Puawui – Dr Sama Banya: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2020:
It has not been a pleasant week for me, nor I believe for many other Sierra Leoneans. We had just finished another three days lockdown, and I was hoping for some news to lift up my spirits over the Coronavirus pandemic and it’s much dreaded covid-19 terminator.
Kailahun had recorded its own share of positive Coronavirus infection. Those stiff-necked business women from Nyandehun Mambabu and their greedy corroborators, had ignored every warning and bribed their way out of a locked-down Kailahun district to Freetown – and to a particular store in a normally overpopulated Dovecot market area. They then manoeuvred their way back to Kailahun even after they were uncovered at the Pendembu checkpoint.
Our women got back to their Nyandehun base. Bang! And from them we saw the first positive cases in the district, thus shattering our district’s record of no infection. Since then the story of Kailahun and Covid- 19 has not been the same.
All this happened while I was reflecting with much trepidation about the outlook for our country and the majority of our people. A locked down country with a shattered economy; there loomed the vista of rising youth unemployment.
There was constant news of the big industrialised countries pouring money to stimulate their economies. Then we had a spate of riots in Pademba Road prison, preceded by senseless riots and the destruction of property in Lunsar.
Before one could whisper – Marampa chiefdom news, came of another rioting in the fishing village of Tombo. The police station and the Treatment centre were both attacked and destroyed because there was to be regulations in complying with the emergency connected to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The sad part is that all the riots and destruction are related to political incitement (APPA interim report says!). These and other concerns were clouding my thoughts as I wondered over which way we are going.
Alexander the great was a renowned general, strategist and a great but benevolent leader. It is said that it was his practice not only to lead his troops in battle, but also to make occasional unannounced visits to them when they camped at night.
On one such occasion he passed by a young soldier who was fast asleep. In the folded hands of the young man was a note which the general extracted and read. It contained a list of the soldier’s indebtedness. At the bottom of the list was one sentence, addressed to no one in particular. Alexandra read the note, “Who will pay my debts?” He took out some gold coins from his pocket, wrapped them in the soldier’s piece of paper, carefully put it back in the soldier’s hand and moved on.
Who was going to come to the aid of countries such as ours when most of the big donors had major economic woes of theirs, including high covid-19 infection and fatality rates, mounting unemployment and the grim prospects of major depressions of their own from the fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic?
How are we going to deal with our own economic woes, such as youth unemployment? What else could we do beyond going down on our knees in supplication before Almighty God/Allah?
These thoughts almost turned into soliloquy. And then something ticked! Vice President Dr Juldeh Jalloh had recently taken delivery of SEVEN METRIC TONS of various essential equipment, which were a personal donation from the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates.
Ah yes, so there was real blessing behind Bio’s “greedy per diem earning overseas trips!”. And then the front pages of some of our newspapers carried the headline – “PARLIAMENT RATIFIES 30 MILION UNITED STATES DOLLAR LOAN AGREEMENT with the EXIM Bank of India for the planned Tormah Bum rice development project.”
In addition to kickstarting our rice self-sufficiency project, the youth unemployment bonus was mouth-watering. Wait a minute! What is happening here? Is the Japanese Government not ploughing another U$234, 000 into another project?
Am I in some sort of delirium, because my smile has turned into a spontaneous grin from the corner of one cheek to the other. This is for real; here it is in front of my eyes, yes, it is not an optical illusion!
You can read about it in the Global Times and in AYV NEWS among others. It says “$156 Million Quick Action Economic Response Launched.” By our own JJ Blood, Nay – JJ Siaffa – our own homegrown Minister of Finance.
It says here, “Since the cumulative effect of the covid-19 (what’s wrong with this upstart, turning our world into a graveyard!) will adversely affect the effective implementation of the Country’s Medium Term National Development Plan and the 2020 budget, it was against this background government has developed QAERP.” The purposes are all spelt out there.
We may not deal in Billions or Trillions of United States Dollars but we are, like the big powers, creating a fund which will cushion the negative impact of Covid -19.
Care to come for a Toast your Excellency and you Finance Minister?
In the meantime I believe and I implore all of us to turn to the Almighty as the only source of our Salvation. There is no certainty about when an effective vaccine will be available for covid-19 .
America and China are still trading accusations and counter accusations, while some of the countries that had had a break in fatalities are beginning to see new cases.
The scientists are predicting another spike while others say that Covid-19 will be with us for ever – like HIV. May the Lord save us.
The truth is a very bitter pill to sometimes swallow; it is quite clear that the menacing Covid 19 virus, came not only to conquer, but to destroy countries and reduce them woefully to ashes. Are these the last days? Who knows? Its seems to me, the main purpose of this pandemic is to erase and annihilate Colossal Super power nations completely into nonexistence. No one anywhere has found any concrete answers for it! Helter-skelter,they keep on running! Grant us your mercy O lord! Deny it all you want to, but the predatory virus, is on a special mission; challenging all of us to become more compassionate, united, authentic and serious-minded in all our daily endeavors; put humanity first above everything else.
It is meticulous, precise, effective and has been able to totally expose all the frailties, inadequacies and inconsistencies, that have existed for over a century in a global superficial economic and financial systems, created by the self-centered, greedy West that believes not in attitudes of thriftiness, prudent spending and self sufficiency but in indulging in reckless borrowing and extravagant spending.
Ever seen,a house on fire, neglected and left to burn, with no one to quench it and hose it down quickly with water? Well,that’s what Africa is going to look like, after Covid 19 is gone; everyone will have their own problems and challenges to deal with, and no one would even allow us to get even close and whisper a gentle word with an empty begging bowl, pleading for help in their frustrated ears.
Not sure exactly what to make of the ending paragraphs of this write up with seemingly praise singing for JJ Blood and president Bio for a job well done, that is somehow inconspicuous to me. Frankly, there is a satirical aspect to the entire piece, especially when one factor in the subliminal celebratory tone by the writer for a couple of loans/investments pledges, which many can be classified as ‘a drop in the ocean’ in our current economic predicament. Definitely, a bit entertaining.!!
I personally believe that President Bio did the right thing by not implementing total 30 days or more lockdown as we are currently experiencing in the whole Washington DC area for the past 2 months. The people of Sierra Leone should cooperate with the government in the fight against this dreadful disease that has no vaccine, and they should realize that the only way they can benefit from the vaccine in the future is if they are still alive by adhering to existing preventive measures that are in place, because the vaccine cannot resurrect people that died because of disobedience and lawlessness.
The Economic impact is unbelievable because even in the USA that two months ago was boasting of the lowest unemployment rate in history about 3.5 % is now almost 20% because almost 40 million people have lost their livelihood or jobs. As Dr. Banya rightly stated, let’s continue to pray to our Almighty for Salvation during this trying time.