Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 May 2016
Whoever has the ears of the President, should please tell him that the dividends of democracy in Sierra Leone, have not reached the door of the common man.
That their hearts ache, because the trust they had in today being the tomorrow, which they thought about yesterday, has been crushed in the unfolding drama of our realities.
Tell him that those institutions that should form the bedrock of our expected change, have suffered utter neglect and even total destruction, and can no longer be the driver of any change in Sierra Leone.
That there is need for deep introspection, because everybody want the prophesied change, but are looking up and wondering why those calling them to follow, are maintaining the state of affairs that has elevated the politics of subservience and fiefdom to criminal level.
Bring his attention to the gathering storm, about the disappointment of the people who expected change to mean that the status quo that led the country to this period of uncertainty, will be completely overturned to create more efficient, sustainable, accountable and functional institutions.
That, there is anger and hunger in the polity and that the people are angry because of economic hardship.
They are hungry because the prices of essential commodities are running faster than Usain Bolt.
Many cannot afford even a square meal any longer.
Whisper it in his ears that the generality of the people have been confined to wallow in abject poverty in the backyard of economic hell, and cannot even hold onto straws. That the flailing flesh of many can no longer protect their bones.
As you clink glasses with the president, point out to him that many feel disheartened and dismayed; and that, the expectations of the people seem to dwindle and their faith is now rejecting the hope of a promised prosperity as its godsend companion.
Let him know that once an economy is dollarised, like we are rapidly approaching, the local currency and by implication the economy is on the threshold of disaster.
Painful as the truth is to bear, it is important that he be told that the citizens, whose purchasing power remains in short supply and in some cases – virtually non-existence – but for the benevolence of others and the Diaspora, are getting to the realisation that their policy-makers are unable to navigate the sovereign state, out of economic marshes and financial swamps.
I pray that he be told, amidst sweet nothings, that majority of his ‘subjects’ who are forced to troop out to shout hosanna, keep asking, as palls of dark clouds continue to hover overhead, why their leaders keep themselves busy with things that are mundane, things that are trivial and things that have no lasting benefits to the populace, but to their personal selves alone.
Sadly, if you have the President’s ears, it has become imperative that you become the conscience of the nation and pour out the truth, that when he drives in his convoy across the land, those personalities with sombre faces who look forlornly along the desert lane of dire straight, are lamenting the fate that remains unkind and the persistence of stormy weather in their patch of the land.
As the harmattan of life turns severe for the majority, it may be important to let the President be aware that laudable as his vision might be, the only dream of the many, as at this moment, is a life that is devoid of hardship. That some of the voices that have become irritating to his ears, are the defendants of the poor against any plans of the government that might bring further burden to society.
If you have the President’s ears, it would be appreciated if you tell him that no one works well with a hoe, without drawing it to oneself. That maybe he should have done some of the more traditional things in the overhaul of the socio-economic and political development of the nation, and implement solutions to our everyday needs and problems, before trying to plaster an incomplete building.
What else should you tell him?
I’m sure that since you are one of the few that he listens to, then the truth will suffice. That we must tell ourselves what is wrong; and in charting the roadmap for change, his first step should be a paradigm shift in governance that will return the culture of development planning which was bequeathed to us at independence.
The President needs to know that no matter how strong our rhetoric is on change, prosperity and development, there will be no guaranteed delivery until the systems and institutions are revamped and positioned for 21st century realities.
Change cannot and should not be aesthetic. It needs to be comprehensive, and must address the root causes of the nation’s problems.
Please let him know that in times of challenge, a demand for solution inevitably emerges. That, trials such as the nation is passing through, are well-known fodder for change and innovation. It has happened everywhere.
For God’s sake tell him that his apparent quietude to the rumbles, greed and impunity that pervade the land, has been insinuated to signify agreement, and despite what he may be made to believe, has not portrayed him in a dispassionate light. (Photo: Justice Cowan – head of the constitutional review committee, presenting report to president).
It would be appreciated to assure him that while the masses can see his roads, it is the roadmap to stomach infrastructure that they long for. Share with him some of the human and administrative challenges that are the truths of our society right now.
He surely needs to know that the institutions and structures that make for governance, but which are tainted by the culture of corruption and ineptitude, need to change first before we can see any meaningful progress.
