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Sierra Leone at a cross roads

18 October 2011

When APC came to power in 2007, they sacked hundreds of senior civil servants believed to be supporters of the opposition SLPP.

This policy was wrong and has had an adverse effect on the country’s development. Without continuity in governance it will be very difficult for the country to progress.

Almost all of the senior civil servants sacked by Koroma’s APC, were then replaced by unqualified, inexperienced supporters of his party, making it difficult for the government to manage and implement development projects.

Is that the reason why the president asked for 36 months before his performance could be judged by the people? Well 36 months of fanfare is over and we have been left nursing our wounds. Sierra Leoneans have become poorer, with increasing number of deaths - especially among young people.

Reading 'The Observer' on-line recently, the writer - Norman Stone, proposed a programme of enlightened re-imperialism' to sort Africa out. Conditions in Africa today, he said, were similar to the bloody mess that prevailed before European colonization in the nineteenth century.

What this writer is saying may be good for Sierra Leone; otherwise the people of Sierra Leone will never enjoy the country’s wealth.

But rather than view Sierra Leone’s failed rulers as buffoons, we should see them and their actions from the perspective of the interests they serve. The failure of economic development in Sierra Leone is due in large part to the unbridled scramble for wealth by predator elites, who have dominated Sierra Leone’s politics for a very long time.

They see the state as a source for the accumulation of personal wealth. There is high premium placed on centralised state control. Those in power will use all means necessary to retain that power, including the use of ethnic sectarianism and political repression.

Competition for power and control of the state between political parties is invariably ferocious and does generate serious instability. The senseless civil war, which lasted for a decade was precipitated by a battle for the trappings of power.

As long as Sierra Leone’s rulers and administrators are drawn from this class of predators, no amount of preaching the virtues of good governance or tuition on public administration will fundamentally alter the quality and direction of state governance.

Good governance is the effective exercise of power and authority by government in a manner that serves to improve the quality of life of its populace. This includes using state power and funds to create a society in which the full development of individuals and of their capacity to control their lives is made possible.

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Will Sierra Leone ever achieve peace and reconciliation?

13 October 2011

Sierra Leone's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report into the causes of the war, makes for sober reading. But in fairness, does not give closure to the families of the bereaved.

What it does achieve however, is to put into the annals of history an official account of what took place during those dreadful years.

And each time one reads the evidence and testimonies given to the Commission, the painstaking search for names of those bearing the greatest responsibility - who are still alive today, becomes more urgent.

Sadly, on each occasion one is left disappointed. But perhaps it is also encouraging to note that the APC government itself does not seriously believe that there is any one alive in the country today, against whom criminal charges for war crimes can be safely brought - based on available evidence, so as to promote an end to impunity.

Yet, the pain of the bereaved families after almost twenty years is being made difficult to heal by a society and political class, which seems intent on fuelling the very culture of retribution and impunity, cited in the TRC Report.

Those who argue that peace cannot be achieved without justice, must remember that for justice to be seen to be done, it must be predicated upon the rule of Law and due process.

The rule of Law itself is based upon the universal notion of 'innocence until proven guilty'.

This principle becomes even more paramount, when confronted with   allegations of criminal liability for murder, which the families of The 29 and government politicians are seeking to pursue.

So, after almost twenty years since the execution of The 29, can peace ever be achieved in Sierra Leone without the pursuit of justice through due process and the rule of Law?

And is it right that because of the collective need for peace, the families and loved ones of The 29 should not receive some form of justice – if not through due process and the rule of Law?

For those demanding an inquest or another investigation into the killing of The 29, What should be said is that, granting such a wish may not necessarily bring personal closure - but will certainly open up the wounds of hate even further.

Politicians on all sides are already preying and capitalising on the lancing of those wounds, as political parties prepare for a bitter struggle for power at next year’s general and presidential elections.

But there are unanswered questions that must now be discussed honestly and openly without any acrimony.

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Cutting development aid to Africa now would damage the continent

10 October 2011

"The temptation is great when a crisis looms – as it does now – for rich countries to slash development assistance. This would be a grave mistake," World Bank Vice President for Africa - Obiageli (Oby) Ezekwesili told investors last Thursday in London.

She said the "exciting, new Africa" she is inviting investors to take a bet on is "at a time of unprecedented opportunities for transformation… standing on the cusp of a revolution similar to the ones that transformed China and India".

"Africa is the now, no longer the future," Oby said, urging any CEO who has not yet presented an Africa strategy to their Board of Directors to do so. "Any global player that continues to ignore Africa does so at their peril."

The UK Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, who spoke at the same summit on the challenges Africa still faces, reiterated his government’s support for Africa’s development.

While foreign partners like the World Bank and foreign investors can help, "the ultimate responsibility for delivering on Africa’s development promise is that of the peoples of Africa and their governments," the World Bank Vice President told the summit.

The call by the World Bank last Thursday at the London Stock Exchange (LSE) for investors worldwide to invest in Africa and its budding capital markets, could not have been louder and stronger. "Africa has taught the world a lesson in macroeconomic reform and stability," she said.

She urged investors who are in search of the right market at a time of growing fears of a global recession to "rediscover Africa".

"Africa’s fundamentals appear strong, and the continent’s outlook remains positive," Oby said, pointing to the continent’s rapid rebound from the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and its higher GDP growth rates projected to be 4.8 percent, 5.2 percent and 5.5 percent respectively in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

It makes business sense to bet on Africa’s capital markets, Oby said, at a time when "global equity markets are headed for their worst quarter since 2008", and returns on investments in Africa are among some of the best anywhere in the world.

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Is Maada Bio already losing the plot?

5 October 2011

It seems that Maada Bio has started losing out even before the game starts, because he has allowed himself and his advisers to create unwarranted divisions within the party, as well as failing to organize a powerful media team to work with.

What ever the differences that may have occurred, Maada Bio - you should embrace every one of the failed candidates and their election team, for you to form a broad-based campaign team.

Abass Bundu may not have all the ideas you need to win, but working with the other candidates very closely, will enable you to meet with their campaign teams and start positioning them for an all out offensive, when the whistle blows or even now, by planning and preparing for that all important campaign offensive.

I am pretty sure that if you had maintained a close contact with the Western Area executives - who I guess where supporting Usman Boie, the spate of resignation would not have taken place.

But just concentrating in the South and East will never take you to State House.

You should correct the mistakes Berewa made and not to continue with them, if you want to win and most especially to improve our lives after 2012.

Election as I have said in my opening paragraph is about numbers, and these resignations do not auger well for you and for us.

If I were you, I would definitely try to get all of those that have resigned and talk with them - face to face - so we can iron out all differences.

If you want to be the next president, this is the right time to make amends in the Western Area.

Think of all the presidents that we have had and see which one got to State House after losing the Western Area.

Please Maada, I am appealing to you to retract your steps and push for all former executive members in the Western Area, to reconsider their position and come back onboard to help you win Western Area.

Time is of the essence. You have been dealt a serious blow by the police as they have banned all public political meetings and rallies.

In the meantime, you do need to consolidate and put your house in very good order, so when the game starts, it will be an explosion in a positive manner that will propel you to the throne.

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Sierra Leone needs professionals with knowledge of Global finance to help rebrand the country

3 October 2011

President Koroma, with every respect due to him is a leader of a small open economy  in West Africa, and his influence on the world economic stage is to say the least insignificant.

So for the Reverend Kabs-Kanu to have opined that because the Sierra Leonean president visited the NASDAQ stock exchange, and the market moved in a positive direction is at a minimum a stretch and an exaggeration; and at worse - reckless and irresponsible.

Future articles or reports on important national matters like the visit of the president of Sierra Leone to an august body like the NASDAQ should be handled by an investigative journalist, with sound knowledge of global financial matters.

It is also important that the report is vetted by the Ministry of Finance in Freetown, whose minister is a qualified and competent technocrat, with the necessary qualification and professional experience to talk about the stock market; so is the financial secretary - Mr. Edmond Koroma.

Dr. Samura Kamara who heads the finance ministry is a PhD holder in Economics and seasoned practitioner, so is Mr. Edmond Koroma, the Financial Secretary - a London School of Economics graduate.

There is no scarcity of financial experts in the APC government; not to talk about the country in general.

The only challenge that seems to be standing in the way of the APC government and its leader is to garner the courage and moral fortitude to employ the services of qualified and competent Sierra Leoneans regardless of party, regional or tribal affiliation for the benefit of the country.

Let me therefore remind the Reverend Kabs-Kanu that the duty of a journalist is to bring forth reports that will increase the knowledge of the reading public; to search for truth and present it with the highest of principles, truthfulness, honesty, integrity and accountability.

The Reverend Kabs-Kanu, editor of the Cocorioko online newspaper and head of the project to rebrand Sierra Leone failed this canon duty of journalism, President Koroma, and the Sierra Leonean people in his reportage of the President’s visit to the NASDAQ on Friday September 23rd 2011.

The APC government should therefore seriously employ the services of knowledgeable people on global financial matters to join the rebranding project in New York, so as to avoid future embarrassment to the president and our country at large.

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"What kind of president do we have in Sierra Leone?"

29 September 2011

After four years of governance under the present government, nothing is being done to eradicate poverty and improve our lives.

Inflation index is increasing by the day, yet the government is just busy spending money on misplaced projects that will not lead to economic growth and job creation.

Even farming for food self-sufficiency and export, which should be the backbone of our economy, is now being neglected by the government.

The decision to force importers to sell rice at a controlled price that does not reflect their business costs, exposes the government's ineffectiveness in managing the economy.

What they seem to forget is that Sierra Leone is driven by a market economy, and prices are determined largely by costs.

The declining value of the Leone - compounded by very high taxes, are having a huge effect on the costs of imported goods, hence we see prices generally having doubled since 2007. Inflation has increased from 8% to just under 20%.

I really do not understand the kind of leadership we now have in the country.

Certain events of national interest and security are taking place regularly in the country, yet the president is failing woefully to show us that he is in control.

How can we the citizens feel secure under such leadership that has no vision and has lost grip of the economy and those within its purview?

The present leadership lacks innovation and qualities required to build a better country.

What does president Koroma really thinks, during his quiet moment, when he remembers that he is in charge of a country that has about six million people looking up to him to provide for their security and livelihood?

Does he think that we are so stupid as to continue to support him blindly - even to our early graves?

I would like to challenge my colleague journalists preaching hate messages, to instead publish issues that matter to the people of the country.

This is not about whom we like or dislike, the party we support or hate, but daily burning issues that need to be addressed, such as; the economy, education, health, unemployment and poverty.


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"President Koroma’s address at the  UN was a resounding success"

28 September 2011

"Mr. President, Sierra Leone is a nation with a relatively small territory and population, but our aspirations for democracy, prosperity and international peace are as big as any nation, and our commitments to these ideals have been visibly demonstrated in the course of our 50 years existence as an independent nation."

In his 20 minute address, President Koroma said Sierra Leone was proud of its distinctive contributions to the United Nations in such areas as decolonization, training and research, disarmament and non-proliferation, and peacekeeping, to name a few.

Its commitment to international peace had been seen in its transformation from a nation that hosted one of the largest United Nations peacekeeping missions in the late 1990s, to one that contributed troops and police officers to the mission in Darfur.

It had also proposed participating in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The president firmly emphasized his call for reform of the UN Security Council, which he said is urgently required for the wider UN membership to fully benefit from the purposes and primary objectives of maintaining international peace and security.

He called for an expansion of the Security Council by creating two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats.

"There is an increasing need for the Security Council to be more representative, inclusive and democratic as well as the need for an improvement on its working methods and it relations with the General Assembly," President Koroma said.

Reaffirming his Government’s 'Agenda for Change', President Koroma highlighted five key sectors in which he said Sierra Leone has made progress including the areas of agriculture, energy, infrastructure, health and education.

He added that steady gains were made, despite astronomical food and fuel prices.


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Violence will not eclipse our new direction

27 September 2011

The present Arab Spring - whether in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen or Saudi Arabia has taught us that when political opposition are subjected to years of oppression with the aid of state agents, the people are left with no choice but to take the law and their common destiny into their own hands.

However, as a student of Pacificism, I do not condone violent retaliation. But it will be utterly callous, if the APC government does not recognise that all the criminalities committed against the SLPP in the guise of political violence must stop.

The patience and tolerance of the SLPP have been tested beyond political acceptance.

In pari passu, to us in the SLPP, we need to be reminded of the words of great Martin Luther King Jr.: "If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be recipients of a long and desolate nights of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be endless reign of meaningless chaos".

Therefore, we must not succumb to the temptation of APC’s violence to eclipse our New Direction, because what is at stake for this 2012 elections matter most to the lives of suffering Sierra Leoneans and young people trapped in joblessness.

In the same vein, we need to be guided of the words of our Presidential Hopeful – Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio, who stated in his glorious maiden speech:

"Fellow Sierra Leoneans, against this backdrop, a question often asked is: if, like the old APC, the so-called new APC decides to lead the country in electoral violence in the run-up to 2012, should we in the SLPP follow suit? With respect, I say No."

"The strength of our Party lies in our capacity, not in trading violence with the APC or any other party, but in upholding the sacred values for which our Founding Fathers had fought so hard and which today constitutes our cherished inheritance."

"Eschewing violence as an instrument of political change, however, should not be misunderstood or misconstrued as cowardice or timidity."

"We fear no party and we are ready to protect our supporters at all times. Only that our creed is freedom, not despotism; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the jungle; human rights, not power; inclusiveness, not alienation."

But with APC's seeming obsession with raking the country's painful past and the instigation of political acts of violence against the opposition, one has to wonder about the motive.

Given APC's propensity towards a 'one-party state' of government, the question is whether recent violence and anti-Bio witch hunt, are designed to destroy the country's fledgling democracy. 

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Journalism in Sierra Leone called to order

24 September 2011

'Gate keepers', also referred to as the Fourth Estate of the realm of governance, with the mandate of a para-political actor is required to set the agenda for development as well as direct national debate.

It must be people and society-centred, while ensuring that officials are made to account.

Today, the survival of journalists in Sierra Leone depends on how many positive articles we write about president Koroma, and how many fights we can participate in - on his behalf.

Even though some of us are aware of the truth and the difficult economic situation we find ourselves in, we do not care because of our perceived need to survive.

Most of us have put our integrity on the line, because of our life-style choices.

But all the same, our media has a sacred responsibility to represent the views and many voices of our people, as well as to hold office-bearers accountable for the country's limited resources.

As journalists, we should be able to tell the leaders the truth: that people are dying of hunger, frustration and poor health.

And the only way we can achieve this is not by mortgaging our integrity, but by upholding the truth and nothing but the truth.

Since independence and more recently, some of our journalists have, under constrained circumstances performed this natural duty to serve humanity to the best of their ability.

They have continued to demand accountability and attract attention to daily societal challenges, which are sometimes ignored for obvious reasons.

The Media landscape over the past decades has seen little improvement, especially in the areas of Criminal Libel and Freedom of Information, amid poor conditions of service for journalists.

Despite the setting up of a professional association for journalists – the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), working conditions for this vital agent of democratic governance has seen little or no improvement over the years.

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Is peace in Sierra Leone a project under construction?

21 September 2011

"Peacebuilding is access to water, to education, to basic health care — access to opportunities," Mr. von der Schulenburg explains in an interview with Africa Renewal.

The transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding is often difficult, notes Mr. von der Schulenburg. But it is essential to enable the UN to better align its priorities with the socio-economic and political needs of a country after war.

Mr. von der Schulenburg believes that Sierra Leone has had an exemplary peacebuilding programme since the UN operation became a wholly civilian mission.

A key achievement is security. "We don't have armed groups," he says. "They are all integrated. And the combatants have not become criminals, as so often happens."

Other achievements, he adds, include a vibrant free press and the entrenchment of democracy — as demonstrated by periodic elections — as well as a growing economy.

According to a 2009 evaluation of peacebuilding projects commissioned by the Sierra Leonean government, the UN Integrated Office for Peacebuilding in Sierra Leone and the Peacebuilding Support Office in New York, many of the key goals have been met.

It reports that the UN Development Programme, which managed most of the projects, achieved an 87 per cent completion rate. "Measured on the scale of budget delivery, this is clearly a remarkable performance," states the evaluation.

There is a huge unemployment challenge in Sierra Leone, however. In 2010 the World Bank estimated Sierra Leone's unemployment at 80 per cent.

During a visit in 2007, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also raised concerns about the country's high unemployment.

Sierra Leone's main income-generating sources are in the extractive sector — gold, diamonds, bauxite and rutile.

But as a 2011 report by experts of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union pointed out, investments in Africa have been mainly in the extractive sector, which produces few jobs.

Mr. von der Schulenburg believes that managing the economy, especially the proceeds from the country's abundant natural resources, is Sierra Leone's greatest challenge. "Gold, iron ore, diamonds, titanium, bauxite, you name it. Now oil and gas, potentially," he notes.

Preparing Sierra Leone for an economic boom will be vital for preventing future conflicts. Currently, the data on the country's untapped wealth contrasts starkly with the poor state of its social development.

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APC’s faulty DNA will never change

20 September 2011

Election violence was common place in the 70’s and 80’s when APC was in power, as they fought amongst themselves and their opponents. Many lives were lost, houses burnt, women raped, and properties looted.

There were many instances that one can recall: Radomatic machine vs. Alex Stevens in Freetown West 2; Timbo and Eddie Turay in Bombali; Fofana vs. Saccoh - again in the Bombali area.

During those violent APC confrontations, blood was spilt, livestock and properties were destroyed.

The ousting of Momoh’s APC in 1992, should have spelt the end of the APC, but lo and behold, we the people of Sierra Leone did the unimaginable and brought them back into power.

It was in 2007 that I really come to believe that Sierra Leoneans can be so forgetful. APC was simply waiting to emerge once again with their signature tune: violence and thuggery.

And now they have truly shown that they are still the same – just as long as the name APC remains. It’s in their DNA.

The elections conducted by the military NPRC in 1996 were relatively peaceful, only for a few rebel attacks in some areas of the provinces.

But violence very largely took a back seat. SLPP won the elections and power was transferred peacefully to a democratically elected government.

In 2002 and 2007, the governing SLPP conducted two general elections. Both elections were largely peaceful with lots of party rallies all over the country.

Ernest Koroma travelled the length and breadth of Sierra Leone and he was never attacked, contrary to rumours and propaganda of him being attacked or ambushed.

The reason was because SLPP’s DNA is characterised by non-violence, tranquillity, respect, democratic values and brotherly love.

Although SLPP lost the 2007 elections, due largely to the controversial and unlawful nullification of hundreds of thousands of SLPP ballots by the NEC, yet they peacefully handed power over to the opposition APC. Everything went well and even Ernest Koroma has praised Kabbah and Berewa for such a smooth transition.

But immediately the results was announced and Ernest Koroma declared the winner, APC unleashed their reign of terror on SLPP, which resulted in the burning of SLPP’s head quarters, raping and beating of women, and waging of violence against innocent men and children.

This unbridled violence continued until today. Since APC took over in 2007, almost all the local elections they have conducted have been violent - from Kono to Kailahun and Makeni to Pujehun.

Violence is in APC’s DNA. No one can change that - whether they have Ernest as leader or not. APC cannot rule or legitimize their power without violence.

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Sierra Leone’s education conundrum

17 September 2011

Sierra Leone can never develop if we continue to fail to improve standards of education in the country.

What is interesting is that, if we take a look at the last decade of our education attainment records, we will see mixed results, due largely to the competence, vision and leadership of the respective ministers responsible for that department.

Sierra Leone has one of the lowest levels of literacy in Africa and that has been the main cause of our under-development.


But credit must be given to the former education minister - Dr Alpha Wurie, for implementing some of the most innovative strategies aimed at improving the quality of education, and increasing the number of children attaining the required standards.

Those strategies and projects were moving along the right direction. Indeed some had already been implemented successfully, such as the ‘Sababu’ and Girl child education drive.

Other projects were in the pipeline. And there was hope that after 2007 there would be continuity with those projects, so as to improve the quality of life of students and youths, that will in turn have a positive effect on the country’s productivity and economic growth.

But ironically, and despite the economic need for those planned education projects, after 2007 they were either abandoned or had their funding reduced to the detriment of the nation.

Today the improvements that the country should have made in education,  have not materialised and the deplorable figures  speak for themselves.

Four years since taking over as minister of education, the Sababu project is almost dead. The girl child education is a thing of the past; school fees have increased exponentially.

Minister Bah says that education is expensive, so parents should be prepared to face the difficulties.


But his government has increased the cost of living, increased poverty and frustrated teachers to the point that almost every month there is a strike in his ministry.

The Millennium Development Goal on education, which we had hoped would be achieved come 2015, is now looking very bleak.

Thanks to the policies of the present government and poor leadership of minister Bah.

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Random musing: Toxic memory versus attitudinal change - Part 2

14 September 2011

Let us ask ourselves: Why the countdown to our politics is always frantic and unbelievably acrimonious?

Must we always play ethnic cards, religious bigotry, fuel personal feuds, political annihilation, as well as deceitfully heat up the polity and give the unprincipled a grandstand platform to generally display undignified behaviour?

Why can’t we look at and play politics differently for a change? Why can’t we focus on what’s important and leave the froth and nonsense on the burner of the past?

Why must parochial rather than national interests, pettiness, unruly behaviour, naked greed, disloyalty, casual dishonesty and downright deceit become the wrapper of our political delicacy?

Why must we continue to fool the majority of innocent impoverished masses that all is fair in love and war?

Why should those whose neglect appears to be the joy of locust-rulers be subjected to unpleasant anguish and political pestilence? Why must we always at every polling time, still stick our fox in a hole instead of a brave new era?

Dumping nearly four in five citizens on the scrapheap, trampling on their dreams, hopes and aspirations while chasing the shadowy trails of a single individual, is nothing but a dreadful waste of precious time. And those who want to drag the rest of us by the scruff of the neck down this avenue have their reasons for doing so.

Now that we have succeeded in pulling the trigger, I hope those who simply fail to appreciate the fragile nature of our politics and the insidious threat of a mostly illiterate electorate who simply listen to their leaders, will be prepared for the consequences of their fool hardiness.

It is even very baffling when so-called right-minded, enlightened and intellectual people are often disorientated by the conundrum between personal agenda and socio-political imperatives.

While our nation is still in the cusp of yesterday, those who have made the past a component of our future as well as those who posture and preach the politics of envy and hatred are forgetting the fact that almost five years on, our real economy remains in a dire strait.

Even spin doctors could no longer put a gloss over the grim economic plight and the realities on the ground, which is why the government suddenly decided to trade its fantasy for reality and accept that things had not gone according to plans, by recently pumping out from its erstwhile dried breast, the ‘milk of kindness’ for the patched throats of a ravaged populace.

To simply exist, government has had to rely on the benevolence and dictate of the rest of the world, shaking a tin cup before them and using the ray from their outpost lantern to see the way in the maze of darkness that has enveloped us.

But, as we suffocate under the empty national glucose-cylinders, why don’t we learn to fill them with focus and the future in mind?

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Politics is a contest of ideas not insults

13 September 2011

My advice to Maada Bio is that he should use political ideas and economic philosophy to design and put forward innovative strategies that will improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans, in order to counter the daily insults.

Sierra Leoneans want a change from poverty to wealth; from beggars to givers and from wearing second-hand underwear to brand new ones.

Let the people of Sierra Leone understand that Bio has innovative ideas that could turn the country round, if given the opportunity.

Your party has a lot of intelligent men and women, full of integrity and goodwill to save us from further sinking into poverty and economic strangulation.

Do you need to launder your past?

I doubt it. As I said before, being part of a system does not mean you are responsible. So what I think you will need to do with the Atlantic Ocean is to make sure that the new found wealth - oil and our marine resources, are guaranteed to benefit all Sierra Leoneans without regard to tribe, party or region.

You are capable of running Sierra Leone positively, and you will be second-time lucky, because you are representing a party that has positive economic, social, infrastructural, educational and democratic policies and principles that will change the current situation of the country.

