Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 October 2016
One of the huge elephants in the room of our national existence is the fact that for so long our cockroach (the nation) has been willing to dance in the open market place, but the fowl (the political class) will not allow it.
Notorious for its devouring appetite, the fowl creates nothing and operates independent of the cockroach, feeding off it and yet giving nothing back to society.
Our political class continues to ask us to clap with one hand as it builds on our tolerance and rationalisation of mediocrity and corruption, which have become our national default setting. Stone age special dynamics in a 21st century setting.
Having anaesthetised us with the opium of greed and deception, we have ended up giving our leaders top shelf cheer, amidst the steamy soap-opera of their avarice.
As our socio-economic and political train moves like a tortoise with arthritis, they continue to perpetrate their acts of fraudulence and impunity, while mesmerising us with the aroma of prejudice and cliché propaganda.
They are blunting our ability to constructively criticise and see the reality of the fact that our road to eternal life is harsh and rough.
So, why are we praising the government as if they are doing whatever they claim to be doing, with their personal money? Why are we celebrating our leaders when the lives of the majority are below the waterline, after eight years of worshipping at the theatre of a group that has carried out surgical manipulations of our very existence, and caused our society to haemorrhage?
Let someone please explain to me, why we are elevating people who are made of flesh and blood and who have failed to stop the bleeding of our nation’s resource-lifeline so we can stop the country from fainting, to sacred figures who should inhabit a special realm of near-divinity; above the rest of the fallible mankind that have been let down by the slow death inflicted on them by these ‘gods’ of the land? (for too long our cockroach -the nation- has been willing to dance in the open market place, but the fowl -the political class- will not allow it).
I just want to understand how we are still in awe of those who have wronged us and whose accumulated mistakes, because they are more interested in the glory, is why we are limping with totally damaged internal organs and pyrrhic dividends of democracy, to an impotent existence.
The truth no one tells President Koroma is that he is turning the country and its people into a nation that dares not look itself in the mirror. That it is the arrogance and presumptions of those in leadership that have turned Sierra Leone into a near graveyard of horror.
No one seems to have told him that the economy collapsed like a pack of clouds because the hand that should have steered the ship was too busy pointing an accusing finger and engaging in beggar-nation diplomacy, fuelled by 24-carat deception that symbolises false chest thumping and razzmatazz.
As patriotic citizens make one last fight to wrench the nation from the clutches of those who were ushered into power, amid pomp, pageantry and great promise, the truth is that majority of the people are at the lowest point and poverty waits with matches to start a bonfire.
Sadly, we are beginning to make progress in the wrong direction – towards the cave rather than the heaven on earth that was presented at the inception of the government.
As the oligarchy continues its conspiracy to take over our commonwealth and turn us all into slaves, it has become imperative for us all, to put on our thinking cap and remember that the sustainable future of our nation and that of our children, supersedes the twinkling in the eyes of our ruling class.
No doubt, Sierra Leoneans are facing the toughest, challenging and critical moment in their national life.
The current economic downturn is biting hard, and even the well-to-do are not immune to the resultant effect let alone the common people. Compared to our lot shortly after independence and until the latter part of Siaka Stevens’ era, Sierra Leone now appears to be moving backward rapidly and going from one terrible period to another.
Today, you cannot compare the first class infrastructures of then, with what is being touted. There was development in agriculture; our FBC was not only first class, it was comparable to universities anywhere in the world; primary, secondary and tertiary education were top notch and we had a few industries without relying wholly and solely on our natural resources and the pockets of foreigners. (Photo: University of Sierra Leone today).
Even the quality and class of our political elites were admirable as they gave inspirational leadership and led from the front. No doubt they were fallible and had their flaws, yet, they instilled patriotism such that Sierra Leoneans were not only willing to serve their country, they returned from abroad to contribute in moving the nation forward.
Even when corruption began to creep in, it did so without the stomach-churning display of this era and unlike what obtains with the current crop that are riding the high horses, but yet attired in greedy, avaricious apparels with severe moral issues.
So, why are the hustlers in power, who are hell-bent on transferring our economic fortunes to foreign hands, therefore hiding behind orchestrated pizzazz and historical competence? How come we are still being forced to celebrate those who are degrading our humanity to that of an animal kingdom, while carrying the banner of change and progress?
The pertinent question now is whether as a people, Sierra Leoneans are better off today?
I guess the answer will be NO, especially when you gape at the bleeding wounds of poverty on the back of the nation. One had expected that the political leadership of the current administration would concentrate much more energy on re-jigging the economy and providing a soothing balm for the majority. But sadly, only the ‘anointed’ were blessed at the altar. Do they really know and believe that people are suffering?
While other nations, faced with the challenges of the 21st century are buckling down and looking for the best for their nations, our opportunistic ‘messiahs’ are insistent on luring us down the road of perdition, where we will end up being slaves in Egypt for years to come, while they enjoy the sweat and labours of everyone of us.
At times, it is often as if our leaders are the unseen hands of the conspiracy against the masses of our beloved country. Otherwise how can one explain their stand against sustainable policy options and future prosperity, in favour of profligate populist actions and lop-sided memorandum of understanding, which inflict severe hardships in the long run?
Is there no one in authority who can put on a thinking cap and realise that the sort of desperate and criminal actions and agreements being taken under the pressure cooker of the prevalent economic crisis, and at the prodding of wily opportunist investors and supposedly friendly nations like China, can only lead us deeper into the abyss?
