Reasons why the ruling APC must not be replaced in March 2018

John Baimba Sesay – Beijing China

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 March 2017

Beyond the outright display of mendacious propaganda by a certain few in the opposition, Sierra Leone has beautiful stories to tell: from her commitment to tackling graft, building on her democratic credentials and sustaining those values of good governance, to being able to properly use domestically generated revenues for development projects, a long way we have come.

The most disingenuous political ploy by the opposition is to present Sierra Leone as a nation not progressing. It is worth celebrating, when one looks at where we were, and where we have come so far.

A comparative look at events and development efforts by the former regime to the present will be too depressing, noting the failures of the former regime to have met those basics they had promised. Let us look at few issues here:

Tax Revenue

A nation’s growth depends largely on her ability to be able to generate revenue internally. The tax base of a country goes a long way in determining her development path.

It was with this sense of reasoning that when this administration was elected, it worked towards broadening the tax base by the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). (Photo: John Baimba Sesay – Sierra Leone Government Information Attache in Beijing China)

Today, NRA is doing exemplary well in the area of revenue collection. Since 2010, government has undertaken major infrastructure projects in roads, energy, and water funded from internally generated revenues. Unlike when it was just established, the institution has had an impressive performance record in the last nine years of operations.

Decentralization

The introduction of local councils was aimed at ensuring service delivery at the local level and full community participation in the development of their localities. We now see how the process itself is being used to strengthen the country’s democratic credential.

In making the process effective, billions continue to be transferred to Local Councils for various health projects at the local level, including the construction of a Maternal Health Post in Kenema city and the Rehabilitation of the Nixon Memorial Hospital in Segbwema Town, Kailahun District.

Infrastructure Growth

Infrastructure has been a landmark achievement of this administration. Billions have been spent in fixing a broken infrastructure inherited by this government. The country has been linked through road projects connecting cities, towns, and villages.

In addition to other road projects in the West side of Freetown, this administration has undertaken the construction of the Hillside Bye-pass Road, eventually connecting the central and western ends of the capital

Today, roads are being constructed, reconstructed and rehabilitated in every region and district of the country, connecting people and opening up the country. What government did was to not just limit the infrastructural projects to just roads. It equally invested in social projects.

Fighting Graft

It is true, that the former government created the anti graft commission- the ACC. It is true, also that the Commission prior to 2007 lacked the political will to tackle corruption. It was more of a spurious organization, at some point, serving as a political weapon, used to silent political opponents.

In fact, prior to the 2007 elections, Britain, the largest contributor of aid in the country stopped all aid coming since corruption had permeated across the board.

A new National Anti-Corruption Strategy was to be launched in 2008 by the new APC government subsequently enacting what is believed to be one of, if not the toughest anti-corruption legislations in the continent.

The Act provides for offences on illicit enrichment, abuse and misuse of office, provides protection for whistleblowers and informers, and makes it obligatory for all civil servants to declare their assets. Prominently, the Act allows the Commission to initiate prosecution with no reference to government, as it was before 2007.

Under this administration, an Anti-corruption System and Process Reviews of government ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) is ensured, all for the purpose of improving their systems and processes. The integrity of Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) has been strengthened to a point that, it now has the free hand to operate independently.

Mineral Sector

Prior to 2007, the mineral sector had lacked proper regulatory regimes, leading to non-transparent transactions, and an eventual decrease in investor confidence and failure to attract large scale investments. Government had to establish a new institutional framework that had an investor-friendly legal framework.

The granting of two large scale mining licenses to Africa Minerals Limited for the mining of Iron Ore in the Tonkolili District was a great success story, added to the decision to grant a Post and Rail Agreement to the same company for the purpose of the shipment of Iron Ore and the Pepel port reconstructed.

The operations of African Minerals Limited at Ferengbeya, Tonkolili helped in ensuring thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars as revenue to government.

The sector continues to enhance the country’s Gross Domestic Product and creating employment opportunities. The company had been a major player in sustaining the country’s economy.

Challenges Abound

We have sustained our democracy. Governance institutions are effectively contributing to the growth of our democracy. Media and right groups have an open space to operate, with an encouraging level of press freedom and free speech. Never have we heard of political prisoners, or media practitioners jailed.

Deepening good governance requires the rule of law, free speech, political tolerance, and the conduct of regular free and fair elections. In all of these, we have come a long way in the last decade. Generally, the country continues to support strengthening the institutions of democracy and good governance.

Yes, there still are huge challenges. But why not when we all saw how ebola devastated our development efforts. We should also not ignore the adverse effect that global trends like the drop in prices of raw materials had on us.

This governing Party has seen it all; it has had a feel of what it takes to move the county; it knows how to fix that which is broken. A reason for it to be reelected.

About the author:

John Baimba Sesay is the Sierra Leone Government Information Attache in Beijing, China.

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8 Comments

  1. Why are people so naive? Or are they just turning their backs on reality? John, have you ever asked where most of the money for these infrastructure projects came from? if you don’t know, ask the people you are talking for.

    You guys are just feeding on what other people worked for, because they had the vision and long-sightedness; and now you are swimming in their sweats. Everybody is suffering today because of their mistake, but it is not long now. Salone una wake up!

