31 August 2012
“Sierra Leone’s councils face collapse under the weight of expectation; and six years since the return of local government many councillors and citizens don’t know how they work”, says a Report conducted for the British Department for International Development in May 2011.
Rising poverty – especially in the rural communities, compounded by a catastrophic outbreak of cholera, which has so far taken the lives of an estimated 500 people, has left thousands hospitalised. Local councils are unable to respond.
The British government has this week announced its £2 million support to help Sierra Leone tackle the deadly outbreak of cholera and to improve sanitary services throughout the country. Is this too little – too late?
30 August 2012
As President Koroma remains unmoved by the latest cash for political favour scandal, his Vice President is hoping that the fiasco would go away soon. But international publicity intensifies.
In the latest issue of Africa Confidential – the world’s leading fortnightly bulletin on African politics, the Vice President’s shameful act continues to make headlines.
An excerpt from the Africa Confidential reads: “An American businessman has accused the Vice-President of not repaying a loan, but President Koroma remains untouched. So far claims of illegal foreign political donations could force President Ernest Koroma to drop his running mate in November’s elections.
“United States businessmen are accusing Vice-President Samuel Sam-Sumana of diverting commercial investments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaign funds for the All People’s Congress (APC) in the 2007 elections.
“If the businessmen are proved right, Vice-President Sam-Sumana’s conduct would be a clear breach of Sierra Leone’s electoral law, which explicitly bans foreign political donations…”
Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
28 August 2012
Why is blowing the trumpets and beating the drums of our political realities not at the epicentre of political discussions today, less than a hundred days to national polls?
When the populace do not even know that they have a right to certain necessities of life and public trust and optimism is in short supply, why are the peculiarly unimaginative, hell-bent on ensuring that small changes get big hurrahs, pumping up their significance as indicators of real progress?
Is it that we as a people have bought so heavily into the ‘myth’ of growth that we believe unseating the current APC government will undermine the foundation of development; or is it the fear of having to start again under an SLPP regime that promises to re-lay the tracks of our polity and national life, that is sending our hearts racing?
Is Ernest Bai Koroma (EBK) a paragon of virtue or will Julius Maada Bio’s (JMB) emergence be like the anti-Christ riding into the Vatican?
Dr. Sama Banya
28 August 2012
I recall the events of that Wednesday morning, when the continuous sound of gunfire reached me as I sat in my Wilberforce Street surgery (now housing GT bank), awaiting the arrival of my staff and patients.
It was later followed by a government statement on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service, which said that a group of unruly soldiers had attempted to seize power, but that they had been overpowered and that the situation was under control.
We the peaceful citizens were advised to go about our normal business.
But soon after that statement, the voice of Captain Valentine Strasser came on air to announce that, they – the officers from the war front, had overthrown the government of President Joseph Saidu Momoh.
There was widespread jubilation all over this city of Freetown, and I mean THIS CITY and later throughout the rest of the country.
Dr. Sama Banya
25 August 2012
The ruling “new” All Peoples Congress Party (APC), like its predecessor, has always boasted of ninety-nine ways with which they would win elections.
Like I have stated over and over again, violence has always been an integral part of that practice and worked to their advantage in the past.
Such tactics even succeeded in the local government bye-election in the Soro Gbeima chiefdom of Pujehun district.
The then resident minister – now security minister, Musa Tarawallie, a former Member of Parliament of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), who finally landed in the APC through the PMDC route, had led the onslaught on the poor people of that chiefdom.
He had frightened the wits out of the people, forcing them to abandon the election process and take to the bush. While this primitive pattern of violence has received national condemnation, the APC party continues to pull other rabbits out of its bag.
Abdul R Thomas
24 August 2012
The government of Sierra Leone announced this week that it has allocated over Le3.5 Billion to eight Local Councils, which ministers say is for the for the delivery of devolved services in the period – April to June 2012.
The current outbreak of cholera in the country is set to test the resolve of the president and his ministers, as pressure on resources rises. At the best of times, Local Councils are unable to respond to the daily needs of their communities.
The government has been heavily criticised for its poor and inadequate response to the crisis. Yet Local Councils are powerless and incapacitated to deal with the unfolding crisis.
With general and local elections just three months away, there are suspicions that the government is using funds meant to pay for the delivery of devolved services to bribe Local Councils and their Communities in return for votes.
Dr. Sama Banya
21 August 2012
A colleague asked me last week whether I now trusted Christiana Thorpe – the chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to conduct transparent, free, fair and credible elections in Sierra Leone next November.
Recently, I announced that I had made up my mind to be at peace with the Electoral Commission’s chief – Christiana Thorpe.
In the announcement, I expressed the hope that she would conduct the elections in a transparent manner, and more importantly, I warned her NOT TO ROB US OF THE RESULTS AS SHE DID IN 2007. And I meant it.
But the ink had hardly dried from that article, when in collusion with the APC leadership, she dropped the bombshell on nomination fees for the November Presidential, Parliamentary and local government elections.
As if that was not an enough and dangerous move, she attempted to deceive the nation on two related outcomes of her announcement, both of which were blatant lies, deliberately concocted to fool the Sierra Leonean public.
Dr. Sama Banya
20 August 2012
The editor of the Independent Observer quite rightly echoes the sentiments of veteran journalist Clarence Roy-Macaulay, over the Yenga issue.
Their concern is understandable, considering the hypocritical jubilation by the APC operatives and the likes of Sahr Mokuwa and Balogun Koroma that the APC has liberated Yenga.
Just last week, the Awareness Times newspaper carried a front page headline, quoting the APC election manager – Balogun Koroma, in which he listed the achievements of this government.
Yenga was included in that list, as well as another of those boastful statements that the man knew was false and only meant to deceive the public – to wit; that the APC had brought back the railway.
I could understand such a claim coming from one of our ignorant and illiterate brothers. But when it comes from the election campaign manager of the ruling party, I can’t help but describe it as moral dishonesty.
18 August 2012
Since the outbreak of cholera and diarrhoea in the West African state of Sierra Leone several months ago, hundreds have died needlessly, as the government dithered in amassing a co-ordinated response to stem the outbreak.
The government is being accused by local NGOs of indifference to the needless loss of lives in the country.
According to a statement released yesterday by the African Press Organization (APO); “The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS) are responding to a growing cholera crisis in the capital Freetown and surrounding areas.”
Although the government of Sierra Leone has declared the cholera outbreak as a national emergency after 176 deaths and 10, 800 reported cases since January, IFRC notes that; “there has been a spike in reported cases since mid-July and the onset of the rainy season. Over the past 5 weeks, 6000 cases alone have been confirmed. But there are fears that many other cases have not been officially reported.”
“This current outbreak of cholera has the potential to be devastating and is proving very difficult to control,” said Amanda McClelland, IFRC Emergency Health Coordinator.
Mohamed Kunowah Kiellow
18 August 2012
In 2009, after my first assignment as a Legal and Policy Adviser in Sierra Leone, I wrote an open letter to our President of our beloved Sierra Leone. In that letter I pinpointed in a no-nonsense way the state of human rights in Sierra Leone, making reference to the manifesto of the ruling APC, which brought them to power.
I got a sea of mails from people who read the letter. Many people appreciated the truth I told in my letter. Many others wrote a tsunami of mails calling me names unbefitting of my reputation and status.
Since gaining independence, many states in Africa have been ruled by greedy African leaders, who have ruled their people with arrant brutality, willful scorn and transparent lies.
They have been able to divide their governed along tribal, political and social lines and rule them in a manner to suit their whims and caprices.
This manner of misrule has caused untold suffering to the people of Sierra Leone.