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Who advises the President?

Who advises the President?

I have told the story that Harry Truman, the man who succeeded Franklin Roosevelt in 1945 as the 33rd. President of the United States of America had a plaque on his desk which read, “THE BUCK STOPS HERE!” Meaning that all problems stopped to him and that the ultimate decision was his and he didn’t have to pass it to anyone.

So it is with all Presidents, heads of state and Prime Ministers. They must and often do take responsibility for the actions of their subordinates. It is because of this principle that I once advised his Excellency President Koroma that the buck ultimately rested on his desk at state house.

During the Cold War Nikita Krucsheve then Secretary-General and head of state of the Soviet Union, (he had sidelined Marshal Bulganin) suggested that a triumvirate be appointed to head the United Nations Organisation, the UN. But it didn’t happen. Towards the end of Margaret Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, some of her once trusted ministers like Michael Heseltine, Sir Geoffrey Howe and one or two others became weary of her ‘dictatorial’ tendency in cabinet, perhaps implying that she was only the first among equals. But one of their colleagues Nicholas Nicholby in his book “My kind of government,” went to the Prime Minister’s defense, suggesting that she carried the ultimate responsibility and that all others merely carried out her decisions.

We who served in Shekie’s government were always aware that he had the last say although we occasionally succeeded in swaying his mind in our direction. Ernest Bai Koroma is acknowledged to be a democrat and apparently allows his ministers a leeway in the running of their ministries. That in my view is as it should be, although they run the risk of the guillotine which their boss has used only in alleged criminal cases. The cases of John Saad and Benjamin Davies were exceptions with the latter being compensated later with the Ports appointment.

It is not difficult to see on what criteria the President chose the members of his present cabinet, or his deputy ministers, but this is not the time for speculation on that.

Yesterday the Global Times newspaper indicated that the Russian Government was having problems in accepting the curriculum visa (there is a diplomatic jargon for that) of the President’s latest nominee for our Moscow mission. It would be sad, very sad if the Global Times report is true. We have had a spate of negative and undiplomatic reports of some of his Excellency’s nominees giving cause for their recall. One would have thought that a diplomatic appointment of any status required that the person was carefully vetted and everything about him gone through with a tooth comb.

John Yambassu has been a very overzealous APC activist, some would add notorious in Kono, for which he was compensated by his inspired election as chairman of the Kono district council. May be that was not enough for the man and his supporters. Some group must have pressurized the poor Mr. President to consider Yambassu for the Ambassadorial post in order to appease or placate the people of Kono who have waited three years for the fulfillment of the party’s election promises. The man himself may have boasted that he studied in the Soviet Union and thus knows Russia well. If his rejection is a fact then one can only speculate that Russia also knows him well. This is where his Excellency should have got someone to do a thorough investigation of his party activist before agreeing his name to be sent forward. The whole episode is more embarrassing because the previous ambassador to that country had to be withdrawn at the request of his hosts.

Is it not time for this government to appreciate that the reputation of our country should be well above political considerations. Unfortunately for Yambassu he can’t be pushed through the back door to another post as others.

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  • I found one sentence very interesting in the whole article “We who served in Shekie’s government were always aware that he had the last say although we occasionally succeeded in swaying his mind in our direction”. Did Dr. Banya really served in the APC government under Siaka Stevens? This is surprising to me since the SLPP nowadays never fails to remind Sierra Leoneans about the human rights abuse and mismanagement that went on under the previous APC regime. It is funny that they conveniently forget to mention that one of their major stalwarts was part of this mismanagement. How many other members are they conveniently omitting? At least Dr.Banya is a honest man. Thanks for making it clear that you were part of the APC that destroyed Sierra Leone.

    23rd July 2010

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