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The Abujas- Alhajis and Hajah Conakrys have all gone…says President Koroma

Mr. Chairman

Hon Ministers

Hon Members of Parliament

Paramount Chiefs

Party Stalwart

People of Kpeje West

 

I thank you for this colourful reception you have given me today. When we came into governance in 2007, we knew exactly what the people of Kailahun wanted. We knew what they had been waiting for all these years, their pressing problems. As a government, we have put together what they wanted and what we promised them and we have called it the Agenda for Change.

We have rolled out all the programmes in the Agenda for Change in the past four years and we are now in the fifth year. And as a government we are committed to follow our policies and programmes through. That is why we have come on this working visit to Kailahun to inspect all the things we are doing in the Agenda for Change. We have come to verify if the things we promised to do are actually happening on the ground and to also verify they are the things the people wanted. That is why I came to Bunumbu, Kpeje West. I have seen the college and we will continue the discussion.

As we are now into the fifth year of rolling out programmes in the Agenda for Change, we believe it is now time for self-assessment. And for you the people, any government that rules you for four years, even though it is a short period for governance, must show you what they have been doing for you. The period is short, but it is long enough for any government to show what it has been doing for the people.

We know that the people of Kailahun have waited for the road for a very long time. We also know that the road is the biggest problem in Kailahun. Therefore, we captured it in our Agenda for Change. We did not only capture it, but today you can attest to the fact that the Kailahun road is a reality. It spans from Kenema to Pendembu. I am also pleased to inform you that we have secured funding for the Pendembu to Kailahun segment. It has been ratified by the Parliament of Sierra Leone and very soon the procurement process will start. And the road will not only stop in Kailahun; we will take it all the way into Koindu.

We know that just one road will not service Kailahun, but with the resources at hand we have limited our need to Kenema/Koindu highway. While at that, we are constructing feeder roads as well. So you know that in some villages, the roads have been constructed, the bridges that link communities to trunk roads have been constructed and we are presently repairing the decrepit ferry as well.

All of these things are aimed at ensuring that the people of Kailahun move their goods and services from place to place with ease more than before.

But Kailahun is not just about the business of constructing roads. Kailahun also has a huge agricultural potential. Those of you who listened to the radio yesterday know that I have handed over Le 19 billion worth of agricultural assets to Kailahun.

We are doing all of these things because we want the people of Kailahun to enhance their agricultural productivity. We want farming to be a more profitable enterprise. We want farmers to have more income and we want them to be able to feed and educate their children, and to do all the things that will improve their living standards.

So, we have done a lot in the agricultural sector. Every chiefdom has an Agricultural Business Centre (ABC) that helps the farmers to have access to equipment, to have access to produce, to have access to extension services and we are also opening village banks that will help the farmers to access funds to improve their productivity.

Because we know that the people of Kailahun and the people of Sierra Leone as a whole need to enhance their agricultural productivity, because we know that farming is their engagement, and because we know that they have been engaged in farming in poverty for a very long time, we are doing all of these things to help them out of poverty.

In the health sector, we also knew that Kailahun was very much deprived. We knew that pregnant women were dying and we also knew that the children were dying. We knew that women were dying from simple abortion procedures. That is why we introduced the free healthcare so that the pregnant women, children under five and lactating mothers will access free healthcare services. And today the whole country is benefiting from the free healthcare and Kailahun is benefiting from it too.

I want to inform you that here in Kailahun you have the best healthcare service. It is only here in Kailahun district that we have three medical doctors in Kailahun town. We have extended the free healthcare service to the Nixon Memorial hospital and refurbished it. Yesterday we launched the construction of a paediatric hospital that will service not only the children but new mothers and pregnant women as well. We have launched here in Kailahun the construction of a state of the art hospital that is not found anywhere else in Sierra Leone. With this pilot health service programme here in Kailahun, we can only replicate it in other districts.

I know that what I have to say here today about the programmes we have rolled out in the Agenda for Change will not matter to you. I know that there is one thing I need to talk about that is very close to your hearth – I know that you want me to talk about the Bunumbu College.

From the reaction of the people, I know the Bunumbu College is very close to your heart. As I said earlier, part of this visit is to inspect the projects we are involved with in Kailahun district.

You all heard the principal when he stated that he had written twelve proposals for the rehabilitation of the college before we assumed power in 2007. He had written them and submitted them to the then government, but received no reply. When we came into governance the principal only held a discussion with me about the plight of the college. In that discussion, I told him to submit a proposal so that we can start the project of rehabilitation of the college immediately. It means that my government is committed to the project of rehabilitating Bunumbu College.

Today on this visit, from the little resources we allocated to the rehabilitation project, I indeed noticed a work in progress. I have seen the extent of the damage and destruction to the college. But when I went round, I felt very sad that we could destroy what we had.

Today we are left with the responsibility of reconstruction. What I have seen and in the discussions I had with the principal, I told him that the rehabilitation project is an enormous task. It is a big project because we have to work until the college is brought back to the original form in which it was before the war. In prior discussion I had with the principal, my thinking is that every region in this country should have a university. So, we will improve the college into a university status. This is a huge task; but it is a huge task that we must accomplish.

In our primary days, the best teachers who taught us were trained in this college. So, some of us have benefited from this college. Therefore, we have a responsibility to pay back to this college. The college was for everybody. People came from every corner of the country to the college, not just from Kpeje West. In fact this college rolled out more students from outside of Kpeje West than it rolled out from Kpeje West itself.

So, we have to transform this college. But because the amount that is involved is so much, I have called the Minister of Education, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Principal so that we will discuss the way forward. You have heard the Principal when he stated that it will take USD 12m to rehabilitate the college. We will engage and ask our donor partners for help.

So, on this visit, I want to assure you that the rehabilitation project of the college will not stop until it is completed. And we will not only rehabilitate the college, we will upgrade it to a university status. I want to thank you all. I strongly believe that you have heard the message you came here for.

I want to thank everybody for the massive turnout to welcome me and my entourage. I want to thank the Muslim people for appreciating the help we gave them. We will continue to help other people to practice and enjoy their own religions in peace. For the Muslims, they went to Mecca and returned with ease. From the time we came into governance, the Muslims know now that going to Mecca has become painless. The Abuja-Alhajis or Hajah-Conakrys have disappeared and they are no more.

But I also want to tell you that in this year the country will conduct elections; very big elections. We will come to thank everybody for the beginning step into the process of participation in the electioneering process by registering. As a registered voter, it means that you have started the process of participating in the electioneering process.

But I want to also tell you that our country has been held to a very high esteem; our country has been called by international arbitrators one of the leading democracies in Africa. Therefore, we want these elections to add to the value of the democracy we are enjoying. We don’t want any violence or threat of violence in these elections. We want you to feel free to support the candidate you want to support. We want you to feel free to vote for the leader you want.

Anyone who attempts to undermine the security of this country or undermines the democracy of this country through violence will be dealt with by law and will not be pardoned. I have said it over and over that I will not pardon anybody who will be held responsible for violence or threat of violence in this election. That includes all political parties. We have instructed the police to treat and handle everybody equally. Nobody is above the law. We want you to exercise your rights to vote freely without any fear of violence or threat of violence.

We are here on a working visit. When the time comes for campaign, we will come back. Finally, let me tell the chiefs of the four chiefdoms in constituency 8 many thanks.

Thank you!

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