Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 January 2022:
Baroness Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth was in Freetown yesterday, where she held discussions with Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr about the outstanding work of the Mayor and staff at the Freetown City Council in transforming the City.
Speaking after her meeting with the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr said: “Today I had the pleasure of meeting Baroness Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and her delegation. We discussed our shared commitment to foster collaboration as we turn aspirations into action. I had the opportunity to share #TransformFreetown highlights with her and learn about the amazing work she is doing to provide critical open-source data to Commonwealth member states.”
Baroness Scotland’s delegation included Dr Morie Manyeh, High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to the UK; Mr Louis Franceschi and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also present at the meeting were Councillor Zainab Conteh, Chairperson of the FCC Foreign Affairs and Protocol Committee; Festus Kallay, Chief Administrator; Peter Koroma, Deputy Chief Administrator; Violet Kargbo, Foreign Affairs and Protocol Officer; and Manja Kargbo, Mayor’s Delivery Unit Team Lead.
Baroness Patricia Scotland also visited Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance, Dennis Vandi and the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai at the Ministry of Finance in Freetown.
Secretary-General Scotland commended President Bio for his holistic vision for the country and spoke of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s support in promoting prosperity, development, democracy and peace.
She also spoke about the role played by the Ministry of Finance in helping to launch the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Governance study last year, which examined the ERM implementation in six Commonwealth countries namely: Sierra Leone, Botswana, Ghana, The Gambia, Kenya and Eswatini.
Baroness Scotland highlighted various policy areas where the Commonwealth could deepen its cooperation with Sierra Leone, especially in managing public debt, human resource capacity building, data analytics and creating better trade opportunities.
Minister of Finance, Dennis Vandi highlighted the achievements of his ministry in working with the Commonwealth.
Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai thanked the Commonwealth Secretariat for their support in providing the necessary expertise in areas that are critical to the development of the country.
Minister Kai-Kai recommended that the Commonwealth Secretariat re-establishes the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation (CFTC) to improve its visibility, as well as coordination of all commonwealth assistance support.
He assured the Secretary-General that Sierra Leone, under the leadership of President Bio will continue to uphold and promote the values and principles of the Commonwealth, which provide a platform and an avenue in presenting a common front in dealing with the global challenges on climate change, peace, security, inequality and exclusion among others.
Democracy, Human rights, international security, tolerance and protection of minorities, freedom of speech, respect for the rule of law, transparency and accountability, freedom of the press, and above all else a government that looks after the welfare of its people is just the core principles that the Commonwealth stands for and tries to promote and protect amongst its 54 members states. In recent times, anyone who is following the visits of heads of international organisation like the commonwealth Secretary General’s Baroness Scotland current visit to Freetown, will recognised how much vote of confidence is invested on the shoulders of Mayor Akin Sawyer to deliver for the people of Freetown and by virtue of Freetown being the main economic power house where majority of the economic activities takes place in Sierra Leone, her responsibilities now extends to all the citizens of our country.
Through her status and commitment to the development of Freetown and tackling the environmental degradation created by lack of urban planning and the destruction of the Freetown peninsula , she had all but becomes the under cover president of the country. Which is a huge vote of confidence from our international development partners. Even our International partners recognised Bio have not live up to expectations. He made big promises and four years on we are reaping bad outcomes. The Commonwealth recognised a small country like ours, that lacks any industrial base infrastructure, and depends heavily on aid and the export of raw materials, with unchecked corruption within government circles, and like most developing economies have suffered disappropriately with the risks associated with the Covid 19 pandemic we need leadership that can think oitside the box, that is capable of coming up with workable economic plans that delivers for ordinary people.
Although the Omricon virus is slowing down, we are no way out of the woods yet. This visit by Baroness Scotland, is welcome. Reactivating the Commonwealth fund for Technical assistance will help address some of the core issues that hampers our development. Maybe establishing a commonwealth students funds and ramping up of students exchanges programmes, like technical and vocational education amongst commonwealth member states will go a long way to foster a win, win situations for our young graduates, that will in turn bring back their knowledge and skills from others, and impart it on our students population.