Mr President – fix what is wrong in Sierra Leone and everything else will fall into place

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 August 2016

President Koroma welcomed Fly salone

‘Any masquerade that fails to respect its limits will have its veil removed.’ This unvarnished truth is now coming out more forcefully in Sierra Leone, as depicted by the socio-political inanities of the country today, where life is not what it used to be.

I mean – how funny can it get, when a responsible administration celebrates receiving donor funds from foreign bodies and organisations after eight years in office, despite all the resources at its disposal, as an achievement?

Our leaders are taking serious amount of loans left and right, that the country will have to pay back. Yet the same funds are being misappropriated.

Agreed the global economy is wobbly, but becoming a beggar nation is definitely not something to be proud of and I stand to be corrected. Thriving economy doesn’t just happen. Mobilising the economic agents (citizens) is crucial.

salone poverty2The gaping chasm between the aspirations of the masses and the ambitions of politicians is reaching a powder-keg level, and is the reason why today there’s a great big hole where smiles used to be on the faces of the people and a silence where belly-laughs once rang from the mouths of a contented populace.

To a large extent, there has been a disconnect between our ‘leaders’ and the ‘led’. The connect had switched to money, which is why there’s a lot of negative weighed-down emotions in the country.

Our prevailing realities show a pathetic decline in rational commitment to resolving our inherent problem which has been left to become a calamity. Our governance like any other tectonic imperative shows no distinction and lacks critical thinking, which is why it contributes little to society.

As a result, no matter how strong our rhetoric is on change and development, there will be no guaranteed delivery, until our systems and institutions are revamped and positioned for twenty-first century realities.

After the decrepit abyss which a once-prosperous nation was flung into by some insensible ‘rulers’, now, comes slowly, the naked truth: We are in a deep rot. And only we can save ourselves. And that’s by nonpartisan thinking and action.

If Sierra Leone doesn’t kill hypocrisy, hypocrisy will kill Sierra Leone. If it looks like a downward spiral, smells like one and feels like one, surely it must be one. We’re really up shit creek with not a paddle. If Sierra Leone were a hard disk, no antivirus made by man can help it! We’ll need an acid cleaning.

President koroma and victor foh at APC conference 30 april 2015Our political class is our problem. Ditto our penchant for pretending that black is white.

Our ethno-religious divide is our problem; corruption across board is a problem, as is a largely polarised and illiterate populace.

Widespread deceit in every facet of our society haunts us as a nagging issue while our distorted political system, the demonic judiciary in conjunction with a clueless legislature and an overbearing executive have become national predicament.

What of our dysfunctional educational system and murderous health services, or our hapless fourth estate of the realm and our puppet police force and timid populace. In fact ‘we’ the people of Sierra Leone are the dilemma of Sierra Leone.

Change cannot and should not be aesthetic; it needs to be comprehensive and must address the root causes of the nation’s problems. Therein lies one of the reasons behind our laborious climb up the mountain of development.

Our affliction which has been stricken by psychotic kleptomania, if there’s anything like that in the psychiatrist’s lexicon, is the result of the serial and continual disinvestment and non-development of the huge population, under the age of forty in the last three decades or so.

The question now then is how do we repair the opportunity cost before the social cost overwhelms us? Where do we get the capacity that we failed to build to repair the incapacity we unleashed?

To be honest, one is getting apprehensive because I know that this is why the world will not take us seriously until we begin to develop.

Yet it appears we are incapable of the dialogue required to talk ourselves out of this ever-deepening quicksand we are jollifying in. God help us.

State House - FreetownThe present generation of young men and women prefer to “go to sleep” in the hope that when the soup is cooked, the aroma will wake them up and they too can begin to ecstatically trod the narrow path of wealth accumulation being pursued by greedy decadents of our ruinous past, whose descendants are now in the corridors of power or clamouring to get there.

Meanwhile, all that the people are asking for is the prospect of making their own lives and those of their children, progressively better. Yet, in today’s harsh conditions, none of these are on offer.

