The politics of Sierra Leone’s Bankasoka Hydro Dam – a State House fiasco

Franklyn Davies:

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 December 2017:

Following the disastrous re-launch of the Port Loko Bankasoka Dam by the ruling APC government to score cheap popularity and political points, questions abound the day after – inside State House, about who was to blame for the fiasco.

The ruling party’s mangled orchestrated event capped a tortured State House’s inability, for political reasons,  at least for one time, and for a single day, to level with the Sierra Leonean populace and render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

As Sierra Leoneans wrap their heads around the brazen display of their commander-in-chief’s penchant for telling untruths, at home and abroad, many confirmed what they always knew about Ernest Koroma and his lack of decency and integrity for the last ten years in office.

The Bankasoka story has become a nightmare  story for Koroma and his government, as current NGC flag-bearer looms large regardless of how the story is told to suit APC’s political narrative.

Regardless of how many times Bankasoka is re-launched, Kandeh Yumkella’s shadow can never be erased.

On the one hand, is a President who publicly acknowledged Yumkella’s leadership of the Vienna-based independent UN agency and his government’s gratitude, and by extension the nation, of the many projects that Sierra Leone has enjoyed and benefited from UNIDO under the the two-term former director-general.

President Koroma said on April 4 2012; “But as we are here today, all of us have to offer our deepest gratitude to UNIDO for a very fine job and the high-level delegation that has joined us today. My government and the people of Sierra Leone are truly proud of the many projects that UNIDO has and continues to undertake in this nation.”

“We are truly proud that Dr. Yumkella is providing exceptional leadership at UNIDO. With him, our flag is flying higher and higher each and every day. Some of us would want him to be the next Ban Ki-moon or to be any other person of global stature but we don’t know what comes next. But in all his endeavours, Sierra Leone wishes him the very best. Whatever good intentions we have for him in our country, we shall ask God to make it possible,” said the lame duck Koroma, as he paid a glowing tribute of his brother Sierra Leonean.

On the other hand, five years later, trying to change the true narrative which every Sierra Leonean knows and acknowledges with gratitude, amidst a difficult campaign and his sudden realization that his third term machination is all but foiled by the same citizens he has continually lied to, Mr. Koroma sang a new and awful Krio song that decent citizens wished he never sang.

The Krio song loosely translated began this way – “You know I like to say the truth. UNIDO did participate in the Bankasoka project in providing the initial feasibility and other things. They participated because UNIDO was here with us when we we began as a government. Thus, we say thanks to them  for the support they rendered us.” Having lost all the respect and credibility which Sierra Leoneans thought he had, he continued “Believe me, as a Sierra Leonean and as Ernest Koroma, from the country whose resources he and family has plundered, and in my desire to help Sierra Leone, I would have brought 100 or 200 megawatts,” to fake applause from an imported crowd that will soon send him packing.

The truth Mr. President is this:  UNIDO Member States would never have elected you as Director-General. Thus, let’s forget about what you would have done for Sierra Leone as the institution’s DG. Let’s focus instead on your presidency which you promised to run like a business.

We already know what yours look like. Given Kandeh’s record of global service, we know what would have happened if he were president of this nation. We know what he would have done if he had run this country as a business. Unfortunately, your record running Sierra Leone as a business is no secret: some of it is open secret and is as follows:

1. You have bankrupt the nation to its knees.

2. You have bequeathed a total of $2.5 billion debt to a whole generation of Sierra Leoneans – some unborn.

3. You have stolen Ebola money which you once said in Washington is blood money to buy votes. Sierra Leoneans will take it , eat it and show you just how disgusted they are with your 10 years in office.

4. You have made your immediate family billionaires overnight and a few more due to the quota system you have continuously encouraged because you get your own percentage. (Photo: President Koroma’s tears of goodbye to parliament).

In contrast, if Kandeh Yumkella had been at State House, his presidency would have been about the benefit of every Sierra Leonean to improve their lives and those of their families.

Had Yumkella been in office, he would have ensured our educational system is the best in the sub-region ensuring all teachers had their Personal Identification Numbers. Had Yumkella been in office, his administration will never have 30,000 teachers without PINs.

Had Yumkella been in office, he would have ensured that our security forces – particularly senior officers, have tenure to ensure their jobs are done free of politics. Had Yumkella been in office, he would not have accepted to be Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone.

