Sierra Leone’s president Koroma – governance and service delivery

John Baimba Sesay – China

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 August 2016

Citizen engagement is crucial to sustaining democratic governance. It allows for openness in the decision making process, and ensures trust and public confidence.

Participatory democracy is a process of collective decision making that combines elements from both direct and representative democracy.

Sierra Leone pays greater attention to public engagement and citizens’ participation in governance – both at the central and local levels of government.

At the local level, it is clearly manifested in the local councils, which serve as efficient, or as expected, conduit for ensuring proper service delivery and community participation.

President Ernest Bai Koroma, during a two-day National Conference on Community Engagement and Convergence in Freetown on 31 August 2016, underscored the role of participatory governance and citizen engagement in enhancing service delivery across the country.

This is impressive, given what his government has achieved in eight years of managing the affairs of State.

As mentioned earlier, at the local level, there has been the institutional framework for community participation, created through an Act of Parliament – the Local Government Act 2004.

Section 108 of the Act, focuses on the promotion of participatory approach to the decentralization process. Ward Committees are instrumental in the promotion of participatory approach to governance at the local levels.

Section 95 (2) of the Act outlines the composition of each ward committee; every Councilor elected from that ward; the Paramount Chief of the Chiefdom, in the case of localities with a system of chieftaincy; and not more than ten other persons, at least five of whom shall be women, resident in that ward and elected by the ward residents in a public meeting.

The committees, among other functions, provide a focal point for the discussion of local problems and needs, and take remedial action where necessary or make recommendations to the local council accordingly.

President Koroma greeted by Traditional LeadersSince 2007, government continues to invest huge resources in local councils across the country, all in a bid to building their capacities to be able to execute their statutory functions.

Government’s unflinching support for the decentralization and devolution process, demonstrates the great value it attaches to the concept of participatory approach to governance.

Local councils across the country should therefore work assiduously towards making their ward committees fully functional.

This will eventually help bring about effective public involvement and enhance service delivery, something that is core to the president’s recovery programmes.

Eight years of democratic governance have seen the better side of things, with much progress achieved.

The Government, especially the political leadership, should also be credited for ensuring an open political space and enabling environment.

It has, since 2007, continued to open up the political space, set up appropriate structures and the required processes to enable participatory policy-making.

It has not only reinforced “coordination and dialogue amongst district Councils, chiefdom authorities and Central Government functionaries”, by reinstating District Officers, the platform has been created by this government in ensuring discussions on a range of national issues, like the national budget, all being part of the wider participatory approach.

The establishment of an Open Government Initiative (OGI) in 2008, serves as a platform for the promotion of good governance. It today serves as a link between the government (the three arms) and the people, providing citizens with open space to be a part of governance.

Civil society groups are today being provided with the environment to operate freely and in tandem with governance dictates.

This is very important, given that they serve as the arena outside of the state and the market, where people associate to advance common interests. However, it all depends on the enabling environment to be provided by political actors and thanks to the government for such an environment in Sierra Leone.

In a nutshell, the President’s call for constant development partners and all sectors to the development process to stay engaged with the people is timely, crucial and speaks volume of his commitment to the promotion of participatory democracy which, since 2007, his government has been promoting.

About the author:

John Baimba Sesay is the information attaché at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Beijing, China.

15 Comments

  1. Foday Madama, I felt a strong urge to butt in to this controversial argument, and I beg to differ with you on some points. Firstly, I am not taking part in this confrontation. I simply want to be honest referring to your mistaken stance conforming to the performance and mediocre achievements of the APC government in a long decade of governance in the country.

    You made comparison between the APC and SLPP, and one thing I agree with you is that both parties are corrupt and lack the mettle it demands to drive Sierra Leone to meaningful progress.

    Yet, you tend to blow up the minimal achievement of this APC government as you outline it, in almost ten years of governance:
    – Lungi airport been completed and transformed to modern standard.
    – The seaport been extended to accommodate larger vessels and a new container terminal been built.
    – Few modern roads been built.
    – A state of the art foreign office building of seven stories.
    – The Jui state of the art hospital built.
    – Solar light poles installed on the main streets.
    – And the controversial free health care for pregnant women and children under five.

