One Country, One People; come one, come all, approach
This article will conclude my previous article “Helping President Koroma in finding ways to achieve his innovations.” This article will be used to advocate for more transparent government initiatives and the need for Sierra Leoneans to support policies that will rebrand and develop our only country, Sierra Leone. (Photo: Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma)
Our country can only develop when our leaders believe in the one country and one people approach and they try to unite us together. We can appreciate this when every Sierra Leonean is given the opportunity to serve their country based on merit rather than through a partisan basis.
In my last article, I advocated for a more transparent and consultative approach when it comes to government activities. Most of the government officials occupying stewardship positions have the academic qualifications although some historic but in most cases they lack the skills or are not committed to work in the interest of Sierra Leone. President Koroma made his Agenda for Change a priority area and appointed Dr. Kaifala Marah as his Chief of Staff in order to help in areas that are deteriorating and not meeting performance targets in the public sector. Dr. Kaifala Marah is a very hard working technocrat based on information that I read online but I do not know what are some of his recommendations and I have no idea what strategies are used to achieve his recommendations. However, I believe he is someone that believes in productivity, performance and Sierra Leone first rather than partisan issues.
My opinions are that the emergent of key public institutions including Open Government Initiative, Office of the Diaspora, Attitudinal Behavioural Change were created because of the failure of the Public Service Commission to deliver its mandates. The Public Service Commission is now facing reform and I support and believe that the only way to revive governance function in the country again is to merge some of these agencies into the Public Service Commission jurisdiction.
The Office of the Diaspora should be maintained but should work under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission in order to get competent individuals from the Diaspora into the civil service of Sierra Leone. The Office of the Diaspora under the Public Service Commission should ensure that politicians are not using donor funds to get supporters of their party into the civil service.
The recruitment process should be carried out in a transparent manner that will lead to an effective and professional public service which is crucial for the efficient service delivery and institutionalising good governance which if achieved may also win votes for President Ernest Koroma, leading to re-election of the APC government. On the other hand, rampant corruption and inefficiency in the public service can erode the credibility of President Koroma’s popularity and reduce his chances of re-election come 2012.
President Koroma should reform the Public Service Commission, give more power to the Auditors General Department, ensure that the Police is independent and ensure that individuals working at the Strategy and Policy Unit are not recruited based on partisan basis. The Strategy and Policy Unit should develop policies and strategies that will help the civil service by improving the institutional systems and advising strategic tools that will be used to achieve objectives in all Ministry Departments and Agencies.
The Open Government Initiative (OGI) and the Attitudinal Behavioural Change Secretariat (ABC) should be merged in order to make efficient and effective use of donor funds, and in order to ensure independence this merged office should be away from State House. The merged body should work with the media in scrutinising and evaluating the actions of government, forcing them to manage resources and set policies in a transparent and equitable manner.
In Sierra Leone, the media and individuals lack the power to investigate and therefore most of the opinions are not properly researched because of the lack of Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Information. A free press is not a luxury or something that should only be advocated by the opposition or Sierra Leone Association of Journalist but it should be a collective approach (come one, come all) as it is part of good governance that will develop our economy.
In order for us to get free speech in the media, government and every section should follow the principle of reciprocity. Now we have Paul Kamara, I B Kargbo, Shekito Tarawallie and others and they were advocating for a Freedom of Information before 2007. Now they should respect the principle of reciprocity as we never know who will form the next government in 2012.
Freedom of Information is necessary in Sierra Leone because of the way and manner in which our leaders are carrying out their stewardship role. Therefore, if some members of the press think President Koroma and his team are not doing a good job then they should be free to say so. Then at the same time there should be no need to attack personalities when others think that the government is the best since independence. The media can only be objective in their opinion when they have free access to information they are interested in. The only information that the media should be prevented from accessing is sensitive information relating to security.
In Sierra Leone the 1965 Public Order Act can be used to penalise anyone who writes, publishes or broadcast something against the government. Free press is all about allowing the media to find out what they want to know. The government should allow access to information on the 50 years budget as this can lead to more objective opinions. Sierra Leone is a democratic state and everyone needs to know what’s going on and so can make informed choices and decision.
By Dylan Sogie-Thomas United Kingdom
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