Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 March 2016
The people of Sierra Leone have this morning woken up to a new line-up of government ministers.
Yesterday president Koroma decided to relieve several old and trusted political allies in his government, and has brought in an army of inexperienced, though slightly more youthful members and supporters of the ruling APC into his cabinet.
He has also brought in some old adversaries and pushed aside some of his once trusted foot soldiers and megaphone carriers, who are now believed to be nursing presidential ambition.
The biggest shock of yesterday’s announcement is the appointment of former presidential Special Executive Assistant and publisher of the Awareness Times newspaper – Sylvia Olayinka Blyden who will now head the ministry of social welfare after the sacking of minister Kaikai and his deputy for gross misconduct.
Blyden’s ministerial appointment has been interpreted as the proverbial – ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’, after the publisher’s courtroom drama with the president a few years ago. She was charged under the notorious Public Orders Act for publishing graphic stories about president Koroma’s extra marital affairs.
But the case was dropped – ‘nolle prosequi’ by the late attorney general Serry Kamal to save the president further public ridicule and humiliation. She was later appointed as Special Executive Assistant to president Koroma, a move seen by many as a strategy to shut her up.
But this strategy was short lived. She tendered her resignation after squabbles with key ministers and State House colleagues (see editor’s note below).
Today she has not only returned to the Koroma government, but is now part of the ministerial frontline that will help APC return to office for a third term in 2018.
Another big surprise in yesterday’s presidential announcement is the sacking of information minister Alpha Kanu. He has been demoted to the rank of Special Adviser to the president – a role regarded by many as the ‘junk yard’ for failed ministers that have fallen out of favour with the president.
Many in Sierra Leone would also argue that his removal from frontline ministerial politics was long overdue, after years of allegations of massive corruption. He is seen as one of the richest politicians in the country.
It is believed that his sacking will now pave the way for the start of his campaign for the presidency.
Another key mininster with presidential ambition – Dr Kaifala Marah has been sacked as finance minister. He has been shoved aside to become the new governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, swapping places with Momodu Kargbo who is now finance minister.
Another controversial announcement that will cause a stir is president Koroma’s appointment of former minister of defence – Palo Conteh to head the ministry of internal affairs, despite serious allegations of corruption for which he was never indicted.
Palo Conteh was removed from the ministry of defence to manage the National Ebola Response Centre, where $14 million of Ebola funds vanished into thin air and remain unaccounted for.
But the political fate of the man he replaced at the internal affairs ministry JB Dauda is unknown. What is certain though is that Palo Conteh is expected to take responsibility for the police force in preparation for the 2018 elections, a move the opposition SLPP and some civil society groups will watch closely.
There is big change too at the ministry of local government, headed by the controversial and embattled Diana Konomanyi, who is currently the subject of what many regard as a polically motivated court battle against opposition SLPP presidential aspirant Alie Kabba, over allegations of bigamy
She has also been involved in a running battle with the mayor of Koidu – Sahr Lamina, whose illegal suspension from office she orchestrated a few weeks ago, causing turmoil in the region.
Diana has now been moved to head the ministry of lands.
And the big challenge for the government to take forward its decentralisation programme will now be spearheaded by the new minister of local government – Mr Maya Kakai who is currently serving as resident minister east, a move by president Koroma aimed at appeasing south and easterners, after last week’s sacking of the minister of social welfare Moijue Kaikai and his deputy.
Another controversial, though not surprised announcement is the sacking of Mr. Alieu Pat Sowe from the deeply corrupt and poorly managed fisheries ministry, after millions of dollars of funding and revenue remain unaccounted for.
He has been moved to head the ministry of trade and industry, previously led by Usu Boie Kamara whose return to that job after a long sick leave abroad raised serious questions. His political fate is now unknown.
Joining the long list of controversial appointments is the return of Kemoh Sesay to frontline ministerial politics.
He has been appointed minister of works, after spending several years in political wilderness as presidential adviser, following a personally damaging cocaine court trial involving his brother, whilst he Kemoh was serving as transport minister.
What is not surprising though, is the appointment of lawyer Ade Macauley as the new Anti Corruption Commissioner.
Macauley has served as corruption prosecutor for several years. He is regarded as a safe pair of hands by president Koroma, upon whose shoulders the task of tackling corruption in Sierra Leone now rests.
His predecessor Joseph Kamara was last December appointed attorney general and minister of justice.
Other appointments that will certainly turn heads on the streets of the capital Freetown today is Koroma’s decision to finally reward former chief electoral commissioner Christiana Thorpe with ministerial position, for her 2007 role in ensuring electoral victory for Ernest Bai Koroma and his APC, by nullifying hundreds of thousands of ballots in the SLPP political heartland. She has now become deputy education minister.
Osmond Hancilles, brother of the veteran ruling APC journalist Oswald Hancilles who is a strong advocate of the return of Sierra Leone to a one party state – has been moved from education to serve as deputy minister of energy.
Former leader of the opposition UDM party Mohamed Bangura- known also as a megaphone carrier and foot soldier of president Koroma and his APC, has been rewarded for playing a double agent for the government.
He has taken over from Alpha Kanu as the new minister of information. Bangura will now officially carry the government’s propaganda megaphone.
