By Sekou Daouda Bangoura, New Jersey.
Sierra Leone is going through a period of transformation brought about by the vibrant and dynamic leadership of His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. In less than five years in power, the All People’s Congress under Ernest Bai Koroma has achieved what the Sierra Leone People’s Party under Alhaji Ahmed Tejan-Kabbah was not able to achieve in more than ten years.
Aside from the marked improvement in electricity supply in Freetown and its environs, the entire country has improved considerably in terms of infrastructural development. For many Sierra Leoneans - including former die-hard SLPP supporters - the country is on the right path. Little wonder many have decided to join the APC.
The country’s interests come first. We should therefore learn to embrace progress and development, according Tom Nyuma, a former strongman of the National Provisional Ruling Council that toppled the effete regime of Joseph Saidu Momoh, who has now transferred his support and allegiance to Ernest Bai Koroma. Tom Nyuma’s recent bold and courageous decision to put the country above party should serve as an inspiration to others in the SLPP who are still blind to the reality that there has been tremendous progress in Sierra Leone under Ernest Bai Koroma’s APC.
If Sierra Leone is to continue on the path of progress and development, we should learn to set aside party differences and work together. But most importantly, we should, as Sierra Leoneans, endeavor to put the right people in the right place. The practice of just rewarding people for merely toeing the party line should be a thing of the past. We should put people with a good track record, regardless of party affiliations in positions of trust. The Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board (SLPMB) - a major revenue and foreign exchange earner, failed miserably because it was used as a dumping ground for party stalwarts; people whose sole intention was to fatten their pockets at the expense of the ordinary Sierra Leonean.
The unsavory practice of rewarding party faithful who heap encomiums on the head of state - while behind him they dip deep into our national kitty - should be rooted out of the Sierra Leone political landscape. We live in a world of rapid changes and continuous improvement; a world driven by business and technology; a world in which individuals are rewarded based on performance. If Sierra Leone is to become an effective participant in today’s global economic environment of fierce competition, we have to make use of the best Sierra Leoneans. Settling down for mediocrity will bring nothing but embarrassment and disaster to the whole nation. As a country recovering from a brutal war that wreaked incalculable damage, we cannot continue to do business as usual.
And this brings me to the position of Mayor of Freetown, for which several people have publicly disclosed their intention to run. They are all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans, who have a compelling case to present to the public, in general, and to the APC top brass, in particular. If the Freetown Municipality is to be run effectively and efficiently, then it needs a mayor that is both a good leader and an effective manager; someone with a strong financial background; someone who is capable of generating revenue and making sure that such revenue is used for the benefit of the people of Freetown and greater Freetown.
Pastor Rowland Bankole-Gibson,pictured, is well-known in Freetown and even beyond, and held in very high esteem by the countless people he has interacted with over the years. He has what it takes to be mayor of Freetown. Aside from his strong moral convictions, his impeccable character and impressive academic background, he has served both as a leader and as a manager. He has a good track record to prove that he is both knowledgeable and capable to run for one of Africa’s oldest municipalities.
Born on the 4th of July 1969 in Freetown, Pastor Rowland Bankole-Gibson had his early education at the Tower Hill Municipal School and the Albert Academy. After completion of his sixth form - the equivalent of a two-year college in the United States of America - he proceeded to (IPAM) the Institute of Public Administration and Management to pursue the Association of Accounting Technician course, which he completed in 1990. He completed the level one of the ACCA courses - Association of Certified Chartered Accountants and part of level two. Aside from a professional career in Accounting, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Masters Degree in Pastoral Care and Ministry, and he is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Business Administration.
His accounting career started as a trainee accountant at Pannell Kerr Forster Chartered Accountants, where he rose to the rank of audit senior. He worked as an accountant and senior accountant at Sierra Construction Company and the National Insurance Company (NIC) respectively. At CELTEL, he was the revenue accountant. He served as project accountant for the International Foundation for Election Systems. Pastor Bankole-Gibson later combined his administrative and managerial skills with his accounting experience to work as an accountant/administrative assistant at the Social Action for Poverty Alleviation Project (SAPA).
Due to his loyalty and love for his country, and his dedication to serve Sierra Leone, Pastor Bankole-Gibson took up appointment with the Africa Development Bank (ADB) Institutional Support project for capacity Strengthening, Governance and Poverty Reduction project, Ministry of Finance as project accountant. He worked with the ADF Institutional Support Project to Strengthen the Public Financial Management and Energy Sector at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development as Finance Manager. He is currently the Project Coordinator. He has attended workshops and courses on project implementation, procurement and financial management.
Pastor Rowland Bankole-Gibson is a pastor at The Vine Fellowship Church. A family man, who is happily married to Mrs. Doris Bankole-Gibson, with three children, he is the executive producer of ‘The Ushers”, a Christian movie company. A former music director of the Albert Academy Brass Band, he combines both the religious and the secular – a very rare combination for someone that has not even celebrated his 45th birthday.
Based on his outstanding and stellar track record, his high level of commitment, dedication and patriotism, and the fact that he is committed to president Koroma’s “agenda for change” that is geared toward making Sierra Leone a place all Sierra Leoneans can be proud of, Pastor Roland Bankole-Gibson is superbly qualified to be the next mayor of Sierra Leone’s oldest and most important municipality.
A man of boundless energy, he would be fair but very firm when it comes to running the city to make sure that things are done the way they should be done. He would not only ensure fiscal discipline, but restore pride and honor to a city council that was recently troubled by a massive corruption scandal.