31 January 2018

Sierra Leone: Residents Pledge Support for Independent Candidate

Hundreds of inhabitants in Ward 382 in Constituency 107, Lumpa, in the outskirt of Waterloo, have pledged their unflinching support for Mohamed Opeh Koroma, an independent candidate who was denied the All People's Congress (APC) party symbol to contest the March 7 Local Council election.

In a show of support for and commitment to the independent candidate, a mammoth crowd of supporters and admirers participated in a jogging, dancing and singing in the Ward last Sunday.

Recently, former Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs, Rugiatu Neneh Turay, also went independent alongside seventeen (17) former councilors who were also denied the APC party symbol.

Abdul Bangura, a resident of the Ward, told this medium that Mohamed Opeh Koroma is the most popular candidate because of his efforts toward development in Ward 382.

"He owns a school called Athens of Africa Primary and Secondary School and he is paying over 15 teachers monthly to contribute to knowledge. He was a frontrunner in the fight against Ebola under the Social Action Consortium (SMAC)," Abdul Bangura narrated.

Bangura added that the former APC aspirant turned independent candidate has constructed a hall called "Five-Star" to serve as an amusement centre for residents of the ward.

He said Opeh, as he is fondly called by his numerous supporters and admirers, has awarded scholarships to students studying computer science as well as others in various universities across the country.

"He has also provided water wells, advocated and provided micro credits for the women in the ward. He has done so much for us and I cannot explain everything now," he said.

Another supporter, Adama Thullah, said Opeh has never held an elective position in Ward 382, but has done and is still doing what no elected representative has done in the Ward, noting that he is currently fixing a bridge that has been dysfunctional for more than a decade.

"Many people drown into the sea because of the broken bridge. As I'm talking to you, we prefer using another route in order to get to Waterloo and other areas from this Ward, and that has been costing us lots of money," she explained.

She said they were disappointed by the refusal of the APC party stalwarts to award Opeh a symbol.

"In fact, we urged him to contest as an independent candidate and we will overwhelmingly vote for him," she vowed.

In an interview with Opeh, he expressed optimism about his chances of winning the Ward 382 election in Constituency 107.

Opeh is contesting in a Ward that hosts a monumental cemetery where both victims of the Ebola disease and mudslide/flooding were buried.

"At the moment, I'm just an ordinary resident of the Ward but when I am elected, I would now have the authority to stop all encroachment on that cemetery land," he told this reporter on Sunday.

He said his manifesto emphasises security, peace and stability, an indication that he would strive to provide security for residents of the ward to enhance sustainable development.

"The Ebola cemetery is very important to Sierra Leone and it would be used to identify Ward 382. We must ensure its protection," he said, adding that he solely rehabilitated the road leading to the cemetery from 555 Spot Junction.

He said if he wins the Ward election on March 7, he would ensure that a community centre is constructed, lamenting the absence of pipe borne water, electricity, community field, and good roads.

Opeh, who is married with six children, was not born in the ward but moved there in 1989 and has since lived there.

He said he is a successful businessman and owns many enterprises in Waterloo and its environs, adding that he also has over 20 acres of oil palm plantation and 15 acres of cassava farm in the Western Rural District.

Opeh, who is also a Public Relations Officer of the Sierra Leone Traders Union, advocated for the establishment of financial institutions in Waterloo, an advocacy which led to the opening of branches of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB), First International Bank (FIBank) and Ecobank.

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