Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 January 2021:
Sierra Leone’s President Dr Julius Maada Bio, yesterday called on UN member states to mobilise support for the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), and has himself pledged $1 million, which he said Sierra Leone will pay annually at a rate of $200,000 over the next five years.
But many Sierra Leoneans are not happy. They say that Sierra Leone is too poor to afford such huge financial outgoing.
President Bio, who joined UN Secretary-General António Guterres (Photo) yesterday, 25 January 2021 as co-chair of a high-level virtual Replenishment Conference for the UN Peacebuilding Fund to mobilise critical support for conflict prevention and peacebuilding against the Fund’s $1.5 billion requirement for the period 2020-24, expressed gratitude to the UN.
“Our nation’s story has been possible partly because of the investments by the Peacebuilding Commission. I, therefore, call on all UN Member States to both renew their commitment to the UN’s peacebuilding efforts and to mobilize adequate, predictable, and sustainable financing for peacebuilding through a broadened donor base.
“In that regard, as a token of our renewed commitment, Sierra Leone pledges Two Hundred Thousand ($200,000) United States Dollars per year over the five-year period to the Peacebuilding efforts of the UN,” he said in his remarks at the opening of the event.
President Bio also thanked the UN and Canada in particular, on behalf of the Government and People of Sierra Leone, for the tremendous impact of the peacebuilding fund in consolidating and sustaining peace in the West African nation, through five peaceful democratic elections cycles and transitions.
“Since the end of the civil war and especially since 2007, Sierra Leone has benefited immensely from the catalytic impact of the Peacebuilding Fund. The PBF supported and is still supporting a wide range of peacebuilding and governance initiatives in Sierra Leone, including institution building for inclusive democratic governance, elections and peaceful democratic transitions, national cohesion, community conflict prevention and resolution, inter-community dialogues, access to justice, protection of human rights, improved security sector coordination, and youth and gender empowerment and inclusion,” he recalled.
Meanwhile, as the country tries to garner support for the government’s proposed Peace Building Commission, the President assured the UN of Sierra Leone’s continued commitment to consolidating and strengthening its democratic and human rights institutions, fostering inclusive and accountable governance, collaborating closely with civil society and communities, promoting access to justice, improving the security and disaster management sectors, making its institutions more accountable and resilient, and implementing strategic activities for inclusive and sustainable development as mapped out in the Medium Term National Development plan.
“Sierra Leone will remain engaged with the PBC in implementing the national priorities of human capital development, economic diversification, climate resilience, strengthening national institutions, developing and supporting the Independent Commission on Peace and National Cohesion, and supporting our nation’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts,” he said.
In January 2010, President Ernest Bai Koroma was heavily criticised and lampooned for pledging $100,000 to Haiti, after an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude struck the poverty-stricken country, killing 250,000 people.
Critics of President Koroma in 2010, accused him of recklessness, saying that Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world that could barely feed itself, cannot afford to donate $100,000 to any country under any circumstances.
Today, President Bio is facing similar criticism – even worse, for offering $1 million to the United Nations to help its peacebuilding initiatives around the world, while over 60% of Sierra Leoneans go hungry.
At the establishment of the UN charter on 26th of June 1945, peace keeping operations was never expressly mentioned as part of future workings of the United Nations in its stated mission. Today, the UN peace keeping operations that have been in built as part of the UN mission, have a budget of almost $7 billion dollars per annum. Sometimes countries makes pledges but hardly honour it. Late payments and chasing after countries is what the UN has to contend with to meet their budgetary requirements. Over the years, due to outbreaks of wars, coming few years after the end of second world war, the first UN peace keeping operations was authorised by the security council in 1948 between Israel and its Arab neighbours to monitor a truce.
The first large scale UN mission involving 20,000 troops was in the Congo today DRC. That was the time Sierra Leoneans military involvement with UN peace keeping started. More recently, we were in Darfur and other hot spots. Indeed it was in the DRC, that the then UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskold was killed in a plane crash in the jungles of the Congo forest during 1960s Congo crisis. It was at the height of the cold war. To this day no one knows what happened. Since then there have been 70 UN missions deployed around the world. North Korea/South Korea, India/Pakistan, Lebanon, the 1956 Egypt Suez Canal crisis, East Timor, Hati, Liberia, Mali, South Sudan Sierra leone, former Yogoslavia, Central African Republic, and many others. Mmore than 3000 peace keepers have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
At some point during our civil wars, the UN has the largest peace-keeping mission in Sierra Leone. I think this pledge by Bio is just the loose change, when you consider how much his corrupt ministers steal from the State. One of them can afford to pay that without bursting their bank balance or lose sleep over it. For some of our corrupt politicians it is just the price of a necklace for one of their girlfriends.
This small gesture by the government and people of Sierra Leone will go a long way in granting us a stake as members of the human race.
If I am not mistaken, the top richest nations, who are also permanent members of the security council in the UN, have the ultimate and final saying on any decision of security concerns/peace efforts. In light of this, it only makes sense for these top rich nations to own up to their responsibilities. The poor nations like Sierra Leone have always contributed in their own ways by providing boots on the ground. That is the highest sacrifice any nation can provide, sending sons and daughters to security hot zones.
Pledging 1 million dollars to the UN, which can be better utilized to revamp our own security concerns, especially with the Guinean Yenga saga, absolutely makes no sense to me. As far as the rich nations are concerned, we are still a nonentity. Borrowing your friends outfit to attend a higher level event with successful individuals in attendance, does not add any value to your worth. At the end of the day, you remain the same guy. In our local parlance, it is considered being a fake person (Banya-Faki).
Sickening stuff. Did anyone hear them saying this, “Our integrity and seriousness in participating is vital to humanity” and then that, “As long the country can afford it without much suffering, then it is good. It shows respect and genuine cooperation.”? Instead of them talking about contributing to peace missions abroad, let them provide the basic necessities back home for their citizens and investigate the massacre of our prisoners and prison officers at Pademba Road Prisons by President Bio’s presidential guards. Think about bringing to justice all those who committed acts of violence and barbarity since 2018 by the Bio SLPP kakistocracy before talking about “humanity” and “without sufferings”. You cannot pretend to be peaceful and caring to the world whilst the vulnerable and marginalized go hungry and some have been brutally eliminated in your country.
I do not believe any serious government will answer that call. Such calls are good to be made by people with good human rights record. God bless the United Nations and the International Court of Justice for seeking justice for our late prisoners and prison officers at the Pademba Road Prisons massacre. Amen and Amen.
A move in the right direction. We do not have to wait for riches to contribute to peace building. Our integrity and seriousness in participating is vital to humanity.
Gentlemen – there was once a herdsman that had only seven frail-looking dairy cows in his barn he could call his own. He took great care of them as though they were his own children, because they were his only source of earning a decent living. He was a very poor man and he depended on them for the high levels of milk that they produced every day. Time rolled on. The cows kept on producing gallons of milk and the gratified herdsman continued his lucrative business of selling his own special brand of milk in the towns and markets. One morning his wife answered a knock on the door. A rich traveller had come from far away to pay him a visit. “Your fame has spread far and wide, over high hills, deserts, valleys and far distances; your name is celebrated and revered.”
“But how? I am only an ordinary herdsman with seven loyal cows that produce good milk”, the herdsman replied. Then the rich traveller said;” That is exactly why I am here. We need those special cows of yours. Where I am from, healthy cows that are not sterilized that bring forth milk on their own.” But the wise herdsman was not a simpleton like the President of our Sierra Leone, who gave to the rich while his people remained poor: he lifted his head with a curious smile and responded to the rich traveller saying; “Friend those seven cows are all I possess on our beautiful earth. If I should give you one of them, the rest will all die heartbroken for they are all siblings; calves born from their mother in single delivery. A poor struggling man like me, cannot give rich people gifts because if I do my family will perish with hunger, but you are welcome to stay awhile and have a warm dinner with us before I bid you Godspeed.”
After enjoying delicious grilled roasted lamb, the rich man as he was about to depart, looked the herdsman in the eye and said to him – “If the world had more honest men like you, who would cut their coats according their cloths and not try to appear grandiose in the eyes of the world, by wearing glamorous outfits and shoes too big for them our world will always be a better and enchanting place.”(lol) The wise speak in parables.
I think that is the right mind and right move. It does not mean that since Sierra Leone is poor, and therefore cannot contribute anything. What and however little is better than nothing. As long the country can afford it without much sufferings, then it is good. It shows respect and genuine cooperation.