By BockarieKukuku Musa
In welcoming the Gambian Ambassador and her Personal Secretary, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs Mr. Israel Jigba expressed his delight about the visit of Her Excellency Ambassador Fatu Gaye. He gave a brief history about the Ministry since its formation. The Deputy Director of Public Affairs in the Ministry, Mr. Osman Sankoh introduced the staff of the Ministry and the Policy Analyst, Mr. Muctarr Tejan-Cole gave a comprehensive overview of the Ministry’s mandate and activities as the Ministry will actively coordinates with other diplomatic missions, civil society and multilateral institutions to fund an array of programming activities to support Sierra Leone’s efforts to further democracy, security, human rights, good governance, and respect for the rule of law.
The Executive Chairman of the APRM National Governing Council and Secretariat, Professor Osman Gbla briefed Her Excellency, Ambassador Fatu Gaye about the activities of the African Peer Review Mechanism and its efforts to promote democracy, good governance and human rights on the continent. He also briefed her about the interjectory link between good governance and the rule of law. In his conclusion, Professor Osman Gbla spoke about the APRM’s four thematic areas to assess state’s compliance with a wide range of African and international human rights treaties and standards; Democracy and Political Governance, Economic Governance and Management, Corporate Governance and Socio-economic Development.
In brief, the Deputy Director of Governance, Essa T Kamara spoke about the importance of good governance as an engine to economic development and the rule of law.
The Director, office of Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Kallay Musa Conteh highlighted the need for Diaspora returnee in order to help build the country’s human resource. He spoke about the involvement of the Dutch government and the Sierra Leonean resident in Holland and their interventions in the field of education, health and agriculture. He further highlighted the aims and objectives of the Office of the Diaspora Affairs. In his conclusion, the Director gave a brief historical educational linkage between the Gambia and Sierra Leone as most of the Gambian were schooled in Sierra Leoneans and commended her government for the hospitality provided to Sierra Leone during the civil war.
Minister Nanette Thomas in her welcome statement to Her Excellency expressed delight in hosting the very first female Gambian Ambassador to Sierra Leone as mentioned by the Personal Secretary to Ambassador Gaye. She further went on to say that since the establishment of the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs in 2008 by His Excellency the President, she is very proud and humbled to be the very first woman to hold the position as Minister of Political and Public Affairs in the Republic of Sierra Leone and she thanked His Excellency for entrusting this great Ministry into her watch. She explained to Ambassador Gaye that during the interregnum she had to flee the country and she was in exile in the Gambia for several months and the Gambian were very helpful to her during the trying times.
Minister Nanette Thomas explained to Her Excellency that Gambia and Sierra Leone share common values of freedom, democracy, and human rights. The geographical distance between us shall never separate our friendship and cooperation. The distance between us is not a barrier; instead it is the joint development area where we can work harder together to achieve more cooperation and determination and we can exploit the resources for survival and prosperity.
In her conclusion, she expressed her thanks and appreciation on behalf of the President and the Government of Sierra Leone to the Gambian government for their support over these years especially during the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
Ambassador Fatu Gaye in her courtesy message, expressed delight on the professionalism that was demonstrated by the Minister and thanked His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma for given her the opportunity serve in this great country. She gave a brief history on how the educational, cultural, social and political linkage could be traced long before independence.
The Deputy Minister of Political and Public Affairs in his vote of thanks thanked Her Excellency Ambassador Gaye for visiting the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs amidst of all the heavy rains and traffic congestion and expresses satisfaction in hosting this great woman. He further stated that this is the start for further coordination and collaboration between the Embassy and the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs and spoke about the challenges faced by the Ministry and look forward for a good working relationship with the Embassy in Freetown and the Government of Gambia through the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in the Gambia.