Kindly inform him that those plebs, jobless youths and market women who were promised rosy economic and social returns, can no longer hold on to their ordeals with passive self-control.
They have simply resorted to looking up to Papa God, as if God is an insurance company which compensates for economic penury, mental anguish and family dislocation that have been the lot of the majority in the midst of the abundant resources that He has showered on Sierra Leone.
Please make it clear to him that what passes for economic management is nothing more than impulsive awards of contracts to execute random projects; and that our continued dependence on foreign aid is a confirmation that we do not believe in ourselves anymore. That, we lack the leadership that can rev the ‘can-do’ attitude, necessary for our turn around.
From this perspective, the belligerence of the government that all is well and we are on the highway of prosperity, is an indication of the leadership’s persistent manipulative phenomenon in accordance with the tenets of their whims and caprices.
While it is captivating to say, the list truthfully portrays the seriousness of our situation.
Oh – how I pray that he will be reminded that the oppressed are in a state of permanent tension, and their immediate dreams are that of switching roles and positions with their tormentors – the oppressive clique that have colonised the commonwealth.
Will you let him know in that quiet moment, that the insistence on going ahead with the construction of a new airport, while the people groan under hardship and basic necessities of human existence which are completely absent, is an indication of the enormity of the wall of enmity demarcating the people from their ‘sovereign’ leaders?
Why, in the midst of prevailing poverty that has plagued the largest members of the public, his government prefers Chinese Greek-gifts that are enslaving us, as fundamentally essential, over and above long term meaningful projects that are beneficial to the majority of the people as well as their welfare.
Please make it clear that China’s presence in Sierra Leone is not about civilization or development. It is about greed and lust for our valuable resources, as well as its search for global economic power and dominance.
This is why they force us to ignore fresh ideas, compel us to accept experts who are far inferior to those we have at our fingertips, and dictate what they want to give us and not what we need for our headache.
What is the meaning of the status of Sierra Leone having the best airport in Africa to the millions without access to safe clean water, electricity, quality education and decent housing for the poor?
What is the significance of a fanciful airport to those citizens, who want the nation to be a food basket to the rest of the sub-region?
He may not be aware, but let him know that our political system is still lacking in essential ingredients. The legislature is like the silence of the lamb being led to the slaughter, while there is no trust in the judiciary – that industry that provides the technical cloak of acceptability to wrongdoing.
Neither is salvation seen as residing in the executive, which had been expected to be the pace setter of the moral reset and the inculcation of the new culture, as well as the guardian of social justice.
Kindly tell him that allowing the frustration psychology of the emasculated majority to continue to prevail, is the catalyst for the increasing murmurs; and that our classic tragedy is a trigger that highlights the standard of frustration of Sierra Leoneans.
He should therefore not forget the fact that a combination of mistakes, misunderstandings, and wrongs by ex-President Siaka Stevens accelerated the political and economic catastrophe of Sierra Leone, which served as the matrix on which the civil war was based.
During your tete-a-tete, he might as well be reminded that leadership is a service and not a lordship; and that the ghost of the decision by those before him to go down the line of ignoring the people, still haunts us today.
These and more, you need to tell the President and don’t forget that so far, some of the actions and utterances of his team indicate that they do not have the understanding of the time.
Oh! Before I forget, he needs to know that the chicken is gradually coming home to roost. It is time to end the tomfoolery. Firstly, is the need for a moral reset at a very basic primordial level.
Confronted with the tragic national problems as we have it today, which if not addressed urgently – is capable of collapsing the nation, let him realise that deprived citizens who make up most of the nation’s constitutive elements are no longer willing to put behind them, their bitterness against the existing greedy, corrupt and wicked system that has thrown many out of their beloved country and enslaved others.
By the way, to my readers: Today, in the light of the now well-known fact that the callous forces masquerading as real humans in the national scheme of things, have continued to demonstrate their capacity to undermine Sierra Leone’s potential for socio-economic growth and political leadership, thus the need to properly re-position our understanding of the times we live, has become even greater.
If I may ask, assuming that our leaders believe in being candidates of hell-fire, which is the spirit behind the actions and utterances of the majority of them, what stops the rest of us from joining hands to fight the epidemic of poverty and the collapse of all our values and social infrastructures, that has punished us so much all these years, as well as work for the restoration of our beloved country? Just a thought.
Whoever has the ears of the president – let them hear.