Freetown Mayor Aki-Sawyerr leaves office to prepare for elections after five successful years

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 March 2023:

Freetown’s most successful Mayor – Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, yesterday said goodbye to staff at the Freetown City Council, after handing over the mayoral chains to the Council’s Chief Administrator – Festus Kallay, in accordance with an order handed down to all Mayors and Chairpersons of Local Councils by the minister of local government to vacate office on 1st March 2023, rather than the legally stipulated date of 25th April 2023.

The well-attended ceremony which took place at the Town Hall, was graced by distinguished guests representing the International Community. Also present was the opposition APC party’s elected presidential candidate – Dr Samura Kamara, who many are expecting to name Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr as his running mate at the forthcoming presidential election on June 24th.

In a statement published yesterday, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr outlined her successes since becoming Mayor five years ago. This is what she said:

Dear Freetonians, Pursuant to a letter from the Minister of Local Government dated 8th February 2023 instructing all Mayors, Chairpersons and Councillors to “vacate” the Local Councils on 1st March 2023, I write to inform you that my tenure as Mayor of Freetown ends today. (For the record, this directive is in contravention of Section 137 of the Local Government Act 2022 which provides for local councils to be dissolved at the earlier of the dissolution of Parliament [25th April 2023] or the fifth anniversary of the first council sitting [30th May 2023]).

I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve Freetonians and to embark with you on our collective journey to TransformFreetown.

Yesterday, in a Press Conference at the Freetown City Council, I presented the Transform Freetown Four Year Report which details our interventions and progress made between January 2022 and January 2023.

I am excited about our achievements over the course of my tenure in spite of the many challenges encountered by me personally and by the Freetown City Council as an institution.

#TransformFreetown is about transforming lives and yesterday I was grateful to receive surprise visits and gifts from ordinary Freetonians, market women and street sweepers, who gave moving testimonies about the 1000s of jobs created during my tenure and their own experiences of personal economic empowerment, growth and development.

Yesterday afternoon was spent in a fun-filled farewell event with the FCC Staff during which I handed over to Chief Administrator Festus Kallay the 3 decorative mayoral chains as a symbol of the authority of the office of the mayor.

It was wonderful to use that opportunity to inform FCC staff that after over 3 years of working on this, the FCC salary harmonization process had finally been completed and a transparent system of salary bands that objectively reflect qualifications, experience and length of service was being implemented for all staff from February 2023!

Celebrations of the end of my tenure continued in the evening with a cocktail event. I was so pleased to share the celebrations with All People’s Congress (APC) Party Flagbearer Dr Samura Kamara, US Ambassador David Reimer, UK High Commissioner Lisa Chesney (Photo), Irish Ambassador Claire Buckley, World Bank Country Manager Abdu Muwonge, Tony Blair Institute Country Lead Mariama Anthony-Williams, EU Delegation Representative Serena Bertaina and many others development partners and stakeholders.

One of the highlights of the evening was a performance by the children from the FCC Congo Water Market Early Learning Adventure Center. These bright, confident and assertive children of the Congo Water market women warmed my heart and are themselves a true representation of the work we have done to #TransformLives!

Yesterday was also an opportunity to thank God and to thank my family who have been incredibly supportive of me and without whom I could not have hoped to succeed. I was pleasantly surprised and deeply moved by a video that was shown at the event in which my mother shared her perspectives on the work that I have done and the impact it has had on the lives of others. (The video is attached below.)

Thanks must also go to the APC party and particularly to Former President HE Ernest Bai Koroma for entrusting the APC Mayoral symbol to me in 2018. I am grateful to the APC not only for the symbol but also for their support throughout my tenure.

#TransformFreetown is a collective action so my deepest thanks are extended the FCC Councillors and Staff, to our development partners both in country and abroad, to the central government and most of all to Freetonians.

I leave office today grateful to have had the opportunity to serve, to impact lives, raise awareness about climate change and design and implement interventions to address this major risk and other challenges in our city, and to develop and embed systems and processes at the Freetown City Council that provide a foundation for sustainable development.

May I use this opportunity to wish Freetonians and all Sierra Leoneans a peaceful and democratic 24th June 2023 election and a bright and prosperous future for our beloved city and nation. May God bless us all.


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