Salone News

No, Andrew, you’re off the mark

7 February 2020 at 05:26 | 1071 views

Commentary

By Dr. Sama Banya, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Andrew Keilie is an accomplished gentleman, a very qualified and down to earth Engineer by profession. He is well educated, knowledgeable and a prolific writer. He speaks and writes impeccable English. He has two other attributes, namely he is a politician through and through and also happens to be my nephew. His grandfather the late Paramount Chief Bai Coomber of Mandu chiefdom in the Kailahun district and my grandfather the Kissi warrior Kailondo of Luawa we’re not only contemporaries but sometimes allies. Chief Bai Coomber and Nyagua of Panguma attended my grandfather Kailondo’s Funeral In 1896. In addition, his mother was the sister of yea Norwo one of my late father’s favourite wives. To complete the circle my sister Agnes Mamayeh was married to Andrew’s uncle the late Paramount chief Sei Coomber. What a tortious relationship!

Andrew and I were very active members of the SLPP until he joined the NGC in 2017 or early 2018. Andrew once launched a scathing attack on me in the media in which he doubted my neutrality among the SLPP Presidential aspirants. It was at late former President Tejan-Kabbah’s funeral. In paying tribute to the late President I advised that the party would do well to unite behind one candidate for flag bearer and that in my assessment the only candidate that was capable of defeating the incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma was Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio. Andrew wrote that I had never been neutral and that throughout my activities of neutrality Bio was my choice and that I had been canvassing for the latter. The following day his newspaper Salone Times in which I was a regular columnist also went in for my jugular and accused me of hypocrisy. I didn’t have to respond to the vicious attacks because others who knew better took up my defence.

Mercifully the incident never impinged on our personal relationship and never will; blood is in deed thicker than water.

President Maada Bio was a keynote speaker at the Indaba in South Africa this week.
Among other things his excellency had said in his address that Sierra Leone now needs trustworthy investors in the country. It may be recalled that many of our mining agreements, including Frank Timis’ African Minerals had been passed by Parliament under Certificates of Urgency. Neither the general public nor Parliament itself had had an opportunity to scrutinise them. Little wonder that the Minister of Mineral resources has nullified them in favour of fresh negotiations. It is no secret that African Minerals contributed at least 5 million United States dollars to the 2012 APC’s Presidential and Parliamentary campaign.

President Bio said in South Africa that the country was now open to specific partnerships “So that what we want as a nation are trustworthy, credible and patient investors who value fair and ethical business principles and practices, investors who are interested in a sustainable long-term relationships with our country.

Renegotiations and compromises are not dirty words in business. All we seek as a country,” President Bio continues, “is a cordial engagement in which all parties get to a meeting of minds on how best to reshape and develop that investor- host country relationship so that we both have a win-win outcome.” Now what could be more explicit and open than this? Andrew Keilie on the other hand pours cold water and scorn on the whole statement. He describes the speech as difficult, meaning lacking in clarity and conviction etc. He faults the President for not indulging in technical jargon (in a plenary statement, really?) like geologic potential, target Minerals, security of tenure, consistency of policies, realistic foreign exchange terms, stability of physical regimes etc. He concludes and I dare say unreasonably, that President Bio’s speech was well off the mark and not convincing enough to assuage the fears of investors. The irony of his conclusion is that even before he finished dotting the I’s and crossing the Ts of his statement 30 South Africa investors have planned to visit Sierra Leone with special interest in the mining and energy sectors.

I can’t help but see my distinguished nephew’s intervention as politically motivated with a view to throw a spanner in the President’s endeavours. Yes, I believe that it is my nephew who is well off the mark this time.

Photo: Dr. Sama Banya

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