Abdul Aziz Kargbo, who was elected December 23, last year, has been inaugurated as the 7th President of the Sierra Leone Nationals’ Union (SLNU) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during a colourful ceremony held at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Riyadh on Friday, March 10, 2023.

In his opening remarks as chairman of the inauguration ceremony, Sheikh Alhaji Ibrahim Sillah, the first President of the Union, who also served as Chief Electoral Commissioner for the elections, described the event as very important for all Sierra Leoneans residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Today, we are gathered here to inaugurate our president-elect, who will serve as the 7th President of the Sierra Leone Nationals’ Union in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a period of 2 years. Since his election 3 months ago, the president-elect has hit the ground running by setting up an inclusive executive that will serve for the next 2 years,” Sheikh Sillah said.

For the first time in the 29 years existence of the Union, Mr Abdul Aziz Kargbo has appointed a female in the person of Kadija Conteh to serve as Vice President of the Union.

This is remarkable and a manifestation of his vision to empower women,” Sheikh Alhaji Sillah said.

After the symbolic inauguration and presentation of staff, the new President of the Union commended the outgoing President and his executive for serving the SLNU diligently.

Leadership is from Allah as the Almighty Allah mentioned in the Holy Quran that He bestows leadership upon those whom He wants,” he said.

Mr Kargbo commended all members of the SLNU for electing him, noting that leadership was a huge responsibility and assured all and sundry that the executive would serve in the best interest of the Union.

He commended the Head of Mission, His Excellency Dr. Ibrahim Jalloh, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Mohamed Hassan Koroma, the Management and staff of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Saudi Arabia, and the Dawa Committee for the tremendous support they have been giving to his new administration since he was elected 3 months ago.

The new SLNU President said he has established an inclusive executive and for the first time appointed a female to serve as Vice President.

He said his executive has 30 percent female representation, which is in line with the recently-enacted Gender Equality Act in Sierra Leone.

He said his new executive has recently shipped a consignment of dates (Tamaro) to Sierra Leone as Iftar (breaking of fast) support to Muslims across the country. Mr. Kargbo also disclosed that since he was elected as President of the Union, he has succeeded in bringing on board the membership of Sierra Leone students’ unions in Makkah, Madina, and Riyadh, to work as affiliate bodies to the SLNU.

Earlier, the outgoing president of the Union, Abdulai Conteh, in a statement delivered by Sheikh Alhaji Ibrahim Sillah, congratulated the new president, whom he said served him as vice president.

The statement said, as someone who has been rendering tremendous services to the Union and the community, the election of the new president was based on his (the new president’s) notable records. The outgoing president said that he was also grateful to all Sierra Leoneans in the Kingdom, especially members of his outgoing executive, for the outstanding support rendered him throughout his tenure of office.

Mr. Conteh also commended His Excellency, Ambassador Dr. Ibrahim Jalloh and the entire management and staff of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Saudi Arabia, as well as the Dawa Committee for their support, adding that, “your support reflected positively on the numerous achievements made by the Union during the past years of my term of office.”

Speaking on behalf of Ambassador Dr. Ibrahim Jalloh, who is currently out of the Kingdom, the First Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Mohamed Sulaiman Sankoh, congratulated the new SLNU President on his election. He said the Embassy was impressed with the unification and inclusive approach of the new president, something he described as a step in the right direction.

Mr. Sankoh said the gender priority of the SLNU President was laudable. He said the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone would continue to give the Union the requisite support at all times.

On behalf of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Saudi Arabia, I wish you success in your tenure of office and encourage you and your executive to work as a team to ensure a successful administration,” Mr. Sankoh concluded.

The 4th President of the SLNU, Alhaji Ibrahim Koi-Dowui, spoke briefly on the essence of peaceful co-existence and non-violence during and after the elections. He urged Sierra Leoneans in Saudi Arabia to preach peace to their family members in Sierra Leone especially during the forthcoming elections slated for June 24, 2023.

The Dawa Committee Chairman, Sheikh Alhaji Ahmed Maroof Sesay, delivered a short lecture on leadership and the vote of thanks was delivered by the SLNU First Lady, Mrs. Aminata Fofana Kargbo.