By Umaru Jalloh :
President Koroma’s Special Executive Assistant Doctor Sylvia Blyden stormed the shores of the Buckeye state of Ohio on a short visit to the Ohio APC Chapter last weekend. At the Columbus International Airport, the Iron Lady of the West was given a rousing welcome by a throng of APC supporters. Present at the airport was Rashid Bangura President of the Ohio APC Chapter, Sallieu Bangura Vice of the Ohio Chapter, Idriss Mansaray Auditor of the Ohio APC Chapter, Abdul Sesay, former organizing secretary of the Ohio APC Chapter, Alie Kabia Aspirant for Ohio APC Chapter, Partric Foryeh, member of the Sylvia Blyden Face Book Friendship Club and Miss Marina Sesay, daughter of Abdul Sesay.
Dr. Blyden was taken to the Days Inn Hotel for a brief rest. At the Hotel members of the Ohio APC Chapter and President Rashid Bangura had frieendly discusion about North America politics, she advised members present to work for peace in APC North America. She advised each and every member about the importance of peace in the APC North America.
Doctor Sylvia Blyden was the Guest of Honor on the Annual Picnic Fundraising and Membership Drive for the Ohio APC Chapter. Dr. Sylvia Blyden was surprised with the quick appearance of a Fiery Masquerade devil followed with jubilation from a cross section of Sierra Leoneans living in Ohio. The Iron Lady from the West was introduced by the President of the Ohio APC Chapter,
Mr. Rashid Bangura as guest of honor. In her response, Dr. Blyden thanked the Ohio APC members and the Sierra Leone Community in Ohio for their kind hospitality. She reminded APC members to work for peace within the branch. In her special remarks she advised Sierra Leoneans to speak positive about their country. Dr. Blyden categorically outlined the progress President Koroma has accomplished. She made mention of the establishment of a University in Makeni and the reopening of the Njala University, while other people still condemning President Koroma. She also mentioned about the present plan for another university in the Eastern part of the country.
The Ohio SLPP Secretary General was asked to make few remarks; he thanked the Ohio APC members. He advised Sierra Leoneans to come together and work for peace. Present at the Picnic were two Aspirants for the APC North America Chairmanship, Mr. Unisa Kanu from Georgia and Mr. Ahmed Kanu from Ohio. Doctor Blyden was invited on Sunday to a special Session to meet members of the Ohio APC Chapter.
President Rashid Bangura introduced his executive members, stake holders and members of his chapter to Doctor Sylvia Blyden. He thanked Doctor Sylvia Blyden for the APC 4 for 4 victory of the 2012 Presidential Elections. Dr. Blyden was presented with a recognition award on behalf of the Ohio APC Chapter by President Rashid Bangura with the assistant of Emmah Tambedu, Ohio APC Women’s wing leader, Annie Kabia and Mrs. Hawa Bundu. Dr. Blyden was very appreciative of the Ohio APC Chapter grand reception and the highest honor bestowed to her. She thanked the President of the Ohio APC Chapter Mr. Rashid Bangura and the entire Ohio APC Chapter.
Prepared by Umaru Jalloh, Wusumtimes. www.wusumtimes.com
It was a great relief to the APC Ohio Chapter and all the fans of the APC Party in the state of Ohio for the three-day-visit of the Special Executive Assistant (SEA) to the President of Sierra Leone in the person of Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden.
Over the years, the APC Party stalwarts in Ohio have been battling with supporters of the opposition SLPP, who were claiming that since the coming into power of the APC Party in 2007 there has never been a top government official from Freetown that has visited the state of Ohio, irrespective of its valuable contribution to the growth and fame of the Party within North America and back home in Salone. Of course there were no tangible answers to refute the claim as the People’s ambassador – Mr. Steven Bockarie is considered to be with us here in America and his frequent visit to the state of Ohio on APC functions has no bearing to the claim. Alas, in the midst of struggles with the Washington Chapter trying to deny us the opportunity, the Special Executive Assistant (SEA) to the president of Salone, paved her way to the state of Ohio on Oct 4th and stayed till Oct 7th thereby debunking the claim and freed us from the rattling noise of the Opposition Party members.
On the membership drive picnic/cookout that was organized on Saturday 5th, the SEA had a good time with Sierra Leoneans (SLPP and APC inclusive) and a few Americans that witnessed the occasion. As a warm welcome to the SEA, the Ohio Chapter presented a cultural dance with the
APC Devil to which the SEA was abundantly entertained. In her brief remarks, the SEA expressed her happiness over the turn out and emphasized that Unity and vigilance have to prevail within the rank and file of the APC members as the enemy is waiting at the door ready to strike. Prior to her remarks, the secretary of the Opposition SLPP Ohio Chapter, Mr. Ishmael Bundu expressed his gratitude to the SEA on behalf of the SLPP, for her gesture in visiting the state of Ohio and commended her for her bravery in dealing with matters of the country. He however concluded that the SLPP are on their way for an unprecedented come back to the throne. Added to that, two of the contending candidates for the North American Branch Chairmanship (Mr. Unisa Kanu – from the state of Atlanta – Georgia and Mr. Ahmed Kanu from Ohio – Columbus) gave a brief showdown of their intentions for the chairmanship. It all ended well.
