After much anticipation from the people of Sierra Leone, and criticisms too for delaying the appointment of his cabinet ministers, president Julius Maada Bio has today announced his first wave of ministers and senior officials, who will help him govern a divided and economically bankrupt country.
In putting his cabinet together, president Bio has gone for a mixture of experience and novice. But he has certainly brought into government, some of his most trusted and loyal servants, such as Jacob Jusu Saffa, who he has appointed as Minister of Finance.
Charles Francis Margai (Photo) – the leader of the opposition People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) has been appointed Attorney General and Minister of Justice. Charles Margai is a renowned Barrister and his expertise will be crucial in providing much needed advice to president Bio and his government.
It is expected that Lawyer Margai will now be studying the Supreme Court Petition filed by the opposition APC’s Dr Sylvia Blyden, challenging the election results and calling for fresh elections to be held. Margai will be expected to represent president Bio in Court.
Alpha Osman Timbo has been appointed to the position of Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, with responsibility for transforming president Bio’s election promise of free education for all school children in the country into reality.
Timbo will also be expected to prioritise the raising of educational standards across all education sectors.
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation will now be headed by Dr Alpha T. Wurie, who will be expected to focus on reducing child and maternal mortality in the country, one of the highest in the world.
Wurie will need to take a close look at the former APC government’s private health insurance scheme and how best it can be made to work to the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans, irrespective of income.
But he will need to balance private healthcare insurance with the need for universal access to community and secondary healthcare, so as to avoid a national crisis.
Also, on today’s list of cabinet appointees is: Kanja Sesay – Minister of Energy, who will need to hit the ground running, as the capital Freetown is now in a state of darkness, due to power cuts which started on the night Julius Maada Bio was sworn as the new president.
Many in Sierra Leone say that the power cut is a deliberate act of sabotage by the defeated APC, who are still refusing to accept the election results.
Supporters of the SLPP are calling for those responsible for criminality to be held accountable for their actions.
Dr. Jonathan Tengbe has been appointed as the Minister of Water Resources, a position that will be closely watched, given the country’s poor performance in terms of access to clean and safe drinking water, with over 60% of households without pipe-borne water. Dr Tengbe is an engineer by profession and is considered as one of the best brains in the Bio government.
Other appointees include, Yusuf Keketoma Sandi – who has worked tirelessly as head of the SLPP communications unit, now taking on the role of Government Press Secretary; Mohamed Swaray as Minister of Information and Communication. (Photo: Dr Tengbe).
Emma Kowa has been appointed Minister of Marine Resources, with the task of reviewing all fishing contracts and agreements, tightening the country’s fishing regulations, and ensuring that the coastal waters are adequately protected and secured by the marine police, so as to curb illegal fishing by foreign trawlers.
Sierra Leone is losing over $50 million in revenue from fishing every year.
Adekunle Joliff Milton King is the new Minister of Labour and Social Security; Baindu Dassama – Minister of Social, Gender and Children’s Affairs; Edward A. Soluku – Minister of Internal Affairs; Retired Brigadier Simeon Sheriff – Deputy Defense Minister; and Sahr Lahai Jusu – Financial Secretary.
President Bio says that he will be making further appointments soon.