Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 February 2021:
President Dr Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone yesterday gave awards to three “top-performing ministries”, at the inaugural Presidential Award ceremony at State House.
The controversial Presidential Award was given to the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation – including the National COVID-19 Emergency Response Centre, as the best performing government ministries in the country. (Photo below: Finance ministry receives award).
It is not clear what criteria were used by the president to determine best performance, but cynics and critics of the government say that the president has rewarded his closest allies in his government, after what many believe to be a difficult three years in power.
The economy is in depression, with rising inflation, unemployment and poverty. Access to vital healthcare provisions is still falling far short of what president Bio promised during his election campaign in 2018. School examination performance continue to lag behind those of most of the West African countries.
But, speaking at the event, the President said that the award is aimed at incentivising and encouraging ministries and departments (MDAs) to go over and beyond the call of duty to provide exemplary leadership and produce the best outcomes. (Photo above: Education ministry receives award).
“This is an annual event and I want to be able to give awards to every Ministry here next year. Your challenge is to make it impossible for me to recognise just a few outstanding performances.
“Let me also congratulate each of us and collectively as a Government for taking the bold step to self-assess. We believe it helps us identify what else we must do to accelerate our pace of development and service delivery as a nation,” the President said. (Photo below: Health ministry receives award).
President Bio noted that the awards were not personal scorecards on ministries or on individual competence, adding that every minister and ministry, by and large, had met the benchmark for performance and delivery.
“These are value-free assessments that recognise three things: That delivery is time-bound and we must each provide the leadership to deliver that accelerated change we have promised; that there is no common parameter for judging all MDAs but there are benchmarks we have promised, and we can meet and achieve; and that the slow starters can be the fastest finishers and the fast starters (those who receive the awards today) may not be the best finishers after all,” he said.
The assessment was carried out by the Chief Minister – Professor David John Francis, whose office serves as the delivery unit of the New Direction Government of President Dr Julius Maada Bio.
“2020 was a very difficult and challenging year, with the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the negative economic and financial impact on every country in the world. But the challenges of 2020 brought out the best in us as a government,” the Chief Minister said.
He also said that the New Direction Government has made impressive progress with 29 out of the 38 manifesto commitments delivered or at an advanced stage of delivery.
He added that the most recent was the restart of the constitutional review process and the acceptance by President Bio of the Justice Cowan recommendation to abolish the death penalty.
“So, today the Death Penalty is abolished in Sierra Leone. Your Excellency, we ended the difficult year of 2020 with Sierra Leone receiving international recognition and global accolade for the quality of your leadership and the performance of your government. The American Government’s CDC praised Sierra Leone as 1 of 4 countries in Africa that have managed the coronavirus pandemic response well; the American Government’s MCC confirmed that Sierra Leone is now eligible for the MCC Compact worth nearly half a billion dollars,” the Chief Minister concluded.