Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 November 2016
The streets of Freetown and other major towns and cities across Sierra Leone remain tense, as the people of Sierra Leone react to the government’s announcement last week to remove the subsidy that has for several years, helped to cushion the poor from the high cost of petrol.
Without cheap petrol Sierra Leone will soon grind to a halt, with unpredictable political and social consequences.
But it seems in announcing the massive price increases in petrol, the Koroma government has factored in, the possible use of armed response to quell any mass peaceful demonstrations that are being planned in the coming weeks – if not days.
Weeks before the government’s announcement, international aid agencies reported that Sierra leone is facing catastrophic levels of hunger as the country’s econony and agriculture collapse under the weight of corruption and mismanagement.
Immediately after the petrol price rises last week, there were calls on social media for massive street protests. But those calls are yet to be heeded, as the effect of the price rises work its way through the economy and pockets of citizens.
It is expected that with the doubling of the prices of petrol, kerosene, diesel and fuel oil at the pump, the costs of transportation, basic household necessities and foods will rise exponentially, especially as Christmas approaches.
Yesterday, Sierra Leone’s presidential hopeful and popular opposition leader – Alie Kabba, one of the few – if not the only opposition leader to criticise the government’s announcement, published a statement strongly condemning the price rises and its effects on the poor. This is what he says.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans
The recent abrupt elimination of fuel subsidies by the APC government and its cascading killer effects, poses a very serious threat to the livelihood of ordinary citizens and dangerously toys with the very stability of the state.
Once again we find ourselves firmly locked in the grips of another undoubtedly disastrous stretch of man-made catastrophes that our country neither desires nor in anyway deserves.
The current episode represents yet another grim example of how the deceptive policies and fraudulent pastimes of our thoroughly corrupt and terribly greedy political class, would always lead to disaster for the 99% of suffering Sierra Leoneans.
Nothing can justify the reckless mismanagement and outright corruption that are weighing us down as a nation, and constantly pushing the ruling class into a senseless scramble to grip the last straw that comes to hand.
The IMF and the World Bank are institutions that were set up at the end of the Second World War to help rebuild a war-ravaged Europe. In spite of its very controversial reputation, which has seen it variously described as “harsh” and “hellish”, the IMF has become the last port of call for those African leaders seeking loan and financial relief in the wake of disastrous handling of their national economies.
Obviously, a doctor who provides a dangling rope as part of the prescribed medication for a suicidal maniac, might be viewed as cruelly cynical, but may end up pleading “not guilty” to the allegation of deliberately speeding up the inevitable.
The fact of the matter is that the IMF does not force a nation to swallow their bitter pill.
If you don’t soak your own gown in gasoline, no one will light your torso to the grave. The IMF may be a “death trap” designed to impoverish African countries, but our “leaders” voluntarily run to the institution for a decongestant after they have mindlessly swallowed every morsel of their national cakes.
When they are given what may look like a cure, they simply go on to abuse it and end up suffocating their countries with poisoned pills.
As the APC government begins to implement its “prosperity-to-austerity” measures, the fact that the poor masses who drank nothing from the State House milk are the ones being fed the killer poison, is bad enough.
Worse still is the fact that this unfolding calamity could have been avoided, if only we had real patriots in power, that are willing to use the nation’s resources for the greater good of all the people.
To avoid the cyclical circus of running to outside institutions for a punishing “helping hand” each time we stumble and fall, we should come together as a country to change the entire system for good.
I am proud to be a part of the growing number of selfless patriots who are searching for a new hopeful dawn that will lift our country up and take us out of the meaningless game of musical chairs in which politicians come and go, but the country stays stuck in the same mess!
Our people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We have had enough needless suffering and injustice in the nation.
It is time for real change!
Your humble servant,
It is really amazing to see some compatriots trying to justify the policies of the APC government which do not solve the basic problems of the society, but instead inflict more hardship on the already poor standard of living of the immense majority of the people.
The removal of fuel subsidy adds more woes to the desperate situation. Should the government engage itself in a genuine fight against corruption and retrieve monies embezzled by government officials and cohorts, there will be no need to eliminate the fuel subsidy.
With bad governance and corruption across board, no policy can yield the expected result. Even the subsidised fuel could not improve the lives of the citizens much; they were still grappling with the high cost of petroleum products, soared transport tariffs, and the inconveniences of the lack of sufficient supply of electricity only few could afford to use electricity generators. Sometimes even hospitals could go short of power supply.
At this point in time, political regeneration should be the demand of all nonconformists with the current system in the country, the dismal failure of successive governments of the main political parties who have had the opportunity to place the country on the path to progress and prosperity, in all these years of political dominion.
Those citizens who have lost all hope on this political class and government of the day, it is a collective responsibility to work together to salvage Sierra Leone and take the country to the path of progress.
Bad governance, massive corruption and irresponsibility of duty delivery are damaging the very fabric of our society. Like true patriots, it is incumbent to all and sundry to pass on to later generations a legacy of good governance in the country.
Great power emerges when individuals come together as a whole; strive to redress an order of poor management of state affairs as the general outlook of Sierra Leone appears today. This movement can be driven by dynamic men and women of patriotic virtues from all works of life in the society, with a proactive and credible leadership with character, consciousness and right focus.
Alie Kabba has shown a demonstrated ability at doing and not just speaking, beyond doubts his capability to spearhead this crusade.
