I neither listened to nor watched His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma as he delivered his speech to Parliament last Friday. From the red T-shirts blocking traffic afterwards, I imagined that it was a festive occasion for supporters of the red sun. I am told that members of the opposition SLPP also made an impressive showing. Based on last year’s unfortunate experience at the hands of some unruly red sun adherents, the leadership of the opposition sought police security for their orderly drive to Parliament Square.
As I had predicted, the President spent some time on the general global economic situation and its effect on countries like Sierra Leone. Most of the statement was devoted to what the APC government had achieved in three years of governance especially from what was inherited from the SLPP government of former President Tejan-Kabbah. The impression was given of a bankrupt economy with absolutely no reference to any of the infrastructural developments that were in place with others which had been completed.
That is our point of disagreement with this government which constantly gives the impression that they found everything at a standstill with no sign of activity or progress. We on the other hand point out with confidence that in most of the areas to which his Excellency referred the previous SLPP government had made considerable progress.
A successful initiative of the APC is the introduction of a free healthcare delivery programme for pregnant and lactating mothers as well as all children under the age of five years. In congratulating the government at the outset of the programme I exhorted them that their greatest challenge will be to, sustain it. I cited the United Kingdom where the National Health Service, when introduced in 1948, was ABSOLUTELY free for everything. Today the process has been amended so repeatedly that among other measures patients must now pay for every item of prescription.
When the programme came into operation in May this year, as usual the African Champion drummed up a mischievous story that the leadership of Kailahun district was opposed to the scheme. Ironically Kailahun is one place where the vigilance of the people had led to the apprehension of people who attempted to steal part of the supplies.
His Excellency dwelt at length on the supply of electricity to the capital city Freetown and on infrastructural development. Here too to our relief Freetown is no longer the darkest city in Africa, or in the words of the more enthusiastic APC supporters, in the world.
At this stage I would like to recognize and applaud the journalistic prowess of Dr. Sylvia Blyden, that unperturbed victim of insults and abuse from the likes of Philip Neville, Paul Kamara and Olu Gordon. On Thursday she reproduced former President Tejan-Kabbah’s handing over statement to the new head of state President Ernest Bai Koroma. How many of her envious detractors would render such a civic public service?
When the APC took over, a Moroccan Technical team was already at work on methodically rehabilitating the power supply to Freetown while a Japanese Technical Team, JICA was methodically working out the scheme for the new Mitsubishi plant which is now in operation. Former President Tejan-Kabbah called the attention of his successor to the latter’s visit to Bumbuna and expressed the hope that the new President had seen for himself the state of progress there.
The statement referred to how planning, financing and construction of most of the projects had been completed or were far advanced. Again I must ask what is original in all the boastful claims of this government in connection with the road network, including Feeder roads. Last week, accompanying an article by Pa John Baimba Sesey was a photograph of a beautiful stretch of an unnamed road which could only be a stretch of the Masiaka to Bo road. Yes, the APC continues to include the road among its successes.
The one that continues to tickle me is the Kenema to Pendembu stretch of the proposed Kenema to Koindu road. It appears that every so often the APC would make a big deal of it by relaunching it. We initiated the studies and secured the financing. All that remained were the contract documents. That reproduced statement in the Awareness Times newspaper of former President Tejan-Kabbah is A MUST READ for all who seek the truth; the doubters like the owner of the standard times newspaper who refers to our programmes as being in the pipeline must read it.
In contrast compare what was spent on the Income Electric contract and what was paid to a philanthropic Mohamed Wanza who reduces his claim on government from 110 US million dollars to 25million. We too can refer with pride to the statement of the IMF in JULY 2007, a few weeks before the elections. Even if no one else does it we will continue to remind people that as a government we were much focused and that we worked for the development of Sierra Leone.
I note with amusement that after a long absence for whatever reason, Olu Gordon is back and is joining Philip Neville to vilify me. I would remind Olu that in response all I need do is to invoke the spirit of Bunting-Davies about his errant son. Olu and I are old pals. LONTA.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.