Former American president - Thomas Jefferson, once said that; a good government is one "which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labour the bread that it has earned."

This is what political parties in Sierra Leone should stand for. A political party should not have thugs going around beating, molesting or destroying properties in the name of politics. A political party should be full of visionaries, policy innovators and peaceful men and women.

As a journalist, I have always held the belief that politics is and should be a competition of ideas and never of insults and violence, as has been the case in the last few weeks.

Recent development, giving rise to political insults thrown at the opposition presidential candidate, is in bad taste and we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

Maada Bio is a presidential candidate and has met all the criteria that qualify him to rule the country for the second time, if elected by the people.

Even now that Ernest Koroma has turned the country upside down - with no sense of direction and purpose, the opposition criticise him constructively out of respect for the office that he represents.

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Random musing: Toxic memory versus attitudinal change - Part 1

12 September 2011

Knowing that the citizenry has been fed on a diet of parochialism, fear has become the operative word by a segment that seem to know nothing better than the politics of intimidation, confrontation, bribery, rigging and other underhand values.

They have started to hum the music of paranoia knowing fully well that with their plates full, the battle-weary voters who just want to focus on things that will relieve them of the chronic weight on their shoulders need an equally burdensome distraction fashioned out of the remnant of our collective misdeeds.

Indeed, who is it among the political class at present that can be described as an icon of democracy and its ideals; or an enduring symbol of moral courage?

In reality, who can we point to at present as a hero of the struggle for a better nation; not on the pages of newspapers or on the lips of chorus singers; but etched in the lives and minds of the ordinary man on the streets?

We are currently staring at a lifetime of anonymity as a nation and all we are being led to do, is to stare blankly back in a merry-go-round.

As if riding a camel in a space age is not painful enough for us; personal agenda have suddenly become the dish of the day in the manic jostle to describe what’s on the menu for 2012.

But it is the media that should be blamed partly for this whole façade. Its failure to set the agenda for the political class, rather than being a vehicle for the manic –depressives who want to sink further into the black pit of the past, makes national moral high ground look decidedly shaky.

Despite the fact that millions of our compatriots continue to trudge on the long journey to their economic Eldorado; and in a land full of milk and honey, those who profess to love Sierra Leone and who claim to be social and political leaders have in their infinite wisdom, decided that concerns like the challenge of homelessness, stunted and wobbling economy, terrible state of infrastructure, energy crisis and galloping kleptomania should play second fiddle to the conflict of who killed cock Robin; as well as exhuming the ghost of the past.

This distraction, when people are expecting immediate policies and programmes that will touch their lives positively and alleviate their suffering, thus become another scenario of the doctrine of necessity.

Making the polity ever more combustible as a leverage for political advantage at this time when the economy craters and the society is being pushed to breaking point, is indeed a funny kind of democratic change on display.

I find this development a manifestation of the illiteracy in our system as those clamouring for a duly elected flag bearer to be deposed at all costs or jettisoned through the subversion of the will of those who chose him are displaying crass insensitivity to the will and wishes of the same citizenry they profess to be protecting.

Their crass utterances are the gateway drug to political chaos.

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Government of Sierra Leone needs to close infrastructure gap, expand social services and reduce unemployment - says IMF


9 September 2011

IMF Mission Chief for Sierra Leone - Jan Mikkelsen, issued a statement yesterday, saying that; "Following a 5 percent growth in real GDP in 2010, economic activity has remained robust in 2011, supported by continued expansion in agriculture and mining."


Although it is not certain by what percentage points, if at all, the economy has so far grown this year, compared to 2010, what is most worrying is the significant hike in year-on-year inflation, reported by the Sierra Leone Telegraph last week, after the Bank of Sierra Leone decided to peg its interest rate at 23%.
"Consumer price inflation increased, however, to 20.9 percent (year-on-year) in July 2011 on account of food and fuel price increases, as well as the effect of expansionary monetary policy in the second half of 2010", says the IMF chief – Mikkelsen in Freetown.
The return to single digit inflation rate forecast for 2011 is yet to be seen, and few in Sierra Leone believe it will be achieved.
According to the IMF, the government Treasury bill rate has fallen, indicating a slowing down of the government’s domestic borrowing, which was driving up commercial banks' interest rates.
But with the government’s on-going programme of large-scale infrastructure development, it would seem that there has been a slight shift in borrowing from domestic financial market - the sale of Treasury bills to the expansion of nonconcessional external debt.
As the IMF warns; "With regard to performance relative to the ECF-supported program, the tightening of fiscal and monetary policies contributed to meeting all quantitative criteria for end-June, with the exception of the ceiling on contracting of nonconcessional external debt."

But President Koroma has still got a lot of work to do in stabilising the economy, which many believe to be stalling under the weight of the huge borrowing needed to finance its capital programme.

This critics say, is being done at the expense of real private sector led economic growth, and investment in social programmes.
"The main policy challenges facing the authorities remain to close the infrastructure gap, expand social services, and reduce unemployment while maintaining macroeconomic stability", says the IMF.


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Has the UN failed in Sierra Leone?

8 September 2011

Is it not clear that those ugly vices that led to the war are visibly showing up once again in Sierra Leone?

When you read the various Peacebuilding reports by the UNSG to the UN Security Council, they sound superficial, but very deceitful and different from what actually prevails on the ground.

In the co-operate agreements between the Government of Sierra Leone and UN regarding Peacebuilding and development, as outlined in the 2006-2007 UNDAF document, Sierra Leone identified four priority areas for UN intervention, namely: Youth employment and empowerment, Justice and Security Sector Reform, Consolidation of democracy and good governance, and capacity building.

Having realized the inadequacies of the UNDAF 2006-2007 Security Council resolution on an effective Peacebuilding agenda in Sierra Leone, the UN again adopted resolutions 1829 at the 5948th Security Council meeting in 2008.

Clause 3a of this resolution broadly provided for "political support to national and local efforts for identifying and resolving the tensions and threats of political conflict".

My problem with this resolution had to do with ambiguity in trying to understand and define the concept of 'political support'. Is political support only limited to letting the ruling APC get unlimited access to the UNPB Fund, while making no attempt to capacitate opposition parties?

The UN is failing to realize that their continuous exposure of the government to access the PBF in the name of legitimacy will only further financially capacitate the APC party, which is evident in the sumptuous life style of our President and his Ministers.

Similarly, Resolution 1886 at the 6189th meeting in September 2009, where the mandate of UNIPSIL was extended to September, 2010 as set out in the previous resolutions 1829 in 2008, emphasized on supporting preparations for the 2012 General elections, without adequately outlining efforts to promote good governance and tolerance - especially those relating to inter party politics.

Clause six of this same resolution only vaguely mentions good governance without due reference to the actual dynamics of inter-party rivalry and tension.

The 14 page report by the UNSG to the Security Council in 2009, had lots of misrepresentations and at the same time technically failing to forward any logical argument on their dismal handling of the 2007 election violence perpetuated by the APC.

What have we achieved as far as democracy and good governance are concerned?

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Koroma does not deserve a second term!

6 September 2011

Koroma visited Brazil with a large entourage, but failed to learn any lessons from the Brazilian economic experience. He should have copied their success formula. He did not!

Instead, he encouraged national prayer. He called for divine intervention, wishing that Sierra Leone was a prayer camp.

In point of fact, after the first few months in office, President Koroma abandoned the pastors that were praying for him and turned to other means of spiritual intervention.

There was plenty of talk of ‘Ariogbos’ gracing the corridors of State House. The absurdity of it all! Somebody should have told Ernest Koroma that religion kills the imagination. Ask Galileo!

In 2009, we were told that we have the largest deposit of Iron Ore in Africa. The first thing the government did was to draw up a mining policy. But that policy has hardly informed the agenda, during negotiations with the mining companies.

The country was debt free when President Koroma took office in 2007. Today, we are back in debt heavily, which is now having a devastating effect on the economy.

The income generated from the sale of our resources, if carefully managed, should sustain us financially.

My dissatisfaction with the Koroma administration are numerous, and quite rightfully so. And honestly, I do not think that he deserves a second term.

President Koroma is not a man of vision, nor is he a patriot. The Income Electrix project should ring a bell. How unpatriotic was that?

Why did President Koroma drag more poor people down below the poverty line, by implementing Goods and Services Tax starting at 15%, causing prices to double?

Why is it that he just cannot take sound decisions at the right time? Why is it that some ministers are more powerful than all the cabinet ministers put together?

Does he think that he can run a government like an insurance company or a social club? Is he running the government like a business that has become a liability to its investors?

These are questions we should ask ourselves, because in the last four years Sierra Leone has become worse than it was in 2007, yet his praise singers - those that are benefiting directly or indirectly, have become blind to the reality of life in the country.

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SLPP Presidential candidate – Maada Bio speaks to the world

5 September 2011

"I see the 2012 elections not as a battle to be fought or won by violence, but as a contest that can best be fought and won by ideas, values and beliefs," says Julius Maada Bio.


There is little doubt that the people of Sierra Leone and the international community – to whom so much gratitude is owed for their timely and costly support in bringing the war to an end - must have breathed a deep sigh of relief, when Bio for the first time, spoke publicly about the alleged atrocities committed by the NPRC.

The negative pre-2012 election  campaigning strategy adopted by the ruling APC, which is seen by many as an attempt to deny the people of Sierra Leone the right to choose who governs them, has been taken head on by Maada Bio himself. He has set the record straight. This issue was the main highlight of his speech - and this is what he said:

"The coup of April 29, 1992, that toppled the decade-and-half long repressive and corrupt APC one-party rule, was embraced overwhelmingly by the people of this country and recognised by the entire international community."

"That NPRC junta has been held collectively responsible by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for the extra-judicial executions of 26 persons during its administration."

"For my part, I had made it clear, in my testimony to the TRC, that I bear neither personal involvement nor personal responsibility for those executions nor was I in any position to prevent them from happening. I was neither the head nor the deputy head of the NPRC junta at the material time. I stand by that testimony."

Maada Bio’s offer of unconditional apology and his attempt to bring closure to the country’s awful past – for which politicians of all shades are responsible, will be regarded by most Sierra Leoneans and the international community as statesmanlike.

The SLPP presidential candidate went further in extending an olive branch, by calling on the international community to facilitate and broker a cross-party peace initiative.

He said that; "By the same token, with the help of the moral guarantors of our country’s peace, I would like to invite President Koroma to join me now in issuing a joint statement."

The cross-party peace initiative proposed by Bio in his speech on Saturday, will be underpinned by three fundamental principles.

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Ernest Koroma's APC has failed our youths!

1 September 2011

President Koroma’s APC government continues to struggle in meeting the expectations of the hundreds of thousands of registered unemployed youths across the country.

They were promised job opportunities and prosperity during the election campaign of 2007.

Today, it is now clear that this government has abandoned its election commitment to the youth of the country.

They have failed to develop or continue with major youth policies and programmes, initiated by the SLPP government led by former president Tejan Kabbah.

It is very worrying that some of the youth oriented programmes started by the Kabbah administration, have either been grossly neglected or mismanaged.

It is also sad to note that even the  National Youth Commission, which ironically was initiated by the former government, is yet to create an impact on the lives of our youth.

Instead, the government is planning to feed our young people with lies and drugs, and prepare them to take to the streets during the 2012 elections.

I believe it is time for the Youth Commission to be depoliticized and positioned, as a major mobilization tool for youth development and nation building.

The youths in Sierra Leone should be put at the heart of steering the country to a better future.

There must be a review of the National Youth Policy. It must be changed from its current partisan bias, to a truly national strategy for economic and social development.

A new national youth strategy should focus on leadership development, education and skills training, entrepreneurship, a can do attitude and healthy living.

Four years have already been wasted. Yet in the coming months and in preparation for the 2012 elections, APC will want to mobilize the youth in pursuit of their political objectives.

But be rest assured that the days of hooliganism is over, and such strategy will never again succeed in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leoneans are now conscious of the political game plan.

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Bank of Sierra Leone’s decision to hold Base Rate at 23% may hamper economic growth

29 August 2011

This latest decision by the BoSL -  acting as a lender of last resort, to hold Base Rate at 23% for the third consecutive month, may be interpreted as a strategy designed to stabilise commercial banks’ liquidity.

But it may be deflationary, and could well have an adverse effect on the economy.

Although commercial banks’ rates are closely linked with the BoSL Base Rate, yet banks are unlikely to pass on this lower lending rate to their borrowers.

Whilst  banks' loans and advances rose from Le658.9 Billion in 2009 to over Le874.7 Billion in 2010, it is also less likely that banks will significantly increase the availability or access to credit finance -  much needed by the business sector to expand, create jobs and grow the economy.

Commercial banks are opting instead to borrow from the BoSL in order to improve their asset balance sheet, as demanded early this year by the government.

Mrs. Gladys Strasser-King, the Vice President of the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, has warned the government of the impact that the lack of access to adequate capital, high interest rates and short repayment terms are having on economic growth.

The decision by the BoSL monetary policy committee in Freetown last week to peg Base Rate at 23% for the third consecutive month, rather than opt for a steep reduction, may further damage consumer confidence and their ability to spend - in an already depressed economy.

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The deadly face of racism revealed by the NATO led war in Libya -  Black Africans are being slaughtered

27 August 2011

According to the UK Independent Newspaper: "Around 30 men lay decomposing in the heat. Many of them had their hands tied behind their back, either with plastic handcuffs or ropes. One had a scarf stuffed into his mouth. Almost all of the victims were black men. Their bodies had been dumped near the scene of two of the fierce battles between rebel and regime forces in Tripoli."

"Why had an injured man receiving treatment been executed? Mr Sabri, more a camp follower than a fighter, shrugged. It was seemingly incomprehensible to him that anything wrong had been done."

Throughout this conflict, what the rebel leaders have shown is nothing other than utter contempt for Black Africans and their leaders.

At the start of the conflict, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa led an African Union delegation to Benghazi – the rebel tribal stronghold, to negotiate a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution to the conflict. He and his entourage were disrespectfully booed out of Benghazi.

Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama had told the rebels not to discuss the African Union's Peace Plan, as NATO's war strategy had been set into motion.

One of the rebel leaders told reporters that they do not regard Libyans as African, but Mediterranean. They want nothing to do with Black Africa. Their future, he said, lies further North - across the Mediterranean Sea - Europe.

That the African Union did not succeed in intervening in Libya to stop the carnage, is partly to be blamed on the intransigence and belligerence of French leader – Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Cameron, and US President Obama.

With NATO leading the assault on Libya, the rebels are feeling emboldened to now turn their brutality against Black African migrants. The wave of reprisal killing is continuing unabated, paving the way for a bitter post-conflict racial discord - between Libyans and Black Africans in the continent.

"It is also the case that the regime has repeatedly unleashed appalling violence on its own people. But the mounting number of deaths of men from sub-Saharan Africa at the hands of the rebels – lynchings in many cases – raises disturbing questions about the opposition administration, the Transitional National Council taking over as Libya's government, and about Western backing for it" – says the UK Independent Newspaper.

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The health of Sierra Leone’s economy will determine the outcome of the 2012 elections

23 August 2011

In just over twelve months, Sierra Leone goes to the polls to elect a new President or renew the incumbent – President Koroma’s tenure in office.

With the debate – both at home and in the diaspora intensifying and sometimes inflammatory, it is getting quite difficult to see the woods from the trees, as it shifts ominously away from policy toward personality.

The ruling Party – APC, are hoping that by focusing the debate on the credibility of the newly elected presidential candidate for the country’s main opposition SLPP – Julius Maada Bio, they will be able to gain sufficient mass popular support for President Koroma’s bid for a second term.

But with the country’s economy struggling to recover from four years of stagnation, due in part to the global recession, but mainly as the result of government’s economic policy, the question that many are asking is; whether it is prudent for the ruling Party to adopt a strategy of negative campaigning against the opposition SLPP presidential candidate.

"Presently, media houses sympathetic to the government are inundated with over-enthusiastic praise singers preaching hatred and intolerance under the guise of criticizing the opposition party.

Yet this contributes nothing to Sierra Leone’s gross domestic product, which continues to decline precipitously.

Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has dropped to an all time low of 300 US dollars as the rate of inflation has risen to an all time high of 18%.

This is expected to rise even higher in 2012.

Agriculture, which until recently, was recognized as the engine of growth, has suffered a serious setback as much needed funds have been directed to botched infrastructure-related developments.

Prices of basic food have skyrocketed and have become unaffordable to the average family as the unemployment rate gradually approaches the highest in the world.

Education at all levels has collapsed as colleges have even had to cancel exams for inexcusable reasons as the lack of stationery.

Closely associated with this neglect is the pathetic situation of government-sponsored students living in squalor and neglect."

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Maada Bio - a man of extraordinary gravitas

18 August 2011

I remember my first opportunity to chat with Maada at length; an opportunity created by one of my troublesome friends - Abdulai.

At that maiden meeting in my very office, I felt Maada unravelling the inner recesses of his heart. I could feel his heart-beat.

He kept on emphasizing "our country, our country" for the entire duration of our conversation.

I am aware, as Shakespeare says, "there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face"; but like Larry King, I am sure I was able to read his lips, as much as my several friends whom I had invited to that meeting.

I felt Maada’s appreciation of our country’s problems and in all candour, he quite acknowledged some lapses whilst at the helm of our political leadership during NPRC days; some of those lapses, he attributed to the nauseating insincerity of some comrades and civilian government functionaries.

Acknowledging one’s mistakes is a show of humility and statesmanship; and I pardoned him for that, in view of the peculiar prevailing circumstances then.

I told Maada to his face, "if you become president and, start messing up, I’ll be the first to trumpet it". I was convinced I was addressing my future president, and I felt fulfilled.

He was incredibly articulate and, was never boring. By the way, someone described a bore as "one who will not only stop talking; but who will not let you stop listening".

I still cherish that moment; and I have been following the Maada Bio campaign trail since then; offering my own humble pieces of advice and rebuke where necessary.

For me, Maada’s emergence as the SLPP flagbearer was a foregone conclusion. I am happy that the process which led to his election (and not selection and coronation like others) has been acclaimed as credible.

One thing the former head of state was quick to build upon, was, the foundation of the last Makeni convention where he polled 33 votes.

Maada Bio’s gravitas transcends the transition he thoughtfully and patriotically pioneered in 1996; and has shown true statesmanship through the events thereafter; amidst malicious and frivolous orchestrations of vendetta and witch-hunt.

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Bio must answer to allegations of serious financial malfeasance committed during the NPRC’s rule

18 August 2011

"Furthermore, in his capacity as Chairman of the NPRC, Brigadier J.M. Bio himself on the 1st February 1996, few days before he left office, caused the Government to pay into the account of his private firm, P. Banga Investment Limited the sum of Le235,000,000 in respect of contracts that that firm had purportedly entered into with Government for the supply of spare parts for the replacement of helicopter engines which did not belong to Government.”

"Incidentally, it was into the account of this same firm in the Channel Islands that Brigadier Bio paid his own share of US$400,000 from the passport deal which was disclosed recently."

These are very serious allegations coming from the then President of Sierra Leone – Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, a senior Party grandee of the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP).

But what is also significant is the utter failure by both President Kabbah and Vice President Berewa, during their 10 years of tenure to take appropriate steps to recover the alleged misappropriated funds from Maada Bio.

It is going to be impossible for either Kabbah or Berewa to shrug off accusations of serious lapse of judgement, without satisfactory explanation to the people of Sierra Leone.

President Koroma and his government are being lambasted and pilloried every single day by the media, not least by the Sierra Leone Telegraph, for perpetuating the culture of corruption that is damaging the very fabric of what is required to get the country out of poverty.

One cannot keep quiet or defend the opposition SLPP against any allegation of corruption that has a credible trail of evidence, which former President Kabbah and Vice President Berewa seem to have in their possession.

And given the legal implication and the gravity of such allegations, the Chief of the Anti-Corruption Commission – Joseph Kamara ought to look into the evidence that former President Kabbah is purporting to have.

And this process must be done immediately, transparently, and fairly, without President Koroma’s APC trying to exploit political capital from these allegations.

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The economic paradox of Sierra Leone’s vast natural wealth: Thanks to poor leadership

17 August 2011

Sierra Leone can easily be described as one of the most natural resource rich countries in the world.

Today, she is at the crossroads of poverty and bad governance. There are deep social divisions and serious economic problems.

Crime level is alarmingly high; with high incidence of rape, armed robbery, lawlessness and indiscipline.

May God Almighty help us to think rationally in 2012, as we strive for yet another positive change, which eluded us in 2007.

Sierra Leone – "the Lion Mountain", was the envy of other African countries, a darling colony and a pride nation of the British - called the Athens of West Africa.

Sierra Leone was a nation of loving, hospitable, compassionate, sociable and easy to approach people – an envy of the rest of the British Empire.

She was a nation noted for her moral values, disciplined society, spirituality, hospitality and virtuousness; a people of intelligence, wisdom, hard working, communally-spirited, and patriotism.

A nation that once boast of its civil service, high educational standard, best health service, a disciplined army and police force, much better infrastructure; has become a demoralized, fragmented and lawless poor nation - governed by incompetent, lazy and lethargic politicians.

Fourah Bay College that was once an envy of West Africa, responsible for educating thousands of West Africans, has today suspended students’ examinations, because of the lack of paper to write on.

When I read this story on the BBC’s website, I cried because it is the most shameful and embarrassing story I have ever read about my country, in a long while.

This is what President Ernest Koroma’s four years of misrule has brought upon us.

Sierra Leone is a very small country with a population of about 5.5 million people - living within a geographical space of 71,740 square kilometres and a coastline of 402 kilometres.

Yet 75% of the population is classed as poor – living on less than $1 a day.

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Random musing: "Lessons from the billowing ashes"

15 August 2011

The youths we refer to as 'Djamba smoking thugs' or 'ne'er-do-wells', are a product of our creation.

Labelling them is simply taking away the last dreg of their dignity and replacing it with ammunition against the very society that has abandoned them and driven them to find succour in the bosom of hopelessness.

They are also the segment that has been patronised with empty rhetoric in the last four years, only to watch the rich and the highly connected riding the gravy train, while they get drenched in the urine of poverty from the genitals of those in the corridors of power.

The assumption that one person can be demonised for whatever these youths unleash will prove too late for us to look for answers, and we may be consumed.

So let us face the real world. We created the lost generation, which has lost faith in seeing salvation from those in power, and will cling to any thing or person that point towards redemption.

Our careless disregard for the rumble in the jungle of 1991 is still a scar on the left side of our face.

We do not need to self destruct. We need to do something more concrete and endearing - not divisive.

Heating the polity by threats of digging up dirt and the ghosts of the past; or whipping up emotional blackmail in an already charged atmosphere is simply creating a tsunami that may consume us in the process of its rage. Recent political clashes are a pointer to what lies in store.

What has the government done since assumption of office to remedy the situation which it acknowledged and recognised at its inception? What strategy has it put in place to even ensure that the long, much-touted Youth Commission, when it finally leaves the realm of the imagination, will be able to apply a soothing balm to the epicentre of the festering sore?

How far have our leaders gone to implement, for example, the 2004 continental Ouagadougou Plan of Action for young people? What multi-sectoral approach is in place? How is the government planning to ensure that the flood of dreams of these youths is being properly channelled and consolidated for the desired societal rejuvenation?

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Microfinance: What role in Africa’s development?

25 August 2011

Despite microfinance’s global reach, the majority of its clients remain in Asia. In Africa the sector is growing quickly, but from a comparatively small base.

At the end of 2008, microfinance institutions in sub-Saharan Africa reached 16.5 million depositors and 6.5 million borrowers.

With rapid growth comes closer scrutiny. Yet it has proven difficult to measure the actual impact on poverty. Proponents often rely on case studies and anecdotes.

