From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, “Afsatu Betteh Pass Ogunlade Foday Sankoh!!!” -Says NPA Workers
By Aruna Turay & Mohamed Kanu
Oct 26, 2010, 17:18

The ruling All People’s Congress Government is in a dilemma with Workers at the National Power Authority (NPA) threatening untold repercussions if their grievances against EnergyMinister Ogunlade were not looked into immediately. The workers have revealed that as far as issues of administration are concerned at the NPA, the regime of the ex-minister of Energy and Power, Haja Afsatu Kabba is by far better than that of the present Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Professor Ogunlade Davidson whom they derogatorily term as a Foday Sankoh rebel and not just because of his bearded looks which resemble that of the dreaded former RUF rebel, Foday Sankoh of the RUF; but also because the workers openly stated yesterday that they despise ‘Minister Ogunlade Foday Sankoh’.and hung out all sorts of banners along Electricity House and Siaka Stevens Street on which were written insults against the Minister.

 

Police AIG Chris Charlie addressing the angry demonstrators as Ogunlade looks on


These angry actions and revelations was made by hundreds of angry workers who stormed the streets of Freetown on Monday 25th October 2010 in protest against over what they described as very poor working conditions and services.


According to the angry workers, since the assumption of office of Davidson, he has never convened a single meeting with staff members. “He has never engaged us in dialogue on matters of administration; an occurrence that makes him the complete opposite of his predecessor,” one of the aggrieved workers noted.



They further accused the present minister of lacking managerial skills and noted that he hardly ever visit any office here since his appointment. One of the workers, who preferred not to be named said: “He always comes in the morning, use the elevator to go to his office and use it again to leave the office in the afternoon without saying a word to anybody”.


According to them, the former female minister used to interact with her staff including cleaners and by so doing, communication was flowing and working conditions of staff and management were perfect.

 

The protesters use the forum as an opportunity to call on President Ernest Bai Koroma to intervene and right the wrongs.


Ogunlade bowed his head in shame as angry workers booed at him


President for Senior Staff Association, NPA, Emmanuel Wilson Taylor, told newsmen that for over three years now they have been negotiating with the NPA management and National Commission for Privatization for a 40% increase in their salaries, but to no avail.


He went on that certain top officials of management including the Human Resource Manager, Edleen Elba, are busy collecting fat salaries at the detriment of other workers, adding: “Common 40% they could not give us”.


Chief of Staff Marrah addressing the demonstrators


Other staff members, including meter readers and casual workers, also complained that a good number of them have served the company for over seven years without gaining permanency, the staff alleged, adding that they are only benefiting from medical.


Chief of Staff in the Office of the President, Karifa Marrah materialised at the epicenter of the demonstration to pacify the workers. He told the demonstrators that their grievances have reached the President, adding that he was at the scene to convey a meeting with the NPA management for immediate action. However, the workers only agreed to listen to Marrah if Ogunlade went away fron the scene. They were shouting, “Tell Foday Sankoh to go away!!”. It was only after the harangued minister moved away from the scene amidst boos and jeers that there was some calm.


Left angle view of the angry NPA demonstrators


When contacted, the Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Professor Ogunlade Davidson, wasted no time in dismissing the allegations as false, adding that he inherited most of the problems faced by the workers and that modalities are well afoot to address them.


He used the forum as an opportunity to call on the workers to exercise patience whilst assuring them that their grievances would be speedily looked into.


Right angle view of the angry demonstrators


For him, the General Manager for NPA, Dr. Zubairu Kalokoh, said when he assumed office, he inherited a problem of four months backlog salaries which he has succeeded in settling. He assured that grievances would be speedily looked into.



© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.