By Ajibola Abayomi
Legal luminary, lecturer, politician, and the present minister of Labour and Social Security in Sierra Leone, Alhaji Alpha Osman Timbo, is an astute and humble character in government whose personality transcends the country of his birth.
Following this, his nomination as one of the recipients of the 2022 Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) in Public Administration at the Ecole Superieure des sciences, de commerce et administration des enterprise du Benin (ESCAE University) Benin Republic, raises positive dust.
ESCAE University is a technology-oriented institution providing an educational experience of the highest quality was granted accreditation by the Minister of Higher Education and officially inaugurated in October 2012.
The institution founded in 2008 Mehoba D. Théodore, Doctor in Economics and Management Science is recognized by the Directorate of Evaluation and Accreditation of the Federal Ministry of Education Nigeria, West African Countries, countries as well as International Association of Universities.
As the event slated for on January 29, 2022, draw close, this piece unraveled the 67 historical facts about Timbo.
Alpha Osman Timbo was born on the 27 April 1961 in a small town called Rokulan, in Sanda Tendaren Chiefdom, Bombali District, Northern Province of the Republic of Sierra Leone. The town got its name from a forest, west of present day Rokulan. The forest was called “Gbonkoh Kulan” as it was inhabited by Gorillas. Hence, the Themne word for Gorilla is “Konkokulan”.
- His Parents – Haja Adiatu Barrie Timbo and Late Minkailu Timbo.
- He attended the Bombali District Education Committee (BDEC) Primary School in Rokulan (1967-1973/4) under the leadership of late H.B. Jalloh.
3 Attended the St. Francis Secondary School in Makeni up to Form Five (5) (1974-1979) under the then leadership of late Mr. R. A Kanu and lived at 23 Makama Road, Makeni.
4 Transferred to Ahmadiyya Muslim Secondary School (AMSS) in Freetown (1980/81) under the leadership of Alhaji M.P. Bayoh, Ex-Sierra Leone High Commissioner to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
5 Moved to Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone-USL (1981-1985) under the leadership of Professor Eldred Jones and late Professor Cyril Patrick Foray, Ex-Sierra Leone High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History, Law and Philosophy. During those days, Timbo actively participated in the politics of the institution. He became Deputy Minister of Education and later Speaker of the Students Representative Council (SRC).
6 Did his postgraduate Diploma in Education (1986), under the distinguished leadership of late Professor Newman Smart.
7 Taught for almost Seven (7) years at the Sierra Leone Muslim Women Educational Institute, Kankaylay Secondary School Kissy, Ahmadiyya Muslim Secondary School, Freetown and the Cardinal Educational Enterprises in Freetown.
8 After almost Sixteen (16) years, Timbo returned to F.B.C-USL to pursue an LLB (Honours) Degree course, which he successfully completed.
9 Attended the Sierra Leone Law School under the abled leadership of Professor Tuboku Metzger and successfully passed and called to the Bar in October 2006.
10 Appointed Secretary General, Sierra Leone Teachers Union, (SLTU) in 1990 a position he held for Ten (10) years until he was appointed Minister of Labour, Social Security and Industrial Relations.
11 During his tenure as Secretary General of SLTU, Timbo together with Mban Kabu as President and others championed the Liberation Movement of Teachers and the Union. Together they transformed the SLTU to a more formidable organization that took its rightful position in society and the International Trade Union Movement.
12 Championed the cause for the issuance of a Collective Bargaining Certificate (CBC) for the Union in 1993 and negotiated the first Collective Agreement between the employers of Teachers of Sierra Leone (ETSL) and the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) that saw the improvement in terms and conditions of service of teachers.
13 Undertook a number of development Projects for the SLTU such as the Building of Rogaland House, the SLTU Head Quarters completed in 1991, and SLTU’s Regional Office in Bo completed in 2002 and left the advanced stage of the building of Hotel 5-10.
