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What have you done for your country?

What have you done for your country?

Many countries in the world have some sort of National Service designed to encourage citizens to pay back to their respectable countries in the midst to enhance patriotism. Nigeria one of our closest cousins in Africa is a classical example, failing to serve on the National Service scheme in Nigeria could spew serious consequences for individuals who dare contravene or upset the country’s national policy.  (Photo: Alhaji Thonkla Bangura, author)

Further, in Israel and South Korea etc., able young men and women are always on standby ready to be called upon in the quest to aid their countries having been trained in the military. Unlike Sierra Leone like few other countries in the world, the dichotomy is everyone is given the prerogative or the free will to join and serve either the Army or Police Forces etc., at their own aspiration.

National Service, prima facie is a system which directly answered the question asked by the late former United States President John F Kennedy that, “Do not ask what your country has done for you; ask yourself what have you done for your country?” Therefore, this article is written on the spirit or background of the late President Kennedy’s premise.

National Service, in my view should be a compulsory policy in the expedition to maintain the metaphor of national cohesion and create a sense of belonging and pride to citizens fulfilling this task for their countries. If Africans are keen to refrain from the imbedded and sickening shame that has clustered around our continent since colonial days, that is, “The monotonous begging of Western states for Aid,” we have to start taking up responsibilities of the continent’s comprehensive failures and challenge the issues that divide us destroying the fibre of socio-economic development.

Chronic begging has been an integral part of Africans deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and the rhymes of our national anthems. We sometimes blow the trumpet to disseminate the solemn of our national anthems when foreign donors visit our countries to win their hearts and minds; in return the donors offer us inter alia few corn meals or cholera sachets. Begging whilst we are so rich in natural resources and academic potential is an indicative of laziness derived from lack of shame and greed that has rapt the fibre of our continent.

So therefore, I call on all Sierra Leoneans and the entire African continent to disown this shameful paradigm of sheer laziness that has violated and shattered our sense of pride. When dreadful images of African children are masqueraded on Western television seeking aid for malnourished and severely sick children of extremely rich African states it makes me contemplate to bury my head in shame.

The saturated poverty, unfairness and poor health hooked in every corner of Africa, the continent is much blessed with generic minerals, so much that we do not need foreign aid, what we need is this basic premise: ‘Effective and reasonable management of revenue generated from our domestic assets’, it is as simple as that.

Africa has what is needed to develop as a global business hub, but the abysmal historical unpalatable leadership failures by some African leaders, is a pivotal factor destroying tangible progress for our sulking continent. Our continent, prima facie could have been our own Qatar or Monte Carlo, if our Chief Executives would have managed our natural chattels efficiently well, and distribute it fairly and equitable to their citizens. With our abundant natural assets, we can even provide foreign aid or loans to bailout Europe and American’s struggling economies.

Sierra Leone should therefore take a leading role and set a resounding precedent to be the first in Africa that refrain from the perpetual begging epidemic of Western states and other foreign donors in the quest to exterminate starvation; mitigate poverty and elevate its infrastructures thru efficient domestic funds management. I am hence compelled to raise this idea determine to resonate to all Sierra Leoneans living in the diaspora to join this rational debate.

We need to emanate together with a herculean of national spirit to develop this intriguing scheme tantamount to National Service. The “Diaspora Voluntary Tax” (DVT), this scheme is utterly voluntary, all Sierra Leoneans could participate if they wish. The hundred million dollar legitimate question, everyone would definitely love to ask could probably be how would this scheme work?

Right, all Sierra Leoneans who are fit to work and not retired in Europe, America, Canada and Australia etc., would set a Trust Fund account with the most respectable International or domestic bank in their host countries.

A team of Trustees comprising of credible Sierra Leoneans, foreign religious leaders and MP’s like Simon Hughes or Harriet Harman in London UK would be nominated or selected to oversee this project. Monies contributed can only be taken from the Trust Funds with our legal consent using social media or text messages to reach all donors or tax payers.

