Usman Boie Kamara, who is widely believed to be one of the leading aspirants in the flagbearer race of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), has officially launched his campaign in Freetown, amid pomp and jubilations. Throngs of people from various walks of life graced the occasion on Saturday 18th December 2010 at the Wallace Johnson Street Headquarters of the SLPP, thus lending credence to his earlier assertion that he has a very large following.
SLPP’s Western Area Chairman, Lansana Fadika expressed happiness over the momentum the aspirant has brought to the party. He however made clear that his utterances should not be interpreted as endorsing the candidature of Usman Boie Kamara, as according to him, the SLPP executive has a mandate to support all 23 flagbearer aspirants.
He appealed to the delegates to ensure that they vote for a leader with what he described as a national flavour so that the SLPP will not be challenged to market him/her for the forthcoming presidential election.
National Women’s Leader, Isata Jabbie Kabbah, said the SLPP is indeed a truly democratic party, whilst citing as an example the unprecedented contest of 23 aspirants vying for the party’s flagbearer position.
She however called on the aspirants to pay greater attention to the women folks as according to her they are the backbone of the party and must be encouraged at all times.
She emphasized that the target of the SLPP is to elect a candidate that will defeat President Ernest Koroma hands down come 2012, and therefore called on the delegates to make wise decisions.
In his address, Usman Boie Kamara expressed appreciation to the throngs of people who graced the occasion.
He noted that he had served this country in various capacities in the mining sector for over thirty years, working with five presidents/heads of state beginning with the late Siaka Stevens to Ernest Bai Koroma, and with eleven ministers of Mineral Resources from Kawusu Conteh to Alpha Kanu. “These jobs were always done to the best of my ability within the bounds of my position as a professional civil servant. I did my utmost for my country diligently and with total commitment and sincerity of purpose,” Usman Boie said amid thunderous applauds.
He emphasized that his strategy will be to employ a holistic approach to education and training.
Aspirant Kamara said: “With a nation of appropriately educated and trained individuals to exploit our rich natural resources, and an exemplary leadership inspiring the right attitude relating to patriotism, dedication, hard work and personal integrity, we cannot fail. This is what has worked so well in some countries in South East Asia which are technologically advanced and enjoy economic prosperity and political stability with little natural resources to boast of. Natural resources can be depleted; human resources, well developed and managed cannot.
“Some people say we have not benefited much from our mineral resources. This is mainly due to the fact that we do not have the manpower or the people with the requisite skills to benefit from the support services and spin-offs of the industry and the spin-offs”.
He explained that 40% of the country’s mineral resources which goes to capital expenditure to exploit the resource goes out of the country to purchase machinery and services. “Of the 30% which goes to operating cost such as salaries and consumables 75% goes out of the country because we do not have the industries, the sector and enough skilled manpower to support the sector. The remaining 30% is where the country gets the bulk of its share of the resource in terms of taxes etc. So in order to get more from our mineral resources we must develop our skilled human resources,” he said.
He urged Sierra Leoneans to join him in the crusade of putting country before self.
Kamara advised the SLPP members to remain united, noting that nothing can be gained from conflicts and internal rifts.
Other speakers made meaningful contributions.
A rally that was graced by thousands of people commenced at the Up Gun turntable and ended at the SLPP party headquarters using major streets in Freetown. There was however widespread dis-satisfaction over a decision by President Koroma to drive through the SLPP’s street rally with a huge convoy of security men bearing heavy machine guns. The President has been widely condemned by a huge cross-section of the society over his thoughtless move.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.