Nigerian Doctors, Teachers Needed In Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Allie Kabba, has disclosed the country needs Nigeria’s assistance in energy, education and health sectors.

He said that the new government in Sierra Leone was voted on the basis of its manifesto and was committed to providing disciplined leadership.

He explained that the provision of quality education was the flagship of the government’s programme and said the government would not let the people down in delivering its mandate.

“We will instil discipline in the leadership and make sure that every child in our country has access to quality education. So, that is why education is the centre piece.

“In fact, it is the flagship programme of our new government and we are working on that.

“I hope that we can count on the support of Nigeria not just in the area of providing classrooms but also providing the teachers.

“Our joint commission over the years stipulates that trained teachers from Nigeria should be sent to help us.

Kabba, who made the call on Wednesday in Abuja when he visited his Nigerian counterpart, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, also requested Nigeria’s help for his country’s energy sector.

 

According to him, the technical assistance will make a big difference as the government moves forward in translating its manifesto into reality.

He said that the administration also takes the health sector very central noting that the country has been trying to rebuild its health infrastructure after its civil war.

“The diagnostic tools are really challenges to us and that is why those who have the means have to come to Nigeria or Ghana

“And, of course they require foreign exchange that is straining on us too and we want to make sure that those diagnostic tools are available locally,” he said.

He expressed gratitude to Nigeria for sending doctors and nurses to assist in the health sector.

“We are very grateful for that, because that is the area we need more help.

“So that those who served their two years are replaced quickly so we don’t create a gap in the health delivery system.

“We also need the help of Nigeria in the energy sector,” he added.

Onyeama pledged Nigeria’s support to the new government, stressing that the present administration had been supportive to the country.

The Minister said that President Muhammadu Buhari supported the country during the election and also during the tragic mudslide in the country.

He promised Nigeria’s assistance through the Technical Aid Corps.

“We have a joint cooperation of bi-national commission that has been moribund to certain extent and we will certainly cooperate to reinvigorate it.

“So we will get started on that on time and other areas that we have to cooperate

“We have an extensive programme, the Technical Aids Corp Programme and Sierra Leone is one of the beneficiaries of that programme as structured to address more emphasis on the area of priority for your government (NAN)

Sierra Leone President Visits Buhari, Seeks Stronger Ties With Nigeria

The Sierra Leonean President, Julius Bio, has visited President Muhammadu Buhari to renew the bond of friendship between the two countries.

President Bio arrived at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday where he was received by the President.

Among a wide range of issues discussed include preventive measures to tame the Ebola outbreak in DR Congo.

On the issue of Sierra Leone economy, President Bio says his administration inherited a bad economy but he is determined to go ahead with his plans to make education free in his country.

He spoke to journalists after his meeting with his host President Buhari.

Buhari Congratulates Sierra Leone’s New President Julius Bio

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Julius Maada Bio on his election as new President of Sierra Leone.

Bio won the West African nation’s presidential election run-off held on March 31.

The President, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, commended the people of Sierra Leone on the successful conduct of the presidential election run-off as well as the parliamentary and local council elections held on March 7.

With the elections concluded and following the trend of recently held peaceful elections in West Africa, President Buhari urged all stakeholders in Sierra Leone to work together for peace, security and development of the country.

He enjoined all those with grievances over the outcome of the elections to seek constitutional means of resolving them, stressing that nothing should be done to endanger the peace and stability of the country in particular and the sub-region in general.

Buhari also saluted the resilient spirit of Sierra Leoneans, who have clearly demonstrated their ability to manage their own affairs and consolidate on the country’s progress after a post-conflict era.

He commended the immediate past President, Ernest Bai Koroma, for his commitment to a credible electoral process and spirited efforts at bringing stability and positive changes to the nation during his presidency.

Julius Bio Sworn-In As Sierra Leone President

Opposition candidate and former military junta leader Julius Bio was sworn in as Sierra Leone’s new president late on Wednesday, just hours after the elections commission announced his victory in a tight run-off poll.

He now faces the difficult task of rebuilding the impoverished West African nation’s economy that was dragged down by the world’s deadliest Ebola epidemic and a global slump in commodity prices.

Representing the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Bio won 51.81 per cent of votes cast in the March 31 poll, according to results announced by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on Wednesday.

He defeated former foreign affairs minister and ruling All People’s Congress (APC) candidate Samura Kamara, who had held a slight lead based on partial results earlier in the day but in the end, garnered 48.19 percent.

Dressed in traditional white robes, Maada Bio was sworn in just before midnight at a hotel in the capital Freetown, raising in the air the Bible upon which he swore the oath of office to the cheers of supporters.

“This is the dawn of a new era. The people of this great nation have voted to take a new direction,” he said in a speech following the short ceremony in which he made an appeal for national unity.