Ms. Nanette Thomas – head of president Koroma’s woefully failed Attitudinal and Behavioural Change Programme has been awarded minister of political affairs.
What is very clear about president Koroma’s attempt at putting together a new look professional lineup of cabinet ministers, is that it looks much like the proverbial pouring of old wine into a not so clean bottle.
What is certain however, is that bringing back professional dead weights into frontline leadership of vital public institutions as well as placing squared pegs into round holes, can only prolong the downward spiral of poor governance, corruption and ministerial ineptitude.
But with general and presidential elections less than two years away, the only hope for the people of Sierra Leone now is the certainty of change that beckons 2018.
The newly appointed social welfare minister Sylvia Blyden resigned from the Koroma government in October 2014, not sacked as previously published.
This is the government’s published statement on the new appointments:
THE GENERAL PUBLIC IS HEREBY INFORMED THAT IN REVIEWING THE OVERALL GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE, IT HAS PLEASED HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT DR. ERNEST BAI KOROMA TO ANNOUNCE THE FOLLOWING MINISTERIAL, AMBASSADORIAL, STATUTORY AND OTHER APPOINTMENTS SUBJECT TO THE APPROVAL OF PARLIAMENT WHERE NECESSARY:
MR. MOMODU L. KARGBO – MINISTER OF FINANCE AND
MR. MAYA KAIKAI – MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
MAJOR (RTD) ALFRED PALO CONTEH – MINISTEROF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
MR. MOHAMED BANGURA – MINISTER OF INFORMATION
CAPT. MOMODU ALLIEU PAT-SOWE – MINISTER OF TRADE AND
ALHAJI IBRAHIM KEMOH SESAY – MINISTER OF WORKS, HOUSING AND INFRASTRUCTURE
MS. DIANA KONOMANYI – MINISTER OF LANDS, COUNTRY
PLANNING AND THE
DR. SYLVIA BLYDEN – MINISTER OF SOCIAL WELFARE,
GENDER AND CHILDREN’S AFFAIRS
MS. ELIZABETH MANS – MINISTER OF FISHERIES AND MARINE RESOURCES
MR. BAI MAMOUD BANGURA – MINISTER OF YOUTH AFFAIRS
MR. SIDI YAHYA TUNIS – MINISTER OF TOURISM
MR. AHMED KHANOU – MINISTER OF SPORTS
MS. NANETTE THOMAS – MINISTER OF POLITICAL AND
MR. MOMOH VANDI – DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
MAJOR (RTD) ISHMAEL SENGU KOROMA – DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNAL
MR.CORNELIUS DEVEAUX – DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS
MR.IBRAHIM MANSARAY – DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
MS. CHRISTIANA THORPE – DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1
MR.JAMES MORLAI KAMARA – DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 11
MRS. ZULAINATU COOPER – DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND
CAPT (RTD) ABDUL RAHMAN KAMARA – DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE
MR. OSMOND HANCILES – DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY 11
MR. M.A.JALLOH – DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT
MR. BELLA FORNAH – DEPUTY MINISTER OF TOURISM
MR. MAMOUD TARAWALI – DEPUTY MINISTER OF LANDS,
HOUSING AND THE ENVIRONMENT
MS. KADIJA O. SESAY – DEPUTY MINISTER OF WORKS,
HOUSING AND INFRASTRUCTURE
MS.RUGIATU NENEH TURAY – DEPUTY MINISTER OF SOCIAL
WELFARE, GENDER AND
MR AKHMED FEMI MANSARAY – DEPUTY MINISTER OF POLITICAL
AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
MR. KARAMOH KABBA – RESIDENT MINISTER, EAST
MR. ALIMAMY P. KOROMA – AMBASSADOR TO THE PEOPLE’S
REPUBLIC OF CHINA
AMB.ADIKALIE FODAY SUMA – AMBASSADOR/PERMANENT
REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UNITED
MS. MABINTY DARAMY – AMBASSADOR TO THE REPUBLIC
MR. ALIMAMY KAMARA – AMBASSADOR TO THE ISLAMIC
REPUBLIC OF IRAN
MR. FELIX KOROMA – DEPUTY AMBASSADOR/ DEPUTY
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE 11
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
HON. ALIMAMY COULSON TURAY – DEPUTY AMBASSADOR TO THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
MS. FEREMUSU KONTE – DEPUTY AMBASSADOR TO THE
REPUBLIC OF GUINEA
MS. ROSALINE OYA SANKOH – DEPUTY AMBASSADOR TO THE
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA
OTHER STATUTORY APPOINTMENTS
DR. KAIFALA MARAH – GOVERNOR, BANK OF SIERRA
MR. ADI MACAULEY – COMMISSIONER, ANTI-
BRIGADIER-GENERAL – CHIEF OF DEFENCE STAFF,
JOHN MILTON REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE
MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS
MR. AGIBU TEJAN-JALLOH – NATIONAL PUBLICITY AND
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
ALHAJI DR.ALPHA KANU – SPECIAL ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT
MR. ABDULAI BAYRAYTAY – PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN
FREETOWN 13TH MARCH, 2016