Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 October 2019:
The British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone – Mr. Simon Mustard and the Head of DfID Serra Leone – Ms Kobi Bentley, on Monday, 14th October, held talks with Sierra Leone’s Government Chief Minister – Professor David Francis at Statehouse in Freetown, where they discussed the role and office of the chief minister, which many in Sierra Lone believe is superfluous to requirements and a waste of public funds.
British High Commissioner – Mr. Simon Mustard, said that the purpose of the talks was to discuss and exchange ideas on how to achieve the objectives of the Office of the Chief Minister and the New Direction Government.
Since the creation of the Office of Chief Minister last year by president Bio, there are accusations of policy and role ambiguity, confusion and duplication of efforts, especially when set against the office and functions of the vice president. (Photo: Chief Minister – Professor David Francis).
If there is confusion among many Sierra Leoneans about the roles and functions of these two senior government officials, there is little surprise therefore that the international community and development partners are unclear about the work of the Office of Chief Minister, which is costing the country hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain, against other key priorities of the government, such as healthcare and education.
British High Commissioner – Mr. Simon Mustard, said that he and the Head of DfID are in Sierra Leone to work with the government and people of the country to help promote and support the delivery of effective governance.
Head of DfID – Kobi Bentley acknowledged the government’s efforts in addressing the economic challenges facing the country, and said that the British government is committed to continuing its support for Sierra Leone.
Speaking about the government’s priorities, the Chief Minister said that the President has compressed his thirty two manifesto promises into eight key priority areas, ranging from education, health, agriculture, and corruption.
He said that the President’s vision is to transform Sierra Leone through human capital development, and that the government will continue to work with development partners to achieve this vision.
Speaking about the massive $2.5 Billion government debt, which is growing alarmingly to over 60% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Chief Minister said that the government is currently spending 85% of its revenue on servicing the country’s debt. Why is the government set on continuing to take on more debt?
Addressing the British High Commissioner (Photo) and Head of DfID, the Chief Minister said that his Office is a delivery unit that deals with strategic planning and policy leadership, adding further to the current ambiguity, confusion and duplication that many in Sierra Leone are seriously concerned about.
He said that his office is positioned in a way that supports both the Presidency and the ministries.
“My role as the Chief Minister is an ensurer role, and I am also supervised by the Honourable Vice President,” he said.
But ironically, many of his roles and functions are in conflict with those of the vice president.
The costs of running the Office of Chief Minister in Sierra Leone is costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. And a key question that must be answered by the president is this: What added value is the Office of Chief Minister bringing to his government and the running of the country, over and above that which the Office of the Vice President is achieving?
The recently published government ministerial performance report did not include the Office of Chief Minister, even though it is led by a cabinet minister and a major vote controller of the public purse.
Is the Office of Chief Minister above public scrutiny and accountability?
I personally will like to see a communique from the British High Commissioner and head of DFID that they are in the office of the Chief Minister to question his role in the government. Based on the above picture it seems that they are having a friendly and fruitful discussion. Keep up the good work Mr. Chief Minister, Chief Of Staff, Adviser to the President or whatever the president wants to call your official and productive leadership roles you have played within 18 months.
One thing for sure about the chief minister is that even during the days of Pa Kabbah’s leadership of the SLPP, David Francis played a big role in helping the SLPP government establish the department of peace studies at FBC. He was responsiblie for mentoring even the likes of the current minister of tourism – Memunata Pratt to get to where she is today.
Then ofcourse we all know the role he played in helping president Maada Bio through his PhD studies at the university in the UK where he was lecturer in peace studies and head of department. Professor Francis played a big role in helping Bio win the SLPP leadeeship election in 2012 as adviser. In effect he is very much the architect of Bio’s political landscape, hence we should not be surprised that he is the closest confidant of the president today – richly rewarded for his loyalty.
But what is shocking is his recent naked dispaly of tribalism and corruption when in a closed meeting in Kenema with SLPP party stalwarts. he informed party bosses that the government has secured funding that will directly benefit party cronies across the southern districts. Rather than tell his SLPP party cronies that corruption is very bad and will not be condoned, he said that stealing one percent of public funds is ok.
The man is as political as it gets. It is understood he has told Bio: “After you nar me” – “after you step down it will be my turn to take over.” His ambition is to succeed Bio, mark my word. But in doing this he is playing a very dangerous game of politickiing in the SLPP party, that could explode the party – divide and rule.
When did Dr. Francis utter that the government has secured funds that would benefit only the southern districts? By Southern District are you referring to districts within the Southern and Eastern Provinces of Sierra Leone? If yes, then it is half the size of Sierra Leone with seven Districts. Did he say the funds that the government of President Bio will get on behalf of Sierra Leone would not benefit any other district if such a district is not part of the seven districts of Bo, Moyamba, Bonthe and Pujehun district in the South, and Kenema, Kailahun and Kono districts in the East? What you are attributing to Dr. Francis is in reality contrary to what is unfolding currently in the country.
