Between the FCC Mayor, national cohesion and political party interest

By Alusine Sesay

Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Madam Yvonne Aki-Sawyer

Over the week, the Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Madam Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, has come under severe criticism from her main opposition All People’s Party (APC) comrades. Her crime for facing such criticism is that she travelled with President Julius Maada Bio to Canada. President Bio traveled to Canada to grace the TED 2019 conference and subsequently delivered a speech on leadership and several other issues. As a visionary leader and one who believes in national cohesion and nation building, the mayor had no option but to make use of such an opportunity that would serve not only her personal self, but the entire Freetonians. This writer would however not cast blame on those APC die-hards for raining attacks on their comrade for the simple fact that such is not a novelty in Sierra Leone, where people value political party interest more than the statehood.

Dr.Kandeh Yumkella of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) was hundred percent correct to have described the APC and SLPP as Alusine and Alhassan-identical twins with the same characteristics. They would always cry foul while in opposition but would behave otherwise immediately they get political power.  While in opposition, the SLPP opposed everything under the sun, including the goodwill extended by former President Ernest Bai Koroma to members of their party, who might have been personal friends to him before he became president. Therefore, it would not be a surprise for the APC to cry down their comrade who might be of the notion that the country should be first in all her agenda. It has always been like that and it would continue until thy kingdom come when thy will be done.

When Dr.Bubuake Jabbie took the Sierra Leone Peoples Party to court on constitutional matter, supporters of the party branded him that he had been bribed by the APC to disrupt the SLPP and deter its chances of winning elections. Also, Dr.Bernadette Lahai was called all sorts of names and was even petitioned by 26 SLPP Members of Parliament because she was accused of undermining the party in parliament, where she served as minority leader. The said decision was endorsed by the National Executive Council (NEC) of the SLPP for her possible replacement as minority leader in parliament. She was only saved by a court injunction which restrained the party from conducting any election that would have led to her possible replacement.

While addressing party members in Kenema, Dr.Lahai’s possible replacement, Hon.Emma Kowa had this to say: “We have agreed as MPs that Dr. Lahai will no longer represent us in parliament and therefore my appointment should not be a surprise to her. You have other SLPP MPs who are as well qualified to take up such responsibility but as God could have it, I am now the Minority Leader because Bernadette failed us and she is a traitor.”  The only crime committed by Dr.Bernadette Lahai was that she was romancing with the ruling APC party leadership to move the country’s agenda forward. Late Tom Nyuma was forced to join the APC simply because he was branded, vilified and no longer embraced by his SLPP family.

When President Bio was elected in 2018, he promised to ensure national cohesion for nation building. And the relationship between him and the FCC Mayor has been very much cordial, although he has a lot to do because the divide along political, regional and tribal lines has been deepened. His cozy relationship with the FCC mayor is not sufficient to bring the nation together. During his swearing-in ceremony at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel in Freetown, he promised to be president for all Sierra Leoneans, but much has not been done in that direction. In almost all his public addresses, he keeps on citing the failings of the past APC regime of Ernest Bai Koroma, instead of focusing on his successes and the way forward in pushing the development of the country further. Perhaps he is oblivious of the fact that such has become a cliché and the people would not continue to feed on that. In fact, emphasizing the failure of the past regime signals some deficiency in his ability to get things done. It is like the son blaming his own inability on the failure of his father. That sounds funny eh!

 In Achebe’s ‘Thing Fall Apart, Okonkwo constantly lives in the state of fear and ends up committing a crime that takes him to the evil forest. He always wants society to see him distinct from his father, Unoka, who Achebe described as Efulefu-lazy man without title. Therefore, President Bio should not be the Okonkwo type. He should not bank on the failure of the past regime to justify his inability to bring the nation together.

While the APC has taken offence of the demeanor of their comrade –Mayor Aki-Sawyerr for liaising with the president to move the agenda of the city forward, one thing that should be clear to them is that the mayor cannot afford to work in isolation with the central government. Politics apart, she would only succeed if she has and enjoys the blessings of the central government, of which President Bio is the head. When Bode Gibson was not in the good books of former President Ernest Bai Koroma, he never enjoyed his work as mayor because he was constantly undermined by the central government. This writer believes that Aki-Sawyerr would be conscious of the fact that only the APC could afford her the opportunity to serve as mayor in Freetown and that she must remain grateful for that. I am of the firm conviction that working with the central government does not in any way constitute to betrayal of the status quo. She must work with the central government in order to achieve her desire of transforming the city. Take what you have to get what you want!

