Sierra Leone in serious crisis – an open letter to president Koroma

Mohamed L Kallon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 May 2016

Freetown Poverty - Courtesy of National Geographic

Dear President Koroma

You are obliged to listen to the protests and demands of Sierra Leoneans who elected you democratically to represent them, especially in obvious cases when the protests and demands are relevantly appropriate.

Now, compare the democracy you practice to the international pillars of a veritable democracy: Accepting  majority rule; guaranteeing and respecting minority rights; following due process of law; ensure free and fair elections; respecting equality before the law; respecting the sovereignty of the people; guaranteeing of basic human rights; respect for Constitutional limits on government; promote social, economic, and political pluralism; accept that government is based upon consent of the governed; respecting and upholding the values of tolerance, pragmatism, cooperation, and compromise.

Mr President, allow me to also remind you that, Sierra Leone, with a population of only 5.9 Million and blessed with valuable natural resources, is ranked 119 out of 168 nations on the corruption perception index, and scoring only 29 out of 100.

Adult life expectancy in a country that you have ruled for the past nine years is 46.96 years, and literacy rate is at 40.9%.

Can there be more obvious reasons than these for public protests? If you are not ashamed of these staggering figures, we the people of Sierra Leone are.

Please reflect on the extract below from the Executive Summary of Transparency International:

corruption3“Many State Anti-Corruption institutions lack the resources to deploy all over the country, employ and retain qualified staff, and carry out its duties efficiently. Ministries, Departments and Agencies do not produce annual reports for public consumption. Most state-owned enterprises have not had their financial accounts regularly audited by the Auditor General. The office of the Ombudsman operates mostly in the capital city and is not accessible to most citizens.

“Nearly every State Anti Corruption institution has insufficient resources to do its work. Even the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) which are benefiting from international funding are fraught with funding challenges. Corruption and inefficiency persist in the Public Service also partly due to wages that are not commensurate to the cost of living.”

Mr President, there is nothing favourable to highlight under your administration except, on the other hand, the culture of corruption that you are personally responsible for promoting in the country.

Nothing positive has been achieved by the frequent sackings and, or replacement of your ministers. This evidently is not the solution to the myriad of economic and social problems facing the country today.

It is a common practice for inefficient workers to lay the blame on their tools. Mr President, you are the problem. And the best solution is your complete disappearance from the political scene. It is time for change.  Change for the better and not for the worse.

It is the state, through its many policies and actions, which creates the environment and the incentives that influence those who pay bribes and those who accept or demand them.

It is the state that influences the relationship between briber and bribee. What have you done to address corruption, which is responsible for the entire failure of your government?

grand corruption in africaMr President, let me remind you of what Atifete Jahjaga said: “Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation.”

I have resorted to using references to make it clear that my indignation and the indignation of all patriotic Sierra Leoneans for your administrative mess are rational.

It is my guess that most of the people around you are not brave enough to tell you exactly what is happening in Sierra Leone, basically for fear of joining the interminable army of unemployed in the country.

What is most unacceptable about your lack of leadership is the decision to permit so called foreign investors to loot the country.

Workers-at-a-diamond-mine-007You’ve allowed Koidu Holdings to mine the country’s diamonds without paying the corresponding taxes.

You’ve allowed the Chinese to exploit our marine resources, because they have promised to build an unnecessary airport; others are doing so because you are incapability of controlling them.

Consequently, you have left the local fishermen frustrated, since they cannot compete with the foreign trawlers.

You signed land contracts over to foreign businesses that will benefit them for fifty years and more, forcing our poor local farmers to lose ownership; in some cases violently kicked out of their ancestral land which is their only source of livelihood.

The Afrika Super TrawlerWhich agreement have you successfully negotiated that is to the advantage of the people of this country, may I ask Mr President?

What about other incomprehensible projects, such as wanting to import Lebanese waste for cash, when in fact you are not able to manage the tons of rubbish produced by State House and the citizens?

Is this your idea of making Sierra Leone attractive to foreign investors?