I am from Kenema district, the same district that Dr. Francis hails from. I am resident in Kenema city. I am yet to see the benefit that you are quoting Dr. Francis to have said we would get. Like the rest of the country, Kenema is suffering because of the economic situation in the country. The problem for Kenema is compounded by the fact even when the country had some economic fortunes few years ago under president Koroma, Kenema was left out of any development plan. I wish Dr. Francis would help take a fraction of what President Koroma took to Bombali district to Kenema district.
Unfortunately, we know the economic situation then and now. So we can only dream. Further, Dr. Francis is not the President. Therefore it does not matter what his intention if any he, has for Kenema, the decision as to hat where is left with the executive president of the country. One thing I cannot tell you is that Kenema remains in the same quagmire that President Koroma left it in. Having said that, I want to say a bit about what you said in this line…….”Rather than tell his SLPP party cronies that corruption is very bad and will not be condoned, he said that stealing one percent of public funds is ok.”….”!
The recording of that statement by Dr. Francis was on this very noble online news (The Sierra Telegraph). Unless we have different senses of hearing or comprehension, what I remember from that clip was Dr. Francis telling a crowd (and it was not in an SLPP party office but at the local Court Barry in the centre of Kenema town) and that gathering was open to everyone be you an slpp supporter or not. He said that their government would pursue people who when given contracts instead of using 99% of the contract money to finish project and keep the 1% as their fee, would rather as in the past use 1% on the project and keep 99% for themselves. He said that their government would go after a person who does that.
That is really what we want to hear and see happening in our country. We know that the British High Commissioner is working for his country and he stands for the right thing to be done. As it is said by Abdul, that the president did that to compensate professor Francis for the role he performed when the president was writing his PHD thesis.
The president did this as payback but creating a wrong and irrelevant office manifests his incompetence.
Simon,l am really glad you are doing a great job by sticking up for Sierra Leone. Good governance is the key to a successful Government. Thanks for your commitment in doing your job and pointing out what you seeing is wrong, and saying it in the best interest of the country. Things can only get better in Sierra when things are done the right way.
It’s a given fact that the office of the chief minister is at most about citizens, hence costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Going forward,citizens have not realized any gains since its establishment. The so called policy intervention put forward by this new direction with the intention to enhance growth and development which shows his handwork have not yielded a better results, while his office continues to take in home hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Very recently, Law makers in Liberia consented to have their salaries downsized to meet with government expenditure of 2020 financial year. Is it going to happen here? So if his function is synonymous to that of the Vice president, then we do not need it.
The office of the chief Minister is created to guide the president in running the nation. But it is now playing a total,y different role, which for me was only created to say “thank you Mr Francis for helping me”. And the Chief Minister is using his office secretly to succeed the president in 2023 but God forbid ooo, God help Salone.
It is quite unfortunate, but at times one has to face the bare facts of life. If it were not for Chief Sam Sumana’s precident in the previous APC government, Vice President Dr Juldeh Jalloh could have been looking for another job by now. President Maada Bio is not comfortable of working with someone other than one from his Mende tribe. This is evident by just having a glance at the people surrounding him.
The present SLPP government was purely meant to be a Mende clique – at least as much as possible. And the truth is: the Vice President being a Fullah by tribe, and also hailing from the populous north, was a perfect political asset to increase the chances of winning an election in the country.
Another factor for the present vacuum in the creation of the position of Chief Minister, and thereby creating the ambiguity and duplication of the functions of the Vice President can be traced back to the background in education of the President. Again, the truth is always difficult to swallow; but let’s face it, the guy is an opportunistic high school dropout who claims to have a masters degree in International Affairs … well, one can now feature the inherent emergence of the void space of Professor David Francis as Chief Minister. In a country that used to boast as the ‘Athens of Africa’, how best can one solve the equation in the prevailing circumstance?
I do support the idea of having a Chief Minister in the government (someone without a strong party power base) to oversee the day to day running of our ministries and institutions. I’ll recommend it also for future governments. The President and the Vice President should concentrate on delivering their election promises.
Give this office any name you would like, but it’s essential for a poor country like ours. By the way he is doing a good job, he is not there to promote party politics nor promising milk and honey. His sole duty is to go after our ministers and head of institutions that are not up to date with the responsibilities bestowed upon them and to help them be productive. What’s wrong with that ………….EBK could have done the same, but preferred to be ‘chairman for life everlasting’!!
It’s pay back time for David Francis for helping out Bio with his thesis. Still wondering though whether Bio actually completed the course. But I doubt whether David’s relationship with Bio will last beyond next year because the former seems to have an increased appetite for politics, as recently demonstrated during a visit to Kenema where he overtly expressed his political ambition….with an eye on the presidency! Many people think David is getting taller than his boss with so much power at his disposal….waste of tax payers’ money indeed.
When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it. A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the people discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy – to be followed by a dictatorship.
