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Meet Sierra Leone’s new Ambassador to USA and High Commissioner to Canada

29 October 2018 at 15:50 | 1715 views

The charismatic, yet humble community leader, activist, politician, diplomat, and public policy czar, Hon. Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai (pictured) was unanimously approved by the parliament recently as Sierra Leone’s ambassador to the United States of America and High Commissioner to Canada.

Two months ago, Wai was handpicked by Sierra Leone’s new president, His Excellency Julius Maada Bio as his choice for the strategic diplomatic position.

Born in Magburaka to the Bangura family of Mabonto, Tonkolili District and the Wai family of Korigboma, Pujehun District, many in and outside of Sierra Leone see Ambassador Wai as not only the best choice for championing Sierra Leone’s interest in the Americas, but also a bridge between the people of the north and south of the country.

Sierra Leone parliamentarians, including Hon. Siaka Sama, an independent; Hon. Emerson Lamina of the Coalition for Change; and Hon. Dickson Rogers of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party hailed Ambassador as not only highly qualified, but a selfless philanthropist who has touched and opened doors for many in the diaspora, including themselves. Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo of the main opposition All People’s Congress thanked President Bio for the appointment and described him as their son. The charismatic opposition leader in parliament, Hon. Chernor Bah lamented that although he had met Ambassador Wai for the first time this week, he is extremely impressed by his credentials and his eloquent presentation before the appointment committee in parliament.

For over 30 years, Wai has been discharging several high-profile leadership responsibilities in the United States in spheres of diplomacy, public safety, public health advocacy, community relations and social empowerment, including serving as President of the United African Congress and community affairs analyst and adviser to the executives of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), headquartered in New York. United African Congress is the umbrella organization in the United States that represents the interests of 3.5 million continental African immigrants in the country. Also based in New York, the NYPD is among the largest unit of police forces in the world and the largest law enforcement agency in the United States with approximately 40,000 uniformed personnel and 20,000 civilians. While Wai has lived in the United States in the last couple of decades, he continued to contribute to Sierra Leone.

In the above roles, Wai has been credited for championing numerous initiatives that added value to the safety of the 8.5 million people of New York and for seeking the interest of the African diaspora in the United States. These included overseeing foreign initiatives for developing nations from Africa in New York City such as his supervision of dual citizenship elections, the facilitation of foreign dignitaries and community leadership requests to meet with the Police, serving as the point of contact between the law enforcement apparatus of the city and the diplomatic communities accredited to the United Nations and the African Union, mediating public safety disputes between uniformed personnel and civil society on behalf of the Police Commissioner, among others.

Wai is held in high esteem by several high-profile and top-notch US politicians, governors, congressmen and women, borough presidents, business executives, academics, philanthropists, legal firms, chambers of commerce, industries, media executives, executives of international organizations, the various of wings of the US security apparatus, and the crème de la crème African diaspora in the United States. Wai has over the years leveraged these ties to champion the interest of the poor and downtrodden within the African diaspora community in the United States in general and New York in particular. His position and roles have over the years had profound influence on various of wings of the US security apparatus to better understand the immigrant landscape in the United States and how they can be leveraged to secure the nation. Wai’s top achievements include the following:

First person of African born in Africa to run for Public Advocate of New York City
Wai was the first African born immigrant to run for the New York city-wide office of public advocate. Working with a very small campaign budget, Wai scored over 14,000 votes, the largest number of votes scored by any African immigrant in any race in New York.

Contribution to NYPD’s Body Camera Program
The Police “Body Camera program “was initiated by Hon. Sidique Wai in 2013 as a crime fighting tool during the height of “stop, question and frisk” criticism of the police department in New York City. The introduction of the body cameras reduced crime while promoting good relationship between police and community in the City & across the US.

Facilitated the first public safety meeting between NYPD and group of African Ambassadors in the UN
Wai facilitated the first high level public safety meeting between the New York City Police Department Executive staff and the African Group of Ambassadors accredited to the United Nations. He most recently submitted a proposal to the New York City Police Department to consider Sierra Leone as the “hub” for police training within the Mano River Union.

Contribution during the Sierra Leone civil war
During the civil war period in Sierra Leone from 1991-2002, Wai applied behind-the-scene diplomatic moves alongside open advocacy that resulted in forcing RUF rebels to release several high-profile Sierra Leonean abductees, including Dr. Sulaiman Jabati Wai. He led campaigns in the United States to bring awareness to the civil war in Sierra Leone and engaged the behind closed doors the relevant United Nations organs.

Contribution to the fight against Ebola
During the Ebola period from 2013-2016, Hon Sidique Wai championed the interest of Sierra Leone at the United Nations in New York which helped to build donor confidence to pledge over a billion dollars for Sierra Leone’s post-Ebola recovery while also advocating for concrete guarantees from donors and the government towards ensuring that the Ebola recovery process was decentralized, participatory, transparent and accountable.

Advocating for African immigrants
Wai has made valuable inputs into the US Department of Homeland Security policies on addressing critical public safety issues affecting immigrant communities throughout the United States, particularly in New York City. The input enabled the Department of Homeland Security to become more sensitive to needs of immigrant communities in the United States. Subsequently, Wai was appointed member of the Homeland Security Radicalization Task Force and Community Leadership Team which regularly meets with the DHS to discuss issues involving Muslim immigrants, Arab and Sikh communities residing in the US.

Wai holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Pre-Law from Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York City. He later pursued his graduate studies in Public Policy and Organizational Theory at the New York University Wagner School of Public Service. Public confidence in Wai’s ability to represent Sierra Leone well in Washington D.C and Ottawa. is extremely high.

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