Sierra Leone’s civil service needs urgent reforms

Dr. Emmanuel Johnson PhD: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 December 2019:

In every nation, be it democratic or otherwise, the central government would only achieve its desired aim if it has a potent, determined and productive Civil Service.

This is also to imply that the public institution (the civil service) should be politically neutral, professional, independent, and development-oriented.

Sierra Leone’s Civil Service is as old as Methuselah that has been principally responsible for facilitating the day-to-day affairs of the country.

Over the years, the institution has largely shown maturity in its activities and operations. Candidly, we should have achieved much in Sierra Leone, but there is little or nothing to write home about today.

At the close of the last century and the beginning of this millennium, the public has detected shortcomings in Sierra Leone’s Civil Service; and has in no small way affected the holistic performance of the nation in all the previous United Nations Human Index Reports.

We would agree with the submission that the failure of the previous leaderships is linked to the ineffective, inefficient and unpatriotic attitude of many Sierra Leonean civil servants.

Sierra Leone has a serious national issue to contend with, if we are to even think of experiencing positive economic development. This is because we cannot divorce the development processes from our civil service; and in view of the fact that we have a conspicuously inept civil service, we are finding it very difficult to compromise the two issues.

No matter what is being said, as a nation, we need to think development-oriented and this can only be realistic when we experience an effective and efficient performance of the Civil Service.

 

This is important if we are to promote not only the vision of the elected government of President Dr. Julius Maada Bio but, to ensure that they improve their standards to those of International Standards, which will further help in the promotion of democratic good governance and hence economic growth and sustainable development.

The poor performance recorded by our civil service over the recent past have brought several issues to mind. Most of the issues are in the minds of every Sierra Leonean, and largely rest on the mechanisms that government institute to bring the much talked about improvement in the civil service.

This instantly brings us to what needs to be done now by the newly elected government of the President Dr. Julius Maada Bio to improve the status and performance level of the country’s civil service.

The answers to these questions are manifold, and we must make every attempt to ensure that we present them hastily. We have suggested that the answers presented now and in a very realistic manner because we want to provide potent reasons for critics, not to even mention the cheap issue of Witch hunting and tribalism as protests against what might be a submission.

Without wasting time, the newly elected government of His Excellency the President, BRIG. (RTD) Dr. Julius Maada Bio must actively embark on the redundancy of unprecedented number of civil servants that have reached the retirement age of sixty-five years (60-65 yrs.).

If a random survey of the age differentials in the civil service is conducted today, the government would be shocked to come to terms with the harsh reality that over forty (40%) of the civil servants have attained their optimum and are now liabilities to the government.

This might be the more reason, most of these inefficient civil servants are not only reporting late for duties but they also leave earlier than others, doing nothing for the day. They only report for duties to read newspapers, make telephone calls and meet with loved ones. Frankly, their presence in the civil service is perennially bringing down the standards of the institution.

Thus, it is implicit that the overwhelming numbers of civil servants that have surpassed the retirement age are primarily responsible for the inefficient and ineffectiveness of our esteemed civil service. Sadly, their overdue presence in the civil service of this country has given them an undue advantage over younger civil servants and those aspiring to join the service.

Being that they are mostly over-familiar with the modus operandi within this public institution, the most aged civil servants have unpatriotically used their experiences to amass ill-gotten wealth, which is in fact supposed to be for national development. Some civil servants have never transferred from one ministry to another.

This is probably another reason there are clear practices of corruption in most of Sierra Leone’s government ministries.

We hope that President Dr. Julius Maada Bio would embark on a massive redundancy program, to inject young and vibrant personnel that would work towards the overall growth of our economy. But his government must ensure that the existing personnel and the would-be civil servants get transferred from one location to another to ensure that existing cabals get destroyed in the system.

People of sound and reasonable mind would always know the significance of the conduct of training exercises for every private or public institution, if they are to experience unprecedented growth and sustainable development.

Even though we would not emphatically debunk the idea of training programs for civil servants, we would also not hesitate to mention that such training is reserved mostly for privileged civil servants and non-civil servants.

This is to imply that unpatriotism and corruption have been the yardstick for the selective appointments of some civil servants to attend training programs. This is seriously undermining the performance and development of the civil service in the country.