This has prompted leading scholars to conclude that "strikingly, 30 years into the microfinance movement we have little solid evidence that it improves the lives of clients in measurable ways" 

Recent and well-publicized cases of over-indebted households and interest rates approaching those charged by loan sharks have contributed to a more critical view of microfinance — and of microcredit in particular.

There is also a more fundamental critique. Some argue that channelling scarce resources into unproductive micro-enterprises in the informal sector may actually be detrimental to sustainable development and industrialization.

This is because tiny businesses contribute little to building an economy’s productive capacities, or to its structural transformation.

A recent study by the UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa suggests that now is a good time to reassess the role of microfinance in Africa’s development.

Drawing from experience elsewhere, it seems clear that on its own cannot fundamentally transform African economies held back by many structural constraints.

Yet providing a whole range of financial services to the poor — including credit for small and micro-enterprises, savings facilities, insurance, pensions, and payment and transfer facilities — is clearly desirable and can contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Africa has seen an increase in such services in recent years. Microfinance institutions offer a variety of products.

Where such institutions do not reach, traditional and informal providers — such as the tontines in Cameroon, the susus in Ghana and the banquiers ambulants in Benin — continue to serve the poor.

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Government politicians and media whipping up political tension in Sierra Leone

14 August 2011

Maada Bio, winner of the largest share of the votes at his party’s convention two weeks ago, is facing fierce opposition from the ruling party, the media and sections of his own SLPP party, over allegations of human rights abuse.

Although the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its enquiry did not find him personally responsible, yet the report held him "collectively responsible" for not stopping the alleged abuse.

But what many in the country find rather curious, is the government’s motive in calling for an investigation into the involvement of Maada Bio in the alleged atrocities, which took place nineteen years ago.

There is a groundswell of opinion that the government's motive for revisiting the past is political, rather than an honest pursuit of justice, in defence of the rights of the families of the deceased.

Many in the country believe that the government is trying to prevent Bio, who is thought to have significant popular support in the country, especially among those aged 40-50, from contesting the elections in 2012.

This group of electorate, who in 1992 were aged 20 and slightly older, had overwhelmingly welcomed the NPRC coup and the democratic changes ushered in by the military intervention.

It is thought that Bio’s campaign for Presidency in 2012 is likely to deny President Koroma’s bid for a second term in office, especially with the growing economic hardship, which is expected to continue well into 2013.

Observers say that any enquiry set up now to investigate the involvement or otherwise of Maada Bio, will take at least three years to report back.

By then, the 2012 elections would have been a foregone conclusion - with the opposition SLPP not being able to fully participate at the polls.

What is indeed ironic is that, as early as 2003, when the now ruling APC were in opposition, President Koroma had strongly called for an enquiry into the alleged violations of human rights.

So why did the President baulk at his own 'pursuit of justice' eight years ago?

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Britain’s broken society – the rioting class: 'let us say it like it is'

11 August 2011

I remember visiting No.12 Downing Street in 1989 to discuss policy with a Senior Civil Servant in the Inner Cities Unit of the Cabinet Office. Though the discussions were tense but frank, I left the meeting feeling rather deflated.

Perhaps then, I should have predicted that the possibility of further inner city riots was far from over.

Today, as politicians search for answers, We must not lose sight of the primary origin of the unrest, which has been described as the worst inner city riots in England since 1985.

It started in Tottenham – North London, last Saturday, after a young black man was shot dead by police the previous Thursday. Black youths, angered by what they see as another case of police brutality, went on the rampage.

Also, in the wake of the Tottenham disturbance, in Hackney – London, a black youth was randomly stopped and searched by the police and found to be innocent of any crime, also sparking a violent reaction from youths in the community.

Sadly, their legitimate anger and protest, was hijacked and exploited by political anarchists and sections of the far-right British National Party, in order to further heighten tension and cause maximum damage, so as to peddle Enoch Powel’s "rivers of blood" chorus of inter-racial doom.

Having personally witnessed the 1981 and 1985 riots in England, I can say with some authority, that we are likely to see many more copycat rioting across inner cities, if the government continues to fail to acknowledge the underlying socio-economic root causes of the disturbances.

But they also need to learn the lessons of those previous riots.

What is needed now is a clear, open and honest debate as to the issues and causative factors of the breakdown of what must now be regarded as Britain’s fragile society.

And for those bent on taking a right-wing conservative view of the world and how society functions, this is not helpful, nor does it necessarily provide us with a holistic answer to the dysfunctionality of certain groups and communities, referred to by the Prime Minister as 'sick'.

Liberal conservatives, who profess to believe in pluralism, ought to know that there is never one single answer or solution to a problem. The issue is complex and multi-dimensional, and ought not to be simply written off as 'depravity' or 'criminality'.

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Ernest Koroma: heart of a coward - spirit of a sycophant!

10 August 2011

Mr. President, the last time I wrote to you, was on this same matter when on two occasions you came to China and promised the students that you will definitely solve this ongoing problem that your government started four years ago.

But you woefully failed, and I believe you were deceitful, because you never followed your words with actions.

Even with the intervention of the president of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists - Umaru Fofana, and many articles written by students about their plight, you did nothing.

What is so pathetic about this story is that it went to the cabinet, and the minister of education once again disrespected you and your cabinet, to the embarrassment and disappointment of the Ambassador of China - who was a cabinet minister when that decision was taken.

Nothing has happened and nothing will ever happen to the minister in question.

Mr. President, have you asked your self why so many industrial strikes and disputes are taking place in Sierra Leone under your leadership?

Does it not tell you that you have too many lieutenants who are not qualified or capable of being in such positions; or don’t you think that your policies are failing the nation?

Do you think Sierra Leoneans will vote for you again because you are handsome?

You see, SLPP has just chosen a younger and more handsome aspirant than you.

So should you ever think that the 'fine boy' image of 2007 will give you a smooth ride to State House next year, you should start rethinking.

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Bio has been elected – the genie is out of the bottle: So what is the way forward now for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP)?

4 August 2011

It now behoves upon the elected Presidential candidate - Bio, to ensure that he clears the air during his maiden speech to the people of Sierra Leone (in plain and simple Krio - if he can), with respect to the human rights accusation, which for many - seem to have stained his character.

Bio’s leadership election victory – whether rightly or wrongly, has attracted a negative public response that could derail any chance of SLPP winning the elections slated for October 2012, if allowed to fester.

The cost of Bio not addressing this issue NOW, far outweigh the risks of keeping quiet, while hoping it will go away before the 2012 elections. The accusation of human rights abuse, will not disappear any time soon - if at all.

While Bio may be innocent of all accusations, only he - and he alone can put the minds of all Sierra Leoneans at ease, once and for all, without constantly having to refer the nation to the contents of the TRC Report.

Somehow though, SLPP will have to find a way forward to normal business and painstakingly work toward weaving together, every warp and weft frayed by the leadership election result.

With threats of internal strife, mutiny and resignations, Bio will have to show the rank and file of the party, and indeed the nation, that his professional skill does go beyond the use of the AK47.

He must now begin to galvanise the Party into a non-fractious and business-like opposition, that is capable of unseating President Koroma’s government from office.

Can he succeed in transforming his weaknesses into strengths; and threats into opportunities?

First and foremost, he has to quickly appoint a shadow cabinet. And given the fact that since the announcement of the election result there has been no dissension from the other 18 candidates that lost, Bio could do worse than appointing all 18 candidates into his shadow cabinet.

But he must approach each one of them with the utmost respect and humility, based on the philosophy that they can be a winning team. To do otherwise will be a massive folly that can only speed up his fall from the Party's pedestal.

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Partisanship aside: Ernest or Maada – who is more marketable?

9 August 2011

Today, another southerner, Julius Maada Bio, faces a more difficult hurdle as he goes about marketing himself to challenge a tried and tested politician with outstanding marketable qualities in his favour – President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.

In spite of the rising food and fuel prices in the world market, which had negatively impacted on the Sierra Leone economy - with the corresponding increase in fuel and food prices, President Koroma strikes most Sierra Leoneans as a cute, nice, honest person, doggedly committed to transform this country.

Detractors of Ernest Koroma often describe him as "cool" and "quiet" as if it’s a deficit; while supporters of Maada Bio are promoting Bio as a "smart" soldier (although very arrogant) that returned the country to democratic rule.

However, for the greatest part, President Koroma is seen as the man of the people; the first president in post conflict Sierra Leone to move around freely at times even without bodyguards.

Most people believe, even in far flung Kailahun, that President Ernest Bai Koroma is a serious minded person and also very affable.

He is also seen as the man who restored the confidence of the international community, as well as making the country conducive for investors to come help us rebrand our motherland. Is this not a plus for President Koroma?

The deciding factor in the 2012 presidential elections would be the ceaselessly ongoing development projects that are being implemented by President Koroma across the country.

> Read More



Maada Bio - SLPP Nominee: A perspective from the USA

7 August 2011

What can Bio offer our nation?

His past activities in the NPRC government present us with crystal clear suggestions: We now know that he and his cohorts looted the nation’s Treasury; he is insubordinate and baneful, as demonstrated by the actions he spearheaded against his erstwhile boss in the military junta.

Mr. Valentine Strasser, he and his cohorts, summarily executed people without due process of law; and above all, we know he is capable of committing treasonable offences.

This man placed himself in authority once, and we now know him for who he is. We know enough to conclude that he is not the kind of person we want at the helm of our fledgling democracy.

As a military officer, his lawless and "Jamba Smoking" group of soldiers in the junta were a spectacle of the most ineffective fighting force - misnamed as an army - that could not even match, let alone defeat the rag-tag rebels of Foday Sankoh’s RUF.

Yet they had no scruples promoting themselves from one rank to the other every other six months or so, just to ensure a fatter retirement salary.

That the SLPP would choose such a frothy candidate for the nation’s highest office, speaks volumes about the sorry state of affairs in this opposition party.

The party had a fairly decent crop of candidates to choose from, but they chose to settle for the one with the least staidness and amplitude, and certainly also, the one who is the most acquisitive among them.

What an ignominy this nomination has brought to the reputation of the country in general, but to the hapless SLPP in particular.

This infamy of a nomination would no doubt beg the question - why was Maada Bio chosen by those SLPP delegates?

> Read More


Controversial land investor in Sierra Leone – Kevin Godlington denies Oakland Institute’s land grab report

1 August 2011

"To be clear from the outset, Kevin Godlington has never worked with Tony Blair, nor will he ever work with Tony Blair"

"Kevin Godlington returned to Sierra Leone having served as a British Soldier during the war to help create jobs and develop poor communities like Mange."

"He formed Sierra Leone Agriculture (SLA). A company that now employs 245 people, 2000 by end of 2012 and manages its operations in a fully engaged way with the community, chiefdom and government."

"The Oakland Institute claims the Minister of Agriculture is unaware of our company SLA. SLA hosted a conference in London with the Minister to increase Investment to Sierra Leone."

"The minister knows Kevin Godlington very well and is penning a statement to that effect. Oakland Institute know this conference took place, how then do they expect anyone to believe the Minister does not know of SLA’s existence?"

"Oakland Institute knows the Minister attended the event and was with Kevin Godlington throughout the event. (See attached photo with the President of SL opening SLA estates, and letter from Ministry of Agriculture as far back as 2008)."

"How more public than an international conference in central London hosted by His Excellency the President of Sierra Leone and Tony Blair, where Kevin Godlington gave an address before Tony Blair and presentation on SLA’s endeavours? This is the only connection with Tony Blair."

"Of further note is that His Excellency the President attended the Sierra Leone Agriculture’s (SLA) estate in Mange himself and attended a press conference and presentation panel with the chief and a selection of Ministers; where Kevin Godlington again presented to over 500 people from Mange, setting out the companies intentions through 2011 and 2012."

> Read More



Is President Koroma’s government taking the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone seriously?

29 July 2011

Paragraph 90 of the Tribunal’s decision notes that:

 “The MOD and RSLAF are reminded that under Section 13 of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone Act 2004 the government should respond publicly within 21 days to the specific case as well as the findings, recommendations and other decision that the commission may issue as a remedy for a human rights violation.”


As at the time of writing this article - 26th July 2011, the government had not responded to the case in point at least publicly.

In my opinion, this is a show of lack of commitment on the part of the government to upholding and enforcing the fundamental rights of citizens which are entrenched provisions in the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 of 1991 and the various international human rights instruments it had signed, ratified and domesticated as the case might be.

One would have expected that the government was going to issue a public statement on the matter even before the expiration of the 21 days provided for in the commission’s Act.

It is appalling that the government has reneged in making the required response at a time it has just submitted The State of Human Rights report at the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The seeming accolade which the country received could have served as a motivating factor for the government to address the matter of the ex-soldiers with the seriousness it deserves.

But whether the government makes a statement in time or on time or afterwards, there are lessons that could be learnt from this debacle.

Sierra Leone is a country in which many people have failed to stand  and fight for their basic human rights.

Complacency has eaten deep into the moral fibre of most Sierra Leoneans.

But does the buck stops with the government?

> Read More


Sierra Leone government publishes its official Progress Report on the achievement of its 'Agenda for Change'

22 July 2011

Almost everyone agrees that Sierra Leone’s economy has been on a life support machine since the end of the civil war in 2001.

But it seems the medicine prescribed by President Koroma has been sending the economy into deeper coma, as the IMF warned of "difficult times ahead".

With foreign aid accounting for over 40% of government’s income, coupled with a low tax revenue base, prospects of turning the country around in three years – as promised by the President looked pretty grim.

However, there was a ray of hope that with the restructuring of the country’s National Revenue Authority by DFID, efforts to collect taxes would significantly improve.

Also, export earnings from agriculture and mining – especially gold and diamond, had started to rise as the global economy comes out of recession.

But behind that promising silver lining, there was a dark and ominous cloud. Corruption, poor governance, bloated departmental overspending, and the lack of domestic capacity to implement and manage large-scale infrastructural projects, are threatening to derail any chance of a much deserved economic prosperity.

Monies meant for development projects and poverty reduction programmes are being siphoned off by government officials. And corruption in high places remains a key constraint to the country’s development.

Both the departing Head of DFID in Sierra Leone and the visiting UK minister for international development commented last week and yesterday that: "corruption remains a serious problem; there must be zero tolerance for corruption".

As President Koroma publishes his official progress report on the last three years, in consultation with the World Bank and the IMF, considerable interest has been attracted, not least by supporters of the government.

And the report is not short on analysis showing the performance of the government in managing the economy to be nothing but 'ingenious and spectacular'.

But is the government’s real performance as spectacular as the report suggests?

> Read More



SLPP delegates urged to vote for John Ernest Leigh

28 July 2011

In exactly three days from today,  the opposition SLPP will elect its flag bearer.

Delegates of the SLPP,  I call upon you to join the fight in giving back to Sierra Leone what is due to Sierra Leone.

As the sands of time trickle down from hours to minutes, the hope of all patriotic-minded Sierra Leoneans is for the SLPP delegates to do what is right - by electing John Leigh.

He is the only candidate, without whose sacrifice, Sierra Leone would have been destroyed by a bunch of lunatics.

At a time when journalists were faking Pan-Africanism to team up with the RUF, diplomats switching loyalty, and Kabbah and company fleeing the country; only one man, passed the test of patriotism.

With a megaphone he challenged Ghadaffi, Taylor, the RUF, and the AFRC.

He pleaded with the US senate, engaged with the American media for the world to come to the rescue of our dying nation.

That selfless man, ladies and gentlemen is John Leigh.

Without him Sierra Leone would have become another Somalia. And had Colonel Ghadaffi had his way, the war would have engulfed the whole of the West African Sub-region.

John Leigh may not be a Southerner, but he is someone who has stood firmly in support of the SLPP throughout its difficult years.

He is an experienced diplomat with a very strong background in Business and Industry.

Yet there are those in the Party who may not want to vote for John Leigh because he is not from the South, despite his leadership qualities and experience.

Standing up for what is right may not be easy, doing the right thing too - may sometimes be difficult. But when we fail to stand up for what is right, history judges us very harshly.

> Read More



A defining moment for Sierra Leone’s 2012 Presidential election: John Leigh raises the stakes

24 July 2011

Sierra Leone is one of the world’s poorest countries and is in desperate need of a new kind of politics, based on those values that once kept Sierra Leoneans together as one nation, under the umbrella of liberal democratic pluralism.

Sierra Leone needs a new way of thinking as to how it’s going to get itself out of poverty.

And each of the 19 candidates vying for the Presidential candidacy of the SLPP, must be able to demonstrate that ability to lead a government that can create the space and agenda for this to happen.

It is true that Sierra Leone has become a shadow of its former self. But it need not have to be this way, if only those elected to govern are honest, trustworthy, committed, and principled; and have the know-how to work with the people in order to build a prosperous nation.

Sierra Leone has the potential to once again become a nation where everyone believes in hard work and collective responsibility to eradicate poverty.

But it must have a government that is genuinely committed to creating an environment that encourages everyone irrespective of tribe to maximise their potential.

The Sierra Leone People’s Party has an opportunity to present itself as a credible and viable alternative to President Koroma’s APC.

However, it must ensure that it elects the most capable Presidential candidate that can effectively lead the Party and country into a new horizon.

It must put in place a strong visionary leadership that is capable of unseating President Koroma, whose performance record in the last three years is questionable.

There are 19 candidates throwing their hats into the ring. But there will  be only one winner, who should be of such pedigree, as to be able to muster the political experience, diplomatic skills and broad knowledge of economic and social development issues that will take the country out of its current state of paralysis.

Former Ambassador - John Leigh is raising the stakes.

> Read More



Meet the shameless millionaires and billionaires buying hectares of precious land in Sierra Leone

15 July 2011

Poverty in Africa, especially Sub-sahara Africa is getting worse, as corruption and poor governance continues to drive the continent into further economic quagmire.

But far too many African leaders are more than happy to sell their way out of poverty, though not for the common good.

Amid calls from Tony Blair and others for countries such as Sierra Leone to open up for business, there are many Africans who are saying that:

"Africa has long been opened for business, and desperately seeking foreign investors with whom it can form mutually beneficial partnerships, for the transformation of its fertile and mineral rich landscape into an engine of wealth creation for its people."

But it seems the agenda of some foreign investors scrambling for Africa’s precious land is not to enter into partnership and collaboration with indigenous African entrepreneurs, but the wholesale transfer of ownership of land for exclusive exploitation.

Since the establishment of the Africa Governance Initiative by former British Prime Minister – Tony Blair, suspicions have grown regarding his true motivation and intention, as information surrounding dodgy land deals in countries such as Sierra Leone become evident.

Many Africans now believe that the overseas investment arm of the Africa Governance Initiative set up by Tony Blair is covertly pioneering a new scramble for Africa’s agricultural and mineral rich landscape, while pretending to be promoting good governance in Africa.

And since the publication of the Oakland Institute’s Report on dubious land sale in Sierra Leone, there has been no official comment from Tony Blair or the office of his Africa Governance Initiative.

After all, is Tony Blair and his team of eight specialists not in Sierra Leone to promote good governance?

> Read More



Risk or Reward: Elections in Fragile States

9 July 2011

There are several initial risks and opportunities that may be unique to elections in post conflict countries, although most of those also are likely to be fragile.

First, the minimum requirements are that former combatants, returning refugees and internally displaced persons are able to vote, that they are able to form parties that can present candidates who have a reasonably level playing field upon which to compete.

Second, conditions that lower the destabilizing risk of elections include the likely post-election existence of a state capable of performing critical public functions, including assuring citizen security.

Another is the existence of a negotiated consensus that the government coming to power through elections will not be operated under a winner-takes-all basis, and will allow the losing forces adequate political space in which to function.

Finally, when the nature and timing of the elections are part and parcel of the negotiations leading to a peace accord, there is a better chance the elections will be accepted by former combatant forces.

If the UN or other international bodies or groups of countries have facilitated the accord, the former combatants also are more likely to accept an international role in assisting, conducting, monitoring and almost always financing those elections.

As a result, the international community also has a greater opportunity to help countries determine whether conditions exist, enabling the elections to contribute to reconciliation.

Unfortunately, all too often, the international community - with mounting peacekeeping responsibilities and competing commitments for security and diplomatic resources, sees an early election as an exit strategy pure and simple.

> Read More



Free health care programme in disarray: a case of bad planning or muddled-up policy?

6 July 2011

The unnecessary haste to launch the programme on the 27 April, 2010, to commemorate the 49th year of independence of Sierra Leone, was a folly.

And British Prime Minister - Gordon Brown’s hasty intervention to speed up the launch, before the British general election in May 2010, did not help either.

And with the first few weeks of the programme delivery dogged by industrial strikes involving poorly paid health workers, very little time was spent by the government in ensuring that key elements of the programme – such as storage and logistics, were properly established and managed.

The gaping strategic management vacuum created by the unnecessary and prolonged absence of a substantive minister of health, was a serious indictment of the government’s all too often choice of political expediency over management best practice.

Whilst President Koroma was busy playing ‘pass the parcel’ with the management of the programme between his Vice President and the Deputy Minister of Health, the delivery of essential care became muddled in chaos and confusion.

Patients in need of desperate care, had to suffer the consequences.

Now, there are worrying signs that after spending over $200 Million on the free health care programme, the entire service is about to collapse.

But the President has today told the international stakeholders and local NGOs that failure is not an option.

> Read More


When the wife of the President errs on the side of injustice

4 July 2011

The war is over, infrastructures are being rebuilt; new institutions are emerging to replace the old; democracy is taking roots in Sierra Leone.

Good news. But how often do we hear stories of the gross abuse of power by those we regard as the custodians of the rule of Law? Far too many – I hear you say.

Although 'land grabbing' - as is now popularly referred, is nothing new in Sierra Leone, what many find particularly disturbing is the fact that in this case, the wife of the President has taken the Law into her own hands, without recourse to due process.

She failed to seek justice through the Courts - assuming of course that she truly believes she is the rightful owner of the property.

For the 'first lady' to have brought the office of the President into public disrepute, beggars belief.

The cardinal rule for anyone associated with the office of the President – including his wife, is to refrain from doing anything that will bring the President’s office into such disrepute.

The land dispute involving the President has done nothing other than reinforce the prevalent view that in Sierra Leone, the rich and powerful are allowed to take the Law into their own hands with impunity.

Despite millions of pounds poured into the country by the international community, especially Britain, to help combat lawlessness and promote the rule of Law, it seems those in power are the greatest violators.

> Read More



Africa’s economy rebounds without jobs

28 June 2011

In 2009 Africa’s growth slowed sharply to 1.6 per cent. But that was still far better than the performance of the developed world, whose economy that year actually shrank by 2.2 per cent.

The 2011 Economic Report on Africa predicts a steady growth of African economies. Indeed, the report announces a 5% increase rate for the continent this year compared to the 4.7% recorded in 2010.

But although many African countries already benefit from this growth, yet for most countries in the sub-continent, such as Sierra Leone, employment – most especially youth employment - is still a major concern.

Role of the state

An upbeat Robert Vos, Director of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, while launching the report in May at UN headquarters in New York, stressed the role of the state in stimulating economic growth.

That was a key theme of the report, which advocates state intervention in "planning, articulating and implementing policies of resources allocation".

It cautions, however, that governments must possess the legitimacy to accomplish the task and their institutions must "link bureaucracy with key stakeholders".

Mr. Vos maintained that many African states do not currently gain from international trade because of weak production capacities.

The report’s highly encouraging news for Africa has a flipside. The continent is still a long way from attaining the Millennium Development Goals, it finds. There are also disparities in the pace of growth among African countries.

> Read More  


The Sierra Leone Police Force and prospects for post-war sustainable nation building

23 June 2011

The challenge for British Police Chief Biddle in creating a post-war, nationally integrated police force in Sierra Leone, whose ethos would be based on respect for the rule of Law, respect for human rights, and the maintenance of law and order, was tremendous.

And few in Sierra Leone ever believed it was possible to achieve.

But after three years of hard work, and despite all odds, a new police force was established, incorporating elements of the previous internal security units and members of the rebel movements.

