“President Koroma deserves a second term”

John Pa Baimba Sesay

13 May 2012

What I have noticed in recent times, is the confidence that the international community has continued to demonstrate in their relationship with Sierra Leone.

And, as a result of the trust and confidence that developed and emerging nations have in Sierra Leone, it is no gainsaying, that we continue to witness a twist, in terms of investors.

They are arriving in the country to invest their resources, because they trust the leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma.

I wrote a few days ago, extensively on Sierra Leone’s investment opportunities. I argued that in the area of extractive industries, there has been many reforms; as well as in the fisheries, infrastructure and tourism sectors.

The media landscape too, has its opportunity for investment and this; we have begun realizing with an investment decision by Star Times Group in China, who are planning to arrive in Sierra Leone to invest in the development of digital television.

Let us, for a moment examine the basic facts.

The IMF has projected Sierra Leone’s GDP to grow at an encouraging level of around 13% this very year.

The introduction of the automated system within the operations of Customs at the country’s ports, has been a positive development in the country, especially so as it is now helping to make cross-border trade easy and reliable.

Sierra Leone is one of the top reformers in the African continent, in providing Sustainable Economic Opportunity, as shown in the Mo Ibrahim Africa Governance Index.

Sierra Leone has also improved 25 places in the Doing Business Rankings in five good years, according to the World Bank.

The commitment of the government towards employing international best practices in governance and policy are real and very promising.

The creation of an enabling business environment, the reforms that have taken effect in the country’s tax system have been of tremendous help to not just the government, but the average Sierra Leonean in recent times.

Coupled with the determination and dedication of the National Revenue Authority’s workforce, there has been an increase in the revenue generated by the Authority.

The support and especially the political will that they have continued to receive from the central government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development have been encouraging.

The determination of the Ernest Bai Koroma led government has reached a level that should warrant the urgent and sincere support of Sierra Leoneans for his bid to continue in office for another term.

A leader with genuine intentions and plans is easy to tell. And this is what we see in our present leadership.

In 2007 President Koroma made a series of promises as to how he would improve the country. His promise to look at the country’s energy sector was met with real fulfillment, when, in 2008, he worked towards the completion of the Bumbuna Hydro project.

Bumbuna is today one of several developments that President Koroma could use in assessing his successes in governance, from the viewpoint of provision of electricity.

Former president Tejan Kabbah had and still has a clear record of having created,or  better still, established a number of post war institutional reforms. But what was lacking at that time, was making these institutional reforms, like the NRA, IMC, ACC, perform as expected.

There was little or no impact left behind by the ACC, except for the fact that the institution was created by him. The revenue collection efforts of the NRA during the period 2004-2007 were as discouraging and poorly done, as was the political way the institution was managed at that time.

But today, we have a different picture in most, if not all of the above listed institutions. The ACC’s impact in national development is encouraging; the IMC has had its own side of Sierra Leone’s development in present day governance.

The NRA has had just an exceptional story, with trillions of Leone now being mobilized by the institution, under the leadership of a woman, a young and unassuming lady, in the person of Haja Kalla-Kamara.

But all of this could be related to the kind of political support that these institutions have continued to get from President Koroma.

The ACC has today been so exceptional and truly committed to its mandate, that government Ministers can be asked to account for wrong-doing in their ministries.

The fact that President Koroma had to declare his assets to the ACC was a demonstration of his sober mindedness to moving Sierra Leone to another level, in its socio-economic and political development.

The pace, at which we are moving ahead with our infrastructural development, means we can make tremendous progress in this direction in years to come, when President Koroma shall be re-elected for another term.

Our readiness and commitment to the growth of Sierra Leone should be our primary objective.

In an exclusive interview with him  in his office at State House on Tuesday 10th April, President Koroma  told me that Sierra Leoneans all over the country are demonstrating  their appreciation  for  what  his government has been able to achieve within four years in governance ,especially  in the fulfillment of the ‘Agenda for Change’.

“The evidence is all over the country and people have been appreciative of our achievements as a government,” – says the president.

The president’s Agenda for Change is aimed at moving the country to a new direction in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure, education, health energy and power.

So far, I am of the strongest opinion that, there has been tremendous progress in the implementation of this ‘Agenda for Change’. The provision of electricity to every household in the country has been a major priority of government.

The Bumbuna Hydroelectric Dam, which got the attention of President Koroma upon assuming office in 2007, was completed and commissioned in 2009.

To date, it has helped largely in the supply of electricity in Freetown.

