Author: Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 April 2018:
Mr. President, the lesson of history is that many never learn the lesson of history. Therefore, amidst the festival of claps and back-slapping, kindly realise the enormity of the task ahead of you.
For one, you must forget about fighting decades-old demons or getting even with real and imagined ghosts of the past and recognise that from now on, all eyes are on you. You may not be the change that some of the people wanted but you are indeed the change that they have for the next five years.
While we should not forget the import of the moment, the auspicious pedestal on which you now stand and the veracity and potency of our realities, mean that this is also the time to tell ourselves: THE BITTER TRUTH BEFORE THE HANDSHAKE CROSSES THE ELBOW.
Suddenly the cock is crowing at dawn. You have been chosen to do away with the vultures which had descended on the flesh of the nation and feasted in rancorous munchies. The hour has come to exorcise the hunting party who might be looking for fresh supplies of meat.
Therefore, amidst the celebrations of victory over any form of enemies which can be sweet, remember that your opponents and those who have one thing or the other against you will draw the dagger as well as send down the rains to drench your celebratory dance.
Those who the system is not favouring will be determined to drive that narrative from now till either you fail or subdue them by positive actions.
Simply put, there is no way to step into a quicksand and be doing the moon slide. You do not have as much time as it appears, given the rut and rot that is our lot.
Drastic situations require drastic actions. It doesn’t matter which divide we belong to, we all have one place we call home,
We can turn around this country in 10 years if every Sierra Leonean works together and stop the pull-down syndrome. Without morality (collective values) there can be no collective progress.
But we need a totally different approach to looking at our continual failure and the negative impact of corruption and the wholesale of our natural resources to foreigners in the erroneous belief that their realities are simply our realities.
Government is and has been the optimal way to riches in this country. Our DNA is so virulently powerful that even the cassocks get stained while the ostrich feels the pain, though its head is buried.
Prosperity in a country without good leadership is 419. Plain and simple. You have come at a time when the moral reset of the nation is paramount. It is a clean slate.
The emergence of your administration, provides the platform for us as a people to truly search for those with the capacity to rough it out with confidence and belief as well as the idealism that true change can begin in their lifetime if they can create the values that will tackle all the challenges that the 21st century has thrown at us as a nation.
Your task is simple, effect the change from the current intricate process and come out with the most profound and result-oriented approach and at least focus people’s minds on the horrendous truth of our situation and the hard work required for the relevant change.
Sierra Leone has not failed neither is it doomed. So let’s face issues holistically and stop hiding behind a finger. Your task is about raising the quality of life and providing the enabling environment for the utilisation of the human and natural resources of the country for a better tomorrow.
It is not the nature of onions to sting eyes. It is the environment it is nurtured in, that makes it sting. If we are to clean the Augean stable, then let us go the whole hug including to all sectors. The scourge of our society is not only systemic but also endemic and this has assumed a carcinogenic pandemic that has affected every aspect of our national life.
Over the course of the last eleven years, we have travelled far in one sense, yet have moved but a few steps in another. It is almost as if our need to ignore reality has gone pathological.
We cannot hope to clear our gutters to avoid the flood which has kept our society and economy behind for far too long, without an overhaul that will near totally eliminate the frequent spasms of systemic malfunctioning that are in-built into the present set of political protocols.
You will be held to your promises. You do not have the luxury of a legislature that will rubber stamp your fancies like your predecessor and anyway compromise is a dangerous tool of effectiveness.
Any organism without a strong spine ultimately collapses. It’s a choice to compromise one’s essential principles which is usually a reflection of one’s values and upbringing. This is why a person can be so good but if he is planted in a wrong environment, he is going to turn up so bad.
Sincerity is the first step in effective change and performance. The rut is deeper than you think, beyond what you can imagine.
The narrative has been reconfigured and dangerously skewed so much that we are all looking in one direction while the fire is actually from another direction.
As a result, except we need to consciously make a U-turn, dare to speak the truth which is against the populist propaganda and rhetoric based on selfish politics, religious and ethnic bigotry, ignorance, lies and fear mongering. Without a team plan, a team is like a headless chicken. Strategy is barren unless wedded to a higher purpose than just itself.
So, what are the challenges ahead for you?
Well, a toxic environment produces toxicities. Without fixing the macro model problems, any focus on the micro issues is, seriously, like fetching water in a basket. When reality is bleak, the destructive tendencies rise to the fore. Everything is connected. That is the reality, not the narrative fallacy we like to fool ourselves with. You cannot clap with one hand.
The mind set of our Public sector needs to be changed. A complete overhaul of the management of our resources needs to be done. Coupled with rising governance cost, the legacy of waste, debt, corruption and institutional destruction have left us in the graveyard of underdevelopment.
I am sure that you are not unaware of the fact that the system is not fit for purpose. And that is the simple truth. It needs a radical change – the system does.
A complete system of education that will introduce values from kindergarten to University needs to be in place. We are doomed if we do not see the need for real change. In this regard, especially.
Let’s stop doing the same Lilliputian stuff and do what our grandchildren can build on. If we don’t we, our children and grandchildren are in deep trouble.
The next is manifest injustice which has created mistrust between the government and the governed.
