Unfortunately the president doesn’t know

Mahmud Tim Kargbo: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 January 2020:

Right thinking citizens of Sierra Leone appreciate the country’s Chief Minister when he recently acknowledged that for nearly two years now, Ministries, Departments and Agencies under his government  are yet to deliver the government’s agenda.

Taking full responsibility for the poor performance of his government, in the concluded cabinet retreat few days back, President Bio told his Ministers that 2020 must be a year of delivery for all his Ministers. But when the SLPP came into power in 2018 with their manifesto, believed to be a structured plan.

If two years into governance the President is saying that 2020 must be a year of delivery, it begs the questions:

Was there a delivery plan, and if yes, was the plan credible and relevant to the needs of the country? In this case, we would assume that the plan was credible and consistent with the National Medium Term Development Plan launched in 2018, to have received the support of development partners

One would have expected nearly two years into governance, that through the pronounced fiscal discipline and strong economic measures announced by the President in 2018, that the seeds of development would have germinated by now.

But if the government is now saying that their delivery has not  been up to the expectations of the people, then one would assume that either there is a lack of leadership in delivering the Plan, or there’s a failure on the part of the implementers.

Either way you look at it, we are still where we were nearly two years ago. In fact, much worse, if you take sectoral performances  into consideration – for example, we have less electricity output in the country , less supply of fish in the market, rising transportation costs, and a free health care initiative that is struggling.

Thus, the question is: Why have the leadership and their ministers fail to perform as expected? Are the Ministers and Heads of public institutions not up to the task?

Years of experience continue to teach us that one of the key drivers of the country’s economy is the investment environment and climate. This is key to growing the economy.  But, take a look at State House which is dominated and controlled by former military personnel. When the security of the President is highly tribalised in a post conflict and fragile state; when top civil servants with years of experience, plus vast knowledge about the country’s economy are illegally relieved from their duties and replaced with inexperienced civil servants; when employment in public positions of trust are not done based on merits; when a new government quickly recruited Police and Military personnel and promoted military officers at the highest level; when chaos and disorder become the order of the day; when you argue that a country is well battered by the previous regime; when you pursue your political opponents for nearly two years without end; when your legislature doesn’t work and is in a seemingly chaotic state; and when the judiciary is highly politicised and compromised – the bottom line of that administration is failure.

Watching the President moving around with military personnel sends signal to investors that the President is not sure of his own security and safety.

In a post conflict and fragile state, where the leadership sets the tone or creates the framework for development and fiscal discipline, he must become the lead shepherd that constantly monitors his ministers rather than embark on frequent overseas travel, thus taking his eyes off the ball.

So, what major policies, programmes and projects will the government be implementing in the next two to three years that will stimulate the economy? Perhaps the construction of the Lungi bridge? Certainly not.

A question that must be asked now, is whether the government has laid a foundation for an economic stimulus. The declining level of import tells it all. The depreciation of the Leone tells its own story. A non-strategically thinking Ministry of Finance, confused Central Bank and a lame Development Ministry, beg sobering questions: Can and will this government deliver? Is there any hope of a better future, or is changing Ministers yet again – the answer.

6 Comments

  1. Successful leadership is all about relationships. It’s about relationships between and among citizens. And it’s about the leader’s relationship with tried-and-true principles and practices. Unfortunately, many political leaders stumble with that last ingredient. Some of these politician leaders resort to several well-intended approaches that don’t produce the results they want.

    As a leadership coach, I will highlight more common stumbling blocks in this response to why inexperienced politicians who become leaders fail and the prescription for success. Anyone in a leadership role in Sierra Leone has to put a plan together or try to put together the country’s jigsaw puzzle to understand the difference between a mission and a vision. The leadership mission for a country is creating a picture by assembling all the pieces. The vision is the picture on the box of the jigsaw puzzles.

    A great leader creates a clear mental picture of what they want. Decide what is most important for the country and what truly matters to its citizens. These leaders think big, really big. What does the future of the country and its citizens need or want? How will you the leadership and those you put in charge of ministries provide even better value? What will improve your citizens’ lives? The question for the leadership is, what elements in your vision for implementation in the country need to phase out to make room for brand new products, services, or advancements?

    The leadership decides on the big picture, key action steps. What will it take to achieve the vision of the leadership? Action steps become specific goals to accomplish. An action step is a target, an end, or an aim. Accomplishing these targets brings the lead closer to the vision. The nation’s leadership Identify roadblocks. Identify the barriers or roadblocks that may get in your way. It sounds negative to spend your time and energy thinking about barriers or problems, but there are two good reasons for this. First, when you’re able to think about what could stop you, you also generate plans to get around the problems if they should arise. Second, when roadblocks pop up, they don’t paralyze you into inactivity. You know obstacles are a possibility, and you know what to do.

    It is always beneficial to list the nation’s benefits. As you list the benefits of achieving your collective and individual action steps, leadership should make sure the benefits outweigh the problems. If the benefits don’t outweigh the problems, the problems will stop you. Focus on the nation’s benefits and remind your team of ministers that, yes, this is possible, and, yes, it’s worth the effort. The leadership should write all the specific, individual goals. Conduct research on high achievers shows that successful goal setters are to learn to write out their target goals for encouraging and helping others to writing goals down as a commitment.

    The leadership should help ministers to create the action plan. The leadership should design a specific operational action plan to achieve the goals. The plan and other visions should be a step-by-step breakdown of the small actions leadership and the team will take to achieve each goal and when you will take them. Great leaders start a positive vision and set a course of action. They demand to see their vision become a reality. They also expect to enjoy the challenges, frustrations, personal and professional development, and learning opportunities that come with thinking big and achieving big.

  2. Maada Bio knows exactly what he is up to. He knows that he is not up to it. But this time even the dead citizens of Sierra Leone will help to fight for a better Sierra Leone. He is lucky his father comes from Ghana; and when things get tough in Sierra Leone he can go to his fatherland as he has done before. Those who are pure Sierra Leoneans are going to be left to pick up the pieces.

    • Indeed, not only the broken pieces but, the excellent mess too. Thank you as always Gloria and may God bless you.

    • During the Sierra Leone ugly civil war in the 90s, most of these politicians and so called supporters were not even around, most of them were unknown. Let alone the former president EBK, wasn’t well known. It is too shameful to narrate the story and to let the whole world come to understand how our men and women in the uniform were treated in the war front. Let’s give hands to this young gentleman for his sacrifice to this country.

      The military at the war front, used to lived on garri under the leadership of APC. Whether you approved it or not, H.E. J.M.B. was one of them. Bio is not a Ghanaian neither his father came from Ghana, but he’s a bona fide Citizen of Sierra Leone. In the short history of Sierra Leone, I never come across any chapter that talked about a single (MENDE)immigrant from Ghana, if so well let someone educate us about that. During and after the war, there were some people or family members residing in the neighboring Guinea, Conakry, speaking the Guinean languages – Susu, Fulla and mandingo. Can we call them Guinean Citizens?

      Yes when it was tough enough, some Sierra Leoneans were lucky to resettle overseas, USA, Europe and so on. Can we call them non Sierra Leoneans? Most of these politicians today were out of the country during the war, including the late President Kabba, KKY, EBK and the others, whilst Bio was sacrificing his life fighting the enemies day and night. Are we ignoring and forgetting that today?

      The former president was there for 11 years and still need more time if he could. You know already and I don’t have to tell you. He also made too many mistakes – unlawfully removing people from their positions, even threatening some party members in terms of decision making saying “if you don’t agree with me, I will kill you”. Fellows where were you?

      Bio is not from any other country but a patriotic Sierra Leonean Citizen. May God bless our leaders, continue to give wisdom to H.E.Bio and may God bless Sierra Leone.

  3. Indeed. “Taking full responsibility for the poor performance of his government” is the right thing not in the “New Direction” but, in the right direction. I hope they agree with me. This is the first time after two years in power that we are hearing about taking responsibility for failures that would have been avoided if the Leadership was there to get things done. However, I am pleased and delighted that the government has started accepting their failures and at the same time taking responsibility.

    Blaming the APC is off the table now after two years of disastrous political miscalculations. They just have to deliver. But, after two years, it’s sad to say, it’s too late. They can try to patch things up but, the road to a victory in 2023 is filled with complex political booby traps. Especially at a time when political geniuses like Chief Sam Sumana have joined the APC. Also, the fact that former President Ernest Bai Koroma has the mandate from the APC again due to the blunder of the NRM has made the SLPP very nervous.

    For them, time is running out. State House is in sight. Once again – Have they started packing their suitcases? I hope so.
    This is my best advice to them – “Tick says the clock, Tick Tick. What you have to do, do quick”. Even children in nursery schools will be happy with this. I hope they too will be happy with this advice. God bless President Bio for taking responsibility for the failure of his government.

    • The truth is we all want to be liked on some level. But some leaders’ desire for likeness is so strong it overrides their need for respect. They want to be the leader, but they also want to be buddies with their subordinates. This is a recipe for disaster. When political leaders have a high desire to be liked, they avoid conflict. They, political leaders make staffing and promotion decisions based on relationships instead of best interest to the country first, and they have a hard time holding people accountable.

      When facing resistance, leaders who focus on being liked have a tendency to back down, hesitate, or slow the implementation of unwanted but necessary national change. As a leader, it’s more important to get respected than liked.

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