I’m ready to have a little bit more autonomy and to take the lead in my own life,” Isha Sesay tells What We Seee. And she’s definitely taking that lead. After 13 years at CNN, where she’s been a top anchor and correspondent, she’s moving on. She’s covered elections and national emergencies, worked with world leaders and politicians — and, more than any of that, she went from a fairly green reporter to an impressive force in the field of journalism. “I’ve been at CNN for 13 years, it’s the end of a huge chapter,” Sesay explains. “It’s been such a tremendous time, such an eventful 13 years — I feel like I grew up working there. I showed up as a 30-year-old in 2005, with two suitcases and a one-year contract — I’ve managed to make that last 13 years! It’s been amazing, I’ve been married when I was there, divorced when I was there, it’s all happened.”
With such a prominent and illustrious role, why is it all coming to an end? Well, within a few seconds of speaking to Sesay, it’s clear that her passion and her drive have become laser-focused — and she’s more than ready to take things into her own hands. She’s taking a step back from working as an anchor to focus on what resonates the most with her. For Sesay, the future is female and the future is Africa.
Although there are a lot of changes coming up for Sesay, they all seem to be at the natural meeting point of her professional life and her personal passions. “It’s an exciting time for me — and a nerve-wracking one,” she says. “I’m writing a book about the Chibok girls, it’s being released in May 2019. It really speaks to where my head is at, currently — a lot more coverage about Africa, a lot more work on the continent, and a lot more focus on young girls. That’s what I’m about right now.” The Chibok girls, the 276 young girls kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram in 2014, are particularly personal for Sesay. She traveled to Nigeria to cover the story and, like many current events in Africa, she feels the way it’s been represented in the press just doesn’t do it justice. While in 2014 the news was full of headlines dedicated to the Chibok girls, the media has long since moved on. “It’s a real indictment of the society we live in now,” she says.
She isn’t scared to vocalize something so many of us have noticed about Western media at the moment. On the one hand, there’s a problem in the West with the total Trumpian domination of media. “It’s all so Trump-focused,” she explains. “He sucked all of the oxygen out of the room. The media is following that lead to the exclusion of almost everything else, in a meaningful way. For me, personally, it’s not what I want to spend all my time doing.” There is so much else going on in the world and you can feel Sesay’s frustration that it’s not being covered. “After a while, I want to do more coverage of the Ebola outbreak, of the elections in Liberia, or any number of things that are happening. I’m ready to take control of what I’m talking about.”
But on the other hand, there’s a more fundamental problem with the way that the Western media covers Africa. Too long, Africa has either been neglected or shown in over-simplified, broad strokes. Luckily, there’s starting to be a shift. “I want to put a focus on Africa in the way I wish all international media would cover Africa,” she says. “Now it’s either underreported or not reported with the right nuance and context. I’m going to turn my attention to being one in this new army of people who are moving into this space, who are representing Africa in a new way.” Although many would argue she’s one of the faces leading that charge, she’s quick to give credit where it’s due. “I’m not going to be the only one doing that, I’m one of a group of Africans… There’s a sense of responsibility, a sense that we have to do better.” For Sesay, doing better isn’t just about coverage and attention although that’s clearly vital. She’s committed to being there, in the trenches, doing the work.
There’s one subject that Sesay returns to again and again. “I want to spend more time with my girls,” she says. She speaks about “her girls” often and warmly, with a sense of responsibility ringing through. Her girls are the girls of W.E. Can Lead, a nonprofit she set up in Sierra Leone. The girls of Sierra Leone face unique challenges, like teenage pregnancy, a lack of education, and early marriage due to extreme poverty. W.E. Can Lead has helped hundreds of girls understand their potential — and given them the tools to excel through education and empowerment. The project has exploded in the last few years, in part thanks to Sesay’s commitment to being with them, doing the work.“You can’t build things remotely — I don’t believe in that,” she explains. “I’ve built an incredible leadership team, but part of my organization’s DNA is fuelled by my own personal biography, by my own story. I need to be there with my girls.
