Is Sierra Leone’s Chief Minister the problem?

Elkass Sannoh: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 June 2020:

Recently, I was researching and desperately finding credible information about the Office of the Chief Minister when I stumbled on information about how the Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, in 2015 endorsed a new book published by one of the leading and internationally recognised mediators – Dr. Saeb Erekat, entitled ‘Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb & Negotiations’.

For those who do not know or have even heard about Dr. Saeb Erekat, he is the Palestinian Chief Negotiator of the Israeli-Palestine conflict and Secretary General of the Palestinian Authority, who negotiated the Oslo Peace Accords with Israel and has extensive connections with several American Presidents and world leaders.

For such an international figure that is globally respected to ask Professor Francis, a Sierra Leonean, to endorse his new book, is a mark of great respect and admiration for his intellectual leadership and distinguished scholarship.

To be Frank, I think the Chief Minister is the problem and his own enemy, because he doesn’t give interviews, nor talk about himself and his impressive international achievements, like the other half-baked so-called international civil servants.

In the absence of information about the Chief Minister, we in the media therefore tend to make up stories about him because we know that the mere mention of his name and picture on the front cover of any newspaper will sell like hot cake!

This discovery made me remember that this same Professor David Francis wrote the Foreword to a book about the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, entitled – ‘Coming Back from the Brink in Sierra Leone’.

I was also really pleased to read what the late Mr. Solomon Berewa, former Vice President and SLPP Presidential Candidate said about Professor Francis in his book – ‘A New Perspective on Governance, Leadership, Conflict and Nation Building in Sierra Leone’. He said: “Professor David J. Francis inspired me with the idea of putting on paper the experience I gained from the vantage position I held in Government ….Professor Francis was quite sure that I am capable of producing a book narrating the events…. He encouraged and even urged me persistently to make an attempt. If this book is a reality today, it is due to the inspiration and encouragement of Professor Francis”.

You cannot read all of these genuine sentiments about the work and humility of this man, Professor Francis, without being proud as a Sierra Leonean.

Of course, the majority of Sierra Leoneans now know that the Chief Minister has been one of Sierra Leone’s most distinguished, internationally respected and acclaimed academics, writer and author, with 10 books (single authored and edited books) and more than 30 journal articles, book chapters and commissioned papers.

I have therefore decided to publish a series of articles on the publications, books and writings of the Chief Minister, Professor David J. Francis, as a way of getting the people of Sierra Leone to see a different side of the Chief Minister, rather than the usual view of him as a politician and technocrat.

Let me just make it clear that these series of publications have not been discussed with or received the approval of the Chief Minister. Despite the Chief Minister’s lack of approval, as a journalist, I have decided to write the facts based on the research I have carried out on the work of the Professor myself.

I am doing this because the majority of Sierra Leoneans see the Chief Minister as a formidable intellectual figure, a highly competent, disciplined, professional technocrat in President’s Bio’s Government and one of the leading lights of the New Direction administration.

I have heard many people who admire his intellectual leadership, technocratic and rather ‘too strict’ approach to governance and politics often describe him in a populist fashion as the ‘Brain Box’ and ‘Back Bone’ of the New Direction Government of President Bio.

I have also heard academics at our Universities compare him to the legendary Dr. Davidson Nicol, the Cambridge-educated former Principal of Fourah Bay College and Vice Chancellor of the University in the 1960s, the distinguished academic, diplomat, author and Physician.

But what do we know about Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, as a distinguished academic, author and writer who has significantly contributed to the understanding of politics, peace and conflict resolution, governance, security and development in Sierra Leone and Africa in general?

In the coming weeks and months, I will be writing articles on the books authored by Professor Francis, starting with his newly edited book that I discovered online – ‘Peace, Democracy & Development in Africa July 2020’.

13 Comments

  1. Joe Koroma, please understand that I am first of all a Sierra Leonean. APC, SLPP, NGC and others mean nothing to me. If you have followed my comments closely, I criticise or praise President Bio in the same breath as dictated by events. Primarily I just want to see progress in my country. Academic qualifications do not impress me until they are used to bring about change and progress that no one can doubt or question. Let us stop instinctively respecting these PhD holders until they do something for us in return. You must concede the fact Joe, that somebody may be academically brilliant but lacks executive acumen.