When aligned with the corrupt judiciary where justice goes to the highest bidder, it is inevitable that we end up with the dysfunctional society that now exists.
Sierra Leone is in dire straits. No thanks to a system that joys in fortune for the few and misfortune for the many.
Our threatening political terrain, comical economic life and confusing rural sustenance, will make life hell if we don’t change our ways and take the next positive steps to move away from the morass.
Mr. President, turn the country around: from the precipice of systemic and economic collapse it finds itself, into a country that reinvents itself, rediscovers its lost moral values, and is galvanised into modernity.
The buck stops at your desk. The change starts with you. The people can only join with the sincerest of purpose when you become the guiding light. You cannot afford to fail. The people have invested so much in your emergence with their desire for change.
Sustainable is far away but with an actionable plan that can be measured, your performance can become a beacon that will draw all man to join hands in doing what a country like Rwanda did to cause a turnaround in its fortune. Similarly, no plan is actionable except there is a determined team that can match action with deliverables.
Our children’s children’s children will curse for the rest of eternity, if we fail. And we deserve it, in spades too.
I am sorry to interrupt your celebration, but we are in the womb of a new morning and having been bitten by the last administration, I felt the urgent need to sound the clarion call as early as possible.
Please think big. Impossible is nothing. We can do it, I believe we can, we can effect meaningful changes that will catapult our country to development. Yes we can, I believe we can.
However, believing without the environment for sprouting is delusional, we need to remind ourselves about who we are and what we can become amidst the celebration.
Well, I guess I have to take my leave now, but shall be keeping an eye and hope that your electoral promises were not just made to win power and that they are possibilities when all current dynamics are interplayed after your celebration.
Remember, how can a nation be great when its systems are fighting the talent of its people?
So endeavour to be a man who cares about people and who is a fountain of ideas for economic development and improving the situation of the common man and woman.
By the way, if we are sowing the wrong seeds for peace, we are sowing the seeds for self-destruction. It is inevitable if we do not do something about it. Forget the past and focus on a new future for Sierra Leone and its people.
Join me in thinking positively.
I request President Julius Maada-Bio to convert his inherited problems into multi-faceted competing and challenging priorities:-
1. No amnesty for any one.
2. Revive all Sierra Leone’s Auditor-General Reports and lead about commensurate implementations.
3. Instruct The Army to lead and effect public hygiene – with deterrent penalties for miscreants.
4. Lead about transparent accountability in all sectors.
5. Arrest illegitimacies by persons and their acolytes.
6. Cleanse our public sector of degrading political appointees; and, appoint new ones based on apolitical merit.
7. Ask for the Report I had submitted about causes, effects, corrective solution options pertinent to unreliability of electricity to the then General Manager of Sierra Leone Electricity Corporation; and, take commensurate actions.
8. Re-establish credible operational maintenance management of assets and liabilities.
The article is well written and argued,it mirrors the the times in which we live and I hope the new President will spare a few minutes a day to read the Telegraph,which has repeatedly shown itself to be completely open minded in absorbing comments from all quarters – sycophants, conservatives, liberals, socialists, toadies and others, are all encouraged to have their say. Isn’t this what is called democracy, which was there in Africa before the white man came?
The conclusion of the article is quite in place; President Bio, while not ignoring the past for guidance, should not allow himself to concentrate too much on it, or his administration will be paralysed by it while time forges ahead. Believe it or not, he now has less than five years to go before he has to face the electorate again.
Once his transition team hand him their report, the new President should report to the nation to explain what he has inherited and rapidly move ahead with putting his team of administrators in place. The Sierra Leonean voter has become the least tolerant in the world, to which he/she has added impeccable deception. Ernest Koroma and his APC know all about this.
We should all avoid suggestive remarks tinged with malice to allow the new President to be his own man. The Chief Justice was not on a stroll down the street but guiding the new leader of the nation to take his solemn oath of office. This is extremely serious.
My own suggestion to President Bio is to cancel the hugely expensive inauguration ceremony, instead he should divert those resources to equip every hospital in the country with the latest scanning machine, so that Pa Nyakeh in Kenema, Pa Sorie in Makeni and others can be treated at home, since they cannot afford to fly overseas like the elite. For heaven’s sake their lives are not expendable.
Well spotted Jerry Brown. That face is full of bile and venom. Price that gets paid every now and again when public servants (the civil service and judiciary) get sucked into politics.
They must all be shaking in their boots by now. One can only hope that Bio will rise above the rubbish and focus on building our nation back to where it belongs.
A picture says a thousand words, and the face of the Chief Justice at the swearing – in ceremony says it all. He could not hide the loathing of the new President from his face.
Mr Chief Justice despite the shenanigans of your party (APC) the people of Sierra Leone have spoken.
Sir, this is arguably one of your best pieces, but your last sentence worried me.
Surely you do not really mean “…forget the past…”!
Our current malaise is rooted in the evolution of our political economy, dating back to colonial times. Unless we launch that national conversation and understand the outcome of the diagnoses, we will continue to apply band-aid solution to our ailments.
One illustration – we will continue to spend money on an ACC hoping that it will resolve our problem of corruption in high places.
Excellent Sierra Leone’s national interests contribution; we now need and should appreciate positive responses!