Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 October 2021:
This year, the Global Parliament of Mayors awarded the prestigious Dr. Benjamin Barber Global Cities Award to Mayor Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington DC, USA, and Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The award ceremony was part of the opening of the GPM Annual Summit 2021 hosted by Mayor Leoluca Orlando, mayor of Palermo, Italy.
The award recognizes mayors for their outstanding contribution to further global urban governance and inspiring city leadership.
Mayor Bowser was honoured because of her tremendous efforts to make the City of Washington, DC, more inclusive, safer, stronger, and healthier, her exceptional leadership with a strong conviction on the international role of cities and her contribution to the Paris Climate Agreement, and global governance as a whole that have contributed greatly to the growing role of cities in world politics.
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr was awarded for her commitment to transform the City of Freetown, using an inclusive approach, underpinned by innovation, community ownership and data-driven performance management. Her contribution to climate migration, gender equality and global governance have greatly contributed to the growing role of cities, specifically from the Global South, in world politics.
The Global Parliament of Mayors created the award to honour outstanding actions or research on urban governance and contributions to advancing the roles and principles set out by the GPM.
The award is named in memory of the founder of GPM, Dr. Benjamin Barber, author of the book ‘If Mayors Ruled the World’ (2014), who continues to inspire Mayors from around the world.
The GPM Annual Summit gathers mayors from all over the world, strengthening the voice of cities and elevating city leadership.
During the opening reception of the Annual Summit, host GPM Mayor Orlando announced that the city of Palermo will commemorate the late Dr. Benjamin Barber by dedicating a marble plaque to him in Palazzo Comitini, a Baroque palace located in the central Via Maqueda which is the official seat of the Metropolitan City of Palermo.
The plaque reads “With admiration and gratitude for the work on the interdependence of peoples, and the role of local governments”.
“I am humbled and honoured to receive this award which I would like to dedicate to all of the people of Freetown who are working tirelessly to make the city a better place to live, work and for leisure,” Mayor Aki-Sawyerr told the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
The Global Parliament of Mayors is a unique governance body of, by and for mayors that functions as a parliament and brings cities to the world fore. To organise and amplify the voice and influence of mayors across the globe, and strengthen the relationship with national governments, networks, multinational institutions, civil society groups, and business.
More than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities while cities produce more than 85% of GDP to their nations. Critical challenges that face humankind such as migration, pandemic diseases, social inequality and urban security must be solved in cities. It is therefore inconceivable that national and international bodies discuss and decide on policy actions without cities and their mayors present at the table. Citizens of the world need global governance to evolve, seeing cities and international networks sit alongside national and international leaders as equal partners in shaping global policy.
A world in which mayors, their cities and networks are equal partners in building global governance for an inclusive and sustainable world.
To convene a Global Parliament of Mayors to facilitate debates between mayors, national governance and international organisations, drive systematic action to take on global and national challenges and opportunities to achieve political change on a global scale. Mayors take leadership and ownership of the global challenges that they face on a local level.
CORE VALUES OF THE GLOBAL PARLIAMENT OF MAYORS
Local self-governance; Leadership; Collaboration; Open dialogue; Effectiveness; and Self-governance
READ MORE HERE:
Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr is in a league of her own. No other Sierra Leonean political figure at present comes a close second, much less upstages her, both in terms of recognition and accolades gained internationally and of a tangible record of achievements for the common good in the specific context of the municipality of Freetown, where she currently operates.
Any political party that has her as member – the APC in this case – must consider itself very lucky indeed. And if that party has any sense at all, it should leverage the great asset she truly is by making her either its flag bearer or at the very least its deputy flag bearer in the 2023 general and presidential elections. In so doing that party will win the support of many voters that have no specific party-political allegiance but do have the good sense of recognising the real deal when they see it.
Congrats to Mayor Akin Sawyer, and Mayor Bowser. In sharing this award with the Mayor of Washington Dc, it shows our Mayor has once again proved to her sceptic, especially those officials planted by Bio within Freetown City Council, as disruptors, and manipulators, to undermine her work to improve the lives of City residents, have failed in their mission. Unless Bio realised he is fighting a losing battle, the Mayor will leave her good work to do the talking. This award is the latest international recognition that have clearly put our city in the Map. Freetown and WashingtonDc , spoken in the same breath, is something to beholden to. Which other African city can boast of such high profile recognition in the international arena? Thanks to our Mayor. She might be vilified by some of the president’s supporters, even denying her the government funding she needs to carry out her work she is elected to do, this award is a demonstration and recognition of her ability to fight on and just get the job done to the best of her abilities.” No Darama Akin Sawyer. “She just get on with her job.
This two Mayors might not have fought the same battles, but they share the same sense of public duty to fight for their local communities. And most importantly fighting the enemy within. The toxic politics of Trump years, culminating to the January 6th 2021 attacks in Washington Dc, when a mob of far right conspiracy theorist decended to the US Capitol building, in their attempt to stop the steal, and quiet literally forced the annullment of the November 3rd US presidential election, for which Biden was the clear winner by miles ahead . Mayor Bowser, emerged through her good offices as the only adult left in Washington DC to save American democracy and restore some sense of normality when the Federal government have completely decended in to choas. And the very democratic values Americans hold so dare was under strain and in the verge of implosion within, never seen in recent years. Even the Watergate scandals in the 1970s , that brought down the Nixon administration, was not comparable in tone and features. So is about time Bio starts working with our Mayor.
Good heavens, another thorn in the side of the Bio government. The Mayor that they try to frustrate, block, handicap all the time keeps riding on the crest of an international wave which keeps strengthening by the second. There is no such thing as diverting it – put up or shut up. This should be another clue to the Bio government that it is increasingly falling out of favour with the international community, something that is not lost to a country like Dubai and the rest of the wealthy Arab world, where Bio is a constant visitor, begging for investments. Investors don’t flock to a country whose economy is on the verge of total collapse all the time, and where political violence could trigger a civil conflict at any time. To this is added astonishing official corruption with billions of Leones and millions of dollars going missing at government departments all the time.
Mayor Aki-Sawyer is the brightest star in the political sky of Sierra Leone at this moment in our history. I predict that there are further shocks for the Bio administration on the way. In recent days, former President Koroma has been made to look like he runs a parallel government from his hometown of Makani with high level foreign dignitaries paying him a visit.
Let me end with my usual worn out statement: I intensely detest both SLPP and APC, but I would make Her Worship Yvonne Aki-Sawyer president of the nation in a split second if I had the constitutional power, even though she’s APC. She would purge all the mess out of APC and SLPP and set the country on the road to prosperity.
Santhkie Sorie, just in case you may have missed it, President Julius Maada Bio was this month awarded ‘West Africa President of the Year 2021’ at the 6th London Political Summit by the Carter and Merger Center of Leadership and Good Governance UK. So, the Sierra Leonean president is not exactly short of international recognition by renown international institutions monitoring good governance around the world. This, I believe may have shocked the president’s die-hard opponents, including the Mayor of Freetown.