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Building a case for President Koroma’s second term

Building a case for President Koroma’s second term

I was part of a delegation that recently met the Deputy Director-General for African Affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zheng Zhuqiang.  After beautiful exchanges and discussions between him and the Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the People’s Republic of China, HE Abubakarr Multi-Kamara, I was moved, particularly by the words of Zheng Zhuqiang that his country  – China was impressed and happy with development in Sierra Leone, with specific reference to the country’s democracy and good governance and the maintenance of peace.  (Photo: John Pa Baimba Sesay, IA,  Beijing, China)

Receiving such commendations meant a lot for a post war country that is still trying to rebuild its infrastructure and one that is trying to overcome the effects of a decade long civil war. We cannot know how precious our country is, and the level we have moved in recent times, in terms of our socio-economic development until we hear such from friendly countries and from investors.  The recent commendation for Sierra Leone came from a very strategic partner in the world’s development – China, a country that is the importantly, the world’s second largest economy.

What I have noticed in recent time, is the confidence that the international community has continued to demonstrate in terms of their relationship with Sierra Leone. Not only that, as a result of the trust and confidence that developed and emerging nations have had for Sierra Leone, it is no gainsaying, that we have continued to witness  a twist in terms of investors, descending flights, into the country to invest their resources. This is a clear manifestation of the trust that the world now has over Sierra Leone under the able leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma.

I wrote few days ago extensively on Sierra Leone’s investment opportunities. I argued that in the area of extractive industries, there has been a great reform; as well as in the fisheries, infrastructure and tourism sectors. The media landscape also has its areas of investment and this, we have begun realizing with an investment decision by StarTimes Group in China, to get into Sierra Leone and invest in the area of digital television.

Let us, for a moment examine the basic facts. The IMFC has practically projected Sierra Leone’s GDP o grow at an encouraging level at around 13% this very year. The introduction of the Auto mated System within the operations of Customs has been a positive development in the country especially so as it is now helping to make cross-border trade easy and reliable. Sierra Leone is the top reformer in the African continent for providing Sustainable Economic Opportunity, as shown in the Mo Ibrahim Africa Governance indicator, also improving 25 places in the Doing Business Rankings in five good years, according to the World Bank. The commitment of the government towards employing international best practices in governance and policy are real and very promising. The creation of an enabling business environment, the reforms that have taken effect   in the country’s tax system have been of tremendous help to not just the government, but the average Sierra Leonean in recent time. This has generally led to an increase in the revenue generated by NRA in recent time. This must be as a result of the determination and dedication of the agency’s workforce, not to talk of the support and especially the political will that they have continued to receive from the central government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

HE President Ernest Bai Koroma

The determination of the Ernest Bai Koroma led government has reached a level that should warrant the urgent and sincere support of Sierra Leoneans to him. A leader with genuine intentions and plans is easy to tell and this is what we see in our present day leadership.  When he was canvassing for the political leadership of Sierra Leone, President Koroma made series of promises in terms of improving the country. His promised to look at the aspect of the country’s energy sector was met with real fulfillment, when, in 2007-2008, he worked towards the completion of the Bumbuna Hydro project in Sierra Leone. Bumbuna is today one of several instruments that President Koroma could use in assessing his successes in governance, from the viewpoint of provision of electricity.

Tejan Kabba(h) had and still has  a clear record  of creating, better still, establishing  a number of post war institutional reforms, but what was lacking at the time, was making these institutional reforms, like the NRA, IMC, ACC, etc perform as expected. The fight against corruption was as corrupt as corrupting the heart of a committed cleric. During the days of President Tejan Kabba (h), there was little or no impact left behind by the ACC except for the fact that the institution was created by him.  The IMC was little utilized by even Kabba (h) himself as we saw when he opted to take Philip Neville and Paul Kamara to court, rather than utilizing the IMC at the time, just was the case with the late Olu Gordon of blessed memory.  The revenue collection efforts of the NRA during the period 2004-2007 were as discouraging and poorly done as was the political way the institution was managed at the time.

But today, we have a different picture in most, if not all of the above listed institutions. The ACC’s impact in national development is encouraging, the IMC has had its own side of Sierra Leone’s development in present day governance, the NRA has had just too an exceptional story, with trillions of Leone now being  mobilized by the institution, under the leadership of a woman, a young and unassuming lady, in the person of Haja Kalla-Kamara. But all of this could be related to the kind of political support that these institutions have continued to get from President Koroma.

The ACC has today been so exceptional and truly committed to its mandate, that government Ministers can today be asked to account for whatever goes wrong in their ministries.  The fact that President Koroma had to declare his assets to the ACC was a demonstration of his sober mindedness to moving Sierra Leone to another level in its socio-economic and political development efforts. The pace at which we are moving ahead with our infrastructural development means, we can make tremendous progress in this direction in years to come,  when we shall be re-elected President Koroma for another term.

But given all these positive developments, one can only suggest that giving President Koroma another mandate for five more years will be one of best things we can do as a people. Our readiness and commitment to the growth of Sierra Leone should be our primary objective. In an exclusive interview with him  in his office at State House on Tuesday 10th April, President Koroma  was practical in telling me that Sierra Leoneans all over the country have kept  demonstrating  their appreciation  for  what  his government has been able to achieve within four years in governance, especially  in the fulfillment of the ‘Agenda for Change’. For President and this is a view I strongly share, “The evidence is all over the country and people have been appreciative of our achievements as a government”, as “we have sustained our progress as a government.” When President Ernest Bai Koroma assumed power in 2007, one of his first priorities was to work towards the implementation of an Agenda for Change.

 This ‘Agenda for Change’ is aimed at moving the country to a new direction in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure, education, health energy and power. So far, I am of the strongest of views, that there has been tremendous progress in the implementation of this ‘Agenda for Change’. The provision of electricity to every household in the country has been a major priority of government. The Bumbuna Hydroelectric Dam, which got the attention of President Koroma upon assuming office in 2007, was completed and commissioned in 2009. To date, it has helped largely in the supply of electricity in Freetown.  Also, the government ensured the installation of a 10MW thermal plant at the Kingtom Power Station, West of Freetown.

Another major area of concern, as part of the Government’s ‘Agenda for Change’ was the implementation of a Free Healthcare Initiative, introduced in 2010. In working towards its implementation, Government ensured the provision of more resources to medical staff and the procurement of drugs and equipments and strengthening of supervision. And as a result of this initiative for pregnant and lactating mothers, in 2011 alone, 41,000 women gave birth through the program. These achievements by the government of President Koroma are just too enough for us to be rationalistic and see how we could vote him for another term and when once that is done, then we are sure and certain, that Sierra Leone will be taken to another level.

And for those who think nothing is happening in Sierra Leone, it is high time they changed that notion and look at the practical happenings in Sierra Leone.

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