New Resident Coordinator, Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi pays courtesy call on President Bio

Freetown, Sierra Leone—Recently appointed United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi has presented his letters of credence to the President, H.E. (Rtd) Brigadier Gen. Julius Maada Bio on Thursday October 22.

RCO Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi presenting his letters to President Julius Maada Bio at State House

 During his courtesy call on the President at State House, Dr. Ahonsi underscored the goal of the United Nations support to Sierra Leone in ‘Building back better and ‘leaving no one behind. The UN RC also said that COVID-19 may be defeated, “by being responsible citizens and heeding to the call of our health experts.”

We are now in the decade of action, and we only have ten years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN family in Sierra Leone currently comprises 21 resident and non-resident agencies, funds and programmes who remain engaged to ensure we can address national priorities ranging from food security and livelihoods to health, education, social protection, good governance and environmental sustainability,” Dr. Ahonsi said.

Accompanied and introduced to the President by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ms. Nabeela Tunis, Dr. Ahonsi said, “ Sierra Leone needs all of us to overcome the outbreak,” while pledging that the UN System in Sierra Leone remains committed to supporting the government not only with the health response but also with the socio-economic recovery.

President Julius Maada Bio and Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi at the end of the ceremony

He praised the admirable resilience of Sierra Leoneans that has kept the country going notwithstanding the health challenges and adverse development impacts of dealing with the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and now, with the current pandemic. 

Dr. Ahonsi also said that the UN continues to deliver on their programmes across the country using the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework as its guiding document.

While congratulating Dr Ahonsi on his appointment by the UN Secretary-General, the President said his goal is to strengthen good results between the UN and the people of Sierra Leone. He noted that Dr. Ahonsi’s appointment came “at a very difficult time not only to Sierra Leone but to the rest of the world.”

The President invited the UN to continue to support his government with its priority areas, including improving quality education, peace and national cohesion, agriculture and health, among others.

President Bio congratulating the RC on his appointment

Before his appointment to Sierra Leone, on September 21 this year, Dr. Ahonsi, a Nigerian national, worked in China in an interim capacity as UN Resident Coordinator. He was also UNFPA’s Representative in China and Country Director for Mongolia.

He has more than two decades of experience in international development and was a lecturer at several universities in his native, Nigeria. Dr Babatunde Ahonsi has a doctorate in philosophy. 

(See full text of the RC’s statement )

Your Excellency, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone

Secretary to the President, Dr. Julius Sandy,

Special Adviser to the President, Madam Konah Koroma,

UN Family Colleagues,

Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with utmost humility and great honor that I present my credentials as the United Nations Resident Coordinator appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, to serve in Sierra Leone. I wish to express my sincere appreciation and profound gratitude for Your Excellency’s speedy approval of my designation.

I am cognizant of the fruitful relations that exist between the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN system. Thus, I am eager to deepen UN partnerships with the Government, and our other partners in development towards accelerating the country’s recovery from Covid-19, and its quest for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and middle-income country status.

COVID-19 Support

Your Excellency, this year has been a challenging year worldwide, and for Sierra Leone having gone through Ebola epidemic between 2014 and 2016 to so soon again be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite these health challenges and their adverse development impacts, the admirable resilience of the people of Sierra Leone has kept the country going.

Your Excellency, building on your Government’s early and robust response, we can together defeat COVID-19 by being responsible citizens and heeding the advice of our health experts. While we are still battling this virus, the UN system in Sierra Leone remains committed to support your Government not only with the health response but also with recovery.

Framework

We continue to deliver on our programmes across the country—using the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework as its guiding document, which was informed by the Government’s Medium-Term National Development Plan and now coupled with the Covid-19 Socio-Economic Recovery Plan (SERP). In all of our development activities, the goal remains supporting Sierra Leone to ‘build back better’ and ‘leave no one behind”.

We are now in the decade of action and only have 10 years to achieve the SDGs. The UN family in Sierra Leone currently comprises 21 resident and non-resident, agencies and funds, who remain engaged to ensure we can address national priorities ranging from food security and livelihood, to health, education, social protection, good governance and environmental sustainability. The UN system provides technical, programmatic and advisory services, as well as financial support to national implementing partners.

UN75

The United Nations this year is celebrating its 75th anniversary and globally consultations were held to better understand the concerns and hopes of the peoples of the world and the importance of international cooperation and multilateralism in addressing them in the years to come. In Sierra Leone, there were several engagements with the staff, partners, and the public, including surveys, dialogues, and other sessions to gather insights on the hopes and aspirations of the citizenry. In summary, the results indicate that Sierra Leoneans have high hopes for more progress with youth development and education and the biggest anxieties noted were around the sustenance of peace and stability.

Finally, Your Excellency,  I wish to assure you and the people of Sierra Leone that my designation will seek to further strengthen the collaboration between the Government and the organizations of the United Nations family engaged in operational activities for development in the country for the advancement of the well-being of the people of this beautiful country especially those furthest behind.