Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 May 2018:
With several appointments to his government yet to be made, president Julius Maada Bio has announced the names of deputy ministers and other senior government officials who would help him steer the ship of governance for the next five years.
But many Sierra Leoneans are beginning to express serious concerns over president Bio’s decision not to reduce the bloated size of government inherited from the Koroma regime.
He has opted for an expansion of the government’s wage bill, which he can ill afford. Is president Bio a wolf in sheep’s clothing, many are now asking.
With the country’s economic growth remaining stubbornly weak and the government struggling to raise revenue through taxation, president Bio will find it very difficult to justify his expansion of the public sector wage bill.
Yesterday’s decision to appoint 30 deputy ministers and senior officials, added to the 33 names appointed two weeks ago, brings the total number of appointed ministers and senior officials to 63.
This will raise questions about the president’s seriousness and commitment in tackling the country’s financial mess, caused by years of profligacy and poor prioritisation of scarce resources by the previous government.
And, this will seriously damage president Bio’s attempt at creating an image of a new president who is determined not to increase government borrowing, but adhering to the strict principles of good public finance management.
The names of deputy ministers and officials announced by president Bio yesterday, subject to parliament’s approval, are as follows:
Deputy Ministers appointed yesterday, 17 May 2018 are as follows: Deputy Minister of Finance – Dr. Patricia Nyanga Laverley; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation – Mrs Nimatulai Bah-Chang.
Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development – Dr. Robert Tamba Michael Chakanda; Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice – Mr. Abdulai Masiyambay Bangurah (Esq).
Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs – Mr. Lahai Lawrence Leema; Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education – Mrs Emily Kadiatu Gogra (Nѐe Turay); Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation – Dr. Anthony Augustine Sandi; Deputy Minister of Energy – Dr. Eldred Tunde Taylor.
Deputy Minister of Information and Communication – Mr Solomon Jamiru (Esq); Deputy Minister of Marine Resources – Mr. Ibrahim Turay; Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Security – Mr. Lansana Mohamed Dumbuya; Deputy Minister of Water Resources – Dr. Edward Hinga Sandy.
Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs – Mr. Mohamed Haji-Kella; Deputy Minister of Technical and Higher Education – Dr. Turad Senesie; Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation – Mr. Sadiq Silla; Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry – Rev. Abraham James Sesay-Jones.
Deputy Minister of Lands, Housing and the Environment – Mr. Rex Bhonapha; Deputy Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources – Ms. Evelyn Daphne Blackie; Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry – Mr. Samking Koihinah Braima.
Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development – Hon. Philip Tetema Tondeneh; Deputy Minister of Works and Public Assets – Mrs. Melrose Kargbo; Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs – Mr. Lusine Kallon.
Deputy Minister of Tourism and Culture – Mr. William Illawim Kongkatee Robinson; Deputy Minister of Sports – Mr Kai Lawrence Mbayo; Deputy Minister Political and Public Affairs – Mr Amara Kallon; Minister of State, Vice President Office – Mrs. Francess Piagie Alghali.
Other appointments to senior positions in the SLPP government announced yesterday are: State Chief of Protocol – Mrs Fatmata Edna Kargbo; Presidential Adviser and Ambassador at Large – Mrs Konah Cecilia Koroma.
Presidential Adviser and Ambassador at Large – Ambassador Dr. Umaru Bundu Wurie (Photo); Chief Innovation Officer, Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation – Dr Moinina David Sengeh.
Whilst the list of names announced yesterday by president Bio may not have thrown much surprise, what has also raised questions is his decision to create a new government department responsible for Science, Technology and Innovation.
Is this not a duplication of the work expected of the minister of Technology and Higher Education? Why has the president seen it necessary to appoint a Chief Innovation Officer? What value would this role add to the work of the SLPP government?
To answer to these questions, and in responding to critics, this is what State House said: “In line with his commitment, during the State Opening of Parliament Address, to setting up a Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has appointed a new Chief Innovation Officer, Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation for the Government of Sierra Leone.
“President Bio has appointed 31-year-old, Dr. Moinina David Sengeh as the Chief Innovation Officer, Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation for the Government of Sierra Leone.
“ The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation will be within the Office of the President but executing its functions through the Office of the Chief Minister.
“The Directorate will also work closely with the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education to advance scientific research in schools and colleges.
“The Vision of the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation is to transform Sierra Leone into a prosperous nation through Science, Technology and Innovation.
“The Directorate will facilitate and support a vibrant national innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem for both public and private sectors.
“Dr. Moinina David Sengeh completed his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he developed award-winning technology for human augmentation. Dr. Sengeh received his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University in Engineering Sciences, where his research focused on aerosolized vaccines for tuberculosis.
“At the time of his appointment, Dr. Sengeh is currently a Manager at IBM Research Africa, where he leads the healthcare team developing solutions in artificial intelligence and machine learning. He has published several academic articles and holds several patents.
“Dr. Sengeh is globally recognized for his work and accomplishments: he is a Senior TED Fellow, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Forbes 30 Under 30 and most recently, an Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa Fellow. He is credited for seeding the development of the innovation ecosystem in Sierra Leone through Global Minimum and the Innovate Salone program, which he co-founded in 2007 and which has supported the innovation journeys of thousands of young Sierra Leoneans.
“The appointment of Dr. Moinina David Sengeh has not only demonstrated His Excellency’s commitment to science, technology and innovation but also his dedication to the empowerment of young people,” the statement ends.