Also, the government ensured the installation of a 10MW thermal plant at the Kingtom Power Station, West of Freetown.

Another major area of concern was the implementation of a Free Healthcare Initiative, introduced in 2010. In working towards its implementation, Government ensured the provision of more resources to medical staff and the procurement of drugs and equipment, and strengthening of supervision.

And as a result of this initiative for pregnant and lactating mothers, in 2011, 41,000 women gave birth through the program. For those who think that nothing is happening in Sierra Leone, it is high time they change that notion.  

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Thank you so much Mr. Benjamin for your in-depth analysis and the truest presentation there is regarding the situation in our country. Praise singers every where but especially in Sierra Leone are nothing but selfish individuals who do not even believe in what they say but does it to satisfy their selfish aims and objectives and for survival only.

    The smarter, independent and sincere journalists are, the better-off society is. According to the ILO, Sierra Leone has one of the highest joblessness rates in the world, of which 80% of its people are jobless and 60% and more of the youth account for this percentage.

    There is a huge banking liquidity shortage in our country. Citizens cannot withdraw their own money from banks because Ernest Koroma and his corrupt APC guys have emptied the banks. The country is witnessing currency devaluation only to be compared to Zimbabwe.

    There is unprecedented continued corruption cases beginning with the offices of the president, vice president, the ministers, Heads of Parastatals, City Council Majors, Ernest koroma family members, contractors, APC party members – the list goes on and on.

    This is a man that came into office in 2007 with average middle class income, even that just for African standard. He had three personal bank accounts with a total of Le80 million. But today, even though nearly 4 million Sierra Leoneans are dressed in abject poverty and they everyday go to bed without a simple three square meals on their tables, no sufficient and safe drinking water, no basic infrastructures across the country – such as public toilets, decent eating places, parks and wider street that is free of continued traffic jam.

    Our city Freetown is still the dirtiest city in Africa, with continued electricity shortages even in the capitol city and no light in the provinces at all.

    But reliable sources within his own APC party and other local and international media outlets stated that he “President Ernest Bai Koroma is the third and or fifth richest president in Africa today just within four years”.

    Tax breaks for companies that do not need them and maybe never asked for. Tax waivers for business people across the city, but especially for his APC party members as well as family members. Evidence of coddling violence perpetrators
    and setting a stage for another mayhem in our country ( cases like Idrissa Kamara commonly known as Leather boot, the police officials that killed those innocent people across the country, his minister of Internal Affairs-Musa Tarawally etc).

    Sierra Leone according to political scientists is more divided today on tribal and regional lines than at any time in the history of our country. This is a recipe for disunity and continued underdevelopment in a society that badly need seasoned and responsible leader that will bring people together and educate them on the need for unity, sustainable development, education under the Sierra Leone flag of one people one country.

    The lack of energy, electricity and other needed infrastructures under this corrupt president; continued cases of corruption, embezzlement and intimidation and skyrocketing of our national debt, will only result in driving away reputable businesses, whether it’s startups or medium-sized businesses and investors.

    The fourth class and rogue African standard companies in Sierra Leone are not environmental friendly, they are not contributing to societal development, they are not concerned and are not people-driven companies. Their only concern here is money making and to maximize huge profit at the detriment of the poor locals. Honestly, we don’t blame them because that’s the policy of Ernest Bai Koroma.

    Having said this, I still believe in the power and voices of millions of people who are calling for meaningful change and sustainable development.

  2. I’m sorry this writer sounds very patronizing and absolutely has some very serious and inaccurate spurious deductions throughout this piece.

    Dear Mr. Sesay

    Look over at our neighbours, Guinea and Liberia. In just about every industry their blue chips can not be compared to our “start-ups”. With the likes of Rio Tinto and ArcelorMittal, whose subsidiaries dwarf the likes of African Minerals and London Mining combined. Let’s not even mention BHB Buliton

    “They are arriving in the country to invest their resources, because they trust the leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma.”

    Once again who is arriving? Start-ups?

    “I argued that in the area of extractive industries, there has been many reforms; as well as in the fisheries, infrastructure and tourism sectors.”

    What reforms, none of our mining agreements were negotiated by or with leading experts in their industries. Some of the mining deals signed even contravene our own tax laws? You may have argued but your arguments are extremely flawed and wanting.

    “The IMF has projected Sierra Leone’s GDP to grow at an encouraging level of around 13% this very year.”

    What did the Government tell us? Did the Minister of Finance not dare to tell us about 50% increase?

