Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 January 2020:
A two-day ministerial and cabinet retreat which started last Friday, ended yesterday Saturday in Freetown without much of a breakthrough in charting a new course for the government, after two years of economic hardship and political tension in the country.
The event was declared opened by president Bio last Friday, who said that the aim was to assess the government’s performance in delivering public services in the last two years, and plan for an improvement in 2020. But what that improvement plan is, no one outside his cabinet knows.
Speaking about the event, Chief Minister David Francis said that the unique aspect of the retreat was the experience sharing session involving retired public servants and veteran politicians.
The retired public servants he said were amazed by the innovation they see in governance today, including monitoring and evaluation of government programmes.
The Directorate of Service Delivery and Performance Management within the Office of the Chief Minister, the National Agency for Monitoring and Evaluation and the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) expressed commitment in supporting effective service delivery in the government’s eight priority areas – education, the economy, health, agriculture, energy, water, security and the fight against corruption.
These clearly defined interventions, backed by monitoring and evaluation and a fired up Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Professional Heads in MDA will help in the transformation of Sierra Leone, the chief minister said.
In his closing remarks yesterday, the Chief Minister emphasised the President’s message on effective service delivery and performance management.
He said that the football analogy of no more yellow cards for political appointees and civil servants, made by the president last Friday at the retreat, may be interpreted to mean a form of motivation to political appointees and public officials to optimize their performance in the delivery of government priorities.
But many in Sierra Leone regard this from the president as a warning to failing and underperforming ministers that they are now on final notice, and will soon be shown the door.
Photo: Chief Minister David Francis and some of the ministers at the Ministerial and Cabinet retreat, where it was said there were tensed moments.
President Julius Maada Bio last Friday, told his Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Professional Heads that the people of Sierra Leone are eager for effective and efficient service delivery that are real, visible and tangible – that will change the lives of the ordinary citizens. This has been interpreted by many in Sierra Leone as the president’s first admission of the government’s failure in office.
President Bio said he was ready to “double charge all Ministers and Heads of departments to deliver results and on their respective mandates”.
The President asked the Chief Minister to be more intrusive and make sure all MDA’s work together for effective service delivery, as he declared 2020 as a year for delivery.
The president urged heads of MDA’s to be professional, disciplined and prompt in their delivery of services. He emphasized: “I have no yellow card in my 2020 service delivery move, we must deliver and on time”.
President Bio said there are no more excuses to give to the people of Sierra Leone, and told ministers he will become more intrusive in ensuring service delivery in 2020.
It should not be one retreat after the other. President Bio and his Chief Minister should know all the time which sectors of society are in need of more than average attention and do something about it.Why keep any official who hardly knows his/her job description to be able to set goals and time frame within which they should be accomplished?
As a former military officer President Bio should know that retreat conjures up images of lack of confidence, cowardice and poor planning. An army in retreat is a defeated army in that the enemy is claiming territory all the time and it is only a matter of time till there is no more room for retreat and so the white flag has to be raised. President Bio has three years left for this reality – time is becoming his worst enemy.
The President returned home from the London economic/investment summit empty handed. That should have been his crowning moment for all the travelling he had embarked on to attract investment; it must have been a demoralising moment for him. But all is not lost if the President realises that to attract investment a country should be stable. Political violence does not lend support to this.
Why doesn’t Maada Bio get his SLPP dominated parliament to pass laws specifically targeted at political violence wherever it may emanate from, not caring whether or not it affects SLPP? Secondly, the President ought to know that diplomatic niceties do not always translate to practical results, otherwise he will keep signing one memorandum of understanding after the other. For example, the British High Commissioner in the country may be in a smiling mode whenever they meet but he will do his job in assessing the political environment for the benefit of his nation state.
Now is the time for President Bio to look inward to see what he can do with the limited resources that we have and try to apply them skillfully for maximum benefit. There should never be another case of billions going missing at government offices, no more thousands of bags of rice going missing with the Thief Minister, David Francis, implicated, no more ill thought-out overseas trips and no more $1.5 million unaccounted for.
In London President Bio had what looked like a penalty kick and he struck the ball straight into the goalkeepers arms. But the game is still on.
Last time i checked, the slogan for the PAOPA regime was “talk and do”, ironically much of what we have observed is fine tuned big talk, extravagant life styles and nothing meaningful happening on the ground. The chief minister has gradually mastered the art of chief propagandist— all he talks about is, we have done this and that, while conditions of living in the nation continues to deteriorate.
Firstly, before any type of service can be delivered effectively and in an orderly,timely manner,priorities must always be in order,and indifference and gross incompetence must be frowned upon and thrown out the window. It seems to me, this was just another opportunity for a failing President to admonish a bunch of losers dressed in their brightest, greenest costumes (lol)
Intrinsic questions like: How to rebrand the image of our country,and how to find creative ways to get Investors to take Sierra Leone seriously, and what precise, urgent strategies are needed to strengthen and buttress their already crumbling Free Quality Education Program were never examined and addressed.
Neither did anyone mention a word about the tense, unsteady, unhealthy political atmosphere in our country presently,or strategic,and practical ways to improve and enhance our export earnings. No one, not even the President was bold enough to publicly reprimand or admonish those unfeeling, good for nothings that stole Chinese rice belonging to the poorest of the poor among us…What a sad story – A totally defeated SLPP party,once again,assembled their impractical selves on a retreat,wasted precious time and money, just to learn newer ways to repeat their same silly mistakes again.(lol) Rising Sun Will Rise Again.
Where is the Vice President, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, in this showboating? Has the SLPP just realized that the razzmatzz is gone and that they have totally failed the nation? It is ironic to be able to stop the APC mini convention at Port Loko, by SLPP operatives using legal technicalities at the 11th hour, as the actual gathering itseff is clearly causing pandemonium within the ranks of the ‘new direction’ SLPP.
The president made a very strong statement to the ministries. I hope all the ministries deliver.