Ministry of Lands engages Land Holding Families and the University Administration.
A high powered delegation from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment led by the Hon. Minister, Dr. Denis Sandy on Tuesday 5th February, 2019 held a fruitful deliberation with the Land Holding Families and the University Administration.
In attendance were traditional authorities, representatives from the Moyamba District Council, Officials from the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education among others.
In his witty address to his audience, Vice Chancellor and Principal, Njala University, Prof. Abdullah Mansaray described the gathering as a special family meeting to which his Administration has enjoyed together with indigenes of Kori Chiefdom for the land lease from 1956 to date. Overtime he went on, the University has grown in size and stature yet faced with myriad of encroachment challenges and urged all aggrieved land holding families for amicable resolution of the land impasse.
Giving an overview of the land lease agreement, Director, Physical Plants and Services, Njala University, Santigie Sesay said the lease agreement was entered into by the Tribal Authorities of Kori Chiefdom and the Government of Sierra Leone on 20th October, 1956. It was signed by S.E.Kombey and A.S. Briwah on behalf of the tribal authorities and Governor M. H Dorman signed on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone witnessed by PC James Gbapi. He said the University had for decades honored payment of rent on to 1991 when the war broke out. When pressure from the land holding families resumed in 2011, Payment of Le 20,000,000 rent was again honoured in 2014 by the University Administration.
Leader of land Holding Families, Prince Kakpata in a rather deviant tone disclosed plans to issue an immediate quit notice to the Njala University Administration for not paying rent yet continues occupying more land including NATC and SLARI and that the University was leasing land to other organizations including SLBC, UT Bank, and Mobile Companies.
He said, previous Administrations had reneged on their Corporate Social responsibilities to their families adding that the University had overtime failed to live up to expectations.
On the contrary, Paramount Chief of Kori Chiefdom, PC Thomas Gbapi (IV) catalogued major and feasible contributions by the University to his chiefdom and promised to give more land to them for expansion.
Deputy Minister, Dr. Turad Senesie who was the chairman for the Njala delegation disclosed that the presence of Njala University in Kori Chiefdom is a blessing rather than a curse. He said aside the education and feasible developments done by the University to Kori and Moyamba District, bevy of sons and daughters from Kori Chiefdom have been appointed and employed to serve in prominent positions in the University Circle. He threw reference to the outgone Vice Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Ernest Ndomahina and also the present Pro- Chancellor, Prof Bob Kandeh whom he said are all proud indigenes of Kori Chiefdom.
Like all others, Dr Senesie said Njala University is a Public University, which implicitly means that an issue of Land lease disagreement must be handled by the Government of Sierra Leone not the University Administration noting that they are representatives of Government.
Dr.Turad Senesie disclosed plans by Government to transform Njala University into a skills laboratory for Agricultural expansion especially with the Introduction of the Songhai Model which he went on would create hosts of job opportunities for indigenes of Kori Chiefdom and its environs.
Minister of Lands, Housing and the Environment, ‘Paopa Field Marshal’ Denis Sandy said they as a ministry are charged with the onerous responsibilities to protect, preserve and maintain government land adding that looming issues of land had lingered for long because of miscommunication, mutual respect, and trust. He appealed with all aggrieved land holding families to be cognizant of the contributions of the University to Moyamba District and the Country as a whole and urged them to repose confidence in the New Direction noting that Njala University remains the Pride of the New Direction of President Julius Maada Bio. He further invited the Kori and the University delegations to Freetown for an amicable solution towards the impasse yet reiterated on the issue of constructive engagements and dialogue.
Beaming with smiles after his keynote address, members of the Kori Delegation promised to cooperate with the New Direction and the University Administration.
Encroachment into University facilities has become a concern and Some Land Holding Families are selling pieces of land close to the University quarters.
The engagement was climaxed with the launch of the Survey Report by Deputy Minister of Lands Housing and the Environment, Rex Bhonapha.