Dr Samura Mathew Kamara: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 02 January 2022:
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, I greet you all in the Name of ALMIGHTY GOD and in the Name of ALLAH, and I wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Once again, we are at the cusp of a New Year, and as expected, it is a time for introspection; a time to reflect and to plan; a time to identify our lapses and to make amends. Above all, a time to be thankful and to pray for better results in the days, months and years ahead.
I must say with a heavy heart that, last year was especially difficult for families up and down the country, particularly those that lost loved ones to the fire disasters at Suzan’s Bay and Old Wharf in Wellington. I pray that God Almighty gives the dead eternal rest and console their surviving families. The scale of destruction is mind-blowing.
This was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic which also caused several deaths of our compatriots, and serious disruptions in our livelihood management systems. I call on all of us to continue to pray for the dead. And to handsomely support the victims and surviving families by any means possible.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, as we mark the end of 2021, we are also marking the beginning of the end of arguably the most extraordinary, challenging, unprecedented and repelled regime in living memory in our country.
The conscious policies of generating tribal and regional divide; of an administration anchored on persistent hate, blame and vengeance; of political intimidation, arrests, incarcerations and harassment of opposition members; of deepening state capture of both public institutions and strategic business enterprises; of human rights and constitutional violations; of overzealous Police brutality often meted against peaceful demonstrations, and of untold hardship and deteriorating social and economic conditions.
In almost four years of the PAOPA New Direction 5-year term, beginning April 2018, we have painfully witnessed and unbearably suffered from the effects of a complete reversal of the bold and envied achievements which this country had made in 15 years of post-conflict reconstruction since 2002.
During this 15-year period, we reflected on the perceived root causes of the devastating civil conflict, and then worked assiduously for, and enjoyed the fruits of our labours and endeavours on peace building and peace consolidation; on the re-establishment of national cohesion; on a successful restoration of local government, civic rights and authority and supremacy in public governance; on increased access to and marked improvement in the delivery of basic services, in particular, healthcare, education, water and sanitation; on regenerating inclusive economic growth and participatory governance; on youth development and women empowerment; on political and religious tolerance, open government, media freedom and mutual respect between government and the people; on greater accessibility to predictable and stable electricity; and on turning the entire country into an extremely busy works yard for the construction of many kilometres of quality highways as well as city, town and rural road networks.
It goes without saying that in these 15 years of post-conflict reconstruction and nation rebuilding, especially in the last ten years of APC rule, this war-torn country, Sierra Leone, made a solid footing on the path from war to peace, democracy and socio-economic recovery. Sadly, by the poor administration of this PAOPA government over the past 3-4 years, we have witnessed a deliberate and systematic deterioration and the re-birth of those major factors that were blamed for our 11 years civil conflict.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, the Year 2022 is a defining year for our democratic process. The forthcoming Local Council elections in 2022 and the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2023, put us on the world electoral barometer once again.
Our country today is clearly not the Sierra Leone we knew 3-4 years ago. We continue to be painfully haunted by the glaring electoral disruptions by government operatives at several by-elections, including in Kabala, Tonko and Freetown.
In today’s world, one political party cannot use violence and intimidation to suppress or disenfranchise political opponents or of any citizen whatsoever. It is therefore imperative that we create and allow an atmosphere that will ensure free, fair and unpolluted elections in 2022 and 2023.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, when I vied and contested for the Presidency of this country in 2018 under the only credible and development-focused political party in the country, the All-People’s Congress, the APC. I came to you with a genuine image of a humble, unassuming, nonviolent, tolerant, caring, corrupt-free and listening President to be. I gave you hope for creating much better and fulfilled livelihoods and, going forward, building the Sierra Leone we are all yearning for. I had the strong conviction to lay to rest those factors and forces that often ignite and warehouse political tension, national disunity and national destruction, which clearly defined the eleven years civil war.
And in the same vein, end the marginalisation of vulnerable groups in society and the disproportionate allocation of public resources, largely driven by partisan affiliations and influences. I was hoping to govern with a human face, and to re-prioritise national cohesion and broad-based development, and living no one behind, including in policy design and decision-making processes, over petty partisan considerations, selfish interests and transient power grab.
As the SLPP government was sworn in on 4th April 2018, albeit at a non-traditional location, I was cautious but hopeful that the new regime would undertake a sober reflection of their promises made during the campaigns, even though many of us knew that such promises had no strong technical and realistic foundations.
