In an attempt to seemingly clarify the issue of the Libyan donated rice to Sierra Leone government officials at a press conference at State House last Friday ended up creating more confusion over the issue.
We recall that during the visit of the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi on Tuesday June 26, 2007 President Kabbah in his short remarks welcoming the Libyan leader did say to him “ … now more significantly is that at one stage of our problems in our country, there was severe shortage of our staple food rice and the price had escalated also very much to the extent that the average Sierra Leonean was not able to get our basic, our staple food.”
President Kabbah continued “ so you were kind enough to send us two ships load of two not one ship load two of rice.”
In the Press Conference called at State House Friday 29th June 2007 to clarify the issue over the rice the Development Secretary Mrs Kona Koroma disclosed that in 2000 they received 5.5 thousand metric tones of rice.
The clearing and forwarding she said was done by the Sierra National Shipping Company and storage was done by Daklala.
Other speakers like the then Foreign Minister Dr Sama Banya, Labour Minister Alpha Timbo, Secretary to the President Sheka Mansaray and Dr Ramadan Dumbuya all tried to explain the role they played and what they knew about the rice.
The ‘telling’ or confusing statement however came from the Trade Minister Dr Kadi Sesay who in her remarks said “this is not a full ship load as the impression is given this is just consignments.”
The confusion here is that the President in his remarks did say “two ship loads” and he did not stop there, he went on to stress that it was two and not one ship load, for which the crowd at the stadium loudly acclaimed.
On the other hand the Trade Minister who may have actually handled the rice is saying that it was not even a full ship load of rice.
The question now is that between President Kabbah and his Trade Minister who is giving us the true information about the true quantity of rice that was donated by the Libyan leader?