“We have only one country, Sierra Leone, and we are all one people.”

Bio, who briefly ruled Sierra Leone as head of a military junta in 1996, replaces outgoing President Ernest Koroma, who could not seek re-election due to term limits.

The largely peaceful election process has come as a relief for the country of seven million people, who in the 1990s endured a brutal civil war fueled by the diamond trade and notorious for its drug-addled child soldiers and punitive amputations.

SLPP supporters packed into the NEC headquarters on Wednesday and following the announcement of the election results party officials urged the Maada Bio’s backers to remain calm.

“Celebrate responsibly. Do not disturb your neighbour. Victory for all men, not victory for some.

“Everyone in, no one out,” the party’s campaign manager Ali Kabba said.

Opposition supporters, confident of victory, sang and danced in the streets of Freetown on Wednesday evening hours before Bio was officially declared the winner.

“I feel happy about the results. I am here because my president Julius Maada Bio has won the election in this country,” said Adolfus Kargbo, among a group of SLPP supporters chanting Maada Bio’s name.

(NAN)

Jonathan Arrives Freetown For Presidential Run-off Polls

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has returned to Sierra Leone to observe the country’s presidential run-off polls scheduled for Tuesday March 27.
A statement issued by Mr Ikechukwu Eze, the spokesman to the former president, noted that Jonathan, who is leading the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) Election Observation Mission, arrived Freetown on Friday.

Jonathan also led EISA to the first round of the elections on March 7, in which none of the candidates polled required 55 per cent of votes to win at the first ballot.

EISA had declared the process of the March 7 general elections as peaceful and credible.

The mission in its interim report presented to the media on March 9 added that the elections were “conducted substantially in line with sub-regional, continental and international standards.”

It also observed that voter turnout was impressive while the conduct of electoral personnel was professional.

Jonathan, who presented the report also appealed to the people of Sierra Leone and all stakeholders to remain calm until the final electoral processes were concluded.

Presidential Election Kicks Off In Sierra Leone

All over Sierra Leona, voters have turned out in large numbers to elect a new president. Vying for the post is a total of 16 candidates including 2 women.

A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent covering the election, reports that there were long queues of registered voters at various poling units visited as early as 5 a.m local time, waiting to cast their vote at the official opening of polls by 7 a.m local time.

Some of the voters who spoke to NAN said they left their houses early to enable them cast their vote as early as possible and leave.

The Sierra Leone National Electoral Commission (NEC) officers and election materials could be seen at various poling units visited in the City centre.

At the cathedral Central District voting station, the NEC official had already set up.

Also at the Open Field Grass Field Polling Station and the First Baptist Mission Primary School, Accessories Read, Easter Region, the NEC officials could be seen on ground wile voters were already on queue.

The NEC Poll Manager at Open Field Grass, Mr Abdul Tholley, who spoke with NAN said their was no problem regarding the election materials both sensitive and non sensitive received.

Also at Annie Wash Primary School, East region, the voters were already waiting in queue as early as 5 .30 a.m local time.

There was enforcement of vehicular movement restriction as police officers were on strategic road junctions to enforce the restriction order.

There was also presence of police officers at all the polling units visited.

Voting is expected to commence by 7 a.m. close by 5 p.m.

The country has an estimated seven million population and 3.17 million registered voters, who will cast their ballots in 11,122 polling stations nationwide.

Sierra Leone elections are being contested by 16 presidential candidates, including two women, and more than 700 contenders for the 144-seat unicameral parliament.

One hundred and thirty-two of the lawmakers will be elected directly, complemented by 12 slots for Paramount Chief Members of Parliament.

 

Jonathan Leads Observes For Sierra Leone Polls

Nigeria’s former President, Goodluck Jonathan, will lead a team of observers to Sierra Leone’s general elections scheduled to take place on March 7.

Mr. Jonathan is scheduled to leave for Freetown on Friday as leader
of the Election Observation Mission of the Electoral Institute for
Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).

A statement issued by the ex-president’s spokesman, Ikechukwu Eze, said Mr. Jonathan would be leading the mission which has observers drawn from civil society organisations and election management bodies from across the continent.

It said the former president is pleased to be part of the process “in support of a peaceful and transparent election in Sierra Leone.”

EISA is a not-for-profit election-focused organisation that is working with national, regional, Pan-African and global partners throughout the African continent. It is based in South Africa with field offices across the continent and has supported or observed over 100 electoral and political processes in Africa.

A statement from EISA notes that the mission’s assignment is in line with the organisation’s “vision of an African continent where democratic governance, human rights and citizen participation are upheld in a peaceful environment.”

In this regard, “EISA gives focus to the crucial role that election observation plays in promoting the transparency of electoral processes and lesson learning among nations. Consequently, EISA believes that international observers play a crucially supportive role in increasing public confidence and enhancing the credibility of the electoral process.”