The reintegration of ex-combatants into the country's security institutions was highly controversial.

Many in Sierra Leone had believed this arrangement to be a recipe for disaster.

Some analysts say that the integration of former rebels into the national police force was always a risk that would undermine the integrity and capability of the police in maintaining law and order.

But is this a fair analysis, after ten years of nation building?

In the last few years, reports of police involvement in corruption cases have increased; the number of police officers convicted of criminal offence has risen; the public’s perception of the ability of the police in maintaining law and order remains low; overall confidence and trust in the police force is declining; morale within the force itself is far from healthy.

The government is insisting that they are doing all they can to recruit, train and develop members of the force, so as to build a modern, respectable, professional and responsive institution that is fit for purpose.

> Read More


The privatisation of the Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company - Sierratel is long overdue...but

20 June 2011

After all, Sierratel has a highly strategic function as controllers of the country’s telecommunications gateway, which must be safeguarded irrespective of ownership of the company.

While Sierratel has consistently and for many decades considered to be a loss-making venture, the manner in which its services have been stripped away and diverted to overseas investors is alarming.

The wooing of overseas investors to develop and deliver the mobile telephone networks has had huge economic and social costs, despite obvious benefits.

Investors have been given a free hand by the government to cherry pick aspects of the telecommunications infrastructure for short-term profit making.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Sierratel has been stripped of vital assets.

This includes its intellectual property rights, which successive governments have not been competent enough to assess, value and exploit for the benefit of tax payers.

The abandonment of the provision and investment in an efficient landline telephone infrastructure is destroying competition, and more importantly eroding consumer choice.

There are suspicions that ministers have secured private and personal investment interests in most state-owned enterprises.  

> Read More



Local journalist slain over land dispute in Sierra Leone: Is this a sign of things to come?

15 June 2011

Tensions are rising as lawlessness and criminality take roots - deep into the heart of many abjectly impoverished and deprived communities.

The land dispute between the Grafton and Kossoh Town communities in the outskirts of Freetown, which allegedly brought the life of a young journalist to a brutal and abrupt end, is just the thin edge of the wedge.

For many observers who regard all community lands as state assets, the government is not seen as an innocent bystander in these ugly disputes.

In some respects, government policy is regarded as the driver of the culture shift towards illegal land deals, which inevitably is turning peaceful communities into warring factions.

The once evergreen hills and volatile eco-systems of rural Freetown are fast disappearing, making way for shanty communes and the construction of illegal housing. Yet government turns a blind eye.

Indeed, with a government policy that is aimed at encouraging and assisting the acquisition of land by investors for large scale mechanized farming, foreign companies such as Addax have come under serious attack.

Just a week ago, an international report: 'Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa', discussed the prevalence and economic and social consequences of community land sales, especially in fragile states such as Sierra Leone.

> Read More



Big shake-up at NRA: But has it gone deep enough to stem the culture of corruption and poor work ethics?  

9 June 2011

Since the suspension and indictment of the incumbent Commissioner-General of the NRA – Alieu Sesay, in 2008 for corruption, there has been a significant improvement in the collection of taxes by the Authority.

With the support of the international community, especially the British government's department for international affairs – DFID, the Authority has been restructured, and new computerised systems for the management and control of the organisation’s affairs have been implemented.

But a menacing culture of corruption, underperformance and poor work ethics, continue to undermine and threaten the implementation of a new DFID sponsored - high performance management strategy.

Whilst the total revenue collected by the NRA in 2010 exceeded all expectations, analysts were quite surprised at the very poor performance of the customs and excise department.

In the first quarter of this year - January to March 2011, the Customs and Excise Department only collected Le53 Billion, compared to Le126 Billion raised in income tax in the same period.

This poor performance at the customs and excise comes, despite the recent implementation of the new ASYCUDA computerised goods tracking system, which many believe, is being bye-passed by rogue officers in order to defraud the state.

> Read More


Is Bumbuna Phase 2 Hydro-electric project another White Elephant?

7 June 2011

The massive cost overrun not only created embarrassing political fallouts for both the previous and current governments; but has led to the collapse of confidence in the government’s ability to deliver what it promises.

Many Sierra Leoneans were made to believe that the Bumbuna Phase 1 project will provide energy for the whole country, with surplus to sell to other neighbouring states.

The reality is that most people in Sierra Leone today are still using generators.

Although by their very nature, all projects are risky and prone to failure, good planning and effective risk management should have ensured that the chances of failure are reduced or eliminated.

The controversial debate as to the success or failure of the first phase of the Bumbuna Hydro-Electricity Project raises a fundamental question: whether the estimated $200 Million spent on the project is value for money.

At the very least, Bumbuna is supposed to be generating 80 Megawatts of electricity, and should have created and spun-out thousands of new jobs.

Many in Sierra Leone are now expecting Bumbuna phase 2 to become another white elephant.

The government they say lacks the human resource capacity needed, to simultaneously manage a large portfolio of complex development projects.

Sceptics are of the opinion that with the current financial constraint; too many concurrent projects; and the government trying to cope with competing priorities, the success of Bumbuna Phase 2 may seriously be impeded.

> Read More



Sovereign Equality and its Limitations in International Law

2 June 2011

The idea of sovereign equality of states puts forward that 'the conduct of states towards each other, their regulatory competence within their boundaries, and their capacities to participate in and make rules for international system are entitled to the same level of legal respect regardless of their territorial size, population, material wealth, technology or cultural savoir faire'.

However, in recent years this principle has come under challenge from several sources despite Article 2(4) of the UN Charter stipulating that 'all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations'.

The Guinean occupation of Yenga in Sierra Leone, has not yet brought the two nations to war, but there are many in Sierra Leone, who are fast becoming impatient with the Guinean occupation, and the seeming acquiescence of the government of Sierra Leone.

Similarly, the involvement of Liberia's Charles Taylor who is now standing trial in the Hague for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone, has raised many questions about respect for sovereign equality, and the disdain with which leaders are able to violate international Law - with impunity.

In this article, Sierra Leonean International Law expert - Mohamed Kunowah-Tinu Kiellow, discusses the complexities of the principles of 'sovereign equality'.

> Read More


"Fighting climate change takes a village"

30 May 2011

It is still early on a hot and dusty Wednesday morning, but the temperature is already above 35 degrees centigrade. Residents say that it rained just a month ago, although there is no proof of this.


Plants have shed their leaves and all the green vegetation has now changed colour.

Seven-year-old Moli Kituvi strides past in search of water, her container held tightly by one arm.

Because of the harsh conditions in this parched district some 400 kilometres from the capital, Nairobi, one would expect a long walk ahead of her.

But in the near distance lies a stretch of green vegetation. Napier grass, sorghum and other greenery traverse a small section alongside a dry seasonal river.

With her calabash, Moli starts scooping sand from the river bed, one scoop after another. Close to 20 centimetres down, water finally seeps out.

"I only have to wait less than five minutes, then the water will be very clear," she says with a smile. Indeed, she soon fills her bucket. "Now," she says, "I can go to school."

Moli does not understand why it is that she is able to find water in such a dry area. But Kavinya Kata, 35, who herds her cattle to the same spot, does.

She cites the sand dams built along the river that have changed the local environment — and the residents’ lives — for the better.

Few African countries are beginning to take the issue of climate change seriously; and just a handful of governments in the continent, have put sound policies and strategies in place, in response to what has been described as one of the most challenging issues of our time.

In Sierra Leone, the effects of climate change are profoundly worrying, yet the response from the government is almost non-existent.

> Read More



New partnership to increase the capacity of Bumbuna Hydro-dam to 400 Mega Watts: Is this the light at the end of the tunnel?

23 May 2011

Sierra Leone's Bumbuna hydro-electricity project was commissioned in 2009, with a planned capacity of 80 Mega Watts.

But observers say that this planned output has never been achieved due to poor planning and mis-management.

The dam’s operation is also being hampered by the irregularity of water supply from the river source, and frequent technical breakdowns.

Average daily electricity output from Bumbuna does not exceed 35 Mega Watts.

Hence the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the country’s ministry of energy and Joule Africa should mark a significant hiatus in the government’s drive to salvage the Bumbuna project.

Joule Africa will develop Bumbuna to produce "incremental increase in power capacity up to 350 MW, bringing the total Bumbuna power capacity to 400 Mega Watts", says the government.

Although this agreement would be welcomed as a step in the right direction, concerns must be expressed regarding the major mistakes made in the management and delivery of Bumbuna Phase One: 

failure to undertake a robust feasibility study that should have included an analysis of risks, costs and benefits.

But the government has this time around, assured that Joule Africa’s "Work is anticipated to start on the initial feasibility studies within thirty days".

"Increasing the availability of affordable power has been a top priority for the APC since coming to power in 2007. I was delighted to commission the first phase of the Bumbuna Hydroelectric project, which has delivered a significant increase in energy to Freetown. The signing of this partnership with Joule Africa makes possible the next major step in this journey" - says the President.

But is this the light at the end of the tunnel for Sierra Leone?

> Read More



President Koroma chairs ‘fuel and economic summit’ at State House

18 May 2011

According to State House report, President Ernest Bai Koroma on Monday, met with petroleum marketing companies, dealers, civil society groups, and other stakeholders for a 'fuel and economic summit' at State House.

The President is calling for "comprehensive solutions to issues adversely impacting on the country’s overall economy and the people".

He calls "for quick solutions to the problems created by the recent change to the metric system and simultaneous adjustment in the price of fuel".

But there is no quick fix to the crisis.

The President does not accept responsibility for the government’s failure to predict the likely outcome of the change to metric and the removal of government subsidy.

He is confident of his approach in managing the crisis.

Many observers would regard Monday’s 'fuel and economic summit' as a damage limitation strategy and a PR exercise.

It is reported by State House that in concluding the 'fuel and economic summit' the President "appealed to stakeholders to be very careful in their work and to engage seriously on the relevant issues, to find lasting solutions to the country’s perennial problems".

What is critical for the survival of the government, is whether those comprehensive and durable solutions to the country’s problems will come quickly enough, with the 2012 general elections just twelve months away.

In the meantime, the youth unemployment queues are getting longer; inflation is running out of control; poverty is widening – engulfing those in the working population; and the water shortage exacerbated by increasing electricity outage, continues to pose serious threat to the very fabric of Sierra Leone’s society.

But has the summit done enough to avert social and political instability?

> Read More



It is time for the opposition SLPP to take a look at itself in the mirror as Dr. Sama Banya speaks out

13 May 2011

writing in the Sierra Express Media today, veteran politician and Senior Party Grandee – Dr. Sama Banya has accused the Party Chairman of putting personal interests ahead of the Party. He calls on John Benjamin and other Executive members "to swallow humble pie and allow progress" to evolve.

There is little doubt that Party Chairman - Benjamin and his executives may argue that their decisions and actions have been taken in the fullest interest of the Party, especially the conducting of those local and regional representation elections. 

Following recent media speculation as to Dr. Banya’s position since the granting of the court injunction, and his alleged anti-Benjamin fervour, he has now decided to put all such speculations and accusations to bed. He has spoken out:

"If the National Executive had listened to our advice all of what we are going through now would certainly have been avoided."

"Unfortunately John Benjamin and his colleagues dug their feet in and were determined NOT to hold any constituency, district and regional elections before a national delegates’ conference."

"They have used all sorts of procedures, none of which has been helpful; on the contrary they have only landed us where we are at the moment."

"I must state here that a lot of progress was made in the last couple of weeks with a broad agreement on the way forward. Here I must commend the patience and tenacity of all concerned."

"It is therefore a matter of disappointment that the National Chairman and his executive are moving in a way that I can only describe as dragging their feet."

> Read More



Tackling the blight of poor governance and economic mismanagement, and the resultant violation of the people's right to food

13 May 2011

The obligation to respect existing access to adequate food, requires state actors not to take any measures that result in preventing such access.

The obligation to respect requires that the state abstain from interfering in the existing enjoyment of a right — in this case the human right to food.

This includes direct interference by the state in the enjoyment of the right, and also the withdrawal of existing programs or processes that facilitate enjoyment of the right.

The government of Sierra Leone, led by President Ernest Koroma has since coming to power, taken measures that result in preventing people’s access to food.

More than a year ago, the government introduced the Goods and Services Tax in Sierra Leone.

The introduction of this tax has led to the escalation of prices of basic commodities, while the salaries of workers in the private and public sectors remain the same.

As a result of the GST tax, people now spend 15% more than they earn. Consequently, the people’s right to food has been threatened, and many could no longer afford a single meal a day. This action by the government has caused untold suffering to the people of Sierra Leone.

In addition, the government has also cut off all measures in the form of subsidies that were put in place by the former SLPP government, meant to reduce the prices of basic commodities. As far as I am concerned, these are retrogressive measures that are not in favour of the suffering majority in Sierra Leone.

Secondly, the much trumpeted government agricultural policy has not contributed much to poverty alleviation. Most of the projects being undertaken by the government are marred by corruption, or lack coordination in their implementation.

> Read More



Uncontrolled Government Spending has weakened Sierra Leone’s Economy

8 May 2011

Early this year - January 2011, the Sierra Leone Telegraph predicted a gloomy outlook for Sierra Leone's economy in 2011, as a consequence of the government's poor fiscal management and growing structural deficit.

Four months on, the cost of living has worsened; inflation is running at double digits and escalating; and the supply of essential utilities - water, electricity and fuel, is becoming dangerously sparse.   

"The sustainability of the country’s growing debt is becoming worrisome, at a time when economic growth is expected to slow down after its above sub-sahara average of 4% in 2010.

Yet the dominant presence of the government in the financial market, does not seem to be abating, as government continues to sell Hundreds of Billions (Leones) of Treasury Bonds.

Using new debt to cover old debt is never considered as sound fiscal policy; not withstanding the impact that increased government borrowing is having on the ability of the private sector to grow the economy. At the end of 2010, government’s debt was estimated at over $800 Million – and growing.

On the one hand, commercial banks are being encouraged by the Central Bank to gulp down copious amounts of Government Treasury Bonds, while concurrently asking the banks to increase their capital base.

But it can be rather difficult to 'have your cake and eat it' at the same time, as the government is set to soon discover" - says our report.

How sustainable is the government's Agenda for Change?

> Read More



Free health care for people with disability: A plea to President Ernest Bai Koroma for a policy change

26 May 2011

His Excellency, while we are all receptive to government’s initiatives aimed at improving public health in Sierra Leone, I ask you most kindly to start thinking about the plight of people with disability.

People with disability are not at all disabled, they are only suffering from a disability, and their lives could, with no iota of doubt, be improved if they are also provided with free access to medical care. The quality of life lost as a result of a disability, can sometimes far outweigh that of the sick. People with disability do find it almost impossible to access healthcare because they are either, by diagnosis, physically or mentally compromised.

They are also not in gainful employment, which makes it impossible for them to afford proper medical attention. Indeed, this makes disability an issue of great significance for public policy, and deserves the bi-partisan cooperation of all political Parties in Sierra Leone.

Without free health care for people with disability, they are very likely to continue to suffer from their daily deplorable experiences, which will further worsen their quality of life and reduce their life expectancy. The issue of disability in Sierra Leone is very poignant, because there has never been a national health service that cares about the health and social care needs of those affected.

This situation is not only peculiar of Sierra Leone as a country, but also of many other developing countries - if not all, but most. Undoubtedly, the past brutal civil war has also negatively contributed to the burden of disability in the country. Most of us have seen or experienced some form of disability, as a result of the war.

A policy change is needed.

> Read More



President Koroma calls for national renewal as the country celebrates 50 years of self-rule

29 April 2011

"We must all come on board to push this country forward. We must all be contributors and monitors of our development. I am today conferring the title of Public Monitor on all Sierra Leoneans. It is the business of every Public Monitor to be interested in the implementation of public projects and contracts to ensure value for money.

Government shall soon introduce a Bill in Parliament setting out the framework for public monitoring.

Public monitoring will be aided by a government accountability portal TRANSPARENCY SIERRA LEONE through which citizens would monitor the implementation of public projects, and to ask questions on implementation.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, our people are mostly clear about what this country should become in the next fifty years; a developed democratic country that is a global example of inter-ethnic harmony, religious tolerance, gender equity, unity, freedom and justice. My government’s Agenda for Change is an action oriented interpretation of these aspirations.

To ensure that we continue the momentum, this generation must chart out the specific action oriented details of our aspirations for the next fifty years. It is in this light that we shall  be organizing the Sierra Leone Conference to map out the broad parameters of our actions for a New Sierra Leone."

> Read More



“Sierra Leone at 50 can feed itself if there is the political will to do so”

27 April 2011

Sierra Leoneans across the world today celebrate 50 years of independence from British colonial.

But sadly, as the celebrations unfold, many of the country’s citizens – over 50% will be going to bed hungry.

After 50 years of independence, if there is one single indicator as to the level of impoverishment and poor governance suffered by the people of Sierra Leone, it is the inability of the country to feed itself.

Successive governments of Sierra Leone have not only prioritised rice production since 1961, but have made substantial budgetary allocations, which sadly have yielded very little.

In 2007 a bag of rice, which fed a family of three for a month, cost Le60,000. Today that family has to pay a staggering Le135,000 for the same bag of rice.

The World Food Programme has embarked on a massive 'food for work' programme funded by the UN to combat hunger in Sierra Leone, since the end of the war in 2001.

How does one square up this grim reality with the fact that the government, through an appointed Quango, has in the last few months spent Le800 Million on fire works to celebrate 50 years of independence - a disgraceful decision that has brought so much debate and controversy?

> Read More



The ghosts of Bumbuna and Guma threatening 50 years independence celebrations

21 April 2011

The Guma Valley is fast drying out, with changes in the country’s weather patterns, and environmental degradation.

This is being exacerbated by water leaks from the old pipes buried under the city, many of which have been damaged by construction workers and criminals illegally tapping into the water grid.

Most households in Freetown have in the last twelve months experienced increasing shortage of pipe-borne water. The east of the city is worst affected.

The intermittent supply of electricity is adding further difficulty to the woes of residents across the city, putting great strain on their daily survival.

Many areas of Freetown have in the last six months experienced serious electricity outage, the frequency and coverage of which, are quite reminiscent of the pre-Koroma era.

'Kabba Tiger' - the popular domestic generator used by almost every household, has returned.

Residents living in the Kissy and Wellington suburbs are enduring acute electricity and water shortage. Some residents say that they have to go without essential supplies, for up to six days each week.

President Koroma had pledged to transform the image of the capital – Freetown, from that of "the darkest city on the planet", by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on fuel annually to keep the electricity power plants running.

> Read More


50th anniversary of independence  lacks  substance without Freedom of Information Bill

18 April 2011

In colonial times, few in Sierra Leone could utter the word - 'diamond', in a country that produced one of the largest stock of diamond in the world; not because of illiteracy, but out of fear.  

Today, Sierra Leoneans are incapacitated in many ways - economically, socially, and politically, by a government that seems afraid of people's power and their 'right to know'.

But the grim reality is that the development of Sierra Leone and the growth of the economy will remain stunted, for as long the government continues to deny the people their freedom of access to public information.  

What good is it for the governed – citizens, to be empowered only to legitimize the authority of the governor,  once in every five years,  if they cannot have access to public information, which tells them about the governor's performance?

There are serious doubts among the people of Sierra Leone, as to whether the nation has been able to cement the three grand principles upon which the country was founded: 'Unity, Freedom and Justice'.

And, the proposed Freedom of Information Act, would clearly have served to demonstrate to the people of Sierra Leone and the world at large, the extent to which 'Freedom' has been achieved, since gaining independence from colonial rule – 50 years ago.

> Read More


Investing in Africa's farms and its future

Ernest Harsch

16 April 2011

In 2009, according to the latest estimates of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Sierra Leone grew 784,000 tonnes of rice, well above the 550,000 tonnes needed for domestic consumption and a third higher than the previous five-year average.

The absence of war is one factor, since it allows farmers to tend their crops in peace. Rainfall, while erratic, has generally been sufficient as well.

But perhaps the most important element has been the government's enhanced support for agriculture.

In 2008 President Ernest Bai Koroma, who had just been elected the year before, declared that agriculture would be his administration's second highest development priority, after energy.

For Sierra Leone and the rest of Africa, this is a critical time. In early February the FAO reported that its food price index had increased for the seventh consecutive month.

Since most African countries do not produce enough food of their own, UN estimates, the continent spends about $33 Billion annually importing food.

> Read More



Sierra Leone - 50 Long Years

2 May 2011

"In January 2002, subsequent to the countrywide conclusion of the disarmament process in Sierra Leone, the brutal war came to an end.

Since 2002, Sierra Leone has managed to make considerable progress in re-establishing governance structures and sustaining the peace.

Freetown - the capital now appears to be normal and safe to travel around, and so it is for most areas of the country.

Although most people I interacted with in Sierra Leone are satisfied with the current APC government headed by Ernest Bai Koroma, yet beneath the semblance of peace, discontent seems to be growing among many young people, due to high rates of youth unemployment.

Moreover, with 53% of the country’s 2011 budget financed by grants, Sierra Leone is still largely dependent on international aid.

While many ex-child combatants that I interviewed in many parts of Sierra Leone, including Freetown, Makeni,   Kono and Moyamba were disgruntled with the official Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme,  there were also those who were satisfied with the DDR.

But most ex-combatants I interacted with at the Lumley car wash in Freetown, were disappointed with the DDR."

> Read More



Will the dark cloud of Ivory Coast cast its long shadow on Sierra Leone’s 2012 elections?

13 April 2011

Those claiming to be speaking on the behalf of the international community, and thus empowered to act as such, may not necessarily and at all times, represent the voice of common sense and justice. This was clearly evident in the case of Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone.

There are often, too many complex and disparate geo-political agendas at work, such as the ever present urge and temptation for former colonial powers to continue to exert their authority and control.

Sierra Leone's NEC Boss

Prior to the 2010 general elections in Ivory Coast, relationship between President Laurent Gbagbo and the French government had broken down irretrievably. Regime change was the only acceptable outcome for France, in what was fast becoming a political crisis in the making.

There was absolutely nothing Gbagbo could have done to prove to the world that the 2010 election results had been manipulated against his favour.

The country’s UN sponsored National Electoral Commission had declared Alhassan Ouattara winner of the highly controversial election run-off by a margin of 8%.

Circumstances leading up to the tragic events in Ivory Coast, are no different to Sierra Leone’s 2007 elections.

> Read More



Random Musing: ‘The last fig leaf of denial’

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

4 April 2011

In-fighting and internal intrigues are doing SLPP's bruised and battered image no justice, while eroding the chances of re-grouping for power.

The slow song of the ruling Party’s first term has started. Yet there appears to be no one to hold the hands of the SLPP, thus ensuring that it will not end up with tears rolling down its cheeks as the 2012 music pitches on the high note.

The challenge for the SLPP was to look like a 'must-have' designer outfit, rather than a tailor’s dummy. But instead, its members are busy waving their hands like a happy drunk at the start of a funeral.

Instead of making a headway on a landscape fit for a moonwalk, members of the party, still reeling from the self-inflicted sucker punch of 2007, have single-handedly and more than the surreptitious underplay and sponsored incursions of its rivals, ensured that the party is in no frame of electability, by putting its prime in the rear-view mirror.

> Read More



The end of  Sierra Leone's 150 years love affair with British Imperial Measurements

2 April 2011

Observers say that Sierra Leoneans have been caught by surprise, especially traders that have not been sensitized or assisted in developing their capacity and in putting new systems in place.

Most consumers too, will find the change daunting, as they try to work out the difference between a gallon and a litre of petrol.

There is little doubt that prices will go up immediately at the shops and markets, as the cost of fuel rise.

Inflation in Sierra Leone is currently running at more than 20%, and is likely to be exacerbated by this latest bombshell from the government.

But why, after more than 150 years of Sierra Leone’s 'love affair' with the imperial standard of measurement, has the government decided to cut loose?

And what effects would this change have on the country's economy?

