Ambassador Yongawo reassures students of Gov’t support
By Festus J. Lahai, Information Attaché, Moscow, Russia
Sierra Leone Ambassador to Russia, HE Mohamed Yongawo has reassured Sierra Leonean students in Russia of government continued support towards their welfare.
During the virtual meeting with the Students’ Union President and a cross-section of his Executive, Ambassador Yongawo conveyed President Bio’s salutations and reassurance and reminded them about the government priority on education.
Ambassador Yongawo enquired on the general well-being of the students, noting that the Mission is pleased not to have received any report of COVID -19 infections among Sierra Leonean students.
Ambassador Yongawo also used the occasion to formally introduce the new Minister Counselor/ Head of Chancery Mr. Dennis E. Nicol.
In his brief remarks, Mr. Nicol registered his appreciation for his posting as the HOC, expressing his gratitude to Ambassador Yongawo and Embassy Staff for their friendly reception.
Mr. Nicol encouraged the students to take their studies seriously, admonishing them to return home and help their country in various sectors after completing their studies in Russia.
Presenting their concerns to the Embassy, SU President, Sahr Sansie Kwigba outlined series of issues, including the late arrival of their stipends.
“Another concern is the late arrival of allowances for students which has cost us a lot; so we kindly ask for your help in that direction as our country’s representative in this federation,” he urged.
Updating the Embassy about developments in the Union, Mr. Kwigba said the students conducted a free, fair and credible election which was accepted by everyone.
“As a Union, we have developed a workable Constitution which now governs our activities. We have brought together all Sierra Leonean students in the Russian Federation and we have also started helping colleagues in Sierra Leone who have gained admission to Universities here but are not allowed to travel due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions”.
Mr. Kwigba further revealed that the students intend to open and operate an account for regular contributions “to help colleagues whenever the need arises”
On his part, Auditor of the Union Ishmeal Khadri Kamara explained the focus of the National Union of Sierra Leonean students which includes protecting the interests, integrity and general welfare of all students; promoting gender equality and religious tolerance among its members.
He concluded by calling on the Embassy to always collaborate with the students’ Union body with regards the arrival of new students, saying they should always be part of the delegation that welcome them to the Federation.
Organizing Secretary Alhassan Bangura appealed to Ambassador Yongawo and the Government of Sierra Leone to help students that have gained admission to Russia, to learn the Russian language in Sierra Leone before their departure, adding that this will help them familiarize with the language on arrival in Russia.
Mr. Bangura continued: “We also want to start a magazine production in order to make our activities visible; which I believe will be of help to colleagues and the Embassy”.
Responding, Ambassador Yongawo assured the leadership that he was in regular contact with the Ministries of Technical and Higher Education and Finance with regards their allowances, but reminded them of the processes and procedures involved in paying out stipends or disbursing public money.
Ambassador Yongawo promised to continue engaging the appropriate line Ministries as according to him, government is fully committed to providing support to the education sector.
He also appealed to the students to continue to exercise patience, promising that their monies would arrive soonest.
“The Mission is always working with current students by providing support to the incoming ones and I want to assure that it will continue,” he noted.
Ambassador Yongawo strongly advised students against any action that will be deemed inappropriate such as a protest.
He encouraged them to continue working with the Mission in addressing their concerns and reminded them about his open-door policy.