December 4, 2018
By Joseph S. Margai in Beijing, China
Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Ambassador Mohammed Foday Yumkella, has told Concord Times in an exclusive interview that his ministry is not an extension of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), as many people might assume.
Ambassador Yumkella, who was speaking Friday, 30th November, at the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Beijing, China, said his ministry’s mandate is to serve the interest of the general good of all Sierra Leoneans.
“My ministry is a liaison office between government and the public, parliament, and all political parties. Everything that government does have something to do with the public. Whether actions taken or not taken by the government, it will affect the public,” he noted.
He added that he has been striving to serve every shade of political opinion, noting that at the moment he has fairly good working relationship with all the 15 registered political parties in the country.
“In Sierra Leone, some people always want to put their personal interests above those of the state and the people. We, as a government, are putting lot of modalities in place to ensure that we harmonise the people because there is no country in the world that has developed without national unity,” he said.
Ambassador Yumkella said any politician or political party that preaches hate, tribal and regional messages will be doing so because they don’t have a positive message to send to the people.
He opined that a politician who has a message that will contribute to national development will not use “tribal or regional cards” or concentrate on messages that will divide the country.
He reiterated President Bio’s ambition to ensure national cohesion, adding that the president is determined to unify all Sierra Leoneans, with the hope of creating a positive transformational nation for the good of all.
Ambassador Yumkella said his ministry is working very hard to have a national dialogue forum, which according to him, will be championed by the All Political Parties Association (APPA).
“The essence of the forum is to give a voice to every Sierra Leonean to brainstorm what they want for Sierra Leone. It is not aimed at insulting anyone but rather to find a positive way to contribute to the transformative vision of President Bio’s “New Direction” agenda for the country. People should say what will be their own little role that they will play to promote the country’s development,” he said.
He noted that the forum will target every Sierra Leonean, whether in the formal or informal sector, noting that medical practitioners, teachers, lawyers, commercial motor bike riders, drivers and traders unions, youth organisations, fishermen associations, among others will be given the chance to contribute to the forum.
“Frankly, I know the vision that President Bio has for his country. If there is a possibility he wants to positively transform Sierra Leone within a twinkle of an eye. But the reality is that, transformation is a gradual process, and having seen his vision, I’m confident that a brighter future awaits all Sierra Leoneans. Believe me, Sierra Leone is in a safe hands of President Bio,” he maintained.
Clarifying his inclusion in the SLPP delegation that is currently in China on the invitation of the Communist Party of China (CPC), he explained that the ruling party executive had extended an invitation to him as Political Affairs Minister, adding that even though he is a cabinet minister he’s not the head of delegation because he’s only there to observe as a government representative.
However, he asserted that he would have missed a lot if he was not part of the delegation because the CPC has explained lots of issues to them that they will in turn implement to positively transform Sierra Leone.
“China has 1.3 billion people, and we only have seven million people, but we are still underdeveloped. I strongly believe that there is a sense in which the impossibility for us to develop will be very slim if only we adopt some of the Chinese development models. My view so far is that we could learn so much from them and implement it in our country for the betterment of all,” he said.
Ambassador Yumkella said he was impressed with President Bio’s ambition to develop human capital, which according to the CPC, is one of the reasons for China’s rapid development.
“CPC officials told us that they don’t depend so much on natural resources. Similarly, President Bio has made it clearly enough that indeed Sierra Leone has mineral resources but he will stop at nothing that will undermine his vision to develop the human capital. Actually, the CPC officials told us boldly that the initiative that President Bio is taking now to development the human capital is the right path to positive transformational development,” he concluded.