December 21, 2017 By The Editorial Team
2017 has been very challenging for Sierra Leone; from one calamity to another, the country and its people have suffered a great deal of difficulties.
Amidst the doom and gloom, few individuals stood out in their contribution to building a peaceful, prosperous and viable country. It is in view of this backdrop that Concord Times profiles our heroes and heroine of 2017.
We are not oblivious to the fact that the list of those who have contributed to nation-building is by no means exhaustive, but in our view, the following individuals stand shoulder tall above their compatriots this 2017:
Justice Edmond Cowan
The Retired Honourable Justice Edmond Cowan is the immediate past Ombudsman of Sierra Leone. He chaired the 80-man Constitutional Review Committee tasked with reviewing the 1991 Constitution. The erstwhile appellate court judge was Sierra Leone’s Speaker of Parliament from 2001 to 2007, and acted as president on a number of occasions.
From 1999 to2000, he was sole commissioner appointed by the government to enquire into activities of the Sierra Leone Telecommunication Company, award of government contracts, re-furnishing of government quarters and buildings.
Justice Cowan has served as legal practitioner, jurist and lawmaker spanning over 45 years. He worked as Principal State Council at the Law Officers Department prior to becoming a judge. Before then, he had served as private legal practitioner for over nine years. He was Legal Adviser/Secretary at the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board (SLPMB) from 1981 to 1989.
Justice Cowan deserves recognition for his inimitable contribution to national development and valiant service to mankind. In 2017 in particular, the respected jurist has shown tremendous courage even in the face of calumny and vitriol to defend the draft report that his 80-man committee had put together. The committee’s report, which took three years and $5 million in budgetary allocation, has been rendered nugatory by a government eager to impose a de facto ‘constitutional one-party rule’.
In the current dispensation, many will be forgiven to have envisaged that the CRC chairman would play ball. But the apolitical ‘Solomon’ has proved his doubters wrong, much to the consternation of ruling party apparatchiks, that he has his country at heart and wanted to leave a rich legacy by way of a constitution that bestows sovereignty to the people and guarantees fundamental freedoms to all, including youth, children, and women.
While on Radio Democracy last week, all but few listeners applauded his courage and love for country as he denounced attempts by the government to scuttle the most participatory and democratic constitutional review process in the history of post-independence Sierra Leone.
In view of his bravery and courage, the editorial team of Concord Times wishes to bestow on Justice Cowan “Hero of 2017”.
James Sanpha Koroma
Dr. James Sanpha Koroma is a Sierra Leonean banker, business magnate and administrator. He holds a BA (Econs.) (Dunelm), MA., MSc., Ph.D. He serves as Chief Executive Officer at Union Trust Bank Sierra Leone, an indigenous bank that has defied all odds – civil conflict, Ebola and humanitarian disaster – to compete in the unpredictable world of banking and finance.
Dr. Koroma currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Union Trust Bank Ltd. He is also founder. He had served as Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone. Prior to that, he served as Managing Director of National Development Bank and Deputy Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance (GOSL).
Dr. Koroma briefly served as Secretary to President Ernest Bai Koroma during the latter’s first inning in 2007.
His bank has been providing professional and diligent banking and financial services to thousands of customers since its establishment in 1995. To date, he has branches in all geo-political regions in Sierra Leone, employing hundreds of his compatriots. The bank opened their new glass headquarters in central Freetown, a firm statement of the bank’s determination to serve as catalyst for local financial resurgence amid economic downturn.
A life-long member of the Sierra Leone Golf Club, his love for the gentleman’s game has helped shaped his beguiled and tenacious approach to success in life. No doubt, Dr. James Sanpha Sesay deserves encomium for his success in banking in 2017. It’s therefore the pleasure of Concord Times Editorial Team to name him “Hero of 2017”.
Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce.
Madam Lara Taylor-Pearce is Sierra Leone’s auditor general extraordinaire. Her resolve to expose corruption within the public service by the mismanagement of public funds and deliberate flawed procurement procedures is legendary. She has helped transformed a once conservative audit department into a functional unit of capable and dedicated staff willing to expose reckless and unbridled penchant for siphoning state resources, not least during the Ebola epidemic.
She has been hailed at home and abroad for her professionalism and dedication to work, earning her the award of ‘Grand Officer of the Order of the Rokel’ by President Ernest Bai Koroma during the nation’s 56th Independence anniversary on 27th April at a grand ceremony at State House, Freetown.
Since she became Auditor General of Sierra Leone in 2011, she has proffered nearly a thousand recommendations for improving public financial management, while also demonstrating remarkable courage in her audit of government institutions accountable for public funds, consistently exposing accountability pitfalls in her Annual Reports.
It comes as no surprise that Madam Taylor-Pearce has received many accolades, including an ‘Integrity Award’ by the country’s anti-graft body.
We make bold to submit that Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce is our “Heroine 2017” for her patriotism, tenacity to expose public financial mismanagement and the desire to cleanse a rather corrupt public finance management system.