Our Mayor goes nowhere – she will continue the good work she is doing

Alan Luke: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 March 2021:

As Sierra Leoneans we can be quite fickle and so easily manipulated by politicians for their own political ends and personal interests.

We are in real danger of elevating the political brouhaha over the Mayor of Freetown’s unfortunate and unguarded comments into something that it is not.

A beleaguered Bio government is under enormous pressure with continued allegations of rampant corruption by the Africanist Press; a faltering economy characterised by Leone deprecation, inflation, trade and budget deficits, rising unemployment and poverty; with no plan for a post-Covid future.

At the same time, opposition is growing in Parliament to three major legislative and policy proposal, which would frame the context of the 2023 elections. The first is the the Non-Partisan Local Government Bill, which will represent a significant first step towards one-party rule, under the Bio government, if enacted.

The second is the Cybercrime Bill, which will prevent criticism of government on social media, by criminalising information which the government deems to be detrimental to the National Critical Information Architecture or which it deems as an offence under the Act.

The third is the Mid-term Census plans, which may potentially be used to suppress votes at the 2023 elections, if it is rushed, without the necessary consultation and participation of all relevant stakeholders and the public.

The government has tried to bulldoze its way in parliament or use stealth to accomplish its objectives. It is convenient therefore for the government to make Mayor Aki-Sawyerr, the villain of the peace.

The public should not be detracted, and it should look beyond the mayor’s utterances anxamine the concerns the mayor raised in her letter to the LGCS, raising concerns about the two people that LGSC directly employed within the FCC and without consultation.

Does LGCS have the authority to make direct appointments to municipalities, without consultation or agreement of the municipality concerned? Were similar appointments made in all municipalities or was FCC specifically targetted?

Are these appointees appointed to monitor and report on FCC and other municipalities, and if so, is this consistent with the Local Government Act? Why are these appointees not subject to the authority of the elected mayor and is this not a deliberate attempt to undermine municipalities?

Mayor Aki-Sawyerr has apologised for the offence caused and has affirmed that those comments do not reflect her values. It is worth reflecting on Mayor Aki-Sawyerr’s track record before she became mayor and while in office.

Freetonians would recall her sterling efforts in the fight against Ebola, as a Director of NERC. They would also recall that when the Regent mudslide happened, she was the first prominent person at the scene.

At the time when our country has been in greatest need, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr has represented the interest of all our communities without prejudice or bias. Therefore, it is time to lay off our mayor.

Editor’s Note

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has obtained a copy of the Mayor’s letter from a State House source. Please read below:

The Executive Secretary

Local Government Service Commission

Youyi Building

Brookfields

Freetown

24th March 2021

Dear Sir

RE: CONTINUED EXPRESSED CONCERN OVER CONDUCT OF THE NEWLY TRANSFERRED STAFF TO FREETOWN CITY COUNCIL

I would like to thank you, the Chairman and the two Commissioners who attended the meeting at the FCC on Monday 22nd March to discuss my letter of 9th March 2021 and related earlier correspondence re the above subject. Monday’s meeting was also attended by 9 councilors who are members of the Freetown City Council Labour and Establishment Committee, by the FCC Chief Administrator and the FCC Human Resource Officer.

The meeting provided an opportunity for myself and the councilors to provide further clarification in respect of the serious concerns raised in my letter of 9th March 2021, that we have about the conduct of Mr. Peter Koroma (posted as Deputy Chief Administrator) and of Mr. Mustapha Kemokai (posted as Environment and Sanitation Officer).

I write to reiterate the two points that the councilors and I made at Monday’s meeting: (i) firstly that we agree with the LOCASL decision to accept the recent LGSC staff postings although it has been acknowledged that the recruitment process was unprocedural; (ii) secondly that notwithstanding the foregoing we request that the two staff posted to FCC be responded to differently because of their specific behavior since the staff postings were made.

Firstly, in respect of the LOCASL decision, I explained that at a meeting on 2nd March 2021 chaired by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and attended by LOCASL members and LGSC, it was agreed that although the recent postings of core staff to the local councils made by the LGSC had been unmandated and unprocedural, the postings would be accepted on the understanding that going forward, the provisions of the Local Government Act 2004 and the Human Resource Guidelines Revised in 2014 would be adhered to in respect of core staff recruitment.