14 During his tenure at SLTU, Timbo had a formidable team in the persons of, Messrs: Mban Kabu, Mohamed Boye Jalloh-Jamboria, Soufian S. Fofanah, Alfred Veenod Fullah, Rashid Koroma, late Sam Goba, Abdulai Koroma, Victor S. Kabia, Festus E. Minah, Wusu D. Samura, Davidson A. Kuyateh, Allieu Deen Conteh, Morris S. Conteh, Augustine G. Karim, James A. Lahai, Rashid A. Bah, to name but a few.
15 Introduced a number of Professional and Trade Union programs that enhanced the capacity of the leaders of the Union and its members.
16 Founding member of the West African Teacher Leaders Training Project sponsored by LO-FTF-DLF (Denmark) and Education International (EI) with headquarters in Brussels. This provides various training programs for West African Teachers Leaders at all levels of their organizations.
17 Jointly developed the book “Understanding your Union”, first produced by Hon. Emmanuel A. Fatoma, former Secretary General of SLTU and team and also developed the ‘’Hand Book for School Representatives’’.
18 romoted the SLTU Study Circle Project in collaboration with the Norwegian Union of Teachers (NL) under the leadership of Anneli Askola, International Secretary, NL and Karl Jorgen Haakonseth, Project Consultant, NL.
19 Strengthened the SLTU/CTF Project overseas programs that enhanced the professional capacity of our school administrators and the vast majority of our untrained and unqualified teachers. This was done in collaboration with the Canadian Teachers Federation under the leadership of Nicole Patenaude.
20 In the promotion of the cause of women, he was one of the two males in the Board of promotion of women in West Africa that paved the way for women in West African Teachers Organisations to occupy positions of President and Secretary General as in cases of Salimata Doumbia in Côte D’Ivoire, Irene Adanusa in Ghana and Asibi Napoe in Togo, who is now the Chief Coordinator of Education International in Africa.
21 Reactivated the SLTU/CTF Bursaries for women in education programs. This enabled a lot of our female teachers and daughters of teachers in the Sierra Leone teaching service to pursue higher education.
22 Served as a member of the Board of Education in Sierra Leone that advises the Minister of Education on policy matters
23 Served as a member of the 6-3-3-4 Implementation Committee
24 Served as a member of the National Committee of the West African Examinations Council for over Six (6) years. This committee formulates policies and approves programs and budget for the National Office.
25 He also served in the Committee of Aptitude Test in the West African Examinations Council.
26 He participated in the merger talks between the International Federation of Free Teachers Union (IFFTU) and the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP) to form Education International (EI).
27 Founding member (participant) of Education International (EI) in Stockholm, Sweden in 1993, which is the largest International Trade Secretariat of Teachers in the world.
28 First African to win the open seat of the Executive Board of EI. This position he held up to the time he took up appointment as Minister of Labour, Social Security and Industrial Relations.
29 He served as Executive Board member of Education International, African Regional Committee (EIRAC) for over Five (5) years.
30 At the Sierra Leone Labour Congress (SLLC), Timbo became the Deputy Secretary General and acted as Secretary General for about four (4) years when Mr. Kandeh B. Yilla was on secondment to the then African American Labour Centre (AALC). During his tenure in office, he undertook the extension of the SLLC building at Wallace Johnson Street, in Freetown.
31 He also represented the African Region in the International Confederation of Free Trade Union, African Regional Organization (ICFTU/AFRO) up to the time he took up appointment as Minister.
32 He was also a substitute member of the ILO Governing body, representing the workers of the world (Workers Group). Also, a position he held up to his appointment as Minister. At this body, they formulated policies, including ILO Conventions and Recommendations that govern the world of work, the promotion of good governance and Social Justice.
33 Undertook studies in the structure, functions, and workings of the ILO
34 He spent over Eight (8) years of uninterrupted service in the National and International Trade Union Movement. Has worked with most if not all Donor and International Financial Institutions like the World bank, African Development Bank, DFID, NORAD, CIDA, DANIDA etc, and has great negotiations skills that has enabled him garner support from our International Cooperating Partners.
