The government of Sierra Leone has identified security as the oxygen for the country’s sustainable socio-economic development. In this regard, the first ever security sector conference was launched by the Chairman of the National Security Council, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma under the aegis of the Office of National Security with the theme, “Collective Security for National Development”. It held at the Bintumani International Conference Center, Aberdeen, Freetown from 22nd to 23rd May, 2015.
Delivering the keynote address, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma expressed the need for greater coordination and cooperation between the security sector and other state agencies; saying that it is also through cooperation that the country can advance and secure sustainable development against emerging vectors of insecurity, terrorism, human trafficking and other crimes.
The president noted that although there are challenges of cooperation and collaboration, he however urge that there can be no development without security. “Investors would not come here if there is no peace; businesses will not thrive if there is no security; development will not happen if our people and our investors are threatened with diseases like Ebola,” he said, and called on all actors in the security sector to work together towards the overall goal of making Sierra Leone safe from disease, secured from violence and protected against all forms of insecurity.
The Chairman of the National Security Council further expressed the need for the Ministry of Information and Communications to work with the security sector to enhance cyber security; the Ministry of Social Welfare needs to work with security sector to combat human trafficking, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must continue to cooperate with the security sector to combat crimes against our nationals in foreign lands.
“We must push forward this paradigm shift to enhance our collective security and development. The time has come to work towards the inclusion of all in matters relating to national security,” the President stressed.
In his welcome address, chairman of the conference, Secretary to the President Emmanuel B. Osho Coker described the event as epoch-making as well as a new dawn in the history of Sierra Leone’s security sector. On the theme of the conference; “Collective Security for National Development,” he emphasized that security is fundamental to people’s livelihoods, poverty reduction and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“The need therefore arises to continually take stock of the security apparatus and to examine and ensure that the relevant actors are well aligned to address the security challenges of our time,” Osho-Coker said.
Making a declaration of purpose of the conference, National Security Coordinator Ishmail Tarawalie said the guiding principle in the security sector is, “we either innovate or die!” He explained that the last ten years have truly afforded the space, time and context to put some perspective on the effectiveness and efficiency of the new security architecture. According to him, Sierra Leone has enjoyed unparalleled levels of peace and security that continues to provide the oxygen for economic development and improved governance.
The conference, which is being held for the very first time since the transformation of the security sector, attracted sectorial stakeholders, including the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), the Sierra Leone Correctional Services (SLCS), the Sierra Leone Fire Force, the International Security Advisory Team (ISAT), the National Ebola Response Center (NERC), Ministries of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Internal Affairs, cabinet ministers, paramount chiefs and senior government officials.