From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

President Koroma’s Three years has been a mere ‘Vuvuzela’ Noise in Sierra Leone
By Sayoh Kamara (076-622501)
Sep 17, 2010, 16:24

The Vuvuzela is a plastic instrument used and popularized by South Africans to give pomp and fanfare to their sporting activities mostly football, as epitomized during the recently concluded World Cup Tournament held in South Africa-the first on the African Continent. It is deafeningly noisy with form of anachronism and concordance. Noises from vuvuzelas are discordant, inordinate and have no musical rhythm that can be of interest to the heart and soul. This instrument however, is now synonymous to football as it has been sold to almost every part of the globe and indeed it is now part of us in Sierra Leone, thanks to Zain one of Sierra Leone’s mobile companies. Its deafening noise does not add any impetus to the abilities of the players, rather it is confusing, threatening and adds further pressure on the players on either side of the playing divide. That is more the reason why the European Football Association, UEFA, has imposed a ban its use in stadiums during European football tournaments.

The three years rule of President Ernest Bai Koroma and by extension the All People’s Congress (APC) party can best be analyzed in that perspective as it has been characterized by too much deafening noises over nothing as far as service delivery to the people of Sierra Leone is concern three years on. Like the vuvuzela, it has merely been too much ado about nothing, in order to save itself from the chagrin of the people and the many unanswered questions on their lips regarding avalanche of election promises embedded in the September 18, 2007 Inauguration speech. But the issue now with the APC administration is how best they can persuade the people to believing that indeed they have met the President’s promised target so as to assuage their wrath of denying them a second successive inning as a government.

Like the noises of vuvuzelas, they have resorted to causing noises all over the place using the media and any other opportunity where they could speak to tell about what has been achieved. I wonder whether this is necessary given that if they had indeed performed, the people would have been seeing it. But because they are not sure whether the people are really convinced, or perhaps they are aware that the tactics of touch and go politics with regards socio-economic development they have adopted in this three years period has been detected by the people as fake and sheer poli-tricking; have therefore resorted to hypnotizing the hearts and minds of the gullible section of the Sierra Leone public into believing that indeed they have worked. They have marshaled almost every party stalwart, public relation spinners and propagandists and are busy planting fallacious articles and making outrageous statements on radio and television for the purpose. What they have not been telling the people, which are facts about this three years does not include the politics of exclusion, indiscriminate sacking of perceived political rivals in government positions who have proven records of competence and ability as if they are not Sierra Leoneans, the divide and rule and marginalization of certain tribes from governance positions, the ailing economy and the inherent politics of intimidation that underlines the values and the covert attempt at reverting this country to a one party state.

In essence, if one is to survive in his public job he must be APC from lineage; for one to be recognized by the President, his henchmen or the party, you must be inclined to vehemently castigate the SLPP or any other form of opposition and indeed you must not be known to have any connection with the Southern region or the Mende tribe. This has been how my President ran this country as a business to turn it around in his promised thirty-six months. Three years on, Sierra Leone is more divided along tribal and regional lines than any other period in the country’s history; more than even under the Siaka Stevens era when we had the ‘Recognized Party’.

With regards the president’s five priority areas on which his successes have been trumpeted much in the vuvuzela way as we approach September 18, they are mere completed works of the former regime. The ‘Agenda for Change’ which the APC now considers as its Holy Bible or Holy Quran has its foundation from the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) initiated by the former regime now in opposition. But because the president and his party want to demonstrate sheer ingratitude and refusal to appreciate that they met a solid foundation to continue the governance and service delivery responsibility to this country, transformed the PRSP with a new nomenclature the ‘Agenda for Change’ to give semblance that it is their original thoughts and ideas. Government, as it is known everywhere, is kept in perpetuity a continuous process. As such the good of a previous regime is expected to build upon for the purpose of progress and not overhauled. The only exception to this rule is what may constitute aspects of bad governance.

Like the SLPP did when it came to power in 1996 it only overhauled those aspects of the NPRC that were not in the interest of democracy but adopted those it thought could be modified such as the Mining Decree and the open market system. Credence was given to their formulators and the business of government continued. This has been absent in this APC three years. Their militant supporters are reactive to whatever is associated with the previous government. This was demonstrated in 2008 when in his New Year Message the president paid tribute to the past government with the note that he met a solid foundation on which to start. Reactionists within the party were quick to give that another meaning thus watering down the president show of appreciation. But what could one have expected with a president that is surrounded by desperados who have some kind of hypnotic stranglehold on my president?

What is amiss in the thought processes of most fanatical APC supporters is the reasoning that no single party, President or Minister can claim the full development of their country and people. Development being a process has to be perpetual and continuous. Perhaps this lack of knowledge or the deliberate knowledge of this fact is the raison d’etre for the slow development of Sierra Leone three years on even when Mr. President had admitted that he met a solid foundation on which to start work.

Therefore, in the course of making these vuvuzela noises over nothing, they claim that my president has succeeded as promised on his five priority areas namely, agriculture, infrastructure, power, health and service delivery. Yes, he has made attempts based on the foundations he met to make some improvement, though, as I mentioned above, it done on a touch-and-go basis to capture the gullible hearts and minds for political gains. The question one needs to ask in the face of all of these claims is, have these had any positive impact on the lives of the people.

On health, it is the free health care that is being sung as an anthem. But that is being inundated with corruption and pilfering to the extent that its intended beneficiaries see no difference between what existed and now. Electricity can be said to be very good, being that the president met about 95% work done on the Bumbuna Hydro Dam, plans for the installation of the JICA generators were almost complete and electrification of provincial headquarter towns such as Makeni were well underway.

Agriculture was also a priority of the past government to the extent that the president declared that by 2007 no Sierra Leonean would have gone to bed hungry, showing commitment and determination of the government. With this president we have the tractorization and the commercialization policies, but we still have to feel their impacts as the price of a bag of rice continue to soar from Le 65,000 by September 2007 to Le 110,000 in September 2010.

Infrastructure! All the roads under construction or that have been completed were undertaken by the previous government. The Masiaka/Bo highway, the Rogbere/Kambia highway, the Peninsula Road etc were all projects that were virtually initiatives of the past government.

For social services, I am yet to identify one. The promise of removing street traders to a convenient marketing center was struck by thunder within the very first one hundred days of the president’s coming to power. Milestone Mining Company made a whooping donation of Le88 Million to the Ministry of Trade in 2008 through my president for the construction of an ultra modern market with a strong commitment to provide another Le1 Billion. What happened to that money remains a mystery. I am yet to see a fresh development initiative from this government for the remaining of its two years mandate.

Because they have shown sheer ingratitude and have resorted to the campaign of political calumny, they should now prove their mettle by coming up with realistic programmes that will have direct positive impacts on the lives of the people and forget about the rhetoric and too much bickering. The vuvuzela did not help the Bafana-Bafana to win the World Cup nor by adopting its tactics will cause a winning of the hearts and minds of Sierra Leoneans.

Let there be a shift from the vindictive politics we have seen in the last three years to one that is peaceful and inclusive. As far as I am concern, President Koroma’s three years has been a vuvuzela moment with too much talking than performing the right actions.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.