Agenda for Prosperity: More needs to be done
Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah (in photo) came into office as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone in March 1996 when the war intensified and many Sierra Leoneans were either internally displaced or became refugees in neighbouring countries in the sub-region. Tejan Kabbah promised the people of Sierra Leone that he would bring the war to its logical conclusion if given the mandate to rule.
Indeed, he tried to persuade the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel leader Corporal Foday Saybana Sankoh to reason well and accept dialogue with the government through the moral guarantors.
But unfortunately, Foday Sankoh was so recalcitrant and stubborn that on 25th May 1997, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) seized power with bloodbath. With the interregnum of ECOMOG in February 1998, the government of Tejan Kabbah was restored to power on 10th March, 1998 and the war officially came to an end in 2002. Tejan Kabbah resumed power and in his administration there was no religious and ethnic bias. He ruled democratically and concentrated more on the north. For example, Tonkolili District had so many portfolios and every Sierra Leonean can attest to that. More than a million refugees were repatriated, resettled, and provisions for their wellbeing were solicited from donor partners.
In his strive to make Sierra Leone a more suitable and convenient state to live in, Tejan Kabbah saw the need for transformation. In the bid to actualize his dream, two things were his focus. The first was the health sector. Out of the 149 chiefdoms in the country, each has a health centre which hitherto did not exist. The second was the creation of strong institutions such as the National Revenue Authority (NRA), National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), National Commission for Democracy (NCD), Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA), National Commission for Privatization (NCP), National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), Independent Media Commission (IMC), Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA), Sierra Leone Standard Bureau (SLSB) and many more others worth mentioning. These were some of Tejan Kabbah’s achievements during his tenure of office even though we were coming from the ashes of war. The economy was buoyant and cost of living was relatively better than now; with increasing peace and stability.
In 2007, the presidential and parliamentary elections were conducted. During his campaign, Ernest Bai Koroma now President of the Republic assured the people of Sierra Leone that as President he would ensure that Freetown would enjoy constant electricity supply. Of course, in 100 days each and everyone in Freetown saw electricity supply though not every part of the capital enjoyed the facility.
Secondly, the infrastructure commenced with vigour and determination. Nearly every district headquarters is now being paved though some are still left in the cold, including Kenema and Kono districts.
His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma also brought the concept of Attitudinal and Behavioural Change (ABC) and subsequently established the ABC Secretariat to propagate the concept across the country. Within the transient period of its establishment, the ABC Secretariat nearly collapsed with alleged embezzlement of funds meant for its day-to-day administration. But no disciplinary action was taken against the culprits.
Another alarming corrupt practice was that of Haja Hafsatu Kabba, who allegedly chopped millions of United States dollars. She was tried and found guilty but the fine was just a pittance compared to what was stolen.
To cut a long talk short, His Excellency the President introduced another philosophical message dubbed Agenda for Prosperity. The concept sounds beautiful but has it been pursued in the best interest of the citizenry of this nation? Well, it may appear to be certain class of people.
The Tejan Kabbah government witnessed very little armed robbery. But now armed robbery is on the increase because of the non-performance of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) although they spend sleepless nights. Many citizens have become victims of armed robbery; some are either killed, raped, injured or all what they had worked for been carted away. Can we refer to such events as Agenda for Prosperity?
Like a Bank Accountant, the President needs to look at his cheque book and see whether the Agenda for Prosperity is in an apple pie order. When we go to the market place, our essential foodstuffs are very expensive. There is no price control mechanism. The prices of eggs, flour, sugar, tea leaf and milk have all soared.
When we take a look at the youth situation across the country, it is pathetic to note that youth unemployment is alarming. The drive for foreign investment should be tackled so that more jobs will be available in order to minimize armed robbery and pick pocketing along the streets of Freetown and other metropolitan cities.
As a matter of fact, majority of Sierra Leoneans are suffering from socio-economic ignominies.
By Felix D. Fofoh
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