Evidently, some parts of the country could not move forward in terms of development because certain elected personalities, especially from the then opposition SLPP refused to work with the Ernest Bai Koroma government in the name of party politics. The Kenema District Council was a typical example. They refused to work with the previous government and rendered their district one of the most dilapidated. When one is elected to a position of trust, ones focus should be the interest of the country and not the political party he or she hails from. Although it is vital to maintain the interest of the political party, but that should not be above the nationhood.

Finally, we should not allow party politics to derail the growth and development of the country. Rather, we should maintain our political party interest by delivering on promise. The APC should allow Aki-Sawyerr to Play the Game and achieve her desire of transforming the city that we all should be proud of.

Sierra Leone: NCD Condemns the attack on the mayor of Freetown

The National Commission for Democracy (NCD) in Sierra Leone has condemned the attack on the mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, and calls on all stakeholders to work assiduously to take responsibility.




Yvonne-Aki-Sawyer-being-sworn-inPursuant to its goals of ‘awaking the consciousness of every Sierra Leonean to their rights and obligations as citizens and inculcating in all Sierra Leoneans the virtues of tolerance, patriotism and positive participation in national affairs’, the Management of the National Commission for Democracy (NCD) in Sierra Leone is mindful of the fact that any attack on individuals is against the very essence of the State and is viewed as an expression of lawlessness and indiscipline with the potential to undermine the peace and stability of the State.

On the firm conviction of the above and with due consideration given to the incident of Wednesday, May 23, 2018 regarding the verbal and physical attack on the person of the Mayor of the City of Freetown, Her Worship, Madam Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, the Management of NCD is adding its voice to the several others already raised to condemn in no uncertain term such attack as being most despicable and unacceptable in a nation that is supposed to be practicing democracy where the rule of law and due process takes precedence.

In the light of such a damning situation, the Management of NCD is of the firm conviction that the safety and security of the average Sierra Leonean is questionable. In other words, if the safety and security of the Mayor of Freetown is not assured, who else is safe? At this critical juncture in the nation’s democratic history, the Management of NCD notes with dismay that this then requires a rethink of what we want as a nation and what we want for our democracy. On its part, the Management of NCD notes that it is now a question of whether our differences are going to be resolved using civilized means or we are going to allow ourselves as a nation to revert to jungle justice with the survival of the fittest. However, the Management of NCD is also cognizant of the fact that we have come a long way in consolidating our democratic gains as a nation with the need to do more in ensuring that efforts expended in that direction are not wasted.

With this unfortunate reality, the Management of NCD is calling on all stakeholders to work assiduously to take responsibility and reverse such ugly trend in our nation as conscious effort is made to bequeath to posterity a solid foundation in democracy and social justice for every Sierra Leonean regardless of affinity.

Long Live Law and Order!

Long Live National Unity and Cohesion!

Long Live Democratic and Peace Consolidation!

Signed: NCD Management Dated: Friday, May 25, 2018

Sierra Leone: Civil Society Condemns Attacks on Freetown Mayor


Yvonne Aki-Sawyer

Despite efforts by political stakeholders to address political violence in the country the recent attack on the mayor of Freetown by a crowd of people believed to be supporters of the SLPP, who were gathered outside their party headquarters, just yards away from the Mayor’s City Council office, has again raised political tensions.

Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social Justice (L.A.W.Y.E.R.S), has condemned the action and calls on the Sierra Leone Police to conduct its investigation into this incident thoroughly and charge the matter to court expeditiously.


Date: 28/5/18


Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social Justice (L.A.W.Y.E.R.S) notes with grave concern and dismay, the verbal and physical attacks on Her Worship the Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, on Wednesday the 23rd of May 2018.

L.A.W.Y.E.R.S condemns these acts of violence and calls on the Sierra Leone Police to conduct its investigation into this incident thoroughly and charge the matter to court expeditiously.


