By KABS KANU
New Jersey was the scene of another important visitation when Sierra Leone’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Osman Wusu Boie Kamara, held what was described as a FAMILY MEETING with the Sierra Leone community last Saturday at Franklin Township, Somerset. The minister paid a short family visit to New Jersey on his way to Brazil on official duty and as has now become the custom when government officials are around the U.S , he was invited by officials in the state to address the community on government policy and matters affecting the nation .
ALHAJI WUSU BOIE KAMARA ADDRESSING THE MEETING : FROM RIGHT–MR. JUMAH BAH , HADJA JARIEU BONA AND ON THE FAR LEFT MIN. PLEN KABS-KANU
The highly successful and instructive meeting was held at the home of Pharmacist Dr. Abdul Rahman Kamara and was attended by what the Minister Plenipotentiary Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu described as “The cream of the New Jersey society.” There were representatives of the Sierra Leone government ( Minister Kabs-Kanu and a member of the advanced party of the Presidential delegation to this year’s United Nations General Assembly , Mr. Foday Mansaray ) , the APC NJ(led by its President Alhaji Badara Kamara, Vice-President Madam Madina Rahman ,Secretary General Mr. Pavi Jalloh, senior officials Dr. John Samba, Dr. Abdul Rahman Kamara, Dr. A. Kamara, etc ) , the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) (Mr. Baryor) , Tegloma, Saabeh , the National Association of Sierra Leoneans in North America ( NOSLINA , led by its President, Mr. Minkailu Jalloh ) and the Sierra Leone Community in New Jersey ( SLCNJ led by its Chairman, Mr. Lamin Alharazim and Vice-Chairman Mr. Hardy Gabisi ) . The minister was accompanied to the meeting by his Personal Assistant, Mr. Jumah Bah and his sister, Haja Jarieu Bona.
ALHAJI BADARA KAMARA SPEAKING
Before the meeting commenced, prayers were rendered by clergy from both the Christian and muslim faith , followed by the singing of the National Anthem of Sierra Leone. Then came opening remarks by the Minister Plenipotentiary to the UN, Rev. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu and the President of the APC NJ , Alhaji Allie Badara Kamara .
FAR LEFT IS MR. FODAY MANSARAY
In his statement, Rev. Kabs-Kanu said it was an honor for New Jersey to host yet another minister of government after the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications , Hon. Theo.Nicol , recently addressed the community. He said that these meetings were necessary to enable Sierra Leoneans in New Jersey to understand government policy and the activities of the APC Government under the wise leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma, who is doing a marvellous job to transform the country. He said that Mr. Boie Kamara was a politician he had been longing to meet because he had heard so many good things about him . Using the Biblical verse : “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven( Matthew 5 : 16 ), Mr. Kanu said that the minister’s good name had preceded him to New Jersey . He thanked the minister for his humanitarian endeavours and explained how everybody in the APC in New Jersey was delighted the day Mr. Boie declared for the party before the November Elections last year, because he is an asset to the nation . Alhaji Badara Kamara welcomed the minister on behalf of the APC NJ and briefly described the important role the Branch is playing in promoting the agenda of the government in Sierra Leone.
In introducing the Minister, Mr. Jumah Bah described Mr. Wusu Boie Kamara as a kind, humble and community-oriented man . He said that “Hon. Osman Boie Kamara is a nationalist. If you are looking for any true Sierra Leonean, you have found one in Hon. Usu Boie Kamara. He has served Sierra Leone for over 30 years and he retired honorably but when the call of duty came , he returned to serve his country willingly and selflessly. He is a philanthropist . He does not do it to gain praise but to humbly help his people ”, Mr. Bah emphasized . He admonished Sierra Leoneans to love and appreciate the good people in their midst ” because oftentimes when a good man appears, Sierra Leoneans try to bring him down. .
Mr. Boie Kamara , in taking the podium , amidst earsplitting applause, said that he went to Sierra Leone to serve his country “and if the people you want to work with do not want to work with you , you look for people who want to work with you .” As if to explain why he is widely popular and loved at grassroots level, Hon Wusu Boie Kamara stated that while many people went into politics for selfish reasons , he went into it for the national interest and his focus is to help his country. He said that he is giving President Koroma his fullest support because the President is a man with a good heart.
The Hon. Minister of Trade and Industry said that the most important thing about the Agenda For Prosperity was how to translate it so that the man in the street enjoys the prosperity. “That is the challenge we face”, he stressed . “Party or no party, we are all Sierra Leoneans and we must all bring forward ideas about how to move the country”. The other challenge facing the government, he went on, is “how we utilize our own people instead of bringing expatriates from other countries. ” He noted that for the Agenda For Prosperity to succeed, it requires the participation of everybody “because it is not a one man’s thing. ”
The Minister then took his time to explain the Local Content Policy of the Government, which is designed to ensure that the country’s wealth is translated so that everybody enjoys it. The minister criticized outsourcing by mining companies , through which the country’s wealth goes out to other countries and citizens are denied employment . The Government, he said, held a strategic meeting to address this problem and it was there that the Local Content Policy emerged to ensure that whatever wealth is generated is enjoyed by the people. Giving a hypothetical case , the minister said that “If we receive rice from the Japanese, for instance , we sell it and use the money to build markets and give loans to small business people “.
Hon. Boie Kamara said the Sierra Leone Government was also dealing with the issue of petroleum coming into the country and ensuring that prices are stable. The government, he said, has tried to solve the problem of unstable pricing by devolving the petroleum business to private industries , MP and TOTAL. “This will ensure that the products are always available and that there is no scarcity.”
The Minister also described the role being played by the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) in dealing with foreign direct investment into the country. He said he made an assessment of of the country’s industries , and in his opinion , if Sierra Leone is to progress , “We must not just buy and sell. We have to manufacture. That is why we need power. There is a plan to raise the output of electricity to 1, 000 megawatts so that the industries we build will be able to produce at reasonable rates.” He also told the gathering the importance placed by government on electricity supply. He informed the meeting that solar lights have been installed in all parts of the country ,which has even increased the pass rates of students in public examinations because even those in the most remote parts of the country are now able to study under these bright solar lights.
Hon .Kamara also informed the meeting about the revival of the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board ( SLPMB ) by an Act of Parliament, under the new name the Sierra Leone Marketing Corporation ( SLPMC ). He stated that Sierra Leone produces lots of cocoa in the Eastern Region but due to lack of markets , farmers suffer loss as their produce gets spoilt . With the setting up of the SLPMC , this problem will be addressed . Sierra Leone, he said, exports 20, 000 tons of cocoa every year , while the Ivory Coast exports 100, 000 tons annually. “We want to emulate them,” he told the meeting. ” The minister went on to say that the Government is also trying to revive cooperatives and open cooperative banks.
The Minister disclosed that last week he signed a memorandum of understanding ( MOU ) with the Ministry of Agriculture .The two ministries, he said, overlap their functions . 70% of the Sierra Leonean people are engaged in trade and the same number –70% — are engaged in agriculture, according to the Minister. “Therefore, both ministries need to cooperate with each other ” .
Hon . Wusu Boie also said that he signed with UNIDO an agreement for U.S $ 40 million to be used to develop Agriculture.
The Government, he further disclosed, is planning on constructing a steel industry , which when realized, will ensure that Sierra Leone processes her own raw materials.
TO BE CONTINUED .
IN PART 2, WE WILL PUBLISH THE MINISTER’S RESPONSES DURING THE QUESTION-AND-ANSWER PROCESS.