    Yes an increase – what are their plans for the budget surplus( which is non-existant)? Are they waiting for international partners to give them an agenda again as they have been doing since they got to power?

    In Rwanda, every year International organisations report on the progress they have made in the country to the goverment, since Koroma came to office, they report every year to the international partners to ask them for an agenda.

    “The introduction of the automated system within the operations of Customs at the country’s ports, has been a positive development in the country, especially so as it is now helping to make cross-border trade easy and reliable.”

    How many ports do we have in this country? Ok lets count the makeshift ones. How many ports do we have with an automated system working year round? None.

    “Sierra Leone is one of the top reformers in the African continent, in providing Sustainable Economic Opportunity,”

    Are you serious? We even have trouble getting Sierra Leoneans from the diaspora to invest!

    “The commitment of the government towards employing international best practices in governance and policy are real and very promising.”

    Including hand over unconstitutional power to the NEC Commissioner with no judicial oversight? That is really good governance! Let’s not talk about Shears-Moses or the over 1500% increases in political violence as compared to the five year period just after the war!

    “The creation of an enabling business environment, the reforms that have taken effect in the country’s tax system have been of tremendous help to not just the government, but the average Sierra Leonean in recent times.”

    Once again you have failed as a journalist to investigate the source of this. Those initiatives where all started by Kadi Sesay as Minister of Trade – funded, planned and 85% executed under her watch!

    “In 2007 President Koroma made a series of promises as to how he would improve the country. His promise to look at the country’s energy sector was met with real fulfillment, when, in 2008, he worked towards the completion of the Bumbuna Hydro project.

    Bumbuna is today one of several developments that President Koroma could use in assessing his successes in governance, from the viewpoint of provision of electricity.”

    Now here even an ostrich dare not hide his head. A series of unsustainable energy decisions have culminated in the state of affairs right now with very little power in Freetown since November 2011.

    If this as you have highlighted was to be his shining light in his works, then he has so badly failed. Not only was Bumbuna rushed so that the civil works on the second turbine were never done properly, there was no plan for any other major alternative.

    As a result, Bumbuna has never produced more than 35Megawatts of it’s optimum 50MW. Now only one turbine even works and this year there has been no money in the coffers to supplement Bumbuna during the dry spells, with Blackhall Road or Kingtom!

    Even during Easter and the Independence Day celebrations – there was no electricity. In short he has failed!

    “The NRA has had just an exceptional story, with trillions of Leone now being mobilized by the institution, under the leadership of a woman, a young and unassuming lady, in the person of Haja Kalla-Kamara.”

    Percentage of our revenue-base as compared to GNI has slipped form 20% to now 12%. Liberia meanwhile in the last five years has climbed from 6% to 21%!

    Who or what are you comparing it to?

    “The ACC has today been so exceptional and truly committed to its mandate, that government Ministers can be asked to account for wrong-doing in their ministries.

    The fact that President Koroma had to declare his assets to the ACC was a demonstration of his sober mindedness to moving Sierra Leone to another level, in its socio-economic and political development.”

    Oh in the first four years of office during Ernest Koroma’s time, ACC has been able to jail 77 people. Of those 77 none were held responsible for more than 1million leones. They included a teacher caught being bribed Le5,000.

    Meanwhile the ministers and other party stalwarts stealing millions were never given any jail terms, with Koroma even paying some of the fines. A man who when he came into office had three personal bank accounts with a total of Le80 million.

    He has managed to provide his family with a fleet of new cars, torn down and rebuilt a mansion were his house stood; given Leone Stars $50,000 on two occassions; Belgium sellers $65,000; Haj pilgrims $734,000; Mohamed Kallon Le100,million; Afsatu Kabba’s court fine of $100,000; and many more!!!

    “The Bumbuna Hydroelectric Dam, which got the attention of President Koroma upon assuming office in 2007, was completed and commissioned in 2009. To date, it has helped largely in the supply of electricity in Freetown.”

    Again when you try to store water in a basket you only succeed in making the basket wet! Electricity, Fuel and Cash Shortage since Nov. 2011!

    “Another major area of concern was the implementation of a Free Healthcare Initiative, introduced in 2010. In working towards its implementation, Government ensured the provision of more resources to medical staff and the procurement of drugs and equipment, and strengthening of supervision.”

    As you can imagine during the first year of roll-out, there were many problems. However Ernest Koroma, showed his resolve and seriousness to follow up with initiative by doing what? Cutting the health budget the following year by 7%!

    We don tire with this water in a basket mentality! Ernest Koroma needs to go!

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