The vicinity around the SLPP party office has become a no-go area to anyone other than supporters of the SLPP party

L.A.W.Y.E.R.S urges all who witnessed the incident or with information about it, to come forward and assist the Police to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Her Worship the Mayor of Freetown, is a major figure in our society, a role model to Sierra Leoneans of diverse backgrounds, and the destructive symbolism of the attacks on her cannot be underestimated.

L.A.W.Y.E.R.S therefore urges all citizens to stand up against violence, especially against women and girls.

L.A.W.Y.E.R.S wishes to bring to the attention of H.E. the President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, and his government, that the 25th of November is recognized as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. L.A.W.Y.E.R.S therefore requests that this year in Sierra Leone, the day is observed nationally with a series of events across the country, highlighting the adverse consequences of violence (in all its different forms) against women.

L.A.W.Y.E.R.S expresses our solidarity with the Mayor and all other women subjected to similar attacks as they try to go about their daily jobs. We pledge our continued support of the Mayor’s efforts to improve the quality of life for all residents of Freetown.

Lois Anita Kawa



11 Percival Street


Madam Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr’s passion for the country’s capital

John Baimba Sesay

Increasing the number of women in decision making positions at both national and local levels remains core to President Koroma’s years in governance. Successfully, his government mainstreamed gender in the public sphere, demonstrated by his appointment of women either as ministers or heads of departments or agencies.


The decentralization process was, amongst other reasons, to ensure effective service delivery as well as directly involve people in determining their development. Such drive by government led to an unmatched increase and flow of funds to councils from central government, with the devolution process accelerated across the country.

Women are vital in promoting local governance. The 2004 Local Government Act makes provision for the appointment of at least five women as members of each Ward Committee, according to Section 95 (2). Such Ward Committees are, amongst other functions, to “(a) mobilize residents of the ward for the implementation of self-help and development projects; (b) provide a focal point for the discussion of local problems and needs…”

The decision by the All People’s Congress to put Madam Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr forward as Mayoral  Candidate for Freetown Municipality is not only wise and timely, it also has placed the Party in better standing, when it comes to discussions on implementing reforms and policies geared towards reducing gender inequalities and improving the status of women in society.

Madam Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr not only has great passion about Freetown, she has passion about the growth of the whole country. When given the opportunity, by voting Aki-Sawyerr, you are voting for a person who can definitely provide the City the leadership it takes to effectively manage her(City) affairs. She knows the issues, and above all the challenges the city is faced with.

With women making a major component of the country’s capital given their engagement in trading activities, and being the only female aspirant, she can be better placed to also promote gender related issues.

Yvonne Aki-Sawyer can make a good Mayor. Her recent engagements with stakeholders and especially market women across the capital have helped her get a better view of the core issues in ensuring a well planned and managed city.

Beyond the gender factor is her experience, which will also be very instrumental in her role as mayor when elected in the coming weeks .

Given her “over 25 years of experience in strategic planning, risk management and project management in the public and private sectors,” as well as being a Chartered Accountant, her roles in the various institutions she has served and the results she has proudly produced makes her the best choice  amongst all other candidates for the job. She is smart, result- oriented and one that can articulate issues and policies effectively.

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Yvonne Aki-Sawyer needs no further introduction. She has, in diverse ways, supported disadvantaged children and young people in the country, through Sierra Leone War Trust (SLWT), a charity she co-founded in April, 1999. She was Investment Director of International Development Enterprise Associates Ltd (IDEA), owners and developers of the Hilton Freetown Cape Sierra Hotel, where she helped “raise international financing for IDEA projects and for local stakeholder management.

Her role in ensuring international awareness of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone was outstanding. She   later served as Director of Planning at the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC).  It was “in recognition of her contribution to the Ebola response efforts, Yvonne was awarded an Ebola Gold Medal by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone in December, 2015, and was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom in January 2016.”

She also worked as Delivery Team Lead for the President’s Recovery Priorities, “the second phase of a multi-stakeholder programme to drive sustainable socio-economic transformation in Sierra Leone post Ebola.” She is reported to have played a decisive role in ensuring a blueprint and later, in the execution of “Operation Clean Freetown.” (Source: