President Koroma’s tolerance; lessons learnt
Launching the APC manifesto prior to the last Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone, President Ernest Koroma spoke of his strong willingness and commitment to work towards strengthening the country’s democracy and new politics. Chapter 8 of the said manifesto deals exclusively with ways the then presidential flagbearer would want to deepen the country’s democracy, in terms of deepening the process of decentralization and strengthening local governance across the country; empowering women and youth; enhancing participatory policy making and promoting political tolerance and inclusion, amongst other ways. (Photo: John Pa Baimba Sesay, IA, China)
From present day happenings especially when discussed from the timeframe of half a decade ago, it is acceptable to suggest, that we have, as a nation, achieved in the areas of sustaining our democracy; promoting women and children issues; deepening the process of decentralization and devolution of state functions, etc. For instance, in the area of deepening the process of decentralisation, one would say with no hesitation, that much has been achieved, given that, we today have got effectively operational councils across the country. Community participation in state governance is now a practical happening in the country, just as it is with the areas of devolving functions to the councils, coupled with the encouraging funding the councils now enjoy from central government. This is all as a result of the unflinching political support the councils now enjoy from the central government. This is same in terms of empowering more women and youth. The creation of the youth commission, coupled with the separation of the youth ministry from that of sport clearly demonstrates the readiness of the country, as shown by the President in meeting the needs and challenges of the youthful population. This is truly so as even demonstrated in the appointment of a number of youthful people into positions of trust by this administration. From the framework of promoting women, we today see a number of women capably serving the country in different areas of responsibilities, from the first ever Commissioner-General of the revenue collection agency-NRA; to the first female chief justice, to the Administrator-General, the list goes on and on.
But that is not all. Promoting political tolerance and inclusion has been a benchmark of the Koroma administration. Since he first came into political governance over half a decade ago, President Koroma and his administration have always ensured, a level political playing field to the extent that when we today talk about issues of political tolerance and inclusion, his administration surely will come to mind. As a leader, he has always ensured, the interest of the country comes first and that when it comes to distribution of state wealth, each and every region feels part of it. When we talk about roads today, it is same in Kailahun district just as it is in Kambia district. When we talk about solar lights, it cuts across. So this is the leader we today have to thinks Sierra Leone. Besides, he has always worked towards bridging the regional divide that has existed for years in Sierra Leone’s political landscape. His appointment of Ministers and Heads of Departments gives a true reflection of his determination to get the country united. Devoid of one’s political affiliation, when it comes to his interaction, President Koroma knows no boundary. On a number of occasions, he has travelled out of the country with members out of his political party; he enjoys a good friendship with people from the opposition but that does not make him part of their party. Can we learn from him? Yes, if we want to.
If President Koroma had not been the type of leader that accommodates people devoid of their political beliefs, tribes and religion, Kailahun, a stronghold of the opposition, would not have voted the APC into parliament with a parliamentary seat. There is therefore a lot we will learn from the leadership style of President Koroma. In fact in the APC manifesto, it is said that “unlike previous decades when politics was all about violence and “winner takes all”, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has earned himself accolades both at home and International levels for his politics of tolerance and inclusion. The APC under the leadership Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has displayed tolerance and patience the likes of which are a novelty in Africa.” This is something we should be proud of as believers in the policies of the President. Chapter 8 of the manifesto, highlights the need for us all to work towards a politically tolerant nation; one where one can have his political views but should feel free to interact with people having different views from his own, because “Political tolerance only occurs in a society when there is an acceptance to express individuals’ rights and civil liberties that may differ from those of the establishment. It is a major corner stone of democracy. While accepting that majority rule is very basic to democracy, there must equally be an acceptance that the rights of the minority must be respected and protected. President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has ensured that these rights are not only protected but exercised under his administration.” There also is the need for open deliberation of divergent ideas and no matter how much such ideas are disliked; “our Government ensures that they are not suppressed.”
It is in this direction that the administration of President Koroma identified as core challenges, issues like; eliminating the susceptibility of youth to engage in political violence. ; reversing the tendency towards politics as the only means for self fulfillment; eradicating the tendency not to accept political defeat, et el. Outlined objectives aimed at addressing such challenges include, but not limited to; ensuring a healthier inter- party interaction and dialogue; and reducing involvement of youth in political violence . But overall, when we have a politically tolerant President in the person of President Koroma there is the need for us all to learn from him and see how we inculcate those traits in our daily dealings with people. The need for political tolerance cannot be overstated because as rightly stated by Bob Marley, everyman has a right to decide his own destiny and besides, the life we live is one big road with a lot of signs; better if we try not to complicate our minds. A lot I have learnt from the Koroma tolerance.
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