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Date Line Saudi Arabia: Who says President Koroma is a weak leader?

Date Line Saudi Arabia: Who says President Koroma is a weak leader?

When he hosted a meeting last week in what his Press Secretary describes as “in an extraordinarily tough and uncompromising tone, President Ernest Bai Koroma today decried the behaviour and actions of virtually all the ministries and other institutions in charge of law-enforcement in Sierra Leone,”  President Koroma’s stance was received with mixed feelings from different quarters.

State House Press Release

In a release circulated in and outside Sierra Leone by Mr. Sheka Tarawallie, the President who was speaking at a special emergency meeting at State House, told his audience, “I have invited all of you to this meeting and I carefully selected each and every one of you because you form the law-enforcement agencies and are expected to interpret and implement the law to ensure that government functions effectively and efficiently. You interpret the law on a daily basis in dealing with the public and the international community, but if you compromise your positions, then it affects the overall functioning of the state.”

Well, this latest action has become a topical issue. Some believe he did the right thing, while others hold contrary view. I support the former. Those who are opposed to the president should be cognizant of the fact that he won the mandate of Sierra Leoneans to lead them safely from 2007 to 2012.

n exclusive interview with President Koroma at State House last year

An exclusive interview with President Koroma at State House last year

Performance Contracts

After that period, he would again declare his candidature to reassess his stewardship over the previous years. To ensure his commitment to the people of Sierra Leone, the President in turn signed performance contracts with his ministers which are based on quarterly assessment of their work. Based on these contracts, H.E. the President has now realized that some Ministries/Departments, especially the security arm of government have been lacking in many aspects, hence his hosting of an extraordinarily tough and uncompromising meeting to in the first instance; warn them before resorting to action.

Cocorioko’s Kabbs Kanu

I have said this time without number that I have no doubt about the performance of our President. His recent action is an indication of his desire to rid the country of corrupt practices especially in the security sector of government as security is the key to the safe and efficient functioning of a state devoid of Terrorist/ Al-Qaeda threats. On the other hand, I have no qualms about comments made by critics, like my colleague in New York, Kabbs Kanu, who asked in his paper last Friday: “Why are some Sierra Leoneans so difficult to please?  In that article, he wrote “I can bet anybody my best Sunday suit that if President Koroma had gone ahead and done what many are suggesting that he should have fired the suspected corrupt officials, the same Sierra Leoneans would have accused him of acting hastily. The sing-song would have been that President Ernest Koroma was cruel and insensitive and had deprived some citizens of their daily bread.

Rev. Kabs Kanu

Rev. Kabs Kanu

“The talk would have been that President Koroma should have warned the officials firstly before bringing down the scalpel on them.”

New York Based Sierra Leonean Educationist

Like me, a Sierra Leone educationist, Dr. Hamid Charm, based in Rochester, New York, recently told me on the phone that he believed the President should be applauded for his efforts in what should be a national crusade against the scourge of institutionalized corruption in Sierra Leone. 

Dr. Hamid Charm

Dr. Hamid Charm

We should also take into cognizant that His Excellency Ernest Koroma has God’s mandate and the “Bully Pulpit”. Let him continue using it to correct the ills in our society for and on behalf of the mostly illiterate and powerless people of Sierra Leone. He was overwhelmingly elected on a mantle or platform for change. And he has, time and again promised Sierra Leoneans that he would as President do just that – time and history will absolve him in his current stance. History and posterity won’t therefore treat him kindly if he fails to break away from the failings, misdeeds and ineptitudes of past governments. He has to chart a new and better course for Sierra Leone.

Good Old Days

I have known the President for over 20 years. From his days at St. Francis Secondary School, Makeni as a teacher, one of the directors at Nevada Company in Kono, Managing Director of Ritcorp Insurance in Freetown, Minority Party Leader in Parliament to now President of Sierra Leone.

Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as President is now different from the Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma I had known in his previous capacities. I reiterated in one of my recent articles and will continue saying that prior to his ascendancy to power many Sierra Leoneans described Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as “too gentle a politician with a weak character to take on national issues head-on.” But I have always begged to differ. Each time I met with the president, I always get the feeling that his sense of responsibility and his intellectual capacity have developed to the highest degree.

I.B. Kargbo Praises President Koroma

Besides, my occasional telephone discussions with him always give me an insight that the President has grown faster in politics than many of our former leaders. I also said in one of my articles before coming to Saudi Arabia that I subscribed to the Information and Communications Minister, Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, who doubles as official government spokesman, when he told me in an exclusive interview in Freetown that the President’s “decisiveness, thoughtfulness, watchfulness, compassion and the desire to succeed are the magic behind his rapid growth in national politics.” 

IB Kargbo praises President Koroma

IB Kargbo praises President Koroma

Moreover, as a journalist who has been carefully studying the political landscape of Sierra Leone over the years, I know before he became President, the political brilliance and maturity he displayed in opposition clearly contravened the wrong perceptions many Sierra Leoneans had about him.

President Koroma, the Democrat

The fact of the matter is that, the President loves his country, believes in democracy, believes in constructive criticism but has always ignored critics trying to distract his attention in moving the country forward. This is what he told me in one of the interviews I conducted with him last year: “I should not only focus on my development agenda and policies, I must also look at uniting the country. I believe I am president of the country and I have a responsibility to unify the country. I have a responsibility to let everybody develop a new concept of democracy and a new culture of democracy.” 

President Koroma, not a Weak Leader

I think it’s high time we allow the President to perform his duties and put aside unnecessary criticisms. He is a cool, composed and well calculated person but that doesn’t mean he’s a weak leader.  He’s a man who is difficult to lose his temper. Therefore, let’s try not to hurt him. I want to encourage all government functionaries, irrespective of political affiliation, to perform their jobs they are paid for diligently. If they don’t believe in the “Attitudinal Change” policy of the President, it may be good for them to take exit door instead of undermining the good work of Mr. President.

The President in my view has identified the current problems of the state and he should be commended in the first instance that he has been alert and has demonstrated readiness to tackle the problem head on.

Alhaji Jalloh, Information Attache, Sierra Leone Embassy, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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