By Ralph Sesay (PRO Njala University)
The Chief Minister of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Honorable Jacob JusuSaffa has over the weekend assured Njala University of President’s Bio unflinching commitment to the growth and development of Njala University.
He made this statement during the delivery of a 500 KVA generator to the institution courtesy of Orange Sierra Leone.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by the Minister of Information and Communication, Mohamed Rahman Swarray, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Honourable Abdul Aziz Kamara, Deputy Minister of Energy, Dr. Eldred Taylor, Deputy Minister of Energy, Political Advisers in the Office of the President, Ambassador Brima Kapuwah and Dr. Emmanuel Gaima.
He thanked Orange Sierra Leone for swiftly heeding his call to provide a 500KVA generator to Njala University and showcased the developmental efforts of the Government of President Bio in addressing the issues around salary backlogs and increments of staff of Higher Educational institutions and also the huge expenditures towards the Free Quality Education flagship project.
He disclosed that the Government of President Bio has taken over an ambitious Human Capital Development Agenda to address the issues of underlining poverty which according to him has a direct correlation with illiteracy.
‘’Successive Government has failed to invest in education and this is what has permeated lawlessness and poverty in our country’’, the Minister noted.
He encouraged Njala University to not only expand and produce experts in the Agricultural value chain but also make way for agriculture graduates to be self-reliant through projects.
The Chief Minister called for the Business model in addressing the perennial challenges of Njala University and urged the authorities to use him to access the requisite support for the University.
He concluded his remarks by disclosing that the inner roads of Njala University which were awarded to a contractor during his tenure at the Ministry of Finance would commence in October this year.
‘’I know the quantum of monies involved and the nature of the contract and be rest assured that works on the roads will commence in October this year, the Chief Minister concluded,’’
Professor Andrew Baimba, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Njala University while responding told the Chief Minister and his delegation that Njala has never benefitted from the national grid and this according to him has continued to cripple the finances of the University over the years as it spends quantum’s of monies to generate water and electricity across its campuses.
He lauded the Office of the Chief Minister for swiftly coming to the aid of Njala University at a beacon call to provide a 500KVA generator to Njala Campus and thanked Orange Sierra Leone who according to him has been at the service of Njala University in the past years providing furniture for schools, ICT equipment for the Njala University hospital.
Professor Baimba also impressed on the Chief Minister that they would not be comfortable as a University if the host communities of Mosongo and Mokonde are left out in terms of the provision of water and electricity and appealed that the communities should be able to feel the relevance of the University within their communities.
He appealed for an overhaul of the electricity distribution and supply infrastructure at the Njala campus and recounted that the provision of transformers and more generators would enhance the electricity capacity of the campus.
Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Court, Mr.David Carew started by congratulating Orange Sierra Leone for making such a timely donation to Njala University and hinted that even though Njala University is deprived in terms of accessing the basic amenities to promote teaching, research and extension compared to other Public Universities it is still a household name in the production of the requisite human resource in the Government Human Capital Agenda.
He appealed to the Chief Minister and other sector Ministries present to help the Administration create a conducive environment for students and staff members of the University to enhance their potentials.
Deputy Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Mr. Abdul Aziz Kamara thanked the Chief Minister and Orange Sierra Leone for coming to the aid of Njala University and expressed the commitment of his Minister and President Bio to promote higher Education and disclosed that the passing of the Universities Bill of 2021 which had created two other Technical Universities in the Western Area and the Eastern Province is a clear manifestation of the Government commitment to promote Human Capital Development.
Ms. Jestina Betts, Director Orange Foundation Sierra Leone noted in his statement that Education in the 21st century has been characterized by the use of technology fully supported by electricity and that it is against such a backdrop that they had considered making a donation of 500KVA to Njala University.
She further disclosed that the donation by Orange Sierra Leone was adding to the tall list of donations already made by Orange Sierra Leone to Njala University since 2015.
Dr. Eldred Taylor, Deputy Minister of Energy and Power on behalf of Minister KanjaSesay disclosed that the energy needs of Njala University are very close to the heart of His Excellency Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio and disclosed long-term and short-term measures adopted by the Ministry to address the energy needs of the University.
Minister of Information and Communications Mohamed RadoSwarray assured the University that his Ministry has given very strong attention to the provision of sustainable internet connectivity to the University and that a team from his Ministry has already done a needs assessment.
He assured the University authorities of sustainable internet connectivity but also encouraged them to start considering allocating budgetary resources to this end as the way to go
University Registrar, Dr. MuneerJalloh while giving the vote of thanks thanked the Government of his Excellency the President for appointing the Chief Minister, Jacob JusuSaffa, and also thanked Orange Sierra Leone for the gesture.
Professor Bashiru Mohamed Koroma had earlier on during his welcome address congratulated Minister JusuSaffa on his appointment as Chief Minister and highlighted the huge business potentials of Njala University to enhance teaching, learning, and research.
Mrs. Millicent Mammy Alie, Lecturer Institute of Food, Technology, Nutrition, and Consumer Studies had successfully anchored the program to the end.
The climax of the ceremony was the official commissioning of the 500KVA Generator by the Chief Minister and a tour of the Njala Campus.