”With both the Chibok girls and the W.E. Can Lead girls, it’s clear that Sesay feels both personally drawn to them and aware of her privilege next to them. She was born to parents from Sierra Leone, returning there when she was seven for a large portion of her childhood. “It’s personal to me for many reasons — if it wasn’t for the lottery of life, I could have been born in a place like Chibok. I could have not had the exposure and education that I have had. For me, these girls mean a lot more than just a headline.” Acutely aware of the drive, direction, and support given to her by her mother, Sesay is determined to be that strong female role model — not just to one girl, but to hundreds. “There are over 600 girls in my leadership development program. It’s been growing exponentially, with a view to moving beyond Sierra Leone to the rest of the continent. I feel like I’m nurturing the next generation of female leaders — changing homes, communities, then countries and the continent. I’m talking about leadership at every level, we’re empowering these girls and helping them to understand their own power.” Her reason for empowering girls? It’s simple. “We’ve given men a very good crack at it,” she laughs. “But we need more female leaders. It’s our turn.”
If Sesay has her say, it definitely will be their turn. “For me, it’s been wonderful, it’s been a wonderful time doing what I’ve done — I’m ready to have the freedom to do the stories I want. I’m ready to have a little bit more autonomy and lead my own life. I speak to my girls about leading their own lives — it feels like the right time for me to lead my own. Being an anchor is fun, it’s glamorous, but it’s very much controlled by other people. I’m ready to have my own say in where I go next.” With a keen political mind and selfless dedication to helping others, where she goes next is an exciting and impressive prospect.
Along with books, non-profits, and the production projects she has in the mix, one of Sesay’s next steps will be teaming up with Misan Harriman, founder of What We Seee. “Quite simply, Isha is a kindred spirit to the WWS brand,” Harriman says. “Through our partnership, we plan to make content that truly deserves to be seen.” Sesay echoes his sentiments. “I’m so excited for you to see what we’re working on. Watch this space.”
The public would recall that following the presentation of the SLPP Governance Transition Team Report to President Julius Maada Bio at State House on Wednesday 4th July 2018; the APC established a Committee to look into the said report and submit their findings to the National Secretariat.
I now wish to inform you that the Committee has completed its work and has presented its findings to the Leadership of the Party. I would like to share our assessment of the GTT Report to Members of the Forth Estate, Civil Society, the International Community and Sierra Leoneans at large.
The All Peoples Congress (APC) has read with dismay the recently released Government Transition Team Report to the public. This transition report is the second such report produced by a sitting government since democracy was reintroduced in Sierra Leone in 1991 by the APC party.
The Transition Report of 2007, produced under the APC Government immediately after it took over from the SLPP Government of President Ahmed Tejan-Kabbah(Photo), contained members of both the then APC Government and the out gone SLPP Government, and including members of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) Party and other political parties.
The composition of the 2007 Transition team, by its very inclusion of SLPP members demonstrated a level of fairness and objectivity.
First, among many issues, the Governance Transition Team (GTT), comprising no experienced transition expert, ignored its Terms of Reference (TOR), and meandered into a proverbial witch hunt with a frenzy to traduce and place the APC administration, its adherents and even the judicial arm of Government in bad light. The Terms of Reference clearly instructed the GTT:
(1) to “Serve as Focal Point for the Interface with the Out-Going APC Government of former President Ernest Koroma and In-Coming Government of President Julius Maada Bio;
(2) “to Conduct an immediate Stock-Taking Exercise of the State of Affairs of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs);
(3) Submit an overview of the current State of Affairs of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
By contrast, the 2018 Transition Team is completely one sided and full of ONLY diehard SLPP partisans. Such partisanship is evident in the report produced by the Transition Team.
It is quite easy to comprehend the course set out by the Terms Of Reference, to conduct a government-wide agency review for the incoming administration. Experts in transition processes state the purport of agency reviews as captured by Lisa Brown, Agency Review Co-Chairman, Obama-Biden Transition Project:
“Agency review captures critical information that a new team needs to know to begin working the minute it walks in the door and identifies opportunities to implement the new President’s priorities.”