    According to you, this is the achievement of the APC government in almost ten years, and you consider it a success story. Given the huge amount of funds injected into this government over these years by donors, our business partners and creditors, including remittance from abroad by the Diasporans, this is nothing to call home about.

    This government cannot provide the basic amenities and services needed by the people. Clean and running water is almost non existent; electricity supply is stunted, except for those who can afford generators.

    The health care service is dilapidated as reported recently by (CHRDI) Campaign for Human Rights and Development International, let alone improving the livelihood of the population.

    I strongly disagree with the criteria with which you measure the APC government’s performance. Using the failure of the SLPP as a yard stick to determine the success of the APC government is badly erroneous. Furthermore, it baffles people that for eighteen years you haven’t set foot in Sierra Leone, not even during the SLPP rule.

    How you can then attest to the facts that you are presenting us here. You may need to visit Sierra Leone as soon as possible and come back to engage us.

  2. Mustache Moustache, I refused to respond to your questions directed to me simply because I see no reason why someone will want to honestly contribute on this forum with a pen name. Furthermore, you claim to be a man of God but your criticisms for individuals and institutions go beyond normal to character assassination.

    One of those people you have been criticizing unreasonably is the 2012 flag bearer of your party the SLPP – Maada Bio. You went as far as mentioning his late father as a bigamist that married 8 women producing 42 children.
    Such comments directed at a traditional senior citizen (paramount chief) are outrageous and shows your lack of insight. You needed to get to the right side of our culture.

    But remember, politics is full of dynamics. In that light, wise politicians and party supporters are always careful with their criticisms and support.

    In as much as I disagree with the circumstances that brought Julius Maada Bio and his colleagues into power in 1992, I still have respect and admiration for him, for the fact he relinquished power to allow civilian rule. He is the embodiment of peace that you and I are enjoying today, he is our national hero.

    Mustache Moustache, you are cooking up stories about Dr. Yumkella, how he has helped Sierra Leone especially in our struggle against Ebola with disregard to Mr. Bio’s unprecedented efforts in touring the length and breadth of the county sensitizing and offering vital incentives to the affected communities, and even setting up a charity for Ebola orphans.

    Some of us wonder why people like you think Dr. Yumkella has a magic touch in developing Sierra Leone overnight, when by the look of things within his party, even if he becomes the president in 2018 it will be very difficult to assemble a winning team as he was able to do as a UNIDO director.

    Before I answer your question in regard to the two oldest parties in our country, I must first of all say that I am not a localized buffoon. I am a graduate with a wealth of experience in my area of expertise. I have lived and worked in London for over 15 years now, and I am engaging you on issues of a country I have not been to for over 18 years.

    Secondly, Madama is my middle name and has no connection with Niger. My mum – Nancy Sama – a Christian from Faima Bo District, married to my muslim father from the north (Yele). According to my mum, her name was changed to Adama. Because of multiple Fodays in my first classroom, our teacher resorted to using my mother’s name to differentiate me from the others.

    Coming to your question which says, “In your own opinion which of these two political parties, APC and SLPP, is much more corrupt and inefficient than the other?”

    To answer your question I must first of all define corruption and inefficiency for you. According to Transparency International, corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain; Corruption can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amount of money lost and the sector where it occurs.

    While inefficiency according to the English dictionary; is a situation in which someone or something fails to use resources such as time, materials or labour in an effective way.

    In my honest opinion, the two old parties above are all corrupt but the majority of the Sierra Leone populace seem to contend with APC. Maybe it is seen as fair and just, when it comes to ruling the country, which is in complete contrast to SLPP, even though a vast majority of people are grumbling about the present economic situation in the country.

    Let us look at the development trend of the party since it came to power in 2007. The Lungi Airport has been completely transformed to epitomized international standards. In my days as an international business man we used to have only one checking desk, but as a private sector led government, huge investment has been done by building new terminal with close circuit television (CCTVs), with electronic scanners to boost the confidence of international investors.

    The seaport has been extended to accommodate larger ships, building a new container terminal and bringing in modern equipment with international expertise to compete with the sub-region. As a result of these huge investments, revenue generation has continued to increase on high proportion, high profile and our international partners are very pleased about the ongoing progress with our port expansion. They kept visiting the port to see how best they can continue to help. Three weeks ago it was the United States Ambassador designated to Sierra Leone, and last week was the former PM of Great Britain Tony Blair who was visibly pleased with the port’s ongoing progress.