Instead, what we have is a famished populace scrambling for contaminated food just to satisfy its hunger and yet being lambasted for its plight by those who drove them to such a degrading level; and a minister telling the nation that the ruling party’s salvation for the country is fifty light years away.

Our talents are often overwhelmed and frustrated by defective systems and institutions, as evident in the current imbroglio whereby one of the very few professors left in the country, is being hounded out of a cesspit of illiteracy, amidst an educational system that even cavemen would reject.

The first step was bastardising the educational system. Yet, long before we slipped from a highly meritocratic society into this cesspool of corruption and mediocrity, our Fourah Bay College was a highly regarded citadel with real educational titans and an attractive foreign exchange earner.

Our democracy is also in double jeopardy, because of a breakdown of trust in the social contract.

APC SUPPORTERS IN PUJEHUN - VOTE 2012Today, our youths who ought to be at the forefront of a social revolution and grassroots’ oversight of governance, are the political thugs and agents of destruction, foot soldiers, cultists and drug runners.

They are the catalysts for subverting democratic processes such as term elongation.

This is despite the fact that those in charge, who have continued to exploit the naivety of the people and who continue to sell the idea that they know best, even when the ship of state is virtually grounded, have been found out as nothing but stinking cheese. They are compromised. They are dirty. They are deserving of roasting in the flames of hell. The lying and heartless clowns.

Students of truth-economics may want us to believe that those in charge are fighting for their people. Really? For which people? For the people or their pockets? Come off it, why is it that inspite of all the huge amount of slush funds pumped into this country at the inception of this administration, people are still ravaging in acute poverty?

President-Koroma-and-African Minerals Frank-TimisPlease tell me what is on the ground to justify the amount of financial and natural resources that have been fleeced from this country, in the name of foreign investments and repatriation?

Why are we still a nation without water, electricity and decent housing; a country where politics is seen as a do-or-die affair and the fastest route to satisfying a gluttonous appetite for wealth. The obscenity of this unconscionable thievery is mind boggling.

Legacy? Sorry, but we are just two bus stops away from returning to social abyss – sad, shameful, petrifying. Because all that is left right now is nothing but hope – the same hope that is always creeping up in neon signs at every election, but which never seem to materialise.

At the inception of the current administration, it was thought that its vision represented a remarkable departure from the politics of the past, which had for decades been preoccupied with divisive issues, rather than development.

Violence at SLPP office - 24 August 2015It was indeed a veritable opportunity for us to re-educate ourselves and to resist and reject the evils of ethnocentrism and intolerance, as well as the discordant tendencies of our political, religious and social leaders, which had threatened our very existence as a nation and threatening to bring about our annihilation.

Sadly, those men and women who litter the corridors of power in our dear beloved country, are now driving our national bus through a labyrinth that renders impossible, the kind of substantive debate and true change upon which any democracy fighting for the emancipation of the people and national resources relies.

It is why we are finding it exceptionally difficult to reset our morals and reinstate meritocracy, as well as utilise our only sustainable resource at our disposal- the people – who are the critical agent in all economic and socio-political progress.

Ernest Surrur3Sadly, we are so corrupted and immoralised that the rationality underpinning economic theorems doesn’t exist here. We don’t have leaders but dealers. (Photo: Ernest Surrur – the man heading Sierra Leone’s heart of development – the civil service, is part of the problem).

But then, you can’t rationalise the activities of hustlers.

It’s all about chop, maintaining the past, sustaining the present and angling for future chop. Hustlers have neither principles nor a moral core.

We do not have any meaningful connect between labour and rewards. Money men are not economic wealth builders but hustlers. Hustlers and their protégés are in leadership positions across this land. Hustlers hustle, period.

A dealer cannot be a leader and a leader will never be a dealer, never mind that both words are comprised of the same six alphabets. We’re on very shaky grounds indeed.

Aside those who believe in blind, political, religious and ethnically-motivated support for those who’ve done little to deserve it, living in Sierra Leone can be frustrating. It has nothing to do with the common man who remains poor, no matter who or what ethnic person is in power.

