By Muctarr Jalloh,Lanham, Maryland, USA.
Over the last several years, Alhaji Abubakarr Jalloh had been telling anyone who could listen about the promise and prospect of an Ernest Koroma presidency for Sierra Leone. On September 8, 2007, it appeared that the majority of his compatriots had listened to him and voted Mr. Koroma as president of Sierra Leone. Mr. Jalloh was the running mate of then Presidential candidate Koroma during the 2002 presidential elections; however, due to legal maneuvering and political malfeasance, he was forced out of this race. This time around, President Koroma has appointed Mr. Jalloh as his minister of mineral resources. If confirmed by Parliament, Mr. Jalloh will be the most qualified individual to occupy that ministry.
Since independence, Sierra Leone’s mineral resources have caused it tremendous harm, culminating in the gruesome civil war. Past governments have used the country’s resources to line the pockets of their leaders, leaving the country and its people in a state of despair and beggary. This makes the appointment of Mr. Jalloh a very crucial one in the exploitation and utilization of the country’s mineral resources to enhance the economic well being of the people of Sierra Leone. Mr. Koroma has picked Mr. Jalloh to head this sensitive ministry as a way of getting every cent that would come from the sales and proceeds of our mineral resources to pay for the programs and services that would improve the lives of ordinary Sierra Leoneans.
Unlike some of his colleagues in the Cabinet, Mr. Jalloh has a humongous task ahead of him. This writer envisages that Mr. Jalloh would arrive at the mineral resources ministry full of hope and optimism in going against the grain of entrenched corruption, malfeasance, and cronyism to make it one of the most transparent, accountable and efficiently-run ministries. Indeed, Mr. Jalloh’s has the credibility, potentials, and tenacity to effect change at this moribund ministry. He would bring with him fresh ideas, look out for the best and brightest within this ministry and instill a culture of trust and responsibility in the discharge of their duties.
Mr. Jalloh’s life has always presented him with tough challenges and he has faced each challenge with a determination to succeed. The eldest of three children born to a Fullah migrant couple, who settled in the East End of Freetown, Mr. Jalloh always looked at the natural and social disadvantages of his life as a plus and made the best use of them. He loved school and excelled in all his educational pursuits.
In all his endeavors in life, he has brought to bear serious and sometimes intense competitive spirit that has landed him as the leader of the pack. He attended the Methodist Boys’ High School where he served as Head Boy, completed his A levels at the Prince of Wales and then went to Fourah Bay College, where he majored in math and physics. At Fourah Bay College, he became part of the 1960’s radical student/socialist movement, following students’ protests the world over, reading Mao’s Red Book with devotion and expressing admiration for the radical Socialist leaders of the time, especially the Argentine Ernesto Che Guevera.
During this time also, he joined the All Peoples’ Congress Party. He once told this writer that Siaka Stevens’ populist message was central to making him an APC member. And what a loyal and committed member he turned out to be. In his years in exile in the United States, he tirelessly attended meetings with other party stalwarts; planning and plotting on their return to power. It seemed those difficult years of brainstorming finally paid off with the Party’s recent parliamentary and presidential victories.
Mr. Jalloh’s goal in life was to be a scientist, but in actual fact, his true talent was discovered as an administrator. Immediately after he graduated from Fourah Bay College he went into teaching and working as an external examiner for the West African Examination Council. He later pursued his education in the United Kingdom, where he obtained double Masters Degrees in Geophysics, Atmospheric physics and Hydrogeology from Imperial College and University College respectively.
He returned to Sierra Leone, where he was first appointed as the Director of land resources survey at the Ministry of Agriculture before starting an illustrious career at the National Diamond Mining Company (NDMC), where he was first an exploration geophysicist and geologist and gradually rose to the ranks of company secretary and then executive director. He served in all these positions with distinction and integrity that won him admiration from both foreign expatriates and his fellow compatriots.
As an exile in the United States, he taught Mathematics and Physical Science at the University of the District of Columbia and served as the Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Sciences at the Sojourner Douglas College in Baltimore, Maryland.
This writer has found tremendous inspiration and strengths in Mr. Jalloh, a very hopeful person and a trailblazer. His credible track record, resiliency and humility have made him a leading role model and symbol of great pride and hope to the Fullahs, an ethnic group that has suffered humiliation, discrimination and long held at bay on the fringes of Sierra Leonean society. He surely will make the Fullahs proud by serving his nation well.
Photo: Alhaji Abu Bakarr Jalloh.
Photo credit: Sierra Leone web.