ABC Secretariat: remedy to Sierra Leone’s sickness
By all indications Sierra Leone is a naturally endowed country. Apart from priceless mineral deposits, lush vegetation, exotic fauna, marine resourses, fertile land, favorable weather and rich cultural heritage, she is also blessed with very attractive and bright children. Conversely, unlike other underprivileged countries whose citizens can boast of better living standards, plenty Sierra Leoneans keep crying for square meal, conducive dwelling, pipe borne water, medicine, employment, cloths, education, security, justice and plenty more requirements for a dignified human living. Although certain critics blame slavery and colonialism for these appalling circumstances, some schools of thought greatly differ. Their simple reason being that Sierra Leone has just made it to 50 years post-independence; a period fairly sufficient for her own born and breed children to have lifted the country from whatever economic, social and political chasm the so-called slave merchants and colonialists might have plunged her into. (Photo: Nanette Thomas, National Coordinator and Second-in-Command, ABC Secretariat)
Comparatively, in 1961 on becoming independentSierra Leone inherited viable establishments from her colonial masters, but these institutions upon which these home-grown leaders should have sustained and improved on swiftly nosedived into mediocrity. This stirs up questions about what actually have beenSierra Leone’s sickness and the kind of antidote that must be administered to cure her.
Frankly speaking some leaders have earlier noted that neither political ideologies nor abundance of natural wealth are sufficient conditions to propel the nation into opulence in the absence of the citizenry reluctance to uphold fine-tuned moral values in their day to day actions.
Walking along memory lane, the above mentioned consciousness of the evils of bad manners on development was apparent in the regimes of all post-independence leaders; ranging from the Late Sir Milton Margai’s to Dr. Alhaji Tejan Kabbah’s. Disappointingly, although these leaders decoded that the prevalence of bad attitudes and behaviors is capable of throwing spanners into their political endeavors to alleviate the sufferings of the masses, they consciously or inadvertently turned blind eyes to the relevance of instituting a body that would be solely engaged with the extrication of bad attitudes and behaviors from within the then crumbling country.
Against this backdrop, on assuming office in 2007 President Ernest Bai Koroma outwitted his predecessors by attaching significance initiating the Attitudinal and Behavioral Change (ABC) Secretariat to help rebrand Sierra Leone under his Agenda for Change political gospel. Like other successful world leaders, President Koroma is convinced that the attitudes and behaviors of the citizenry are major ingredients for any political success story. This justifies his determination to run the country, which have been classed as a failed state, as a business, because in commerce the behavioral tendencies of producers and consumers are viewed as the determinants of prosperity.
Taking the Bull by Its Horns
The president’s ability of establishing the ABC Secretariat to aid address the problems of Sierra Leone is synonymous to taking the bull by the horn. This is because bad attitudes and behaviors have infested all institutions that used to pride Sierra Leone.
It is glaring that constituent universities and colleges have fast transformed from the bastion of academia to breeding grounds for cultism, violence and fraud; the police stinks of bribery; the judiciary dispense selective justice; prisons are Hells; political parties are rife with intolerance and violence; male school teachers impregnates pupils on daily basis; traders sell substandard and adulterated goods; the youths who are relied upon as future leaders value drug addiction, gambling, prostitution and other heinous vices than empowering themselves with trades; grabbing of state land and misuse of government properties are the commonest things; disregard for time is now a culture; arrant disregard for traffic rules by even the law makers and its enforcers is the order of the day; parents are no longer role models for children; immoral dressing is now a vogue especially among students; corruption find itself even in institutions that are mandated to eradicate it.
Making the situation worst is the fact that an outstanding policy like the Free Health Care Delivery which is supposed to save the lives of under-five children and pregnant and lactating women has almost been strangled because some medicos apart from pilfering the drugs are charging exorbitant fees for services that should be rendered free of cost. In addition, electricity cable theft is underpinning the president’s dream of making power supply steady, easy to get to and, affordable. Making it more worrisome is these bad ways of doing things still nourish the factors- corruption, unemployment, unfair distribution of wealth, political intolerance, and injustice among others- that were responsible for the bloodiest chapter in the country’s history. Conclusively, Sierra Leoneans seem not to have leant any lesson from the eleven years rebel war that left thousand dead, billions worth of properties destroyed, hundreds of meaningful nationals maimed, and keep scaring away investors. Since the existence of these bad attitudes and behaviors are liable to cause unleash another war, President Koroma’s unpreparedness to accommodate them is not just a big blessing, but a move in the right direction.
On its inception plenty cynical observers hurriedly classed the ABC Secretariat as another political frontier with an aim to provide jobs for cronies of President Koroma’s ruling All People’s Congress party. It was only after the Secretariat’s first set of top executives were dragged to court for alleged corrupt activities that it came to light that the Secretariat is truly apolitical in its operations. Words cannot be spared to describe the three former senior executives, who are still appealing their case in High Court, as the proverbial monks who were preaching what they can’t practice. If the ABC Secretariat can eat up its own children simply because they can’t leave their bad manners speaks volume of how it is marshalling a national course. This precedent is enough for even the blind to read the writing on the wall that there are no sacred cows in the president’s fight against poor mind-sets that have for so long been decelerating strides to national growth.
Round Pegs in Round Holes!
The Secretariat’s newly appointed Executive Director and National Coordinator & Second-In-Command, Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas and Madam Nannette Thomas respectively are by all indications round pegs in round holes. Their concerted efforts over the months have not only taken the ABC Secretariat’s work beyond Freetown but have successfully dialogued vital institutions and regional community members into believing that changing from their bad ways is the only way forward for Sierra Leone. Their sensitization drive has encouraged certain institutions- Police, Army, Fire Force, Prisons etc. – who have been mainly suffering from poor public perception as a result of the ill behaviors of certain personnel to rebrand themselves. Moreover, their outreach to schools remarkably invoked students’ spirits to desist from bad manners and take their studies seriously. More importantly the new executive have been able to reawaken the consciousness of deprived ghetto youths to drop drug abuse, prostitution, violence, and other criminal acts for focused undertakings.
Others Need It Too
‘Bad Attitudes and Behaviors’ is a killer disease that continues to pesterSierra Leone’s anatomy. Therefore, it is advisable for the ABC Secretariat’s sensitization to be administered countrywide.
Now that the people of Freetown, Bo Makeni and Kenema are positively reforming, others in Kailahun, Bonthe, Kabala, Port Loko, Moyamba, Kambia, Pujehun etc all need the sensitization too.
Will someone please tell President Koroma that he has invented the drug forSierra Leonesplagues?
The people are anxious, willing and prepared for it. As such it is high time for his initiated Secretariat to be well funded so that every citizen can benefit from it.
By Momoja Lappia
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