They were underpinned by false and shallow professional findings and assumptions. No wonder the experience of many “Broken Vows”.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, as I vie once again for this High Office, come 2023, through the Mighty APC party, I would like to renew and reaffirm my commitment and conviction to you to earnestly and selflessly work towards building The Sierra Leone We Want – a Sierra Leone where freedoms and civil liberties, as enshrined in our Constitution, as well as where national unity and cohesion are once again restored and enjoyed by all and sundry; where basic services are materially restored; where a heavy burden of mis-governance is emphatically put behind us; where we can rebuild and re-entrench mutual respect in all our dealings with each other; where public institutions are brought back to their respective original mandates and unbiased operational and technical competences, principles and ethics; where each one of us, irrespective of tribe, region or political sympathies, is engaged as a valued stakeholder in national development; where women and the youth enjoy equal opportunities and achieve gainful and fulfilled livelihoods; and above all, a Sierra Leone where we can sacrifice to grow to love and care for each other. And these must go beyond any underlying legal provisions.
Furthermore, in 2023 and beyond, we are confronted with the huge task of ensuring an urgent reversal of an extraordinary weak socio-economic performance record in the past 3-4 years. With the pandemic still lingering around us, compounded by the many infectious viruses that still prevalent in our environment, the challenging task of protecting our health and livelihoods, while ensuring recovery of our economy, also lies ahead.
We remain challenged by endemic poverty, high youth unemployment, serious environmental disaster threats and very poor international rating. For the many structural and sectorial deficits, which certainly require re-engineering and new pathways, access to affordable housing, transportation, quality education and health care remains extremely challenging.
Many of us are strenuously scavenging for light and clean water supply on a daily, if not, hourly basis. Road infrastructure remains as it were at the end of the EBK administration in 2017, while the voracious ravaging of our forests, with its attendant destruction of roads and the environment, has climbed to unprecedented heights under this PAOPA regime. We are quickly running down the clock on climate change.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, the year 2023 is fast approaching, and the need for us to make the right choice of leadership for the ensuing 5 years cannot be over emphasized. I was even hopeful that this PAOPA Government would be tired of arrogance and become accommodating to opposing views and treat the opposition as part of Government.
My hopes were based on the expectation that a government which has so badly failed and disappointed even its supporters, moving towards an election year to seek a renewed mandate from the people, would see sense in making a U-turn and focus on those basic livelihood issues that continue to put the minds of Sierra Leoneans into contemplation.
Unfortunately, the conduct of this PAOPA SLPP Government in its existence is nothing but an intensification of these odds. From improperly and unconstitutionally suspending an Auditor General, with a high national and international repute, to attempting to run away with a Mid-Term Population and Household Census which makes no sense and from which even some of the staunchest of our nation’s development partners as well as vibrant and people-centred civil society organisations and the Consortium of Progressive Political Parties in the country had course to challenge its unprecedented occurrence, its technical inadequacies, and suspected political abuses, infractions and infringement of rights, only reinforce that this government is past praying for, and has no listening ears or respect for voice, legitimacy and relevance of its people and development partners.
With over 40 years of experience, delivering for this country, before, during and after the 11 years senseless war, I know that opportunities are always possible and can be created and exploited only with the right leadership- a leadership with an undisputed and excellent track record of vision, experience, intellectual competence and management skills.
Ensuring peace, security and national cohesion is the bedrock of sustainable development thus, allowing institutions to work independently, encouraging inclusive governance, freedom of speech and expression, Parliament and the people being able to hold the Executive accountable, and creating the right environment for productive investments, trade and business enterprises. I understand the socio-economic impact and multiplier effects of affirmative action on gender and youth empowerment and of positive responses to climate change.
These are key development areas that can contribute immensely to the socio-economic well-being of this nation. To all comrades of the APC. It is now more urgent than ever before that we must all work for party unity and support each other. This is the call from our people because only when we work and support each other great things happen to this country. Our party belongs to the grassroots, and they are calling for the APC family to come together.
They trust in us to be able to work as one in the interest of the country, and we must not fail them. In closing, I heartily welcome and embrace the birth and subsequently, the strong leadership of the Consortium of Progressive Political Parties,
and the founder membership of the APC in that institution. CoPP will undoubtedly refresh our democratic pathways and bring into these, invaluable inputs for delivering a better democratic Sierra Leone.
I want to reiterate my sincere appreciation to those individuals and the many voluntary groups, organizations and associations, at home and abroad that have supported my strive for the Highest Office in the country. It is your sustained trust and confidence in me that have and will continue to keep me strong.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, I want to assure you that under my leadership, I will work tirelessly to ensure that our votes and our democracy will be protected in the 2022 Local Council elections and the 2023 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
I thank you very much. God Bless Sierra Leone! God Bless you all, and God Bless the APC.