Friday 22nd MAY 2015: Salutations! We are gathered here today for the first ever security sector conference since our security sector transformation. The conference comes at a time when we have to ensure greater coordination and cooperation between the security sector and other state agencies. It is also through this cooperation that we can advance and secure our development against the emerging vectors of insecurity, terrorism, human trafficking and other crimes.
The Ministry of Information and Communications needs to work with the security sector to enhance cyber security; the Ministry of Social Welfare needs to work with the security sector to combat human trafficking, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must continue to cooperate with the security sector to combat crimes against our nationals in foreign lands. We must push forward this paradigm shift to enhance our collective security and development. The time has come to work towards the inclusion of all in matters relating to national security.
I understand the challenges of cooperation and collaboration but let all be reminded that there can be no development without security. Investors would not come here if there is no peace; businesses will not thrive if there is no security; development will not happen if our people and our investors are threatened with diseases like Ebola. So it is imperative for all actors in the security sector to work together towards the overall goal of making Sierra Leone safe from disease, secured from violence and protected against all forms of insecurity.
But even as we advance inclusiveness and coordination, we must ensure resilience and strength.
The security of a country is as good as its resilience against the vectors of disorder. With resilient systems, we will be able to develop more nuanced and effective policies even in some the most challenging circumstances; whether it is in building the peace and maintaining order at home, or contributing to international peace missions in Sudan, Somalia, or responding to a natural disaster, or protecting our citizens in Kuwait or in responding to an epidemic like the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.
In these complex interventions, coordination helps to knit the different pieces together, and is crucial for the smooth functioning of the overall security architecture.
The Ebola outbreak has showed us that where a single emergency or multiple conditions pervasively threaten national wellbeing and security, it is necessary for all available state institutions and assets to be employed to address these threats. We fought Ebola with soldiers, police, health workers, chiefs, community leaders, and youths. We relied on information and intelligence and coordinating mechanisms provided by the ONS, we passed on information through the Ministry of Communications, we sought international assistance through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we utilize the Social Welfare ministry to trace orphaned children and NaCSA has been involved in enhancing social protection.
The ONS is well placed by law and by its coordinating strengths to be the champion for coordinating our responses to emergency strengths. This is why, going forward, the coordination role for our response to disasters and outbreak will be led by the ONS. This conference must inform our efforts at strengthening the capacities of the ONS for this role.
I salute the security sector for their immense contributions in our fight against Ebola. I salute the security sector for ensuring that our country is one of the safest of not only post conflict societies, but of most countries in the world. There are still challenges with our security forces, but you stand tall in Africa not only in ensuring national peace, but also international security during your peace keeping duties.
A major objective of this conference is to learn from the experiences of citizens, development partners and security practitioners about an effective strategy for closing the knowledge gap between core security sector institutions and MDAs. Already the ONS has developed security manuals and standard response guidelines. The onus now is for them to popularize this information and for the public to be guided.
It is Government’s expectation that during this two-day conference, all stakeholders would be perceptive enough to view security differently as a public good and one that requires a collective effort.
Also, it is expected that the participants’ views expressed during the conference will provide an opportunity for realigning and repositioning the national security architecture. All of these, would ensure that we meet the security needs of the country for implementing our Post Ebola Recovery Programme and our Agenda for Prosperity.
Let me at this moment express my Government’s profound appreciation to all who continue to relentlessly work towards the total eradication of Ebola in our country as we continue to register zero infection.
We also commend members of the security sector for the support they have provided but let me urge you to be more vigilant in carrying out your duties at quarantined homes. We should not have our compatriots, already exposed to the virus, running away from quarantined homes while we have security deployed.
All actors involved should ensure that this unfortunate incidence that threatens to reverse our gains against Ebola no longer occurs. There is the strong optimism that Sierra Leone will soon be declared Ebola free and we must do everything to get at zero and stay at zero.
It is now my honor as Chairman of the National Security Council to launch this Security Conference.
May God bless Sierra Leone, may God bless you all.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.