Its work extends beyond electoral support to include other democracy and governance fields such as political party support, legislative strengthening and civil society engagement of the African Peer Review Mechanism. EISA has current and past field offices in countries like Burundi, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This reflects its broader geographical mandate and coverage.

On The Many Troubles Of Sierra Leone, By Tayo Ogunbiyi

Sierra Leone became independent from British imperialism on April 27, 1961. Based on a 2015 national census figure, the country has a population of 7,075,641, making it far smaller than Lagos State in terms of human inhabitants.

Like many African nations, Sierra Leone has had to contend with numerous complicated challenges of nation building. In contemporary times, however, the country has been plagued by fiery troubles that have threatened its very foundation.

For instance, between 1991 and 2002, there was a devastating civil war that seriously ravaged the country.  The tragic war which resulted in the death of more than 50,000 people also left much of the country’s infrastructure in total disarray. Equally, it led to the displacement of over two million Sierra Leoneans who became refugees in neighbouring countries. In January 2002, with the assistance of Britain, ECOWAS and the United Nations, the destructive 11 years of war eventually came to an end.

As the country was trying to put the misfortune of the civil war years behind her, it was struck by yet another tragedy in 2014 with the outbreak of the dreadful Ebola virus. The deadly impact of the Ebola epidemic led to the declaration a state of emergency by the county’s authorities. By the end of 2014, there were nearly 3000 deaths and ten thousand cases of the disease in Sierra Leone. The epidemic affected nearly every aspect of the country’s life. For instance, sometime in August 2014, national football league matches were cancelled across the country to curtail the spread of the Ebola disease. Unfortunately, the Ebola plague further exerted much strain on the nation’s already weakened medical infrastructure which resulted in more casualties from medical neglect than Ebola itself. It also brought about a huge humanitarian problem which negatively affected the country’s socio-economic development.

While the country was gradually getting over the devastating stress of the Ebola brouhaha, another tragedy of greater proportion recently struck, thereby throwing the now much distressed nation into further anguish. On August 14 this year, the country witnessed three days of torrential rainfall that resulted in devastating floods and mudslides around Freetown, the capital city and its environs.

Though the precise number is not yet certain, disaster-related deaths are estimated at scores of hundreds while thousands of others are either missing or outrightly feared dead. Thousands of people were displaced and hundreds of buildings damaged by the devastating mudslides. Happening especially during rainy season, the catastrophe was further aggravated by Freetown’s peculiar geographical reality of being below the sea level with weak infrastructure.

Initial recovery efforts were spearheaded by local organisations as well as the American Red Cross while the international community has also been assisting with aid. Authorities are still looking for the more than 600 citizens still unaccounted for in one of Africa’s worst flood disasters in living memory. Aid agencies cautioned that corpses trapped in the mud are likely to contaminate water sources and cause outbreaks of disease, but continuous rain has made the search difficult and dangerous. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 3D mapping of affected neighbourhoods was taking place around Sugar Loaf mountain, which partially collapsed, and said voluntary evacuations might extend to more areas, potentially increasing the number of displaced.

According to Amnesty International, international aid is now urgently needed to provide temporary accommodation, proper sanitation and health care to those affected, as it warned that the death toll was likely to rise “substantially.” In a national broadcast, Sierra Leonean President, Ernest Bai Koroma declared a state of emergency and announced the establishment of a relief centre in Regent. He urged the nation, still recovering from the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak, to remain unified: “Our nation has once again been gripped by grief. Many of our compatriots have lost their lives, many more have been gravely injured and billions of Leones worth of property destroyed in the flooding and landslides that swept across some parts of our city.”

The President also addressed the coordination of registries in Freetown that provide aid for residents left without shelter. To really demonstrate the severity of the incidence, on August 15, President Koroma declared seven days of national mourning which was to take effect immediately. He also appealed to the international community for aid. In response to his clarion call, the UN arranged contingency plans to mitigate potential outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera while also allocating $150,000 (USD) in initial-response aid and mobilised personnel in Sierra Leone to assist in rescue operations and distribute supplies to survivors. The World Food Programme (WFP) also provided rations for 7,500 people while the European Union (EU) approved 300,000 (euros) in humanitarian aid.

As if the mudslide calamity was not enough for a nation already in distress, Freetown has also had to grapple with an extremely destructive fire that completely razed over 50 houses in Sunsan’s Bay, a slum located in the east end of the capital. There has been no indication of the cause of the fire yet, and the relevant officials are yet to announce any investigation. According to reports, as at the last count, the inferno had left over 500 people homeless. Sunsan’s Bay is one of several slums surrounding Freetown and it is inhabited mainly by fishermen and petty traders.