Mr President let me kindly remind you of what the Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone says:

“The President shall not, while he continues in office as President, hold any other office of profit or emolument in the service of Sierra Leone or occupy any other position carrying the right to remuneration for rendering services.”

So let me ask you Mr President. What do you have to say about the Panama Corruption Papers that clearly links your name to Koidu Holdings?

You frequently ignore the fact that you owe an explanation to the people you represent for whatever you do or fail to do. Or are you only representing yourself?

ACC LOGO - corruptionOthers in your category have been out with their explanations and have accepted the consequences. However, with or without your help, the truth will soon be known, given that the people behind the Panama Papers have decided to soon make it public on the internet.

Three years ago, I was in Sierra Leone with some foreign businessmen to register a new business. To our surprise, instead of the usual demand for a bribe we anticipated, the minister involved demanded to be included in the business as a shareholder.

So, if your connection with the Koidu Holdings is proved to be true, it will be no surprise to me but a confirmation that it’s a common practice in your government. Apparently, your ministers do what you teach them or what they see by watching you.

Do you know why some powerful rulers and businessmen are around you? They know that you are accessible. Corrupt leaders and corrupt countries are attractive to unprincipled leaders and unscrupulous businessmen.

president koroma off to washington - April 2015Mr President, I am profoundly baffled by your unruffled extravagant lifestyle, your unfulfilled promises and your extremely poor management of public affairs, which is responsible for the  abject poverty and death through disease suffered by many in the country.

Do you sincerely think that telling the people to fast and pray, while they are dying of hunger and disease is a form of good governance? Have you reflected on what you will be remembered for?

There is nothing to celebrate under your rule, not even the country’s independence anniversary celebration.

What a shame Mr President. You are weak and incompetent. Please step aside and let others do the job. You and your government have totally failed the people of Sierra Leone, to a point of jeopardising the future of the country.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, we cannot forget that our motto is “Unity, Freedom and Justice.” And as José Ugaz – the Chairman of Transparency International said recently; “Corruption can be beaten if we work together. To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery and shed light on secret deals, citizens must together tell their governments they have had enough.”

There will always be corrupt elements in our society. But a gang of corrupt leaders is absolutely undemocratic and intolerable. Fighting corruption is self-defence and patriotic.

Corruption is the enemy of good governance and development. We must come together to achieve this national objective.

Thank you Mr President for reading this letter and I hope you will have the courtesy to reply.

10 Comments

  1. A brainstorming piece which undoubtedly will contribute to shake out the APC to its foundations, along with their strongman, whom is surrounded by weak and incompetent minds.

    This unfolding crusade calls for total involvement of every level-headed Sierra Leonean to participate.

  2. Emma: Your comment on Mr. Mohamed L. Kallon is not justifiable. For there is no where in the article stating his “willingness to pay bribes.” You might want to read it again.

    Please no display of fireworks on this, but on the miserable and wretched performance of President Ernest Koroma in the country as a whole. Don’t lose sight of this argument. Thank you very much.

  3. Emma, I can’t find words to express my indignation at the level of corruption in Sierra Leone. Please check the meaning of “anticipate” which is obviously not “willingness”.

    Your speculation will not induce me to elaborate more than the necessary, on the issue.

    Thanks to all for the general support.

  4. I am waiting with baited breath for the publication of the Panama papers. I live in London and all I keep hearing is the poverty in Sierra Leone and how much the British have done for us. The most recent has been how they saved us from the Ebola outbreak.

    Why has Sierra Leone not got any good drinking water? Why is it that when pictures are shown of Sierra Leone all we see is nothing but Kroo Bay and squalor. At times I feel so bad, I feel like crying.

    Things were better all those years ago when I was in Sierra Leone before I came to London, The streets were clean, we had running water and people were more relaxed. Now people do not know where their dinner is coming from.

    The order of the day is corruption. Listen to the phone ins on radio when they talk about Africa and you will feel depressed. I am tired of hearing how much aid have been given to Africa and how Africans are still begging.

    Even in Parliament when they discuss international aid, the first country they mention is Sierra Leone and how much they have spent on us. It is really, really embarrassing,

    One can only live in hope, that Sierra Leone will rise up from the ashes, but I doubt it.

  5. Oh! The truth is so painful to hear when it perfectly reveals the huge suffering and endless degradation in our beloved sierra Leone.

    The suffering of the people of Sierra Leone is a very bitter pill to Swallow. Bless the ones that reveal the truth at great personal risk from the Evil-doers that rule over our destitute and ever suffering people.

    The heartless monsters that take bread from the mouths of our infants and all our people in Sierra Leone to give to the rest of the world, must rot in hell for sure…

  6. Corruption is the singular most deadly disease crippling Sub-saharan Africa. The president like many African leaders has an appetite for wealth that even the whole world cannot provide. His incompetence as a leader is extraordinary.

    A leader does not encourage tribal divisions by promoting the cause of his own tribe at the expense of others. Such a path is a seed for pandemonium and conflict. Never in the history of Sierra Leone has such a large group of people been marginalized and ignored as under this president.

    A true leader accepts opposing views and sees their corrective potential, because no man is perfect. But this president rewards sycophancy and “laybellehism” with the most important posts in the process completely disregarding merit and expertise.

    He has always displayed political guile but that will not be enough to put money into people’s pockets and food into their stomachs.

  7. This is an interesting episode but no one is willing to go on the streets and demonstrate peacefully knowing quite well the coined role of APC riot police.

    What we are seeing and observing in President Koroma’s governance is very much strange, different from all his other APC predecessors like President Siaka Steven and President J.S. Momoh.

    During the days of his predecessors, tribalism, nepotism, corruption, regionalism and ‘districtism’ was not too common and opened or naked as it is during his own years in power.

    Replacing competent personnel using a single criteria – that is tribe or region of origin has become the order of his rule.

    Abandoning Kenema city road construction during the first phase with only 4 streets (Combema Road, Sumaila Street, Kaisamba Terrace and Kings Way street) completed at the expense of making 17 streets completed in Makeni with 24 proposed for 2016/17 in the third phase is another strategy that has left a negative indelible mark in minds and hearts of all.

    He has set a bad mark that any other president coming from other regions will emulate. He has shown to us that he is the president of the Northern in general and Makeni in particular.

    All other presidents after him will take development and state resources to the district and region where they were born.

    Let me advice my fellow citizens not risk their lives at the expense of the bullet of the APC Riot police. They will use someone who will fire from the crowd and they will claimed that they acted in self deference when they were fired upon from the crowd.

    A three days sit down strike will be the best option involving civil societies, traders, farmers and the general public.

    A peaceful demonstration will not work now since we do not have an opposition and the opposition members of parliament want to have a share from the national cake and the brown envelop.

  8. My sincere thanks to the team of The Sierra Leone Telegraph, not only for giving me the opportunity to be heard but also for your relentless efforts to bravely release quality information. I expect and respect news reporters with binocular vision. Disappointingly, some reporters are completely blind.

    My thanks also go to Mustache Moustache for your valuable support.

  9. Mohamed L Kallon, Your piece of writing educes the heavily corrupt practices of a crooked and twisted government of President Ernest Koroma. The earlier he steps down, the better for the country to gracefully move forward.

    In addition to the above-mentioned, the Interfaith Prayer Service for Salone, conducted on April 30 in Lanham Maryland and published at cocorioko.info, is not good at all. It is hypocritical. For the word of God says:

    “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
    For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. And, I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NIV). Amen.

    • Mustache Moustache, you stated that Mohamed L. Kallon’s piece of writing “educes the heavily corrupt practices of a crooked and twisted government of President Ernest Koroma. The earlier he steps down, the better for the country to gracefully move forward.”

      But how will corruption end if someone like Mohamed L. Kallon, who seems to have so much indignation concerning corruption, went to Sierra Leone to do business with the willingness to pay bribes? Unfortunately he encountered the spiritual boss of bribery and the price seems to be more than he could deal with.

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