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Allow Dr. Komba Kono To Serve His Nation

Allow Dr. Komba Kono To Serve His Nation

To numerous Sierra Leoneans, the name Dr. Komba Kono strikes a resounding bell of how Sierra Leoneans can strive to stride the world like a colossus. But with all the great works he has the medical doctor had made a great name not only for himself but for his country in international circles and through his intelligence was able to save face for his country while under stress both from international players and from his own government headed by a young and trigger happy regime.

The great astuteness of Dr. Komba Kono was shown under the military junta leadership of Valentine Strasser and his mercurial deputy, Solomon Musa who had no reserves when it comes to threatening government functionaries by putting a loaded pistol into their mouth. This was the situation under which Dr. Komba Kono made his name, but which it seems has been unfairly forgotten by some sections of the Sierra Leonean community today. The main contention against Dr. Kono seems to be his handling of the World Health Organisation leadership struggle in 1993, and for which the doctor is being unfairly targeted, even though he manifested the position of a sovereign nation and not a colony of any other country.

It is a well known fact that Capt. Strasser instructed Dr. Komba Kono, one of seven Africans on the 31 member Executive Board of  the prestigious World Health Organisation to vote for the incumbent Director General of WHO – a Japanese candidate. This thoughtful gesture appears to have been rewarded by an invitation from WHO for Sierra Leone’s Secretary of State, Health and Dr. Komba Kono, to participate in a study tour of Japan, Philippians and Singapore. During the tour, reliable sources say, the adroit doctor was able to win important assistance for Sierra Leone at a time when the military regime had given cause for much needed funding being withdrawn from the nation. One of the hardies hit under this donor rejection of a military junta was the health sector.

Under these trying times, Dr. Komba Kono was able to acquire, on behalf of Sierra Leone, a comprehensive training programme for clinical and public health specialists and related personnel to replace vacancies occasioned by pending retirements. Dr. Kono had also single-handedly established a national ambulance system for the entire country. This is still operating effectively.

Other successes attributed to Dr. Kono was the provision of an electricity generator for Freetown to support health and other sectors, and the rebuilding of the Hill Station Hospital as a centre of excellence to provide specialist care to the public. Another added advantage would have included foreign exchange savings to the country’s currency spent on seeking care health care abroad.

Interestingly, two weeks before election of the Director General it is reported that Capt. Strasser had a sudden change of heart and issued another instructions for Dr. Komba Kono to vote for  Dr. Ransome Kuti, a Nigerian candidate. Anyone remembering the eclectic military junta of the national Provisional Ruling Council and its bunch of combat khaki boy leaders and heir equally erratic and dodgy advisers could not be surprised as this odd u-turn or be surprised by this oddity.

The promise had already been made and there was no way we could be considered as a serious nation when we are jumping from one candidate to another. Knowing fully well the type of regime he was dealing with, Dr. Kono knew he had to stand by the country’s sovereignty and not to be stampeded by any other nation’s request. And like all reliable emissaries, Dr. Komba Kono decided to support Strasser’s sudden turn and so stood firmly behind Dr. Ransome Kuti. That is until an additional set of interesting circumstances made his position untenable.

Dr. Komba Kono arrived in Geneva on the 17th January 1993. The next day, according to records, he was summoned by Dr. Ransome Kuti for a briefing which went as follows:

  1. Dr. Ransome Kuti stated he had 14 guaranteed votes out of 31 Executive board Members
  2. He instructed that his supporters should abstain from voting during the first ballot.
  3. He further instructed his supporters to cast their votes in favour of the Algerian candidate!

Hello? Does that strike you as someone serious about being elected? Not to me it does not. (What happened to the 14 votes?)

To add muddle to growing confusion reliable sources say that on the 19th January 1993 Dr. Ransome Kuti extolled the African voters to vote for the Algerian candidate in the name of “African Unity”. Other sources allege that in fact Dr. Ransome Kuti had struck a personal deal with the stronger Algerian candidate which offered a “job for support” deal if elected. It was a typical game of African corruption and inability to strive for ones. Further to that, the Nigerian had already manifested mixed signals by calling on Sierra Leone to vote for the Arab bloc.

It is further alleged that when talk began filtering of “personal deals”, Dr. Kuti’s African support rapidly evaporated leaving only Dr. Komba Kono standing despite being ridiculed for taking what was reportedly viewed as an impossible stance. It is further reported Dr. Komba Kono made frantic efforts to contact Dr. Akim Gibrill, the then Secretary of State, Health, to brief him of the unsavory development and for further instruction. In the hey-days of the military junta, it was a situation of a chaotic government, thus the Secretary of State could not be reached.

In such a chaotic situation, reports reveal Dr. Komba Kono felt he had no option than to vote for the Japanese candidate as he could not break the thought of blemishing the country’s integrity on the basis of “personal deals”. And, after all, his first instruction was to vote for the Japanese candidate and never for a candidate from the Arab bloc. So what his Kono’s fault?

As for talk of dismissal from the Civil Service, this anomaly was rectified in 2003 by Revocation Order No. PSC 112 Vol.iv/186 issued from the Office of the Establishment Secretary which concluded that Dr. Komba Kono had no case to answer. This was done after a thorough investigation by former President Tejan Kabbah during the course of which Dr. Komba Kono was invited to explain his decision to the nation over radio, which he did!

So there is an important need to have some issues cleared. Further to that rather than being vilified, Komba Kono should be praised because no matter how small or how few or how poor we might be, Sierra Leone still remains a sovereign independent republic, governed by its own constitution and is not a state of any other country or federation, and this is just what Dr. Kono maintained.

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