the Country especially in the mining sector from which the affected communities will now derive immense benefits according to the newly reviewed Mining Act .
President Koroma also informed the community about the awards the country has received in recognition of good governance, democracy and doing business which has attracted a lot of investors and about the gender laws that are being enacted to secure women in the country. The President Koroma called on all to return home and participate in nation building as it is only Sierra Leoneans that could developSierra Leoneand implored them to remain to be law abiding citizens inAustralia.