By Sorie Fofana.
I first met Okere Adams when he was serving as a Deputy Minister in the SLPP led administration of President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in 1996.
After the 1996 elections, Okere Adams (a professional Hotelier) was appointed as Deputy Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs when Shirley Gbujama was Minister in charge of that Ministry. He was later appointed as Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Trade and Industry under George Banda Thomas.
When President Kabbah returned from exile in March 1998, Okere Adams was appointed Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security under Dr. Harry Will.
After Dr. Harry Will was arrested and charged with corruption offences, Okere Adams was appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Food Security and Marine Resources. Many people saw him as a super Minister. He held that position for three consecutive years (1999 to 2002).
After the re-election of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in 2002, Okere Adams was appointed as Minister of Marine Resources only. After a brawl with the ACC over an allegation of influencing a contract in his Ministry in favor of a party member, he was arrested by the ACC, but was never indicted. VAL Collier, the ACC Commissioner, got a dressing down from President Kabbah for raiding the residence of Okere Adams with armed security personnel in the early hours of the morning. After his first term as ACC Commissioner ended, President Kabbah refused to renew it. VAL Collier was replaced by Prof. Henry Joko-Smart as Commissioner of the ACC.
After refusing to renew VAL Collier’s contract, the British Government headed by Tony Blair insisted that Okere Adams must be relieved of his duties and charged to court or the Kabbah government stood to lose £5M (Five million Pounds Sterling) in British aid money.
A very defiant President Kabbah told the British government to withhold their aid money because he would not allow anyone to dictate to him about how he runs his government. The aid money was withheld and President Kabbah moved Okere Adams to the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. For almost eleven years, Okere Adams served as a Minister in the Kabbah administration.
Okere Adams had a long history with President Kabbah. He was Manager of Brookfields Hotel when Tejan Kabbah was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and State Enterprises. And Tejan Kabbah was a very good friend of Okere’s late father, Sanpha Adams.
By the time the SLPP came to power in 1996, Okere Adams was Manager at the National Stadium Hostel. During the SLPP Convention at Bintumani Hotel in 1995, the Stadium Hostel became a circus for SLPP members. Many of those who later became Ministers in the Kabbah government were staying at the Stadium Hostel between 1995 and 1996.
Okere Adams served as National Organizing Secretary of the SLPP for two consecutive terms. That was a very influential position in the SLPP at that time. In the 2004 Local Council election, the SLPP won almost all the Councils in the Northern Region. On a visit to Makeni, President Kabbah openly praised Okere Adams and other key Northerners in his government “for delivering the North”.
In 2014, Okere Adams secretly attempted to join the then ruling APC party, but his application was never approved by the National Secretary General of the APC, Alhaji Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh.
In an interview, Okere Adams said that, he never wrote a letter of resignation from the SLPP. This was later confirmed by Sulaiman Banja-Tejan Sie who stated categorically that as National Secretary General of the party, he never received a resignation letter from Okere Adams.
When President Julius Maada Bio visited Tonkolili district on a “Thank You Tour” after winning the election on 7 March 2018, Okere Adams travelled to Magburaka to witness the President’s visit. This was an event he wanted to use to make a public statement about his return to the party. But even though he did not speak at the occasion, his presence in Magburaka was a clear sign of his return to the SLPP.
He once told me that, since we have won the election, I should tell President Bio to dissolve the PaoPa project and bring all disgruntled SLPP members back to the party. He described the SLPP as a big family.
Okere Adams was a very nice person, very jovial and he hardly got annoyed. He was a fun-poking Politician. He once described himself as a good father but a bad husband. He was always grateful to the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah for the love and affection he showed to him throughout their time in government (1996-2007).
Okere Adams fell ill almost nine days to his death on 8th March, 2019. He was first admitted to the Choithram Memorial Hospital at Hill Station, but later discharged. He went home and declared that he was feeling very well. Few days later, his health deteriorated. He was taken to the 34 Military Hospital at Wilberforce where he died on 8th March, 2019 at the age of 77.
I have lost a great friend and a senior brother. He was a very loyal friend, a down-to-earth man and a man of impeccable loyalty to his friends.
Rest In Peace, Abraham Okere Adams!