  2. In 2006, did SLPP have something to tell the people of Sierra Leone in terms of development? The answer is big NO! In a time like this the International Committee froze funding in Sierra Leone.

    Did the International Committee stop funding the APC government? the answer is big NO! Why? Because they are doing what pleases the people of Sierra Leone and the International Committee.

    It is sad to know that, SLPP met 10 Mega Watts and left 10 Mega Watts; during the time of SLPP rule Sierra Leone was the darkest country in the world; the South/East you call stronghold was so bad to travel; during the rains people spent two days from Kailahun to Kenema, now you can travel every where in the country without any struggle.

    Aren;t you people ashamed to call APC a corrupt regime? Why did late Mahamed Gadafi travel from Liberia to Freetown? Because he funded the Kailahun Road to Kenema. Did SLPP construct that Road? The answer is big NO! So in this aspect who is corrupt?

    The International Committee give SLPP billion of dollars ( the Rehabilitation Fund) but what SLPP did with that money? Where did SLPP rehabilitate?

    I am a neutralist and i just returned from Sierra Leone, what i saw made me to ask some of you who are talking about corruption. If you are saying APC are corrupt, with their corruption the people of Sierra Leone are benefiting from their corruption. If APC completes the Hill bye pass Road and Victory Park Market they have solved the congestion in Freetown.

    It is from that stage the beauty of Freetown will show up and the water problem in Freetown. I saw a new project with large tanks standing by taps and the solar pumping the water into the tank; this project can be found in many places in Freetown.

    After SLPP’s eleven years you cannot point to any tangible infrastructure implemented by SLPP, but if you ask APC they have lots to talk about.

    • Abdulai, sorry to say that these are not parameters to determine what corruption is or not. The issue of corruption shouldn’t be comparing political parties or individuals. In Sierra Leone corruption is regulated by the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, which sets out a number of offences, including the following:
      (i) corrupt acquisition of wealth;
      (ii) possession of unexplained wealth;
      (iii) offering, soliciting or accepting an advantage (defined to include gifts, loans, rewards, office, payments, benefit, favour etc)
      (iv) influencing a public officer
      (v) peddling influence
      (vi) bid rigging
      (vii) bribery of a public officer to influence decision of a public body
      (viii) conflicts of interest
      These are the considerations to look at and judge.

      The roads, electricity are all true but that doesn’t mean this Government is not corrupt. If you want to know whether they are corrupt or not; go and grab a copy of the audit report to see how corrupt these guys are. It is not an issue of APC/SLPP; we have decent Sierra Leoneans. Dr. Keifala Marah is one such decent Minister. But a bunch of these guys on seat are naked crooks. The audit report reveals for example an expense of 45million dollars on arms and ammunition; this is blatant fraud. The report went further to unfold how unit costs for such ammunition were quadrupled. I wonder what will be the faith of the country if we were at war (May Allah forbid) we would have sold the country to fight the war.

      To tell you who are better off so far, it is the guys in power and not the ordinary people. Check where they were before governance. The President is a typical example of how his life has transformed; he was definitely not a rich man. See what he owes now. He has done better for himself, families, friends and cronies than the country. Lonta

  3. What I would like to know is this. What is John Baimba going to do after a change of government next year. Will he then defect to the opposition that he is now rubbishing?
    Will he be grovelling for another job or I guess he would like his master at State House have amassed a lot of stolen public funds to retire from service.

  4. Salone sorry. Only in Sierra Leone can a paid employee of the civil service write such naked political propaganda in support of a failed government that gave him his job in China.
    If president Koroma respects and abides by the civil service code of conduct he would have sacked John Baimba for this serious breach of the civil service code.
    Civil servants are supposed to be apolitical and must show imparliality. Does John Baimba know this. I guess not. I agree with the previous comment that all he is doing is protect his political masters and trbesmen, and ofcourse his job. These guys are shameless. Baimba represents all that is bad in the civil service.

  5. O Lord please help our people of this broken nation. At a time like this when all honest and right thinking people of this country believe that poverty, unemployment, corruption and poor governance have got worse, there comes John Baimba telling us that all is bright.
    Mr. Baimba all you are interested about is saving your job. You can try to twist the facts about the plight of the people of this country but you cannot change the truth.
    Life in this country for the 90% of population has got worse under APC. We want a change of government. Noy continuation of this your corrupt gang of thieves.

    • Even the blind can see that salone is better off today than during the dark pipe line SLPP govt. Oh ya we don forget woosai we commot. Today we talk of light, water and good roads. Are we where we suppose to be? The answer is clearly NO.

      But one has to be in the race to win it, and this govt – although we are in lane 7, we are in the race and that’s what matters. Both the APC and SLPP are responsible for the state of the country today. But fairly speaking this current APC, although not perfect, has given us hope for the future.

      However, I’m very worried about the choice of the SLPP flagbearer – Maada Bio. Maada is a perfect example of how to be a loser. No job, no career or credential to talked about. If Maada was in the US today, he will be one of the first people Trump will deport. Because he is very useless to society.

      But then the blind SLPP spends their time bashing at the APC while their proposed replacement is nothing to be hopeful for, rather than a perfect example of how to be power hungry and a sole loser.

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