As a matter of urgency, we are urging the Public Service Commission (PSC) to address this issue immediately, to save the Civil Service institution from sinking lower.

We are conscious, as earlier stated, that the problems which are affecting our civil service are complex multiple. But the government must take urgent actions.

12 Comments

  1. Tamba Komba, it would be a waste of time and effort to dilate on your accusation of conspiracy theories against me. It may be that there is a lack of logic and prudent thinking in your motivation. Prove me wrong by just outlining some facts, of why someone in the right economic framework – who inherited a bankrupt economy – would abandon Mamamah International Airport project, with a price tag of US$300 million, and surreptitiously come up with the ridiculous idea of constructing a bridge with a projected cost of US$2.5 billion – about 8.3 times the cost of Mamamah International Airport project.

    If I am not mistaken, this amount of money is quite sufficient for the initial phase of moving the Capital to a central position, and thereby activate the road map to our genuine development process.

    • Alimamy, I see that you are upset about the govt’s non-commonsensical logic of spending state coffers. Tell me more about parliament’s reaction to the govt’s action.

  2. Sierra Leone’s People Problem? (lmao) Fits them perfectly my brother Alimamy, like a key in a padlock. It’s a thought provoking phrase that will unlock all the reasons responsible for the stupidities, tribalism,incompetencies,and backward,regressive attitudes the SLPP has brought on upon beloved nation. Inglorious beings,no doubt,that’s who they are!(lol) Well said,”Lion that Rules the Den”…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Saidu, you come across as playing party politics and that is not patriotism. Be true to yourself and cite instances of malfeasants. You can never compare the leaders of APC to the leaders of SLPP.These two parties are not the problems. Some of the leaders and operatives in these parties are the main problems. I believe we have a lot of tribalists in the SLPP but we also have lots of heartless souls and inhumans in the APC.

  3. Well said Dr. Johnson and analyst Sahr Matturi. Now, it is all about stratagem. I would think Pres. Bio should embark on this noble idea of change in his second term. I also strongly believe some of the hallmarks of colonial imperialism and white oppressors’ gratification should be eliminated. Case in point – the paramount chieftaincy in Salone.

    Reform in the civil service has long been overdue. We surely owe the demise of our country to those old crooks in the government. It is a good thing (starting point) that well meaning, honest and patriotic Sierra Leoneans are coming out. We need to regroup and launch an insurmountable force against the deadheads of Salone. It is a change we all can believe in (BO, 2012).

  4. There is northing good in this present government to promote. As it has no sence of direction, But thieving from Sierra Leone and taking the riches to other people’s countries. Its so sad we definitely need urgent help to free Sierra Leone from abuse very soon.

    • Agreed with Gloria completely. In fact, that is one of the reasons they are fiercely defending against the movement of the Capital to a central position. Freetown, the present capital and its location, is very ideal for them to escape out of the country, after their loot. They just have to ferry to Lungi, in a space of half an hour, and the only obstacle against their escape is the Atlantic Ocean – which they don’t have to use.

      The Lungi Bridge is synonymous to ‘The Battle for Freetown’. Nobody will dare tell you this fact. But one of the main objectives is to shorten the time of escape. With a bridge connecting Freetown and Lungi International Airport, fleecing and milking the country will be ever more easier. After securing one’s loot, one would just have a 15-minutes drive to Lungi, and it’s all done.

      The Sierra Leone Peoples Problem (SLPP) is not the right party for the development of the country. It has never been. The people who run this outfit have never seen themselves as part of a homogenous Sierra Leone that comprises of the West, North, East and South of the country. They have always identified themselves as South-Easterners. Whatever that means, only Good knows.

      If the SLPP had their way, they would have relocated the Capital City to either Bo or Kenema – to create an eastern escape root to neighbouring Liberia. Their main problem is that these towns are seriously off-centred within the country. And also because such a decision would be encountered with an enormous outcry. So they are facing a dilemma actually. Because, the ideal places where the capital can be relocated – like Makeni, Magburaka, Massanga or Malenga – are greatly despised of by the Sierra Leone Peoples Problem.

      On the other hand, the relocation of Sierra Leone’s capital is paramount, if the country is going to develop, and as well as develop for the benefit of all. Having the Capital at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean does not generate enough patriotism in the country. This idea was a Whiteman’s convenience. Like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and other African countries, Sierra Leone’s capital has to be centralized, first and foremost, in order to maximise the inherent logistical economies of scale. It is a contentious issue – but it could be the only way to define our development agenda, in the first instance.

