Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 May 2018:
President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone has today moved one step forward to achieving a key promise made during his first week of being elected head of state, which is to instil discipline and strong work ethics across the public sector. ‘There will be no return to business and politics as usual,’ he said during his meeting with top civil servants in April.
Productivity in Sierra Leone is one of the lowest in the world, largely due to a costly, corrupt, slothful and inefficient civil service, which after decades of poor governance has become a self-serving and over bloated institution.
President Bio has promised to change all that. Following his election to the presidency just few weeks ago, he said he will transform the public sector, and called on all civil servants to ensure that they arrive on time for work and ensure they put in their full contractual hours.
A few days of this announcement, there were encouraging signs public servants had heeded the president’s call for efficiency. But it seems old habits have returned, and staff have gone back to their bad old ways of indiscipline.
According to State House Media report, president Bio is refusing to allow civil servants to go back to business as usual, and has this morning turned up at the offices of ministers working at the Youyi Building to carry out spot checks on attendance.
The Purpose of the spot checks was to ensure that Ministers and civil servants are complying with his directive to be at work at 8:30am. Energised and determined, President Bio climbed flights of stairs, checking every floor of the building.
At each ministry and department, the president visited Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and staff. Door after door, he entered to shocking surprises from civil servants, some of whom were only seeing him for the first time in person. President Bio smiled as he thanked many of the Ministers and civil servants who were at their desks on time.
Secretaries, clerks, security and office assistants all expressed their admiration for seeing the President in their Ministries doing spot checks on his directive.
“This is the type of President this country wanted. We now have a disciplined leadership who monitors and ensures compliance on his directive. The President looks very modest talking to junior civil servants and I am very hopeful that he will be a great President,” a junior civil servant commented.
On the whole, many of the Ministers, with the exception of those on out-of-office official duties, Permanent Secretaries and other civil servants were at their desks.
The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment was not in his office. But, president Bio left a note informing the minister that he had visited his office and he was not at his desk.
President Bio is said to be very concerned about the current state of the offices at the Youyi building, especially the ceilings and cracks on walls. But he was impressed at staff compliance with his 8:30am start of work directive.
The President said he will continue to carry out his on-the-spot visits, targeting other public institutions, government agencies and hospitals in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Reactions to today’s show of discipline by the president, have been mixed. His unannounced spot checks at ministries are welcomed by supporters of the president that are yearning for order and discipline to return to Sierra Leone, but hated by those whom analysts say, have benefitted from decades of corruption and lawlessness in the country.
Some regard his unannounced visits as a violation of the rights of civil servants. But this argument does not hold water with the majority of Sierra Leoneans who voted for president Bio last March..
Watch president Bio doing his ministerial office rounds here: