From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Afsatu Kabba
In Sierra Leone, An Afsatu Kabba Dream for Fishing Sector Comes True
Apr 29, 2010, 18:26

Erstwhile Fisheries Minister Haja Afsatu Kabba had many visions and dreams for Sierra Leone to benefit from its coastal waters and marine resources. One of these was an often-stated strong vision for transparency to be the way forward with regards all Agreements signed concerning our country’s Fishing Sector. This latter great vision of Haja Afsatu Kabba insofar as the China National Fishing Corporation (CNFC) dealings was concerned, has finally come to fruition as State Television (SLBC-TV) has broadcast that the great vision of Haja Afsatu Kabba to have the Government and People of Sierra Leone benefit the most out of our Coastal Waters via transparent dealings with China has now come true.

Back in January this year, our Publisher, Sylvia Olayinka Blyden had gone to the erstwhile minister at the instance of Fish Magnate Lilian Lisk and her business partner, Alhaji Bashiru Savage; the latter being the estranged uncle of the erstwhile minister. Both Lisk and Savage had asked Blyden to transmit to Haja Afsatu Kabba that if Kabba continued to refuse to counter-sign the 2010 Fishing Licenses for Okeky Fishing Boats, they would use the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) to bring her down. At the time, Haja Afsatu Kabba had been refusing to take phone calls from Lisk and Bashiru Savage let alone grant them audience.

‘I do not hate Lilian Lisk. I have no reason to want to destroy her. But she does not need to see me in person. Let her simply comply with the laws of Sierra Leone and reveal the contents of what she signed in her Agreement with the Chinese twenty years ago... The Government and people of this country need to fully benefit from our Marine Resources and that means we should be able to know who fish in our waters and under which conditions this is being done. It means we should know the contents of what Lilian Lisk has signed with the China National Fishing Company and this is why the Ministry is asking Okeky to handover a copy of that Agreement to the Government for our perusal,’ were words of Haja Afsatu Kabba to this newspaper’s publisher back in January this year.

The erstwhile Minister had taken a long time that day, trying to explain, one by one, each of the sticky points which had been brought to the attention of Blyden by Lisk and Savage back then in January. One of them had concerned the contents of the Agreement signed by Lisk with the CNFC which Haja Kabba was insisting should be made known to the Government.

According to Blyden, the erstwhile minister’s arguments had been "very convincing" as to why the country needed to know the contents of the Agreement signed by Madam Lilian Lisk and CNFC.

However, events since that time have now been recorded into annals of Sierra Leone History with Haja Kabba being humiliated, molested and indicted by the ACC and abruptly removed from office only for her popularity to soar as people questioned many developments around her.

Despite the heartache of her lately happenings, Haja Afsatu Kabba must surely now take solace in the fact that SLBC-TV has reported this week that high level officials from China representing the China National Fishing Company (CNFC) have flown into town to meet with the new Minister of Fisheries, Joseph Koroma to agree that CNFC now deal directly with the Government of Sierra Leone rather than go through Madam Lilian Lisk’s Okeky Fishing Agency.

According to State Television, the head of a six man delegation from the China National Agriculture Development Group Cooperation, Mr. Wu Xiangfeng who is also Board Chairman of the CNFC, has proposed to new Fisheries Minister Hon. Joe Koroma for the immediate establishment of a joint fisheries co-operation between the Chinese National Fisheries Corporation and Sierra Leone Government.

Indeed, Xiangfeng was shown on Television as he recalled the agreement CNFC had quietly signed with Lilian Lisk’s Okeky Fishing Agency over twenty years ago but then went on to state that CNFC now preferred to deal directly with the Government of Sierra Leone within a bilateral framework. In this regard, Mr. Wu Xiangfeng has called for the immediate setting up of a Technical Working Committee of professionals from Sierra Leone and China who will negotiate and formulate the proposed new Agreement to be signed. A timeline of first discussing the Draft in the last week of May in Las Palmas and a formal signing of the Final Agreement by June or July in Beijing, China was also proposed by Xiangfeng.

Xiangfeng expressed hope that the new Agreement which will see CNFC deal transparently with the Government, will accrue great economic and other benefits for the people of Sierra Leone. Xiangfeng opined that this kind of agreement is what the China African Forum promotes.

Hon. Joseph Koroma, the Fisheries Minister used the occasion to express Government’s commitment towards the development of the Fishing sector in accordance with the 1994 Fisheries Management and Development Act and the 2007 Fisheries Products regulations. He called on the Chinese to assist in developing both inland and coastal fishing infrastructure in Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, it is not known if the contents of the twenty year old Agreement signed between Madam Lilian Lisk’s Okeky Fishing and the CNFC was ever made known to the Government. Until Haja Afsatu Kabba was abruptly removed from office, a copy of the Agreement had not been handed over to the Government as dictated by the Laws of the land.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.