‘Today I announce my decision to become the APC Flag-bearer. To run for the President of Sierra Leone position is a serious endeavour. I have taken time to think about the implications of such decision, as I wanted to be sure that it was the right one for the people of Sierra Leone. I have talked to & listened to many people, up and down the country. As I have travelled, I have been struck by the opportunity that is in front of us all.
Talking to people across the country made me feel incredibly proud of Sierra Leone and the progress we have made. We have nurtured peace. We are rebuilding the country and we have laid the foundations for a stronger economy. Under the President’s leadership, we have overcome tremendous challenges to emerge stronger and more unified.
Together, we have made progress. But there is much more still to do. Building a Betteh Salone is my life’s mission. I passionately believe that everyone should have the opportunity to get a good job regardless of where they were born, who their parents are or how much money they have. That every child should have the right to a good education; and that everyone should have the opportunity to build a better future for themselves, their family and their community. Everyone deserves to have dreams come true and hopes realized.
To create a Betteh Salone we must build on the President’s legacy of the Agenda for Prosperity. Without the President’s work and the strong foundations he has built none of us would be standing here, allowing us to create a radical plan and a new phase of growth.
Therefore, today I present to you my vision and plan for a Betteh Salone. It is a detailed plan that has been created based on the conversations I have held across the country and that pays due attention to the changing global context. It has been created together with the people of Sierra Leone and contains a range of bold and far reaching policies to make a real difference to peoples’ lives and our country. So I am here not to tell you what you should but to suggest what we can do together as a nation.
We need a fresh start, a new beginning and a new vision for Sierra Leone.
As a businessman that has successfully built and led a global company I know how to create jobs and get things done& together we have the opportunity to transform our country and create a Betteh Salone.
This plan will improve the lives of everyone in Sierra Leone. From education to the economy, and from justice to health, it sets out the detailed action I will personally take as President to create a Betteh Salone. I will stick to my work, be straight with you and won’t make promises I can’t keep.
Today, I make a contract with you.
This contract commits me to eight pledges:
• Betteh education for all with 10,000 high quality teachers through a combination of new teacher recruitment and training
• Betteh opportunities for the young with new jobs and programmes to help young people find work and start businesses
• Betteh help in hard times through the National Social Safety Net
• A betteh economy with a National Prosperity Fund to invest in our future
• Betteh justice for all with a new Human Rights Act
• Betteh health for all with affordable primary and preventive healthcare and a trained health worker in every community
• A Stronger Salone with big companies paying their way and a betteh deal for small business
• Betteh politics holding listening events in every district to hear from you directly
These are your pledges. As I toured the country, you told me what was needed for a Betteh Salone. I listened and then I worked with some of the leading global experts in the field to create your manifesto, a manifesto created by the people of Sierra Leone and for the people of Sierra Leone, and if selected I promise you that I won’t stop here. I will continue to talk to as many Sierra Leoneans as possible and I will be dedicated to delivering the first real Sierra Leone peoples’ manifesto.
Firstly, I will ensure a Betteh Education for all, with a revolution in education driven by technology. I am committed to increasing access to education through innovation, training more teachers, and transforming colleges and universities with the long-term goal of offering free, high quality education for all.
This will include the utilisation of technology to increase access to education by piloting ‘schools in a box’, which can be used around the country but specifically it will be placed in the remotest areas so all can access their right to a quality education.
I will establish the ‘Teach for Salone’ programme, offering our high achieving university graduates secure employment as teachers for the first three years after graduation and I will focus on teacher training, by improving teacher training facilities around the country and providing additional targeted training for existing teachers.
The second pledge is a promise to our youth. I will deliver betteh opportunities for the youth. I will establish a Future Jobs Programme to create opportunities for tens of thousands of unemployed youth, men and women. This will be accompanied with a National Apprenticeship programme offering on the job training combined with real work and a real paycheck for thousands of people. The programme will be open to the young people around the country, ensuring that young people have increased access to job opportunities.
I will also introduce scholarships for disadvantaged youth at local universities, in exchange for public service, ensuring that we provide ongoing opportunities for those who are less fortunate.
The third element of the contract will support those who need it most via Betteh Help in hard times, as head of many households, women usually feel the brunt of shocks the most.
I pledge to take practical steps to limit the impact of price rises, including expanding on Sierra Leone’s National Social safety net programme offering cash for work scheme to ensure there is paid work for the poorest families to ensure no-one needs to go hungry. I will also provide micro-loans to farmers to put more land under cultivation and invest in agriculture to eliminate the need to import all our staple food stuffs.
