President Koroma has failed to master the art of the impossible

Austin Thomas

29 January 2012

“Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.”- Cherie Carter-Scott.

Time and time again, when we look at history critically, people who have produced phenomenal results are those who set goals that everybody else thought were crazy and unrealistic, unattainable and beyond reach.

President Koroma has not only failed to set clear development goals for Sierra Leone, but has also failed to comprehend and implement his very own ‘Agenda for Change’.

Before 1903, few believed that the Wright brothers (Wilbur & Orville) were being realistic when they set out to build a flying machine. The fact of the matter is that, they were just bicycle repairers.

And that was at a time when it was thought that it was physically impossible for any machine heavier than air to fly. But the brothers had a “can-do attitude”.

Today, Wilbur and Orville’s names are indelibly written in the annals of History as the inventors of the first ever flying machine.

In 2007 when president Koroma won the general and presidential elections, Sierra Leoneans had become apathetic and dejected, as economic prosperity was not coming fast enough, five years after the end of a decade long civil war.

Under Tejan kabbah’s SLPP government, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had gone up, inflation had come down, the Leone stronger than it is today, more children were going to school than before the war, democracy had improved for the better, civil liberty and the rule of law had been re-established after over thirty years of APC autocratic and despotic governance.

But unemployment and poverty had sapped away every ounce of energy and optimism the people had to build a better and prosperous nation. They had lost confidence and hope in president kabbah’s government and voted for the change that Ernest Koroma’s APC promised.

The challenge then, was for president Koroma to master the art of the impossible, if he was to succeed in creating a prosperous Sierra Leone and transform the lives of a war beaten and dejected people.

I wrote an article then, advising that if president Koroma really wanted to be our hero by transforming Sierra Leone into a better place to live, work, rest and play, he should find a target and the self-belief that he can achieve what seems like the impossible for Sierra Leone.

When I wrote that article I implored the president to take Singapore as his target, by immediately opening up diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level and obtain development blueprints from them.

This, the president failed to do, and sadly today he is simply taking the nation from pillar to post – with no sense of economic, social or political direction. Sierra Leone has retrogressed phenomenally.

With more natural resources than most nations in the world, Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest nations, despite president Koroma enjoying huge support from the international community, who have invested more than $1 Billion of donor funds in the last four years to help rebuild the country’s ailing economy. Corruption is rampant.

Despite talk of his ‘Agenda for Change’, very little has changed for the lives of ordinary people, who after four years of handing power to president Koroma, are having to make do with less than one dollar a day.

The nation has lost its direction and the development gains achieved by Tejan Kabbah’s SLPP government.

President Koroma has failed because he has no target, no vision and moreover no plan of action. Some might argue that he does not even understand the very ‘Agenda for Change’ strategy, produced and handed to him by former British Prime Minister – Tony Blair for implementation.

As far as I am concerned, president Koroma has failed and no second five year term in office can redeem or retrace the backward steps we have already taken. The end result would be the same: plunging the nation deeper into an abyss.

Singapore is one of the richest, prosperous and healthy countries in the world today, because the former leader – Lee Kuan Yew, who took over the country after independence, saw the future in his dreams and vision.

Many of his colleagues in 1965 were confused and did not know what to do after the country had gained independence. But Lee believed that the impossible will be made possible.

His first task was to set a target that Singapore should work towards.
Lee’s target was Britain. He wanted his country to be like his colonial master. He set out on the journey and today Singapore is a global economic powerhouse.

China in the 70’s was once referred to as ‘the sick man of Asia’ and nobody believed that China would become economically and politically powerful by the end of the last century. But they had leaders with vision – leaders who mastered the art of the impossible.

Deng Shaopeng took over the reigns of power and immediately set out a target and a goal: that China should become a global economic super-power.

His economic target was for China to become like the United States of America. The day he re-opened diplomatic relations with USA, was China’s beginning of mastering the art of the impossible.

On the 1st January, 1979, China started its long road to become like the USA, or to even become better. This project has been a success and no country, repeat no country on this planet earth, can now mess with China.

The Chinese have mastered the art of the impossible, and they are still not content with the progress they have achieved. They are working harder to continue climbing up the global economic and political summit.

My opinion is that the people of Sierra Leone have an alternative government in waiting – the SLPP party, led by Julius Maada Bio and Dr. Kadi Sesay.

I want to challenge Maada Bio right now, that if he wants to be a good leader he must have a dream, a vision and the passion for innovation.

He must start by looking at the art of mastering the impossible and instill the self-belief that he can create a better, prosperous nation and transform the lives of all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of tribe, religion and regional disposition.