Alie Kabba has willingly assumed the role of mouthpiece for all disgruntled and suffering masses under the poor performance of The APC government. He never falters in his defense of the people whenever the occasion arises. He is the man who stands upright to defend the Leone people’s rights.
Sierra Leoneans, we mustn’t relent in the demand for good management of our national resources with a newfound awareness of good governance instilled in our national polity. Join this good will effort as a patriot and be a part to bring it to reality.
Alie Badara Sanjan Kabba is a derserving member of that rare breed of leaders who not only say it as it is, but feel it as he says it!
A learned student of political science, a life long pan Africanist visionary, and a positive patriot; If ever a man was ripe and right for PLACE and TIME, this is it!
Are we becoming victims of international harmonisation of economic processes and banking standards in the name of globalisation? I am forced to ask this question because what is happening in the World today in terms of economic hardship and Sierra Leone in particular, is an international crisis which some Governments are banging their heads to IMF for solutions.
The 2008 financial meltdown forced many industrialized countries to adopt austerity measures geared towards reversing the gloomy trend of economic stagnation. There are countries with stringent macro-economic measures put in place to withstand any devastating economic disaster, such as the American subprime mortgage market and the Lehman brothers that contributed to the world financial collapse which has not been seen for so many years. But some of these financial ring fences fail to avert or withstand the tremors simply because of globalisation.
The world has globalized economically, politically and socially, which means some of the policies in relation to these three aspects are globally standardised. So the financial crisis of 2008 knocked-off all major world economies. Some banks were bailed-out and many financial institutions were forced to close-down permanently.
In America, with the election of the first black African American into the white house (Barrack Obama), he was able to inject financial stimulus of 700 billion dollars in the ailing US economy.
In the United Kingdom the Conservative Government of David Cameron introduced austerity measures to save the troubling UK economy, some income supports were cut or temporary suspended. Billions of pounds were injected to the devastated UK economy and some of the banks were bailed-out like the northern rock. Some western European countries approach the Chinese for financial bail-out who have over a trillion dollars in reserve.
The move by the Sierra Leone government to remove the fuel subsidy should not be interpreted otherwise, since majority of us know its an economic condition from IMF the government is trying to comply with. Our people are really suffering because we don’t have the mega reserve to use as stimulus like some of the western countries I have mentioned above.
But nobody should try to attribute this suffering to the government like the above writer is claiming. Is Sierra Leone the only West African country that has removed fuel subsidies. The answer is no. Most governments in Africa have removed this economic safety-net against the will of their citizens.
The economic strategy behind fuel subsidies is quite clear; we are operating a free market-economy that gives the business people opportunity to determine the price of commodities in the market, because our government cannot control the supply and demand of essential goods and services.
We import more than we export. The Bank of Sierra Leone cannot provide foreign currency like the US dollar to the importers causing a rise in the costs of foreign currencies in the black market.
The austerity actions and the fuel subsidies are all measures taken by our government to address our long term economic adversities.
Any real democratic state should have vibrant and vocal opposition party/parties, but ours in Sierra Leone are just opposing with no good reasons, especially when they know there is not much the government can do to stop the suffering of our people.
The causes of our problems are not to be blamed on our administration alone. It is an international economic crisis contributed by EBOLA and the total fall of Iron Ore prices which was the driver behind our economic prominence.
Many of our compatriots are au fait with the politics of these two old political parties. They know with all the difficulties they face today which one is better in terms of seeking the interest of the state and their welfare.
The article above and many others clearly demonstrate how we can be so selfish and insensitive to issues that are genuinely created by global dynamics beyond Government’s or economist’s control.
Since the announcement of government austerity measures geared towards Government Institutions and its agencies, we have read a lot from people who are blotted with resources of the state. Nobody from past governments have moral grounds to speak of corruption, especially the Kabba regime.
Mr. Spencer, the less you speak of corruption and mismanagement the better. Because you are a former minister of information of Tejan Kabba’s government which international community accused of all kinds of corruption. Do you think the people of Sierra Leone are fools that they don’t know what is going on?
Yes the Government of the day may have find itself in a difficult economic situation as a result of the above aforementioned, but the kind of rhetoric and cacophony coming from opposing houses are disproportionate to the great things they have done for the nation.
In Sierra Leone politics, the people and government are all selfish. They only think about themselves not about the country’s development. All political party – SLPP or APC leaders are useless.
Why don’t you try a female president in Sierra Leone for a change? Or someone else who doesn’t have a culturally/tribally biased political background. All Sierra Leonean politicians are gold diggers.
Millions of us living in Sierra Leone actually live in daily hell. Our rights are violated and we are being disrespected.
Our children are killed on the spot during peaceful protests, we are starving, transportation is a disaster and now the fuel increase has climaxed our daily suppression and oppression.
Alie Kabba is one fearless patriot who has stood for and is always speaking TRUTH. Indeed the time is extremely right now to change this poisoned and rotten system.
Alie Kabba, may God bless you and help you to succeed, because only a person who liberates with the truth is able to liberate people.
Long live the people of Sierra Leone to overcome and uproot this present evil government.
They should really try a female candidate, because all the passed governments have failed us. Especially the APC government.
Our people are suffering in that country. I feel ashamed calling myself a Sierra Leonean. Shame on you Ernest Koroma. You think you can turn our country into a family business. You are already losing anyway. Our prayers will haunt you.