Agency review is not license to wage war on political opponents or dredge up matters that are inconsistent with the application of the rule of law.
“As part of this process, the agency review team, in coordination with the transition leadership, must select landing team members and prepare these individuals to go into the agencies and work directly with agency transition directors and other career employees after the election. Their job will be to gather first-hand-information that can be incorporated into agency planning, help ensure an orderly transition of power and enable early momentum on priorities.” (See US Presidential Transition Guide 2018, Third Edition).
The David Francis (Photo – Below) Transition Team woefully failed in this endeavor and instead delved into political fishing expedition and derailed the course of its mission into a tribunal of vengeance, recrimination; a method inconsistent with standard transition process between one administration and the other.
Rather than follow the terms of reference and submit its report to the incoming President for his consideration, the David Francis Transition Team threw all caution to the wind and published its report to the social media, heralded the report on television, radio and newspapers.
Instead of a transition process, the Government Transition Team was reduced into a mere tribunal to defame and make specious claims against the APC in the jurisprudence of the Red Queen as in the classic – Alice in Wonderland: first the judgment, then the evidence, later a commission of inquiry.
But what will any commission of inquiry look into with due process of the law when the GTT through the agency of its Secretary, Dr. Dennis Sandy, sallied forth like a raging prosecutor to the social media jury and judge, claiming the APC and its train of Ministers, adherents and others were reeking with a stench of criminality! The fact is that a proper commission of inquiry as the Constitution of Sierra Leone requires has been upstaged by a Kangaroo Court of the GTT.
Presumption of Innocence
In waging its assortment of allegations of criminal offenses, the GTT has disregarded the cornerstone of criminal procedure, that in a democracy, everyone accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court or tribunal.
The GTT Report refers to Dr. Ernest Koroma in a defamatory language amidst an array of allegations.
In his initial reaction to the allegations contained in the report he absolutely denied the falsehoods against him referring to them as nonsense.
The APC therefore stands by its Chairman and Leader and call on all Sierra Leoneans to regard him in the presumption of innocence along with every other person named in the report.
This presumption cannot be sacrificed in the haste to tar and feather political opponents.
In a well-ordered democratic society, the practice of the rule of law surpasses the rule of men. The GTT Report was issued in a hurry to sweep the cobwebs of an antecedent administration in fascist style.
The SLPP, by trusting their will more than democratic rule are bound to fail. The GTT report has called for restrictions on travel for those who the report says must be investigated. Regretfully, the Sierra Leone Police sought to implement same even before the report was accepted by H.E. President Bio and his cabinet.
Let it be known that the said travel ban is unconstitutional and violates section 18 of our national constitution.
The GTT report is full of unjustifiable, unsubstantiated and baseless claims of corruption with its real intent aimed at smearing and prosecuting former government officials, and party functionaries.
The GTT report aims to do what the SLPP has never been able to do; destroy the heart and soul of the APC. The SLPP is trying to destroy the very base of the APC and by extension destroy democracy.
A number of issues raised in the catalogue of offenses preferred by the GTT, are matters hitherto brought before competent tribunals of the law and resolved. Yet, the impetuous GTT has decided to recommend that some APC adherents be subjected to prosecution for the same offense.
The Government of Sierra Leone is one! If every new administration were to exhume settled matters as raised by the GTT in the Nassit Ferry, Income Electrix among others, it will verily appear the will of the incoming SLPP administration in spite of noisy assertions on the rule of law at campaign time, has now settled to harass, intimidate and threaten its political opponents using its own new-fangled justice.
The GTT report focused on certain areas and unashamedly tries to paint the APC as corrupt, tribalistic, and inept in managing the economy and state resources.
Let us state categorically that the APC as a party, and when it was in governance, frowned on corruption and has taken a strong stance in preventing, prosecuting and strengthening the fight against corruption.
