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NEWS : Local News  

Sierra Leone President praised by Alumni of Oldest Secondary School in Sub-Saharan Africa as State House Clarifies 'Market' controversy
By Awareness Times
Feb 15, 2013, 17:17
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A Press Release from Office of the President has clarified a burning and topical issue concerning Government supposedly acquiring the grounds of Annie Walsh Memorial School to convert it into a market for traders that are being removed from streets of Freetown.
[ CLICK HERE FOR PRESS RELEASE ]

The whole problem arose when the Secretary to the President wrote a letter that many have opined did not put much thought into the sensitivities that such words contained therein would bring forth in the bosom of many old girls of the school.

 

The land vacated at Kissy Road will then be utilized for the construction of a modern market to be occupied by traders that are being removed from the streets of Freetown were the highly insensitive and provocative words which were written down to owners of the school  (Anglican Diocese) by Mr. E.B. Osho Coker, the Secretary to the President.

 

Naturally, the thought of their alma mater grounds being torn down and converted into a place where folks like Abacha Street traders would spread wares, was unthinkable to many alumni.

 

Without much organized mobilisation, virtually all old girls of the school whilst recognizing their school might need relocation, however strongly resisted the proposal to turn the grounds into a market for street traders. Alongside their resistance were some strongly worded articles in local press.

 

Apparently alarmed at the acrimony and vitriolic attacks from the public directed straight at State House, the Office of the President yesterday issued out a clarifier which clearly explained the antecedents of the now-impugned letter from Osho-Coker. The release is published on this page.

 

As soon as the clarifying Release was issued yesterday, many old girls of the school issued out profuse words of appreciation for the Head of States reaction to the burning issue.


Most poignant about commendation is that some of the strongest critics of the proposal were now amongst the loudest praising the President for having the foresight to explain better what really led to the letter from State House to the Anglican Bishop and also the antecedents to the letter. One such critic was Mrs. Peagie Foday (nee Woobay) in Sweden who had opened a Facebook group to rally against the conversion of the grounds to a market.

 

Although Peagie Foday is a strong supporter of the opposition SLPP, she had made it clear that her lobbying against the proposal to turn the school into a market was non-political. Within days of opening the group, hundreds of members from all political parties had joined Mrs. Foday to oppose the proposal with some strong words used.

 

However, yesterday, Peagie Foday and virtually all old girls of the school were on an about-face-turn as they took turns to praise President Koroma whilst corresponding that they now perfectly understood that it was not a matter of the Government forcibly acquiring their school to turn it into a market but that it was as a result of an Anglican clergyman having earlier expressed financial constraint to the President over an already-existing proposal to actually relocate the school.

 

Here follows a few samples of the comments from many old girls in praise of President Koroma after the clarifying Press Release was issued. The exhilarated comments and phone calls to Awareness Times were just too many to list all down.

 

Today, we are publishing just a small sample of Old Girls comments ranging from Haddijatou Jallow, the Executive Chairperson of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA-SL) to democracy activist Hannah Foullah of ECOBANK-Sierra Leone to Mrs. Peagie Foday herself in Sweden. Their comments speak for themselves.

 

Haddijatou Jallow (Freetown):
Haddijatou Jallow: Our President is a Visionary who listens to rhythm of his people; I salute him

I was in despair that the history of our great school Annie Walsh would be eclipsed but the press release from State House has restored my hope. Thank God for blessing this Great Nation, with not only a visionary President but a President who listens to the rhythm of his people. I deeply appreciate the role everyone played to bring about this conclusion. I am exhilarated.

 

Peagie Foday (Sweden):
Peagie Foday: "With a President like Ernest Bai Koroma, we can only succeed"

On behalf of all AWOGANS in Freetown and the Diaspora, we thank His Excellency for his reactivity. This shows His Excellency listens to his peoples cry and reacts immediately. Together we will work to make Sierra Leone a better place and with a President like Ernest Bai Koroma, we can only succeed.

 

Hannah Foullah (Freetown):
Hannah Foulah: President Koroma is a listening leader

I must not make the mistake of not commending our President H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma for being a listening President. Ernest Bai Koroma needs to be commended for having the courage to listen to his people and even understanding the need to issue out a public statement from his office to clarify the position and make it clear that he is not thinking of forceful acquisition of our school. He will succeed with that approach. I know the discussions got heated at times but it is because the school is held so dear to so many. Let the President take it all in good spirit. The dialogue is what matters at the end of the day for the development of the Nation. Bottomline, I am glad we have a listening president who does not take his people for granted.

 

Rachel Horner (United States of America):
Rachel Horner: Big Thanks to President Koroma

We say big thanks to President Koroma. As our school song says, we want to build on a firm foundation on the rock of integrity.

 

Khadi Mansaray (London):
Khadi Mansaray: 'President demonstrates leadership & consideration'

Heartfelt thanks to President Koroma. This is a demonstration of leadership and consideration. I hope meaningful dialogue continues.

 

Gladys E. Williams (Serrekunda, The Gambia)
Gladys E. Williams: Thank you very much President Koroma

This is an encouragement. Thank you very much President Koroma, God bless you.

 

Lango Deen (United States of America):
Lango Deen: "We applaud the efforts of President Koroma"

We applaud the efforts of President Koroma. Hes truly a humanitarian and hes demonstrated leadership in a crisis. Well continue to look to him over the coming weeks as the AWMS community works to find a resolution.

******

Meanwhile, the current position of the majority of the Old Girls and Board Trustees is that if the school needs to be moved, its grounds with historic and   monumental stonework structures should be transformed into another place of learning and certainly not into a market for street traders as had been proposed in the ill-drafted letter from the Secretary to the President.


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

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