Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 March 2017
As always, Sierra Leoneans are disappointed by the people in whom they have placed their trust and hopes. Like the APC of former presidents Siaka Stevens and J S Momoh, Ernest Bai Koroma’s ruling APC is no different – an utter disappointment.
If Sierra Leone is to progress as a nation, the ruling APC must be replaced at the polls on March 8th, 2018; or else complacency, poor governance, reckless greed, corruption and lack of economic and social progress will continue, to the detriment of the people.
The ruling APC and president Ernest Bai Koroma have failed to deliver on their basic manifesto promises. In 2007 and 2012 when they campaigned for election and re-election respectively, they made many promises that remained unfulfilled. Now its time for them to pack up and go.
The poor people of Sierra Leone have endured enough hardship, through no fault of theirs, other than trusting the APC.
In 2007 President Koroma promised that APC will repeal the 1965 Public Order Act; that under APC Sierra Leone will once again become the Athens of West Africa, through education excellence; that APC will ensure corruption becomes a thing of the past; that President Koroma will lay down his life for the youths of this country; that APC will provide jobs and make the economy vibrant; and that APC will uphold the principles of democracy and the rule of law.
But fast forward ten years into office, president Koroma and his ruling APC have reneged on 80% of their promises to this nation.
They have instead focused only on those things that benefit APC party chiefs and their families and friends, through patronage, corruption and contract kickbacks. APC bosses have become fat cats. (Photo: Far left is the former information minister Kanu, who is now standing for the presidency in 2018. And far right is the head of the ruling APC election campaign strategy – Logus Koroma. They are all very well fed in just ten years, while the masses are starving).
Immediately Koroma became President, his language quickly changed from the ‘repeal of the 1965 Public Order Act’ to the ‘review of the 1991 Constitution’. Only dishonest people behave as such, while conveniently using the Act to arrest their political opponents and those with whom they disagree.
Under the ruling APC, the education sector in the country has declined beyond recognition. And it continues to deteriorate by the minute.
The local West African Examination Council (WAEC) has become a business centre where pupils’ examination papers and results are bought and sold.
Half of the WAEC officials are suspected of trading in examination grades. About 90% of students going through the University requirements are believed to have bought their WAEC results.
The Minister of Education – Minkailu Bah, over the last 10 years has failed to carry out a thorough review of the schools, further and higher education curricula, to ensure they are consistent with the needs of the modern world and the country’s economy.
The minister is as clueless and confused as his leader, and staff working in his department.
Corruption is now a trade mark of Sierra Leone. The Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) is just a vuvuzela institution under the current administration.
They simply pay lip service to corruption; sit on radio and television programmes to talk about corruption, but achieve very little in arresting the menace.
Yet the ruling APC is claiming to have passed the most rigid corruption laws in the region, what a deceit.
The ACC is far too busy chasing very poor and underpaid police officers, teachers and nurses, while ignoring the fat cats at State House and those heading government departments.
Under the watch of the ruling APC, State House has become the hub of corruption in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone loses over $1 billion a year through corruption.
Despite talks of curbing unexplained wealth of public officials, the ruling APC or the ACC has never ordered President Koroma to publicly disclose the source of all his wealth and assets.
Why not ask President Koroma to publish his bank statements for 2007, when he was first elected to State House; and compare those statements to his numerous bank accounts held locally and overseas today, you will cry for this nation.
Why do you think this government is spending all its energy and the enormous public debt it has incurred on road construction – over $800 million? Because this is where the money is – a gravy train, easy dirty cash for which APC ministers do not have to work hard or turn up for work.
This is where ministers and senior APC officials get their contract kickbacks. And this is why poverty is endemic today in Sierra Leone – one of the poorest nations in the world.
President Koroma promised to lay down his life for the young people of this country to take them out of poverty. Ten years later, the president is not only standing, he is one of the richest presidents in Africa, while the youths continue to suffer from poverty and joblessness. Did someone once refer to the president as the last Rat Standing?
The problems of the youths do not bother President Koroma the least.
Why not ask the ruling APC to show one single job creation scheme, community development or skills training project, that is directed at the youths; and ask them to also tell the nation how many youths have benefited?
The only youths that are benefiting from little mercies – crumbs that are falling off the high table at State House, are the ruling APC party card carriers.
Many Okada riders have been jailed for no good reason whilst trying to make ends meet, because they are not members of the ruling APC.
Democracy and the Rule of Law
If the ruling APC and president Koroma were democratic, respect constitutionality and obey the rule of law, vice president Sam Sumana would still be the country’s vice president today.
The ruling APC have improvised with party rules that never existed, simply to sack an elected vice president, and used a corrupt judicial system to validate their actions.
In Sierra Leone today, executive orders from above – i.e. State House, have become the norm, after sacking the rule of law and constitutionality many years ago.
President Koroma and the ruling APC are a big disappointment to the people of Sierra Leone, 70% of whom are struggling to survive on just one main meal a day. Therefore, they should be voted out in 2018 to save our country.
Twice, they have been given a chance to improve the lives of people of this country, and twice they have failed miserably. It is time for change.