Secondly, in respect of the two staff posted to FCC, I stated that whilst FCC supported the LOCASL decision, we were constrained to have the FCC staff postings treated as an exception because of the behavior of the two individuals posted to FCC. I explained that staff posted to other local councils in February 2021 respected the requests of Mayors and Chairpersons for them to wait and not come to the councils to work until the well-publicized dispute between LOCASL and LGSC was resolved. Colleague Mayors and Chairpersons confirmed that posted staff stayed away from their councils when they were asked to do so and communicated by text and phone calls to obtain updates on the resolution of the postings’ impasse.

This was not the case with the two staff posted to FCC. In direct defiance of a resolution of Freetown City Council passed on 10th February 2021 at an Emergency Council meeting, that stated that the posted staff would not be accepted by FCC until the impasse was resolved between LGSC and LOCASL, the posted staff insisted on reporting for work at FCC every day.  Throughout the period leading up to the 2nd March 2021 meeting in which the LGSC staff posting matter was resolved with LOCASL, the actions of the two staff posted to FCC were challenging and undermining of FCC’s leadership.

The two staff were allocated offices in the new City Hall by the Chief Administrator in the second week of February.  When this was brought to my attention, in the light of the Council resolution and the LOCASL decision to not accept staff postings until the impasse with LGSC was resolved, I asked for the offices to be withdrawn.  That request was met with resistance and confrontation and we eventually had to remove the furniture from the offices to render them unusable.  However, Mr. Koroma and Mr. Kemokai held on to the office keys and to date the keys are still in their possession.  In a continued challenge to the Council resolution and the LOCASL position, the two staff continued to come to FCC spending their days between the Chief Administrator’s office and the City Engineer’s office.

At Monday’s meeting, FCC councilors explained that on a number of occasions over the past few weeks, they had engaged the two staff and asked them why they have persisted on coming to FCC in defiance of the Council resolution and the expressed request for them to stay away until the matter of the postings was resolved. The councilors reported that these engagements between the councilors and the posted staff did not conclude satisfactorily; the posted staff stated unequivocally that they would not listen to the Mayor nor to the Councilors, they would only take instructions from the Chief Administrator.

At Monday’s meeting, the Human Resource Officer stated that he and the Chief Administrator had, on a day which he could not remember, brought the two staff to my office to introduce them to me. I do not have any recollection of this visit and I have checked with my Personal Assistant, my Bodyguard, the two Met Police stationed at the Mayor’s Palour reception and other staff in the Mayor’s Palour and no one has any recollection of that visit.

Even more significantly, the Labour and Establishment Committee met with the Chief Administrator and the Human Resources Officer on Thursday 25th February 2021 to discuss the matter of the posted staff continuing to come to FCC whilst the matter between LOCASL and LGSC remained unresolved and this reported attempt to introduce the posted staff to the Mayor was not mentioned during that meeting.  No mention of this attempted introduction had previously been made to me, the Deputy Mayor or any councilors prior to Monday’s meeting.

The Human Resource Officer stated on Monday that I was rushing to attend another meeting and couldn’t stop to talk to him when they came to make the introduction and that I said “the posted staff should go home”. Although I do not recollect this exchange and cannot identify anyone else who does, and it was not mentioned at the Labour and Establishment Committee meeting where something so significant should have been tabled, and the Human Resource Officer cannot remember the date on which this exchange took place, may I suggest that if I had said that the posted staff should go home, that would have been in keeping with the express position of the Council resolution and adherence to that request would have been expected with a view to re-engagement after the impasse between LOCASL and LGSC was resolved. Instead, in direct defiance of my request and the Council’s position and with an active disregard for the ongoing deliberations and correspondence between LOCASL and LGSC up until 2nd March 2021 and between FCC and LGSC after 2nd March 2021, the posted staff continued to come to FCC and sign the staff register. To the best of my knowledge and recollection, and based on the evidence available, at no time did the posted staff attempt to meet with or engage me.

The continued presence of the posted staff is fueling a leadership clash in the council with what appears to be a parallel leadership structure being reinforced. I learnt on Monday, whilst we were in the meeting with LGSC, that the posted staff have been given instructions to take up responsibilities at FCC as confirmed by the signature of Mr. Peter Koroma on the FCC Integrity Management Committee Activity Plan (see attached). I was not aware of the FCC Integrity Management Committee Activity Plan development nor of any related meetings and I was shocked to see Mr. Peter Koroma’s signature on FCC documents in view of the ongoing discussions.

