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Yes, We Talk Too Much!

Yes, We Talk Too Much!

In my last article, I expressed dismay over detractors who are blind to see, if not loath to acknowledge, what the Ernest Koroma government has done while on the other hand, I specifically highlighted his strategic development programmes and achievements made so far. This article will do likewise, placing emphasis on why we should continue to adequately inform the people about ongoing development programmes in the country.  (Photo: Umaru S. Jah, author)

Critics might name it anyhow, be it ‘borku tok,’ meaning talking too much, or a conspiracy approach derived from the Marxist political economy perspective, fine. But I hold the view that the use of media as teaching and transformational tools is imperative to create critical awareness, motivation and ultimately the necessary socio-political changes. This explains why we are constantly and adequately informing the people of Sierra Leone about the ongoing development programmes, thus creating the critical awareness and motivation needed for the socio-economic advancement of the country. If, therefore, sceptics are frowning at our wide-ranging updates about progress back home, and tempted to call them names of any sorts, I can’t help but to remind them of our committed leadership quality, transparency and national accountability.

The APC-led government is one with a difference, one that encourages the people to actively participate in decision-making processes, thus enhancing good governance and sustainable economic growth in the country. So why all the hue and cry  about our placing too much emphasis on what the government has done within four years of governance?

Yes, we talk a lot because we have done so much that warrants an unending eulogy and ovation. Only a failed government would be worried about baseless criticism because there would be hardly anything positive to talk about.  However when a government delivers its promises to the people, certainly, there is much to talk about. This is why we talk-because Sierra Leone, under the leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma, has made notable progress towards the achievement of many development goals in the country.  No matter what opponents say, facts and figures remain our principal defenders. In fact, we consider those frail statements as a panacea for the ills of underdevelopment in the country. This does not mean that there are no hitches within government policies and programmes, but suffice it to say that constructive criticism should be the appropriate and effective approach to assist government in addressing the needs of the people.

We are quite aware that electricity is not in abundance within both urban and the rural reach, and we are very much aware of the fact that access to electricity is one of the most binding constraints on urban job creation and poverty reduction in Sierra Leone. But are we also not aware of the fact that much has been done to remedy the once deplorable and inimical plight of darkness in the country?  As a matter of fact, such problems of electricity are not only faced in Sierra Leone. One might refute or retort to that assertion otherwise, but there are examples of countries even within Europe that are undergoing similar lapses in their quest to revamp the energy sector. For example, German Chancellor, Angela Markel recently acknowledged reports that many of the projects intended to extend the power transmission network as part of the transition to sustainable energy “were behind schedule” and further admits that “time is running out.”  The center right German Chancellor therefore calls for investors to make the necessary investment for the energy shift. This is exactly what the government of Ernest Koroma is doing. It has put reforms in place to enhance operational efficiency, improve financial performance, energy supply in a sustainable manner and more efficiently, mobilize finance for expansion and service improvement in the energy sector. So why can’t we talk too much to remind those pretenders for a quick look around to see the reality on the ground?

We are also aware of the fact that agricultural production in the country suffered a decline as a result of the decade long civil war: as a result, farmers are faced with severe problems such as limited access to land, labour supply and credit, inadequate processing and storage facilities among other things. This is why the P4P partners are working towards ensuring that farmers’ get better access to land, seeds, machinery and production credit thus enhancing their ability to increase production.

 We talk too much because agriculture now employs about 60 percent of the country’s population and accounts for about 44% of GDP growth. The government’s Small-holder Commercialisation Programme (SCP) was designed to transform small scale farmers into bigger agricultural business centres to improve assembling capacity and post management facilities.

Robust mechanisms have also been put in place to ensure an efficient educational system in the country. The recent outburst of President Koroma, reaffirming his government commitment to ensuring quality education in Sierra Leone is an indication of his vision for a change. He considered education a must and placed it among his top government priorities. This is why the President, while officially launching the first national school census report said:  “I commenced this address by declaring the debt that I owe to the education I receive in my formative years, I close by declaring that I will do everything in my power to ensure that no child in Sierra Leone is denied the opportunity of acquiring the education that will enable him/her to be literate, numerate, employable and able to contribute positively to the development of society,” wrote the State House Communications Unit.

Yes, we talk too much, especially when the enabling environment coupled with regulatory reforms has been adequately provided to do business in the country. This move has led to significant progress in the country’s private sector development in recent times.  Mechanisms have also been put in place by government in an effort to further encourage and guarantee investors a safe business environment in the country. They include among others, Commercial Court, Trading Across Borders, and the registration of property. The implementation of the latter led to the country’s being ranked among the ten strongest reformers around the globe.  We are not only saying this, there are figures indicating that the ranking moved 9 places upwards from 150 in 2011 to 141 in 2012 out of 183 economies surveyed.

Indeed there is very much to talk about.  That is why we are not going to seal our lips; we will continue to talk about the progress made in the country until every facet of Koroma’s development agenda is exhausted. Even if enemies of progress are not acknowledging the good work in the country, development partners and other meaningful Sierra Leoneans are aware of the present reality. This is backed by the recent utterance of IMF Country Representative, Mrs. Malanga Kabedi M’buyi Mulango when she lauded President Koroma’s efforts for progress made in priority areas under the ‘Agenda for Change.’

In her own words, she said: “I can see the changes for myself even though there are still developmental challenges, yet a lot of progress has been made in terms of development and policy implementations, and we hope we will be able to present a discussion to our bosses in Washington this year, in respect of strides that have been made by the government of Sierra Leone.”  Progress made by the President Koroma administration, she maintained, is very much outstanding, adding that the IMF in Sierra Leone will provide a more solid foundation in fostering the developmental gains by government. Is this not worthy to talk about folks?  The permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN Security Council H.E Baso Sangqu also said: “Overall our impression is that the country is moving forward in terms of implementing its agenda for change in a number of areas in terms of SSR, DDR, in terms of peace building and in terms of generally economic development and growth within the country.”

Though the definition of success turns out to be more elusive, when you achieve success, you know it. It is a feeling deep inside you. You will know that you are in harmony with the world. In another twist, people look at you different. They see you as successful. Your confidence and self esteem soar. You have ‘arrived’! That is what success really means. If you take a critical look at the present situation in Sierra Leone, you will see a reflection of exactly what I just referred to above. We know that the Ernest Koroma administration has succeeded. It is seen all over, his confidence and self-esteem is sky rocketing. That is why we are witnessing dramatic changes in the country’s political history. The recent move by former SLPP contender and others is food for thought.  See next article in that regard!

By Umaru S. Jah- IA Berlin

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