Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 August 2015
For truth sake – Let us stop the narrow-minded deception, because our rottenness is on the inside.
Sir, I did promise to get back to you. And because I have much to say, I am going straight to the point.
Those who have put loyalty to you, over and above objectivity and truth, are not only doing a disservice to you, but the country itself. And the end result is collective failure.
As has been noted, if a leader thinks he is the only person who can hold his nation together, then that leader has failed to truly build that nation.
Similarly, if any leader has to use more than forty percent of his power, he becomes a nuisance to the people.
Which is why with due respect and honesty of purpose, I am compelled to tell you that if you need a megaphone and a horde of media outlets to tell people you are popular, then perhaps, it is because you are not as popular as you are made to believe, especially among the dregs of the society who expect a selfless crusade that can bring about the most dramatic impact on the quality of their lives.
If you have to shout from the rooftop about your transformational provisions, after eight years in office, then maybe, just maybe, it is because they are invincible, or are seen as irrelevant by those who reside at the bottom of the unequal pyramid of our broken society and who had high hopes in the change phenomenon that brought you to power.
Leadership is one of the great pleasures of life, but, like all pleasures, it can become selfish and self-consuming. Which is why, I cannot understand how and why some of you – our leaders, often behave as if when you went to school, history was not a subject.
The current poverty stricken generation that you have failed to lift from the depth of despondency is what matters when your tenure ends – not the number of grovelling family members, friends, co-travellers and fiendish foreigners that have benefitted from your stay in office by sucking up to you. Ask Pa Shaki; ask Strasser!
I believe that you should remember just how lucky you and your lieutenants are, to hold your positions in trust for the people, who had no toleration for the last SLPP regime that fizzled out in its now famous internal bullring fight and scum-based bile.
What is obvious now, is that your government has been completely drained of air and is ready for flat-packing, having failed to reach the enviable heights you dangled as a carrot in 2007.
Despite some of the good things you have done so far, the reality is that Sierra Leone has continued to have a stunted growth because of your decision to run the country like a personal fiefdom, so much so that your lieutenants are no more than glorified assistants who cannot take initiatives without your endorsement.
Right now, you seem to have developed a deep culture of pretence and power, anchored on the retention of the values of our political past, as epitomised by Siaka Stevens. But, until we live change in our individual lives, change in our national life would only be a mirage.
Definitely, without the proof of change, which is the test of your agenda for prosperity and a genuine commitment, I am afraid that people like me would continue to raise the question of life’s ruthlessness under your administration.
Kudos for what you have done, but to whom much is given, much is expected
Most people I talk to are so emotionally fraught about the future of Sierra Leone, especially when uncomfortable truths are met with anger, disgust and denial by your government.
They just cannot fathom out why even when the glass ceiling of your much-tainted agendas are being shattered and you are no longer being sprinkled with stardust, you choose to persist in lofty thinking and proclamations alone.
You don’t have to be a psychologist to realise that there is at present a deep and genuine, but latent socio-political turmoil in our society, fuelled by the desire of your administration to be seen as the best thing since slice bread, but which is creating a wave of monumental indifference at a time that, what we need most, is a broad spectrum of introspection.
Unity is useful in any movement or society, for change to happen, but not if it comes at the cost of silencing necessary debate. What Sierra Leone expects from you now, is the type of leadership which can reach out to all wings and to all our already divisive society and provide national cohesion.
They are looking for a leader with an honest and unpretentious simplicity and willingness to carry everyone along in total humility and realisation that, your position is not a primitive trace, or gritty depiction of Hitler; neither is it a licence to zoom from bust to boom at the expense of all others – ‘so help me God’.
The blah, blah, blah and yadda, yadda, yadda of your party doing a marvellous job, is just hot air. Without unity of purpose from every segment of the political divide – including those you are currently overlooking on the lower rung of the ladder, we will continue to go round in circles.
