What kind of president do we have?
The poor quality of leadership in Sierra Leone risks squandering the gains of peace and economic tranquil that was handed over in 2007 and this has put at risk the economic growth of the country. Decisions that can have positive impact on officials as well as the public cannot be taken; instead the government officials are left to do what pleases them.
Our leadership deficit means little has been done over four year period to cement the hard won peace and to improve our livelihood by creating jobs and economic stability and they have sent thousands of men and women deep into poverty. How can we achieve the Millennium Development Goals when our leadership has failed several times to stamp his authority and take the required action that will bring about good governance, growth and prosperity?
The country is once again sliding down the road of elections violence due to the in activeness of our leader. In 2007 around this period when he took over the country, his party supporters immediately descended on the opposition SLPP, vandalizing and beating up supporters, if our leader was serious about bringing about change and development, there and then he would have taken the appropriate measures by making sure those found guilty are punished by the laws of the land. Instead he allowed it to pass and nothing was done.
This was repeated in 2009 to the point that the office was even set on fire, women raped with the police aiding the same APC supporters. What did the president do, he set up an investigative committee and when the committee handed over there report to him he just put it aside, I am sure he didn’t bother to read it so how would he know what was there findings and recommendations.
Elections violence started after Ernest Koroma’s APC took over the reigns of government and there is no end in sight. The president has woefully failed to curb violence and I am sure he has been part of it as the only way his party can stay in power for years is through violence. But I say to you Ernest don’t be flattered by your elected position. It is your character and accomplishments that count. You have failed to think for yourself and allow others to think for you.
Nothing is being done to eradicate poverty and improve our lives which are widespread and its index is increasing by the day and government is just busy spending money on misplaced projects, not even on farming which should have been the backbone of our economy. Forcing importers to sell rice at a rate that does not reflect there cost just shows how ineffective the government is. Sierra Leone is driven by a market economy and prices are determined by the cost of the product. The cost of rice in the international market is the same, but the value of the Leone and the taxes in the country have increased considerably which has a telling effect on the costs of imported goods, hence we see prices being doubled since 2007.
I really don’t understand the kind of leadership we have now in the country. Certain events of national interest and security takes place regularly in the country and the president has failed woefully to show us that he is in control and he means what he preaches. How can we the citizens feel secured under such leadership that has no vision, innovation and lacks all the leadership qualities to build a better country. I want to give three instances to show that Ernest Koroma is not a good leader and will continue to bring suffering upon us.
Firstly, I will start with a cabinet decision taken at the end of last year that all students studying in China should be accorded the same privilege regardless of how they get there scholarship. The cabinet has endorsed it and the minister of education has no alternative but to respect the cabinet. What happened was the opposite; the minister never implemented the cabinet decision and did what he pleases. Did the president take any decision on such blatant disrespect; a big NO.
Secondly, the minister of Internal Affairs as it was reported gave orders to his security personnel to shoot at youths demonstrating against him in Kono. Instead of the president taking action on such trivial matter he came out with a bogus speech telling the world that no minister or government official is above the law and he will set up another investigative committee to look into the matter.
Thirdly, the Shears Moses Commission of inquiry result and recommendations of the 2009 SLPP office has been long since handed over to the president, the report was just swept aside and no action taken. The report says, I quote, “The central figures in the event of 16th March, 2009, were Idrissa Kamara (Leather Boot), Foday Mansaray aka “Foday Government Wharf”. Idrissa Kamara left His Excellency the President and State House unguarded to go to the scene of the violence which displayed a lack of respect for those in authority and displayed an interest to support violence by all means. Women were assaulted with his support and assistance while looting took place in his presence.
The recommendation from the committee says. “Members of the security forces, who have betrayed the trust put on them to protect the citizens, and found to be unprofessional in their activities, or support violence, should be dismissed from their employment to serve as a deterrent to others in future. In this regard we specifically indicate Mohamed Turay (Yete Yete), Idrissa Kamara (Leather Boot).
The ministers are still working, still causing problems for citizens as teachers and lecturers are on strike and school is yet to open. Idrissa Leather boot is still at State House still beating up people or giving orders for peaceful Sierra Leoneans to be beaten. No actions have been taken by the president who is the first gentleman of the country. The international community is watching with utter dismay that a president can be so lethargic and insensitive to the whims and caprices of his people by refusing to do what is right.
It is now being reported in the country that the minister of Internal Affairs has issued a press release stating that the president is his only boss and not the vice president. What a shame! I don’t think the minister really understands what he is saying. In 2007 we voted for Ernest Koroma and Sam Sumana and the president cannot even sack Sumana unless he is mentally ill, found guilty of corrupt practices etc. Musa Tarawallie should know that after Ernest is Sam Sumana so he is answerable to the vice president.
It would be absurd for Hilary Clinton to tell Joe Biden that he is not her boss, the next day Obama is going to fire her because such statement causes disrepute within the cabinet and that is what is ongoing in Sierra Leone today. Ministers are powerful than the vice president, ministers cannot take orders from president and we are still praising the government of doing excellent work under such circumstances.
To date these securities are still working and from that time to now has caused more pain to peaceful citizens and no actions taken. Do Ernest Koroma really thinks in his quiet moment that he is in charge of a country that has about six million people looking up to him to provide security and livelihood for them? Does he think that we are so stupid that we will continue to just support blindly even to our early graves?
I want to challenge my colleague journalists preaching hate messages that let us talk about issues in the country, this is not about who we like or dislike, the party we support or hate, but daily burning issues that needs to addressed. They might do Ernest Koroma a lot of good if they can create the checks and balances for him. They can help him win the next elections if they can caution him that he is making many mistakes by protecting some people instead of him taking the required action.
Teachers are angry that the government has lied to them by not meeting their demands. Should we blame the teachers or should we caution the government and tell the leadership that enough is enough, you need to start addressing the plight of the people.
We journalists need to ask ourselves if continuous prevarication of the truth because of our support for Ernest Koroma will give us peace of mind when we fully aware of the plight of millions of Sierra Leoneans. The teachers have been complaining for long, lecturers have gone on strike. Should we look at their problems as politically motivated or should we listen to their cries and try to put the president in the correct position to address these needs.
If the education minister who was a lecturer had behaved as one few years ago and put aside his pomposity and talk with colleague lecturers and teachers, definitely there would have been a solution but instead he thinks he is from another planet and we journalists refused to understand and still preach hate because we have a soft spot for this leadership or we are receiving brown envelope on regular basis.
If we have a leader that cannot take decisions it means we have a chaotic government where every minister do what he pleases because nobody will question him and he is answerable to himself. I am sure there are many such instances going on in the cabinet, but one day the truth will come out. I just hope that it would not reach the point where a cabinet minister will slap the president because he or she knows that nothing will come out of it.
Only a decisive president can change the cause of our sick country and the earlier Ernest Koroma begins to take charge of this country the better it would be for all of us. Sierra Leone in the last four years has taken a big leap backwards in the economy, peace and poverty. We need to see the president at work in the next one year by taking over the driving seat to stir us back to the road of economic recovery and peace. 11 years of senseless war caused massive loss of lives and properties, we can’t afford to go down that road anymore, the earlier this government thinks of developing the human resource the better it would be for all of us. Education is the only way out of poverty and if this government can stop using our youths as dogs of war the better it will be for us all. Remember “Power is like an egg. If you don’t handle it carefully it falls from your hands, but if you hold on too tightly to it, it breaks in your hands.”
By Austin Thomas
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