The public may recall that the previous SLPP Government had restricted the prosecution powers of the ACC by having it obtain approval from the Attorney General and Minister of Justice (who is invariably a politician), and thus created an avenue for political interference in the activities of the ACC.
This anomaly was corrected by the APC in 2008 when the APC Government passed one of the strongest anti-corruption legislations in Africa. Indeed, under the APC Government, Ministers and Senior officials within the APC party where prosecuted by an unfettered and independent Anti Corruption Commission.
Here are some of the alleged acts of corruption, some of which are so baseless and and will not survive in the face of judicial scrutiny.
In presenting the GTT report, the chairman of the GTT made assertions about known APC officials and supporters with reckless abandon. The GTT report itself recommends investigations, presumes guilt and prescribes fines and prison sentences, pre-empting the regular judicial processes and recommends a Judicial Commission.
In the case of Ebola funds the GTT makes broad statements about corruption, and casting a wide net of culpability, but failed to recognize that the current permanent secretary to the Chief Minister, Mr. Kapuwa, and the current CEO of NPPA, Mr. Ibrahim Swaray, were also found culpable by the Parliamentary Committee for their role as outlined in the Ebola Audit Report.
As a reminder, Mr. Kapuwa and Mr. Ibrahim Swaray where fined, sent on disciplinary leave, and in the case of Mr. Ibrahim Swaray, further banned from any procurement position in any of the big priority ministries of Health, Education, Energy, Agriculture, and Defence.
The public needs to know that instead of ensuring that the likes of the above-mentioned individuals be kept away from sensitive positions of trust, the SLPP has rewarded these individuals with even higher offices, and called the previous Parliamentary Committee of which SLPP was a part a “whitewash”.
Further evidence of malicious injustice is the citing of former Mayor, Herbert Williams and Former Attorney General, Joseph F. Kamara, as parties to be investigated for the Sewa Grounds matter when both maligned gentlemen were not holding the offices at that time. What an indictment on the GTT for its indecent haste to castigate the innocent.
Sahr Jusu, the current Financial Secretary was the Head of the Public Debt Unit for ten (10) years of Ernest Koroma’s APC administration and he was responsible for guiding the APC into all it’s debts financing including the negotiation on the 100 Chinese Buses which the GTT report now seeks to discredit.
The GTT report presented a picture as inheriting an economy in a state of shambles. Contrary to the assertions made, the APC Government managed to salvage the poverty reduction and growth facility programme (PRSP II), which the APC Government inherited from the Tejan-Kabbah Government in a floundering state.
The APC Government successfully concluded the PRSP II using prudent macro-economic management, which allowed us to graduate to the extended credit facility programme; spanning 2010 – 2013, among others.
In terms of debt inherited, contrary to the GTT report, we inherited about US$700 million (Dollars) external debt, even after US$1.6 billion (Dollars) was forgiven under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Programme.
Furthermore, to address a few inconsistencies as asserted in the GTT, the APC Party wishes it to be known that at no time did the the APC Led-government of Sierra Leone own 30% shares in Sierra Rutile on account of a 25 million (Euro) loan given by the European Union.
Further to this, we encourage the public to make enquiries about the shareholding status of Sierra Rutile on the London Stock Exchange and get more information on its shareholders.
The GTT report is very explicit in making assertions that are dangerously tribalistic in nature. It seeks to paint a picture of an APC administration which was numerically biased in favor of the North (a very ethnically diverse and densely populated) and promoted Northerners only.
It fails to acknowledge the fact that many senior South Easterners, who have been given high offices in the ‘New Direction’ served without prejudice in the APC administration. The list of senior positions with South Easterners could be endless, since South Easterners make up more the 50% of the civil service.
In the case of infrastructural development, there is reference made in the GTT to Kono and Kenema as having NO infrastructural projects implemented during the APC administration. Contrary to the assertion by the GTT, several projects were implemented in Kono and Kenema as in every other district across the country.