On October 6th, an APC family meeting was held at the Days Inn hotel where the Special Executive Assistant (SEA) was able to address most of the concerns raised by the members. Prior to her statement, the executive of the APC Ohio Chapter was introduced and room was given to two of the aspiring candidates for the chairmanship of the APC NA Branch in the persons of Mr. Unisa Kanu and Mr. Ahmed Kanu. After his introduction by his campaign Manager Mr. Patrick Pearce, the viable Atlanta Candidate Mr. Unisa Kanu briefly touched on his three key points to his manifesto – Unity Initiative, Public Policy Initiative, and Administrative reforms. He emphasized on addressing issues that are plaguing the Chapters if and when they arise; work with some dignitaries in the American government to bring about development to our country Sierra Leone; and reform the NA Branch so that its executive will be accountable to the people that elected them and to jointly produce fruits to the benefit of our country, Salone. On the other hand, the Auditor General of the APC Ohio Chapter, Mr. Idriss Mansaray, introduced the astute politician Mr. Ahmed Kanu who in his opening remarks mentioned his contributions to the APC party and to the people of Sierra Leone here in North America in general and in Ohio in particular. He mentioned his closeness to the powers that be in the state of Ohio and how he had channeled programs with Reps of the Ohio State University to the benefit of our country, Sierra Leone. He promised to tighten that partnership and above all, intended to bring back the dignity of the NA Branch that has been lost over the years by either mismanagement and or misdirection of our predecessors.
Also in our midst was Dr. Dove Edwin, attached to the University of Tifin in Ohio, conducting a research on how the Diaspora could be able to work hand in glove with the Government and the people of Sierra Leone. In his brief remarks, he mentioned on how the President of the country HE Dr. Ernest B. Koroma is creating a resource center in Sierra Leone that will be equipped with materials and online information through which the Diaspora from whatever part of he Globe, will be able to know the cost of a bag of cement for instance; a construction company and how to negotiate with them for a building project; and a lot more. By so doing, a nationalistic approach to nation building will be sought.
Furthermore, the president of the APC Ohio Chapter, Mr. Rashid Bangura introduced the Guest of Honor in our midst – Dr. Sylvia Olyinka Blyden (SEA). Mr. Bangura commented that he has tried all in his power to have HE Dr. Ernest B. Koroma to visit the state of Ohio but the time was not ripe yet. He expressed his happiness over having a top government official whom he considered as a woman among women, who has contributed immensely to the success of the APC party and is curly fighting hard to promote the president’s vision in our country.
In her remarks, the SEA expressed her gratitude to the APC party stalwarts in Ohio and more especially the President of the Chapter Mr. Rashid Bangura for his persuasive moves in making her to visit Ohio even though it was not in her original agenda.
The SEA emphasized that we the diasporans in North America should unite ourselves and work hard to support the government back home. She reiterated that if there was unity, we should be lobbying with the powers that be in America to help the president of Sierra Leone in achieving his agenda of progress. She pleaded with the diasporans to put their egos aside and unite together so that the enemy will not creep in. The enemy, she added, is not squarely the opposition SLPP, but also those within the rank and file of the APC whose egoistic thoughts have overshadowed the interest of the party.
The SEA implored members to get hold of the prepared speech she delivered in Washington, where she itemized the developmental strides the APC had undertaken in the country of Sierra Leone that are commendable. She however, sternly proclaimed to members to pass the message across with regards to ingratitude shown to HE Dr. Ernest B. Koroma within the APC Party hierarchy, over who to head the party (at the end of the term of office) to the extent of forgetting the strides the president has undertaken to bring the APC to where it is today. Before 2002, she added, the APC party had 5 seats in parliament; the number rose to 22 seats in 2002; 59 seats in 2007; and 68 seats in 2012. Above all, in Kailahun (Kailahun Court Barrie), it was under the leadership of HE Dr. Ernest B. Koroma that the APC had close to 30% of the total votes from that region – a place where the SLPP were getting thousands of votes while APC will get nil or 5 votes. Dr Sylvia emphasized that the people of Sierra Leone loved their president and what he is doing, and that we should all remember where the APC was, and where it is now. She ended up her speech with the adage that: “If you load na ungrateful boat, you go land na regret wharf”.
During question time, various questions ranging from diasporans being harassed by the Sierra Leone police force and also a target for other armed rubbers; President to visit Ohio State; uneducated children selling peanuts (For instance), in the city of Freetown and the surrounding towns and villages; lack of electricity and water in the city; cost of phone call to Sierra Leone as compared to other African countries; dual citizenship; backwardness of Kono District and the absence of cordial relationship between the President and his vice; the chaos and disaster that the then electoral college had created within the APC party; potholes in the city; lack of doctors to be on a 24-hour call for emergencies in major hospitals; to job security for those who have the qualification and want to go back home etc.
