Thursday, June 16, 2016 2:35 pm
Sierra Leone’s former High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Umaru Wurie, has formally declared his intention to contest for the presidency
Among all the contestants for the flag bearer of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), his personality strikes out, due to his respectability and stature throughout the country. His extraordinary popularity cuts across political, tribal and religious lines. Ambassador Umaru Wurie’s record of achievements for his country has been recognized nationally and internationally, with awards of commander of the Order of Sierra Leone, Grand Commander of the Order of Malta and Knight of the Republic of Italy.
What is particularly outstanding and unique is the role he played in providing military assistance to end the war in his country, when he was the High Commissioner in Nigeria. He facilitated Nigeria’s military assistance to train Sierra Leone’s armed forces when the war broke out. He also facilitated the formation of a Joint Commission between the two countries, to promote bilateral relationship in various fields of activities. Prominent among such activities is the establishment of a Medical School in Sierra Leone, with assistance from Nigeria.
From humble beginnings in the Northern District of Port Loko in Sierra Leone, he had a distinguished career in the civil service in the late 1970s, as a geologist. He managed the important Magbosi Integrated Agricultural Development Project founded by IFAD and the Massive Magbass Sugar Complex, funded by China.
In the diplomatic circles, he has served in over 30 Countries as Ambassador of Sierra Leone, with multiple accreditations in Germany, India, Italy, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Turkey, amongst many others. He has also served as his country’s Permanent Representative to the UN agencies in Vienna, Rome and Berne.
But it was his tenure in Nigeria that stands tall. Apart from the military assistance and other bilateral engagements he engineered, Wurie negotiated the oil supply from which Sierra Leone is still benefitting today. He was also part of the team that set up the Technical Aid Corp (TAC), a program that commenced during the Presidency of Ibrahim Babangida in the late 80s. Today, Sierra Leone benefits immensely from the program particularly in the medical sector.
Back in his country, he re-negotiated the Bumbuna Hydro Project with the government of Italy, providing much-needed electricity for the country. He has served as Director-General and Ambassador-at-large in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation. He also served as Permanent Secretary and Ambassador-at-large in the Ministry of Mineral Resources and as Development Secretary at the Ministry of Finance. Being the people’s servant, his services also extended to the educational sector, where he served for 5 years as chairman of Port Loko Teachers’ College.
Ambassador Wurie has also championed humanitarian efforts in several regions of the world, notably serving as Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator of the UN in Iraq, and a member of various international and local humanitarian organizations.
He is presently in Nigeria, on invitation from former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, his long-time ally. Together, they are crisis-crossing Nigeria. Last week they were together in Kaduna and in Katsina for official opening of a mosque. Getting support from Nigeria is crucial in winning elections in the West Africa Sub-Region. Nigeria has been supportive to all West African countries since independence.
Popularly called “Bond Wurie,” in local circles, his “James Bond” attributes in achieving designated goals are crucial ingredients and qualities for a win-ticket in the Presidential race. His party, the SLPP, now in opposition, will soon hold its convention where a flag bearer will emerge, to contest for the presidency, against the ruling All Peoples’ Congress (APC) party of President Ernest Koroma in the 2018 general elections.