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.