Yemi Adedeji, Abuja
Ernest Koroma, the outgoing President of Sierra Leone has unveiled his successor and his party-All Peoples Congress (APC) flag bearer, Samora Kamara to Nigeria ahead of Presidential election scheduled for March 7, 2018.
He said he decided to anoint a successor and unveiled him to Nigeria because he felt he was the most qualified candidate to lead the country and continue the Nigeria-Sierra Leone relationship.
Unveiling Samora at a cocktail dinner Saturday night in Abuja, Koroma said the singular act was to show appreciation to the federal government of Nigeria for the support shown his administration and his country.
He said while he would loved his party to win and his successor to emerge in the forthcoming election, he said it would be through the will of the people.
“When I dissolved parliament on the 7th of December, I immediately started a road show in the country to thank Sierra Leoneans for giving me the opportunity to serve as President and also to say good bye to them, but also why doing that to introduce my successor and I say it in definite term.” He said
“Nigeria being a very important component of Sierra Leone, having supported Sierra Leone not only my administration but administrations before me, I believe that it is proper while I’m here to also say thank you to Nigeria, thank you for the support and also good bye as president.
“I will say thank you because I have worked with a few Nigerian presidents in my administration. I started off my engagement with Nigerian leadership at the tail end of president Obasanjo’s regime and from Obasanjo to late Yar’dua and then president Goodluck Jonathan and now president Buhari.
“I must say that in all of these presidency, we have had an excellent relationships and to the extent I believe at the bilateral level, the relationship that now exist between Sierra Leone and Nigeria is unprecedented”.
Koroma explained that there had also been a people to people relationship and private sector engagement between both countries, stressing that at least eight Nigerian banks are currently operating in the country, as well as insurance companies, manufacturing companies including Dangote Group and many others.
His words: “I know that we have not achieved all that we wanted to achieve, there are a few challenges in terms of certain business relationships which we are addressing but the bigger picture is that we now have more Nigerian involvement in the Sierra Leonean economy and the private sector
“To me, it is a welcome development because Nigerian supported us very much at the time of need , when we had our crisis it was Nigeria that came in and supported us and saved the soul of Sierra Leone before the UN and other agencies came in.
“If we are now developing ourselves, we are transforming the economy and we are positioning ourselves for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), we look forward to more of Nigerian participation in that regard,
“Like I have done in the some part of the country (Sierra Leone), what I will continue to do on Tuesday for the rest of the country, have only started the first leg of the journey, today it is Nigeria , the second leg is in Nigeria, that’s how important Nigeria is to us
“While I am thanking Nigeria for the support, I will also introduce the flag bearer of our party, Dr. Samora Kamara. As a party, we have decided on Kamara because he has the experience in governance and over the period he has also develop the exposure that is required in governance. He has worked in the IMF, the World Bank. In the country he has worked as financial Secretary, a Governor in the Bank of Sierra Leone, Minister of Finance and until recently he was foreign minister,
“So, as I am leaving I believe he is the most appropriate person to continue with this Sierra Leone- Nigerian engagement. He has been part and parcel of what we have done and I’m sure whatever challenges we have had in some of the relationships, he has now acquired enough experience to build on it, address those challenges, so that at the end of the day we will have an excellent relationship not only at the governance level, but also at the private sector and peoples to peoples level.
Koroma however assured that, “we will be providing a playing field and a space for all the political players in the country. Yes, I have a political party that I will like to win but it should be through the will of the people and I’m sure with these two imperatives we are looking forward to a smooth transition.