Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 April 2016
As I watched the sham in parliament a few weeks ago, described as the screening of nominees for exalted positions, the situation pointed to the sad reality that we are in a serious one chance saloon – one last chance with no door.
It is not enough to have a legislature. It must be driven by proven, knowledgeable and capable patriotic hands and minds, with unimpeachable integrity, not hustlers masquerading as legislathieves.
With every desecration of the hallowed chamber and the Muppet show that went on during the so called parliamentary screening of the presidential nominees, it immediately became crystal clear why we are where we are today. Why there is such an enveloping poverty in our land. Why our democracy is a charade.
A cabal of interlopers, reading from a mangled script left behind by Siaka Stevens, who laid the foundation of our present disaster, is gripping Sierra Leone by the throat and ready to squeeze the life out of us, without caring a hoot.
These agents for the maintenance of the status quo, who want to keep the country as the conquered territory to be pillaged and milked with reckless abandon, are at logger heads with those who want a semblance of the original Sierra Leone that they knew; or the type of country that exists in saner environment.
The primitive accumulation of public funds by the animals in human skin, whose sole focus is the promotion of stomach infrastructure instead of good governance, boils down to a loss of values and a convoluted sense of what is important in life; especially in the service of the people.
Remember Siaka Stevens’ stubbornness in hosting the OAU? It signalled the start of our economic descent.
Then think of Mamamah airport at whooping cost of over $400million, described as plainly a vanity project by various international bodies, but to which our government appears to be bullishly committed for whatever reason and at the expense of the acute poverty that ravages the land.
Gambia’s economy depends on tourism and foreigners troop there regularly. Yet, the modernised Lungi airport is slightly bigger and the country whose leader is said to be an eccentric and who has done much to transform his country, has not gone down the road of such waste.
Just imagine – if a quarter of the cost of the proposed airport is pumped into the health sector; another quarter into education; a third quarter into agriculture and the remaining hundred million dollars into solving the dilemma of our huge youth unemployment.
Just imagine what transformation will occur in Sierra Leone. What foundation will be laid for a better future.
The impact of all our resources, including the foreign wads of money, can only be measured by the effect on the lives of the people. We miss the point when we treat every suggestion against a government policy and even mild criticism against its actions as anti-government.
If we want the government to succeed, we must not build a cult of self-praise around its leaders and treat all critics as saboteurs who must be run out of town.
To those whose only interest is the sign of dollars in their accounts, I ask: where are the rich of yesteryears – the looters of the past? Consigned to the dustbin of history.
Individually, we remember each one of them for who they really were. Likewise we will classify the present crop, when they eventually leave this world or the safety of power.
Sierra Leone has been forced into a proxy war between truth and falsehood, a war between darkness and light, the war between reason and unreason, and war between the brains and the brainless. This is what I see as dragging us into a one chance bus. (Photo: Vice president Foh).
This is the time for collective responsibility and concrete action. Let us fire on all cylinders to reclaim our nation for the majority and not the minority. This will take massive adjustments and contributions on our part, without a doubt. Actually we will be living a new script, and not the old familiar one we are accustomed to.
Nevertheless, this does not mean we should jump from fry pan to fire. We need in these times to be cautious about the help we get. That’s my take.
Change will come, but prosperity will not come overnight as we are being led to believe. Which is why I am deeply worried about the Greek gift from China and some other foreign rascals that have and are swarming over the left-over of our resources.
Without wanting to sound like a wailer, the dice they often throw in the game of survival that we have embarked is often too heavily loaded in their favour.
Their loans tie us to buy from them at rates and terms determined by them and for substandard goods, services and technology, as well as contracts that are skewed. Where are the mining companies that we welcomed with red carpets?
I believe if we concentrate on blocking areas of leakages in our economy and stop those we have entrusted with the steering of our national ship from driving us into the iceberg and dipping their hands in the till, we should be able to overcome our current economic travails.
Many Sierra Leoneans are suffering now, because of impunity and poor leadership. No government should sit and watch fourteen year old girls, sell their bodies in the streets to pay their school fees; nor sell fifteen year old boys to foreign companies to fight a war in Iraq for £10 a day.
It is from among us that those corrupt individuals laughing all the way to the bank, get willing conduits for the nefarious activities which allow them to live like gods, amidst the excruciating poverty of the masses. It is us that hail them for even what is obviously foolhardy.
You may disagree all you like with my position, you may even not believe there is a law of gravity, but please step out of second floor and not expect to fall. The question is: When will our indignation come to the fore, if ever?
You know something? A child that says his mother is ugly is indirectly saying his father suffers from partial blindness. We definitely need a moral reset.
Let the change begin with us as individuals now. Let us stop sitting quietly, scrambling for crumbs, described as dividends of democracy by our leaders in their guise to keep us in perpetual servitude.
It is our right to demand that even the most basic systems and controls over the management of our resources, which are in dire need of strengthening must take place along with the fundamentals in any democratic settings to balance deliveries of dividends of democracy across the nation.
No doubt, Sierra Leoneans need to reclaim the nation back from the mindless lot invested with power and their cronies. We need to take control of our future, collectively. We need to show more interest in the future of our country – without fear or favour.