    I don’t hate David Francis personally. My comments about him are grounded in his public persona – what he does in his private life is nobody’s business, and I will fight to keep it that way. This goes for all our public figures, including President Bio and his wife. I would run down any public figure on any “gate” if you see what I mean. The only reason why I want to see NGC in power is for the nation to take a break from the two major parties who in nearly sixty years of independence have only brought us woes. I just want us to turn a new page. Had KKY succeeded in becoming president, I would be just as ready to throw him under a freight train as anybody else if in my opinion he was not doing a good job. It may shock you to know, Joe, that when it looked at some point that Charles Margai would dislodge APC from power, I was for him.

    I just detest both SLPP and APC, although there are individuals in both that I like politically. Presently, on the assumption that Dr KKY is not a contender, I would sooner maintain Maada Bio in power than bring back APC, who are busy perfecting their thieving strategies to avoid detection in another inquiry. I am a free spirit whose love for Sierra Leone is immeasurable; I am ready to kick any backside out of the way which intends to impede the progress of my dear nation. I give slack to no one. Nobody throws the presidency at no one. You get in – you must perform. If you can’t, step aside.

  2. Academic exploits should be the least of our concerns at this moment in our nation’s history when we cannot feed ourselves, we don’t have an uniterrupted supply of electricity, we don’t have pipe borne water, our educational system has lost its glitter, our children don’t have proper school infrastructures etc etc.

    The Chief Minister may have international standing because of his academic achievement but how does this translate to solving our bread and butter issues? Allah/God knows that we don’t eat or drink professorship but sustaining food and water. Our heroes and heroines should be the leaders who deploy common sense methods to meet our challenges. David Francis may be academically brilliant, but this should not mesmerise us to the point where we fail to rate him poorly for poor performance in office. He must understand that we are interviewing him all the time in a tacit or tangential way; as of now he is barely passing, even with his PhD.

    Sierra Leoneans are not in hallucination, they know that the problems in our society are numerous and are not all the making of SLPP. What they want to see is the Bio led government stumbling in the direction of solving one of them. David Francis may be afraid to give interviews because there’s a ghost he doesn’t want to face, a ghost that could trip him to end his political career.

    • Santhkie Sorie,
      I expected you to come out swinging upon seeing the name of your nemesis mentioned in a very favorable light. I mean the name of Professor David Francis, the man that you have single-handedly tried and unfairly convicted in your obscure court of public opinion. But the fact is, no amount of arbitrary and convoluted attacks wrapped in fanciful language would ever put a good man like David Francis down.

      Instead of concocting baseless stories to smear the character of hard-working public officials, Santhkie Sorie and other informed Sierra Leoneans should be using their pulpits to praise highly accomplished men like Francis for sacrificing their time to help develop Sierra Leone. Evidently, no nation on the face of the earth has been transformed from a state of wretchedness to one of sustainable growth and development in just twenty-four months. No magical elixir exists even in the United States, China, or Singapore to accomplish that feat.

      I am sure Santhkie Sorie would have been much more measured in his expectations had the NGC won the elections two years ago. This is to be expected, given the unwritten laws of political party partisanship. However, my appeal to the likes of Santhkie Sorie and other impatient members of the opposition, is to hold their fire and refrain from the all too familiar acts of desperation for power, that have come to be associated with their utterances. David Francis is critical to president Bio’s drive to solve the bread and butter issues and to the complete transformation Sierra Leone, into a country that is not only productive domestically, but also competitive internationally.

  3. Many thanks Emmanuel for your observation which I appreciate very much. I do praise the government when something good for the nation is achieved and typical examples were establishing the COI, the lockdown by districts and the renovation of the Mental Home to name a few. You are right. My expectations when President Bio took office for a tolerable and United Sierra Leone were great. I was really excited about his rule, hoping for continuity and the rule of law. But after the disturbances during the bye elections, selective justice by the ACC, COI and the many other violent political activities against the opposition that followed, I thought it personally, with my God given conscience to follow what is right.

    Emmanuel, no one would like to see SLPP politicians and officials be rounded up and thrown into prisons unlawfully, if they lose power. What I am doing today is what I will do tomorrow if SLPP lose power and barbarity is turned against them. We should not allow ourselves to be part of any war again, because all what is happening now, increases anger and grudge, which people might use in the future against others. What is happening today are related to what triggered the war in our country.
    Finally, I believe, I love President Bio than many who are pretending to love him.

    The truth of the matter is, I talk about the wrongs that are happening in the country which needs to be addressed and corrected by President Bio before it’s too late. Bottom line, President Bio should have continued on the political foundation former President Ernest Bai Koroma and the late President Ahmed Tejan Kabba have started. He is not obliged, but should have been a smart idea. God bless Mr Emmanuel yongai Tucker.