For example, with regards to roads constructed, more than 21 km of roads were constructed in Koidu City and more than 15 km of roads were constructed in Kenema City.
The APC rejects the GTT report in its entirety.
It is a partisan document which stokes the dangerous flames of tribalism, tells a false story of APC’s stewardship and seeks to persecute key APC functionaries and former Government officials.
The GTT report is an SLPP wish-list to annihilate its main rival in a web of deceit, lies and fabrications.
We had not included all our observations of the GTT Report here.
But the APC is mindful of the numerous allegations against the APC Chairman and Leader, its Ministers and adherents.
They should be presumed innocent until found guilty by a competent court of law or tribunal.
From this day forward the Party intends to focus on the thrust of the Report.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have concluded our observations of the GTT Report.
The thing to keep in mind about the quality of this report is Professor Robert Dahl, an eminent political scientist who admonished citizens in all Democracies to have reliable and trustworthy surrogates with civic competence.
The citizens on the GTT are not reliable and trustworthy in their findings and recommendations.
Therefore, we call on all Sierra Leoneans to read this report with a grain of salt because it is a bad government document.
Signed : Amb. Dr. Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, National Secretary General – APC
Bio and Co. after winning the Presidential run-off election, they were telling food commodity importers to quickly sell their food stuffs especially rice in store because Government is about to bring in ships of clean rice within three months period to be sold at a reduced price for the benefit of the less privileged. But citizens are worried due to the fact that basic food commodity is skyrocketing by the minute at a time the new Government about to reaches hundred days (100) – (that is three months) in office.
A senior Agriculturist who preferred to be anonymous argued that no country in the world can feed its people when Government pays less attention to improving local farming activities but rather depends on imported food stuff.
Various households have expressed fear that the 2018 Global Hunger Index may going to rank Sierra Leone as the first highest hungry nation in West Africa when a bag of rice now costs over Le 275,000.00.
Sierra Leone is still underfed or starved because indigenous farmers are still using crude tools like hoe, cutlass, knife among others to perform farming activities because they could not afford to hire modern equipment like tractor, harrower, plough, hatchery, incubator etc., to exercise commercial agriculture. As a result, local farmers have no option but to revert on subsistence farming.
Another school of thought is arguing that food security cannot be achieved in office without concerned authorities focusing on improving the lives of rural farmers who are doing the practical aspect of food production.
It is unlawful for a small country like Sierra Leone to be stricken with acute hunger because we have fertile lands where crops cannot only perform well but animals can also survive effectively.
Inexperience Chief Minister is embarrassing President Bio and SLPP.
The three major blunders by the new SLPP government have all originated from the David Francis. First, he was mentioned in the monumental gaffe to suspend the Finance Acts, next the attempt to deny former President Koroma of the use of the Presidential Lodge and now, the arrest of the former State House Communications Manager, Mr. Jarrah Kawusu Konte.
David Francis may have a doctoral degree in peace and conflict studies, lectured at Bradford University and allegedly helped his student (Bio) with his thesis, but that is all. His appointment as Chief Minister in the Bio led government is as controversial as it is inappropriate. Despite the fact that David’s appointment has no basis in the Sierra Leone constitution and tends to undercut the role of the Vice President, he has had no experience in any organisation not to talk about any political office whatsoever. As lecturer, David Francis has spent all his adult life dealing only with faculty students and a few colleagues in peace and conflict studies programmes.
Giving the huge task of a Chief Minister in this Bio led SLPP government, David’s appointment is like taking a fish from water; the man is completely disorientated and has been stumbling from one major blunder to the other.
