President Ernest Bai Koroma President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and President Yayah AJJ Jammeh of the Republic of The Gambia have embraced each other as brothers for seeing the prospect that lies in good relationship and being the others keeper. President Ernest Bai Koroma, who won the incumbent Sierra Leone Peoples Party, has an enormous task to rebuild and cub out corruption. He only needs ideas from experienced presidents, meaning that he would confer with those that have stayed in power and have brought changes to their society like The Gambia.
Encounter explores from their tour from the Kombos to Kanilai and finds the secret behind the tumultuous welcome.
It was a hectic three-day 'meet the development' tour as soldiers, presidents, entourage, Sierra Leoneans, and Gambians followed behind the visiting president to see the reality behind President Jammeh's developmental plans put in place. Sierra Leone, a country that has long been on the map had allowed corruption and bad governance to drain the country's children to naught.
Thinking of the war as one of their visiting pastors, Pastor Conteh of the Weslyan Methodist church said that people had said in the 70s that, "If fet nor be na this country we nor betteh." This was exactly what happened thinking that after the war like other developed nations who saw war before and are today the best but this is quite the opposite. The country has been counted as the least on the Human Index. President Koroma now seeks ways to bringing back the country to its previous glory. President Jammeh made sure President Koroma saw places like the Power plant at Brikama, Agricultural areas, the Ports Authority, Kanilai village and shown the Science Academy and the animal garden, the lonely hospital at Bwiam, a mare village with a massive functioning hospital, the AU Villa at Brufut. The hospital system in Sierra Leone is not enviable, others say it is good to see what is operating in Tee Gambia by not only looking at the structures but also looking at their administrative systems.
President Koroma apparently acknowledged his appreciation at all the structures he visited most of which are lost in their country. He was appreciative of the fishing plant at Gunjur, the Ports as well. At a State Banquet hosted at the Kairaba Beach Hotel the two Presidents had these kind words for each other:
President Jammeh says, "Gambia and Sierra Leone share a lot. Lots of our graduates studied in Sierra Leone thanks to Fourah Bay College. There are only three days in our world these are; yesterday, today and tomorrow. It is what you do today that determines your tomorrow. We have a university but Gambians are still going to Sierra Leone to study. My grand dad used to say, "Love your new trousers but do not forget the old one."
As a new government its good to lean from mistakes but you need to learn from your own mistakes. Do not make promises, the best promise is, let us leave it to Allah. You passed through hard time, if you work with the people you will enjoy them. If you fail what the people want they will do what you don't like. The work of a president is difficult.
We wish that we can work together to change the face of Africa, which despite out resources we are backward. We were taught that learning is better than silver and gold. Our colonial masters said this while taking our resources away. We have to make sure our resources are correctly exploited. If any one wants to exploit me the airport is open you can leave. Do not follow the word no problem from your officers, no problem means more problem. Follow up and see what is going on.
President Koroma, battling with numerous problems ranging from the people's attitude, the party supporters who still fight for their party instead of putting that aside to work for their nation and also battling with drivers strike and other looming problems, thanked President Jammeh and the populace for a very formidable welcome accorded him. He said it shows how much President Jammeh is loved by his people.
President Koroma says: A good number of people are feeling at home in The Gambia and you have removed the alien card, I thank you for that. Both countries have had good relationship before diplomatic ties existed. We have had a lot in the past and Sierra Leone had supported The Gambia in education and others. You have a lot of Gambians we call the "Maraka" in our diamond area. Between the two of us there are a lot we can offer to our people. Sierra Leoneans have tie in the Gambia vise versa. President Jammeh told me Sierra Leoneans are supporting education, medical and others in The Gambia. AS he told me I said Gambians are enjoying diamond in Sierra Leone. I will not learn from my mistakes, I have only 5 years. I have come to borrow from your experience, Africans should take their own destiny. We have a common destiny and a common background. I am a new president I must learn from the old presidents. He has been president for 14 years I have moved around and I have seen a lot, we should be proud of your achievement. Your economy is growing, by working together we can overcome our difficulties. We have a lot to take back. As a nation we have more and we can do more than The Gambia.
I will invite you to Sierra Leone and will not take you to my home but to other areas. The determined president Koroma was born in 1953, a graduate from FBC determined to fight corruption and alleviate poverty. He is married with two daughters. His targets remain changing those who think the party colour is above nationalism as he puts it, "Our problems know no colour." And urged all to love Sierra Leone while addressing Sierra Leoneans.
President Jammeh and Madam Isatou Njie Saidy decorated President Koroma at the Banquet. They embraced each other and called each other brother.