A dive into shark infested waters
Roaming the land they once called home, are the ghosts of our heroes past. They watch with pain, the carcass of their beloved country strewn across the globe as the people slave away in foreign lands and the resources are carted away by those who have put nothing into its growth.
It was the great philosopher, Albert Camms who said that the climax of every tragedy lies in the deafness of its heroes (and leaders). To that physical impairment, add blindness, mental imbalance and egotism.
Next month, the government of the Republic of Sierra Leone, will literarily and temporarily move base to the British capital, London, for a jamboree appropriately tagged ‘Investments in Sierra Leone’.
On the surface, the continuous search for foreign assistance to ginger the Sierra Leone economy out of its comatose state seems an extraordinary sublime move and hopefully, the maturity or otherwise of the decision would be judged in sentimental variance, depending on sympathies.
In the meantime, the monkeys among us can continue to jump from tree to tree in search of juicy fruits to line their pockets but I am not at all convinced, and neither do I think it is in our own best interest, to be looking out of the window of the world in anticipation of foreign messianic intervention.
Lessons of history are meant to be dirty dust to the deaf and dumb. I do not want our leaders to be associated with this.Â
I am aware that our leaders have difficult decisions to make and tough choices to take on whether to put the nation on the path to recovery through the hard road of self-reliance or to dance to the usual populist tunes that have, like magic flutes, ensnared us in national collusive indecision. But while the contemporary Yahoo generation may not appreciate this, it is necessary to question the perspective that salvation for our dearly beloved nation can only come from the direction of the descendants of those who held us in bondage for centuries and plundered our wealth in their scramble for our land.
It is also farcical to continue to rely wholly and solely headlong, on the policy of dependence on the international community for our survival knowing fully well that this may also drive Sierra Leone off the economic and social cliff.
The problem is: what happens if this lot recruited to lead us out of the alley, were to withhold their assistance and investment because somewhere along the line, we come to our senses and realize that our salvation is not in their hands and we reject their continuous demands? After all, that is exactly what was said to have happened to the immediate past regime.
The gory truth of the government’s inability to come to terms with its inadequacies, show in shocking detail, the mismanagement, confused thinking and lack of respect for the impoverished masses.
Now that the fine phrases have been digested within the last twenty four months, the leftovers as we are seeing, is an empty feeling that promises to drag us back into the economic mire.
To digress a bit, I find it weird and odd that it has taken the government and our new surrogate leader, Tony Blair, two solid years of crippling immobility to realize that the formula for rapid development lies in the pockets and coffers of individuals and nations in Washington, London and other European capitals.
So, as the vultures target the nation, backed by their ever-willing political carnivores and assured of the lifelessness of the carcass of Sierra Leone, I believe that the recent BAE scandal in Africa is at least instructive.
For the benefit of those unaware of the issue, in one of the cases, the British company is alleged to have sold to Tanzania, one of the poorest nations on earth, an air traffic control system that the African nation did not need.
The story of BAE and other such foreign masquerade companies operating in desperate developing nations is a symptom of the incestuous dark world of our dependence on them and the blindness to the sinister motives behind their altruistic Greek gift of assistance.
Because, how come Tony Blair could not do for Sierra Leone, while he had absolute powers at his finger tips, what he is now giving his limbs and life for? Makes you wonder doesn’t it?
To think that a business community or government set up by vested interests can ever sit down to develop an economic recovery plan for us is the same as thinking that Osama Bin Laden is a sound moral guiding light to the western world.
The vaunted ambition to overhaul the political, social and economic decadence in Sierra Leone, appears to be an irredeemable mirage simply because our leaders are deluding themselves with a vision that suspends the present realities in total neglect of the fact that the future is predicated on the present, if not the past.
Simply put, it is like plunging to the depth of the absurd, if we think that any serious investor, except cowboys, will operate within our climes if we are yet to tackle the problem of infrastructures like water, light, roads, well-equipped schools, adequate security to ensure a good investment climate as well as clear-cut plans and policies that will facilitate our development process.
The cold reality is that perspective is needed. Now is the time for cold reasoning and gung-ho desire to tackle our fundamental problems.
Sierra Leone may be a friendly place to do business and we may be tempted by some perceived substantial foreign injections, but the economy has been going down and the dubious distinction being accorded the country is nothing but a confirmation of the fact that we are again rich for picking.
Tony Blair said in his statement that he shared President Koroma’s belief that governance and growth are the most pressing challenges for Sierra Leone. Yet, when we had our challenges in various political clashes not once did he call on the government to tread softly. Not once did he mention about the government working towards the enthronement of true democratic values whereby it is not a matter of desperation to control every single inch of the country before you can serve the people.
Obviously, that’s of no interest to him. Money matters more. He and the other vultures coming are already drooling from both sides of their mouths as they envisage how fat their balance sheets would be by the time they finish with us.
Since he pitched his tent on our shores, not one single school has he helped rehabilitate; not one health centre has he helped to build or re-equip and not even one tin of paint has he bought for Lungi airport or to help us get one half-decent ferry. Yet, he is quick to help out where profit is the primary goal.
Welcome Sir Tony (Grand master of the order of Rokel) and his band of gold diggers. We eagerly await your benevolence.
Anyway, what matters most now, is that the economy needs life-saving drugs (policies). What matters is that our roads are death traps and our transport system a nightmare. What matters is that half the population cannot afford decent meals, decent clothes and decent housing. What matters is that it is naÃ¯ve to believe in the high-sounding gibberish and sophistication of foreigners whose recent result card is the current economic disaster in the global economy.
China, India, Ghana and even little Benin Republic which is nearby, did not achieve their status by working from the outside. They focused on their internal strength and laid the groundwork for investors to come looking for them on the terms their governments dictate and not the pull of external strings.
For any significant development to occur, we must learn to “look under our feet”.
The government should have a manageable agenda and well-articulated vision which are followed religiously with discipline and strength of character.
Let’s develop a workable agricultural loan scheme for the rural farmers for example. In fact I was shocked to read the plea of the rice woman ‘Marie Nerica’, for assistance, despite her heroic effort. So who’s got all the Indian and Libyan tractors and implements when genuine economic contributors like her are crying out? I bet it is party stalwarts and non-farmers with contact and little interest in agriculture.
All these jamborees and high sounding economic jargons are meaningless to the ordinary man unless they translate into developing the economy and improving his welfare as well as in affordable cost of living.
The energy of the nation resides in the youths and right now that our youths are in the doldrums, the nation itself is also in the same boat.
Two years down the line, they are not seeing any difference; instead they witness shylock businessmen and wolves in sheep’s clothing come and rip the nation off with no sympathy for their plight.
Economic development is all about statistics where it is easier to gauge the level of progress and development in specific, measurable, actionable and time bound programmes.
That was the promise. That is not the result so far.
Instead, we have a regime whose ministers have been invisible in words and invisible in action. Spin and fora like the London jamboree are filling the days and months with vast devastating consequences for the people.
As we ignore the direction to the future, the factors that should enhance productivity, such as infrastructure, sound legal system, security, improved work force and youth empowerment, are instead on unrestrained retreat.
Instead the government finds satisfying excuses for every challenge and contends with mouthing lofty goals, in the hope that it postpones its responsibility for the neglected realities.
But countries with eyes on the future don’t leave policies, plans, programmes and projects to the mercy of foreigners and to chance.
What a peculiar mess we find ourselves.
See you soon.
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