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APC: Alpha Kanu Speaks

19 July 2007 at 16:59 | 542 views

Speech Delivered by Honourable Alpha Kanu at the Launching of the APC Manifesto,
11TH July 2007.

Leader and Presidential Candidate,
Mr. Running Mate
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me tell you a short story.

Sierra Leone, Pedro Da Cintra’s Lion Mountain, has been well known during the last five hundred years for differing reasons. In the 15th century, it was a watering hole for passing merchant ships in the North Atlantic, due to the abundance of fresh water and its natural harbour. This led to it becoming a major slave port in the 17th and 18th centuries, when African men, women and children were forcibly removed from their natural habitat to be exported like cattle to the far away unfamiliar and inhospitable territories of the West Indies and the Americas for slave labour.

With the abolition of slavery in 1787, after Lord Chief Justice Mansfield’s ruling that “Any slave setting foot in England was free,” Sierra Leone was chosen by a company of English philanthropists such as Granville Sharpe and others led by Hon. William Wilberforce, MP for Hull in England then, as the eventual home to which freed slaves were repatriated.

The coming of the settlers, whose descendants today form the Creole ethnic group, introduced Christianity and Western education.

The Sierra Leone Grammar School and the Annie Walsh Memorial School were established in the early 19th Century. Earlier, Fourah Bay College had been established in 1827, becoming the first university to be established in Africa south of the Sahara.

Hard work, dedication and commitment enabled the university’s prowess to echo all over the continent. Soon Africans searching for knowledge came to Sierra Leone for their education.

This trend of things earned the country the sobriquet “The Athens of West Africa.”

The advent of independence and subsequent self governments tried to maintain Sierra Leone’s dominant role in the socio-political and economic development of the sub region.

In very recent times, Sierra Leone also made history when the Star of Sierra Leone’ the second largest diamond after the Cullinan was discovered.

At this juncture, ladies and gentlemen, Sierra Leone’s development approached its peak to a point that our regional neighbours viewed a chance to come to Sierra Leone in the same way as the lure to travel to any western country is today.

In those good years of the APC rule, Sierra Leone’s economic and social infrastructure were so far ahead of our sub-regional neighbours that a popular way of bidding farewell to family by our brothers leaving Guinea to come to Sierra Leone was “Mi yehi England” and the Senegalese used to say “Man gi dem Angleterre” meaning I am going to England.’

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, was not such a long time ago.

However, for Sierra Leone, the superlatives ended there.

The advent of the war and the ensuing military regimes of the NPRC and AFRC accelerated Sierra Leone’s decline to the most unenviable positions in the global development league tables viz:

The least developed country on the planet.

The poorest nation on earth.

The country with the highest infant mortality rate.

The highest maternal mortality rate

Among the lowest life expectancy - 38 years for men and 35 years for women.

Among the lowest in literacy level in the world.

The worst place on earth for a child to grow up in.

The list reads like an inventory from Pandora’s Box.

Indeed, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, when ever I think of the low life expectancy figures, I cannot help but give profuse thanks to Allah for being so kind to me and many of us here who have passed that threshold.

When you live in Sierra Leone and you are over 50 years, you are living on borrowed time.

This, ladies and gentlemen brings me to the issues that the APC wants to deal with when in government after 11th August, 2007.

v Water - The provision of clean potable water for everybody in Sierra Leone is a condition sine qua non. The APC will concentrate its initial efforts to alleviating our people’s suffering in the quest for clean water, not only in Freetown but also in every town and village in Sierra Leone.

v Sanitation - The availability of clean water and good sanitary conditions will reduce water borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea etc., to a minimum.

The mosquito, the malaria parasite vector, cannot survive or breed in the absence of stagnant water.

v Health - The biggest killer of children under 5 years in Sierra Leone is malaria. In addition to encouraging people to improve sanitation in their environments, the APC will intensify anti malaria campaigns and encourage the use of insecticide treated bed nets. In fact, one of the Party’s targets is to provide a bed net for every sleeping place in the country.

