By Janet Sesay
The Minister of Information and Communication, Mohammed Raman Swaray, on Monday 4 March 2019 interacted with different Headmen of their communities.
This interactive session took place at the St Anthony Hall, Skye Street in Freetown, where the Headmen expressed their concerns of being recognized in the society and the Minister giving them an update of issues happening in the country.
During the interactive session, Madam Elenorah Metizger, Head Woman Regent Village, said this is a wonderful moment for her because this is a long awaited time and they, as headmen of their villages, have been marginalized too much and their voices were not heard. She said they have a lot of problems going on in their communities and they have been explaining things but no effort have been made to address them.
Elenorah continued that they are happy to interact with the Minister as he is the right source to pass on the information to the President. She tendered their dissatisfaction to the Minister, informing that they are facing a lot of problems in their communities and they don’t have recognition within the government like the chiefs or tribal heads do. He said these people are held in high esteem more than them.
“This is why we always have issues in our communities,” she said.
She said they, as village heads, should be consulted about everything going on in the communities, but it is the opposite as everything in the community is being politicized.
Alhaji James Slowe, Headman of Tokeh village, stated that they, around the York areas, depend on fishing and tourism because they are living alone around the beach area.
He said if they are speaking about tourism or fishing it is coming from that particular area and so he wants the government to know that they are really behind. He said they are not consulted as village heads and when people come to their communities to implement something, when they ask questions the individuals always tell them that government sent them.
He said they are all being elected by people and not appointed by anyone, because they went through elections conducted by the National Electoral Commission and pay their nomination fees and they all went through the process.
He furthered that they have not been recognized by government, but with the New Direction they know that things will change. He said the beaches have gone to investors and they cannot benefit any longer from them because investors are grabbing the land and they want the Minister of Lands to visit the beach areas and restore everything taken by investors.
He said they are protecting these lands for the government, but, at the end of the day, that same government will come and take those pieces of lands from them.
He also advocated that they, as headman, need identification cards so that they will be recognized everywhere they go and they are also advocating that they should also be receiving monthly salary at the end of every month.
The Minister of Information said he called the meeting for them to have an interactive session with them and updated them on issues going on across the country. He added that he wants to know what is happening in their communities and how they, as government, will be able to improve on those problems.
He said in Sierra Leone the biggest news item on floor is the Commission of Enquiry. He said it was during the campaign that the President made a promise to make life better for citizens in the country by giving them good and quality education and make sure that women and children in the communities are safe.
He furthered that, since they have took up governance, they have implemented a lot of issues that they spoke about during the campaign.
He said when they took over the country they found out that the economic status of the country was in a very bad shape and the government was in a total bankruptcy. This was to the extent that the people, who were working, went to loan monies from the bank but with the promise of the President to produce effective management resources of the state he has been able to meet all public sectors to resolve that issue of payment of workers.
He said the President speaks of free and quality education during his campaign in which some people doubted but today they have been able to achieve that dream and have been able to pay tuition fees for all children going to school and have made sure that all students in the Universities received their forms of payment. He said education is the biggest investment made in the lives of children.
He said the interactive meeting is being recognized by the President and he has plans to meet with them to know the problems surrounding their communities and to help put things in place.
He said, apart from the Free Quality Education they have also put things in place, including reviving the football system in the country. He said the SLPP government gave out two billion leones and at all cost they will ensure that football continue to play in their country.
By Janet Sesay