35 As Human Rights Activist and on the promotion of Democracy, Human and Trade Union Rights, he is the principal founder of the Civil Society Movement (CSM) and served as its first spokesperson and Chief Coordinator. He worked with Civic Organizations like the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), Civic Development Unit (CDU), Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD), Campaign for good Governance (CGG) and the National Commission for Democracy and Human Rights (NCDHR) and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) in the drive towards the Restoration of Democracy in Sierra Leone.
36 He worked with great Institutions like the TUC, EI, OATUU, ACILS and AFLCIO and ILO and are all critical institutions in our development aspirations.
37 When the Junior Officers from the Sierra Leone Armed Forces overthrew the APC Government and set up the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) under the leadership of Captain Valentine Ezegrabo Melvin Strasser, Timbo was called upon to serve but declined from working with a military regime.
38 The regime then proclaimed two main tasks.
39 Firstly, to speedily prosecute and conclude the Rebel War
40 Secondly, to return the country to Civilian Rule
41 Later, after some months of administration, the regime readjusted their mission as follows:
ü Firstly, to speedily prosecute and conclude the Rebel War
ü Secondly, to develop the Economy and
ü Thirdly, to return the country to Civilian Rule
42 Then after almost 2/3 years in office, the administration was incapable of ending the war and there was clear evidence of blatant abuse of Human and Trade Union Rights, Timbo and others championed the Liberation Movement to end the tenure of office of the regime. The regime then set up the National Advisory Council under the leadership of Ex-President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah as Chairman. The Council among others started a process of Review of the 1991 Constitution. This they saw as a deliberate attempt to forestall the democratic process to ensure the regime’s continued stay in office. The SLTU, Sierra Leone Labour Congress and other Civil Society Organizations stoutly resisted the process that led to its failure and total collapse.
43 In their quest to achieve peace and ensure the restoration of Democracy, Timbo and others pursued various pronged approaches including the establishment of the National Committee for the Consolidation of Peace (NCCP) headed by Ex-President, SLTU, Mr. Mban Kabu and Mr. Victor Reider, who later became Hon. Member of Parliament and Publicity Secretary, SLPP.
44 SLTU then undertook the Voter Registration Exercise and provided adequate personnel that led to the successful conduct of the 1996 elections.
45 Again, after the 1996 Elections, Timbo was invited to serve the SLPP administration but declined on the grounds that there was a lot of unfinished vital tasks in the SLTU.
46 In 1997 when some members of the Armed Forces of Sierra Leone toppled the SLPP government and invited the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) headed by the late Foday Saybana Sankoh together formed the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) headed by Fugitive Johnny Paul Koroma. Timbo together with the late Hassan M. Barrie (then President of Sierra Leone Labour Congress and Chairman of Civil Society Movement) were called upon to serve but they again declined to serve a junta regime.
47 Instead, they championed the fight for the Restoration of Democracy. Together with late Uriah Q.H. Davies, then vice President of Sierra Leone Labour Congress (SLLC), Muctarr B. Williams Deputy Secretary General SLLC, K.B.J. Conteh, Max Conteh, Sulaiman Tarawallie, Mban Kabu, Davidson A. Kuyateh, Wusu D. Samura, Alieu Deen Conteh, to name but only a few.
