Sierra Leone’s president Koroma – governance and service delivery

John Baimba Sesay – China

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 August 2016

Citizen engagement is crucial to sustaining democratic governance. It allows for openness in the decision making process, and ensures trust and public confidence.

Participatory democracy is a process of collective decision making that combines elements from both direct and representative democracy.

Sierra Leone pays greater attention to public engagement and citizens’ participation in governance – both at the central and local levels of government.

At the local level, it is clearly manifested in the local councils, which serve as efficient, or as expected, conduit for ensuring proper service delivery and community participation.

President Ernest Bai Koroma, during a two-day National Conference on Community Engagement and Convergence in Freetown on 31 August 2016, underscored the role of participatory governance and citizen engagement in enhancing service delivery across the country.

This is impressive, given what his government has achieved in eight years of managing the affairs of State.

As mentioned earlier, at the local level, there has been the institutional framework for community participation, created through an Act of Parliament – the Local Government Act 2004.

Section 108 of the Act, focuses on the promotion of participatory approach to the decentralization process. Ward Committees are instrumental in the promotion of participatory approach to governance at the local levels.

Section 95 (2) of the Act outlines the composition of each ward committee; every Councilor elected from that ward; the Paramount Chief of the Chiefdom, in the case of localities with a system of chieftaincy; and not more than ten other persons, at least five of whom shall be women, resident in that ward and elected by the ward residents in a public meeting.

The committees, among other functions, provide a focal point for the discussion of local problems and needs, and take remedial action where necessary or make recommendations to the local council accordingly.

President Koroma greeted by Traditional LeadersSince 2007, government continues to invest huge resources in local councils across the country, all in a bid to building their capacities to be able to execute their statutory functions.

Government’s unflinching support for the decentralization and devolution process, demonstrates the great value it attaches to the concept of participatory approach to governance.

Local councils across the country should therefore work assiduously towards making their ward committees fully functional.

This will eventually help bring about effective public involvement and enhance service delivery, something that is core to the president’s recovery programmes.

Eight years of democratic governance have seen the better side of things, with much progress achieved.

The Government, especially the political leadership, should also be credited for ensuring an open political space and enabling environment.

It has, since 2007, continued to open up the political space, set up appropriate structures and the required processes to enable participatory policy-making.

It has not only reinforced “coordination and dialogue amongst district Councils, chiefdom authorities and Central Government functionaries”, by reinstating District Officers, the platform has been created by this government in ensuring discussions on a range of national issues, like the national budget, all being part of the wider participatory approach.

The establishment of an Open Government Initiative (OGI) in 2008, serves as a platform for the promotion of good governance. It today serves as a link between the government (the three arms) and the people, providing citizens with open space to be a part of governance.

Civil society groups are today being provided with the environment to operate freely and in tandem with governance dictates.

This is very important, given that they serve as the arena outside of the state and the market, where people associate to advance common interests. However, it all depends on the enabling environment to be provided by political actors and thanks to the government for such an environment in Sierra Leone.

In a nutshell, the President’s call for constant development partners and all sectors to the development process to stay engaged with the people is timely, crucial and speaks volume of his commitment to the promotion of participatory democracy which, since 2007, his government has been promoting.

About the author:

John Baimba Sesay is the information attaché at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Beijing, China.

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11 Comments

  1. Ekundayo Pratt – I disagree with your statement on the above article. You said: “For your information and as you are thousands of miles away in China, let me inform you that except for the northern located councils, the majority of local councils in this country are inadequately resourced by the Koroma government”.

    We all know there is corruption within the present administration of APC government, but not to the point the above contributors are trying to portray.

    Local government councils were created by the SLPP former Government of Tejan Kabba through an act of parliament in 2004, but they were not exercised and managed with efficiency and appropriate frequency. They lacked vital institutional structures with sets of regulations for efficient delivery of public services.

    When the APC came to power in 2007 these councils were better administered and allocated huge amount of monies to deliver the required public services to the people. The central Government is not in any way discriminating against any council in it resources allocation to all our local governments except for one.

    The whole south and east, it is only Kenema district council that has become stubborn to implement resources allocated to them for the development of their district. Before 2007 the Kenema City Council Chairman himself Mr Kelfala was the head of SLRA, but what has he done for the People of Kenema during his tenure?