Well, we have consistently and conveniently failed to cast a look over the road that has brought us political disaster, economic ruins, war and ethnic narrow-mindedness, to see what went wrong and how the mistakes of the past can be corrected.
Our failings as a people have ensured that our leaders have abandoned basic governance to the dictates of foreigners whose much-touted economic genius is the cause of the global squeeze, but who feed them with the juice of corruption while playing soothing music of the dark night. They are laying the route of our eternal enslavement, for their own selfish dominance of key sectors of our economy.
Just recently, a government flagship mouthpiece announced that the much derided Mamamah Airport was going ahead in December. In other words, in a couple of months, after the government announced austerity measures that will further erode the quality of life of the people and the nation, the same people in power believe that an airport is our priority in a land of excruciating poverty.
Not only that, to show how deep into the rectum of foreign dictates our leaders have gone, the announcement was made by an out-going Chinese ambassador, at his country’s independence anniversary celebration, where he also emphasised that the vanity project was key to China’s planned mining operations in Sierra Leone. Hear; hear?
Humm! What a slap in the face for not only our leaders, but for us as a people and a nation which has now been reduced to an appendage of China, one of the most corrupt nations on earth, with dough to buy its way to anything it wants in a society like ours which has no scruples.
The question is: can Sierra Leone’s economy withstand the level of debt servicing requirements and structural adjustments that will be of natural consequence of this narcissistic project at this crucial period? Or put differently, where is our ability to pay back, giving our mono-culture economy, whose survival as we are already experiencing, is also contingent on external factors beyond our control?
How will the further acquisition of debt in an economy that lacks consumer spending, slow development, waste, greed and the absence of enduring strategies, as well as appropriate policy framework for diversification, resolve the current imbalance in our growth and development?
It means our survival will now be dictated from Beijing, which is aware of these deficiencies, especially in the pursuit of this conceited dream; but whose treachery in the Greek gift, is wrapped up in what it will dictate as payment when our debt stock tends to decline beyond a level we can handle.
We don’t have vital infrastructure, we don’t have education, and we don’t have health. We are still talking about low level of agricultural development; our people live in slums; poverty is the lot of many; the union of huge economic, environmental and social issues is creating a particularly powerful twister of which our current experiences are probably only the beginning and at the periphery.
Yet, our leaders and the ‘benevolent’ Chinese see the airport as the most significant answer to our overall future. To project this as the most singular upside for any sector is to defy logic. It is to take every Sierra Leonean as fool.
At the negotiating table, it is obvious that our government team went with knives and forks to eat from the sumptuous table prepared before them, while the Chinese went with prepared agreements for the signatures of our gluttonous representatives, who were probably busy being giddy from the array of possible gratification displayed before them.
The insanity on a bed of inferiority complex and salted to shallow taste, is also reflected in the report that the same Chinese are to operate a toll road in which they will also enjoy tax rebates and take sixty percent of revenue, give us twenty percent and use twenty percent for maintenance. Who owns the land, may I ask?
Are we mad or something? Have we so lost the plot that we cannot differentiate our right from our left?
Because in a falling daggers economy like we are presently experiencing, how can a government that was unable to find sustainable resolution to stimulate multiplier effects for growth; as well as increase external reserves within the purview of available economic strategies in prosperous times, do so when in the quagmire of recession? Is it truly interested in confronting the debilitating issues affecting us as a nation at all?
Except of course, the present administration, egged on by the ever-corrupt and hard-nosed hunter called China, does not give a damn about the future; but concerned more about today and the gains for its current crop of bandits.
While they want us to believe they are fighting for us, for all they care and which is one of what has landed us in the current awful economic predicament; it is each man for himself and the devil of this un-necessary divisive and irrational decision, can take the hindmost’ approach.
But it is all these sorts of cheap money and manna from ‘heaven’, to my mind, that is making those in power to reject vehemently, all agitations for the restructuring and re-engineering of our societal values as well as their whims and caprice which they often force on us.
Meanwhile, our neighbour, Liberia, has just got a loan from the same China, to build a new airport terminal at the existing airport and rehabilitate its runway. The difference in passenger capacity between both airports at present? A mere 3000 in favour of the refurbished Lungi.
Rather than take to the path of righteousness, which exalts a nation, those we choose as leaders and their loyalists in the morass of our depravity, are digging deeper into the recess of the past, for the worst of our governance, just to don a bigger attire of that wrong garb which has now been stitched with impunity and wanton greed. Cursed land of insane minds.
Apart from the abomination going on in our governance at the moment, just take a look at the scheming and other manipulative tendencies going on in our political realm today and you’ll realise that no matter who becomes the next President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, the nation will implode sooner or later, unless something drastic happens and the ideologically lazy followership that we have become, change.
We have failed to ask for accountability. Our conscience has been beclouded with religious and ethnic sentiments.
Our sense of judgement and reason has been blinded by poverty. We chose to mortgage our tomorrow and the future of our children for the rice and a few notes they share during elections, or when politicians bother to descend to our levels very briefly, waving their accursed hand and forcing us to bow in total submission to their mere presence.
Alas, what is going on now, indicates that the followership has to awaken from its inertia. Enough is indeed enough.
In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.