In response to some of the questions, Dr. Dove Edwin emphasized that with regards to job security, there are yet some constraints as there might be 15 job openings and 500 qualified applicants. He added that there should be a market strategy where ideas will be put together to create jobs. Having a resource center that the President is intending to create will also help in that direction. He confirmed about the acceptance of dual citizenship in Sierra Leone; and working towards establishing the diaspora (worldwide) to be the sixth state of Sierra Leone to which qualified citizens will vote on Sierra Leone’s Nation elections.
Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden on the other hand started by disputing the claims that the Sierra Leone police are engaged in rubbing diasporans. She added that Sierra Leone is a safe country and the city, Freetown, is considered the safest in all African cities of which the Sierra Leone police force needs some accolades. Regarding the President’s visit to Ohio, the SEA catapulted the geographical division of the country – 149 Chiefdoms, 112 Constituencies, 398 Local Councils and over 200 towns. In USA alone – 51 states. She insisted that there is no way the President can visit each place because of the contribution that place may have offered to his succession to the throne. However, Ohio has been in her heart and she will convey the message to His Excellency.
The SEA commented that even though it’s a fact that there are children in the streets of Freetown who are supposed to be in school (Which she attributed as a social issue), she however disputed the claim that Sierra Leone is backward in terms of education as tremendous strides have been taken to uplift the educational system in the country. Makeni can now boast of a university where Law degrees are now conferred. About the children in the street, steps are underway to put that into control – it is a process, she emphasized.
In the area of water supply, the SEA confirmed to the audience that a new ministry has just been created by the president (Ministry of Water Resources) to which Mr. Momodu Maligue is heading. Recently, the minister has signed a 43 million contract with the government of China to take care of water supply in the city and the provinces as well. Added to that, consumers should be ready to pay for the services that are rendered to them by the government – payment of water rates which is a big challenge to majority of the dignified personnel in the country.
In the area of jobs, Kono’s backwardness in terms of development, the Electoral College issue, the Al-shabab issue, and the absence of doctors to serve as 24-hour-on-call, the SEA commented that there are plans put in place to address all these issues. She stated that it is now a crime for someone to offer a job and or advocate for someone to be offered a job on the basis of connection. The Electoral College issue was a lesson for the APC that she hoped will not be repeated ever again. Al-shabab issue is currently under constant control by the joint forces of Sierra Leone. Kono is currently the area of focus for development. Free clinics and a drastic reduction of infant mortality rate as well as the deaths of pregnant women. But appeal was made to those who have studied abroad to go back home and assist in the area of health as there is a great need.
The SEA ended her responses on the very sensitive question that the President has used his vice to win over the Kono votes and has now dumped him and be using some ministers to act in the capacity of the vice. The SEA clarified that in the recent UN Summit, the President could not make it and so he ordered the Foreign Minister to attend which is the normal protocol. She emphasized that several other countries (About 7 in number) whose presidents could not make it to the summit, sent in their foreign ministers, and that the vice president doesn’t represent the president on such gatherings. The SEA further stated that her coming to Washington together with Mr. Alpha Kan (Presidential Spokesman), has nothing to do with the UN Summit, but were here to represent the President who was chosen by the World bank Reps as the lion of Africa for him to be able to give an opening statement. Because of the President’s health conditions, he appointed the SEA and Mr. Alpha Kan at the eleventh hour, to represent him on such an important occasion. Additionally, to say that the president and his vice are not in good working terms is a fabrication and those who are trumpeting such rumors should stop as they are not helping the Vice president at all.
The meeting ended up with the vote of thanks that was offered by the Vice President of the APC Ohio Chapter, Mr. Sallieu Bangura.
Faithfully submitted by
APC Ohio Chapter.
EDITOR’S NOTE :
In addition to sending Hon. Alpha Kanu , Dr. Samura Kamara and Dr.Sylvia Blyden to represent him in the U.S, the President also directed Ambassador Bockarie Stevens and Minister Plenipotentiary Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu in the U.S. to join these officials from Freetown to represent him in all the programs he was supposed to have attended in the U.S.
The two members of the Presidential Advanced Team –Messrs Foday Mansaray and Ajibu Jalloh -the M.P for Port Loko Constituency 50, Hon. Isata Kabia and Deputy Finance Minister, Hon. Mabinti Daramy and Information Attache Pasco Temple were also added to the delegation. The Head of Chancery at the Permanent Mission to the UN, Alusine Sesay said that the Foreign Ministry sent a letter later to clarify that Foreign Minister Samura Kamara was here for the UN General Assembly ,while Alpha Khan was here for the President’s programs in DC, Connecticut and New Jersey though this Editor did not see that communication.
It must also be noted that there was another delegation headed by the Chief of Staff, Hon. Richard Konteh , but they were here for the MCC Meetings .
This clarification reinforces the fact that President Koroma sent a high-powered delegation to represent him in the U.S, cognizant of the importance of his trip.