By State House Press Corps :
President Ernest Bai Koroma has handed over Agricultural Development Assets (ADAs) to the tune of Le.40 Billion to the Kono and Kailahun District Councils respectively. On Thursday 3rd May, President Koroma handed over Le.19 Billion worth of ADAs to the Kono District Council at a colourful ceremony at the Koidu New Sembehun Town Field.
Handing over the agricultural assets, President Koroma told Kono District stakeholders, including the Chairlady of the District Council as well as Paramount Chiefs that the assets were provided by government to enhance the capacity of farmers to transform the farming system from subsistence to commercial agriculture which would ensure farmers “farm for business” to improve their status, enhance agricultural productivity in the country and ensure food self-sufficiency.
President Koroma noted that machines were also provided amongst the assets as government realized the need to improve on the feeder road network in Kono District in accessing and transporting agricultural produce to the required markets. He stressed that the ADAs are also being provided because of government’s commitment to the decentralization process, saying the equipment should be used for the maintenance of the roads.
The Fountain of Honour and indomitable Father of the Nation maintained that the rousing welcome accorded him from Walayhun, Nimikoro and Koidu had sent a clear message that the people of Kono had not forgotten their roots, and thanked them for their prodigious participation in the Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) exercise, which ended earlier this year. He pointed out that it was the civic right and responsibility of every Sierra Leonean to vote for the candidate of their choice and also commended the people of Kono for coordinating the process.
The President emphasized that he was on a working visit in the district to re-evaluate the implementation of projects as encapsulated in the Agenda for Change, saying that as a hands-on President, he needs to go out, cross-check and get first-hand information on the progress of the implementation process.
President Ernest Bai Koroma called on Sierra Leoneans, especially stakeholders to come out and work jointly with government for the continued success of the Agenda for Change. He disclosed that he had inspected the projects and held consultations with the chiefs, elders, youths, religious leaders and politicians to continue to map out the way forward for the development of Kono in particular and the entire country in general.
Following a conducted tour of the Koidu government hospital, President Koroma noted his dissatisfaction for discovering that the contractors have still not met their deadline even when their completion time for certain projects was further extended. He promised that government will continue to stack pressure on the contractors saying it is a pity that some contractors have still not met their contractual obligations.
The President made it clear that contracts should not be politicised especially when certain individuals preach about transparency and accountability when they are guilty of corruption. This time round, he pointed out, politicians who are involved in contracts but fail to measured up would be treated as businessmen and not as politicians, while noting that that there has to be an explanation for the additional amount of Le.200 Million given to the SLPP Minority Leader in Parliament by government for the completion of the Koidu Government Hospital.
In a related development, President Ernest Bai Koroma handed over Le.21 Billion worth of Agricultural Development Assets to the Kailahun District Council on Saturday 5th May, instant.
The assets include but not limited to farming inputs like power tillers, rice mills, rice haulers, threshers, destoners, harvesters, planters, tractors (on hire purchase), Agro chemicals, seedlings; and infrastructure like Agricultural Business Centers (ABCs), Community Banks, Financial Services Associations (village banks), feeder roads, Inland Valley Swamps, stores, etc.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) Dr. Sam Sesay, the ABCs, being the hallmark of the Smallholder Commercialization Programme (SCP)- government’s flagship was established to address the problems inherent in the agricultural value chain of input, supply, processing and marketing. A typical ABC was made up of four main components namely; Main Building (equipment with input/output shops, milling facilities and office space), Drying floor, VIP Toilet and Water Well.
“Generators/Solar panels and Information Technology equipment (TV & DVDs, Telephones) were also provided to make the ABC not only a business center but a social cohesion point where farmers can interact and learn new farming techniques through extension messages developed by the Ministry…and the Kailahun handing over was the fifth in a series taking place all over the country”, Dr. Sam Sesay said.
Hon. P. C. Alhaji Mohamed S.K. Banya of Luawa Chiefdom, Kailahun District described President Koroma as a just leader. “I therefore request your Excellency to permit me to refer to you as an EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION President”, the P.C said. He went on to note that with all what President Koroma has done for Kailahun District, “We want to assure you that whatever party colour you stand for; we have to be grateful to you this time round so that others will know that we are not political fanatics but people who cherish and appreciate development.”
Observers of Kailahun politics have opined that the display of support for President Ernest Bai Koroma in Segbwema, Ngiehun Luawa, Buedu, Koindu, Morbai and Bunumbu in Kailahun District was an indication that the people of Kailahun, once a no-go area for the APC, love development more than tribal or partisan politics. “I believe President Koroma not the APC if you ask me, would get the support of the people of Kailahun this time round”, stressed an indigene of Luawa Chiefdom.