COTONOU, Benin, July 15th – President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has been conferred with the highest national honour of the Republic of Benin. The honour of Grand Commander of the National Order of the Republic of Benin was conferred on the President by his host, President Boni Yayi at the Presidential Palace in Cotonou.
President Yayi said Benin was proud of the tremendous work President Koroma is doing in fighting corruption, promoting good governance, political tolerance, peace and stability in Sierra Leone, after a decade of war and its attendant horrors; an experience, he said, all African countries should identify with and learn lessons from.
President Koroma was also commended and honoured for the economic growth Sierra Leone is currently experiencing with the fastest economic growth among ECOWAS countries.
He described President Koroma’s leadership style as fair, firm and progressive in the sub-region; a reason why he deemed it necessary to invite His Excellency from Sierra Leone to share his experiences on many issues of prosperity, political stability, the fight against corruption and the end of impunity in member states.
The Beninese President also noted that the two countries are ready to consolidate the democratic experiences in their countries and to ensure economic growth by eradicating poverty. “So on behalf of the people of Benin and by virtue of powers entrusted in the President of the Republic of Benin, I hereby elevate our Distinguished Guest to the rank of Grand Commander of the National Order of the Republic of Benin,” the citation read.
President Koroma expressed gratitude for the award which he described as a great honour.
“It is indeed a great honour for me and an aspiration for the people of Sierra Leone in their efforts to sustain peace, democracy and good governance,” the Awardee said, adding that “The efforts made in Sierra Leone under my leadership have achieved success because of the resilience of the people of our great country.”
He also noted that Sierra Leone as a country has succeeded because of the support received from bilateral friends, including Benin; stressing the “support that we have received from our sub-regional organization, our international friends and multilateral agencies”. “Today, I am very happy that in recognition of our efforts, my friend and brother has awarded me the highest honour in our sister republic. I want to assure you Mr. President, the government and the people of this great republic that this award will only renew our commitment to ensuring that we continue the great work, we maintain the strides that we have taken in ensuring peace, building our democracy, fighting corruption, addressing the challenges of the issues with our women, our youths, and transforming our country to a middle income country.”
President Koroma further maintained that efforts made by Sierra Leone will not be limited within Sierra Leone alone. “I believe this is a great moment for us in Sierra Leone and Benin and it is a great moment for Africa, a moment that we can use to become masters of our destiny. So once more, on my behalf and the people and Government of Sierra Leone, let me thank you Mr. President, your government, and our brothers and sisters in Benin for this great recognition. Thank you.”
Meanwhile, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for partnership between the entities in charge of mining and mineral resources in both countries and the exchange of experts with a view to sharing information, lessons learned, skills and competences in the mining and mineral resources sector was signed at a brief ceremony, where the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Samura M.W. Kamara signed for the Republic of Sierra Leone while the Benin Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Integration, Francophonie, and Beninese Diaspora, Bio Toro Orou Guiwa signed for his country.
The award conferred on President Koroma is reserved for presidents and heads of state in the Republic of Benin.
It is an indication of the readiness of the two countries to work in common and put their efforts and economic resources together to lay the foundation of a win-win partnership that would be very fruitful for the people of Sierra Leone and the Republic of Benin
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