On Friday September 13, 2013, officials of the New Jersey Presidential Visit preparatory team held a meeting with senior officials of Essex County College to tie up the planned Monday September 23 visit to the College by Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma.
THE PREPARATORY MEETING IN PROGRESS
Essex County College is a public community college, with students from 50 countries, located in Newark, NJ a city with strong ties to Sierra Leoneans living in New Jersey and a city that has been holding flag-raising events during every independence anniversary celebration of Sierra Leone for the past three years , through the Newark African Commission and municipal officials. It is one of the oldest community collleges in the United States and was at one time led by an African, Ghanaian Dr. Yamba
FROM LEFT : KABS KANU, FODAY MANSARAY, DR. DOVE-EDWIN AND AJIBU JALLOH
Officials of the Presidential Visit Preparatory team of New Jersey who attended the meeting were : Rev. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu (A community leader in New Jersey and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone Mission to the United Nations ), Mr. Foday Mansaray and Ajibu Jalloh who were directly representing the President’s Office and the U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E. Bockarie Stevens ; Dr. Francis Dove-Edwin of the Diaspora Department of the Office of the President and Madam Madina Rahman, another community leader in New Jersey) . Among Essex County College officials who attended the meeting were the Interim President , Dr. Gail Gibson, the Senior Vice-President Dr. Edwin Knox , the Director of Marketing and Communications, Ms. Marsha McCarthy, the Senior Executive Assistant to the Interim President, Ms. Lakeisha Davies ; the General Manager of Cablevision, Mr. Don Dupre; the Associate Director of Public Safety and Deputy Chief of Police, Mr. Ronald H. Farm; Other notable executive members present were Mr. Elvis Holmes , Ms. June Persaud, Ms. Charlotte Attenborough and Mr. Carlos Riviera.
THE NTERIM PRESIDENT–THIRD FROM RIGHT –ADDRESSING THE MEETING
According to the Interim President of the college, Dr. Gail Gibson, the presidential visit is very important to the college . This could be because part of the college’s ambition is to expand its student and cultural exchange programs to include Fourah Bay College, the premier university in Sierra Leone. The visit is also important for Sierra Leone because President Koroma will be meeting with people of diverse backgrounds representing companies and institutions that want to invest and do business in Sierra Leone. Some of the companies and institutions to be represented during the meeting with President Koroma are the Newark Manufacturing Initiative, the Newark Business Partnership, the NJ Manufacturing Ext. program, the NJ Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network , the Weights and Measurement Industry, Chicken and Agriculture Industry, Newark Seaport, NJ Food Industry, Communications Industry, Coffee and Cafe Development, etc.etc. All of them are expected to bring something to the table.
THE DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF -SECOND FROM RIGHT– DISCUSSING SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS DURING THE MEETING
During President Koroma’s visit to the college, he will not only meet with all these representatives of institutions and companies but will make a statement after which there will be a controlled question-and-answer period involving attendees and students that will be opportuned to attend. The event will be followed by a presidential lunch.
The Presidential Visit Preparatory team briefed the officials about the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC ) Compact award won by Sierra Leone and the MCC meetings scheduled for Maryland and New Jersey with the Sierra Leonean community in the diaspora where President Koroma will be speaking and where Sierra Leoneans will be making a constraints analysis with reference to where they would want the millions of dollars Sierra Leone has won to be invested .
In making the constraints analysis, Sierra Leoneans will also be required to provide opinions about factors that had stood as barriers to the the achievement of the developmental goals of the country. The college officials were also briefed about President Koroma’s Agenda For Prosperity , which is designed to have Sierra Leoneans benefit from the abundant resources in their country.
The Presidential Visit Preparatory Team later in the evening attended the community meeting in New Jersey to evaluate and appraise arrangements and plans so far about President Koroma’s trip to New Jersey, given to the the Sierra Leone Community of New Jersey ( SLCNJ ) to organize . The team was briefed by the President of SLCNJ , Mr. Lamin Alharazim and his Secretary General , Mr. Hardy Gabisi as well as one of the top advisers of the organization, Mr. Pavi Jalloh , who has helped with the setting up of various committees.