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SLPP faces a tough fight in 2012

30 August 2009 at 02:23 | 1315 views

Commentary

By Sekou Daouda Bangoura, New Jersey, USA.

Immediately after his elevation to that much-coveted Ministry of Mineral Resources and Political Affairs, I wrote an article, highlighting those leadership qualities that make Alhaji Alpha Bakar Sahid Kanu a very effective team player in the grand coalition put together by His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to turn Sierra Leone around.

Among other things, I noted that Alhaji Alpha Bakarr Sahid Kanus’s appointment “is not just a matter of being a northerner, an APC supporter or a friend of the president. It is a matter of one having what it takes to turn Sierra Leone around.”

As someone who traveled widely and extensively before going into politics, Hon. Alhaji Alpha Kanu has that global perspective that is needed to make Sierra Leone more productive.

Smart and business savvy, Alhaji Alpha Sahid Kanu embodies what it takes to move Sierra Leone from a recipient of foreign handouts, to an active participant in today’s global economy.

In him we see a Sierra Leonean that is both hard working and creative in tackling the enormous economic problems we face at a time when the whole world is experiencing a serious economic meltdown.

Speaking to a large crowd of Sierra Leoneans in Somerset, New Jersey, last year, he explained how the private sector drives the Economy of Senegal. “Senegal is not endowed with mineral resources like our country, but it has a buoyant economy because of a thriving business sector.”

Generally, Senegalese are very enterprising, no matter the part of the world they find themselves in. There is always that need to achieve; that drive to create wealth.” They can do any type of business to make money.”

The problem with us Sierra Leoneans, the minister lamented, is complacency. “We are very afraid to take a risk. We’re content with just having a job that pays a salary at the end of the month.”

Appealing to all Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to make it a point of duty to have some kind of an investment in Sierra Leone, the minister exhorted, “You must take a more active role in the economic recovery of our country.”

One of the prominent figures in the re-invented All People’s Congress, Hon. Alpha Sahid Kanu has the vision, judgment, temperament and rhetorical gifts that mark him as a leader of enormous potential.
This was clearly demonstrated not only during the election campaign, when he served as the public spokesman of the party, but also while serving as Minister of Presidential, Public and Diaspora Affairs.

Affable and persuasive, he has a way of connecting with people from the grass root level to the boardroom; from the illiterate farmer and trader to the top-level executive of a company or governmental leader. Little wonder that he emerged as the national publicity secretary of the party at the Makeni Convention.

The position of national publicity secretary was, arguably, the most seriously-contested position during the convention. As a matter of fact it was the high-point of the convention. All those who vied for the position were people of high caliber.

And this explains why the election generated so much interest, and why the results were the most widely anticipated. When the results were finally announced, Alhaji Alpha Sahid Kanu emerged as the victor.

In his capacity as National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All People’s Congress and Minister of Political Affairs, he has been crisscrossing the country in an effort to re-brand the image of the APC; reconciling with political foes, and winning the hearts and minds of many Sierra Leoneans for the All People’s Congress.

When violence erupted in Kailahun, he was the one that was sent by the president to defuse the situation. He represented the president at the funeral of Bo town paramount chief, and he was in Kabala for the reinstatement of PC Magba Kamara.

From north to south, east to west, he has been delivering the president’s message to the people. From Europe to America, he has explained the president’s Open Government Initiative and his goal of harnessing the Diaspora in an effort to turn around Sierra Leone.

The just-concluded agreement in London between two mining companies that have been scrambling for the soul of Marampa Mines speaks volume about the political ingenuity of Alhaji Alpha Sahid Kanu - his ability to negotiate in good faith.

In less than a year in office as Minister of Mineral Resources he has been able to amicably resolve a lingering misunderstanding that stymied the revival of Marampa Mines in Lunsar, near Port Loko, on the northern region of Sierra Leone.

While His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma was in Brazil having a bilateral meeting with Brazilian leader Luis Inacio da Silva, Alhaji Alpha Kanu was in London having a meeting with two mining giants – London Mining and African Minerals.

During the meeting in London, attended by top-level representatives of London Mining and African Minerals, the hurdle was cleared. Marampa Mines will now start operations under the auspices of London Mining, a London-based company that is licensed to embark on iron–ore mining like the previous company, DELCO.

African Minerals, which is more involved in the business of exploration and finding the right investor, will continue with its Iron – Ore exploration and development at Ferengbehya in the Tonkilili district.

The benefits to be accrued from such an arrangement are just too phenomenal. This year alone, over one thousand people are expected to be employed. If we factor in the attendant infrastructural development, and the flurry of investments to be generated, over 10, 000 people would fill the employment market by 2010.

This is not only good for the areas where these mining companies will be operating, but good for the entire country. There will be mobility of both skilled and unskilled labor, especially from Freetown, thereby reducing the population explosion in the capital. With a reduced population, Freetown will become cleaner and healthier.

And for those people in whose communities the mining companies will be operating, more social amenities will be provided. Better roads and bridges will be constructed; better educational and medical facilities will be provided to meet the needs of a growing population.

With the creation of more jobs and better social amenities, the standard of living of the people will improve considerably. Add to that the completion of the Bumbuna hydro
Electric dam, the ongoing construction of roads, and the bold steps taken to ensure food security in the whole country!

By meeting over 60 percent of the energy needs of the country, making traveling easier and safer throughout the country, and attracting more foreign investment that translates to more job creation by 2011, life on the whole can be better for all Sierra Leoneans under APC rule.

Come 2012, the All People’s Congress will have less campaigning to do. As the saying goes, “the tiger does not have to go on proclaiming its tigritude.” The good work of the party will ensure another term for His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.

As for the grand old party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party, it will take a long time before it can wake up from its political slumber. What makes it even more problematic for Sierra Leone’s oldest party, is the PMDC, which has eaten deeply into former SLPP strongholds.

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