Every Sierra Leonean will be provided with a tax code written on their diaspora identity card obtains from our consulates across the world, which they can use to pay their contributions directly to the selected banks. The maximum contribution for instance could be in the UK £100.00 and the minimum could be £20.00 monthly depends on your earnings.

Voluntarily paying tax to help Sierra Leone reach its height of development and disown foreign aid will spew some pride to Sierra Leoneans keen to witness the comprehensive development and prosperity of our country and continent.

This scheme is a viable proposition destined to engage and galvanise all Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad to give their take on this ambitious project. We need to act now to take up our own responsibility to develop our respective countries. It is coherent that, the future of Sierra Leone rests on our very own hands.

On the face of it, Western generosity is been profoundly tested by the vicious and saturated austerity constantly lambasting its financial vaults. The consistent mismanagement of finance by some African leaders combined with the current financial turmoil in generic Western states could force the West to shy away helping developing countries that lacks basic morals and duty of care owed to its citizens.

Fifty two years now since Sierra Leone sought and obtained the so called paradoxical independence – we are to date still begging. Why? Begging when our country is so rich with enormous amount of talents and minerals is laughable, mortifying, appalling, degrading and bonkers.

We don’t need lectures from Cambridge neither Oxford University to manage an economy of a country with less than six million people according to World Bank 2011 Data on Sierra Leone’s population figures. What we need is common sense, enlightenment, and hard work, duty of care, fairness, effective discipline and draconian laws that grip and ready to send some ding dong criminals behind bars for good. No sacred cow as our exceptional President rightly asserted.

Our country should by now according to the colossal trend of our minerals be self-sufficient, President Koroma has recently and  explicitly demonstrated this, that we can reasonably generate revenue from our inland markets and effectively use the funds generated for domestic development. HE used some of the monies locally generated from taxes to develop our dilapidated roads in the capital and provided energy for the darkest city in the world. Fact!

That’s said, if the DVT scheme becomes active, the funds generated could be matured after every five years, then the team of Trustees, Diasporas and the government of Sierra Leone will meet to advise which infrastructure(s) or institution(s) the monies collated would be better used to develop our country without asking for foreign aid.

The government of Sierra Leone absolutely has no control or fiduciary power over this Trust fund, her role is solely based on given relevant advice about potential projects in the interest of our country development going forward.

What are the incentives available to people paying this tax in the interest of our country’s socioeconomic development? Well, any Sierra Leonean that has lived and worked in the diaspora must provide their tax code identity card when seeking for any political position or employment opportunities in the country. The government should bring in legislation to underpin this tax policy.

Failing to produce your DVT card when seeking for political role or employment, means you cannot be considered for any position in the country that’s the bottom-line. The avaricious person can only be considered if those that have made their full contributions declined to accept such position(s) then the unpatriotic person(s) could be considered on such grounds.

This is an unprecedented evolution that would not only enhance national development but will deter us from the decade reliance on foreign aid. If China can raise their game by working together and develop from being labelled 30 years ago as a developing country to the world’s second largest economy, we can also do it. Why not?

The DVT fund could be used to provide grants and scholarships to struggling University students, in return the students have to give their free time to provide the most needed help in various governmental departments or charity organisations where they can also gain work experience. Funds will be available to Universities to embark on innovative skills exploration, advance medical research and undertake digital computing literacy advancement etc., across all schools and Universities in the country.

Our newly built road networks will be renovated in future with these funds, Trustees and the Diasporas are empowered to directly hire and fire contractors undertaking projects without the involvement of the present and future governments.

Every penny spent must be accounted for and all transactions must be published online to demonstrate transparency and tangible accountability. Any Trustee who dares to engage in any fraudulent practices will fiercely face the ugly part of the law.

The rationale behind this viable proposition is to trigger a genuine debate deemed to galvanise my fellow Sierra Leoneans in the pursuit to ascertain how this ambitious project could be implemented in the interest of our country’s development. What can we together do to help Sierra Leone?

And finally, what have you done for your country?

Written by Columinist: Alhaji Thonkla Bangura-London (UK)

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