> Read More



Finance Minister Samura counts the cost of Sierra Leone’s health care programme 

1 April 2011

"We are however faced with a number of binding constraints; one of which is what this panel is called upon to consider -  how to find more money for healthcare for all.

Domestic budgetary constraints have restrained our ability to achieve this objective.

Hence, many governments in Africa are forced to restrict themselves to providing only limited access, focusing on some of the most vulnerable – women and children.

This certainly, may be regarded as the most appropriate first step towards universal coverage, given the very high maternal and infant mortality rates.

Such a situation, even if adequately funded, which is obviously not the case, is untenable, as a sizable proportion of the population is left out; the youths, the physically charged, and the aged.

We are making substantial improvements in rebuilding the sector in post conflict period. Health facilities have been increased by over 30% since 2006."

> Read More



International Crisis Group calls for greater UN resolve as both Ouattara and Gbagbo strengthen their intransigence

28 March 2011

Ouattara’s excuse is that the AU’s appointee has a "personal relationship" with the beleaguered President of the Ivory Coast – Gbagbo.

But such relationships are not uncommon between heads of states and senior government officials, across the continent.

Many analysts now believe that Ouattara’s intransigence is seriously undermining all efforts by the international community to pull the country back from the brink, as the death toll mounts. The number of people killed in fierce fighting is now estimated at 500.

Ouattara is relying on segments of the international community that are in favour of military intervention, to shoot their way into the Ivory Coast’s Presidential palace, so as to bring about his coronation to the throne. But the price of military intervention will be costly to civilian lives.

Politics in Ivory Coast is not only demarcated by a north-south divide, but by tribal and religious sentiments, which makes the conflict all the more complex.

It is for this reason that proponents and advocates of the formation of a 'government of national unity' – including the African Union, are increasingly becoming impatient with both sides of the conflict.

> Read More



Sierra Leone’s opposition SLPP debunks government’s record on the economy and corruption

27 March 2011

"Today our nation is faced with prices increasing at an unacceptable level, which is intensely felt in every household, farm and business.

Even though the Bank of Sierra Leone met the minimum foreign currency reserve requirement, the excessive government spending exerted pressure on the exchange rate.

Hence the Leone depreciated from around Le3, 950 by the end of 2009 to around Le4, 350 by the end of December 2010.

The fulfilment of our reserves target was not due to increased foreign exchange raised by Government, but rather, reserves accumulated through budgetary support from DFID, EU and the World Bank.

Otherwise, the ruling APC Government would have missed out in achieving any of the laid down IMF criteria in the absence of such budgetary support.

There is hardly any week that the press does not unearth corrupt practices by senior officials in Government" - says John Benjamin.

> Read More



“There is a new scramble for African riches – its consumers” – says André-Michel Essoungou

24 March 2011

Across the continent, new deals involving major foreign corporations are becoming a common occurrence in industries previously considered unattractive.

Nestlé, the Swiss food giant, has announced plans to spend $1 billion by 2013, for acquisitions in various African countries.

This include investments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Angola.

Less than two years ago, Nestlé’s main competitor, France’s Danone, took full ownership of South Africa’s leader in fresh cultured dairy products, Clover.

Investments in African infrastructure, services and retail sales - development experts note, could have a very positive impact on African economies.

For a continent so long regarded by outside observers as "hopeless", the coming years are likely to bring more good news.

Having weathered the global recession better than most regions of the world, Africa’s growth rate is now second only to that of Asia.

> Read More



"We may forgive - but we must never forget"

Dr. Sama Banya – Freetown

23 March 2011

The assault from Liberia did not begin in Bomaru, but in a small village called Bandoma (meaning on the boundary) in the Kpombali section of Luawa chiefdom.

It was Christmas Eve, and most of the able bodied men and women had left for the weekly market day in the section headquarter town, Nyandehun.

It turned out that renegade soldiers of Charles Taylor’s army had entered the village and looted it of all available food stuff. No one was killed or injured.

The government of President Joseph Saidu Momoh sent relief supplies about a month later.

They therefore entered Bomaru to settle scores.

The first civilian to be caught in the cross-fire - Baindu John, is still alive and in Bomaru.

As stated earlier it was a sad day for the inhabitants of the village, but that day, March 23, was only the beginning for them and for the rest of the country.

Our President issued a stern warning to Charles Taylor and his government, that the Sierra Leone government viewed the unprovoked aggression with the utmost seriousness, threatening hot pursuit in the unlikelihood of a repetition.

What a vain threat it turned out to be, because when Charles Taylor’s Krahn soldiers finally launched their assault, Daru, our main garrison in the south-east, didn’t even have a single operational vehicle.

> Read More



Will the newly launched Youth Employment Support Project achieve its mission?

18 March 2011

"The strategic shift from employability to employment - oriented interventions, coupled with developing the area of matching the supply and demand for labour, were highly recognized as key for the sector by the new strategy."

"Another major strategic shift in the sector is to focus on stimulating economic development – including private sector development and local economic development – as a catalyst to creating the demand for jobs.

It is this strategic shift that this project and other on-going and planned interventions seek to address in a systematic and sustainable manner. As you can see, all these activities would require the appropriate institutional framework to coordinate the sector.

This is why my Government is taking steps to facilitate the operations of the National Youth Commission to take the lead in promoting coordination and harmonization in the youth development sector" - says President Koroma.

> Read More



Are Sierra Leonean diasporans returning home more corrupt than their home grown public sector counterparts?

9 March 2011

Diasporan returnees back then in the 1960s, were mostly doctors and lawyers entering medical and judicial practice, psychologically overwhelmed by the joys and challenges of the country’s achievement of independence.

Of course, there was the 1967 pre-election dirty tricks campaign, which was dominated by personal media attacks, waged by the Siaka Stevens’ APC propaganda machine, against his SLPP rivals in government. They were accusing the SLPP government of tribalism and mal-administration.

But fast forward to the 1970s, it seemed then, as though the art and science of CORRUPTION had been invented in Sierra Leone, with 'Professor' Siaka Stevens – the inventor himself - in charge of the loot.

> Read More



Sierra Leone’s Inflation Committee tells President Koroma to sort out the rising cost of goods himself

5 March 2011

Although it is not unusual, and indeed it is good practice, for heads of states to have regular discussions with industry leaders, so as to check the pulse of the economy, there are now doubts as to the level of trust and confidence President Koroma has, for those responsible for the running of key institutions of his government.


Since the government took office in 2007, the fact remains - overall inflationary trend has been going upwards.

The Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Trade and Industry, should be the eyes and ears of the President, rather than the three servants that: sees no evil – hears no evil – speaks no evil.

But, have they failed in looking after the economy or simply ran out of economic policy ideas?

> Read More



Sierra Leone’s National Revenue Authority: Does Parliament fully appreciate its functions?

2 March 2011

On the 11th February, 2011, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament brought forward a motion to withhold seventy-five percent of the NRA’s 2011 budgetary allocation, on the grounds that previous and current management of the Authority had not produced end of year accounts.

Notwithstanding the merits of this argument, it is rather surprising that the current Acting Commissioner General was not invited by the Parliamentary Finance Sub-committee, for investigations.

There are rumours of sabotage - ironically, not perpetrated by opposition Parliamentarians.

> Read More



"African Minerals’ $10M payment needs no fanfare"

Theophilus S. Gbenda

12 March 2011

It seems in recent months as if our newspapers and many of our journalists, who enjoy the payment they receive for printing African Minerals' propaganda and job adverts, would have us believe that he and his company - here to exploit our mineral wealth - are some kinds of 'Latter Day Saints'.

They are here to make profits, big as they possibly can. And make no mistake about it – they are anything but saints, and their business is anything but charity.

Take a look at Mr. Timis' very questionable reputation. Those who interview him say he uses obscenities in great number, and in London he is known as "The Gusher".

His previous forays into the oil business earned him headlines calling him a "rogue oil man".

London Evening Standard reported that in 2005, Timis claimed that Regal Petroleum, the London-based oil company he was running, had made a major find off Greece. In fact, the discovery proved to be commercially unviable.

Too late — investors who believed in Regal lost their shirts as the share price plunged. No problem, apparently, for Mr. Timis.

> Read More



"What happened to the missing 50th Independence celebrations' $1.6 Million?" – Vickie Remoe speaks out

24 February 2011

One month into the job at the end of October, five members of the committee - including the Chairman and Executive Secretary, had taken a 10 day trip to Nigeria to" learn from the Nigerian independence experience, and also to gather Sierra Leoneans in Lagos and Abuja to raise funds for the celebrations".

The committee spent close to $80,000 on plane tickets and per diem, but they came back penniless.

When they returned to Sierra Leone, the Chairman then proceeded to the United States, but was quick to admit upon his return, that the trip had been a failure.

> Read More


The Office of Diasporan Affairs unveils plans for – 'Sierra Leone at 50: The Peace Legacy'

Isata Kabia
Special Assistant - Diaspora Affairs

15 March 2011

The idea is to have an Olympic torch being run in each of our districts, 13 days prior to the 27th and then finishing in Freetown on the 27th of April.

The torch will be launched on April 15th. It will run for about 5 miles in each district, before being driven to the next district to be handed over, along with a gift from the preceding district.

The opening ceremony will occur at the city centre of the first town, with a gathering of district heads, chiefdom heads, and religious leaders, both Christians and Muslims.

We need to emphasize our success in religious tolerance, and make a greater effort in attaining the same for political and cultural tolerance.

The Olympic torch is therefore a perfect symbol for this event, as we consolidate our peace and build on national unity.

In light of the fact that we have limited resources, and time is against us for the Sierra Leone @ 50 celebrations, we have to dig deeper to get to the essence of what this means for our nation, to be more resourceful with ideas that will have a lasting impact, create a legacy without a burden on expenditure.

> Read More


Sierra Leone's Peoples Party (SLPP) in crisis - What crisis?

John Mannah

24 February 2011

SLPP came to power in 1996, when Sierra Leone was caught up in an internecine rebel imbroglio that took the lives of over fifty thousand of its citizens.

Yet the Party was able to dig very deep, used up the last arrow in its quiver to end the war.

It succeeded in restoring vigorous economic activity, with an unprecedented resurgence in economic growth at a rate of 7 percent per year.

This improvement in economic activity went a long way towards rebuilding the country’s infrastructure and improving living conditions of its people.

> Read More


Plans to rid the streets of Freetown of the mentally ill in preparation for the celebrations of 50 years of independence is morally wrong and strategically inept

Dr. Fawzia Thomas - UK

23 February 2011

This latest policy of ‘mental illness cleansing’ is reminiscent of government’s action in the early 1990s, when it was declared that Freetown should be cleansed of the mentally ill who were roaming the streets.


No one would disagree that the mentally ill who pose safety threats because of their violent disposition, must be taken off the streets, as a matter of policy. But it must be done as part of a comprehensive strategy to address the high incidence of mental illness in Sierra Leone.

> Read More


50 Years of Independence: What is there to celebrate?

26 February 2011

"Despite what the 50th Anniversary Committee is going through, there are important reasons to celebrate our Anniversary in style and fashion.


It is a Golden Jubilee and at this height, Sierra Leone is ready to undertake another step forward towards development."

> Read More



Why Should Sierra Leone’s 50th Independence Anniversary Celebrations be jeopardised by Corruption?

22 February 2011

In just few months of being established, entrusted with the responsibility of formulating a national plan of action and programme of celebrations, to mark the country’s 50th Independence anniversary, the management committee has been dogged by poor governance, skulduggery and mismanagement.

Media reports have suggested that the 50 years of independence celebrations management committee has not been able to account for at least $1.6 Million, donated by various donors in support of the independence celebrations.

But, as long as there are doubts in the minds of the public as to the selectivity of the President’s approach in tackling corruption, his attempts at sanitizing the corridors of power against corruption shall remain futile.

> Read More



According to information - Dr. Bu-Buakei Jabbi was to have received Le200 Million from APC to disrupt SLPP’s leadership election – says Dr. Sama Banya

17 February 2011

For some time now, Dr. Jabbie in spite of his credentials, has aroused the suspicion of most members of the Party that he was a mole planted by the ruling APC.

One of his colleague aspirants, had as much as, said that, even the learned Doctor’s 50 Million Leones had been paid by the APC, through the old/new convert to the APC - J. B. Dauda.

As an individual, I am very disturbed in my mind about the sincerity of Dr. Jabbie’s commitment to the SLPP, especially when the talk of money changing hands comes into the picture.

I have come to this conclusion with a heavy heart, as I am also aware of his involvement in some critical, legal battles on behalf of the Party.

> Read More


President Koroma Defends his Democratic Credentials and Values in Germany

15 February 2011

"Democracy is the best protector of the security of our people’s aspirations; it is the guarantee of their freedom; and protector against assaults on their dignity as human beings, endowed with fundamental civil, political and social rights."

"whilst we do not deny possibilities of a relapse into conflict; we strongly believe that our aspirations for peace and our actions for security, development and democracy are stronger.

We have had events and happenings that threaten the peace and security of our country. Some of these events are external, like the global food and financial crisis and the elections in Guinea; others are prompted by actors within the country."

"But my country’s post conflict history is a prime example of a people who have taken a stance against a relapse into conflict and repression; it is an illustration of a people’s commitment to democracy, and an account of a struggle for dignity, democracy and development."

President Koroma’s decision to choose 'democracy' as the main thrust of his speech delivered in Germany, is his strongest attempt, so far, in trying to set the record straight as to his democratic beliefs, values, and ideals.

But cynics and critics would no doubt argue, that there is a wide gulf existing between the President’s policy statements, and the actions of his  government in maintaining and promoting, those liberal democratic values, which so many had sacrificed their lives to build.


> Read More





The Evolution of Parliamentary Democracy: Moments in the history of Sierra Leone

14 February 2011

"Having inherited a weak economy and poor infrastructure, lawmakers passed legislation geared towards improving the economy and raising the living standards of citizens.

However, political debates became increasingly antagonistic and, by the early 1970s, cooperation between the majority and minority Parties in the House of Representatives had dwindled significantly."

"The next two decades saw a phenomenal rise in the powers and authority of the Presidency, while those of the legislature continued to decline, as Parliament was reduced to rubber stamping dictates from the executive branch.

In 1978, Parliament adopted a new Constitution, making Sierra Leone a One Party State, with the APC as the only legally recognized Party.

Few women opted for elective parliamentary office, due in part, to the extreme violence that characterized elections."

After fifty years of what can only be described as a disjointed, independent - self-rule, will the current ruling APC Party continue to nurture and preserve those liberal democratic values and heritage, for which so much sacrifice has been made by previous generations?

The future of Sierra Leone's liberal democracy hangs on a balance.

It is therefore incumbent upon all political Parties, including the ruling Party, to respect and uphold the rule of Law, and provide political space for plurality to evolve and mushroomed.

Sierra Leone's political landscape has changed markedly, since the collapse of the APC-PMDC coalition that was responsible for guaranteeing electoral victory for President Koroma's APC in 2007.

> Read More


SLPP’s Presidential Leadership Election: Let the Facts Speak for Themselves

Dr. John Mannah

11 February 2011

The SLPP is the hope of forward thinking, progressive and patriotic Sierra Leoneans. And the race for a place on the Party’s ticket is more democratic now, than it has ever been, throughout its history.

SLPP’s leadership election process will help immensely in preparing its candidate for the 2012 national elections. The winner of the Party leadership race, will be running against the sitting President, who has an advantage of incumbency.
When one compares this SLPP leadership election to the 2004 primaries of the Democratic Party in the United States, one can certainly draw some parallels.

As arduous and tough as it was, for the contestants of the Democratic Party’s primary race in 2004, it helped transform President Barack Obama from a junior, inexperienced one-term Senator to a seasoned politician, by the time he won the Democratic nomination.

The SLPP flagbearership contest will no doubt do the same for the candidate who will emerge as the winner on the 5th March. It is therefore an understatement to say that the on-going process to elect a Presidential flagbearer for the SLPP, on 5th March 2011, has added value to Sierra Leone’s multi-Party democracy.

It has enhanced our country’s fledgling democratic credentials immensely.
Members of the SLPP should be proud of that, and work hard to maintain their liberal democratic instincts, for the good of country and our people.

> Read More





Is President Koroma's Zero Tolerance for Corruption Unravelling?

2 February 2011

The President’s zero tolerance for corruption is being fully tested. There is a lot at stake, as the general elections slated for July 2012 draws closer; the outcome of which will be decided, based upon the government’s record in tackling corruption, rising unemployment and abject poverty.

News of corruption at the government’s national social security office (NASSIT), the attitudinal and behavioural change secretariat, the national revenue authority, the health ministry, the fisheries ministry, the lands ministry, and now the nation’s 50th Independence Celebrations Committee, does not make for good reading.

Sierra Leone’s radio airwaves have been cluttered in the last few weeks, with strong reactions against the planned $25 Million to be spent on the 50th Independence celebrations, for a country that cannot feed itself nor capable of looking after its sick. Many in the country have referred to the $25 Million budget as lop-sided economic thinking, at a time of extreme global financial austerity.

Poverty in Sierra Leone remains a grave concern for the country’s stability. Youth unemployment is not coming down. Mental illness among young people affected by the ten year long civil war continues to pose serious threats. These are the issues that ought to be preoccupying the minds of those in government, if they are seriously looking for legacy projects to be funded.

There are very few job opportunities in the country, yet corruption scandals in government departments and agencies, appear to be growing. The Anti-Corruption Commission is quite busy, painting a rather chequered canvass for itself, with which its performance will be judged.

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The consolidation of the Rule of Law in Sierra Leone had slowed down in 2010, sparking fears of the country heading backwards - says Human Rights Watch Report.

9 February 2011

Endemic public and private corruption has for decades undermined development, and was one of the major factors underpinning the 11-year armed conflict that ended in 2002.

High levels of unemployment, persistent weaknesses in the performance of the police and judiciary, and increased political tension in advance of the 2012 elections slowed the consolidation of the rule of law.

While President Koroma repeatedly admonished government officials to desist from corrupt practices, the May resignation of ACC Commissioner Abdul Tejan-Cole, reportedly over security concerns and government interference, and the ACC’s subsequent failure to investigate or indict several ruling party politicians, raised concerns that recent gains would be reversed.

Serious deficiencies in the judicial system persist, including extortion and bribe-taking by officials; insufficient numbers of judges, magistrates, and prosecuting attorneys; unprofessional conduct and absenteeism by court personnel; and inadequate remuneration for judiciary personnel. The police in Sierra Leone continue to engage in unprofessional and at times criminal behaviour.

There were persistent allegations of crime victims being required to pay for investigations and of police involvement in extortion, solicitation of bribes, and other criminal acts.

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SLPP Chairman - John Benjamin Strongly Condemns the Defection of Party Presidential Aspirant  to the Ruling APC

31 January 2011

"Ladies and Gentlemen, in the wake of one of our former flagbearer aspirant defecting to the ruling APC Party, we have been subjected to media reports that our Party should expect more defections from our ranks to that of APC."

"Let me say that as Party Leader, I will continue to have fullest confidence in every single member of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party until such time as that member decides to betray the cause. Media reports of defections do not discourage me, and I appeal to you not to be discouraged by such reports.

Sierra Leone’s multi-Party democracy needs to be sustained by all means possible. We cannot, I repeat, we cannot allow it to fail. Multi-Party democracy is the best form of Governance for Sierra Leone."

"The challenge to us is, in ensuring that in spite of all the difficulties we are facing, and in spite of all the intimidation and incentives being offered to SLPP members to jump ship, that we put our shoulders to the wheel, to ensure the continued existence of a Multi-Party Democratic State of Sierra Leone."

Many people defend those who seek to graze on lucrative pastures of the APC, as being on a mission to ‘serve the Nation’. This is untrue and should be scorned! They are on a selfish mission which will take this country back to the One-Party days at great detriment to the ordinary man.

Only a multi-Party democratic culture with distinct dichotomy between the two main political Parties can firmly embed democracy into our Nation."

"The ruling APC seems to be ready to stop at absolutely nothing to undermine the chances of the SLPP at the 2012 Elections. This includes, paying of SLPP members within our ranks, to act as moles and spies, transmitting sensitive information from within our ranks to the APC."

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"Why I Left The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)"

Professor Ritchard Tamba M’Bayo

29 January 2011

I have not asked for, nor have I received money from the APC, as an enticement to defect. I was not acting on anyone’s behalf but myself. And His Excellency has not promised me a job! We both are happy that we will be able to talk again about matters of policy affecting our country as we always did. But I assured him that whenever he needs me, I’ll be on the next flight back to my country. If this is a crime, I plead guilty!

An APC spy? No! If that were the case why would I post my campaign photos on my Facebook knowing that sooner or later, I’ll be defecting or I will be found out? They are still there. Spies don’t behave like that! They cover their trail, and any honest person desiring to know the whole truth about my recent action can follow that trail to find out if this was a deliberate act of deception.

Besides, I conducted my campaign in a more transparent manner than the SLPP conducts its business. I signed at least two petitions, together with other aspirants, protesting against some of the issues. But the leadership was not interested in openly dealing with such grievances. Our petitions were dismissed without any consideration.

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Cutting Through the Ivorian Impasse: "An ECOWAS Court For An ECOWAS Problem"

Rakwena Molefe
Pan African - New York, USA

24 January 2011

It is grossly illegitimate for France to call on Laurent Gbagbo to step down, and much worse - to set the date for  stepping down.


ECOWAS and the African Union were also wrong to have echoed France, or appearing to be echoing France.

Electoral disputes and conflicts will continue in West Africa and across the African continent. The duty of the African Union is to establish a Pan African Court; and to strengthen independent states and regional courts to be able to resolve electoral and all other disputes and conflicts peacefully.

Africa may use military force only in the last resort, so as to stop the torture and killings of innocent civilians, and to enforce the rulings of a Pan African Court.

The threat by ECOWAS and the African Union to invade and remove Laurent Gbagbo by military force, discounts collateral damage, especially the loss of innocent civilian lives, and the diversion of scarce resources needed by the West African countries to rebuild from civil wars.

The UN, ECOWAS and African Union cannot be regarded as impartial arbiters to the conflict in the Ivory Coast. Their stated bias for military intervention is a consequence of the absence of a Pan African Court.

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Higher Government Spending Could Leave Sierra Leone’s Economy Weaker in 2011

14 January 2011

The sustainability of the country’s growing debt is becoming worrisome, at a time when economic growth is expected to slow down after its above sub-sahara average of 4% in 2010.

Yet the dominant presence of the government in the financial market, does not seem to be abating, as government continues to sell Hundreds of Billions (Leones) of Treasury Bonds.

Using new debt to cover old debt is never considered as sound fiscal policy; not withstanding the impact that increased government borrowing is having on the ability of the private sector to grow the economy. At the end of 2010, government’s debt was estimated at over $800 Million – and growing.

On the one hand, commercial banks are being encouraged by the Central Bank to gulp down copious amounts of Government Treasury Bonds, whiles concurrently asking the banks to increase their capital base. But it can be rather difficult to 'have your cake and eat it' at the same time, as the government is set to soon discover.

According to the Chairman of the  Board of Directors of the Commercial Banks,  speaking at the Extraordinary General Stakeholders Meeting, held in Freetown in December 2010; "the increase in the capital base will allow for credit to be extended to more customers."

But there are sceptics, who believe that it is highly unlikely the banks would be able to double their capital base through the open market, when government is at the same time, offering 25% interest rate on Treasury Bonds, compare to commercial banks'   savings account rate of 1-2%.

So, how business friendly  is President Koroma’s Government?

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"The Irrationality of Replacing a Winning Horse in the Middle of an Epic Political Race"

Dr. John Mannah
Maryland, USA

18 January 2011

Fresh ideas that are needed for 21st century organizations to succeed and attract young people, were developed and implemented. The SLPP once again has become the place where leaders, policy makers, various stakeholders, foreign diplomats, everyday citizens and journalist could meet, discuss and articulate policies on the way forward for Sierra Leone.