    Apart from building modern roads, we now have a brand new state of the art foreign office in Tower hill a seven story building, The ministry of finance is on it way and the Jui state of the art hospital.

    The Chinese have also promised to build us the headquarters for ministry of health within the complex of West African research for tropical diseases. Massive shopping centers in our main three cities, Bo, Makeni and Kenema, the Sierratel head quarters on its way etc., etc., etc.

    For the electricity generation and distribution of water supply in our district headquarters towns, a lot has been done, but it is not without challenges. Look at our sweet Bo – it is boosting stand pipe water as well as in Kailahun – these are the reason why the political mindsets are changing in these areas.

    We have solar lights installed in the main streets which is now helping to deter crime. Of course, these are all not enough for us as citizens – we expect more from our government, but these are all steps in the right direction. Bear in mind that only countries with nuclear fuel can boost of uninterrupted power supply (UPS).

    Health, for the first time in our country April 2010 our president commission the free health care for pregnant women and lactating children under 5, and by all indication it has proved to be sustainable and progressive towards reducing our maternal deaths.

    Following the appointment of Dr. Abubakar Fofanah in this department, he has brought in his wealth of experience to mitigate the ministry’s forthcomings.

    Agriculture is moving away from subsistence to mechanised farming and a lot of inroads has been made in this area. The minister is changing the the agricultural management system; he is going around the county looking at farming techniques and issuing cheques for large amounts of money to farmers who are making progress towards food sustainability.

    Sierra Akar is gradually taking the lead in poultry and meat production, the government is considering putting a temporary ban on foreign import of chicken to augment our home businesses.

    Because of our opposite views, you cannot agreed with me on any of the above, but mind you the Sierra Leone people are not longer daft. We can no longer continue to feed them with trash; the social media has globalised the world. This is my opinion.

  3. We are at the bottom of all measures of human development.

    In terms of education we are 183 out of 187 according to the UNDP education index.

    In terms of the human development index we are 181 out of 188.

    Our currency has fallen from 2900 leones under Kabbah and is now 7100 leones.

    We have one of the world;s worst maternal and infant mortality rates in the world.

    But yet somehow some of us praise the administration. Sierra Leone is doomed.

  4. Foday Madama,

    FOUR mining agreements were signed by the APC government on large-scale extraction industries in Sierra Leone from 2010 to 2012, and only ONE was effectively ratified by SLPP in 2002.

    FYI, after a long and careful deliberation on mineral mining industries in Africa, including crude oil, we the participants at a conference held in Accra, Ghana unanimously endorsed the Maputo ratified agreement.

    Sierra Rutile Ltd. was then expected to reopen its mine in Sierra Leone in 2005.

    African diamond production increased by more than 12% in 2003. Production rose, among others, in Sierra Leone. Other planned expansions included the Koidu Mine which was expected to open in Sierra Leone in 2004.

    See “THE MINERAL INDUSTRIES OF AFRICA” By Thomas R. Yager et al, which was published in May 2015.

    QUICK QUESTION

    In your own opinion which of these two political parties, APC and SLPP, is much more corrupt and inefficient than the other?

    Please tell the TRUTH, and be HONEST with me. Amen.

  5. Ekundayo Pratt – I disagree with your statement on the above article. You said: “For your information and as you are thousands of miles away in China, let me inform you that except for the northern located councils, the majority of local councils in this country are inadequately resourced by the Koroma government”.

    We all know there is corruption within the present administration of APC government, but not to the point the above contributors are trying to portray.

    Local government councils were created by the SLPP former Government of Tejan Kabba through an act of parliament in 2004, but they were not exercised and managed with efficiency and appropriate frequency. They lacked vital institutional structures with sets of regulations for efficient delivery of public services.

    When the APC came to power in 2007 these councils were better administered and allocated huge amount of monies to deliver the required public services to the people. The central Government is not in any way discriminating against any council in it resources allocation to all our local governments except for one.

