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Secretary General of the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation, (OIC) has described Sierra Leone’s democracy as “unique”. (Photo: l-r Hon. Nicol having audience with the OIC Secretary General)
Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu made the remark to Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Hon. Theo Nicol when the latter paid a courtesy call on him last week.
Hon. Nicol was in Saudi Arabia as head of Sierra Leone’s delegation to the Open-Ended experts meeting on the establishment of an OIC Satellite Channel hosted at the headquarters of the OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah from 23 – 24th February, 2013.
The Secretary General described Sierra Leone’s democracy as “unique” and noted that the 17th November 2012 multi-tier elections were an “honourable victory for all Sierra Leoneans which they must be proud of”.
The head of the 57 member states organization also said Sierra Leone has proved to the international community that its democracy is advancing beyond all reasonable doubts by conducting four categories of elections on the same day – Presidential, Parliamentary, Chairman/Mayoral and Councillorship elections, under a peaceful and violence free environment.
“We sent observers and they came with very positive and impressive reports about the conduct of the elections; which is very good for a country,” Prof. Ihsanoglu said.
He also commended President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma for the development strides he has made in five years. He recalled the two meetings he had with President Koroma in Sierra Leone and in the USA.
“The first time I met your President was in Freetown and the other was in the USA at a special luncheon at the UN Headquarter premises in New York organized for a few of us by President Barack Obama during the 2011 UN General Assembly.” Professor Ishanglou told Sierra Leone’s Deputy Information Chief.
The Turkish born Secretary General added: “Both meetings with your President proved to me that he’s a democrat who is ready to transform Sierra Leone and I observe that he’s a leader who cares for his people.”
Responding, Hon. Theo Nicol thanked the OIC Scribe for the impressions he had about President Koroma in particular and Sierra Leoneans in general.
Hon. Nicol stressed that the Government took an independent impartial stance on the past elections because President Koroma is a true democrat who believes that power comes from God through hard work, honesty, dedication and the will to put the country before self.
He reiterated the determination of President Koroma to successfully implement the “Agenda for Prosperity” before he leaves office in 2017 following the successful implementation of the “Agenda for Change” during his first term of office.
The Deputy Minister appealed to the OIC through its Secretary General to lend hand to the development process in Sierra Leone under the dynamic and resilient leadership of President Koroma.
On corruption, the Deputy Minister maintained that the unrelenting fight against corruption in Sierra Leone has saved the Government coffers of billions of Leones which, he said they are investing in development projects and reforming public institutions for better service delivery in the public sector.
He maintained that the bulk of the country’s domestic revenue is being generated by the National Revenue Authority (NRA), adding that, with improved revenue generation; Sierra Leone will no longer be categorized among the Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) or be classed as a donor-driven country in the not-to-distant future.
The Deputy Minister told the OIC Scribe that all funds generated locally are used judiciously by Government for national development in a bid to ameliorate the socio-economic problems of Sierra Leoneans; irrespective of region or ethnic leaning.
Hon. Theo therefore passionately appealed to the OIC to assist the Government of Sierra Leone in its development drive under the able leadership of President Koroma.
The Deputy Information Minister also held similar discussions with officials of the Islamic Development Bank, (IDB), his Saudi counterpart, Prince Turki Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, the Director of the Islamic Broadcasting Cooperation (IBU), Mohamed Salem Ould Bouke, among other dignitaries.
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