Honourable Minister of Social Welfare, Gender & Children’s Affairs Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden has on Wednesday March 15th 2017, accepted a formal apology from the national president, elected executives and members of the Children’s Forum Network (CFN). According to the children, their recent acts against their minister was caused by them receiving many wrong information which led to them making errors and false assumptions.
The motherly minister smilingly forgave the children and used the chance to advise children against juvenile delinquency. She said unlike certain adults who had political and other unsavory motives for misleading children, she considered herself as having a very sacred assignment to ensure children of Sierra Leone grew up into patriotic, responsible and law-abiding adult citizens. She said she already knows all those who incited and misdirected the children including certain government and non-government functionaries. She said one male government functionary even secretly hosted a certain branch CFN president at 11pm in the night in his house. She however said she forgave all those who lied against her and gave false witness against her.
“I forgive all of them. I don’t have time to bear grudge. I am too blessed by the Almighty to be bothered by them. Right now, I have twelve months more to serve in the Cabinet of one of the best Presidents in Africa and I don’t want to be distracted. I have my focus and it does not include bearing grudges,” Hon. Blyden said.
She however expressed hope that the children had matured from the experience and learnt lessons to serve them throughout their lives especially about how adults can manipulate innocent children. She warned them against criminal behavior.
“A Cabinet Minister is in total charge of a State Ministry. If a Minister tells you not to use a conference room in the Ministry, you don’t go there. If you challenge the minister’s directives and forcefully attempt to use a State-controlled office, that is a very high criminal offense and you could have been charged to court, detained at Kingtom Remand Home and sentenced to Approved School to serve time in detention as convicted juvenile criminals. Please don’t ever dare to challenge State authority again,” she urged the children as she once again reminded them that she has “good friends” who will not allow any criminal activity to happen around her precincts.
After a frank discussion carried out in a mother-children manner, the children present who had conspired to forcefully take over the conference room, all apologized individually and collectively saying they now realized the gravity of what they had attempted to do on Wednesday 28th March 2017.
Meanwhile, it is now crystal clear that CFN’s AGM of December 2016 had never received confirmed funding from any Partner including controversial Save The Children organization which has since distanced themselves from false claims they had provided cash and payments to host an AGM in Kono. There was also absolutely no proper arrangements done. Not just faulty buses but even accommodation and feeding was not planned. So everyone now agrees Minister Blyden was perfectly correct to have protected the children from moving to Kono in December.
Hon. Blyden has however assured CFN members of her Ministry’s full support to ensure CFN’s proposed Annual General Meeting (AGM) holds over upcoming Easter Break.
About the January incident involving two children whom she requested the Police to hand to their parents, she recounted to loud bursts of laughter from the children, of how one of the two, Kandeh Kamara, had returned at the Ministry’s dinner table saying he was very hungry.
“I let Kandeh eat as much as he wanted and then when he was full, he said he wanted to take some more food home with him. He was speaking to me with his mouth full of luncheon meat. I smilingly told him to also take as much food as he wanted and with speed, he grabbed the bread and other delicacies with both hands. When he had packaged as much as he wanted, my police bodyguard peacefully took him to the Police Family Support Unit with a request for them to hand him safely back to his mother again. So how can anyone say I arrested or brutalized such a child to extent of maliciously quoting Whitney Houston songs?” the Minister pondered.
The said Kandeh Kamara was present as the minister recounted and he confirmed the report. Many were stunned at his confirmation given what had been portrayed by Legal Aid Board in the media about that night in January.
See below to read Text and scanned image of signed press release issued by CFN on Wednesday 15th March 2017.
Press Release? Press Release?
The Children's Forum Network wishes to inform the general public that we have resolved our internal misunderstandings, reunited as a team and we are poised again to focus on promoting the rights and welfare of children in Sierra Leone with the blessing and support of the Honourable Minister Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden and Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children's Affairs.
We particularly wish to note the following:
1) That there is no more division within the CFN. All parties have now resolved to come together fully ready to work as a team and in the best interest of the children of Sierra Leone. We wish to particularly affirm that our legitimate elected executive with Paulina H. Bangura as President will continue to work with the rest of the executive to advance the agenda of CFN.
2.) That on March 10th 2017, we wrote a letter to the Hon. Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden requesting an appointment for cross section of CFN members and she accepted.
3.) That we have today March 15th 2017 also rendered our unrestrained and fullest of apologies to the Honourable Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs, Hon. Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden for the mis-communication between CFN and the ministry. We have asked for her forgiveness. We are now fully ready to work hand in glove with her, and hence making sure that we protect children’s rights and promote child participation in our country, Sierra Leone. We are very happy that we have finally met with her today as our Mother and we have had a mother-children internal dialogue, expressed our apologies in person and discussed concrete ways to advance our mutual interest in advancing the rights and well-being of the children of Sierra Leone.
4.) That with immediate effect, we will resume holding our Thursday meetings at 3 pm at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs. We are assured that the ministry is still supportive of CFN and we are looking forward to continuing our productive meetings and relationship with the Ministry.
5.) We also wish to unreservedly apologized to the general public for the actions and inactions of certain members over the past few weeks which divided us and led to the unfortunate misunderstanding with the Hon. Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's affairs, Hon. Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden and the ensuing unfortunate events which spilled into the public domain. Please accept our sincere apologies for all actions that were inconsistent with the values and morals that we speak of and stand for as leaders and champions of other children in Sierra Leone. We can assure you that this saga is over and will never repeat itself again.
6.) Finally, we would like to also extend our apologies to our partners - Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and other champions for children's participation for our role in the unfortunate episode over the past few weeks. We hope that our new resolve for peace and unity will renew their confidence in CFN and we can all work together again to advance children's rights in our country.
We must end by expressing our thanks and appreciation to the Chairperson for the Child Rights Coalition of Sierra Leone, Madam Hawa Samai, former CFN Presidents and other associate members of CFN, as well as our other friends and partners for their patience and valiant efforts in bringing us together and working with us to find a peaceful and dignified solution to this unhappy episode that has led to the amicable situation we are now in. We are grateful for your support in helping us in our quest to continuing laying a solid foundation for the children of Sierra Leone and to help us all reach our fullest potential.
Paulina H Bangura.
Hussain M. Sesay.
National Secretary General
WITNESSED AS MORAL GUARANTOR
Chairperson, Child Rights Coalition –SL
Secretary General, WARD-DYC.
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