If you don’t believe that, you only need to cast a glance back at the early stage of Ebola and realise that when you introduced political undertones, the effort at getting a grip failed abysmally, until it became a national issue accepted as such by everyone.
Similarly, I hope you and your government have learnt from your unwillingness to accept the promptings, advice and outright warnings of a number of well-meaning Sierra Leoneans who raised the alarm long before the arrival of the Ebola epidemic, but whom you totally ignored, preferring instead to rely on foreign opinions alone. It was an indication of the contempt with which you hold everyone else and a message that ‘thou alone at holy and powerful’.
It is good to dream and dare the people to do likewise, but it isn’t going to get us anywhere without genuine realisation that, to move that vision from the to-do list to where it would make a realistic difference in the national ethos, requires the wills of both the leaders and the led.
While I believe that your goal may be to instil hope, the hair on the back of my neck rises and my spirit sinks, as I realise that there is a ring of truth to, and a sublime irony in the fact that, not only is the government utterly divorced from the common man, but there is also no genuine sense of social compassion; nor is there a keen eye for the generality of the people’s very fundamental everyday needs. To you, the loftier the dream, the more attractive it sounds.
I am afraid that your government’s insistence that it has a miracle cure for all our woes is deceitful and unhelpful. Such deception is also one of the reasons we are where we are. You need help. We need help. You need the people of Sierra Leone.
You cannot and will not be able to transform our very depth of depravity, until the ardent and blinkered desire, associated with the visions and values that prop the relic of our governance, are exterminated.
Let’s face the truth Sir, there is no way you can transform the lives of the ordinary citizens into a prosperous one in the next two years.
It is impossible to achieve what you failed to do in eight years, within twenty four months, even if the rest of the world stands still and pour enough resources into our battered nation and your lieutenants don’t dip their hands into our till.
But Sir, that is exactly what Sierra Leone needs to come out of the abyss where it has lain for a while. And that is why post Ebola is crucial and another opportunity for you to correct the anomalies prevalent in your governance so far.
It is why I am writing this and later a final letter to you.
Ever since the initial optimistic strides of the earliest years of your administration, everything thereafter have been a deep disappointment, except in the rose-tinted imagination of your party, supporters and sympathisers.
Sincerely speaking sir, it has been a betrayal and a decline, so much so that the cloak of apathy enveloping the generality of the down-trodden was easily torn down by the incursion of Ebola.
Sir, do you see, hear or feel the pain behind the silence of the helpless majority who have become the wretched of the earth, simply because your government is busy dancing the night away with venomous guile, feints and shimmies, to the tune from your party’s old vinyl record which appears stuck in its groove.
Mr. President Sir, if you feel an avalanche of attacks from the four corners of the nation and beyond, it is simply because the prevalent widespread poverty and social instability that is the source of misery in the land that we love, our Sierra Leone, provoke the merest of public concern from those who think that the unspeakable indignity of the down-trodden ought to traumatise the conscience of any cultured and caring leader and government.
I had to cut off my last letter, due to the cry of some of your disadvantaged ‘subjects’, whose legs are tied with the chain of poverty to prevent them from even catching some of the falling crumbs of the ruling elite.
I am talking about a vast population of our people forced to give up hope of a stable, better future and who have resigned themselves to a lifetime of excruciating poverty.
To them, a new airport will not put food in their stomach or money in their pockets – I mean the commoners below, to whom the silence from your government about their plight is deafening.
They are the ones who dot most corners of our Ebola-ravaged towns, cities and villages. The ones who saw their loved ones dumped unsympathetically in unmarked graves, with tears.
They are the ones who have been sitting outside the corridors of our commonwealth, seeing their shattered hopes trudging past them and down the hall to where our leaders, with heart of darkness, reside.
They are the slaves of the charming hypnotism of the last eight years, who smell the fear as they wonder whether their ten thousand Leones, or the manna from their ‘benefactors’ abroad can feed the family, if the Lord tarries, or buy the drugs prescribed by our glorified consulting clinics if and when they fall ill.
