The United Council of Imams who earlier this year lost their erstwhile president Alhaji Yaya Deen Kamara, have chosen a new president in the person of *SHEIK ALHAJI DR. MUHAMMAD HABIB SHERIFF* and have now presented him to the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender & Children’s Affairs Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden whose portfolio includes oversight of all religious matters in Sierra Leone.
Welcoming them to her office on Wednesday 24th May 2017, the honourable minister reiterated the high level of religious tolerance which His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has ensured prevails over the republic. Though a Christian himself, she pointed out that the President had, by his style of leadership, greatly endeared himself to Muslims not just in Sierra Leone but the world over. She pointed out that it was no coincidence that the protocol standing arrangements for the global leaders who recently assembled in Saudi Arabia, positioned the Sierra Leone President, as the leader to stand immediately behind President of America in the row of specially invited Observer Heads of State. She said such was a mark of recognition of his great stature with respect to religious tolerance.
She assured of her ministry’s continued collaboration with Imams pointing out that “for the first time in the entire History of this country, the sacrificial meat donation from Saudi Arabia, was distributed to every corner of Sierra Leone”.
Continuing, Hon. Minister Blyden said that such a marvellous feat “was only made possible because the United Council of Imams effectively collaborated with this ministry. So we sent thousands of cartons of sacrificial meat to the provinces which ensured every single Section Imam in every Chiefdom received at least a carton of meat to cook for vulnerable people. This was through the nationwide network of Imams and for that, I thank you,” Hon. Blyden said.
Hon. Blyden said two groups of people who her Ministry pays great attention to, down to the Chiefdom and Sectional levels are the Women of the Bondo Society and the Religious Leaders. She said when the government needs to take its messages down into the communities, the Bondo Society and Religious Leaders are two of the most effective conduit to pass social services messages.
Several Imams spoke and one poignant statement was from Southern Regional Imam, Alhaji Koker who informed how Women of his remote village in Bagbo Chiefdom sing praises of Hon. Blyden ever since she went to help resolve a crisis there which had pitched Bondo Secret Society women against others to extent of compounds destroyed and Regional Police at its wits end as to how to manage a crisis that had grown beyond imagination. Alhaji Koker opined that the successful intervention of Minister Blyden in that matter, was evidence that President Koroma’s decision to appoint her, was by Divine guidance. He said the country has come to greatly admire the Minister in her one year of service and said to her that “although it is not everyone who will like you”, she should rest assured that majority were praying for her.
The meeting during which the Ministry’s new Permanent Secretary Mr. Abu Bakarr Carew was introduced to the Imams, ended on high note with photos being taken.
Photos and Video accompany this update.
© *MSWGCA – 29th May 2017.*