First of all he needs to start now – a campaign aimed at mobilising supporters as well as other Sierra Leoneans to register with the National Electoral Commission (NEC), even though the biometric system of voter registration is proving more of a technical challenge than anticipated.

Secondly he MUST make sure that the final registration register – compiled by the NEC is the same as that which his party and the ruling APC received from the NEC.

The elections have started and if he fails to guard against electoral malpractices now, SLPP will live to regret it at the polls in November.

When Bio is elected as our new leader, look I am not using the word IF but WHEN, he must be certain to use Singapore as his development target for Sierra Leone. The reason is simple; the size and population of the two countries are almost the same and he can work with them to the fullest to achieve major success.

Singapore has probably the best education, health and water systems in the world. Majority of the tourists visiting the country are medical tourists. Their universities are first class, which is why they have established twinning relationships with the top most universities of Britain and USA.

Bio must seek to establish diplomatic relations with Singapore. He can do it, and he will do it – if he has the people of Sierra Leone at heart, and if he wants his name written in our history books as the best leader who took us from poverty and failure to success and wealth.

Today Sierra Leone is one of the darkest, poorest, undeveloped, backward and uneducated countries you can find in the world. But it was not destined to be so. In fact in 1961 when Sierra Leone got independence, we were economically stronger than Japan and the Asian Tigers.

Our forefathers on that fateful day of 27th April, 1961, never thought that the once mighty Sierra Leone would crash land to the point where we have become beggars in our own country.

There is no excuse now, we have all contributed – one way or the other, in making Sierra Leone the grave yard that it has become. But November 2012 gives the people the chance, to once again say NO to bad leadership and poor governance.

I believe it is not impossible to fix Sierra Leone’s problems, and I believe that we can change the cause of our history and stop the present rot, if we start dreaming of achieving the impossible.

The late Chairman Mao once said; “it is not how many times you fall that matters, but how many times you try to rise from the fall”.

President Ernest Koroma led us to believe that he had a vision and that he was going to master the art of achieving the impossible, by creating a prosperous and progressive nation.

Former British PM - Tony Blair and President Koroma

But what we have seen today is that the man has no vision and does not even understand his own ‘Agenda for Change’ strategy document, handed to him by Tony Blair for implementation.

He has let Tony Blair down, but more importantly he has let the people of Sierra Leone down.

Today Sierra Leoneans are looking for a leader who can make the impossible possible; someone who can dream about a better way of life for his people and get out of the box to make it possible – someone who will aim for the sky and not the tin roof.

The time has come to search for a new leader with vision: one who looks beyond his narrow personal and tribal interests. And I believe that Maada Bio – ably assisted by Dr. Kadi Sesay (former minister of trade), can make a difference.

Singapore progressed from a third-world country to a first-world country within two decades? This was possible because one man by the name of Lee Kuan Yew thought it to be possible.

That man has been accredited by all Singaporeans to be the architect of Singapore’s national and economic development.

Finally, I would like to make a passionate appeal to all Sierra Leoneans; we can make it happen in our lifetime – in our generation. It is possible. All that we need to do is to start dreaming and thinking of the possibilities.

We must also change our mindset about a lot of things and issues, which have become the conventional wisdom that is holding the country back. We must embrace the ‘can-do’ attitude. Even the Good old Book said it right: that all things are possible to him that believes (Mark 9:23).

It is only through this we can make Sierra Leone a better place to live, work, rest and play for ourselves, for our children and our children’s children. Yes, indeed, we can make the IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE.

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” Seneca.

 

2 Comments

  1. As a non-partisan I do not know if Maada Bio and Dr. Kadie Sesay have a Lee Kwan Yew type vision for Sierra Leone; I pray and fervently hope they do. There is no reason why Sierra Leone cannot do better.

    What we need to do as a nation is adopt a grand vison for our country and strive for it selflessly by ALL.

    Let us start by negating the precept that a government job in Sierra Leone or politics is the “highway to economic heaven.” All the violence and corruption in Sierra Leone politics are forstered and encouraged by “losers” who cannot acquire money or material things by their own acumen – save through a government job or divisive politics.

    If you’ve never been able to build a house on your own or buy a luxurious car, and you force or bribe and gossip your way to parliament, a ministerial position or parastatal, what is to be expected – corruption, nepotism and graft!

    Just ask such losers to serve the people for free, no pay, no perks -and see if they’ll rush at it.

  2. Very good article.

    The length of the obituaries on Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation tells the whole story and really accentuates the citizen’s ‘cry for help’.

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