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’.

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