Following the embarrassment over the suspension of the Finance Acts and the scapegoatisation of the government’s first Secretary to the President, the inexperienced Chief Minister has again embarrassed the SLPP government through the attempted arrest of Mr. Jarrah Kawusu Konte. Jarrah’s offence is allegedly for sharing the memo (which was already on social media) instructing the Financial Secretary to suspend the Finance Acts. When the news of Jarrah’s arrest first broke out, the government was so embarrassed that it’s immature Press Secretary, Yusuf Keketoma Sandi, denied any attempt to arrest the former State House Communications Manager. But few days later, on Monday 4th June, 2018, Jarrah was invited and interrogated at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on the allegation of ‘economic sabotage’! According to sources at the CID, his sharing of the said memo forced the government to backtrack on the implementation of the infamous and illegal suspension of the Finance Acts thereby causing the SLPP to lose millions of dollars!
A further disturbing development is that while Jarrah Kuwusu Konte was being interrogated, the Chief Minister invited the head of CID to State House to inluence detention of Mr. Konte. This action alone has raised questions about the Chief Minister’s interest in an issue for which the former Secretary to the President had apologised to the nation and for which he has been sacked. The Chief Minister’s involvement is also widely regarded as a sign of intolerance to criticism and an attempt to intimidate perceived political opponents. This latest State House orchestrated arrest of an opposition member clearly adds to the catalogue of abuses which highlight this government’s dictatorial tendencies.
Sierra Leone ex-kamajors militias leader Moinina Fofana to be set free on Monday after serving a 15yrs sentence, he is the first to complete a term imposed for crimes in the country’s civil war, a UN court said. He was granted conditional release in 2015 after serving 2-third of his sentence at Mpanga Prison in Kigali, Rwanda.
But he was taken back into custody a year later in the capital of Freetown for breaching his agreement to conduct himself honourably and peacefully in the community and avoid local politics, the court said. He served the rest of his term in the southern city of Bo in Sierra Leone.
A statement from the ECOWAS parliament which was made available to mediathis evening 26th April, said: “The report reaching us that riot police went into the chamber of the Parliament of Sierra Leone to forcibly remove elected and sworn in members of Parliament in order that the election of a Speaker could take place is a most dangerous and worrying development which cannot be countenanced.
“West Africa has established for itself an enviable record of nurturing democratic culture which has witnessed the organization of difficult but successful elections with functioning Parliaments which are constantly improving on their capacities to operate inclusive governance as a basis for peace and political stability in the sub-region. Aberrations from this progressive trajectory cannot be countenanced.”
The ECOWAS Parliament is to send a mission to ascertain exactly what motivated the reported situation and exactly what happened, the statement said.
China’s economic offensive in Africa began before the turn of the millennium. At first, it was very gradual and unassuming. But, since 2000, trade volumes between China and Africa have grown twentyfold, reaching $200 billion in 2012. China has surged ahead of the old major powers – France, the United Kingdom and the United States — to become Africa’s most important trading partner.
Between 2000 and 2011, China provided about €75 billion in aid to Africa for a total of 1,673 projects, or roughly as much as the United States did in the same period. However, it is sometimes hard to tell where profitable investment ends and hidden motives begin. In return for developing the infrastructure, the Chinese receive lucrative licenses to exploit natural resources and fossil fuels. For instance, Angola, a war-torn and marginalized country until not too long ago, has become one of China’s key oil suppliers, competing with Saudi Arabia for the top position. The key difference between China and the West is that China is mainly interested in doing business and doesn’t interfere in their internal affairs. China attaches no political conditions to economic cooperation, unlike the West, which, at least on paper, demands good governance, the rule of law, anti-corruption measures and protections for human rights. And Chinese state-owned companies operate with less bureaucracy, are faster and cheaper and, as a rule, provide financing for projects with low-interest loans from state-owned banks. So the second scramble for Africa is well and truly ON!!
The SLPP Press conference held at the Bintumania Radisson Blu hotel the Presidential flagbearer Maada Bio said he would not hesitate to call on his SLPP SUPPORTERS or Sierra Leoneans to jump out on the street especially if the presidential run off are not held on Tuesday 27th March and fight if the decision of the court is not in favor of the commencement of the run-off.
He also added that he would not recognize President H.E Ernest Bai Koroma as president as it tenure will be ending on the 27th March ,2018.