Sierra Leone is, no doubt, passing through a very bumpy phase and the distressed nation definitely needs all the help she could garner from the international community and relevant global organisations. There is no better time for all to rally round the troubled nation than now. Her distraught citizens, especially children, should not be left alone to bear the brunt of the several calamities that have befallen the nation. Every helpful measure must be put in place by all concerned global stakeholders to ensure that soccour hurriedly comes to the country and her much troubled citizens. This is truly Sierra Leone’s hour of need and she must not be let down.

Meanwhile, while acknowledging current efforts of concerned members of the international community in ferrying help to a nation in distress, it is expected that the African Union and ECOWAS would equally come to the aid of this brother Africa nation. It won’t really speak well of the African continent if all initiatives and efforts aimed at offering relief to Sierra Leone and her pained people come majorly from outside of the continent. After all, charity, as they say, begins at home. This, indeed, is the time for the African continent to actually extend a hand of love to Sierra Leone.

Over 400 Lives Lost In Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has experienced a black August this year as the country has recorded over 400 dead and 600 people still missing. This is from devastating floods that rocked the country earlier this week.

Britain promised the country £5 million in fresh aid ti help victims of the flood.

The disaster began on Monday when heavy rains hit the city and the partial collapse of a hillside triggered mudslides, engulfing homes and wreaking destruction.

“Today we are counting more than 400 people dead,” the secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, Elhadj As Sy, told reporters in Geneva.

Citizens and experts alike have questioned why the government has not done more to tackle illegal construction and deforestation on the outskirts of the overcrowded capital of Freetown.

An unofficial morgue estimate had previously put the toll at around 400 dead, but the figure had not been officially confirmed until Friday.

More than 300 victims were buried on Thursday in a ceremony in the nearby town of Waterloo, laid to rest alongside victims of the country’s last crisis, Ebola. Around a third of them were children.

Sy said the government of the west African country was facing a crisis “way beyond (its) capacity” and appealed to the international community to significantly ramp up its support.

The displaced are still sleeping outside “because there are not enough shelters for everybody,” he said.

Britain meanwhile announced £5 million ($6.45 million) in funding for several charities working on the ground, targeting children’s bedding and clothing and clean water and sanitation for all victims, as well as medical supplies.

“Our new support will provide basic life-saving supplies like food, water, shelter and clothing to people who have lost everything. The international community must follow our lead and step up to the plate,” said Britain’s International Development Secretary Priti Patel.

The Red Cross said it will launch an emergency funding appeal later on Friday, while China has pledged $1 million, Togo $500,000, and Israel and several west African nations have contributed food and cash.

The Red Cross has warned that smaller mudslides have occurred since Monday in eastern Freetown and in Sierra Leone’s second city of Bo, with the rainy season far from over.

So far evacuations have been voluntary from affected areas, which Sy said was “best practice” “Coming by force in the middle of hardship may not be the best way,” he added.

Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva, told reporters the toll “may rise” noting the number of people still missing.

Hundreds Feared Dead In Sierra Leone’s Latest Natural Disaster

Sierra Leone’s latest natural disaster Mudslides has left hundreds dead  near freetown the Country’s capital. A spokesman for the International Committee of Red Cross in the country Abu Bakarr, said 205 bodies have been recorded and the number is expected to rise.

More than 1,000 others have been affected, with “both figures to climb as search and rescue continues,” according to the Red Cross.

The majority of rainfall in the country comes between June and October. This year has been particularly wet. Freetown has received more than 41 inches of rain since July 1 — that’s about triple the average of 13.8 inches, according to the US National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

The United Nations office in Sierra Leone said on its Twitter account that it was assessing the damage and preparing a response.

Abdulai Bayraytay, spokesman for President Ernest Bai Koroma, told CNN the immediate priority was to help the victims.

“At the moment, we are concentrating on search and rescue and providing medical and therapeutic support to the community affected,” he said.

Bayraytay said the place most affected was Mortema, which is a few miles outside of the capital in the Regent district.

The police, military and the Office of National Security were all involved in the rescue mission.

“We have alerted all hospitals so that those rescued can be provided with immediate support on site or be ferried to hospitals,” Bayraytay said.

Social workers have also been sent to comfort the survivors.

“The whole country is traumatized by the magnitude of the disaster,” he added.

 

Pastor Wants $50 Million Dollars for Found Diamond

The pastor who found one of the world’s largest uncut diamonds says he expects to get “not less than $50 million” for the 709-carat precious stone, after it failed to reach its minimum reserve price at auction in Sierra Leone today, AFP news agency reports.

“I want my diamond to be sold abroad so I can get the best price to enable many people to benefit from the proceeds,” Pastor Emmanuel Momoh told AFP.

Today’s highest bid, for $7.8m, came from a UK citizen based in Antwerp, the European diamond capital in Belgium, where the next auction is expected to take place in the next few weeks.