President Julius Maada Bio has awarded three ministries including Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation including the National COVID-19 Emergency Response Centre (NaCOVERC) for their outstanding performances in 2020. The award formed part of the work of the Office of the Chief Minister who oversees the operations of all government ministries.
The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education was awarded for introducing and implementing international radical approaches to education by overturning the ban on pregnant school girls, reopening of schools and conduction of public exams amidst COVID, attracting huge donor funds to restore more teachers in more schools after training.
The Finance Ministry was awarded for their management of the country’s economy during COVID-19, restoring international confidence in the country’s financial policy, implementation of the Le50 billion COVID-19 rapid response to importers, payment of salaries in time, support to the disabled and other informal sectors during the corona fight.
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation and NaCOVERC were both awarded for managing the COVID-19 preparation with case management, social mobilisation, restoration of hygiene protocol credibility and public health emergency response system in the country that led to the recent CDC assurance of the country as one of the four safest countries to travel to in Africa.
President Bio, while addressing the ministers, described the Presidential Awards ceremony as the start of a new process to recognise, motivate, and engender the collective actions taken by his team for national good.
He said that civil servants are part of the administration of his government hence despite them (civil servants) not being in haste to deliver, he said they as politicians are in haste to deliver on their manifesto commitments because they have an expiration time.
The President thanked the ministers, their deputies and Permanent Secretaries for what he referred to as “great work and achievements” made within three years of their government, pointing out: “A lot has gone wrong around the world but as a government and country, there are major milestone achievements, all of which are as a result of your total commitment.”
President Bio said all his team members have done relatively well in the past years, and as a result, Sierra Leone has qualified as an MCC Compact eligibility country while other countries are still struggling to be nominated. He said as a government despite taking over at a very odd time, they cannot grumble but find solutions to the problems hence lay the foundation for social programmes. He, however, stressed that, “The culture of delivery and performance should not stop at appointees.”
He called on Permanent Secretaries to guide politicians in their respective ministries so the country can get it right as nobody is going to do it other than the citizens of this nation. He said as a government, they don’t just have a manifesto but have the Mid-Term Development Plan which includes the human capital development as a priority with a multiplier effect.
The Chief Minister, Professor David Francis described the ceremony as the maiden presidential awards 2020 since they took over in June 2020, with a working cabinet that is expected to deliver on their manifesto commitments. He said ministers were appointed to ensure that as a government they don’t tell stories to the nation come 2023, which is why it is mandatory and obligatory for all ministers to deliver.
Francis said the award serves as platform to recognise, motivate, inspire and bring out the political leadership in all ministers to commit to accelerate development and efficient leadership and management of their ministries. He said despite challenges in 2020, the best was brought out in the ministries which, according to him, was demonstrated in the Mid-Term Development achievement of manifesto commitments, CDC’s recommendation of the country, and the eligibility for the MCC Compact.
The Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, on behalf of colleague ministers said the award will serve as a challenge to others, despite the overlapping and untimely access to funds by their ministries. He said performance does not depend on the ministers alone but has everything to do with the technical and administrative commitments of every staff at each and every ministry, for which he apologised for the late disbursement of funds, but promised more positive engagements with them going forward.