By Elkass I.L Sannoh
The new president-eIect of the National Union of Sierra Leone Students (NUSS), Ibrahim Idrissa Mansaray, has called on the country’s students to be united for the common good.
“As students we occupy a very critical position in decision making in our country,” said the Fourah Bay College Final Honours One Law student on Friday following his inauguration at the British Council Hall, Tower Hill, Freetown. “Former USA President John F. Kennedy once said, and I quote: ‘In unity there is little we cannot do, in disunity there is nothing progressive we can do’.”
While publicly thanking all who voted, as well as those who did not, for him on 30th April, 2012, Mansaray said their decision was never a mistake but an investment in good governance, probity and accountability to the entire students’ body.
He said the challenges facing students are enormous and no single individual could surmount them. He appealed to the private sector to share their corporate social responsibilities in promoting education.
The ceremony, which was chaired by popular television broadcaster Mr. Samuel Valcarcel, attracted crowds of students as well as eminent personalities including the Chairman of AWOL and youth ambassador- Mr. Anthony Navo Jnr., the National Youth Commissioner- Mr Anthony Koroma and the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC)- Professor David S. M. Koroma.
Chairman Vlacarcel said he was very elated to see University Students from different tertiary institutions, Secondary School pupils and heads of other prominent institutions leaving their precious schedules to witness what he described as an auspicious handing over ceremony of the Presidential Staff to new executives who are to take over the mantle of leadership in administering the affairs of the Union.
He said students are the most organized and determined people, but the most difficult group to control. He observed that in a poor country like Sierra Leone there is greater tendency to manipulate the youth, and said that poverty does not encourage people to be united and therefore urged all to repose confidence in the Students by allowing them to speak constructively.
Speaking on the theme: “The problem of youth unemployment”, the National Youth Commissioner Anthony Koroma said that the issue of youth unemployment is a global problem. Mr. Koroma made reference to Spain with 50% youth unemployment rate and South Africa which records 25% youth unemployment. He maintained that the commission is expected to have two consultants financed by the United Nations Development programme to develop a frame work geared towards ameliorating the alarming youth unemployment in the country. He stressed that with success in employment, peace and stability will be guaranteed.
Professor David S. M. Koroma, the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), who spoke on the responsibilities of the TEC commission, said the Commission was established by an Act of Parliament on 7th October 2001 and it was the belief of the founding fathers to ensure the achievement of quality education at tertiary level, and to ensure that the condition of services for all lecturers be harmonized. He said that for over three decades now he has had passion working with students within and without Sierra Leone. Prof. Koroma recounted that before the early 1960s, when most African countries gained independence, most of the powerful leaders like Sir Milton Margai, Kwame Krumah, Nnamdi Azikwi, and Julius Nyerereh were students, and therefore urged all and sundry to collectively work to promote student unionism. He explained that sub section (1) one of the TEC Act makes it mandatory on the part of tertiary institutions to submit their budgets to be well scrutinized before they are submitted to the government. He noted that they advise government on the modification and review courses that are marketable and economical to the country. He said that in the university; it is either you perish or you publish, and appealed to all tertiary institutions to adopt it as their slogan.
Speaking on behalf of government , Mr. Abdulai Baratay said that derogatory names like Whiteman and Blackman create deep rooted division and intolerance among students, and appealed to students generally to desist from ‘Hate Speech’. He described hate speech as any speech that can incite or has the tendency to ignite violence. He pledged government’s commitment to supporting the union.
The ceremony was climaxed by the presentation by Mr. Navo of the mantle of Files to president elect of the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology, Foday Kuyateh, Thomas Moore of Fourah Bay College and hosts of other students.