They claim that the utopian idealism that is sold to them is without value-added expediency. That it is nothing but a spout of insincerity, meant to make the government remain popular; that it is a rickety, deceitful process and pronouncements that are crippled by corruption, which can be compared to a conveyor belt of injustice in the howling, featureless wilderness of their existence.
Chucked on to the rubbish heap, where nobody is blowing any siren of deliverance for them, they have seen so many false dawns of change. Worse still, the ever-increasing flood of misleading headlines and tragi-comical irrelevancies, which proclaims that prosperity is in the pipeline, has left them furious and helpless.
The thunderstorm of ‘greatness and economic boom’ perpetually parroted by your administration is like a pit bull with charm to their vision.
But, just a bit of digression sir to buttress my point. With all the emotional, political speeches on agenda for change and prosperity that your administration has turned into music since it took office, do you realise that not once has there been a declaration and implementation of a deliberate low cost housing project to rid our cities of eye sores – like Kroo Bay, so as to resettle those in sub-human conditions?
Aside the crumbs of the few buses (tainted by graft) and some subsidies that are a rod for our back in the future, are you aware sir, that there is absolutely nothing that your administration can claim to have done or provided as a long-term direct palliative for the dregs of the society – the likes of those who, come rain or sun, are shepherded to mob you wherever you go?
Absolutely no crumbs distributed to them in the form of stomach infrastructure, except the few Leones you throw at them.
I am sorry if I sound a bit bullish in what I know must be seen as unfair criticism. But I believe that it amounts to a joke, drier than the Sahara on a dry day, when your administration, which has not been able to come up with a comprehensive solution to the dilemma of our youths, now continue to lead the people down the road of Fantasy Avenue in Prosperity Town.
So in our own case these days, it is the more you look, the less you see. And with Ebola throwing a spanner in the works, it is a long tale of woes.
If this is seen as an affront, it is imperative that you realise that it is the future of Sierra Leone we are talking about. It is the lives of the many which continues to be in jeopardy.
To you, your party, ministers and sympathisers, I say that we need to look ourselves in the eyes and get rid of our hypocrisy, selfishness and deception.
The rottenness is in us and those of you, who lead us, wearing the cloak of service, respectability and determination, and this is why your government is irrevocably stained by the great paradoxes of our society – because of the same phoney sense of perspective of those you are now trying to reform.
A lot rests on the leadership. People take their cue from the leadership, its body language, the matching of its utterances with its actions – its transparency. They are tired of those whose known assets before going into politics astronomically multiply while in office; as well as those officials trusted with the responsibility of building the infrastructures that will enable the society grow, but who are now basking in the sunshine of abundant riches.
Even those much vaunted areas that your government promotes home and away, are now being shown to be nothing more than propaganda stunts.
We still have no power despite all the amounts that have been burnt in the purported attempt to provide light for our people. Our economy is in shambles, although you speak to the contrary.
But the truth is out there. Try and find it, because the die is cast.
The people have had enough, as the majority truly yearns for a country that is well run; an economy that is structured and buoyant and not one that is reliant on the dictate of foreigners or their pennies.
They want a judiciary that the ordinary man can repose faith in; they are looking for institutions that are structured, disciplined, and patriotic, and which meet their expectations.
They want a non-partisan police force that will maintain law and order, without fear or favour and which is not breathing from the pockets of the ruling elite. Those down the rung of the ladder don’t want a nation doomed to remain backward, undisciplined, unproductive, and corrupt for life. No Sir, that is not their desire.
The lesson then is that there is no virtue in heartlessly crushing the hope of the innocent citizens, by making promises that sound convincing, but which, there is no hope in hell of becoming reality in the nearest future.
We have to do things differently. Government cannot continue to be complacent about, as well as promote social and political evils, and expect progress. It is against logic