If you look around, you’ll discover that the institutions which should make existence bearable for those who are neither vermins still rampaging our commonwealth, or vagabonds usurping democratic and economic processes meant to make life fair and decent for all, remain dangerously underfunded, with the attendant mechanisms and thinking completely obsolete, when faced with the sophistication of the evil political intentions holding our country back.

Ernest SurrurNow, since discontinuous disruption is what makes for quantum leaps, the question arises: is our government headed in the right direction? Added to that is the question: will the current policies lead us to the Promised Land? (Photo: Dr. Ernest Surrur – a close associate of president Koroma is the man heading the failing civil service).

As we continue to head towards over-reliance on China and other foreign locusts, will the current policies lead us out of the woods?

The most dangerous concept in humanity is compromise. Foreign interventions in our economy. Especially, the IMF and such bodies have led us in circles to the extent that our problem has now become a challenge that the nation must confront and overcome desperately.

Are we armed with indigenous alternative measures to salvage our predicament, and to serve as the springboard for our success story?

At this point in our national existence, we just have to come to terms with the fact that a national dialogue on the situation we find ourselves is inevitable, rather than continue to kill the enthusiasm, passion and energy of those who believe there is another way out of our mess.

children lined up for water in Freetown April 2016We have enough problems begging for urgent solutions, and the continuous deceit that all is well only compounds the situation.

Many of the challenges we are currently facing, is an indication of the mental laziness of both the leaders and the led.

Fair enough, institutionalised poverty, the unbearable cost of political foolishness as well as an incompetent political class have kept us down for far too long.

But in my opinion, we have reached a stage where we shouldn’t just be relying on what is poured into our begging bowls or rely on manipulative politicians, but do something creatively and exponentially different.

President Koroma promotes his Agenda for povertyBut I guess that since this will indicate the function and level of our dedication to the national cause, we can all now go back to our various lives and continue pretending not to notice how our national affair has become one man’s family affair.

As we approach the change of baton in the relay race of our development, my prayer is that ‘may the trumpet sound of the child elephant be better than the adult’s noise’.

True leadership is not about creating followers, but developing leaders. But for this to happen, we must wake up.

Right now, my own problem is whether to continue to fight against the social and political injustices in our system or join the majority and throw my arms up in surrender, as several readers have advised.

Whatever happens, the change we need will be compelled, because honestly, as a people, it seems that we can’t free ourselves from our four decades of sojourning in uncertainty.

The people are hungry and not bored. Enough of the current scenarios. Let’s address the economic woes of the country. Let’s fix the inherent problems collectively.

7 Comments

  1. I think most of us (Sierra Leoneans) are poor in processing the interesting information the Sierra Leone Telegraph is freely giving, especially to Diasporas. I think We need a dedicated layer of READERS who will start digging deeper to make the valuable information we receive much more effective.

    At present, we are not utilising this commodity wisely, even though we are in a country being run as a PRIVATE business; or is it?

  2. My salutation to all readers and commentators on this forum. I was away for a couple of weeks on holiday and couldn’t access the internet where I was.

    Mr Awoonor-Gordon, a crusade activist never gives up without achieving their goal; a crusade fighter stands upright to the truth and for what they believe. This is what your sensitizing messages portray to the people. It is time Sierra Leoneans get awakened and give careful thought to your analyses of our social reality and be a part of it. It is about our common good.

    You are not alone; like-minded people will never give up our effort to make Sierra Leone a worthy place to live for ourselves, our children, grandchildren and posterity.

    It is our responsibility to free the country from the tentacles of a corrupt political class and mediocre leadership.

    We will not give up to any kind or method of intimidation. This crusade must march forward in steady pace.

  3. Thanks to Dr Raymond for your insightful and well documented article above. You are a true, genuine and patriotic citizen of Sierra Leone who wishes the overall best of the living standards and socio-economic good for the populace of Sierra Lone.

    And of my 48 years on this earth as a Sierra Leonean I will say you are the second man after the late Ahmed Tejan-Kabbah that have shown genuine interest about the well being and socio-economic development of mother Sierra Leone.

    As you stated about the 40 years of our educational and political retrogression in Sierra Leone, I concur and salute you for your bravery remakes and concerns.