    He has become the enemy of his own people by resisting government auditors within the council which is a compliment to the local council Act and legislation. As a result of these actions the central Government withheld the council’s funds.

    The article above presents us with analysis of participatory governance and its benefits to the people, and also the effort of the APC government to foster decentralisation and eliminate basic deprivation of our people in the provinces.

    The writer is by no means trying to give us or mentioned standard indicator of economic growth, other than the importance of participatory politics and its associated benefits to our communities and country as a whole.

    The writer of the above article should not be antagonised or classed as hypocrite for calling a spade a spade. We all know this is politics, but if we are to move forward as a nation we have to start acknowledging good work from our institutions and compatriots.

    The past government of SLPP did well in building national institutions as a platform for national cohesion and economic growth, but they were just a white wash.

    It was the emergence of APC in 2007 that reviewed these institutions and introduced strict administrative and institutional structures with sets of regulations for efficient delivery of public service. Take for example the national revenue authority (NRA) formally headed by Dr. John Karimu, how much money was he collecting yearly? Less than 100 billion.

    But when APC came to power they establish an automated system for managing customs data (ASYCUNDA) in 2012, which significantly reduced the burden and time to transport goods.

    It also reduced embezzlement and increased revenue collection significantly, with all the trouble with Ebola and the apparent shut-down of major companies like African Minerals and Sierra Rutile, the NRA still collected 2.7 trillion Leones for the government and people of Sierra Leone.

  2. Mr. John Baimba Sesay,

    Our so-called MULTI-PARTY DEMOCRACY that I actively participated in, to see it restored nationwide away from APC ONE PARTY RULE, has been hugely corrupted beyond belief. For the illegal and unconstitutional sacking of VP Sam Sumana without him being impeached by Parliament is just an eye sore and unpleasant to behold. Additionally, DEMOCRACY in itself is by no means better than the human life of, for example, Late Ms Fatmata Turay who was willfully killed as a result of lack of government oversight and failure to ban FGM aka Bondo traditional practices in the country.

    Is there any FGM, Bondo or Sande traditional and cultural practices in China where you currently live?

    FOR YOUR INFORMATION, SERIOUS DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS LEGISLATE AND ENACT LAWS FOR THE SAFETY, WELL-BEING AND WELFARE OF THE SUBJECTS, THE PEOPLE. AMEN.

    See “Secret societies in Sierra Leone – The Patriotic Vanguard.”

  3. Dear Mr Sesay,

    In the 2012/2013 annual convention of the Sierra Leone Students Union in China, you are reported to have said that the very growth of democracy very much depends on the dissemination of reliable and credible information.

    You are also quoted to have said “But if such challenges are to be addressed, the media should be seen playing a critical role in exposing societal problems and challenges in governance, such as tackling corruption.” So, Mr Sesay, why do you preach one thing and do the opposite?

    In your privileged position, without any respect and consideration for the poor people in Sierra Leone, and for those running away from poverty (risking their lives through Libya and on sea on their way to Europe, etc), if you can only see our comments “with a slight eyesight” then your visual perception or visual acuity needs investigation.

    Lying, in your position Mr Sesay, is another form of corruption which you cannot blame on democracy.

    Cheers.

  4. Interesting comments. I tend to see with a slight eyesight, the beauty of democracy I suppose. No offence though. Cheers all.

  5. This is cheap propaganda void of substance. You pretend to sell us sentiments and smoke screens, telling us what appeases you and believe we can buy it. It is nothing but hot air, and such hallucination is just out of tune from what the realty is on the ground is.

    Go back and make a better use of your time and come up with realistic enthusiasm that may make sense. You haven’t made mention of any plans or framework, put in place that impact on the lives of the communities to improve the living standards of the people you are talking about – in almost a decade of governance.

    Trust and confidence are what the people have long lost in this APC government. This is a poor exercise of journalism, unfair to the common people; deliberately disregarding the hardship this government had subjected them to, while rampant corruption flourishes in this government run as a business – for now, it is running out of business.

  6. Mr Sesay what do you mean by ‘Since 2007, the APC Party has continued to open up the political space, set up appropriate structures and the required processes to enable participatory policy-making’.

