Youth Ministry Clears Air over ‘Hijacked’ Farm

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According to him, he and other interested persons in the Diaspora spent money to register the company and that shares were distributed as follws: Clinton Tapper – 51%, Mohamed Kallon – 20% and Joseph Kamara – 19% but that they had “no regard to include myself as founder, and other key stakeholders that had invested ideas, time and money since the creation of the company.”

He alleged that at the initial stage of the registration process of YIAS, the Deputy Youth Minister and some other people were members and that the Deputy Minister had even visited the YIAS project site and that at one point they even shared communication.

However, of all the allegations made by Mr. Massaqoui against the Deputy Minister, he could not provide concrete evidence that the Deputy Minister had actually been an executive member or a signatory to the YIAS project.

On the part of the Ministry of Youth Affairs, a press statement issued and signed by A.L. Sorie, Permanent Secretary described Massaquoi’s claims as “unfounded and frivolous.”

It added that: “we were stunned by the claim, inter alia, that the Youth in Agriculture Project (YIA) was reportedly hijacked by the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs, Lusine Kallon, who directly provides oversight of the said project at the Ministry. It must be clearly understood that the Youth In Agriculture Project of the Ministry of Youth Affairs is completely different from Youth in Agriculture Sierra Leone Ltd to which the aggrieved person is affiliated.”

According to the release: “Another scathing claim was monthly stipend payment to the tune of Le92,394,989.42. (ninety two million three hundred and ninety four thousand, nine hundred and eighty nine Leones and forty two cents) to farm workers. The referenced amount was payment made to farm workers through the Marampa Masimera Community Bank at Masiaka/Masalia. Announcement of the payment was made on Radio Democracy, SLBC, AYV and some print media houses on the 5th July, 2019.

“Reports show that previous management effected payments via irregular channels. Under the New Direction Administration, the Minister and His Deputy initiated the payment of stipend to farm workers through private bank accounts in order to increase transparency and accountability.

“Before payments are carried out, the Farm Supervisors submit attendance documents along with work reports to the Project Field Manager who in turn verifies and compiles work reports for the attention of the Project Manager. The process terminates with the Permanent Secretary who issues approval after obtaining clearance from the Minister providing oversight of the Project.

“The Ministry found the aforesaid claims to be disingenuous and inciting with a calculated ploy to smear the reputation of the Ministry and ipso facto the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs.

“The Ministry wants it to be known that the Youth In Agriculture Project formerly known as the National Youth Farm was first established in 2014 at Masalia, Port-Loko District. The project was unable to live up to its required expectation as a result of poor management and lack of ownership amongst community youth.

“The reform process was to ensure that all projects under the Ministry would have a national and inclusive face as a Policy Directive from His Excellency the President, Julius Maada Bio,   and the Youth In Agriculture Project was no exception to this proactive change. The change of name and restructuring of the project was in tandem with the New Direction Administration to ensure that agriculture becomes the backbone of the country’s economy using youth as the main engine to propel such realization.

“The Ministry wants to reassure the general public that the YIA Project is funded by the Government of Sierra Leone with accountable and transparent processes and leadership. The Ministry remains unperturbed by distractions of this nature. There is a lot of work to be done for the Youth of this country and that is what the Ministry is focused on.”