Demonstrating the true trappings of a good and credible leader, President Ernest Bai Koroma showed the world that he is governing Sierra Leone by example when he flew all the way to China and back on economy class during his recent State visit to the Republic of China , to lend meaning to the austerity period in the country.
By right, as Head of State, President Koroma should have traveled First Class. People who criticize leaders do not know that the reason that Presidents and heads of state travel first class is not so much because of luxury. It is mainly for security purposes , especially in the light of hijackings and terrorist acts on board planes. Heads of State enjoy better security in the first class cabin . Terrorism is at times a crime of opportunity , spurred by the presence of a high-profile person among a broad assortment of people and situations where security is not heightened. It is not a waste of the country’s resources when the President travels first class , when you consider that many countries , even in Africa, have presidential jets , which a hard working and result-oriented President like Dr. Koroma deserves ( If we really want to give him a full measures of his deserved rights and privileges ) .
Therefore, those who would want to say that their Pesident should have been doing this long ago are wrong. Presidents always belong in the First Class cabin.
However, drastic situations desire drastic measures. Having declared economic austerity in Sierra Leone, President Koroma went one step further to demonstrate that he rules by example and everybody, including himself and his ministers and public officials, should bear the brunt of these austerity measures by denying themselves their rights , to accelerate the expenditure rationalization and revenue mobilization drives of the government.
President Koroma had to fly economy to demonstrate that he is not exempted from facing the pinch of austerity. He practices what he preaches.
It must be recalled that the Government announced the austerity measures on October 3, 2016, as a result of the twin shocks of Ebola and the significant drop in the prices of our iron ore in the international commodity market during which time it imposed drastic measures even for public officials that included , among others, suspension of all foreign travels for public officials , except essential and statutory trips; 50% cuts in fuel allocation to all MDAs, monthly imprests , DSAs for local travel, vehicle maintenance and in the purchase of mobile phones top- up cards. Overtime payments were also eliminated.
Unlike the wrong notions harbored by detractors of the government, even public officials and the President are affected by the austerity measures.
Could anybody imagine how inconvenient and unsafe it is for a whole President of a country to move back and forth the plane while traveling economy class with all sorts of people , to attend to the rest room, for instance ? It is very unsafe indeed.
However, it is a price that has to be paid, especially by Presidents like Ernest Koroma, who live and govern by example.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.