    The whole south and east, it is only Kenema district council that has become stubborn to implement resources allocated to them for the development of their district. Before 2007 the Kenema City Council Chairman himself Mr Kelfala was the head of SLRA, but what has he done for the People of Kenema during his tenure?

    He has become the enemy of his own people by resisting government auditors within the council which is a compliment to the local council Act and legislation. As a result of these actions the central Government withheld the council’s funds.

    The article above presents us with analysis of participatory governance and its benefits to the people, and also the effort of the APC government to foster decentralisation and eliminate basic deprivation of our people in the provinces.

    The writer is by no means trying to give us or mentioned standard indicator of economic growth, other than the importance of participatory politics and its associated benefits to our communities and country as a whole.

    The writer of the above article should not be antagonised or classed as hypocrite for calling a spade a spade. We all know this is politics, but if we are to move forward as a nation we have to start acknowledging good work from our institutions and compatriots.

    The past government of SLPP did well in building national institutions as a platform for national cohesion and economic growth, but they were just a white wash.

    It was the emergence of APC in 2007 that reviewed these institutions and introduced strict administrative and institutional structures with sets of regulations for efficient delivery of public service. Take for example the national revenue authority (NRA) formally headed by Dr. John Karimu, how much money was he collecting yearly? Less than 100 billion.

    But when APC came to power they establish an automated system for managing customs data (ASYCUNDA) in 2012, which significantly reduced the burden and time to transport goods.

    It also reduced embezzlement and increased revenue collection significantly, with all the trouble with Ebola and the apparent shut-down of major companies like African Minerals and Sierra Rutile, the NRA still collected 2.7 trillion Leones for the government and people of Sierra Leone.

  6. Mr. John Baimba Sesay,

    Our so-called MULTI-PARTY DEMOCRACY that I actively participated in, to see it restored nationwide away from APC ONE PARTY RULE, has been hugely corrupted beyond belief. For the illegal and unconstitutional sacking of VP Sam Sumana without him being impeached by Parliament is just an eye sore and unpleasant to behold. Additionally, DEMOCRACY in itself is by no means better than the human life of, for example, Late Ms Fatmata Turay who was willfully killed as a result of lack of government oversight and failure to ban FGM aka Bondo traditional practices in the country.

    Is there any FGM, Bondo or Sande traditional and cultural practices in China where you currently live?

    FOR YOUR INFORMATION, SERIOUS DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS LEGISLATE AND ENACT LAWS FOR THE SAFETY, WELL-BEING AND WELFARE OF THE SUBJECTS, THE PEOPLE. AMEN.

    See “Secret societies in Sierra Leone – The Patriotic Vanguard.”

  7. Dear Mr Sesay,

    In the 2012/2013 annual convention of the Sierra Leone Students Union in China, you are reported to have said that the very growth of democracy very much depends on the dissemination of reliable and credible information.

    You are also quoted to have said “But if such challenges are to be addressed, the media should be seen playing a critical role in exposing societal problems and challenges in governance, such as tackling corruption.” So, Mr Sesay, why do you preach one thing and do the opposite?

    In your privileged position, without any respect and consideration for the poor people in Sierra Leone, and for those running away from poverty (risking their lives through Libya and on sea on their way to Europe, etc), if you can only see our comments “with a slight eyesight” then your visual perception or visual acuity needs investigation.

    Lying, in your position Mr Sesay, is another form of corruption which you cannot blame on democracy.

    Cheers.

  8. Interesting comments. I tend to see with a slight eyesight, the beauty of democracy I suppose. No offence though. Cheers all.

  9. This is cheap propaganda void of substance. You pretend to sell us sentiments and smoke screens, telling us what appeases you and believe we can buy it. It is nothing but hot air, and such hallucination is just out of tune from what the realty is on the ground is.

    Go back and make a better use of your time and come up with realistic enthusiasm that may make sense. You haven’t made mention of any plans or framework, put in place that impact on the lives of the communities to improve the living standards of the people you are talking about – in almost a decade of governance.

    Trust and confidence are what the people have long lost in this APC government. This is a poor exercise of journalism, unfair to the common people; deliberately disregarding the hardship this government had subjected them to, while rampant corruption flourishes in this government run as a business – for now, it is running out of business.

  10. Mr Sesay what do you mean by ‘Since 2007, the APC Party has continued to open up the political space, set up appropriate structures and the required processes to enable participatory policy-making’.

