Sierra Leone: Know Your Presidential Candidate

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This column is dedicated to profile all thirteen presidential candidates that would participate in the June Presidential Elections. This is a deliberate attempt by Concord Times to help the public know who they would be voting for and how they stand to push the country's agenda forward. Running up to the elections, it is the right of citizens to receive sufficient information about people vying to lead the country into the next five years, so that they make informed decision when they get to the ballot box. In this edition, we are providing the public with a detail profile of the presidential candidate of the main opposition All People's Congress (APC), Dr.Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara.

By Alhaji Haruna Sani

Early life and education

Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara was born in Kamalo, Karene District, North-Western Province of Sierra Leone.

Kamara received his early education at the UCC in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone. He continued his education at the Saint Edwards Secondary School in Freetown, and was very active in football as a goalkeeper.

He proceeded to Fourah Bay College where he earned a bachelor's degree in Economics in 1972. He holds a PhD in Development Economics (1986) from Bangor University in Wales, United Kingdom.

Career

Kamara was in 1994 appointed Programme Manager by the World Bank for its Structural Support Programme to the country. He also served as Financial Secretary during this time as part of efforts to build trust in the management of the mainly international donor flows which constituted over three quarters of the government's non- military financial receipts. He became Secretary of State, Finance in January 1996 after Julius Maada Bio overthrew Valentine Strasser.

He subsequently served as Financial Secretary, and as Bank Governor, Minister of Finance, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the APC Administration of Ernest Bai Koroma.

Kamara chaired the African Caucus constituency meetings two years in a row. As Foreign Minister, he serves as Chair of the Ministerial Meetings of the African Union C10 committee on the Reform of the United Nations, and he is also Chair of the AU Candidatures Committee. He has on several occasions chaired the Peace and Security Council of the AU.

His Work

Dr. Samura Kamara reformed Sierra Leone's Public Financial Management and strengthened public expenditure management, budget planning and execution. He pioneered the introduction of an integrated financial management information system. He was pivotal in making sure that the Auditor General's report is now made public to hold authorities accountable. Dr. Samura Kamara also championed the banking sector, resulting in the establishment of more banks and the employment of thousands of Sierra Leoneans.

Under the leadership of former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, Dr. Samura Kamara crafted and implemented Sierra Leone most successful development strategy, the Agenda for Change ( 2008- 2012). His stewardship of the economy as Finance Minister saw real average GDP growth of 5.2% per annum (excluding iron ore). It was during his tenure as Finance minister that Sierra Leone recorded the highest economic growth and gained the accolade of being the fastest growing economy. Before moving to the Foreign Ministry in 2012, Dr Samura Kamara, with leadership provided by the President, designed the Agenda for prosperity.

As Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, he was a champion of development through economic diplomacy. He strengthened Economic Cooperation and Resource Mobilization by signing and implementing joint Cooperation Agreements and Bilateral Memorandum of Understanding with China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, South Korea and United States of America. He also strengthened bilateral relations through establishment of Embassies and Consulates in strategic geographical locations to promote Sierra Leone's interest, including in South Korea; United Arab Emirates; and relocation of the mission in Tripoli, Libya to Cairo, Egypt. Plans are now being implemented for the establishment of resident diplomatic mission in Kenya.

Further to the above, Dr. Samura Kamara facilitated and coordinated international support for the implementation of Government priority programmes in the Agenda for Prosperity, and mobilization and coordinate international support during the Ebola scourge and the recent mudslide and flood disaster in Freetown. He coordinated design and Government's endorsement of agreements with USAID for the implementation of projects in Agriculture, Governance and Women's empowerment, and also with the Japanese Government for the improvement of Energy infrastructure.

Builder of Institutions

Dr. Samura Kamara is a builder of institutions. As financial secretary, he championed the merger of Income Tax Department with custom and excise Department resulting in the creation of National Revenue Authority. He was also a pioneer in the establishment of the National Public Procurement Authority. He professionalized and enhances the effectiveness and efficiency of the Finance ministry by bringing in qualified economist, accountants and other financial experts to lead key departments in the ministry.

As Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, he prepared and launched for the very first time, a comprehensive strategic document known as the Sierra Leone Foreign Service Transformation Strategy, 2014 - 2018. As in the Ministry of Finance, he enhanced increased staff capacity of the Ministry and mission, ensured salary increases in the Ministry, created new directories and facilitated training of staff within and outside the country. He upgraded the ICT infrastructure of the Ministry, ensured the production of Sierra Leone's first diplomatic magazine and official Directory of Sierra Leone's overseas missions and Consulates, which were launched by His Excellency the president in July this year.

Integrity

Throughout his over 25 years in leadership position at international and national levels, Dr. Samura Kamara maintained a high degree of professionalism and integrity, powered on by his love for country, excellence, growth, and accountability.

He is respected and received with great honor in all the major capitals of the world, from Beijing, to Washington, Moscow, to London, Abuja, Nairobi and Addis Ababa.

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