Peace in the Gambia will be costly – but is it worth the expense?

Abdulai Mansaray

Sierra Leone Telegraph:  30 December 2016

Despite attempts by West African regional heads of state to reason with Jammeh, he remains strong headed in his desire to cling on to power. This is borne out of hubris. We are all victims of our own hubris at times.

Some may see Jammeh’s stubbornness as a dream of innocence; and this depends on a denial of reality that can be his own form of hubris. Jammeh is in denial of the reality that Gambians are witnessing today.

He professes to be a man of Allah; but even great men bow before the sun which melts hubris into humility.

The problem with Jammeh is not a lack of competence. It is confidence without competence. He thinks that the way he understands God is the way God is. That is exactly what will mark his down fall.

Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.

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Sierra Leone’s social welfare minister Blyden sets standard of transparency, openness and accountability

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 December 2016

Few ministers, if any in Sierra Leone – including the president, have gone all out to ensure that as a matter of duty they routinely inform their paymaster the tax payer about their daily work activity.

But as many Sierra Leoneans would admit, only a handful of public officials actually perform a day’s work in their entire lifetime in office. This says a lot about president Koroma’s ministerial performance contract monitoring.

And not many public officials see their role as servants of the people either. Instead they regard the people that pay their salaries as servants, whilst busy siphoning public funds or engaging in their own unlawful personal enterprises.

Productivity in Sierra Leone’s public sector is one of the lowest in Africa, although this is also to some extent true of the country’s private sector. The entire economy is inefficient.

The slothful obsession of public officials with donor funds, is seriously hampering their ability and capacity to innovate and think outside the box of ways to either generate revenue for the state or run their ministries economically, efficiently, and effectively.

It is therefore quite refreshing to see at least one minister who is quite rightly obsessed about routinely giving account of their daily work activity. This sets a new standard of transparency, openness and accountability that should be mandated across government. Not even State House should be spared.

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Are these the top one hundred most influential Sierra Leoneans of 2016?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 December 2016 

Every year as the world says goodbye to the end of the year and welcomes the new, after Santa Claus has come and gone, it seems some people’s brain go into overdrive, as they struggle to reconcile reality from fiction.

It is also a time of the year when countries and organisations recognise people that have made a difference to society.

But how do you go about compiling a credible list of those that are believed to have truly influenced the lives of people in society, without causing controversy? What criteria informs such judgement?

In Sierra Leone, an organisation calling itself ‘Ecomedia Corporation Sierra Leone’ has published a controversial list of people it believes have influenced the lives of Sierra Leoneans in 2016.

The list raises the question as to the definition of ‘influential’, and the difference between influential and popularity.

Sad – but true, that RUF rebel leader Foday Sankoh, was both popular and influential, for all the wrong reasons one can think of. But would he have made it to this list of Sierra Leone’s top one hundred influential people of 2016?

Several of the personalities on the list have been called into question. Many Sierra Leoneans believe that some are at best untrustworthy and dishonourable; and at worse – damn right corrupt, as well as directly responsible for the catastrophic and deplorable social and economic conditions that the country now faces.

But in its own defence, this is what Ecomedia Corporation Sierra Leone says about their list of the one hundred most influential Sierra Leoneans of 2016:

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Sierra Leone Bar Association mourns the death of Barrister Imran Rahman

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 December 2016

Families and communities across Sierra Leone will today – Christmas Day, be mourning the deaths of Barrister Imran Rahman and the country’s former head of the military Lieutenant-General Samuel Omar Williams, after both were gruesomely killed by armed attackers in their homes.

Speaking yesterday to the distraught son of Barrister Rahman – Mr. Nazmi Rahman, who lives in London, one gets a true sense of what it really means to lose a father – a loved one, in such horrific and despicable circumstances.

Lieutenant General S.O. Williams, Barrister Rahman and a countless number of children and hard working citizens murdered in cold blood by criminals, are the innocent victims of a society that is heading closer once again to self-destruction, simply because those upon whom the affairs of state have been entrusted, are far too busy feathering their own nests, rather than promoting the interests of society in general.

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Sierra Leone is fast becoming the murder capital of West Africa

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 December 2016

Communities around Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone are tonight gripped by fear and shock after the brutal murder last night of another well know public figure –  the highly acclaimed Barrister Imran Rahman. (Photo: President Ernest Bai Koroma).

The former Magistrate and Barrister is reported by police to have been strangled at his home by unknown armed men who broke into the house in Marjay Town in the west of Freetown.

His death comes just two days after the retired head of the country’s military – Lieutenant General S.O. Williams, was shot dead by armed men at his home in the east of the capital. Police are still investigating his killing.

Lawyer Rahman was aged 78 and comes from the very popular Rahman family in the Foulah Town community of eastern Freetown.

His murder has once again raised serious questions about the ability of the Koroma government in running the country, as well as the capacity of the police in maintaining law and order in the capital Freetown. How safe is Freetown tonight?

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Sierra Leone economic prospects – government writes to the IMF

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 December 2016

Two weeks ago – 6th of December, 2016, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed its sixth review of Sierra Leone’s performance, under the economic program supported by an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement it had signed with the government. Its report has evoked mixed feelings about the government’s performance.

The IMF concluded that as a result of its review, it has agreed to advance a further sum of $33.2 million to Sierra Leone. This brings the total disbursements under the loan arrangement to about $253.81 million.

And following the government’s failure to adhere to the agreed borrowing ceiling, as well as its practice of the use of multiple currency trading – i.e. bank of sierra Leone issuing a rate of exchange that is different to the currency auctioning rate, the IMF received a request from the government to waiver its non-observance of those key economic performance criteria.

“In this regard, we have taken remedial measures to improve the organization of the auction market to ensure that demand and supply conditions in the market determine the exchange rate, thereby eliminating the multiple currency practice,” the government tells IMF.

So how well has the economy performed in the last year, and what are the prospects for the future?

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Sierra Leone – money, politics and patronage

Jamie Hitchen (Africa Research Institute)

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 December 2016

As Sierra Leone struggles with the aftermath of the devastating Ebola epidemic, it must fight fires on several fronts: as well as being one of the most corrupt countries in Africa, it is facing an acute cash shortage and potential leadership struggle.

Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Sierra Leone 119th out of 168 countries. The country’s position has progressively worsened over the last four years.

Also in 2015, 70% of citizens surveyed by Afro-barometer felt that corruption had increased from 2014, with only a third believing that they can make a difference in the fight against it.

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