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NEWS : Local News  

PRESIDENTIAL NEWS BRIEFS
By Courtesy of the Press Secretariat, State House
Nov 6, 2009, 17:24
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Between 4th November 2009 and 5th November 2009, President Ernest Bai Koroma engaged in a series of activities. Apart from doing some changes in his cabinet on 4th November, he also had a lengthy cabinet meeting. Beyond that, there were some other functions he performed as summarized below:

PRESIDENT KOROMA WELCOMES MAYOR OF HULL CITY, UK

During a courtesy call at State House on Wednesday 4th November 2009, the Mayor of Hull City, UK, Karen Woods was heartily welcomed by President Koroma to the City of Freetown. The Head of State noted that her visit was a further demonstration of the increasing strengthening of the existing relationship between the two cities. "Twenty nine years of formal good relations is quite a while, and I thank you for the support you have been giving to the Freetown City Council," the President noted.

He said government is now trying to develop local government structures by way of becoming more democratic, even as councils are now elected and no longer run by management committees. The President thanked the Mayor and her council for the support they have been giving to Sierra Leonean schools and the provision of fire engines and sanitary vehicles. He however highlighted that other areas, like markets, need some attention also. The President lent his support to Hull Citys bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Speaking earlier, Mayor Woods traced the history of the two cities to William Wilberforce (a native of Hull) who helped found Freetown in his campaign against slavery.

She came with her husband and other councilors, and they were presented to the President by the Mayor of Freetown, Herbert George Williams.

ASSURES NIGERIAN BANK GOVERNOR OF FINANCIAL COOPERATION

Also on Wednesday, President Koroma received in audience the Central Bank Governor of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, whose visit the Head of State described as "timely", assuring him of Sierra Leones cooperation in the process of giving a full briefing of the Nigerian financial situation.

He said the Bank Governors proactive step of visiting would send the right signals to other banks to conduct their affairs properly, while emphasising that this further gave the opportunity to strengthen the memorandum of understanding between the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Central Bank of Sierra Leone. He noted that a good number of Nigerian banks are operating in Sierra Leone, helping in building up our financial capacity.

Accompanied by his Deputy, Sarah Aladi, Bank Governor Lamido said they chose to come to Sierra Leone first to share the details of whats happening in his country in order to reassure Sierra Leoneans that the banks in Nigeria are safer and stronger. "The actions we took were geared towards averting a major crisis," he noted, even as he pledged the commitment of the Nigerian parent banks to professional operations in Sierra Leone and to "work with the Bank Governor of Sierra Leone for cross-border solutions in support of growth and development in Sierra Leone."

 

..BIDS FAREWELL TO EU AMBASSADOR

The outgoing EU Ambassador, Hans Allden, today bade farewell to President Koroma during a courtesy call at State House. The President said, "Its always a sad moment to bid farewell to friends, especially a friend like you who has made a difference in the relationship between the European Union and Sierra Leone," noting that under his tenure a lot was achieved for Sierra Leone, through areas like an increase in budget support and road infrastructure. "You are the greatest supporter of our roads programme, and it is visible everywhere," the President said, naming the refurbishment of the Makeni-Kabala Road and the Bo-Bandajuma Road, even as the Conakry-Freetown highway is underway and more discussions and studies going on for the Bandajuma-Mano River Road and the Zimmi-Kenema Road.

The President also noted with delight that under the envoys tenure, the EU has committed itself to supporting the construction of the Moyamba mini hydro project, "which is of great importance to us not only for rural electrification but because it is in a district where we have a major educational institution, the Njala University, and would therefore enhance the overall educational activities in the district." The Head of State also thanked the envoy for the welcome given him and delegation during the European Development Days conference in Stockholm, Sweden, recently.

He enjoined the Ambassador to go out there and be an emissary for Sierra Leone, "to tell the story of the new Sierra Leone, a country that has accepted democracy, maturing, stable, and ready for development."

In his remarks earlier, Ambassador Allden thanked the government and people of Sierra Leone for having been so hospitable to him and his staff as "you treated us as one of you I had a very pleasant time here and I had become fond of your country." He said though he came here at a very difficult period, he was leaving now more hopeful about the future of Sierra Leone, pledging his continued support to the countrys progress.

The Ambassador was accompanied by the Minister of Finance Samura Kamara and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Vandi Minah.

DECLARES POPPY WEEK

At a somber and brisk ceremony at State House today, President Koroma officially declared the annual poppy week in remembrance of those who lost their lives during Sierra Leones wars, ranging from the First World War to the civil war.

The President noted that, "We must remember the purpose, the service that was made by our own kith and kin, we must remember the sacrifice made, the lives that were lost for the freedom we are enjoying today. No amount of compensation can be made for thiswe cannot put a price to it." He said that those who are currently serving in the armed forces would only give honour to the past great heroes by putting "in your very best in terms of professionalism and commitment to serving the nation. And if you have to make a sacrifice as in the past, so be it. In all we are doing, our focus should be service to the nation."

