Femi Claudius Cole: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 May 2020:
We waited with anticipation for your address to the nation, as we hoped you would somehow make us feel better and hopeful as we all struggle with the Corona virus pandemic. You spoke to us and we are grateful, but we did not feel your fatherly embrace.
You spoke of Covid-19 but said nothing to health workers on the frontline who are endangering themselves and their families, who in some cases are ostracized from their communities. They are scared but still working, taking care of patients. Nothing to the sick who are too scared to go to hospital. They are afraid they will be “arrested” and taken into quarantine centers where living conditions are poor, food is inadequate, and where the risk of catching Covid is high.
You, Sir, could have allayed their fears reassuring them that quarantine is for the safety of us all. Nothing to those whose loved ones die and cannot be buried with all their loved ones and family and friends present. We acknowledge it is a pandemic, but words of sympathy would have been comforting to hear.
Nothing of thanks to mortuary staff and burial teams as they handle dead bodies. You could have cautioned them to handle all cases with compassion, and not use the distress and desperation of families for monetary gain.
Nothing to the traders whose produce are rotting as they are unable to get them to the markets due in some cases to delay and corruption at check points. This then impacts prices of commodities for us all.
Nothing to the school and college children whose education is being interrupted? No words of advice to them, their parents and their teachers encouraging them to study at home, to listen to the learning programs on the radio? Nothing on the status of their upcoming exams, BECE and WASCE? Nothing to the young girls and boys on sexual and intimate partner violence, rape and teenage pregnancy?
Nothing to the hundreds that have been laid off, house helps, nannies, drivers, shop workers and many others.
Nothing to business owners whose businesses are closed in fear of spreading the virus?
Nothing of thanks to our men and women in uniform as they strive to maintain law and order?
Nothing of sympathy to the families left grieving when they die in carrying out their duties? Nothing to remind them that they are a “FORCE FOR GOOD” and to be fair and empathetic as they discharge their duties? Nothing to the families of the guilty and to the innocent?
Nothing to the transporters as they see their income shrink due to passenger no restrictions. Nothing to the hundreds of commuters struggling for transportation at the end of the day, trying to get home in time for curfew? Nothing to those unscrupulous market /shop traders who hike prices as soon as a lockdown is announced?
Nothing to those who feel they should not comply with wearing a mask in public and wear it properly. No advise to them sir??
Nothing to our young people who are jobless, hopeless and see no future for themselves? No words of chastisement, encouragement and advice to stay away from drugs and cheap and easily available alcohol, and to avoid being used by desperate politicians, and to be protectors not destroyers of their community?
Nothing of thanks to those in the EOC who are working tirelessly to get Covid under control with so many challenges; no cautioning them to spend our tax Leones with transparency and accountability?
Nothing to all the Banks, associations, companies and private individuals who are donating in big and small ways to assist the government in the fight against Covid 19?
We know Covid-19 is a global problem. We can only fight and win, if we fight together. Casting political blame is not the way to go Mr. President, our enemy is just too vicious, it has no respect for anything and anyone, and “WE” are all at risk.
We must all play our part, it will be uncomfortable and painful but we have to “bia”. We MUST and we WILL defeat Covid-19.
We need our first couple to give us hope and inspiration as we navigate the effects of this pandemic.
The possibility remains that more lockdowns may be inevitable. As our infection rate increases so does the possibility that people may have to self-isolated in their own homes. Therefore, we must prepare the population to ensure compliance and cooperation.
Embrace us Mr. President –“SOFT WORDS SOFTENS ANGER”. This is not the time for a war cry. You are our duly elected President we must respect – not fear you.
About the author
Femi Claudius Cole is the Chairman and Leader of the opposition Unity Party in Sierra Leone.