I really believe that it is a waste of breath to brood over a mere fanciful name. What if the president changed the Chief Minister name to Chief of Staff? Would that make the president’s critics happy?
For those that are overly concerned with the functions of the vice president, how many vice presidents in the world are actively engaged in the policy execution process of their countries?
I think there are more serious things to lament about than the existence of the office of chief minister of Sierra Leone
You have valid point here. We are often too consumed by titles instead of substance.
Mr. Koroma, I agree with you 100%. Those critics are still slaves of Neo-colonialism. My question is, do We, as a member of the Commonwealth question the colonial masters when they create political/cabinet positions in their governments? I bet the answer is a big NO. We are a Republic and not subject to “Quid Pro Quo” by these Neo-colonist, when they give us assistance. In reality they are giving us money they have stolen from us for over 400 years.
Giving financial help to us does not warrant them to dictate to us how to run the affairs of our Republic. We are a REPUBLIC just like the United States of America. America does not beckon to the dictates of the British Crown. Sierra Leone is no longer a crown colony of Britain. For this reason, I suggest Sierra Leone and other former British African colonies must butt out of the so called “Commonwealth of Nations”. How and where is the wealth “Common” to all these nations.
If the Wealth is common, why are these African Nations poor? The money used to support the CW should be with held and used to develop our Nation. All the Diamonds we gave to the Queen for over 200 years must be returned to develop our Nation. This is why African Nations are poor and they are rich. Sierra Leoneans, We need to renew our mindset and stop the bashing of our government trying to fix the mess they inherited.
The office of Chief Minister in the pseudo SLPP/PaOpa movement is nothing but a kangaroo office headed by an egregious Peace and Conflict Studies Ali Baba. This beneficiary of the All People’s Congress in the hey days, is nothing but an excess baggage being bankrolled by this Government to hype tribalism in Sierra Leone.
However the British government too are not helping the situation because this man was allegedly lecturing Peace and Conflict Studies in Bradford but dropped his chalk and choose to join politics to corruptly enrich himself doing sweet nothing in helping Presidént Bio to turn things around for the citizenry who chose him amongst the several overqualified, battle tested Administrators like Dr. Samura Kamara, Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, Alhaji Chief Abubakarr Sidiq Sam-Sumana amongst others.
You are worth a million applauds. Thanks for your brilliant articulation.
Mohamed Malaam Janneh I followed your post until your last sentence. Who is a battle tested leader? Samura Kamara is a curse to Sierra Leone. Samura Kamara has been around Sierra Leone economy from the days of Stevens. He left briefly only to be brought back by Bio and others under the NPRC. Since then he has been a constant presence around our finances. If the state of our economy is as it, then Samura Kamara is a very good for nothing Economist. No wonder he was bloodied for the ADB job.
As for Sam Sumana, the less said the better. His record in the APC speaks volumes. While all of us are quick to respond to this article because it gives opportunity to some of us to bash Dr Francis, we have not reflected that the British Diplomat would not question the political appointment of a sovereign nation.
It’s exactly the reason why most African nations south of the sub-Sahara are economically nonviable. Most of their governments in power are engaged in what we call “feather bedding” – creating depletive jobs of consumable government coffers to satisfy their core party stalwarts.
It’s an undeniable fact that most African countries are rich in the ground but regrettably and substantially very poor on the ground in governorship, management and administration. Draining the little in government coffers to establish big government quarters, is not a core value. A good management of the scanty drop, is a core value.
Sierra Leone – once the citadel of learning for all African nations south of the Sahara, should be a pointer of direction to those that once seek our academic skill. But as for now I think the citizens of Sierra Leone are still waiting for a political flash light to take them to mount Zion.
Finally someone has seen how confused,and incompetent these people really are. Why did it take the clever British so long to see what I saw clearly since day one,at first glance – that the office of the Chief Minister is a total waste of hard earned government revenue and taxpayers money. Someone, anyone, please put a finger on one credible program, idea or policy that Mr Francis has initiated,implemented,and brought to a successful completion,and I will loudly applaud! Anyone? Anything? Absolutely nothing! Only empty rhetoric!
Surely,its easy to see,that he was handpicked by an inadequate,uninspiring President to serve as a crutch to safely lean on – to become an ardent promoter of tribalism,and a tireless enforcer of rules demanding unwavering loyalty to State House.(lmao). Those adorable little guys – carpenters,mechanics,shoemakers and market women are being brazenly robbed,so that arrogant,and unproductive men like Saffa and Francis can live in luxury and great ease. Truly disgraceful!
And you there, roasting in the unforgivable African sun – soaked,wet,and drenched in sweat carrying heavy loads in the Market places,for peanuts; they are robbing you blind, of what rightfully belongs to you…next time think before you vote – Vote APC…..Rising Sun Will Rise Again.
The president could have created The Department Of Monitoring and Evaluations Office, instead of Chief Minister which is a duplication and waste of resources at the expense of “Poor Taxpayers”. Time to control Sierra Leone Wages Bill.