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President of Sierra Leone Swears In New Ministers
Mar 20, 2009, 15:15
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At a brief ceremony at State House today, President Ernest Bai Koroma told the new ministers in his cabinet that they are coming in at a time when much talking is not needed, but this is a time to deliver. We have been in office for over a year and half, and the public expects us to fulfill our promises, he declared.


Addressing the ministers and deputy ministers at two separate but similar ceremonies respectively, President Koroma entreated them to have a thorough study of his Agenda for Change programme, which is a second generation of the PRSP, which shows the direction the government is taking in a bid to develop Sierra Leone. He reminded them about his governments initiative of setting targets and signing of performance contracts with ministers. He dilated on the roles and functions of the three ministers present: that is, Minster of Energy & Water Resources Ogunlade Davidson, Minister of Health & Sanitation Sheku Turay, and Minister of Lands Dennis Sandi.


The President said he expects the Ministry of Energy to move from the emergency period, which is basically a transition, to a regular supply of electricity to the city. We generally made a commitment to complete Bumbuna, but that will still not solve our energy problems. That is why we have to embark on the rural electrification project, he maintained. The Head of State also touched on the serious water problems, asking the new minister to treat it with the urgency it deserves. It is a great challenge, but with your experience and expertise, I believe you will deliver, the President said.


On the Ministry of Health, the President said Sierra Leone is currently at the bottom of the Human Development Index because of the terrible health indicators especially in child and maternal mortality. He said the country is now enjoying a lot of goodwill from the international community but there is still a major problem in service-delivery because corrupt officials siphon drugs meant for the people for private benefit.


Speaking about the Ministry of Lands, the President said it has been a very chaotic ministry with a lot of difficulties, while urging the new minister to go and put in place policies that will resolve these problems. He enjoined him to move beyond merely regularizing the land issue, but to introduce a planning method for our cities, towns and villages.


The President congratulated the new ministers and wished them well in their new assignments.


Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, the new Minister of Energy, Ogunlade Davidson, said all of them were surprised, in their own way, by the appointments, though each of us has always been prepared to serve our nation. He expressed gratitude to the President, while stating that challenges were made for human beings, and that they are prepared to sign their performance contracts and determined to meet their targets. He stated that they are taking these jobs not necessarily for the reward but for the performance in the interest of the state. The erudite professor said there is a general and prevalent trend in Sierra Leone for people to talk about their rights, but forgetting about their responsibilities: We are taking this job at a time when many Sierra Leoneans are talking about their rights but not about their responsibilities, indicating that rights and responsibilities to the State go hand-in-hand.


In the ceremony for the Deputy Ministers, the President had similar sentiments of expectation to perform. Those present were Lovell Thomas in the Ministry of Agriculture, Moijueh Kaikai in the Ministry of Employment, Syl Goba in the Ministry of Lands, and Sylvester Hanciles in the Ministry of Transport. Lovell Thomas spoke on behalf of his colleagues, thanking the President for giving them a great opportunity to serve their country and recalled that they had just taken an oath to solemnly perform their duties.


Witnessing the ceremony were Vice President Sam Sumana, outgoing Presidential Affairs Minister Alpha Kanu, and Secretary to the President E.B. Osho-Coker.


In a different engagement, President Koroma today launched and hosted the first Presidential Task Force in Agriculture attracting participation from international partners like the World Food Programme, the Department for International Development and the European Union. President Koroma, who chaired the ceremony, said he had placed agriculture as his number one priority because he wants his people to move out of poverty to  better living standards, emphasising that agriculture is key to our future, and we cannot afford to fail in it.




20 MARCH 2009

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