Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 May 2019:
President Julius Maada Bio has finally reshuffled his cabinet ministers, after much anticipation. But is it the cabinet reshuffle that is expected to begin to put energy behind his government’s New Direction to achieve the change that the electorate voted for in March 2018?
The economy is in dire need of tough short-term measures that could help alleviate some of the hardship and poverty being suffered by most people in the country.
There is growing political tension, with the main opposition APC making governance difficult for the president.
But how is today’s reshuffle going to reshape his government and make it more effective in dealing with the economic challenges facing the country?
The president has responded with some big changes to his cabinet that signal a clear new direction. First, is the Ministry of Economic Development, where there is now a change of leadership from Mrs Nabeela Tunis to Dr. Francis Kaikai.
Nabeela Tunis has helped the president produce the government’s National Economic Development Plan, but this now needs to be delivered and there were doubts as to whether she can drive forward its implementation.
Much of the government’s medium-term economic policy now rest on its National Economic Development Plan, such as key industry sector development, job creation, and diversification of the economy. This will now become the job of Dr. Francis Kaikai.
Nabeela Tunis has been appointed minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, replacing Alie Kabba, a 2018 presidential aspirant, who many believe has done a good job at the foreign ministry.
What is a huge surprise is that Alie Kabba has been demoted to the United Nations as the country’s Permanent Representative.
Although president Bio’s government has been praised by the IMF in their recent report published yesterday, it is clear that the IMF is keen to see the government make more effort in raising revenue and control spending through a more robust privatisation strategy which the government has so far failed to achieve.
But by removing the SLPP party’s secretary general – Mr Umaru Napoleon Koroma (Photo), who is the chairman of the privatisation commission to now become the deputy Attorney General, paves the way for a new and stronger leadership to drive the government’s privatisation programme forward, without much political influence.
Napoleon Koroma replaces Mr Abdulai Masiyanbay Bangurah as deputy attorney general.
Also of significance to the government’s economic policy agenda that desperately needed change, is the leadership at the ministry of trade and industry, where there has been no tangible development seen in the last twelve months, with total lack of control over the supply, demand and prices of consumer products in the country.
There have been embarrassing moments for the government which should have been avoided by the ministry of trade and industry, such as the recent strike by bakeries and the resultant hike in the prices of bread for several days.
President Bio has moved Peter Bayuku Conteh from the ministry of trade and industry to now head the ministry of works and public assets; and Dr. Edward Hinga Sandy who was deputy minister of water resources will take over the running of the ministry of trade and industry.
But questions are being asked as to why Raymond d’Souza George has been demoted from minister of works to senior presidential adviser and ambassador at large for heritage and cultural affairs.
Sources close to State House told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that Raymond d’Souza George’s role will be significant to the president in helping to work with the Krio community of Freetown, to help diffuse the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the government and the Krios over the illegal repossession of Krio ancestral land and property.
Another significant shuffle is the promotion of Mr Tamba Lamina from High Commissioner to the UK to now head the ministry of local government and rural development.
Tamba Lamina (Photo) will now have responsibility for developing and delivering the government’s devolution and diversification strategy, which will be crucial in the implementation of many aspects of the government’s National Development Plan.
Tamba Lamina replaces Mr. Anthony Y Brewah, whose future in the government is now uncertain.
The Sierra Leone High Commission in the UK and Ireland will now be managed by Dr Morie Manyeh who was minister of mines and mineral resources. Foday Rado Yokie has been rewarded with the ministry of mines portfolio.
President Bio has finally reshuffled his ministers, but the question now is – will this be enough to address the bread and butter issue that everyone is talking about in Sierra Leone – rising food prices? Only time will tell.
What is certain is that the following ministers have kept their jobs:
Jacob Jusu Saffa – Minister of Finance; Chief Minister – Professor David J. Francis); Minister of Technical and Higher Education – Professor Aiah Gbakima; Minister of Transport and Aviation – Mr. Kabineh M. Kallon; Minister of Lands, Housing and Environment – Dr. Denis Sandy; Minister of Agriculture and Forestry – Mr. Joseph J. Ndanema; Minister of Youth Affairs – Mohamed Bangura.
Minister of Tourism and Culture – Mrs. Memunatu B. Pratt; Minister of Political and Public Affairs – Ambassador Foday Yumkella; Minister of Sports – Mr. Ibrahim Nyelenkeh;
Priscilla Schwartz – Attorney General and minister of justice; Alpha Timbo – Minister of Primary and Secondary Education; Dr Alpha T. Wurie – Ministry of Health and Sanitation; Kanja Sesay – Minister of Energy; Dr. Jonathan Tengbe – Minister of Water Resources; Yusuf Keketoma –Government Press Secretary; Mohamed Swaray – Minister of Information and Communication; Emma Kowa – Minister of Marine Resources.
Adekunle Joliff Milton King – Minister of Labour and Social Security; Baindu Dassama – Minister of Social, Gender and Children’s Affairs; Edward A. Soluku – Minister of Internal Affairs; Simeon Sheriff – Deputy Defense Minister; and Sahr Lahai Jusu – Financial Secretary.
This is president Bio’s list of appointees published by State House today: