Time for excuses and exaggerated narration of problems is over – President Bio tells ministers

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 May 2024:

President Bio yesterday addressed ministers, deputies, permanent secretaries and other senior civil servants at the opening of a two-day ministerial retreat in Bo, where he urged his cabinet to try to correct and recalibrate their actions for the national agenda.

He described the retreat as timely and reminded them that the aim of his government is to deliver on the promises that his government had made to the people of Sierra Leone.

Speaking on the theme: Deepening Coordination, Collaboration for Accelerated Service Delivery, the President reminded his ministers that “it is also an opportunity for us to speak hard truths to each other, to allow us to correct and recalibrate our actions to advance the national agenda within the limited timeframe that we have. This is the essence of this retreat”.

He urged them to know and to bear in mind that the weight of responsibility they owe to Sierra Leone is great, pointing out that ministers, deputies, and other senior civil servants are called to serve on a contract that “must be fulfilled at all costs”.

President Bio also stated that during his first term, his government changed the landscape for women and their participation in politics and in the economic sphere.

He noted what he referred to as gains made in foundational education for children and the enhancement of democratic space but acknowledged that “it is not enough”.

“I put this team together because I cannot do this work alone, and I am counting on each of you here to step up. We are in a time of great difficulty, both economically and socially, and the expectations of our people are very high.

“But unfortunately, my observation is that some team members seem to be going silo, with little dynamism in solving the extremely complex problems that we are faced with. We must show that commitment to drive change. And this must start today, and now.

“Honorable Vice President, Chief Minister, and Ministers assembled here; we must have a candid conversation about our responsibility to deliver on the ‘Big Five Game Changers’.

“I want to let you know that the time for excuses and exaggerated narration of problems has ended. Whenever you start to narrate the problems, please make sure you already have a solution.

“I have not lost sight of what I promised the people of Sierra Leone, and you can certainly not afford to lose sight of it either. Be reminded that ‘Salone for betteh, na only we go do am.’

“So, you have to play your part with unwavering commitment and dogged determination in the face of great adversity; that is what it takes to lead in a context like ours,” President Bio reiterated.

The President said that the glue that keeps teams and groups together is tolerance, respect, mutuality, trust, and equality, stressing how he has been observing and receiving reports about hostile relationships between some ministers and their deputies and administrative and professional heads.

President Bio said that the Minister and Deputy are a pair that he put together to work on a ministerial mandate, noting that, as a team, he put them together based on the fact that individuals could not deliver the portfolios.

He acknowledged that, while the buck might stop with the minister, he expects an effective minister to delegate tasks and provide direction, motivation, and an enabling environment for his or her team to work effectively.

“No one can do this job alone. Ministers must seek to cultivate a culture of team planning, ensure proper delegation, reduce bureaucratic red tape, break compartmentalisation in the workplace, and set ambitious but achievable targets to ensure timely delivery.”

During his first term in office, President Bio took his ministers to similar retreat, the results of which are still difficult to quantify as his government continues to slide in performance. And yesterday’s retreat is not expected to bring much change either.


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