Had Yumkella been in office, all his interests would have been nothing but Sierra Leone and her citizens. He has demonstrated these same qualities as UNIDO Director-General, focusing on the interests of the 173 Member States who unanimously elected him to two-terms.

As you probably know but refuse to recognize – Kandeh Yumkella did not need to be president of the Republic to help Sierra Leone.

His record is clear and is known by all. In fact, the immense benefits Sierra Leone has enjoyed has been with him at the helm of UNIDO.

Since his tenure ended, not only was the office downgraded from a Representative Office to an ordinary Liaison Office which has seen the amount of project support decreased considerably.

Some of the current projects that have been implemented, are the results of Yumkella’s initiative, supported and approved before he left UNIDO.

As Kandeh said on April 4, 2012 at the original launch of Bankasoka, “ Good Development does not happen overnight.” Development takes time and Bankasoka is no different.

It took six years of sustained UNIDO efforts plus personal lobby and the interest of Sierra Leone to get it to where it is today.

Gratitude is one of the values I was taught as a kid growing up in Freetown. It is the same value that Sierra Leoneans are taught. It is why they recognize Dr. Yumkella’s work and appreciate his efforts regardless of the spin you give it.

Sierra Leoneans must not be taken for granted. They are tired and would wish you leave and retire in peace. Equally, they hope you know that since you live in a glass house, you should stay away from throwing stones.


  1. In my opinion the main reason why Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world is because of our attitude. The culture of lying is a stronghold that has gripped our nation since the days of the late president Siaka Stevens who built the foundation of his government from lying.

    But president Ernest Koroma has taken the art of lying to a different level by calling it “419”- and it’s now contagious because people just lie about everything including their health and school fees just to survive and as was evidence within his party when he lied to all members that they can start campaigning in order to succeed him through democratic means but eventually handpicked ” SLEEPING SAM”.

    “First impression goes a long way” the first video about the Bankasoka project is the real evidence of truth – any other statement that follows is a lie. In Sierra Leone, our parents always prayed for ” GOOD SABABU” since it can open doors and windows of opportunity for anyone, and pray against ” BAD SABABU ” because it can destroy you in a minute.

    The president should just stick with the truth and put this issue to rest because (KKY is the SABABU) and based on things currently happening on the ground, the APC party won’t even make it to the second round because the credibility and integrity of the president and his party as a whole is now under scrutiny.

  2. If the President had said we thank the effort of Kandeh Yumkella in ensuring that this project has been fulfilled today will not cause any harm to APC’s campaign in that region. It was not Kandeh himself who provided the funds but the insincerity of the president is what is troubling.

    This APC government has taken credit for everything including what the former SLPP government achieved whilst in office. What they fail to realise is that it was this very APC party that wrecked the economy of this country after being in power for nearly 30 years then leading to the NPRC coup.

    The choice in this election is clear we either return the APC to power for President Koroma to achieve his third term agenda through the back door or we vote in a progressive party that will lift this country out of the poverty it finds itself.

    Samura Kamara despite all his supporters claim he has achieved was part and parcel of the failures of the Koroma era and should be rejected by the people of this country. President Koroma has been in power for ten years in which the country was stable but keeps comparing his record to that of the SLPP who inherited a battered economy and a war torn country but succeeded in creating a more stable economy than we have today in terms of interest rate and inflation.

    It is about time the opposition parties lay bare the record of this government and stop playing it safely.

  3. Ernest is Ernest. You are Ernest Koroma, Dr Kandeh Yumkella is Dr Kandeh Yumkella. The people of Sierra Leone and the world at large clearly know the difference between the two – character wise and so on and so forth. You promised the nation and Port Loko that you will build a NEW AIRPORT before the end of your term as president ends.

    What you end up delivering is a 25 MILES TOLL ROAD. That is what Ernest Koroma is known for. When you promised improved health facilities that would guarantee healthy for citizenry, EBOLA disease that took away thousands of lives away was what we got. That’s what Ernest Koroma does and known for.

  4. It’s like the whole campaigning of kkk is now based on support Sierra Leone as a member state of the UN is entitled to from any UN agency. Are you insinuating that without kkk at the helm of UNIDO Sierra Leone could not have benefited? You guys need to know how the UN agencies operate before you continue polluting the minds of illiterate Sierra Leoneans with cheap politics. You guys just wasting your precious time on a one show enterprise.

