President Koroma and his commendable scores
In the last few days, following the one year of President Koroma’s second inning as a government, attempts have been taken in certain quarters, all aimed at doing some kind of analysis of the performance record of this government, especially from the perspective of what has been achieved. These analyses are coming from the viewpoint of what was promised by the President, in relation to the ‘Agenda for Change’ and now the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’, both of which are the Government’s blueprint for national development. (President Koroma in China 2013)
Given what has been achieved so far and with what is expected to be scored in the next 48 months of government by this government, it is but acceptable to state that we have come a long way in meeting our development needs and aspirations as a country. Analyses have been practically and realistically so varied; some with political spinning, with specific reference to the assessment of the main opposition party in Sierra Leone. I did listen to its spokesperson, in the person of Musa Tamba Sam on Star Radio. He fell short of being honest to accept that goals have been scored by the country collectively, though with challenges. To suggest that he is still grappling from the Kailahun defeat over a year ago with be an understatement. Forget not, he was the woefully defeated in his backyard, rejected by his people in Kailahun, a place they have often rejected, saved for the intervention of President Koroma. Kailahun is still faced with challenges in terms of road infrastructure, more so given its potential in agricultural productivity. Greater attention has been given to that part of the country by a government whose leader was once chased out of that very district by thugs of the opposition, this tells lot of the type of President we have today, in the person of Ernest Bai Koroma; a complete manifestation of the national character of the government, my view please, but very true.
But again, some of the analyses have come to terms of given global trend. Notwithstanding the tremendous efforts that will be put out by this government to transform the country, there will always be challenges. Forget not, to take into account global happening when discussing our national development progress from the perspective of what has been done and what still remains to be done. With this background one would submit, and objectively acceptable to do, that whosoever would want to assess the successes or failures of the government in its second inning must be doing so preposterously and unrealistically expecting development to move like a bustard forgetting the challenges attached to such. Yes we expect tangible development from elected representatives, but if one is elected for 60 months, how unreasonable it is to expect all the result within 12 months.
Let us come to terms with past realities. When President Koroma took over the reign of governance some six years ago, he met a county with plethora of challenges in all sectors. From agriculture to infrastructure, youth unemployment, tackling corruption and rebranding the image of the country at the international level, challenges were plentiful. Take agriculture, as a case study, by 2007, the sector was in a state that required immediate attention from Government. There was a wicked and poor allocated budgetary support of 1.6%. The fishery was also a poor managed sector that was inherited by a government with series of areas to look at, given the unlimited resources they met. The sector, prior to 2007, was as chaotic as the running of government appeared at the time with no central command, saved for the dictatorial tendencies of a then power vice President. The fisheries outstations were dysfunctional, and revenue collection was neither effective, nor properly coordinated.
Tackling corrupting was more done from a theoretical perspective than there was a practical approach to it. Granted the Government inherited a commission charged with the task of fighting corruption, but will no powers to do such. Corruption had pervaded our society so much that you were looked down upon if you had the opportunity to be corrupt and choose not to do so. The Anti Corruption Commission was completely lacking the political will to tackle the nation’s endemic public corruption. Revenue generating institutions like the National Revenue Authority was more or less an instrument used by a selected few to enrich themselves at the expense of the citizenry.
But we saw a change in a range of issues when this government was elected in 2007. In the fisheries sector for instance, we are today talking about improved governance of the fisheries resource, with well strengthening management architecture, with practical measures put in place to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, coupled with effective Co-Management, Marine Conservation and Territorial Use-rights structures.
Since 2007, the Koroma Government has been able to turn the country around in several areas. In areas of infrastructure, government has embarked upon the largest road rehabilitation and construction drive ever in the history of the country. Today progress could be measured in terms of the “resurfacing of the Makeni – Matotoka Highway and the Bo – Kenema Highway; the completion of the Masiaka – Bo Highway; rehabilitation of 600km of feeder roads in Port Loko, Kambia, Pujehun and Kenema Districts; rehabilitation of twenty five (25)km of selected streets in Freetown including: Mends Street, Duke Street, Victoria Street, Dundas Street, Caulker Street and widening of Wilkinson Road and Spur Road; rehabilitation of a combined total of 250km of streets in all of the 12 district headquarter towns and Lunsar township; and the reconstruction of the Freetown –Conakry Highway.” (President Ernest Koroma 2012)
In 2008, the Government took a more robust stance in the fight against corruption by empowering the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate and prosecute all corruption cases. This was a clear manifestation of the political will on the part of the government, which was elected on the platform of change and development. Today an institution like the National Revenue Authority is talking about collecting, on behalf of Government trillions of Leones, which was never the case. In agriculture, the country is increasing agricultural productivity, and at the same time promoting commercial agriculture through extension delivery systems.
Today, Sierra Leone continues to have measures in place that will not only strengthen her democratic credentials, but fairly creating the enabling environment for the promotion of an open and free society. There has been the enactment of a law that guarantees access to public held information. There has been an encouraging boom in our economic growth, as indicted in the operations of mining companies, in our infrastructural drive and our boom in agricultural productivity. Today, there is a clear roadmap as to where the country should be heading for in the coming decades, through The Agenda for Prosperity. This blueprint for national development clearly spells out government’s readiness to strengthen Sierra Leone’s democracy and rule of law.
In my humble opinion, there appears to be commendable goals that have been scored by government. That notwithstanding, we know there are a number of challenges and because of such challenges, the government was reelected. The development roadmap for the country outlined in the Agenda for Prosperity provides a brighter and promising future. But what is also paramount, is for Sierra Leoneans to take it as a challenge to be part of the drive to a prosperous nation. You cannot be seeking development and expecting it to be pursued with the highest speed but finding it disturbingly unacceptable to be part of it. The gains are countable, and the goals scored are commendable.
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