Author: John Mannah: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 March 2018:
It is an empirical fact that the progressive movement has always been part of the Sierra Leonean political, governmental and economic systems. As such, they have always weighed in, spoken up with pragmatism on the ills and challenges that plague the country. They provide practical solutions at strategic and timely moments in the country’s history. And one of those key moments in the country’s history is now.
The forthcoming run-off election is one of those strategic moments for Sierra Leone’s progressives to step-up to the challenge and deliver one more time for the desperate people of Sierra Leone.
Among the prominent progressives who have delivered for Sierra Leone at moments like this is the late president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, who as president helped turn the fortunes of Sierra Leone, by ending the rebel war and restore constitutional governance to the country.
The late Ahmed Tejan Kabbah drew upon his international goodwill and restored the economy to near full employment. He rebuilt institutions – NASSIT, NRA, PPRC. He brought fiscal sanity to the Sierra Leone Treasury and broke the back of the run-away inflation that plagued the country throughout the 1990s.
Perhaps President Tejan Kabbah’s greatest achievement and contribution to the Sierra Leone experiment, is the de-tribalization of the country’s polity and social system. The late Tejan Kabbah was indeed a modern Sierra Leonean progressive who has left an imprint on the political landscape.
The other Sierra Leonean progressive who has contributed immensely to Sierra Leone’s political and legal system is Lawyer Charles Francis Margai. Lawyer Margai is best known for the formation of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) that supported Ernest Bai Koroma in 2007 to win the run-off elections against the SLPP candidate Solomon Ekuma Berewa.
There was a lot of hue and cry over the decision of Charles Margai pitching tent with Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC then. But nonetheless, Charles went ahead and supported Ernest Koroma to win the 2007 elections against the SLPP – his patriarchal political party.
The course of Sierra Leonean progressivism took a paradigm shift, when Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella entered the political fray in 2017, towards the March 2018 elections.
As an empiricist, avid thinker and intellectual, Dr Yumkella decided to turn to what he knows best: research to observe. He examined the reasons why a country so resource rich can be so poor.
Standing on the shoulders of academic giants who came before him, Dr. Yumkella decided to examine the socio-economic challenges facing Sierra Leone through the theoretical lens of the great thinkers in sociology, philosophy, history and economics. Thinkers like Hobbes, Durkheim, Weber, Marx and American progressives who led the progressive movement that freed the slaves, gave voting rights to women and more.
The issues of abject poverty in the midst of plenty, inequitable distribution of the national wealth, raw injustice and corruption going on in Sierra Leone that shocked the conscience of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, are the same issues that motivated sociologists like Hobbes who looked at society and did not like what he saw, and therefore started asking questions, what all sociologists call the Hobbesian question of order.
Hobbes wanted to know what holds society together. Why doesn’t society fall apart? Every contemporary sociological question stems from that question which Hobbes asked several centuries ago.
As Hobbes, Durkheim and Webber found out, the social order that holds society together come from respecting the laws, norms and conventions of a country. It starts with respect for the Constitution. More so, those who hold executive office such as the presidency, who have taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, have a moral obligation to do so and govern by it.
Karl Marx joined the ranks of Hobbes, Durkheim and Webber to ask the same questions in Industrial Europe, especially England where he lived during the Industrial Revolution. Karl Marx went into the factories in Industrial England and investigated the working conditions of poor people who worked 18-20 hours a day in factories without windows and proper ventilations. He saw the horrible living conditions of children. He went into the neighborhoods, looked at government documents, inquiries, court cases and described what industrial England was like during this period in Kapital Volumes 1, 2, and 3.
These are the same conditions if not worse, that 70 percent of Sierra Leoneans and their children are living in today, under the Koroma government, while many of his tribesmen, family members and friends bask in opulence that has shocked the conscience of Sierra Leoneans and the world.
These are the conditions that precipitated the worsening of the Ebola epidemic that devastated Sierra Leone more than Guinea and Liberia, neighboring countries where the outbreak started.
Therefore, Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella upon seeing these horrible socio-economic conditions in Sierra Leone had no choice but to start asking the same questions.
He wanted to find out what was responsible for the depravity, and abject poverty plaguing the country. Like Marx, he looked at government documents; inquiries, parliamentary proceedings and the arbitrary drive by night nature in which bills were passed and signed into law in Sierra Leone. He looked at cabinet papers like the White Paper produced by the Cabinet that watered down the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee’s to reflect present day realities in Sierra Leone and could not believe what he saw.
He asked questions like why Sierra Leoneans have resorted to looking for food in dumpsters – rotten chickens in Bumeh. What is responsible for the high mortality rate in Sierra Leone, the high drop-out rate of school going children, the absence of safe drinking water and toilets in schools in the country?
He found out that corruption, injustice and abuse of power by the government was wholly responsible for these horrible conditions Sierra Leoneans are living in today.
Yumkella’s answer to addressing these problems, was the formation of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) to seek the mandate of the people through the ballot box and change the conditions of the Sierra Leonean people.
The NGC may not have garnered the requisite votes to be in the run-off, but the change message that Dr. Yumkella so vehemently fought for, won the hearts of the people, and is presently on the ballot against the APC and its message of continuity.
Dr. Yumkella should therefore continue to lead the progressive movement and work for change by supporting the SLPP to win the run-off next Tuesday, 27 March 2018.
Should Yumkella choose to do nothing and stay neutral against the poor governance record of the APC, the disastrous conditions that have blighted the lives of the people of Sierra Leone will sadly continue.
The NGC should join forces with C4C, progressives in the APC, the PMDC, the RUFP, NURFP, and all forward-thinking Sierra Leoneans who want change in Sierra Leone, to elect the SLPP into power and form a Unity Government that will usher in positive social change in Sierra Leone.
Author: John Mannah: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 March 2018.