As Babatunde Ahonsi concludes his tenure as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, he reflects on a multitude of impactful experiences that shaped his tenure in the country. Ahonsi notes that despite external challenges and internal complexities, his time in Sierra Leone has been largely productive, fostering UN support toward sustainable development and lasting peace.
In a departure reminiscent of Albashir Adam Alhassan’s ‘Always Remember to Forget’, Ahonsi leaves Sierra Leone with a firm resolve to cherish the critical strides taken, foreseeing their role in unlocking the nation’s vast developmental potential. He acknowledges the UN’s hand in these advancements but equally emphasizes the pivotal role played by Sierra Leone’s Government and its people in laying the groundwork for economic and social transformation.
The departing UN RC highlights several key advancements that he vows never to forget:
Elite Consensus and Political Resolution: Ahonsi lauds the pivotal 18th October, 2023 Political Agreement for National Unity, symbolizing a collective commitment among Sierra Leonean leaders to eschew violence in political conflict resolution, fostering national unity and development.
Inter-Religious Harmony: He applauds Sierra Leone’s remarkable inter-religious harmony, showcasing a unique coexistence where Christian and Islamic practices transcend names, underscoring the need to prevent politicians from exploiting religious sentiments for electoral gains.
Advancements in Gender Equality: Ahonsi praises the country’s strides in gender equality and women’s empowerment, attributing this progress to collaborative efforts between the Government and various UN agencies. He highlights legislative reforms, increased women’s representation and enhanced measures against gender-based violence.
Effective Response to Health Crises: Sierra Leone’s proactive approach to health crises, particularly in COVID-19 management, stands out in Ahonsi’s reflections. He commends the country’s strategies and successful vaccination campaigns, foreseeing a stronger human capital base for future development.
Natural Endowments and Economic Opportunities: Acknowledging Sierra Leone’s rich natural resources, Ahonsi emphasizes the potential for economic growth through eco-tourism and the blue economy, urging sustainable exploitation of these assets for national development.
Empowerment of Youth, Disable Persons and Farmers: He calls for greater support for the youth, persons with disabilities and smallholder farmers, stressing the need for their inclusion as active agents of development.
Cultural Reflections: Lightening the tone, Ahonsi jests about his encounters with the diverse variations of jollof rice in West Africa, anticipating a break from diplomatic debates on the subject in his next destination.
Concluding with gratitude to various stakeholders and a call for a collective commitment to Sierra Leone’s common good, Ahonsi expresses optimism for the nation’s future, placing its destiny firmly in the hands of its people.