May I please take this opportunity to remind you that immediately after the 2nd March 2021 meeting, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development invited me to his office for a side-meeting to discuss the specific circumstances at FCC. I was accompanied by Chairman Bindi (President of LOCASL and Chairman Bo District), Chairman Probyn (Vice President LOCASL and Chairman Bonthe District) and Mayor Sandi (LOCASL PRO and Mayor of Bonthe Municipality). At that side-meeting I reiterated my concerns about the behaviour of the staff posted to FCC explaining that their consistent and public disregard for the Council’s resolutions and the requests of the Mayor did not augur well for the smooth running of the council and for a harmonious working relationship. My concerns were supported and echoed by my colleague Chairmen and Mayor who were present. The Minister assured us that these concerns were understood and that appropriate action would be taken.

I am specifically requesting that LGSC kindly withdraw the postings of Mr. Peter Koroma and Mr. Mustapha Kemokai to FCC and identify alternative staff that can be posted to FCC in their place.  We are open and willing to work with anyone posted to FCC in the interest of the development of our city. Sadly, the manner in which Mr. Peter Koroma and Mr. Mustapha Kemokai have behaved has made their positions as staff at FCC untenable.  I believe that it is important for there to be clarity of and respect for the leadership within the local council to ensure the smooth running of the council and the efficient delivery of the services to the residents of Freetown. We are committed to continue our collective and effective efforts to #TransformFreetown.

Assuring you of my highest regards

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE

Mayor of Freetown

cc:

The Minister, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development

The Chairman, Parliamentary Committee of Local Government and Rural Development

The Chairman, Local Government Service Commission

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development

The President, Local Government Association Sierra Leone

The Chairman, Labour and Establishment Committee, Freetown City Council

The Chief Administrator, Freetown City Council

Letter to Local Gov Services Commission regarding core staff postings_240321

7 Comments

  1. Bloody hell. What the hell is going on concerning what I believe was provoked by Mayor Aki Sawyer’s speech dynamism. Everyone knows how this great Mayor of our times is confident, decisive, and enthusiastic about her job and explaining things for people to understand. Explaining for all to understand sometimes leads to mistakes of convenience. Do they know what I mean? This diligent Mayor is just full of energy, new and exciting ideas. Why talk about the Mendes here? The Mayor’s words does not warrant dialling up the rhetoric to tribalism. It’s because of tribalism Sierra Leone is unable to sort out the mess it finds itself. It’s all because, whilst the cat is away, the mice come out to play.

    I don’t give a damn to what the Mayor said or did not say. Those who should go to jail should go to jail. Stay put, Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer. The “People’s Democratic Movement”, all progressive Sierra Leoneans and all democratic alliance forces are behind you for the excellent job you are doing. Just leave them sing, and dance to their rigmarole failed political music. It’s all for the birds and the inhabitants of Cloud Cuckoo Land to listen and pay attention. God bless Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer. What is wrong with that?

  2. Alan, your take on this issue is silly, sheepish, and foolish. I’m, and will always be, an APC, but the mayor’s conduct is not only appalling but disgraceful, disrespectful, and full of hate. I had admired the lady so much that I could have laid my life for her as she strived to correct the decadence in Freetown’s. But her comments, or may I say speech are devastating and unacceptable. Instead of you apologizing for her stupid content, you’re here recklessly scavenging for a defence to alter her indefensible behaviour. The utterance was no accident. She meant everything she said because this is what most of your kind believe and hold dear to your dark hearts. If the mayor doesn’t like or believes that one of her city personnel is not performing his/her duties as prescribed, she should show him/her the door, but not disparage an entire ethnic group with such condescending spew.

    Here, the APC as a party failed and could have lost any potential votes in the Mende regions for a long time. Rather than the party first and foremost condemn the mayor’s foolish and ignorant statements, the party straight off took to her defence without any rebuke and apology to the ethnic group the speech offended. Sadly, all our current APC strategists and leaders see in their opposition to the SLPP is a tribe and nothing more. Clear-minded APCians should come out first condemning the mayor, apologize to Mende (I’m a proud mende) before trying to help salvage her credibility. Winning some districts in the north and western areas with no south-eastern vote condemns you to a permanent opposition isle.

    Make no mistake, I like Sawyer. She has been an Akibo Bett reincarnation for me. But her manifestation of such disrespect and ignorance for a leading ethnic group without any sincere regret is amusing. So, Alan go home and think again. This is not about any battle line between the God-fearing and loving majority Krios ethic group, but a small bunch of your type who continue to secretly destroy salone with your uppish and lousy thoughts.