I am talking about the innovative idea of the monthly press conference organized by the Party, coordinated and chaired by Chairman Benjamin. This novel idea and initiative, has not only won accolades for the SLPP, but has also won the admiration and respect of the international community.

We should use common sense and pragmatism to manage our affairs. Therefore, the focus of the leadership at this time is to garner all its resources, and utilize them towards the prospective flag bearer leadership conference, slated to make the most important decision of the Party for the next national political cycle - the general election of the presidential candidate in 2012.

We should not make the mistake of crowding out this most important event with an election of new national executive members for doctrinaire, dogmatic, and pedagogical reasons. The SLPP Constitution was designed to govern the party, through rules and regulations that cannot be deemed to be sacrosanct. The Party elders and leadership should do everything in their power, to make sure that this document is not used as a bulwark and sledgehammer to stifle the aspirations of the majority of the Party members.
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Sierra Leone’s National Revenue Authority: 2010 Tax Revenue Collection Performance Exceeds all Expectations

10 January 2011

With the start of 2011 already upon us, and the current uncertainty of the global recession, it is reasonable for Sierra Leoneans to expect further increases in inflation in 2011, largely driven by the removal of government subsidy on fuel, which started in November 2010; exchange rate fluctuations; and global market forces – especially oil price instability; and pressure on global finance.

But setting aside the political fallout and the impact of the GST on consumers, the performance of the country’s National Revenue Authority in achieving its tax collection targets in 2010, has been more than impressive.

When the IMF negotiated with the government of Sierra Leone and subsequently approved a new three year Extended Credit Facility of US$47.88 Million in July last year, in support of President Koroma’s economic development programme, there was no doubt as to what the aim was: "To raise economic growth in the medium-term by accelerating investments in infrastructure and social development." The IMF to this end "welcomed the government's plan to accelerate public investments in roads, water, and energy, but stressed the need to constrain non-priority spending and raise domestic tax collections."

While the three year extended credit facility of $47.88 Million is helping the government  plug its Le1.4 Trillion budget deficit for 2010, both the IMF and the government had pinned all hopes on the National Revenue Authority to step up and make good on its efforts to achieve its 2010 tax revenue collection target of Le930,494 Billion. If preliminary unofficial NRA figures that are still subject to confirmation by the Central Bank and the Accountant-General’s office are correct, then both the Board and senior management of the NRA have much to celebrate.

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West Africa’s “Three Wise Men” returns home empty handed as President Gbagbo refuses to Relinquish Power

4 January 2011

Laurent Gbagbo has been offered 'generous incentives' such as legal amnesty and safe passage to a 'friendly' country of his choice, in return for stepping down from Office.

But he remains steadfastly convinced that he had won the elections. Both the African Union and ECOWAS are running out of options. A spokesman for Laurent Gbagbo has called for the election results to be re-counted. The dispute centres on the polling results of the country’s Northern districts, which the President says have been rigged by the Opposition Party led by Alassane Ouattara.

Mr. Ouattara is just as defiant today as the incumbent President – both claiming victory and legitimacy. Ivory Coast – one of the richest countries in West Africa, is now dangerously polarised and divided into the Ouattara led Northern-Muslim half and Gbagbo’s Southern-Christian stronghold. Such polarisation is likely to make a military offensive - a major humanitarian disaster, with far reaching consequences for religious and ethnic cohesion.

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"Action Needs To Be Taken Now By All African Internet stakeholders To Increase The Deployment Of The Next Generation Of Internet Provider Identifier " - Says AfriNIC

Adiel Akplogan - Chief Executive Officer, AfriNIC

20 January 2011


With internet bandwidth becoming more widely available and less costly, ISPs and broadband providers need to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to support this unprecedented growth in Africa, and consequently the increasing need for more IP identifiers.

The global Internet is currently running on IP version four (IPv4). However, the remaining global supply of this resource is predicted to run out within the first quarter of 2011.

To ensure that devices can still connect to the Internet, the technical community developed a new version of the protocol, IP version six (IPv6) which provides a much larger pool of addresses. Adoption of the next generation of IP addresses is fundamental to continue to be able to connect new devices to the network, and protect the future growth of the fixed and mobile Internet in Africa.

AfriNIC is keen to emphasise, that whilst action needs to be taken by all African Internet stakeholders to increase IPv6 deployment, there is no need to panic as such. ISPs and other businesses must use the time available to plan for the next stage of Internet growth, and avoid rushed and potentially expensive deployment later on.

Only by adopting the new protocol now, can the region protect and maintain Internet access and a thriving ICT industry.

> Read More


President Koroma’s Diplomacy Skills and Tact Put to a Test by ECOWAS: What Lessons for Sierra Leone's 2012 Polls?

31 December 2010

President Koroma is amongst the West African chosen “Three Wise Men”, including Cape Verde’s Pedro Pires and Benin’s Yayi Boni, that flew to Ivory Coast this week to talk Gbagbo into stepping down, or face military confrontation with the West African military force - Ecomog.

But the outcome of the meeting with Gbagbo - not surprisingly, ended in deadlock, as Gbagbo refused to budge.

The “Three Wise Men” are expected to return to Ivory Coast on the 3rd January 2011, for what is scheduled to be the final meeting before Ecomog troops enters Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast is on the brink. But what lessons for Sierra Leone's 2012 polls?

President Koroma won the controversial 2007 general elections in Sierra Leone, after the opposition SLPP peacefully conceded defeat – thereby putting country above partisan political self-interest. This show of political maturity, magnanimity and respect for the rule of Law, is now paying huge dividends for the country’s fledgling democracy.

The international community is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to resuscitate the country’s ailing infrastructure, the economy and public institutions. Although it would be foolish to attempt to predict the likely outcome of Sierra Leone’s 2012 polls, what many independent observers are questioning, is the readiness with which the incumbent APC government would be prepared to relinquish power, should they find themselves on the losing side.

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Is Parliament rendering the Criminal and Seditious Libel Laws useless through the back door?

26 December 2010

The erroneous decision by Parliament to set aside the eligibility requirements of the 1991 Constitution and the 2002 judgement of the High Court, is now being shamelessly celebrated by those seeking to repeal the country’s draconian Criminal and Seditious Libel Laws, as victory for justice.

In the Christmas Day press release of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), its President – Umaru Fofana is quoted as saying:

"The fact that Mr. Kamara has been confirmed despite a criminal conviction barring eligibility to become a minister means our Parliament has shown character and modernity and respect for freedom of the press rendering the Law useless and out of tune with present-day reality and civility." To the contrary, what the country’s Parliament has done is to show its disregard for the rule of Law and the judiciary.

By setting aside the ruling of the High Court, Parliament has made a complete mockery of legal due process, and has bastardized the entire process of appointing and confirming government Ministers. Yes, the Public Order Act must be repealed, but not in this way.

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Policy and Ideological Discourse on Governance: "President Koroma needs to surround himself with competent people - not based on tribal, hegemonic and regional considerations -  but competence"

Dr. John Mannah
Maryland – USA

29 December 2010

What provoked my sensibility as an economist is where the author – Dr. Bankole Gibson - Assistant CEO of Cocorioko Newspaper stated:

"I found confusing your explanation of how the concept of oligopoly applies to the negligence of your Party to provide the staple food of the nation, Rice....Are you justifying SLPP’s inattention to the food crisis by stating that it is supposed to work that way?"

Adam Smith’s idea of the ideal society was one in which competition prevailed and the government allowed everyone to serve his or her self-interest with a minimum amount of interference from any central authority. when I made the statement that "this is how it is supposed to work", I was referring to the competitive market system that was the rubric of the SLPP economic policy of neoliberalism, and within it, you have the different types of markets.

The SLPP government therefore as a democratic government that respected the tenets of constitutional democracy and free enterprise economic system that goes with it, did not interfere in the market by selecting who should import rice, neither flour, nor any other commodity, but left it to the dictates of the market.

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The Sierra Leone National Revenue Authority: ‘A Workhorse for the common good or a Gravy Train for the Few?

17 December 2010

Investigations conducted by the Sierra Leone Telegraph shows that although the management of the NRA accepts that the sacked employees are predominantly from the south-east, according to an NRA spokesperson who pleads anonymity:

 “they were sacked due to irregularities discovered by the NRA Board and its Management.”

What is at stake in this case is the desperate need on the one hand to weed out corruption and theft; and on the other, to ensure that due process and fairness are seen to be done, transparently and openly, without any form of intimidation or discrimination – whether tribal or otherwise. That is the challenge for the NRA Board and its senior management.

But what prompted the Audit Investigations that led to the sacking of those employees, and are the sackings fair?

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The silliness of President Ernest Koroma’s Government: The ban on all musical activities is  illiberal, undemocratic and selfish – Part 1

6 January 2011

The Government’s decision it seems, is more a product of political timing than democratic reasoning. A political cocktail that started with the scolding of Emerson’s album, combined with the government sidling certain sections of the music industry and boosting the moral of those musicians who sing in support of government policy, no matter how damming such a policy may appear.

The government highlighted the recent youth violence in Freetown in support of its long running campaign to ban music activities altogether.

But banning the whole music industry because of a one-off episode of violent behaviour by a small minority is perverse. There clearly is an obvious cause for concern here, but not against the music industry. The government's decision to ban the whole music industry is not a wise option. If these youth are no longer able to engage in symbolic musical expressions of dissent, what other options are afforded to this group of misguided youth to support the cause they feel so passionately about?

The music industry provides youth with an opportunity to channel their anger and views on pertinent issues that concern them, as long as the chosen mode of expression is acceptable. The music industry has served as a brake to more radical, violent actions such as going back to the bush to fight. With this avenue now closed in the eyes of music fans, is there a real concern as to what path they will take?

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President Koroma’s New 2011/2012 Class of Ministers: Is this the High Performing Team that will help uplift Sierra Leone out of Poverty and Economic Stagnation?

8 December 2010

Early this year, President Koroma announced the audacious and unexpected sacking of the country's Chiefs of Defence and Police Force, in what was seen as a move aimed at countering accusations of harbouring corrupt 'sacred cows' in his government.

The sacking last Saturday, of the current Attorney General and Justice Minister – Serry Kamal from the 2011/2012 Class of ministers, has sent shock waves across the ruling APC Party.

Some analysts say that in getting rid of the Attorney General, President Koroma is clearing the deck of some of the old guards, whom he had regarded as one time adversaries a few years back, in a bitter legal battle for the Party leadership.

With unemployment running out of control, poverty levels worsening, inflation rising, and economic growth not expected to show significant signs of a recovery before 2012, President Koroma was truly expected to pull a rabbit out of his cabinet reshuffling hat.

But his announcement has left many feeling disappointed. The President has chosen to play it safe with his choice of ministers, especially those that are directly responsible for key ministries that should take the lead in promoting job creation, tackling poverty, and grow the economy.

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“Fallout from recent Cabinet reshuffle”

Dr. Sama Banya (Puawui)

14 December 2010

"Iscandari cannot understand his Excellency’s failure to appoint more members of the APC living in the Diaspora to ministerial positions.

He expresses equal disappointment at the President’s appointment of some members of the diplomatic corps, and criticizes the President for the latter’s failure to curb indiscipline and violence (referring to the recent violence against the SLPP in Kono), as well as his failure to curb corruption.

Others have criticized President Koroma for daring to nominate J.B.Dauda for a ministerial post in an APC government. It is anathema to them and if they had their way, they would reverse or annul the entire exercise. Well, they can still do so through their members of Parliament; after all they have a majority of members on the Selection Committee as well as on the floor of Parliament."

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President Koroma's Cabinet Reshuffle Continues to Ruffle Feathers

"On J.B. Dauda’s appointment" (Culled from PV)

Alieu Iscandari - USA

12 December 2010

"Mr. President, I wanted to see a report card about what these Ministers have done in the departments that they were in prior to their assignment to other Ministries."

Photo: Serial SLPP Defector - J.B.Dauda

"It seems to me that if a Minister is doing well in his present capacity, that there should be no reason to remove him or her from office."

"Why were the others removed from the Ministries that they served in?"

"Were they removed from the ministries because of incompetence, non-productivity or some other negative factors?"

"If so, why then are they being assigned to other ministries?"

"At the end of the day you will be judged not by whom you appointed to office; rather you will be judged by what you did while you are in office. So far your report card comments Mr. President are moving from the 'Excellent' comments that you had had to Needs Improvement."

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A Review of the Constitution of Sierra Leone: “the recognition and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual”

Mohamed Kunowah Kiellow - The Netherlands

6 December 2010

The legislative organ should use her constitutional power to enact laws that will protect the social and economic rights of the populace of Sierra Leone. Article 107 - sub-section 1 of the 1991 Constitution accords the right to a minister to initiate a bill in parliament - yet the social and economic situation of sierra Leoneans is declining every day.

Much heed is not being paid to the desperate position in which majority of sierra Leoneans find themselves. The ministers that are therefore heading ministries that are important to social and economic rights, should make use of their powers to introduce laws that will improve our social and economic lives.

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PPRC Investigative Report finds no evidence that APC attacked SLPP in Kono – but a democratically elected Government must be held Accountable

29 November 2010

"The back windscreen of the Jeep was largely covered with red cloth. This was in the full view of the public and the Sierra Leone Police. The vehicle was seen full of youth chanting provocative slogans. However, they were ordered by the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) to vacate the precincts of Fachima, but no arrests were made at that time" - Says the PPRC Report.

The Report further states that: "The PPRC staff saw unidentified youth on the rampage setting up road blocks at strategic road intersections and the Koidu City Centre. Youth were evidently seen molesting individuals they perceived to be supporters of the SLPP."

If this premeditated lawlessness cannot be construed as politically motivated, then the professionalism of the PPRC must be seriously called into question.

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"Usman Boie Kamara Is Confident of Winning 2012 Elections"

The UBK Campaign Team

24 November 2010

"He was ushered into the Hanger Town Mosque for Friday prayers, where he met with a cross section of Muslim leaders present. After which, UBK and his delegation led by scores of bike riders and cultural mask devils, toured the streets of Bo on foot.

Throughout the six miles procession, the jubilant crowd could not cease their singing and dancing before stopping for lunch at the Family Guest House. It was a struggle for UBK - making his way through the eagerly awaited crowd to listen to him, as he delivered a message of hope for the Party in the 2012 elections. The jam packed hall at the SLPP Southern Region office listened, as UBK shared his vision and message of victory, that will see SLPP bounce back to power come 2012."

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“Sierra Leone’s Finance Minister - Dr. Samura Kamara has been unable to help President Ernest Koroma achieve Financial Turn Around” – Says Dylan Sogie - Thomas

Dylan Sogie - Thomas (SEM Contributor)

22 November 2010

"Dr. Samura Kamara as Bank Governor and Financial Secretary was also unable to maintain financial stability by keeping the exchange rate stable and injecting liquidity into the banking system and unable to reduce inflation."



"He is unable to develop prudent policy responses that will help maintain macroeconomic and financial stability."

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Tony Blair welcomes Sierra Leone government's roll out of “agricultural business centres”

Culled from the Africa Governance Initiative News

19 November 2010

"President Koroma has proven that with a clear vision, strong leadership and a determined focus on key priorities, it is possible to achieve results. He has already done this with Free Healthcare, which has delivered a threefold increase in children under five receiving medical care compared to this time last year, and over a million mothers and children are expected to benefit from the initiative by the end of the year."

"He can now do the same for farmers with his focus on the Smallholder Commercialisation Programme, which has the potential to reach some half a million people over the next five years. I am very proud that my team and I are able to support President Koroma and his Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Sam Sesay” - says Tony Blair.

The Government of Sierra Leone’s Smallholder Commercialisation Programme, or “farm for business”, is a five-year, $403m programme that will increase the incomes and food security of smallholder farmers by enabling farmers to increase production, to process more of the crops that they grow, and to market their product more effectively.

> Read More

President Koroma’s Administration Slammed as Cabinet Reshuffle Draws Closer

19 November 2010

Despite the under-performance of two-thirds of his ministers, the President continues to allow political expediency and patronage, rather than good governance and economic prudence to overshadow his vision.

This is no way to run a country like a business. As Chief Executive Officer, the President must take full responsibility for the under-performance of his ministers, who have been left to their own devices for far too long.

"The Awoko surveys on the ministers are damning, shocking and disappointing, because if a cross section of the Western Area can’t even name 50% of their ministers, how can the rest of the country that doesn’t have full access to radio and television?" Asked Austin Thomas of Awoko News.

"It is quite clear that Ernest Koroma’s cabinet has not been performing to the people’s expectation."

> Read More


The Sierra Leone National Revenue Authority: Allegations of Improper Land Acquisition and Other Investments

17 November 2010

The government cannot borrow its way out of the recession to stimulate economic growth.

All eyes are now on the country’s National Revenue Authority (NRA) to plug the gaping structural deficit, which the Minister of Finance and Economic Development - Samura Kamara - told Parliament last Friday, will exceed Le300 Billion in 2011.

What is troubling are the series of newspaper reports recently published regarding allegations of financial mis-management and corruption in the NRA; also questioning the rationale that informs some of the high profile investment decisions made by the Acting Commissioner General – Ms. Haja Kallah kamara. Are these allegations malicious with intention to injure the reputation of the Acting Commissioner General; or is there cause for investigations by the Anti-Corruption Commission? 

> Read More


Sierra Leone’s Post-war Recovery Continues: But Could do Better in its ‘Ease of Doing Business’ Class

8 November 2010

According to the World Bank 'Doing Business 2011' Report, since 2005, 85% of the worlds’ economies have made it easier for entrepreneurs to establish and operate, through improved business regulations and institutional reforms.


Sierra Leone is classed amongst the thirty ‘most improved’ economies in the last five years, including; Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Senegal.

With respect to starting a business, Sierra Leone ranked 61 out of 183 nations; down three points on last year’s rankings.

In dealing with construction permits, the government of Sierra Leone has improved the process by five points to a ranking of 166.

> Read More



President Koroma’s Strategy for 2012 and Beyond: Investing for Sustained Economic growth?

29 October 2010

The President’s twenty-seven pages long statement delivered at the state opening of Parliament on Friday 8th October 2010 is regarded as the government’s road map for the next two years in preparation for the 2012 elections. But is it a clear and coherent strategy for economic growth and prosperity?

As the President emphasised: “My government is dedicating the coming years to the successful implementation of rolled out projects. We will intensify our efforts and build alliances for implementation. We will form stronger partnerships for completion of all projects.”

Sierra Leone’s economic policy is draped on a ten year Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) that keeps metamorphosing once in every five years. The current PRSP Mark 2 dubbed the ‘Agenda for Change’ has been described by the opposition as muddled-up, incoherent and an uncoordinated economic development framework.

> Read More


Unpicking the Efficacy of the Sierra Leone Government’s Road Construction Policy: “This is nothing other than State Bullying (natin pas advantage!)”

Paul Conton

4 November 2010

In its eagerness to gain credit for improving Freetown, the government has not hesitated to bulldoze the properties of honest, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens; while blithely ignoring the numerous illegal, unplanned and dangerous shanty towns that are springing up every day around the peninsula.

In serious road projects, environmental impact assessments and public consultations are mandatory.

Before embarking on a multi-million dollar four-lane highway that will affect the lives of millions, in one way or another over the next fifty years; feasibility studies including cost/benefit analysis, alternative route assessment, and safety assessment - are all very desirable.

If this had been a donor-funded project, all these and more, would have been done and competent consultants would have been employed. The project would not have seen the light of day in its present form. But this is a government-funded project in Africa.

> Read More

Britain’s Spending Review: What impact would Spending Cuts have on efforts to Promote Growth and Development in Sierra Leone?

22 October 2010

British government development aid to Sierra Leone will not be directly affected by the Spending Review. However, efforts to curb corruption and waste will be at the top of DFID’s programme management priorities, as political pressure from sections of British media mounts, for the UK’s Overseas Aid Budget to be cut.

Although British aid to Sierra Leone, which is estimated at an annual average of £60 Million will continue,  however, after factoring in the loss of remittance to Sierra Leone as a result of the impact of job cuts on UK Sierra Leoneans, the net loss to families and Sierra Leone’s GDP will surely be felt.


But, the UK Foreign Secretary - William Hague MP is quite resolute about  his coalition government spending review. This is what he had to say: "We have a strong base on which to build. With that in mind, we want to inject a new commercial focus into our relationship here in Sierra Leone. We are aware our two countries already enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship, as shown by the London investment conference in November 2009."

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The Wilkinson Road Widening Project: A Rejoinder

Kweku Fraser

4 November 2010

At that meeting of 2nd October 2010, the issue of compensation was raised by residents.

The SLRA and the Minister were very ambiguous about that, and instead appealed to property owners to see it as their contribution to national development.

When several participants protested, the officials became somewhat hostile and said that: “anyway the government has a right to acquire any property WITHOUT COMPENSATION if it wants.”

A number of lawyers in the audience disputed this. In the end the issue of compensation was not resolved.

The property owners also asked that they be given a timetable of when the work would start - since it was fait accompli anyway. They were promised as much.

But less than two weeks later the demolition began from the Madongo town end, apparently without notice that it was starting.

> More  


Fisheries Minister Found Guilty of Corruption – What Price Justice?

13 October 2010

What is unique about this case is that the accused was no ordinary minister of state. She is believed by many observers and supporters to have been amongst President Koroma’s top six senior members of the inner core of his All Peoples Congress Party.

Some members and supporters of the government say that the price of justice meted out to the minister yesterday at the High Court, is far too high for the ruling Party, especially the President’s bid for a second term at the 2012 polls.

But senior officials in the Party have long discounted this view, saying that it is a price worth paying, if the President’s policy of zero tolerance for corruption is to be taken seriously by the international community and the electorate.

No doubt, there are those who would say that this verdict will go a long way in  dispelling accusations that the President is allowing his ‘sacred cows’ to graze in his backyard, whiles offering his ‘scape goats’ to be slaughtered. 
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"Tsunami Defection to SLPP:  PMDC Holland is no More"

Ernest Smith – Holland

22 October 2010

The executive of this vibrant SLPP Chapter has been in serious talks with PMDC members in Holland, in order to persuade them to join the rank and file of the newly reformed SLPP. This laudable and giant move has yielded dividend.

Mr. Osman Kabba, another Key founder-member and former Financial Secretary of PMDC - Netherlands Chapter, has also declared for the SLPP. In his message to the gathering, Mr. Kabba manifested his frustration about the leadership style of Charles Margai and his lack of vision for Sierra Leone.

His declaration was followed by Mr. Lamin Sesay, a respectable Sierra Leonean gentleman in the Netherlands.
He started by telling the audience that he is a Northerner by birth, born in the Kambia District of Sierra Leone. He categorically told the gathering that the SLPP is not a Mende-man Party.

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The Mo Ibrahim 2010 Index and Governance in Sierra Leone: A Critical Response to Pro-Government Media Analysis and Interpretation


11 October 2010

Sierra Leone’s governance index as reflected in her safety and rule of law, human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development is by any standard mediocre.

In this framework, to think or insinuate that Sierra Leone doesn’t have especially bad policies considering how poor we are is evidence that bad policy is in fact a cause of our poverty.

We have to stop making fashionable excuses for self-inflicted injuries.

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Lifting of Sanctions:  A New Opportunity for Growth - Not Arms Proliferation

7 October 2010

Although the overwhelming majority of Sierra Leoneans welcome the UN decision, however, practical steps must be taken to ensure that the country does not find itself spending scarce resources, in re-building its military programme, as was the case in the 1970’s and early 1980s.

There should be no return to a militarised Sierra Leone. The people of Sierra Leone have suffered enough.

The country has just seven years ago, came out of one of the world’s most atrocious and brutal wars ever known.

So it is understandable that this UN decision is creating some uneasiness in a country that is struggling to combat poverty and joblessness amongst its youths.

