By Gassimu Nallo, Edmonton, Canada. October 23, 2023.
SIERRA LEONE ASSOCIATION OF ALBERTA/SLPP ALBERTA CHAPTER Town Hall
The Sierra Leone Association of Alberta and the Sierra Leone People’s Party Alberta Chapter hosted a Town Hall meeting on Saturday October 21, 2023 at the SLAA Multipurpose Community Hall.
The program was moderated by Mr. Hector. As Minister of Youths, the organizers of the event calculated the importance of involving the youths of our community. The youth coordinator of the SLAA executive Miss Fatima, a social worker was assigned to usher in the visiting delegation. Entry into the hall was typically Sierra Leonean with dancing and clapping as directed by Miss Fatima. Opening Christian prayers lead by Mrs. Teresa Saffa.
In a vivid reception speech, the SLAA president Dr. Abu Conteh outlined some of the numerous activities the community has been engaged in under his leadership which included important elements of a 14 point platform he had campaigned on. Dr. Conteh highlighted amongst other things networking with other partners which included collaborating with other local groups within the community and outside partners. Other components of his 14 point plan highlighted included the establishment of a community website and Facebook handles, the acquisition of a community hall and a community vehicle, all of which has firmly culminated in the establishment of the Sierra Leonean identity here in Edmonton and Alberta at large.
Members of the coordinating committee hosting the Town Hall were introduced by the moderator Mr. Hector.
In his welcome address to the minister, Dr. Alfred Morie Saffa, a community elder and Paramount Chief of the Ndeigbomei Association of Edmonton commended the current administration for the pivotal role they are playing in rebranding the country while shaping policies and developing new initiatives into governance. He crowned up his welcomed address in traditional fashion by presenting a bunch of kola nuts and water to the Deputy Minister who humbly accepted the offer. He who brings kola, brings life.
It took the youthful Nemata Okot, a nurse and journalist in the community to formally introduce the Deputy Minister as she clearly outlined the fabulous academic and professional background of the youthful minister.
The Deputy Youth Minister, Mr. Patrick Michelson Gibrilla felt honoured and thankful to the organizers for welcoming him in a community meet and greet occasion. In his presentation, the Minister outlined a number of activities which he as Deputy Youth Minister has been engaged in both before he assumed the position and ongoing currently. All these activities are consistent with engaging the youths in actualizing the ingredients of the Big 5 Manifesto items of the second term of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio.
The moderators then invited the various political party leaders/representatives to make their statements.
· The National Grand Coalition (NGC) rep. Mr. Foday Conteh commended the SLAA president for the Networking
· As a party they believe in “Salone Fos” mantra, which seeks to put the interest of mother Sierra Leone before anything else.
· The All People’s Congress (APC) representative Mr. Osboy Bangura considers himself as a Sierra Leonean first
· He affirms support for the government of the day
· He urges all to work together for the betterment of the country
· The Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) Alberta Chapter chairman Mr. Ansu Kaikai thanked the minister for visiting Alberta
Informed audience that chapter membership has
increased over the period in Alberta
The co-moderator Dr. Abu Conteh admonished members of the audience to give their inputs/comments into the discussions, but he cautioned the audience to be mindful that they are making comments that will contribute to the value of the development of the youths and the country Sierra Leone, and not anything with a negative connotation intended to create embarrassment to anyone.
· Mr. Gibrilla asked about how the Aquaculture training skills would benefit the country and he also expressed concerns about exams malpractices during the Free and Quality Education.
· Mr. Daniel Oldfield suggested measures to be put in place to bring drug abuse culprits to book regardless of their personality or political leaning. He opined that corruption should be clamped down upon. And also that the fisheries or marine resources should be thoroughly monitored
· Mrs. Mariama Nallo wanted to know how as a government they are communicating with the youths and how are families empowered in order to support their youths in turn.
· Madam Salimatu expressed dismay over the treatment meted on the Kadama, i.e. young women drifted out to countries in the Middle East on “contract” by some unscrupulous agents who recklessly abandon the girls to survive by themselves. What is government doing to alleviate their suffering?
· Mr. Sheriff Vangamore wants to know what the government is doing to improve the road network in the country especially to areas where farming is taking place to support the Feed Salone declaration. Since the Feed Salone program was launched in Pujehun, is the program for Pujehum alone?
· Mr. Foday Conteh wants to know about the sustainability of the program.
· Mr. Ivan Jackson, Community Vice President would be delighted to have the president visit Edmonton, Alberta as this province has enormous potential for businesses and resources to explore that would fit into the president’s 5 point manifesto especially the Human Capital Development. He appealed to the minister to invest more on students to come to Canada for graduate programs.
· Dr. Conteh expressed the need to have our own Consular service especially here in Edmonton for Western Canada given the extent of struggle we undertake to process our documents via Washington. (please add your input as I couldn’t catch all your summation). He reiterated the need for government to have safety nets for youths
· Martha Sellu espoused the difficulties she experienced attempting to register her organization back home and wants the Aquaculture training to be instituted in Sierra Leone to cater to a larger population.
The youthful minister responded to every one of these suggestions and opinions and statements by members of the audience as he took notes of every speaker’s points. For instance, for some of the issues raised like the Kadama migration scandal, the government has canceled the licenses of all 10 Kadama agents that were offered by the previous government; The Feed Sierra Leone program lunched in Pujehum is for the whole country: the Aquatic training skills would be utilized at all implementation cites established throughout the country; the marine wing of the Sierra Leone army is now activated to surveillance our marine resources; the appropriate ministries are working with families of youths involved in drug abuse; and the other concerns were noted.
To round up the program, Gassimu Nallo,Secretary to the SLPP Alberta Chapter gave the vote of thanks whereby he acknowledged the inputs, suggestions and opinions of everyone that made the occasion a success.
Concluding Muslim prayers were observed with Sheik Lamin leading.
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