Andrew Keili: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 January 2020:
I usually write about something inspirational in this column at the start of the year. This year, I thought it would be more appropriate if I could fashion this week’s article on resolutions for the new year – yes resolutions! Not for you as individuals, though! It is more appropriate to do it as country – but I will get back to this.
Let us generally talk about New Year resolutions. I don’t have the statistics for Sierra Leone but in USA about 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year, and four out of five people who make New Year’s resolutions give up on them by the end of January. Some of the most common resolutions people make each year include losing weight, stopping smoking, saving money, spending more time with the family etc.
In Sierra Leone I know of many people who start the year with so much spiritual invigoration that they only darken the walls of a Church for the New Year’s Eve midnight service, so the new year will meet them “close to God”. Barely an hour later, they drown their “new found spirituality” in a bar.
But people are different. I can attest to the fact that a friend who was an avid alcohol guzzler told me one December 31, about a decade ago he was going to stop drinking. He has so much will power he has not touched alcohol since. Another acquaintance who made the same promise could be seen two days later singing in drunken stupor- “Ar go fodom, nor fodom!
Perhaps I should ask my friend Mallam O’ the Statistician General if he could do a survey of how many people in Sierra Leone keep to their New Year’s resolutions. He will find out that just like Americans, many of us break our resolutions. We are like someone who wrote this in a blog about his resolution to lose weight: “ I was advised to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper – but I think I wrote it down wrong, because I eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a hippopotamus, dinner like an 800-pound gorilla, and a midnight snack like a twenty-five ton humpback whale.”
Anyway, back to Sierra Leone, I think it is more appropriate this year to put ourselves in the heads of the Government and the opposition, and make resolutions on their behalf – simple resolutions that they should be able to keep for the whole year – and probably the next and the next. Since it is the government that pulls the levers of power, it is no surprise they have more resolutions. Here goes:
RESOLUTIONS OF GOVERNMENT
WE RESOLVE TO ENGENDER PEACE AND NATIONAL COHESION
We will be fair in making appointments based on merit, rather than on a regional and political basis. As a government, we will be watchful and ensure that the utterances of government functionaries are conciliatory and not inflammatory. We will speed up the completion and adoption of the new constitution and set up the new Peace Commission in earnest. We will ensure that peoples’ freedoms are respected and will not use governance institutions to hang political opponents overtly or covertly. We will do our utmost to up our ratings in the Global Peace Index significantly.
WE RESOLVE TO BE A GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE IN ALL WAYS TO THE PEOPLE OF SIERRA LEONE
We are mindful of the fact that most recommendations in the Auditor General’s reports have not been followed through in the past; we will be relentless in following through on audit reports and encourage accountability in the dealings of all public officials. We will put Sierra Leone first and use all levers of power to stamp out corruption.
WE WILL ENCOURAGE THE PARTICIPATION OF OTHERS NOT NECESSARILY CONNECTED WITH THE LEADERSHIP IN GOVERNANCE
We fully realize that we do not have a monopoly on knowledge and that there are many of our compatriots within the governing party and outside, that may have expertise and views that could be of immense help to the furtherance of our national objectives. We will look out for such expertise and be inclusive in consultations – formal or informal especially on issues of the economy
WE WILL AS A GOVERNMENT ALWAYS PUT SALONE FIRST IN OUR ACTIONS
We, recalling our obligations to the state will always put Salone first in all our dealings. We will not settle for mediocrity and will not be selfish in our actions.
WE WILL ALLOW CITIZENS AND ORGANISATIONS TO FREELY EXPRESS THEIR VIEWS WITHIN THE LAW
We commit ourselves to having a free press, the freedom of people to assemble and air out their views and will not suppress them. We will look upon genuine criticism as an inspiration to us to improve upon our service to the Sierra Leonean populace.
WE WILL ALLOW OTHER ARMS OF GOVERNMENT TO OPERATE UNFETTERED
We recognise the need for our tripartite system of government to operate unfettered. We commit to having a judiciary bereft of our interference as a government. We will allow Parliament to carry out its constitutional function with no strong-arming. We will allow the Police and State institutions, especially those dealing with governance to operate as per their constitutional mandates.
WE WILL BE GOOD STEWARDS OF OUR NATIONAL RESOURCES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
We will ensure that the rich endowment of natural resources given to us are managed judiciously to bring sustainable benefits to all Sierra Leoneans. This extends to the management of our mining industry, huge forest reserves and fisheries Sector.
WE WILL LOOK FORWARD AND NOT BACKWARDS
We realise that the problems of Sierra Leone are much too endemic. We will be mindful of the ills of previous governments and leave any recriminations to the law. We will not however be so preoccupied with these as to lose sight of our mandate and objectives on which we were elected. We will use all our human resources to think through our abject problems and sort out the problems of Sierra Leone.
RESOLUTIONS OF THE OPPOSITION:
WE COMMIT OURSELVES TO PEACE AND NATIONAL RECONCILIATION
We realize that just as we expect government to engender peace and national reconciliation, we have a reciprocal obligation to do the same. We will restrain our members from making inflammatory utterances, especially those that are untrue or taking actions that may disturb the national peace. We will be law abiding citizens.
WE WILL SERVE AS A RESPONSIBLE OPPOSITION AND PLAY THE ROLE REQUIRED OF AN OPPSITION PARTY
As a responsible opposition, we will oppose policies and actions of government that in our view are not in the national interest and do so in a lawful way within appropriate avenues. We will assist the government when called upon.
Well, I need to stop at these. Let us watch and see how well they observe these resolutions. I could hear conspiracy theorists ask – but what about the Police? What about the Judiciary? They should also make resolutions. Let me straightaway jump to their defence. Apart from the fact that they are part of our governance apparatus, I am certain nobody wants us to write a novel on their behalf, as the resolutions may be just too many to handle!
So, let me come back to us the populace. I am certain many of you have made your own resolutions, so I won’t refer to that issue. However, a few words of advice could be in place.
Let us remember as Sierra Leoneans that in the midst of our own “wars” — perhaps health issues, financial struggles, broken relationships, major disappointments, or the like — we would do well to take stock of God’s blessings in our lives over the years.
What are we most grateful for in this past year? Let us give thanks to God. Let us also resolve to “Press on”. Press on! It should never be the goal of anybody to live a New Year the same way we lived the old year. It should always be our aim to make noticeable progress from one year to the next. (Photo: Andrew Keili)
In closing, my prayer for you this New Year is taken from an anonymous prayer I read:
This New Year may the LORD bless you with……..
Enough happiness to keep you sweet
Enough success to keep you eager
Enough friends to give you comfort
Enough wealth to meet your needs
Enough enthusiasm to look forward
Enough faith to banish depression
Enough determination to make each day better than yesterday.
Let us thank God as a country for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. Ponder my thoughts.