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The John Ernest Leigh Campaign for the Leadership of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is alive and kicking

The John Leigh for President Campaign Team

2 October 2010

"We know Mr. Leigh as someone who tirelessly strives for whatever is best for our Party and our Country, regardless of the difficulties or the obstacles put in his way. He has always been with us in good as well as in difficult times, without ever leaving the Party."

"We witnessed Mr. Leigh during Sierra Leone’s long and brutal civil war in action across the USA - day and night, successfully striving by diplomatic means to reinstate the exiled legitimate government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and the SLPP controlled Parliament."

"We the founding members of the ‘John Ernest Leigh for President’ Campaign Committee wish to express our support, trust and faith in Mr. Ernest John Leigh to take our Party into the 2012 Presidential and general elections. We do hope that you too can place your trust and faith in him for the good of our country - Sierra Leone."

"Thank you. God bless you and God bless Sierra Leone!" 

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Another Chapter in Sierra Leone’s History Closes

1 October 2010

“Mindful of the United Nations efforts in assisting the Government to address the capacity challenges of the national electoral institutions, noting the potential for an increase in tensions during the preparation for and the period leading up to the 2012 elections in Sierra Leone, due to political, security, socio-economic and humanitarian challenges;

“Calling upon the Government and the international community to focus on fostering an environment that is conducive to the holding of free and fair elections by strengthening institutions that administer and oversee the electoral process and in so doing, contribute to the institutional development and continued stability of the country;

“Emphasizing the importance of the continued integrated support of the United Nations system and the international community for the long-term peace, security and development of Sierra Leone, particularly through strengthening the capacity of the Government of Sierra Leone."

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The Sierra Leone Debate: Search For Policy Solutions:

"President Ernest Koroma - APC and the Poverty of Economics"

Kawusu (A renowned contributor to the Bintumani On-line Forum)

4 October 2010

A country’s domestic investment is also greatly enhanced by domestic credit provided by the banking sector to the private sector. Appropriately, another cogent explanation for Sierra Leone’s deficiency in domestic investment can be found in the reluctance of the country’s domestic banks to engage in economic ventures that would boost domestic investment.

If banks are not extending credit, it becomes difficult for entrepreneurs to open new businesses or to invest in existing ones. But realistically, banks everywhere are profit maximizers and not philanthropic agents driven by a cause of altruism.

Since equating marginal revenue with marginal cost is the veritable bottom-line in profit maximization, Sierra Leone’s banks would fail if they indulge in extending risky loans to poor Sierra Leoneans earning rock bottom wages.

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The ‘Millennium Dollar’ Question: Three Years in Power – Three Months to Christmas Are we better off?

21 September 2010

After three years in power – the longest honeymoon for any elected government in Sierra Leone, the popularity of President Koroma’s government will be fully tested in the coming months, as the rainy season subsides, marking the end of the seasonal dint in consumer spending. The expected Christmas bonanza beckons but money supply is tight.

Consumer spending in the last quarter has been weak as prices of goods continue to rise. Public sector salaries and wages – a key barometer of the health of the economy, struggles to keep pace with the consumer prices index.

Private sector investment in key sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, fisheries and tourism, projected for the second half of 2010 is painfully slow in coming. A slight increase in economic growth, fuelled largely by public sector capital investments and mining infrastructure development has not translated into jobs.

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The ‘Millennium Dollar’ Question: Three Years in Power – Three Months to Christmas, are we better off?

President Koroma Speaks at the UN

23 September 2010

"The end of the civil war in 2002 left the state very weak and absent in many parts of the country. Economic and financial management was focussed largely on emergency and humanitarian activities."

"Economic and human development programmes were given relatively limited attention. Consequently, social indicators were worse than pre-war levels."

"Clearly, Sierra Leone was going in the wrong direction during the first decade of the MDG agenda."

"However, since my assumption of office in 2007, we have made considerable progress in consolidating peace and security. We have also focussed on consolidating democracy through the electoral process and by increasing transparency and accountability."

But, are we better off today?

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Three Years in Power: President Ernest Bai Koroma Speaks to the Nation

Press Secretariat - State House

18 September 2010

"The number of mothers and children dying in this country is more than almost all other countries in the world. This is unacceptable; we have to put a stop to this. We devised the National Health Sector Strategic Plan, setting out proper goals and implementation plans for the wellbeing of our people."

"We have initiated the Free Healthcare Initiative for Pregnant Women, Breast feeding mothers and children under five."

"Now the turn around is well underway in the health sector. There has been an increase of over 70% in institutional delivery since the launch of the free health care initiative; more women and children are accessing health services than ever before."

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SLPP Presidential Aspirant - Ambassador Ernest John Leigh - Says Thank You to All His Supporters, Friends and Well Wishers!!

"As you know, winning one's Party nomination is the most difficult stage, because that's where help is most needed, but where it can be scarcest." 

"Many people do not understand its significance. YOU have. For understanding and helping, I say: thank you, thank you, thank you!"

"In my careful opinion, I believe I have a greater than average chance of winning the leadership election.

So let us pray and hope that at the end of the election in March 2011, I will be declared the Presidential candidate for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP)."

"After all, I have travelled across the length and breath of Sierra Leone on more than ten occasions, and I am familiar with all the key players across the country, since I began campaigning at my own expense in September 2003."

"Thank you. God bless you and God bless Sierra Leone. One Country – One People!"

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In Defence of SLPP’s Record in Office – “We Shall not be Deterred” – Says Dr. Sama Banya

22 September 2010

"It is a record of which we are proud and which we shall continue to defend as often as critics make out that we did nothing during the period."


 "The Bo to Masiaka Road was close to the village commonly known as Konta Line which was only some 18 miles to Masiaka."

"Work had progressed as far as Torkeh on the Tombo to Lumley Road; the contract had initially been awarded to a contractor whose country had provided most of the funding for the project."

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The Sacking of Sierra Leone’s Military and Police Chiefs: Can Good Men become so bad so soon?

11 September 2010

Is it true that the performance review of the sacked officers conducted by the President show that the security chiefs were not up to the expected standards of leadership? If so were they issued with Presidential orders to improve their performance?

Simply announcing on State television that 'it had pleased His Excellency the President to sack the country’s Military Chief – Brigadier Alfred Claude Nelson Williams', who only a year ago was decorated with the award of 'Distinguished Star Alumnus of the National Defence College of Federal Republic of Nigeria', raises serious questions concerning national security.

The President is now hoping that with new leadership at the top of state security, he could begin to assert greater control over the running of the police and army. But is this far too simplistic an approach to solving what is otherwise seen as an institutionalised culture problem?

Can good men become so bad so soon?

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Indeed, President Ernest Koroma has the Potential of a “Constitutional” Dictator!

Mohamed Kunowah Kiellow

17 September 2010

By not taking any action against those corrupt ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Directors, managers and so on, he had violated the Constitution, to wit Section 5 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone  states that "the State shall take all steps to eradicate all corrupt practices and the abuse of power."

Furthermore, Section 13j obliges every citizen to render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order.

The president said that he had irrefutable evidence of corrupt practices in his government and yet he did nothing to forestall future corruption.

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"PMDC Holland - Party Strong man Defects to SLPP": How Long before the PMDC  Disintegrates?

16 September 2010

"it's time for PMDC and its leadership to face the reality and do the right thing. As from today I am no longer a member of the PMDC."

"Coming back home to the SLPP is the right thing to do. SLPP has the momentum, number and wisdom to unseat the APC and restore the proper democracy we once enjoyed" says Chernor Bah - founder member of PMDC Holland.

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An Emotional Moment for Sierra Leoneans as African Minerals’ Locomotive Engine Arrives in Freetown

6 September 2010

The arrival of the locomotive engine was an emotional moment for many Sierra Leoneans, as some observers aptly remarked: “who breaks it – fix it!”

This pun they say, refers to the current APC government’s role in concluding the mining agreement with African Minerals Ltd., which now sees the arrival of the first train engine in the country after the APC led government of President Siaka Stevens dismantled and sold the national rail network in the global market as scraps, 36 years ago.

Critics say it is therefore fitting for an APC led government to welcome the arrival of a rail transport that could once again serve the needs of the people.

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Dr. Kadi Sesay Steps up Her Leadership Campaign – “The Lady is not for Turning”

30 August 2010

“I have no doubt that I am the candidate to win in 2012 for SLPP. If I have any doubt, I would not have been in this race. I came in because I thought about the circumstances really well. I have analyzed my possibilities of winning. I have gone around the country meeting delegates from nearly all the districts in the country holding one and one meetings with them. My message is being received with an open hand.”

Dr. Sesay is taking much comfort in believing that her strongest weapon in her armoury is her track record in public life, most especially as minister in the previous SLPP government. Her supporters say that this experience in strategic governance has prepared her very well for the leadership of the  Party and also developed her potential to serve as President of Sierra Leone. But critics see her role in the previous SLPP Kabbah led government as central to what they regard as a poor economic performance record. They perceive this as the salvo that will not only torpedo her Party leadership campaign ship, but will provide President Koroma’s All People’s Congress (APC) Party with the ammunition that will run her 2012 Presidential campaign battleship aground.

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SLPP Presidential Aspirant Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara Addresses SLPP Chapters in the USA

Pres Release by the Usman Boie Kamara Campaign Team:

28 August 2010

"He challenged the Party to a new form of engagement and dialogue which emphasised the primacy of a bottom-up approach to decision-making as opposed to the much-maligned top-down approach."

"This, he maintained, will allow grassroots members to be at the centre of key decisions which will determine the upward trajectory of the Party rather than a few people at the top executive level."

"The mild-mannered, articulate and disciplined former civil servant - with an enviable and unblemished 30-year track record of working in all the four regions of Sierra Leone - launched his bid to be the Party’s flag-bearer in the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, with a five step plan which he believes will return the country to the ideals of the founding fathers of the SLPP."


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SLPP Party Chairman - John Benjamin Speaks out at the Party's Monthly Press Briefing

Press Statement (No.5):

31 August 2010

"We reiterate that the initial results of the seismic tests indicate that the potential for substantial oil reserves in the various identified exploratory blocks are very high. This, you would agree is a valuable national resource that must be held in trust, well planned, and well-managed.

The government therefore has an obligation to the people of Sierra Leone and to unborn generations to ensure that the hands of crooks, speculators, and exploitative operatives be kept off such a national treasure. The Sierra Leone People’s Party continues to consistently maintain that all acquisitions of interests in the petroleum sector must be done by public tender."

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African Finance Ministers and Governors Urge Immediate and Robust Replenishment of Funds to Aid the World’s Poorest Countries

Mohamed Sidie Sheriff, Freetown

24 August 2010 

Opening the Caucus, the President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, said “the fiscal and monetary stimulus provided by the advanced economies played a critical role in jump-starting the global economic recovery. But most advanced counties are now exiting from the stimulus packages and are resorting to fiscal consolidation.”

“At the same time, recent developments in the United States and some European countries show that global recovery remains fragile and uncertain. In this regard, it is important that the Bretton Woods Institution take note of the impact of these developments on our economies and provide appropriate financing instruments and other forms of assistance to ensure the continued financing of our development and poverty reduction efforts” – said President Koroma.

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A Defining Moment for Sierra Leone’s 2012 Presidential Election:

19 August 2010

SLPP Party leadership contender - Ambassador John Ernest Leigh - discusses his ideological values, vision, hopes and aspirations for a better and progressive Sierra Leone, with the Editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph.

"The key national problem confronting our society today is the absence of good governance, together with the problems this deplorable situation is inflicting on the body politic. The lack of sufficient personal incomes; limited employment opportunities for the bulk of the people of our country; and the lack of proper direction for our young ones - are unacceptable."

"The absence of foreign and domestic investments, and a clear lack of a coherent strategy that could facilitate the transfer and diffusion of new technology for industrial development, are hampering our economic growth."

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SLPP’s Presidential Candidate Elections: A Defining Moment  in  the 2012 Race for State House

18 August 2010

How politically strong and attractive does the SLPP opposition has to be, in order to regain control of State House in 2012?
There is little doubt that this is the crucial question that will be preoccupying the minds of the ordinary members and delegates of the Party in the coming months, as the leadership convention approaches.

The Party will need to reinvent itself following its defeat at the 2007 polls - a defeat that many in the Party blames on the shenanigans and machinations, which took place at the Party convention in Makeni, marking the beginning of a painful process of implosion. The rank and file members and delegates at the 2011 convention, will be looking to choose a leader who has a clear vision as to where they want the country to be in another 50 years, amongst progressive nations of the world.

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A Defining Moment for Sierra Leone’s 2012 Presidential Election: A Rejoinder

Dr. V. Labor

23 August 2010

I do not claim to hold all the solutions to our country's problems, but I often wonder whether our present system of democracy is right for us. Sierra Leone is at war - war against poverty, ignorance and disease. And in times of war, political parties put aside their differences and work together in the interest of the nation.

Maybe it's time we had a rethink about whether our present brand of democracy is the right one for us.


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“British High Commissioner Promises to promote SLIEPA”: But what are the Sierra Leonean Embassies Abroad Doing?

12 August 2010

This question is being raised especially at this crucial time, when the need for an ‘all hands on deck’ government policy approach to promoting and securing foreign direct investments into Sierra Leone has become all the more paramount.

Sierra Leone’s economy is expected to grow by less than 2% this year, with the resurgence in the country’s mining industry driving that ‘flicker’ of growth in Gross Domestic Product. But other sectors of the economy are seriously lagging behind, as investments in new start-ups and business expansion in the country remain sluggish.

Although very few may suggest that our foreign embassy staff sits on their hands all day doing nothing, most however, would like to know how many foreign direct investors each of our embassies succeed in getting to invest in Sierra Leone annually. 

Opponents of the government have criticised President Koroma’s Agenda for Change, for  lacking in vision and coherence, yet it cannot be faulted for providing the government itself with a sense of trajectory as to how it wants to improve the economic and social well-being of the country. But the commitment and effort of key ministries and departments, leaves a lot to be desired.

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Tackling Rising Youth Unemployment in Sierra Leone: The World Bank and World Food Programme Step up their investments

4 August 2010

Last week the World Bank announced its commitment to provide US$20 Million to Sierra Leone, 'in support of the government's short to medium term efforts aimed at building on the successes of existing youth employment programs in the country, through the Youth and Employment Support (YES) project.'

Taken at face value, this significant offer of support ought to be welcomed. But a closer look at the objective of this $20 Million funding, gives cause for serious concern. According to the World Bank, "The objective of the project is to increase access to short-term employment opportunities and improved employability of targeted youth."

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Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

20 August 2010

Just a generation ago, we were still playing host to African students at a citadel of education called Fourah Bay College while Connaught Hospital and its nurses could compete with any, wherever and a drop-out or jobless youth was ashamed of himself. Our West African Examinations Council (WAEC) results were also decent and we had records of students topping the whole west coast result.

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The British Conservative Party Blazing the Trail in Africa with the Help of its Umubano Volunteering Project?

14 August 2010

The story of Alexander Deane - Director of Big Brother Watch (UK)

"It is easy and perhaps sometimes tempting for travellers to exaggerate the dangers of the country they visited.

Certainly, traffic can be chaotic, health facilities outside of the capital - Freetown - scant and the electricity supply sporadic and unreliable everywhere.

But in both Freetown and in the country more generally one can travel and spend time as a visitor without tremendous problems (bearing in mind the relevant Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice of course)

Sierra Leone's problems aren't really threats to those there temporarily - they're crippling for those who live there."

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Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

9 August 2010

As a country, we face a crucial decision. We can continue to drift into the future or we can plan for a future whereby no one is holding us by the jugular. A country with a strong, diversified, sustainable and competitive economy that effectively harnesses the talents and energies of its people and responsibly exploits its natural resources to ensure a high standard of living for its citizens.

This dream is more important than anything else but it needs building systems that would enable us to spend our own resources to get better results in critical areas such as education, health care, governance and human development.

The government needs to drink from the pint of hindsight and realise that Salone’s future depends on the small businesses, the wealth-creating entrepreneurs, an efficient tax and regulatory environment that will encourage enterprise and check those ‘cowboy’ investors and nations eyeing our riches.

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The Need for a Comprehensive Public Procurement Strategy aimed at Developing Sierra Leone's Private Sector

19 July 2010

In 2009 the President said that ‘Procurement plans and competitive bidding have been established in 43 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, in conformity with the National Procurement Act of 2004.’ 

But those words have not been matched with action. The private sector continues to be marginalised, as foreign businesses strengthen their upper hand in the award of public procurement contracts worth almost $500 Million.

With the country’s GDP not expected to exceed growth of 4.8% in 2010, critics are questioning the government’s rationale in out-sourcing so much of the country’s productive capacity to foreign owned companies, when the people of Sierra Leone are being asked to put up with financial austerity measures that are seriously affecting their standards of living.

Sierra Leone can do a lot more for itself by growing its economy through the private sector. But this will require a change in mind-set of those in power. 

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Much remains to be done - Mr. President!

4 July 2010

If the World Bank has got $4 Million to spare the poor people of Sierra Leone, should that money not be better spent  funding the creation of a Fruit Canning Co-operative Enterprise, involving young farmers? This could directly create hundreds, if not thousands of jobs.

It could also stimulate the formation of a viable fruit farming, processing and packaging supply chain that would meet the needs of export markets.

Indeed it could be argued that the need for a Youth Commission in Sierra Leone today is superfluous to requirement, given the current status, democratic role and constitutional functions of the Civil Society Movement and opposition political parties, who collectively are invariably doing well in challenging government policy and performance in meeting the diverse aspirations of all groups in society.

There are those that would advocate for the formation of a Manpower Services Commission (MSC) in partnership with the private sector, instead of a Youth Commission.

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In accordance with the spirit and letter of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report: SLPP Chairman Says Sorry to the People of Sierra Leone

8 August 2010

In a speech marking the reopening of the newly refurbished head office of the opposition SLPP, in Freetown, Mr. John Oponjo Benjamin - the Chairman of the party said:

“Today on behalf of all our membership now and leadership at that time, I publicly apologise for any suffering encountered by the people of Sierra Leone in terms of violations and abuses of their right during the period of the war when the SLPP was in Governance.”

“More specifically as Leader of the SLPP, I want to acknowledge the harm suffered by Women and Girls during the conflict and on behalf of the SLPP, I want to unequivocally apologise to Women and Girls who suffered any act of violence during the 11 years of conflict.”

The party will now be hoping that this gesture of goodwill will go a long to assuage the highly inflamed and frenzied political atmosphere that has been created, following the suggestion by the government to establish a Commission of Enquiry that will examine the deaths of 29 government officials and citizens, who were held in the custody of the former NPRC regime, and others killed during President Kabbah's led SLPP term of  office .

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President Koroma takes one Giant Leap Forward to Assert the Credibility and Integrity of the Anti-Corruption Commission

23 July 2010

The success of the Anti-Corruption Commission in winning the war on corruption in Sierra Leone, which is estimated to be costing the nation Hundreds of Millions of Dollars, now rests on those broad shoulders of the newly appointed Czar -  Lawyer Joseph Kamara.

Should his track record and reputation at the International Criminal Court (ICC) squares up to his new role at the Anti-Corruption Commission, then Sierra Leone should have much to celebrate.

But of course, should Lawyer Kamara allow himself and his role to be politicised and marginalised, not only will posterity judge him rather harshly, his failure to deliver will be a massive blow to the hopes and dreams of millions of poor people in the country who go to bed hungry, because corrupt officials continue to take bread away from their plates.

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“Poverty – Field of Broken Dreams”

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

15 July 2010

Reports talk of considerable progress being made in key areas of the Poverty Reduction Strategy, which began in 2005 but all the economic theories of this world are mere jargons to the illiterates, the market women, traders and those whose lives do not reflect this claim.

As far as I am concerned, the correction of past shortcomings, though a welcome development is not an achievement but a positive progression. That progression now needs to translate into reality in the lives of the generality of the people through sustainable strategies and not more spin.

This age-long manipulation of the common psyche by the political class is what has led many into believing that any highlight of government’s inadequacies or demand for the fulfilment of the social contract with the people is an anti-government vuvuzela.

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Empowering the Youths in Sierra Leone: The President  of the Young Leader’s - Sierra Leone, Speaks out

1 August 2010

"Our colleagues in Sierra Leone continue to face major challenges. They suffer the most from unemployment; they sleep in the roughest of places; they face deliberate marginalisation; they suffer the worse form of poverty imaginable; they die young because of poor health facilities. We must cry out loud that this social injustice and social exclusion must stop! And it must stop now!

It is profoundly disappointing to see a young person who had spent 12 years in school, 10 years of extreme suffering during the civil war, 3 years acquiring higher education, and unemployed at the age of 30. This is the depressing reality for most of our brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone – it is no surprise some people in their forties are happy to call themselves youth. This is a total destruction of a human being.

There are many ways we can all work together with youth groups, policy-makers and other stakeholders to reverse the numerous problems faced by the youth in Sierra Leone."

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Much remains to be done – Mr. President!

A rejoinder (Courtesy of Bintumani On-line forum)

7 July 2010

Financial markets, especially stock markets, have grown considerably in developed and developing countries over the last two decades, and several factors have aided in their growth. Amongst them, are improved macro-economic fundamentals, such as monetary stability and higher economic growth.

General economic and specific capital market reforms, including privatization of state-owned enterprises, financial liberalization, and an improved institutional framework for investors, have encouraged capital markets development. It is market forces that channel investments to those who have the wherewithal and entrepreneurial spirit and know-how to invest, not the invisible hand of the government, like president Koroma is doing.

It is the market that selects winners and losers - not politicians, for parochial and selfish interests.

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"Response to Innuendos Directed at the Kadi Sesay Campaign in Respect of Certain Publications"

The Elect Kadi Sesay Team

22 July 2010

Over the past three months, Kadi Sesay has demonstrated a unique ability to attract new voters to SLPP because of people’s growing awareness of her sensitivity to the issues of our time and her proven capability to provide a better direction for the country. We are therefore not distracted by the publication but continue to keep our focus on our core platform as the gateway to the hearts and minds of Sierra Leoneans.

It is our position that the current leadership contest in SLPP has produced many extraordinary candidates many of whom would make a great President if given the chance. Our focus is to work with all aspirants and Party members to give this country the leadership it deserves. We strongly believe that at such a time when our country continues to suffer in silence, now is the time for the SLPP to come together and rise above bigotry in readiness for victory in 2012.

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Rebuilding Lives and Regenerating War torn Communities: Does Aid Work – Part 2

29 May 2010

The World Food Programme (WFP) is one of the humanitarian agencies that came to Sierra Leone, in response to the humanitarian disaster that unfolded in the aftermath of its ten year civil war in 2000/2001.

Its effort in co-coordinating and providing emergency food Aid across the country was quite remarkable. Ten years on, there are communities in Sierra Leone that continue to depend on food Aid, as part of a programme of support in addressing joblessness and poverty.

Notwithstanding the immense good that the 'food for work' programme offers, the question that many would ask is; does it reinforce and perpetuate the very culture of dependency that must be eradicated in order to tackle poverty?

The Sierra Leone Telegraph investigates.

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Rebuilding Lives and Regenerating War torn Communities: Does Aid Work? – Part 1

20 May 2010

No one will doubt the immense benefit that international Aid has provided for the people of Sierra Leone, and continues to do so. More than 60% of the country’s revenue is accounted for by international donor Aid, which pays for education, health, the administration of justice, law and order, the provision of clean water, governance, and economic reforms.

But despite the successes of donor Aid in Serra Leone, few will dispute the fact that poverty is increasing. The gap between the rich – who are very rich indeed, and those languishing at the bottom of the human development index, is widening. Something has to change.  

As the World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday launched its ‘Cash for Work Programme to assist Iraqis back on their feet, questions are being asked by Africans as to whether poor African countries recovering from war, like Iraq, could have benefitted from a similar programme, instead of food Aid.

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Rebuilding Lives and Regenerating War Torn Communities: Sierra Leone’s Finance Minister Welcomes the Return of Direct British Intervention in Governance

14 June 2010

“Generations after generations of kids are coming out of school or college with no prospect of a job, and so you can sense that the anger, the frustrations and the despair that fuelled so much of the conflict during the war, are all still in place,” says the BBC reporter.

