By a special correspondent
Thursday May 4, 2006
A week of sensitisation and workshop involving the National Executive Committee of the SLPP has ended in London with the Party emboldened by the renewed commitment and determination of the UK and Ireland Branch to play its fullest part to ensure victory in the 2007 elections.
The delegation comprised the national Chairman, Alhaji U.N.S.Jah, Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa, National Secretary-General, Hon. Victor Reider, National Publicity Secretary, Hon Bernadette Lahai, National Women’s Leader, Mrs Josephine Mark Thompson, National Financial Secretary, Hon. Solomon Bangali, Parliamentary representative, Mr. Sahr Nyamah, National Youth Leader, and Mr. Brima Koroma, National Administrative Secretary.
The rationale behind the conference was not only in line with new thinking within the leadership to take the party to the people, but to also, to afford the members the opportunity to contribute to the formulation of ideas aimed at making the party more relevant to the lives of the people of Sierra Leone.
Opening the conference in London, the national Chairman of the party, Alhaji U.N.S. Jah, recognised the pivotal role played by the UK and Ireland Branch, and underscored the strategic importance of Diaspora Branches in the management of the party.
The new National Executive Committee (NEC) headed by Alhaji U.N.S. Jah has taken a deliberate decision to open the party and extend its reach to all corners of Sierra Leone, as well as to explore areas of cooperation with foreign institutions. It was within this context that he led a seven-man delegation to the People’s Republic of China on the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party. In appraising the conference of their visit to China, the National Chairman said the SLPP was in a hurry to transform and develop Sierra Leone, and as such, it was important to look at the development models of other countries, and to this extent, the party would place emphasis on countries in transition.
Alhaji Jah informed members that as a developing nation, Sierra Leone should lay premium on south-south cooperation. He said the transformation of China from a Communist command economy to that of a socialist-market economy was worthy of note for any society that was in transition such as ours.
The National Secretary-General presented a thought provoking paper titled: “SLPP YESTERDAY, SLPP TODAY AND A VISION OF ITS OUTLOOK FOR TOMORROW”. The Document looked at the strides made by the SLPP Government in not only the restoration of peace and security to the Country, but the socio-economic gains that have been achieved, and the development challenges that lie ahead. The conference also had presentations from other members of the delegation.
In specific terms members were able to examine the role of Diaspora branches as well as affiliated groups in taping into and encouraging the reversal of the brain drain that continues to affect the human resource potential of the Country; the imperative need for Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to avail themselves of progressive laws being championed by the SLPP government, such as the Dual Citizenship Act as well as the promotion of a positive image of the Country, and where necessary, to encourage foreign direct investment in the country.
On the role of the Diaspora branches, the conference also examined the possibility of networking, with a view to seeking and promoting the interest of not only party members but the wider Sierra Leonean community in the Diaspora. The Diaspora branches will also play their full part in the on-going Constitutional review within the party.
The conference agreed on the need for Diaspora branches to continue to support the party’s Secretariat to effectively carry out its function.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the UK and Ireland Branch Mr. Tamba Lamina described the conference as a seminal moment in the history of the branch. He called on members of the party branch to make full use of the presence of members of the National Executive Committee to resolve not only the internal difficulties within the branch, but to seek clarification and assurances from the parent body about some of the apprehensions that had previously characterised parent-branch relations. Mr. Lamina exuded confidence in the ability of the UK branch to rise to the occasion and to further reinforce the status of the branch as the premier Diaspora branch.
In presenting his report to the conference, the Secretary-General of the branch Mr. Harold Saffa assured members of the NEC that the branch was stable, focused and loyal to the national leadership. Mr Saffa said the party was vibrant and growing, and announced to thunderous applause that the SLPP branch was the largest Sierra Leone political organisation in the United Kingdom.
Addressing the conference amidst a sea of green colour, the National Secretary-General, Mr. JJ Saffa enumerated the achievement of the SLPP government and challenged anyone to point to any government in post Independence Sierra Leone that that prioritised the development needs of the rural areas more than what the current government was doing.
Dr. Bernadette Lahai called on Sierra Leonean women to take advantage of the progressive laws that have been enacted by the SLPP government, and challenged them to be hindered by no barriers as under the SLPP there was none.
The National Publicity Secretary Hon Victor Reider assured the conference that the SLPP had nothing to be ashamed of, because the primary responsibility of any government worth its name was to provide peace security and freedom to its citizens, which was what the SLPP had made its prime objectives and delivered to the people of Sierra Leone. Mr. Reider said only the SLPP had the ability to unite the people of Sierra Leone, and called on members not to confused by the rhetoric of those he called political pygmies.
The Young Generation leader, Mr. Sahr Nyamah reminded the conference about the importance the SLPP was placing on the role of the youths in national development. He encouraged his compatriots to be at the vanguard in spreading the positive image of the party.
In his closing remarks, the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji U.N.S.Jah admonished all party members not to be distracted by what he called internet parties, but to focus on the election of Vice President Solomon Berewa as the next President of Sierra Leone. The delegation left London on Sunday for the USA on the final leg of their trip.