5th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION SPEECH By His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma
17 September 2012
On this day, five years ago on 17th September 2007, your collective will made me President of our beloved country, Sierra Leone. I took an oath to deliver on my campaign promise of bringing change. Five years later the change I promised has come and it is clearly changing our beloved country. It is changing the deplorable state of the nation's roads, it is changing our health care delivery system, and it is changing our agricultural sector. We kept our promises to work hard to transform this country; and today, work is going on everywhere; my government, investors and our international partners are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in our mines, in our agriculture, and our infrastructure. The changes have created more jobs for Sierra Leoneans; the type of jobs that did not exist five years ago.
Five years ago there was no one working in extracting and transporting iron ore. Now there are thousands of workers in that sector. Five years ago there was no one employed in companies like ADDAX, SOCFIN and others. Today there are thousands of Sierra Leoneans gainfully employed in these and other companies. Five years ago there were fewer people working in road construction. Now there are thousands engaging in roads and other construction work. Five years ago there were few banks, few logistic companies, few airlines, and other services. Today there are many Sierra Leoneans working in those industries. Five years ago there were few Sierra Leoneans driving haulage trucks; today we have so many truck drivers hauling goods on our new roads. Five years ago very few of our geologist and engineers were employed; today so many of them are gainfully employed.
Since we took over governance of this country in 2007 we have increased the salaries of our teachers and our health workers; we increased the salaries of lecturers, civil servants, parliamentarians and judges; we improved the conditions of work of soldiers and policemen. In the Agenda for Prosperity that, God willing, you will vote us to implement after the elections in November this year, we intend to build upon these actions for jobs and improved earnings for Sierra Leoneans.
Five years ago; you voted me President and gave my party the majority in Parliament to deliver on a promise of change; We have kept that promise. We transformed the promise into real jobs all over the country. We paid for the caesarean sections of hundreds of pregnant women; saved the lives of thousands of women; and prevented thousands of children from dying because their families could not pay hospital bills. We have transformed the look of Kenema by constructing roads and building markets; we made it easy for pedestrians and vehicles to move along the streets of Bo, Makeni and Magburaka. Work is progressing in Kambia, Kailahun, Port Loko. Pujehun, Kabala, Moyamba, Bonthe and Kono. We increased electricity supply in the country from under 15 megawatts to over 80. We increased subvention to universities and paid billions of Leones for all public examinations in primary schools, secondary schools and technical vocational institutions. We have been giving billions of Leones to district councils, irrespective of which party controls them, so that they too can implement transformative projects.
We are fighting corruption with one of the strongest anti-corruption laws in Africa. Our human rights record is exemplary; we have not executed anybody, or jailed any journalists. We are building water works in every region, and constructing power stations in most districts. These achievements are visible; they could be seen; we are government of development; we believe in including the people of every district in the transformation of this country.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you are doing, pause, take a deep breath, and give yourself a thumb up for you are part of the five years journey that has brought so much visible change. You are part of journey of winners; this country is winning; the APC is winning, the people of this country are winners.
Five years ago you trusted me with your hopes and aspirations for the future; today I am here to thank God for His Grace in giving me the health, strength and wisdom to deliver on that trust. I thank you, my fellow Sierra Leoneans for giving me the opportunity to lead you. I am only your humble servant with a political life sanctioned by your collective will. We are not yet fully there; but we are on the road to prosperity. And my will is to continue to provide action for the people till we reach the destination of prosperity.
We will continue to work hard; I will continue to work hard; I will continue to serve you; I will continue to bring more development; more jobs; and more investment. The issue of the day is no longer about my will to serve you; it is about your will to resist going back to the people of violence and human rights abuse that this country had rejected; it is about our collective will to prevent those we rejected because of their arrogance and disdain for the common man and woman; it is about all of us resisting those who mobilize hate rather than development.
I am the President of all Sierra Leone; when I win, the whole country wins. Because I won in 2007, every district has won; every district is seeing the fruits of victory. Victory is ours. God is our helper, and together we shall continue to bring home the fruits of our victory.
We need to consolidate the victory we have brought everywhere in the country. With your mandate and support, our job in the next five years is firmed up in the Agenda for Prosperity. The vision is already cast; the work is being done; jobs are being created; billions are being invested; the prospects for oil are great. With the coming of the APC Government that respects the common man and woman, God is blessing the country more and more. We will continue to claim the blessings. We will invest more heavily in developing the skills of our people for active participation in our growing economy; we will support our local businesses to take full advantage of our local content policy and create wealth for Sierra Leonean businesses. We will continue to provide billions to local councils to sustain the expansion of transformative projects.
Already, our economy is amongst the fastest growing in the world; we will continue to translate this growth into jobs; into roads, into schools and colleges; and into supporting our farmers to continue to improve the productivity of the endowments of this great nation.
I have proven that we can make our intentions grow into actions because actions are better than intentions. As we plan for a prosperous nation we must not forget about the changes our collective victory in 2007 has brought for our nation. The victory of the ordinary man and woman on September 17th 2007 and the returns derived from it must be enshrined in our consciences as a shining example of how to choose a leader for national development.
We are better today than we were five years ago and I have you to thank for that. We still have challenges; but our will to overcome these challenges is greater than ever before. This Action for the People must continue. The Free Healthcare must continue; the building of roads must continue; the transformation of agriculture must continue. This creation of jobs must continue. There is no turning back. We do not make rosy promises; we make promises we can keep: we will continue to attract investors; because more investors mean more jobs. We will continue to build more roads, because more roads create more jobs; and we will continue to transform agriculture because the transformation brings more jobs; we will continue to emphasize developing the skills of young men and young women, because this will create more jobs.
In our Agenda for Change we have created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the construction sector, the mines sector, and the agriculture sector. In the Agenda for Prosperity we will enhance the skills of Sierra Leoneans to get hundreds of thousands of more jobs. The process has already started. My Government's joint response to youth unemployment, in partnership with the international community, is a cohesive and dynamic plan to create more jobs. We are engaging the 'youthman' to build our national infrastructure, giving them job experience, training and a fair salary, whilst allowing citizens to benefit from the fruits of their labour. With our community banks we will create more access to business money for traders everywhere in the country. With the large numbers of Agriculture Business Centers we are establishing in all the chiefdoms, we will continue to make our farms productive workplaces for our farmers. This is my promise; this is our pledge. We are a government that kept the promises we made in 2007; we are a government that will continue to fulfill your aspirations for inclusive development, skills enhancement and jobs. Join us therefore on this train of victory; there is no turning back; millions of Sierra Leoneans are already on board, and by the Grace of God Almighty, victory is ours.
It is now my honour to launch this book showing our transformation of the country.
Thank you and God bless Sierra Leone.