Sulaiman Kamara – the son of a Paramount Chief in the northern province of Sierra Leone told Alan Little, “well I believe the British are our colonial masters, we have been together, are almost infused into each other now, so we don’t want that to break up.”

Although many in Sierra Leone may not disagree with Sulaiman Kamara, however, most would want to tread cautiously towards any strategy that would see the wholesale transfer of power back to London’s Whitehall, with the President of Sierra Leone playing a ceremonial role. Such a policy would be disastrous for both the UK and Sierra Leone.


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“A Cobweb: Our Youths, Our Dilemma, Our Future”

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

4 July 2010

The government might refuse to appreciate the devastating all-round consequences of the dilemma of our youths and it might continue to use statistics and platitudes in an attempt to get us to disbelieve the evidence of our own eyes; but stark analysis shatters any notion being bandied about. The facade of diligent planning that is being presented also suggests that the government is planning to fail diligently in coming up with genuine reforms for the transformation of current social deficiencies and the exploitation of our youths.

But if people are going to be beaming with smiles and ready to take the accolades when it finally goes right, they should appreciate that the buck also stops at their desks when things are not moving in the right direction or are not what they should be.

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Rebuilding Lives and Regenerating War Torn Communities: Is Sierra Leone’s Peace Dividend now at Risk?

8 June 2010

Ten years of peace and political stability in Sierra Leone have brought enormous social and economic dividend and rewards, for a people that deserve much more than just food handouts from the international community to survive.

For the people of Sierra Leone, coming to terms with the effects of the war has been painfully slow. But political tension appears to be returning. Politicians are once again ratcheting the temperature. Is this the beginning of the end of the peace?  

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“Let’s Get the Cobwebs Out of the Systems Please”

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

24 June 2010

There is no point rejoicing that Sierra Leone is out of the woods, because as we are now discovering, it is such equivocation that has set the mood of drift and inertia enveloping the nation. Also, there is something definitely and deeply disturbing about the contemptuous relish with which the government appears to be ignoring three core issues – the dilemma of our youths, the plight of the many and the state of the economy.

Yes, infrastructures have greatly improved from the ruins of yesteryears; but while the rest of the globe is on the cusp of tomorrow’s world, we are still trawling yesterday’s realm. The barometer of national vitality is frantically warming in the red zone. The new, much-vaunted Sierra Leone is still scarred by extreme poverty and high unemployment; by lack of basic facilities, political and social intolerance.

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" The Early Morning Dew Has Passed Away At Noon"

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

17 June 2010

And then just imagine this. Another twenty years or so and power has changed hands. What happens then if the new hungry hyenas then decide that the cocaine saga was a dent and the trial a sham with the wrong persons made scapegoats?

What happens if they decide that errors like the Income Electrix mismanagement; to which the present government has admitted its error in black and white, was not a mistake but a web of fraud by this same set of people today who are not afraid to tread where even angels fear to go?

This adamant step will come back one day to haunt those turning deaf ears to the voice of reason to let sleeping dogs lie and bygone be bygone. One of the easiest things to do in this world is to find excuses for whatever action or inaction that we take.

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SLPP’s State of the Nation Report to the UN Chief – Mr. Ban Ki Moon

17 June 2010

"Your Excellency, the Sierra Leone People’s Party considers the growing youth unemployment not only a human development issue but a high security risk.

Both Parties agreed in the Joint Communiqué to develop a bi-partisan approach to overcome youth unemployment and to work together in implementing various programmes that benefit Sierra Leone’s young men and women from an idle into a productive force of society.

We are looking forward to working with the Government and our development partners to fight mass youth unemployment.

We therefore call on the family of the United Nations to support the Government and people of Sierra Leone in tackling this issue with a view to providing sustainable livelihood support to the hundreds of thousands of our youths."

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Rebuilding Lives and Regenerating War torn Communities: Does Aid Work?

- A Point of View Culled from Sierra Leone’s Bintumani Forum

31 May 2010

A new vision is needed. One that rejects the old dependency and extraction model for one that is mutually beneficial and stimulating.

The new approach must seek to coordinate those various international Food Aid and Cash Investment Programs that currently operate independently, have limited effects and fail to blossom into something dynamic.

New partnerships should be created between public and private ventures, global and local forces, expanding micro-credit and education endeavours, and forging cooperative strategies among the various relief agencies.

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A New British Foreign and International Aid Policy: All about to Change at DFID

13 May 2010

The Liberal Democrats - Conservative Coalition marks the beginning of a new style of politics in Britain, based on co-operation, partnership, fairness and justice. The new International Development Minister – Andrew Mitchell is putting together a new team at DFID that will be responsible for implementing the government’s international Aid Policy.

The special relationship brokered between Tony Blair and President Koroma, which has shaped the country’s image both at home and abroad, will no longer have a part to play in the delivery and management of this new British government Foreign Aid Policy in Sierra Leone. The fight against corruption and efforts aimed at supporting the development of Sierra Leone, are about to take a new direction for the best.

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Dr. Sama Banya – Erudite and Veteran Politician: The President that Many Say Sierra Leone Never Had - Celebrates His 80th Birthday

11 June 2010

After the 1982 general elections I was given the portfolio of Internal Affairs. In June 1985 along with Dr. Abdulai Conteh I was thrown out of the cabinet for opposing a Private Member’s Bill to amend the constitution and allow the head of the Army to succeed President Siaka Stevens.

I was also thrown out of the Governing Council of the only recognized APC political party under the 1978 One Party constitution which I had supported honestly and with great enthusiasm. I immediately set up a thriving Private Practice in Freetown. In the general election of 1986 “I was prevented” from winning what everyone agreed was for me a safe seat.

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Beyond Parody: “Only Dead Fishes Go With the Flow”

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

9 June 2010

It has become obvious that some of those leading us are not only wetter than an august rain, but they have learnt nothing from our chequered history, especially the one that nearly ruined us and from which we are yet to recover.

I have always been a believer of the premise that victimisation of a social minority or the silent majority, is often engineered by those in power to distract from fundamental problems of political, economic and social inequities.

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Tackling Corruption is not a Game of Poker: The Anti-Corruption Czar Resigns

10 May 2010

Why would an ambitious, patriotic, professional and most legally capable young man chose to resign a challenging job as the Chief of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission?

Why should a young man be driven to such low ebb, where he is forced to put his personal welfare ahead of the need to bring culture change to his beloved nation?

The answers to these questions will never be known until Abdul Tejan Cole himself – the Chief of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission, firstly confirms that he has indeed resigned his job; and secondly issue a statement as to the reasons why he has chosen to pack his bags and call it a day at the Commission.

No matter the reasons; no matter the explanations, this is a sad moment for Sierra Leone that marks a defining hiatus in the country’s struggle between good and evil.

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British Labour Government Takes the Exit: The End of an Era and the beginning of a Political Marriage of Convenience

11 May 2010

Britain now has a new government – a Conservative Lib Dems Coalition; a new Prime Minister – David Cameron, with Nick Clegg serving as Deputy Prime Minister.

In normal times, this political chemistry may seem odd. But these are not normal times in British politics. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The voice and verdict of the British electorate was clear. They did not endorse David Cameron’s Conservative economic policy of retrenchment, promising huge and immediate cuts in public spending.

Although Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats performed quite badly at the elections, ironically it was they that the Conservatives had to turn to in search of a bedfellow, to form their coalition government.

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Sierra Leone’s Health Care System Overwhelmed as Demand for Free Health Care Exceeds Supply

3 May 2010

The international community and President Koroma have committed themselves to the delivery of a free access to health care programme that could benefit over 50% of the country’s population.

But It is now clear that for political expediency, they had thrown all caution to the wind, by setting aside the rigorous planning process that usually precede the development and delivery of such a huge national programme. The nation’s health service is now overwhelmed.

A new health crisis is beginning to emerge. Expectations have been raised far in excess of what the health infrastructure can deliver. There is no turning back now. It remains to be seen whether the programme can be sustained without the international community increasing their funding contributions.

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Accountability Alert – A New NGO in Pursuit of Greater Accountability in Sierra Leone

May 23, 2010

Our position at Accountability Alert (AA-SL) is that holding someone to account, means one must be accountable as well, a view shared by Burkhard Gnaerig, former director of Save the Children International: “Challenging business and government to be more accountable is a crucial part of our role. If we are to point the finger at others we need to be completely clean in our own back yard.”

AA-SL will consult with other actors, speak on the issues, and engage with the donor community. We would continue to ask our donors be a part of this initiative; for if the push to have greater accountability is to be won, the donors themselves must do much more to showcase their own accountability to the government and its citizenry. We would continue to seek partnership with institutions designed to champion governance, anti-corruption and accountability in Sierra Leone.

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Sierra Leone’s Commercial Banking Sector in Trouble: Is the Recession Deepening?

14 April 2010

The IMF cautioned that “the main challenge facing the authorities continues to be the creation of fiscal space to finance investment in basic infrastructure and implement structural reforms to promote higher sustainable private sector-led economic growth.”

Structural reforms aimed at promoting higher sustainable private sector led economic growth are yet to be implemented. Key ministries such as Lands and Planning are creating immense bottlenecks in the registration of land and property transactions.

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The 2012 Battle for Sierra Leone’s State House: The Real Politic

9 April 2010

In 2012, President Koroma will go to the people to request a renewal of his mandate to govern the country for a second term. And, should the opposition SLPP decide to elect Dr. Kadi Sesay as their Presidential candidate, she will challenge fellow Northerner - President Koroma, in the battle to win the hearts and minds of the people of Sierra Leone.

Dr. Sesay, a highly qualified and experienced former Trade Minister in the previous SLPP government, has officially declared her intention to stand, and has set out her vision for improving Sierra Leone’s economic prosperity and social justice for all.

But the question now is; can she convince the SLPP members that she is a Presidential asset with immense leadership qualities? 

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Economic Empowerment: Key to Consolidating the Peace in Sierra Leone

 31 March 2010

Ten years since the end of the war, no one can deny the positive results of the UN Peace Building Programme. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have been resettled; thousands of young ex-combatant men and women have been rehabilitated – although their mental trauma continues.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its Report – Some of the key recommendations are yet to be implemented. A series of successive, relatively free and fair elections have been held. The Anti-Corruption Commission has started to leash some of the ‘sacred cows’. This is peace building success.

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The Road to Freedom of Information is long and Rocky

10 March 2010

The idea that citizens have a right to know what their elected government and their departments are up to is one that many overzealous and unscrupulous officials in government sometimes find unsettling. They would do whatever it takes to prevent people from exercising what the rest of society would say, is a fundamental human right.

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49 Years of Independence and Freedom – “What is there to Celebrate?”

A Rejoinder by Abdul Kabba, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

6 May 2010

Dear Ms. Yvonne Atiba-Davies (PhD)

I read your comments in The Sierra Leone Telegraph and totally agree with most of what you say, and my question now is what we do about it? Sierra Leone has deteriorated since independence; our country is bankrupt and only survives on subsidies provided by the first world.

How do we emancipate ourselves from this abyss of poverty, degradation, squalor and despair? Who is responsible to do this, is it just the government or is it all of us supposed patriots of Sierra Leone?

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Sierra Leone Celebrates 49 Years of Independence

27 APRIL 1961 – 27 APRIL 2010

27 April 2010

Congratulations to the people of Sierra Leone on your 49th Independence Anniversary.

Happy Birthday to You Mama Salone and God Bless as Always!!

Wishing you a much brighter future!

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49 Years of Independence and Freedom – What is there to Celebrate?

30 April 2010

The people of Sierra Leone have just celebrated the country’s 49th independence anniversary – with street parties, lantern parade and civic functions highlighting the celebrations.

But the question of whether Sierra Leoneans should celebrate the country’s independence from colonial rule given the high levels of poverty and aid dependency; is one that has become a hot topic of debate at each anniversary, with emotions running high. Both sides of the debate feel quite passionate about their views and beliefs.

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Sierra Leone Needs a Comprehensive and Sustainable Energy Policy and Strategy

21 April 2010

Sierra Leone is in desperate need of a comprehensive energy policy and strategy that will meet the demands of the country’s industrial development and economic growth, as the global recession wanes. And there is plenty of evidence that the recession is slowly ebbing.

The Vice President – Alhaji Sam Sumana met with stakeholders including industry, parliamentarians, the international community and civil society groups on Wednesday 14th April 2010, to officially launch the ‘Sierra Leone National Energy Policy and Strategic Plan’. Expectations were high, but there were disappointments.

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Renewal of  Sierra Leone’s Social Housing Stock: The Case for Local Government Intervention

25 March 2010

The need for a national social housing renewal and rebuilding programme cannot be over-emphasized. It is now thirty years since the government of Sierra Leone embarked on a national low cost housing development scheme.

The 1970s social housing scheme was largely successful in meeting the needs of a fraction of the low income population in just a few of the major towns and cities. But it was highly politicised, and driven by corrupt officials, with the blessings of ministers. Lessons must be learnt.

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Sierra Leone Telegraph's Exclusive Report

British MP – Denis MacShane – Speaks to the Sierra Leone Telegraph about the alleged corruption of Sierra Leone's Ministers

13 March 2010

It was during question time in the British Parliament, which took place on 11 March 2010, that Denis MacShane MP, accused ministers in Sierra Leone of lining their pockets with British tax payers’ money sent to Sierra Leone for tackling poverty. Was his allegation true or false? The Sierra Leone Telegraph investigates.

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Sierra Leone’s Doctors and Nurses End Strike as President Yield to Pay Demands: Victory for Common Sense

29 March 2010

Health workers in Sierra Leone have decided to end their ten day strike, which was called in protest at low pay and poor working conditions. The president has acceded to their demands, in a late night deal to increase their pay by 500%.

The strike organiser - Dr Freddie Coker told BBC’s Umaru Fofannah, that doctors would now get a take home salary of $600 (£402) a month, up from $100 (£67). Health workers will also get a review of their housing and transportation allowance by the Health Commission.

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Is President Koroma’s Credibility on the Line as Striking Doctors Remain Defiant ?

27 March 2010

In  just  four weeks, the President will be launching a nationwide free access to health care for all pregnant and lactating mothers, the elderly and children under five – as a prelude to the country’s celebration of 50 years of independence. The British government is paying £34 Million towards the cost of this programme, with an additional £7 Million to pay for much needed drugs and medicines.

Did someone forget to factor into the programme costs – a fairer and equitable pay for those hard working doctors and nurses? 

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Allegations of Corrupt Ministers in Sierra Leone Continues to Reverberate at Westminster

17 March 2010

 “That hugely damaging statement was totally inaccurate and, moreover, the DFID office has just been subjected to a rigorous National Audit Office audit, which went very well. Will you advise me, Mr. Speaker, what means exist to enable Members to correct wholly inaccurate statements in the House, particularly that statement, which has unnecessarily damaged reputations and undermined the good work and offices of the presidential and DFID offices in Sierra Leone?” - asked the Honourable lady for Crosby.

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Crisis of Leadership in Sierra Leone: What Crisis?

21 March 2010

Citizens of Sanda will also have the chance to express their vote of confidence on President Koroma’s leadership, or show dissatisfaction with the President’s effort in eradicating poverty, illiteracy, poor health and unemployment, in what is regarded as the ruling party’s heartlands. But will they? Would the people of Sanda use this bye-election as a referendum on issues such as the President’s support for the Anti-Corruption Commission, which is now holding its APC ministers accountable?

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Breaking News: British Parliament

South Yorkshire MP questions the Parliamentary Chairman of The Public Accounts Commission about the  spending of British Tax Payers' money in Sierra Leone

11 March 2010

During Prime Minister’s question time in the British Parliament today – 11 March 2010; the South Yorkshire Labour MP expressed grave concern that British tax payers’ money sent to Sierra Leone is lining the pockets of corrupt ministers in Sierra Leone.

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Sierra Leone’s Crippling Underdevelopment: Spotlight on the British Government's Antidote
4 March 2010

The British Minister for International Development is quite resolute about preparations for Sierra Leone's 2012 general elections. He explained to the Editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph, that; “DFID is in the process of finalising a programme of support to ‘Deepening Democracy in Sierra Leone’, one of the aims of which is to support an inclusive, free and fair election process in the run-up to the 2012 elections.” This programme will run from 2010-2013.
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Tackling Corruption is not a Game of Poker
26 February 2010

Fighting corruption in Sierra Leone is everybody’s business, because for every $1 that is stolen from the public purse, approximately $10 is lost to the economy, as the country’s circular flow of income is asphyxiated by greedy, selfish and rogue individuals in society.
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President Koroma Blows the Whistle on Corruption Once Again: But Whats Different this Time?
23 February 2010

Yesterday, President Ernest Koroma ordered the immediate arrest of National Revenue Authority and Customs Officers that are suspected of facilitating the defrauding of the State by unscrupulous businessmen. “I have included in this meeting the Inspector General of Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Office of National Security to ensure that these instructions are carried out immediately and to the fullest. There should be no compromise and we will accept no apologies” - Said the tough talking President.
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Sierra Leone’s Public Sector: ‘Don’t Reform it, Re-create it.’
20 February 2010

Attempts by previous governments to reform and restructure the sector had failed, mainly because of politicization and the deep rooted culture of corruption embedded within its management structures. Hence, our view is that any strategy aimed at reforming the public sector now, that stops short of a radical ‘root and branch’ change, will not succeed.
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President Koroma Kick-starts His 2012 Elections Campaign: Is a Second term in the offing?
14 February 2010

As President Koroma kick-starts his 2012 elections campaign in the south-eastern region of the country – the political heartland and nerve centre of the opposition SLPP - both sides of the political spectrum are now beginning to raise the ante.

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Youth Unemployment in Sierra Leone: Battleground for the 2012 Elections?
8 February 2010

There has been a disconcerting rise since 2007, in the number of young people out of work in Sierra Leone. The global economic downturn and a lack of vision and commitment, to address the labour market needs of those completing or dropping out of the university, college and school system; have ensured that young people in Sierra Leone remain trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.     
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Sierra Leone – A Nation in Bewilderment: Will President Koroma Slaughter his Sacred Cows or Will He Look for Scapegoats?
3 February 2010

It was Tuesday, 26 January 2010. The President of the World Bank had arrived in Freetown for a brisk two-day fact finding and confidence building visit to Sierra Leone. The country’s President, who had no say in the Bank’s Chief itinerary, was not due to meet the Chief until the second and final day of the visit – Wednesday, 27 January.
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Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for Sierra Leone: Laying down the Foundation for Economic Growth?
28 January 2010

The Government of Sierra Leone in a press statement has announced the signing of an agreement, between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the American - owned
FIRST STEP Economic Opportunity Zone, Inc., to develop a fifty acre Special Economic Zone (SEZ) near Waterloo, Freetown.
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World Bank's Chief Zoellick In Town
23 January 2010

African leaders will be watching the P’s and Q’s of not only their economic policies, but their commitment to good governance, overcoming poverty, promoting peace, transparency, and above all - tackling corruption. The World Bank Group President - Robert B. Zoellick – will be in Town
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President Koroma Donates $100,000 to Haiti as Poverty Rises in Sierra Leone
21 January 2010

Sierra Leone is ranked as one of the three poorest nations in the world. But in the wake of a catastrophic earthquake, of epic proportion in Haiti and Sierra Leone’s massive budget deficit, President Koroma of Sierra Leone has somehow managed to find $100,000, which he has donated to the people of Haiti through the UN Office in Freetown.
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Sierra Leone’s Economic Prospects: Behind Every Dark Cloud there should be a Silver Lining
18 January 2010

The Global economic downturn and financial crisis has had a devastating impact on African countries generally and Sierra Leone is no exception. But some countries in Africa have been able to weather the storm far better than most.
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International Funding Donors Embroil in Local Politics: Who Pays the Piper calls the Tune
12 January 2010

Sierra Leone's International Funding Donors’ press statement published today in the Awareness Times, urging Sierra Leoneans to support the government's newly introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST), will no doubt add to the political furore that has been ignited in the country by the introduction of this unpopular Tax. Many in Sierra Leone are now left feeling perturbed, wondering about the role and function of the international Donor Agencies in the 21st Century.
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The New Goods and Services Tax Causing Chaos in Sierra Leone
9 January 2010

The introduction of the new 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST) has brought chaos to the shops and markets of Freetown, as rogue traders and shop keepers take advantage of a poorly implemented ‘stealth tax’ to raise prices far beyond the reach of the average Sierra Leonean who earns less than 50 US Cents a day.
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Sierra Leone’s Economic Performance – 2009 In Review: ‘Is there something to write home about?
5 January 2010

As Sierra Leoneans across the country look back on 2009, not only will they remember the devastating impact of the global economic downturn, but the government’s ‘seemingly’ lack of imagination in taking the necessary bold steps that could have cushioned the poorest in society against the effects of rising prices, food shortages, depleting foreign reserves, declining export and domestic tax revenues, and the depreciation of the Leone against the Dollar. 
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President Koroma’s resolution for 2010: Tackling the scourge of social discrimination in Sierra Leone
21 December 2009

“Well Momoh that concludes the interview for the position of Senior Clerical Officer. If you are successful we will contact you; otherwise you will not hear from us.”  That was the last Momoh heard from the interviewing panel. Momoh waited for over six months, hoping to receive the good news.  
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Northernisation – Southernisation
10 October 2009

The President’s speech at the state opening of Parliament last Friday, 8 October 2009, must have struck a chord for every Sierra Leonean and potential investor that has good intentions for the country.
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Two Years and Counting: What Does the Future Hold for President Koroma's Government?
18 September 2009

Much has been written and said about President Koroma’s first two years in office, but very little as to what is in store for his government and the people of Sierra Leone, as he starts counting down to the end of his first term in power. 
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More Power to Sierra Leone's Economy: 'Mind the Gaps'
23 June 2009

In its latest report, the World Bank is warning that “developing countries will be hit hard by falls in private investment.”  The Washington-based agency predicted nearly $1 trillion less in foreign investment this year than they did in 2007, leaving developing countries, such as Sierra Leone, hundreds of millions of dollars short of the money they need to finance their obligations.
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President Obama’s visit to Ghana leaves Sierra Leone out in the cold?
22 May 2009

The reactions of Sierra Leoneans to the White House announcement that President Obama will be visiting Ghana in July have been mixed. Those erring on the side of pragmatism and reasoning are quite satisfied that the President’s decision to stay away from Sierra Leone is obvious and to be expected.
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President Koroma signs new contracts with Ministers, as Tony Blair warns of tougher times ahead
15 May 2009

As Tony Blair basked in the hot sunny beaches of Freetown amidst cheering fishermen and hawkers, reporters were keen to clarify his role in developing the country’s economy, in particular his intentions for Sierra Leone’s ailing tourism industry.  
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Can President Koroma succeed in rebranding Sierra Leone’s image abroad?
5 May 2009

A major priority for President Koroma, as he embarks on a mission to rebrand the country’s image is to eradicate ‘Sierra Leone’s greatest shame’ – the inhumane settlements of Kroo Bay, Susan’s Bay and others languishing in filth, squalor, disease and degradation.

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Mama Salone Laments 48 Years of Freedom and Independence
30 April 2009

Doctor I am feeling so tired, all that celebrations and partying!! My back, my shoulders and all my joints are aching Doctor.  
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Billions of Leones borrowed by the APC government will haemorrhage Sierra Leone’s economy
18 April 2009

The President has laid down the gauntlet for his party officials, Ministers and supporters at the APC convention. But what is rather odd and striking about his speech, was the absence of any reference to his government’s real economic achievements.  
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New Private Sector Development Strategy Revealed as Poverty in Sierra Leone is Predicted to Continue into 2018
2 April 2009

Alas, after much procrastination and dithering by the government, President Koroma has finally announced his much awaited ‘Private Sector Strategy’.  
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