The fourth pledge is to create a Betteh Economy for Sierra Leone. I will introduce a National Prosperity Fund to finance infrastructure investment to support economic growth, particularly in agriculture and financial services. This fund will seek to engage our partners and specifically allows for new partners to join us on our shared journey.
I will also introduce a new deal for small businesses by cutting red tape and offer them increased support to get off the ground and extend tax breaks to encourage them to grow and create jobs for Sierra Leoneans. I will develop and reinforce microfinance institutions to support our economy and will reform the banking sector to ensure we have strong economic foundations and reasonable access to capital.
For example, businesses, many of which are women owned, are the backbone of our society but they lack access to banking and credit to help their businesses grow.
That is why I am proposing better access to banking and credit to offer more credit for small businesses so that companies can get the help they need to expand.
Fifth, I will ensure Betteh Justice. I will focus on human rights, consolidating the current legislation into a single and modernized human rights act. I will ensure that there is equitable access to justice. Poverty should not prevent anyone from accessing swift justice.
Further, we all know from our daily lives that corruption remains too prevalent in Sierra Leone. We will fight corruption by introducing system that are transparent to frustrate those who rob from the people of Sierra Leone. Its time to deliver a real moral back bone in the fight against corruption.
The sixth element of my contract with you pledges to introduce Betteh Health. Good healthcare is not a privilege it is a human right. As a country, we know more than most about how important good health care is and we saw the difference that good facilities and dedicated, well trained staff can make between life and death. I want to bring about radical change to transform the health of the nation and peoples’ quality of life. I will strive to deliver affordable universal primary and preventative health coverage for all Sierra Leoneans by 2023 and will recruit 5,000 paid health workers to ensure that by 2023 every community in Sierra Leone has access to a health worker.
I will also increase the availability and skills of doctors to rebuild trust and confidence in the health system as well as supporting our health workers by reviewing their salaries and providing incentives for health workers to work in remote areas.
I will increase access to medicines, guaranteeing availability of around 200-300 essential medicines and guaranteeing the availability of free preventative health commodities such as vaccines. Health should not only be accessible it should be affordable.
The seventh pledge is a promise that is personally very important to me. I want us to build a Stronger Salone. A Sierra Leone that increases our economic independence and ensures we work with partners in an equitable manner.
We owe a debt of thanks to the many international partners and institutions who have supported us through post-war reconstruction, who helped us in our struggle to overcome the recent Ebola outbreak, and continue to support our development in the years ahead.
Now is the time for us to shape our own future and take back control. We must engage with everybody, not as a recipient but as an equal partner, offering compelling ideas and investment opportunities. To truly secure economic independence, we need to build a Sierra Leone by Sierra Leoneans. [PAUSE]
I will seek new sources of international and private sector investment to finance the National Prosperity Fund and our flagship social policies. I will focus the support Sierra Leone receives on measures that will develop our capacity to drive long-term growth. I will build on the progress made by the President in establishing the Local Content Agency and work with overseas partners in Sierra Leone to make sure that the jobs and business opportunities their investments create go wherever possible to Sierra Leoneans.
Finally, I will champion Betteh Politics. If elected, I will hold town hall meetings in every district to listen directly to people’s concerns, as well as launching an annual state of the nation report to give a clear and honest account of how the government is progressing. I will also engage our youth, creating a youth parliament so our young people have a real say in the country’s affairs. I will create a single point of contact by phone and internet for citizens to be able to get in touch with government to report specific types of issues such as failing services and corruption to resolve problems in their local area.
Others will tell you what they will do, I will tell you what we can do together. As a country we have a choice. The decision of who is the next flag-bearer of the APC party will shape the destiny of our country for years to come. Our country and our party are at a crossroads. We can pick the same faces, the same answers and the same kind of politician or we can choose a leader with a track record for delivering for Sierra Leoneans, who can cement the President’s legacy and is APC to his core but can reach out to new supporters and global partners and to bring about dramatic change. I am confident that I am that leader. A leader who has a strong vision, bold ideas and a clear plan. Who has the business experience to deliver results and make a real difference to people lives. Who keeps his promises. And who will listen. Today, as I launch my formal declaration for the APC flag-bearer position, I bring with it a formal manifesto to hold me to account and show you I am the leader we need for the next phase of our development.
If I have the opportunity to be selected, the APC will be the only party to offer you a candidate that is fresh, untampered politically and modern thinking for our politics.
The contract that I have outlined today brings with it, bold ideas, straight talk, promises that are kept, decisive action, real change, your voice heard and a Betteh Salone.
The last few years have shown what we can achieve. The world is changing and the power is in our hands. Let’s come together to grasp this opportunity for a fresh start and together start building a Betteh Salone.’