  4. Any degree holder or Professor should be commended and respected for his/her hardwork, dedication and scholarship irrespective of the subject area, the prestige or international standing of the academic institution, he/she is an alumnus of or had tenure. That said, with all due respect to our learned and distinguished Professor and Fourahbite, I find it too far a stretch to rank him alongside those who were privileged to be alumni or Lecturers of IVY League Universities or Oxbridge.

    It is a different ball game all together attending those creme de la creme citadels of learning and research, compared to darkening the classrooms of ordinary Southampton and Bradford Universities. Just check this out: https://www.ukuni.net/articles/uk-university-times-ranking-2020.

    The cabinet of President Siaka Stevens in the 80s was one of the most educated ever in Sierra Leone – Dr Sama Banya, Dr Abass Bundu, Dr Fasuluku Suku Tamba, Dr Idriss Fofanah, Dr Abdul Koroma, Dr Joe Jackson, you remember them? Their achievements or lack thereof as a cabinet and a Government, is well documented. The jury is still out on this cohort of PHD holders in our present cabinet and government, but cynics and critics have already made up their minds.

  5. There was once a legendary donkey, in the far east, that used to travel hundreds of miles, happily carrying heavy, crushing, ancient loads of books on his rugged, stony back; And it is said that it was an expert mathematician that could easily solve the hardest scientific and math problems, ever known to man. Scores and scores of years of cruising and crossing the vast Arabian desert, carrying heavy piles of diverse kinds of books, had strangely, transformed this resourceful, adorable animal into something truly special, like an ordinary stone that gradually became a priceless gemstone, it had become…And into an incomparable genius, of course.

    The story goes that once, the owner of the donkey, travelling alone in the desert was attacked by bandits, who demanded all he had. The shrewd owner took out a handful of coins and handed it quietly to them; and as they were walking away, the donkey said to them “Fools, on his waist he is carrying a 1000 gold pieces and 200 silver ones” The bandits were shocked, but overjoyed to hear the donkey speak and give his master’s secret away. They stripped him totally naked and took all he was hiding away. When they had gone, the owner said to the donkey, “I am quite sure you can solve,”Rieman Hypothesis Theory” if you wanted to, but of what good are you to me or anyone if you do not understand the simplest things about life?”

    And he broke down crying, but the confused donkey could not understand why. David Francis, may have a PHD, and he may have authored a million books – so what? These individuals in power do not understand what is important in governance and of great value. Ask them to carefully stitch, sew and patch a few aggrieved and disgruntled communities together and make them whole again, secure and at peace and they wont even know where to start. Of course, he is an important piece of the SLPP’s trashy jigsaw puzzle of FAILURE!N o doubt…He IS certainly part of the Problem!

  6. Emmanuel Tucker say—“ Not a day, do you comment positively about this government on any post by this notable news outlet. Is that not counter productive? Have you seen the lastest peace ranking for 2020? If we were in such chaotic system as you portray, can we be ranked fourth in Africa and second in West Africa as the most peaceful country.“

    Hello Mr. Tucker, welcome to this intellectual noble forum sir. I frankly have not seen the 2020 peace ranking you are alluding to. By all indications, it will definitely be surprising if we are ranked the 4th peaceful nation in the entire Africa. I mean, what is the possibility we are ranked better than Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Gambia, to new a few in the subregion compared to the entire Sub-Saharan region, whose countries are 70% peaceful? I am not sure where you got your report from, but I am humbly asking you to at least provide a link to this platform for authentication purposes. Now I have stated time without number, on this platform about me not being a registered member to any political party in Salone. My loyalty lies with Mama Salone alone, not to some corrupt politician whose focus is to enrich his/her family and cronies.

    When APC was in power with EBK and his cabal busy looting our scarce resources, my criticism towards them resulted to APC extremists labelling me an SLPP supporter. Today, I have suddenly become an APC supporter for criticizing the current regime. As far as I am concerned, with the exception of a small percentage, the majority of our politicians (both APC and SLPP) are freeloaders and an incompetent bunch. They use tribe, region and political affiliations to scam our poor citizens, looting our nation’s meager resources unchecked. So I am sorry if I disappointed you sir, but I will never stand so low to be used by these nincompoops.

    The fact remains, I have always acknowledged and applauded any meaningful development done by the current regime; such as the mental health refurbishment reported on this media last week. I will never praise sing or worship any individual but give credit to those who have earned it.