    • Gloria suooprt your statements by giving examples. (This is what we will call citations. Give incidents or circumstances. Support your argument so that you gain credibility.)

  5. In rain,and sunshine,I have always maintained that for our beloved Sierra Leone to move forward,eradicate poverty,and achieve its development goals,we as a nation need to find the courage to strategically,and methodically dismantle all the existing Public institutions in our country presently,and begin building again sustainably from scratch. Make no mistakes, the road that our nation must take in order to be able to rise gallantly like a Phoenix from the ashes,and compete boldly on equal footing,economically in an ever changing world,is a long,time consuming,and arduous one.

    It is a way covered with darkness,fear,and despair;Overcrowded,and full of frightening insurmountable challenges;paved with insecurities,frustrations,suspicions,and doubts.This is not a journey to be embarked upon by the faint hearted but for bold,and courageous leaders who have no fear whatsoever of treading on hot,burning coals of fire,or on thinnest ice that could easily collapse,without giving notice,beneath their feet.

    The question we must ask ourselves has been waiting since our Independence,desiring for some prudent mind to boldly utter it with the utmost urgency,and gravest concern. And strangely,It is still waiting,like a lovely bride expecting to be walked down the aisle, waiting,and waiting in vain. My friends,here’s what we should all be asking each other – what’s the best kind of society that we must aspire,and strive to build for ourselves,and for future generations to come? Should it be,an all inclusive one that promotes peace,equity,and access to Justice for all? that ensures,and promotes transparency,and accountability; celebrates ingenuity,prioritises an attitude of unwavering commitment to sustainable national development? And most important of all,we must strive to build a Democratic society that is guided by an attitude of Tolerance,Compassion,and a strong Moral compass.

    Again,reducing the Civil service workforce,streamlining it,and making it leaner,and more efficient isn’t a bad idea at all. But it cannot,and must not be done in haste;Because livelihoods are at stake,we must tread cautiously.Adequate measures must be put in place to ensure that retirees,are catered for with efficacy,dependability,and great ease,whenever they leave the Civil service work force….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Alimamy, your assertions come across as thinly veiled conspiracy theories. They lack the gravitas that seriously minded people will consider as worthy of consideration. We have representatives in parliament to present bills or ideas for debate. The president cannot just come and bulldoze everyone anyway he likes.The concept of moving the capital inland is a great one. Dr. Ritchard Mbayo wrote a piece on the value of that concept many years ago. It was a great one.

  6. Indeed. Sierra Leone’s Civil Service is not only as old as Methuselah but as old as the “Sumerian Cuneiform script” to even go further. Thank you very much Dr. Johnson for your contribution on this very POPULAR and GLORIOUS PLATFORM. I agree with you one hundred percent for talking about the INDEPENDENCE and NEUTRALITY of our INSTITUTIONS. I mentioned the same idea in some of my past comments.

    There is no need to become a POLITICAL SCIENTIST to know such things. It’s no ROCKET SCIENCE. It’s just COMMON SENSE. But I don’t know why all our GOVERNMENTS both PAST and PRESENT have not implemented the REFORMS necessary to make institutions like the POLICE, THE NEC and the JUDICIARY to name a few, INDEPENDENT and free from the EXECUTIVE and POLITICAL influence. That will change very soon when someone from nowhere takes over the reigns of government in 2023. It’s going to happen. That I can tell everyone.

    Concerning the retirement of civil servants who have reached or past the retirement age and are still in employment, I reckon that, it will be very difficult for the government to do that because of paying their pension. You are talking about 40 percent of the work force if I’m not mistaken. That’s a lot of money to pay. Normally, it’s the people working who contribute to the pension funds for those who are out of work. Please correct me if I am wrong. Are there enough qualified young people to take over these jobs?

    With even the present group of pensioners, the government is struggling in paying their pension on time. Your analysis on the retirement age issue is a very fair one. But will the Bio Administration listen and find a strategy and plan to sort things out before 2023? Such things are challenging and need long term planning.

    Wise thoughts there from Dr. Johnson and GOD BLESS YOU.

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