Ambassador Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America
His Excellency Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai assumed duty as Republic of Sierra Leone’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America on February 12th, 2019. He presented his letters of Credence to President Donald J. Trump on April 8th, 2019.
Leadership Experience and the Size/Complex of Responsibilities
For over twenty years, Ambassador Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai has been discharging several high-profile leadership responsibilities in the United States of America (U.S.A.) in spheres of diplomacy, public safety, public health care advocacy, community relations, and social empowerment. He is likewise the former President of the United African Congress and Community Affairs Analyst and former adviser to the Executives of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) headquartered in New York City. The United African Congress is the Pan African umbrella organization that represents the interests of 3.5 million continental African immigrants residing in America. On the other hand, the NYPD is among the largest police law enforcement in the country with approximately 40,000 uniformed members of service and 25,000 civilians. As a latest addition to this portfolio, Ambassador Wai was recently appointed by His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, as the Republic of Sierra Leone Ambassador-Designate to the United States of America.
Experience in Leadership, Diplomacy, and Advocacy for Sierra Leone
Born and raised in Sierra Leone, Ambassador Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai has for decades been the lead diaspora personality in the United States of America. He has contributed to the development and welfare of Sierra Leone at critical times through diplomacy and advocacy, particularly during the two most challenging times in Sierra Leone’s history which were the war period from 1991 – 2002 and the Ebola period from 2013 – 2016. One of his profound interventions was during the civil war period, where his behind-the-scene-diplomacy together with diaspora leaders in the U.S.A. opened advocacy through news interviews with the global press that resulted in forcing the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel forces to release several high-profile Sierra Leonean abductees including Dr. Sulaiman Jabati Wai. Among his other noteworthy interventions was during the Ebola crisis. During that time, he advocated for the interest of Sierra Leone at the United Nations in New York in 2015. The result of which helped build donor confidence towards pledging over one billion dollars for Sierra Leone’s post-Ebola recovery program. In addition, he was able to secure concrete guarantees from donors and the receiving governments towards ensuring that the Ebola recovery process was decentralized, participatory, transparent and accountable.
Education and Career Journey
Ambassador Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai had studied and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Pre-Law from Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York in 1977. He later pursued his graduate studies in Public Policy and Organizational Theory at the New York University Wagner School of Public Service. His over twenty years of professional experience entail a rich career journey that took him from serving as a full-time Deputy Director at the New York University Institute of African American Affairs in 1997 to his most recent roles/positions that include serving as President of the United African Congress and as Community Affairs Analyst and Adviser to the New York City Police Department. Within and between these leadership capacities, Ambassador Wai has been credited for supporting numerous initiatives that added value to the public safety of the 8.5 million people of New York City while also seeking the interest of the African diaspora in the United States of America. These accomplishments included overseeing foreign initiatives for developing nations from Africa in New York such as the supervision of dual-citizenship elections, the facilitation of foreign dignitaries and community leadership requests to meet with the Police Executives. Moreover, he served as the point of contact between the law enforcement apparatus of New York City and the diplomatic communities accredited to the United Nations and the African Union. Additionally, he mediated public safety disputes between uniformed personnel and civil society on behalf of the Police Commissioner among others.
Connections, Contacts and Networks
Ambassador Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai is held in high esteem by several high-profile and top-notch U.S.A. elected officials. These include Governors, Borough Presidents, business executives, academic institutions, philanthropists, law firms, labor leaders, Chambers of Commerce and Industries, media executives, executives of international organizations and the various wings of the U.S.A. security apparatus including the crème de la crème African diaspora leadership in the United States of America. Ambassador Wai has over the years leveraged these ties to support the interest of the poor and down-trodden within the African diaspora communities in America in general and New York City in particular. His position and roles have over the years had a profound influence on various wings of the U.S.A. security apparatus to better understand the immigrant landscape and how they can be leveraged to promote Homeland Security.
Highlights of the Top Six Accomplishments
- The Police “Body Camera Program” in the NYPD was initiated by Ambassador Wai in 2012 as a crime fighting tool during the height of “Stop, Question and Frisk” criticism of the police department in New York City. The introduction of the body camera reduced crime while promoting good relationship between police and communities in New York City and across the country.
- Ambassador Wai facilitated the first high level public safety meeting between the New York City Police Department Executive staff and the African Group of Ambassadors accredited to the United Nations. Ambassador Wai recently submitted a proposal to the New York City Police Department to consider Sierra Leone as the “hub” for police training within the Mano River Union.
- During the war period in Sierra Leone from 1991 – 2002, Ambassador Wai applied behind-the-scene diplomatic pressures with open advocacy that resulted in forcing the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels to release several high-profile Sierra Leonean abductees including Dr. Sulaiman Jabati Wai.
- During the Ebola epidemic from 2013 – 2016, Ambassador Wai championed the interest of Sierra Leone at the United Nations in New York which helped in building donor confidence to pledge over a billion dollars for Sierra Leone’s post-Ebola recovery, while also securing concrete guarantees from donors and the government towards ensuring that the Ebola recovery process was decentralized, participatory, transparent and accountable.
- In September 2018, Ambassador Wai provided leadership and moral support toward the successful hosting of Sierra Leone’s First Investment Forum in New York led by the diaspora professionals. The conference was attended by President Julius Maada Bio including senior Government officials from Sierra Leone.
- Ambassador Wai has also made valuable contributions to the United States Department of Homeland Security policies on addressing official public safety issues affecting immigrant communities throughout the United States, particularly in New York City. His valuable contribution enabled the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to become more sensitive to needs of the African immigrant communities. Subsequently, Ambassador Wai was appointed member of the Homeland Security Radicalization Task Force and of the Community Leadership Team following the 911 terrorist attack on New York City. The DHS Task Force met to discuss issues involving Muslim Immigrants, Arab and Sikh community residing in the country.