We believe that this will be cheaper in the end than paying for malaria remedies. The adage “prevention is better than cure” cannot be truer in this context, so that the MDG target for health will be achieved by 2015.

We will intensify the Anti Aids campaign to increase awareness and practice.

We will provide free medical care for all children under 18yrs, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

v Schools and Colleges - The APC will increase efforts in the introduction of free and compulsory basic education for all, including the girl child in every region of the country.

The APC will invest in increased teacher training; provide the conducive environment for teachers to work in the remotest of villages in the country.

The APC will reintroduce school feeding programmes for all schools in the country in order to induce children to go to school.

The APC will review the 6-3-3-4 system so that it no longer acts as a sieve through which drop outs are manufactured.

The APC will increase investment in our universities and colleges so that more people making the grade can have a fair chance to succeed in life.

In this respect, certain matriculation requirements of achieving very high grades in English to qualify for enrolment in the science and technology disciplines will be reviewed to attract more science and technology graduates.

The APC will establish a university in all the four regions of the country.

The APC will invest in the introduction of Information Technology and Computing in all Secondary Schools as part of the regular curriculum.
We as a party, recognise that computer literacy is a necessary prerequisite in modern day education.

Funding: How do we hope to fund all these projects?

Good governance will play a major role in ensuring we obtain funding for all our development programmes.

Corruption: The APC will zero in on Anti-Corruption drives to minimize the wastage and siphoning of public funds into private bank accounts.

The APC will ensure that interest payments due on loans that have now been forgiven under the debt relief be diverted to pay for the social and education projects.

The APC will also put in place an effective mining and minerals policy,

so that the benefit from the mining sector is invested in the interest of

the general public.

The marine sector will also yield benefits to finance the projects.

We will work with our donor partners, especially DFID, to ensure good management and accountability of all aid monies.

We will increase agricultural productivity to reduce our dependence on imported foods.

Distinguish Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen; these are just a few topics in our Manifesto to wet your appetite to read the real thing.

As a party we have a great vision.

Our Leader, Honourable Ernest Bai Koroma has committed himself to stamping out corruption in our society and to institute good governance of the sort that will again return this country to the prosperity it used to have, should have, must have and will have.

I will end by quoting two passages from the farewell speech of our outgoing President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabba.

He said in paragraph 32 that, I quote “Pervasive corruption at all levels of public life for decades has been a major obstacle to the rapid political economic and social advancement of the country. Left unchecked by past governments, it had led to the debilitating situation wherein public officials could not distinguish between public and private interests. Public office for them was nothing more that a means of accumulating and amassing wealth.

This unpatriotic parasitic attitude was found in its crudest form in the Creole saying “usai den tie cow nar dae e dae eat grass”, unquote

This is exactly the problem the SLPP has.

While the APC’s cows were tied limiting their range to an identifiable area, the SLPP left its cows free range to eat everything, everywhere including, the grass in the paddocks of the poor. Even the proverbial widow’s mite has not escaped the gluttony of these marauding creatures.

These are the creatures of corruption that Hon. Ernest Koroma will not only rein in, but will also lock up in their paddocks eating only the grass that is their fair share of the hay stack

In paragraph 30, Ladies and Gentlemen, the President said and I quote

“Since we assumed office, my Government has been concerned about the meager benefit that accrues to Government and the average Sierra Leonean from activities in the mining sector and the exploitation of our mineral wealth.

We have often heard the statement that there is no reason why Sierra Leone should be poor, given our abundant mineral resources. Our own people have often asked the question, “Where have all our diamonds and other minerals gone?’ Hon. Members, the answer to that question is not blowing in the wind as the song says, rather, the answer lies with us’, unquote.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that the SLPP has reached the end of their intellectual and physical tether.

The answer therefore is change the SLPP for the APC.

The answer, my friends, is Vote and vote solidly for Ernest Bai Koroma for President on 11th August, 2007

I thank you.

Photo: Honourable Alpha Kanu.