    • Mr Daboh,two wrongs don’t make a right. Some of us do not condone insubordination or wrong doing either.But the thing that baffles me most is the act of those good men (like you) who have stayed silent all this while,when this very mayor was being abused with all sorts of behavior and rhetoric causing her mental stress in carrying out her duties as a Mayor. And this is what happens,when you fail to nip it in the bud in its first appearance. It will continue to grow untill it finally becomes overdue and ready to be harvested.And this is exactly where we are right now. All of these brouhaha had been in the making since the day this woman assumed office.

      We have seen multiple episodes of disrespect, disturbances, disregard for the rule of law being thrown at her and her office. No one was there to speak for her or called for the offenders to resign or leave the administration. Just a mere expression of frustration from the Mayor’s part is now being interpreted in a very different manner by these so called “referees” calling for her resignation…Hypocrisy at it best!

  3. And there you have it – INSUBORDINATION in its utterly disgraceful and despicable forms. l have always openly maintained that Maada Bio’s Criminal SLPP cabal is overcrowded with nothing but the worst kinds of disagreeable people you could ever find upon the face of the beautiful Earth. The Mayor’s letter above is as crystal clear as a brand new mirror. Folks,It is precise,informative and authentic. Shame on those rabble rousers in the SLPP trying to create unnecessary obstacles and problems for her. The deplorable, uncultured, unethical attitudes of Mr Kemokai and his partner in crime Mr Koroma speaks volumes about their shady, irresponsible, criminal tendencies and poor sense of judgement. Time has indeed proved me right. Hey! Holding on to keys of those offices against the wishes of the Mayor should not be treated lightly – It is THEFT….

    The Mayor should press charges against them for grand larceny and unlawful possession of property belonging to the Council in control of the affairs of Freetown. I am a Brookfield’s Boy, born and raised in Freetown and we have the
    final say on what’s going to happen in our city. And today we say to the criminal SLPP Cabal and their corrupt misguided old soldier – The only hardworking, industrious public official currently in Sierra Leone that we know of, our Mayor of Freetown Madam Yvonne Aki Sawyer is going nowhere – Our beloved Sierra Leone does not belong to you or your rag tag bunch of potbelly Dumbo’s and dummies.(lol)

    But Stargazer what has been the response from them on this important issue? Nothing…not a damn word,nothing at all; What can that old criminal in State House tell us in good faith that will justify his questionable conduct? (lol)

  4. In 2015,Omar Ben Yedder, publisher of African Business Magazine launched the African Mayors award in Luanda, the capital of Angola. The aim of the award, was the recognition of the hard working Mayors across the continent that barely get mention in the media landscape that is dominated by kings, presidents, Prime minister, emirs corrupt politicians,and dictators, that are up to no good. He told guests at its launched, “The winning cities tonight are being led by individuals who are showing essential leadership qualities as they help build cities that work. And we will need more exemplary leadership, good governance and innovating thinking whilst paying close attention to our culture and way of living when dreaming of cities of tomorrow. “And this is a clear description of our Mayor Mrs Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr.

    Whilst Bio and his government are engulfed in corruption allegations, and is behind in delivering his manifesto promises, the Mayor is doing what no other politician is doing, working 24/7 to improve the lives of the people of Freetown. If Bio is cleaver, his government should work with the Mayor to attract foreign investors, and transform the city of Freetown. We should reclassified Freetown as an economic development zone. Once Freetown is on its feet and running, then we decide which other city should be on the list. Makeni, Bo, Kono, Kenema Kabala. That’s the way China developed. They identified certain parts of the country as trial economic zones. The ripple effects of a booming economy in our capital is sure to generate employment not only for the Youths in the city, but outside the city of Freetown to the country side.

    This egos politics needs to stop. The population of Freetown is growing. Urban planning and how to harness the productive output of the city’s population, whilst authorities cope with the increasing demands of municipal services like housing, education, healthcare, roads, so the new arrivals don’t create more slums, is one of the biggest challenges facing us. You just have to look at Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya the largest urban slum in Africa and we don’t want to replicate that eye sore in Freetown. Right now what is clearly at play here, this government is not delivering the goods they promised the people. What better way to divert public attention than pick a fight with the Mayor. Hence the appointment of these two individuals that show with their temperament they can’t even run a bath, or know how to organise a wedding party. How can a new employee start a new job with a fight with your boss, the elected Mayor? There is more to worry about, than two egoistic individuals that want to undermine the work of the Mayor.

    • Don’t you want to accept that her comments were misconstrued? #BioMustGo2023 Uncouth administration.

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