    What can you say about the incident that happened in Koinadugu District – the largest but poorest district in Sierra Leone, wherein the youths where peacefully demonstrating for their democratic right of having a technical and vocational institution promised them, but siphoned to Makeni the strong hold of the current APC government because they (the youths) did not dance to the tune the APC Party want them to dance and two young men where killed and dozens seriously injured and hospitalized.

    Is that what you (Mr Sesay) is calling participatory policy making since the reinstalling of leadership of the APC party in 2007.?

    You are in China and you are aware of the industrialization in China and China was /is called the engine of the world. Don’t you realize the importance of vocational and technical education as being part of the engine of growth in any society?

    Dr Alpha Wurie laid a solid foundation during his tenure as Minister of Education by establishing and building schools in every district in Sierra Leone during the previous SLPP era. And as such, primary and secondary schools laid the educational foundations for our children to pursue their technical and vocational skills at higher institutions so as to become assets and responsible citizens of Sierra Leone.

    Of the 8/9 years of the APC government in power, Koinadugu district is yet to have a technical/vocational institute, and their children and youths are denied the right to peacefully demonstrate for their rights as promised; and two of the youths were killed and scores seriously injured and hospitalised.

    And here is the mouthpiece and propaganda advocate by the name of John Baimba Sesay residing in China being paid thousands of Dollars by the government of Sierra Leone, telling the world and Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora that since 2007,the APC party has continued to open up the political space, set up appropriate structures and the required processes to enable participatory policy-making.

  7. This is all pie in the sky bunkum. I note though that there is not a single mention of anything relating to resource allocation or utilisation at the grassroots.

    Keep all the financial resources at the center to maximise the opportunities for corruption by the big wigs whilst devolving the talking shops to the plebs at the frontline, the sharp end of misery, struggle and deprivation.

    That should keep them happy, I suppose, is the thinking while the propaganda machinery is unleashed to vuvuzelise the rubbish. You are either deluded or are having a laugh Mr Sesay. But the day of reckoning is nigh. Lunta!

  8. According to Wikipedia, “Propaganda is information that is not impartial and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively (perhaps lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or using loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information presented.”

    Your analysis is worse than a propaganda and has nothing to do with the Sierra Leone that we know today. Seriously, you must be joking, or have you been prompted to do so to be promoted or for further recognition by the APC Government?

    Please Mr Sesay, to say all you have said, you need to know the Sierra Leone of today.

  9. Sierra Leone is at a crossroads where the two main opposition parties have an opportunity to make history by electing two leaders from different political spectrum – Mr. Kandeh Yumkella who hailed from the north and is married to a southerner as the nominee for the Sierra Leone peoples party (SLPP), which is mostly dominated by the southeasterns; and the current Vice President Mr. Victor Foh, who hailed from the south but married to a northerner and can possibly be the successor to the current president and leader of the All peoples congress (APC) which is dominated by northwesterners.

    If that happens, it will definitely change the political landscape of our country, and this will definitely minimize any possibility of tribalism or sectionalism that will eventually strengthen our democracy. It will result to more trust and confidence from the people.

    I hope that the president is laying the foundation for that possibility, since he keeps on sending the Vice President to major international conferences as his representative. which seems to me as a grooming process for the VP and exposure to the international community to replace him.

    This recently happened with the late president Tejan Kabba and his former Vice President Solomon Berewa, Who lost the election to the current president Ernest Koroma.

  10. Mr Baimba your ruling party propaganda is not only shocking and unbecoming of a civil servant but damn right bootlickling.

    You are a civil servant and as tax payer I expect you and all civil servants to remain apolitical.

    But be that as it may I have to point out to you that your analysis bears no resemblance to whats happening here on the ground.

    For your information and as you are thousands of miles away in China, let me inform you that except for the northern located councils, the majority of local councils in this country are inadequately resourced by the Koroma government.

    They lack the manpower and financial capability to effectively plan and deliver local services, especially health and education.

    Local democracy and empowerment are meaningless if local people have no say or control over their budgets and priorities.

    President Koroma is playing politics and has no intention of devolving real power to the people, especially southerners.

    So please stop your party propaganda.

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