    Our country’s institutions lack the basic engine of growth in the STEM (Science, Engineering, Maths) realm of the graduates that these learning institutions produce. Our STEM lecturers, graduates and professionals are not involved in scientific researches relevant for the socio-economic developments of mother Sierra Leone as you can see in Ghana for instance.

    I remember during the first year of the late Tejan-Kabbah years in the presidency of Sierra Leone in one of his speeches it was there that I learnt about the greater proportions of arts, laws graduates as compare to the STEM graduates at the various higher learning institutions in Sierra Leone. And his government even gave scholarships, funding for each applicant applying to study one of the STEM courses at the various higher learning institutions.

    It is only recently that I read again of the Nigerian President encouraging his citizens to pursue STEM education as the engine of growth in Nigeria.

    I was also glad to read from Dr Kandeh Yumkellah’s speech at Makeni university about his introduction of the minimum wage for each citizen in Sierra Leone, after Dr Ahmed Kabbah did it in 1996.

    This is the second time that a presidential candidate has talked about this in Sierra Leone to my recollection; and this minimum should be indexed to inflation and devaluation of our currency annually so as to reflect the cost of living of the worker, if we are to have any meaningful socio-economic development.

    Thank you Dr Raymond. Please dont give up in your efforts to improve and develop our motherland from poverty, destitution and retrogression. May God bless you. Amen.

  4. Mr. Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon,

    When you say that:

    “Right now, my own problem is whether to continue to fight against the social and political injustices in our system or ‘join the majority and throw my arms up in surrender,’ as several readers have advised.”

    I can only admonish you NOT to give up NOR surrender at all to evil forces bent on taking over the Land with their wicked schemes.

    Remember Prophet Jeremiah that in spite of the horrendous life he lived through without winning a single soul for God- he was uncommonly bold and courageous in declaring the message of God, which was unpopular and subjected him to hatred and even to suffering wrong- yet he did not quit one bit. For those who quit never win; and those who win don’t quit nor give up.

    In addition, there are many Sierra Leoneans who are neither for APC, SLPP nor any other political party. They are nonpartisan. In other words, they are not politicians and are not interested in politics. They just want to live their God-given lives without any political obstruction and messiness. They just hold on to the country’s Green, White and Blue flag.

    For politics is of the tribal-regionalistic people groups and by force of the Devil or Satan; whereas godliness is of God for peace and tranquility among His children. That’s the contrast. Amen.

  5. People are getting fed up with the series of excuses for the government’s failure to transform the public sector.

    The war in Sierra Leone ended some 16 years ago. So it is not unreasonable for government to have changed the civil service to an institution that is fit for purpose – delivering first class public service to citizens.

    It seems to me that president Koroma and his ministers are clueless about what needs to be done to transform the civil service, and indeed this nation.

    This problem is not limited to the civil service alone. All around you in this country you will see evidence of a nation in chaos. Nothing works in this country.

    I dont know what the answer is. Soon election will be here and sadly our people will not be able to make the right decision about who is fit to govern us. Poverty, tribalism and illiteracy are killing us.

    Election in this country is about tribe, cash for votes, food for votes and blind loyalty to party symbol. where are we heading Lord?

  6. Spot on Awoonor. You hit the nail on its head once again. The state of our civil service is the key to almost all of our problems in this country.

    Fix our civil service and you would have fixed Sierra Leone. But it will take a strong and selfless leader to risk empowering the civil service in this country.

    The civil service potentially is a force for good in developing this nation. But in the wrong hands and if fed with a diet of tribalism and political cronyism, can be a danger to society and itself.

    This is all the more reason why president Koroma must depart from the Siaka Stevens mode of thinking which is not about unleashing the powers and good potential of the civil service, but to control and make it impotent.

    Free the civil service Mr President. Tell your crony Dr Surrur to remove his fat behind from the lid that is holding back our people.

    By the way is Dr Surrur of middle eastern origin? Was he born in Sierra Leone? Did he attend school in Sierra Leone?

    We need to know to help understand his character and methods.

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