12 February 2013
Few in Sierra Leone are supportive of President Koroma’s decision to dig so deep into the shallow and meagre pockets of his citizens, only to show his fellow African leaders gathered in Addis Ababa for the AU conference that he is rich, by doling out a whopping $1 million to the military government of Mali.
Sierra Leone is still regarded as an ‘emergency case’, following the massive destruction caused by ten years of brutal civil war.
Its dependency on international aid accounts for almost 40% of state revenue.
The country is classed as one of the poorest nations in the World, yet the opulent lifestyle of those in power is suffocating for the majority of Sierra Leoneans, who have to make do with just one single meal a day.
One in eight pregnant women dies due to the lack of proper medical care. In some poorer rural communities, thirty-percent of children do not live to celebrate their fifth birthday.
The life chances of the majority of children in the country, born in the last few months are being dangerously compromised, by a government that has very little understanding as to how the economy and society functions.
It is for that reason, Tony Blair – former British Prime Minister has placed several of his UK staff in various ministries in Sierra Leone to help plan and co-ordinate the machinery of state governance.
But the result so far, after lending a helping hand to president Koroma, does not make for pretty reading.
Adult mortality is still rising; the economy is tittering on the edge of collapse as the government runs out of money.
Several communities including the capital Freetown is running short of clean drinking water.
Millions of dollars borrowed to invest in solar energy remain unaccounted for. Sierra Leone is in perpetual darkness.
The country’s Auditor-General published a damning Report a few weeks ago, which makes for a very sad reading.
Over Le100 Billion cannot be accounted for by the government. The minister of finance, who should have been held accountable for the missing billions, has been given a cushy globe-trotting job as foreign minister.
The supply of clean drinking water and electricity has been the sole preserve of the rich for the most part of three decades in Sierra Leone.
But today, not even the gentrified, professional upper class are being spared.
They too, more than ever before, are now feeling the noose tightening around their necks, as president Koroma’s misguided, misinformed and misplaced priorities continue to destroy the economic fabric of the country.
Today, one of the most prominent and outspoken lawyers in Sierra Leone – J. B. Jenkins-Johnston, has written an open letter to president Koroma, complaining of the intolerable conditions in the country.
(Photo: Courtesy of Awoko)
Will president Koroma take any notice?
This is what the esteemed lawyer has to say:
“Your Excellency, I am normally a patient, understanding and long-suffering person, and I do not get annoyed, nor do I lose my cool very easily.
“But I must confess that since about a week before the General Elections in November 2012, the non-availability and/or constant disruption in the supply of Electricity in Freetown has seriously annoyed and aggravated me to the extent that I have now decided to write this letter to you.
“The Electricity situation has been deteriorating steadily and is now at rock-bottom, thereby causing serious inconvenience and substantial financial losses to citizens, and further putting the lives of citizens in danger by encouraging armed robbers to operate easily under the cover of darkness at night.
“Even for those of us who are really fortunate and lucky to be able to buy generators, we find that they are expensive to fuel and maintain, and as in my case, the poor generator has packed up due to overuse and overwork.
“I recall that during the last election campaign, a lot of noise was made about the completion of Bumbuna, and the fact that we were now going to enjoy continuous electricity in Freetown. What a sick Joke!! The Electricity situation is worse now, than it has been in a long while.
“So Mr. President, what is the truth about Bumbuna and the Electricity Supply in Freetown?
“How long are we going to continue suffering from this Blackout? We the citizens want answers!! Honest, truthful and sincere answers, not excuses.
“We want answers from N.P.A; we want answers from The Minister of Energy; and we want answers from you, Mr. President, for whom the citizens of Freetown voted solidly in the last Election, as indeed the buck stops at your desk!!
“Most citizens in Freetown can no longer enjoy a drink of cold water in their homes anymore; our fridges, freezers, microwaves, electric irons and electric kettles etc are all now items of furniture in our homes.
“Freezers have to be emptied out and food thrown away even though they were purchased at great cost. Those who sell “cole wata”, coolaid, yoghurt and cold drinks for their living are now out of business.
“Many offices are at a standstill because computers, printers, photocopiers etc cannot work without electricity. And the list goes on!!
“How Long O Lord, How Long……..??
“Is this what the Agenda for Prosperity is all about?? Can anyone prosper in such a situation of perpetual darkness??
“We want answers, Mr. President, and we want relief from this problem.
“Thank you, and God Bless you.
(A totally Angry and Frustrated Citizen.)
(1) The Hon. Vice President, Tower Hill, Freetown. (2) The Speaker, Parliament Building, Tower Hill, Freetown. (3) The Majority Leader, Parliament Building, Tower Hill, Freetown. (4) The Minority Leader, Parliament Building, Tower Hill, Freetown. (5) The Minister of Energy, Electricity House, Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown. (6) The General Manager, N.P.A. Electricity House, Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown.
In June 2012, James Blyden Jenkins-Johnston was elected as President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association.