    • Mr. Davies Koroma, for sure, Sierra Leone could have benefited from UNIDO support without Dr. Yumkella. But Port Loko could never have benefited from the Gbankasoka Hydro project without Dr. Yumkella as Director-General because providing a sustainable source of renewable energy for the people of Port Loko was his idea and initiative conceived during one of his numerous visits to China. So, let’s stop standing on our heads to make the world look better.

  5. Kindly remind Dr. Kandeh to let go taking honour for this Bankasuka Dam. It is against UN ethical standards – Honours, Favours, Gifts and Remuneration. Here are few UN code of conduct

    Honours, Favours, Gifts and Remuneration

    As a rule, we cannot accept any honours, favours or gifts from any governmental sources. However, when the rejection of a gift would be seen as embarrassing to the Organization, we may accept it, but then hand the item or award over to the Secretary-General. Likewise, we cannot receive honours, gifts or benefits from non-governmental sources without prior approval.

    Small gifts of a social or customary nature from non-governmental sources are normally acceptable but must be reported to the head of the Office or Department. Even after receiving approval, we should be mindful not to create an impression that a personal benefit could improperly influence our professional decisions.

    2. The United Nations Charter requires that all UN personnel must maintain the highest standards of integrity and conduct. The UN is committed to ensuring that all its personnel deployed globally serve with professionalism, courtesy and dignity. Over 100,000 civilian, military and police personnel are currently deployed in the various UN peacekeeping operations and special political missions around the world.

    2. Accepting an honour, decoration, favour, gift or remuneration in connection with official duties may give rise to a real or potential conflict of interest, as it may be seen to create an obligation.

    3.Relations with member States and legislative bodies
    It is the clear duty of all international civil servants to maintain the best possible relations with Governments and avoid any action that might impair this. They should interfere in the policies or affairs of Governments. It is unacceptable for them, either individually or collectively, to criticize or try to discredit a Government. At the same time, it is understood that international civil servants may speak freely in support of their

    organizations’ policies. Any activity, direct or indirect, to undermine or overthrow Government constitutes serious misconduct.

    International civil servants are not representatives of their countries, nor do they have authority to act as liaison agents between organizations of the United Nations system and their Governments. The executive head may, however, request an international civil servant to undertake such duties, a unique role for which international loyalty and integrity are essential. For their part, neither Governments nor organizations should place international civil servants in a position where their international and national loyalties may conflict.

    With the above few points and many more to follow, Dr. Kandeh should not take the glory for this project.

  6. Please dont blame the APC government for the Bankasoka. On the 14 of November a Chinese delegation visited all of their Hydro Dam Projects in the country and a press release was made by the Chinese team that the Bankasoka, Charllotte and other Hydro Dams were funded by the Chinese Government to strengthen the cordial relationship between the People of China, the China government and the Government of Sierra Leone.

    During the commission of the Bankasoka Hydra Dam the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone made a public statement that the project was funded by the Chinese Government. Are you telling us that, the Chinese Government lied? I dont believe that the Chinese government will lie, it has nothing to do with UNIDO either.

    The APC government isn´t playing cheap Politics, because since they came to power they are transforming the country on Roads, Health Centres, Agricultural, Water Dam in all major Towns and cities and energy in every part of the country. Based on the transformation the APC administration has made, most of you call them different names – just the pull down syndrome in Salone Politics.

    I want all of you guys who are engaged in Party Politics to know one thing, that we the neutralists are happy about the work done by the APC government by implementing the activities the People needed most. When I was in Sierra Leone, I visited my family houses in Makeni and Bo town. I was so happy to see lots of changes in terms of infrastructure development.

    Mind you Freetown isn’t Sierra Leone, so most of you are finding it hard to commend them, but the score cards for APC is 75% work done in the Country. A Philosopher says, “If it is not Right do not do it, if it is not true do not say it”. Why are you accusing the APC government?

    You should ask the Chinese Ambassador in Freetown who made such statement and we the general masses will believe the Chinese Ambassador, because there are lots of Projects the Chinese Government are undertaking in the country. Some of you are creating the problem of deception, rather than the truth. We can teach from experience, but we cannot teach experience. The Chinese government will never lie about Bankasoka and any other Project in the country.

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