The poppy week, marked by the wearing of red ribbons, starts today and ends on 13th November.

The ceremony was witnessed by ex-servicemen and serving officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, led by Minister of Defence Paulo Conteh.

THANKS AURORA FOUNDATION FOR SUPPORT IN EDUCATION

Also on Thursday 5th November 2009, President Koroma thanked executive members of the Aurora Foundation, based in Iceland, for their contribution to the socio-economic development of Sierra Leone, especially for their support to the educational sector.

The team, led by their Founder and Chairman and her husband who is co-Founder and Deputy Chairman, Ingibjorg Kristejansdottir and Olafur Olafsson respectively, are in the country on a project assessment mission.

In his remarks, President Koroma noted that any country that lacks an efficient and solid human resource base cannot succeed, and therefore appreciated that the Aurora Foundation has been giving support to school improvement, adding that any contribution to the educational sector is most welcome.

He encouraged them to explore other areas for possible intervention, even in the private sector, as Sierra Leone is endowed with vast opportunities for business: "Business laws have been reviewed and we are making progress in the doing business ranking by the World Banks assessment," noting that the country is democratic, free, and safe, issues that are of great importance to every investor. He informed them about the pending investors conference in London on 18th and 19th November 2009 where potential investors would "have an opportunity to listen to our story."

In her remarks, Chairman Kristjansdottir thanked the President for receiving them, while underlining their commitment to further increase the level of support to the country. She said they were encouraged by an earlier visit to Iceland by the Minister of Education, Minkhailu Bah, who actually introduced them to the President at the ceremony.

...LAUNCHES NATIONAL HEALTH SECTOR STRATEGIC PLAN (2010 2015)

In an outdoor activity, President Koroma yesterday launched the first ever, at least in living memory, National Health Sector Strategic Plan, with the aim of providing an efficient, high quality, accessible, equitable and affordable health care delivery system in Sierra Leone.

In his speech, the President noted that, "This plan outlines my governments future direction for improving health inequalities and disparities for the people of Sierra Leone. Wellbeing and health are essential for us to reach our potential. We are, however, challenged by the poor health status of many Sierra Leoneans, particularly women and children. We have made some progress in decreasing the rates of infant and maternal mortality in the last few years, but the rates are still high. We cannot secure our future with so many of our children dying before they reach their fifth birthday. We cannot move up the ladder of progress where so many mothers are dying; or where so many of our compatriots are afflicted by malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other diseases." He noted that the Health Plan has been developed around six pillars, including governance, service delivery, human resources, health financing, medical products, and technologies and health information, before he made a pronouncement that, . "As I today launch a six-year blueprint for health development, I feel delighted to use this occasion to declare free health care for pregnant mothers and children under five years of age from April 27th 2010."

The launch, which took place at the British Council in Freetown, was attended by members of the diplomatic community, cabinet ministers, and stakeholders in the health sector including the Department for International Development, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization.

.INAUGURATED AS JUSTICE OF THE PEACE FOR LIFE

At yet another indoor engagement at State House on Thursday 5th November 2009, President Koroma was inaugurated and decorated as a life patron of the Sierra Leone Association of Justices of the Peace.

The President thanked the executive members of the association for the honour, while accepting to become a life patron. He noted that he would do all it takes to boost the association, even as the public hardly knows the range of functions Justices of the Peace could perform apart from signing documents: "Indeed you have great responsibilities in the discharge of law and order and to ensure that justice is administered fairly." He promised to look into the matter of enhancing the capacity of Justices of the Peace with a view to helping in magisterial duties by discussing the matter with the Judicial Service Commission. He supported the desire for a national character for the association and for it to be linked up internationally.

Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Mr. Bell Taylor (JP) expressed gratitude to the Head of State for agreeing to see them because "in the history of the association, such an opportunity has never been accorded to us."

The other executive members present were Mr. Victor Morgan, Mr. P. Bangura and Mrs. Melrose Kotay.

.PLANTS TREES FOR 50/50 WOMENS GROUP

In a final outdoor activity yesterday, President Koroma honoured an invitation by the 50-50 womens group for a tree planting fundraising exercise with the purpose of building a womens leadership training institute at Tower hill in Freetown. The President lauded the womens efforts, noting that their zeal and enthusiasm would "inspire our daughters to higher heights."

President Koroma underlined his governments commitment to involving women in governance, naming the key positions of Chief Justice, Chairperson of the Law Reform Commission, and the Administrator & Registrar General, all occupied by women.

Among other things, the group is calling for a minimum of 30% representation of women in key governance areas, even as they mount a campaign against the degradation of the environment.

.. COMMISSIONS BUMBUNA HYDRO TODAY

And on 6th November 2009, President Koroma will finally commission the decades-old Bumbuna Hydro electric project to formally supply electricity to Sierra Leone.

The ceremony, taking place at Bumbuna, Tonkolili district, where the dam is located, will attract international stakeholders and members of the diplomatic community in addition to local dignitaries.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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