    What can you say about the incident that happened in Koinadugu District – the largest but poorest district in Sierra Leone, wherein the youths where peacefully demonstrating for their democratic right of having a technical and vocational institution promised them, but siphoned to Makeni the strong hold of the current APC government because they (the youths) did not dance to the tune the APC Party want them to dance and two young men where killed and dozens seriously injured and hospitalized.

    Is that what you (Mr Sesay) is calling participatory policy making since the reinstalling of leadership of the APC party in 2007.?

    You are in China and you are aware of the industrialization in China and China was /is called the engine of the world. Don’t you realize the importance of vocational and technical education as being part of the engine of growth in any society?

    Dr Alpha Wurie laid a solid foundation during his tenure as Minister of Education by establishing and building schools in every district in Sierra Leone during the previous SLPP era. And as such, primary and secondary schools laid the educational foundations for our children to pursue their technical and vocational skills at higher institutions so as to become assets and responsible citizens of Sierra Leone.

    Of the 8/9 years of the APC government in power, Koinadugu district is yet to have a technical/vocational institute, and their children and youths are denied the right to peacefully demonstrate for their rights as promised; and two of the youths were killed and scores seriously injured and hospitalised.

    And here is the mouthpiece and propaganda advocate by the name of John Baimba Sesay residing in China being paid thousands of Dollars by the government of Sierra Leone, telling the world and Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora that since 2007,the APC party has continued to open up the political space, set up appropriate structures and the required processes to enable participatory policy-making.

  11. This is all pie in the sky bunkum. I note though that there is not a single mention of anything relating to resource allocation or utilisation at the grassroots.

    Keep all the financial resources at the center to maximise the opportunities for corruption by the big wigs whilst devolving the talking shops to the plebs at the frontline, the sharp end of misery, struggle and deprivation.

    That should keep them happy, I suppose, is the thinking while the propaganda machinery is unleashed to vuvuzelise the rubbish. You are either deluded or are having a laugh Mr Sesay. But the day of reckoning is nigh. Lunta!

  12. According to Wikipedia, “Propaganda is information that is not impartial and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively (perhaps lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or using loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information presented.”

    Your analysis is worse than a propaganda and has nothing to do with the Sierra Leone that we know today. Seriously, you must be joking, or have you been prompted to do so to be promoted or for further recognition by the APC Government?

    Please Mr Sesay, to say all you have said, you need to know the Sierra Leone of today.

  13. Sierra Leone is at a crossroads where the two main opposition parties have an opportunity to make history by electing two leaders from different political spectrum – Mr. Kandeh Yumkella who hailed from the north and is married to a southerner as the nominee for the Sierra Leone peoples party (SLPP), which is mostly dominated by the southeasterns; and the current Vice President Mr. Victor Foh, who hailed from the south but married to a northerner and can possibly be the successor to the current president and leader of the All peoples congress (APC) which is dominated by northwesterners.

    If that happens, it will definitely change the political landscape of our country, and this will definitely minimize any possibility of tribalism or sectionalism that will eventually strengthen our democracy. It will result to more trust and confidence from the people.

    I hope that the president is laying the foundation for that possibility, since he keeps on sending the Vice President to major international conferences as his representative. which seems to me as a grooming process for the VP and exposure to the international community to replace him.

    This recently happened with the late president Tejan Kabba and his former Vice President Solomon Berewa, Who lost the election to the current president Ernest Koroma.

  14. Mr Baimba your ruling party propaganda is not only shocking and unbecoming of a civil servant but damn right bootlickling.

    You are a civil servant and as tax payer I expect you and all civil servants to remain apolitical.

    But be that as it may I have to point out to you that your analysis bears no resemblance to whats happening here on the ground.

    For your information and as you are thousands of miles away in China, let me inform you that except for the northern located councils, the majority of local councils in this country are inadequately resourced by the Koroma government.

    They lack the manpower and financial capability to effectively plan and deliver local services, especially health and education.

    Local democracy and empowerment are meaningless if local people have no say or control over their budgets and priorities.

    President Koroma is playing politics and has no intention of devolving real power to the people, especially southerners.

    So please stop your party propaganda.

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