John Baimba Sesay – Information attached, Beijing:
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 December 2017:
It was an emotional moment, listening to the president’s valedictory speech in Parliament. There, he proudly outlined his successes in the last decade as President of the republic. It was touching, reflecting where the country was, to where he has taken it today.
Listening to him and knowing what he did, one could say he has remained one great president in our history. That moment in parliament, in my view, will remain one of those heartfelt periods in the country’s history.
Mr. President, you came at a time that the country was faced with huge challenges and a plethora of expectations from her citizens from whoever was going to win. You indeed won, as an Opposition Leader, defeating a ruling Party.
Since then you embarked on a path that later determined the country’s present position, using two different roadmaps, in ten years; ‘Change’ and ‘Prosperity.’
Notwithstanding both local and global challenges, you ensured efficiency in governance and an effective delivery system in a number of sectors, not least agriculture, infrastructure, social service delivery, health care, in the area of international relations and cooperation.
In diplomacy and international cooperation, for instance, during your tenure, the country as you stated in parliament, indeed “moved to strengthen bilateral relations.” It today enjoys close and unbroken ties of friendship with friendly nations like China.
A case in point, by 2016, together with your Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, you scaled up bilateral relations through Comprehensive, Strategic Cooperative Partnership all in a bid to fully exploit the ten point cooperation package announced during the 2015 Johannesburg FOCAC Summit.
This is the highest pinnacle of China’s engagement at the diplomatic level. It is prudent to state that, it is under your leadership that the warmth of friendship between the two countries returned to the levels of 1971 since by 1993, the Sino-China relations both at the people-to-people and ambassadorial levels had momentarily defrosted.
In ten years, your government successfully opened up the country’s infrastructure, eventually linking up towns and cities.
Of strategic importance, your drive towards growth cuts across the country, rehabilitating roads like the Bo-Bandajuma road; the Bandajuma-MRU road, added to “the rehabilitation and widening of the Makeni-Kabala highway; while the phase II Yiye-Sefadu and the Pendembu-Kailahun highways are in progress.”
Being a people-oriented government, you ensured infrastructural projects were never limited to just roads but equally invested in social projects, giving premium to the locally assessed needs across the country. Your government undertook the construction of transport terminals and shopping Plazas in Kenema, Bo and Makeni.
Mr. President, may I also thank you for providing young people with the opportunity to utilize their potentials, by appointing them to strategic governance positions. There also has been the outstanding contribution by women in governance, when for instance; you brought them to the centre stage, making Justice Umu T. Jalloh the first female Chief Justice in the country’s history. She was later to serve as the country’s High Commissioner to Ghana. You also brought in the first female Commissioner-General, Haja Kallah-Kamara, of the revenue collecting agency- NRA, under whose leadership, that institution has excelled, significantly contributing to the growth process by way of mobilizing revenue for the country.
We have had female ministers, ambassadors and heads of departments and government agencies all to your credit. You did not only appoint her as the first female Auditor-General, you gave madam Lara Taylor-Pearce (Photo), an outstanding figure in our country, the free hand to operate independently, even scrutinizing government’s institutions and agencies, sometimes much to the disadvantage of government but in line with her mandate.
In ten years, there have been robust institutional frameworks that are crucial to the day-to-day running of the state, and in contributing to ensuring resounding governance indicators. The judiciary has been efficiently functional, just as it is with the press, also making our human right records at the global level resounding.
When you got elected in 2007, you came into governance with clear hands and shall be leaving office the same way, with no political prisoner or anybody executed.
From a personal note, thank you Mr. President for having provided me the opportunity to serve through my job in the field of diplomacy, something I have enjoyed for six uninterrupted years. You have inspired many young people, including me.
Not only did you provide me with the platform to learn, I have, in my view, contributed to the rise in ties between the two countries in my own little way. Having met you as an Opposition Leader in 2005, personally supporting me to go through my educational career, to eventually giving me an opportunity to learn as a diplomat, there is, within me, a strong sense of gratefulness.
But for those exhibiting a mendacious trend out of political desires, it remains clear, that you succeeded as a president and above all, the country will miss you when you shall have retired. Thank you Mr. President for your wonderful service to our beloved country.
About the author
John Baimba Sesay is the information attache in the Sierra Leone Embassy in China.