    • “Now I have stated time without number, on this platform about me not being a registered member to any political party in Salone. My loyalty lies with Mama Salone alone, not to some corrupt politician whose focus is to enrich his/her family and cronies.” Young4na

      I wonder why you still have not registered with the APC despite your overwhelming support for that dastardly political outfit all these years. It would not surprise me to learn that you worked in Ernest Koroma’s State House for several years and that you only left after APC was kicked out of power.

      You may consider Sierra Leone a chaotic country and be hoping that president Julius Bio and his men fail. But the experts that compile the global peace index have a very positive impression of Sierra Leone. Please check the attached link and rejoice. Sierra Leone will rise despite your bad wishes for our country:

      https://www.afritechmedia.com/africas-most-peaceful-countries-2020/

  7. Has the political campaign for the candidates we love for the next Bio SLPP party leadership already started? My answer is, possibly.”Is Sierra Leone’s Chief Minister the problem?” Possibly. God bless Mr Sannoh and the Chief Minister.

  8. I remember reading in the mid 1990s of the West Africa magazine, an article written by a Ghanian-British pathologist who was heading a multi million pound pathology facilities in the UK. And his concerns about African pathologists at the African continent, was they are not publishing their findings/reports. Maybe in the medical journals and other publications which is hindering important opportunities/investments for them and the African continent. To be frank, Professor Francis based on his speciality in peace and conflict resolution and was then residing and lecturing in one of the tertiary institutions in the UK, he was well placed to utilise his specialities in finding solutions based on the realities on the ground like conflict affected zones.

    This is commendable, but what I dont like about him is his comments about other Ph.D holder like Dr K.K. Yumkellah, during their brief meeting in parliament after the budget announcement by the Minister of Finance recently. And his ratings/matrices of the performances of the current SLPP ministers like the minister of Technical and Tertiary Education, Professor A. Kpakima who is doing a fantastic job in that ministry, but received the least ratings of all ministries. We are asking for him to show us the methods he is using for his evaluations.

    He should have realised these other men did their Ph.Ds in the USA which is still the only superpower in the world, and where still have some of the top very best universities in the world. He should give honour to whom honour is due and not to use his position to undermine and degrade others, who are not within his liking.

  9. Mr Sankoh, you are all part of the problem. As distinguished as Prof David is in his field of study, that does not make him a good national leader. His intellectual achievements granted are more than admired, but he is yet to show that in that political arena. Moreover, intellectual achievement do not necessarily make one a good political leader. The guy as you rightly mentioned in your piece, by refusing or failing to give press interviews about his stewardship, is simply taking all of us for granted,. He thinks he is too educated to be talking to nonentities and illiterates. You see how silly our leaders are regardless of education.

  10. “ But what do we know about Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, as a distinguished academic, author and writer who has significantly contributed to the understanding of politics, peace and conflict resolution, governance, security and development in Sierra Leone and Africa in general?”

    Obviously, when it comes to Sierra Leone, the answer to the above question is plain and simple — professor Francis has not practicalized his purported knowledge and highly qualify peace and conflict resolution methods. For the past 2 years, under his leadership, as the chief architect of the regime’s policies, our nation has known nothing but chaos, ranging from the political arena as well as the economic front. Do we need to remind folks about the constant political violence that has immersed our nation over the past 2 years? What about him picking up a verbal fight with FIFA, using non dialogue tactics or failure to use peaceful means in resolving differences with investors leading to court litigation at the international chamber of commerce?

    Does peace and conflict resolution expertise mean any different to you Mr. Sannoh? Why are we having the opposite in our nation during the past 2 years, if we indeed have an expert at the helm of affairs? I am sorry Mr. Sannoh, but I think your attempts to sell an empty vessel will not fly sir. I personally believe if professor Francis is indeed the individual you purported him to be, the results from his very own actions will speak on his behalf and convince citizens; writing numerous articles detached from the realities on the ground will be counterproductive in my humble opinion.

    • Good day bro. Well understood, but as an Intel who have been following your comments, it is rather unfortunate that you are always the first to post when it comes to criticism to the present government which is good as check and balance. But what question your neutrality, is your inability to praise this government for some positive moves. Not a day, do you comment positively about this government on any post by this notable news outlet. Is that not counter productive? Have you seen the lastest peace ranking for 2020? If we were in such chaotic system as you portray, can we be ranked fourth in Africa and second in West Africa as the most peaceful country.

      Do you know better than those who did that survey? Please stop looking at issues through your political lens. The present government is not perfect, but they need a tap on the back in some areas. We have to be realistic and constructive in our criticism. I used to admire you in the beginning but you have joined the long line of party Perkins. Thanks bro.

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