48 Timbo worked closely with other Civic Organizations like the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) headed by Abu Brima, Civic Development Unit (CDU) headed by Alithur Freeman, Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) headed by Mr. Abdulai Caulker (Avayama), Campaign for Good Governance, headed by Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura, now Minister of Health and Sanitation, the National Commission of Democracy and Human Rights then headed by Dr. Kadi Sesay, another SLPP Presidential Flag Bearer Aspirant, and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists especially For di people NEWSPAPER, headed by Paul Kamara, Standard Times under Karim Sei and Amaraya, Lansana Fofana of the BBC and current President of SLAJ, and Radio Democracy 98.1 then manned by Hannah Fullah, former Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Ghana H.E Alie E. Bangura (AKA Abdul Hakim), and Dr. Julius Spencer of Premier Media and Dixon Rogers then Senior Mines Monitoring Officer in Kono now SLPP District Chairman-Pujehun, together with the International Community, Ex-President Kabbah, Ambassador John Leigh, Ambassador Joe Blell, former Vice President Solomon E. Berewa, later Sam Hinga Norman and his team, Ecomog, and the British Forces were able to achieve the restoration of the democratically elected government of President Kabbah.
49 He participated in the Negotiations in Lome, leading to the signing of the Lomè Peace Accord that helped usher in lasting peace in Sierra Leone.
50 As part of President Kabbah’s Government’s commitment to implement the Lomè Peace Accord, Timbo was appointed, Minister of Labour Social Security and Industrial Relations. A position he held up to 2007.
51 As Minister of Labour, Timbo transformed the Ministry of Labour to a more formidable Ministry that is today the envy of most other government machinery.
52 Amongst his principal achievements in government was the establishment of the Industrial Court in Sierra Leone. This facilitates the enforcement of the Labour Laws, promotes Human and Trade Union Rights, and ensures to a large extent the prevalence of Social Justice in the workplace. Hence, there is an improvement in the Industrial Relations System in Sierra Leone.
53 He also established the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) and the National Social Safety Net.
54 Improved on the Industrial Relations System in Sierra Leone.
55 Introduced the Employment Overseas Programme in (Iraq, Kuwait, Dubai etc) where many skilled youths are provided with jobs in other parts of the World.
56 At the Social front, he has worked with various professional and Civic Organizations and a member of the great Football Family that has great Social Mobilization Potential.
57 He served as Mighty Blackpool’s Secretary General for a good number of years and now as its Chairman.
58 He served as the first Chairman of the National Premier League Board in Sierra Leone (2009-2010).
59 In terms of service to the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
60 He has provided consistent and unbroken services to the Party. Since he became a member of the Party, he has never withdrawn his support; in fact he continued to serve until very recently as Deputy National Secretary General in various administrations of the Party.
61 He served the administration of Pa Maigore Kallon and Dr. Prince Harding as National Chairman and National Secretary respectively together with Mr. Emmanuel O. Grant as Regional Chairman-West, late Hon. S.B Marah as Regional Chairman-North, late Mohamed B. Daramy as Regional Chairman-East and late Ambassador Foday Sesay as Regional Chairman-South.
62 He also served the administration of Dr. S.S Banya as National Chairman and Dr. Prince Harding as National Secretary General again together with the same personalities.
63 He worked with Alhaji U.N.S Jah as National Chairman and Jacob Jusu Saffa together with Alhaji Cole as Regional Chairman-West, Mohamed A. Sandi as Regional Chairman-East, Alhaji Y.D Kamara as Regional Chairman-North and Dr. Momodu B. Yillah as Regional Chairman-South.
64 Until the enactment of the party’s constitutional ban on National Executive Members to contest for the position of flag bearer, Timbo was serving the Party with John Oponjo Benjamin and J.J Saffa as National Chairman and Leader, and Secretary General respectively together with Lansana Fadika as Regional Chairman-West, Ambassador Patrick Foyah as Regional Chairman-East, Dr. Alfred Bobson Sesay as Regional Chairman-North and Brother Joseph Maada Kpulun as Regional Chairman-South.
- Timbo is a honorary citizen of Kentucky, Louisville, United States of America and a graduate of CTF John Thompson Fellowship Program in Canada.
- Timbo is married to Mrs. Isatu Dainkeh-Timbo and blessed with four (4) children namely, Minkailu, Tigidankay, Alhaji Abdulai and Adiatu.
- One can therefore safely deduce that Lawyer Alpha Osman Timbo has the requisite academic, professional, political, and democratic work experience.