• January 19, 2024

Former President Koroma Arrives in Abuja In High Spirits

Former President Koroma Arrives in Abuja In High Spirits
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Abuja – Friday,  January 19, 2024

At 15:24hrs Sierra Leone time, with a -57°C cabin temperature and flying at an altitude of 41,000 feet, we had covered 1224km at ground speed of 586mph or 935/km/h. This means that we had just 261 miles left to arrive at our destination.

As is characteristic of his humility, the VIP moved out of the Aft (VIP Cabin) to interact with us in the cabin mid-section. He joked with the young Ibrahim, the Office Assistant who was flying for the first time, about how ‘great’ he was for the fact that the first he ever boarded a plane it was a presidential jet from Africa’s largest economy – Nigeria.  We then talked and laughed about several things.

As we approached our destination, the pilot started lowering the bird to its descent. At just 13,332 feet above sea level, we were only 0:12 minutes away from touching down at the Nnaddi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. Already, I could see glimpses of a sketchy image of patches of villages strewn on our path. But most defining of the spectable was the barreness – swathes of rocky land lying bare of any trees or vegetation. Footpaths and dusty roads crisscross the topography.

At 1600hrs, the pilot lazily swung to his right, and then to his left, like a playful sparow would do in summer. Then, we burst onto a sihouthe of modern road, rail networks, and specs of impressive housing infrastructure, betrayed by a long litany of low cost housing not too far away.

We touched down at exactly 16:08hrs, which is 17:08hrs Abuja time. As we taxied on the tarmac, the captain bellowed his announcement of our arrival, thanked ‘His Excellency for flying with us,’ and assured him of a warm welcome in Abuja. He was right, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Alieu Omar Touray and a host of other high-ups were waiting at the presidential lounge to receive the widely respected former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma.

Dr Touray had cause to visit Sierra Leone three times in the course of the last three months. It follows the events of Sunday, November 26th, which the state called a failed coup attempt. In a dramatic and shocking turn of events, former president Koroma was accused of involvement in the coup plot. To the bemusement and bewilderment of many, the man who led his country for two consecutive terms, and gracefully handed over power, was charged with treason and three other grave offences. The Economic Community of West Aftican States, (ECOWAS), had to intervene and negotiated the departure of one of their illustrious statesmen, to leave what has become a densely toxic environment in Sierra Leone.

Among the dignatries at the airport in Abuja was the former Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Madam Finda Koroma, who is the younger sister of the wife of the former President. Charismatic as always, and with his trademark infectious broad smile, former President Koroma shook hands, affectionately hugged his in- law, and with digitaries who came to receive him, he strode on to the presidential lounge in very high spirits.

Please stay tuned for the full story on the day’s historic journey.

Sheriff Mahmud Ismail, Principal Assistant to Former President Koroma

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