From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Ernest Bai Koroma: A President Of “Firsts” in Sierra Leone
By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop) [GUEST WRITER]
Sep 17, 2010, 17:04

It is quite amazing how the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is hyper-desperate to claim ownership of projects which are now being done by the Koroma administration. The question, as I see it, which sensible citizens should now be asking is this: if the SLPP had initiated or completed all these projects then why did the people of Sierra Leone asked for regime change in 2007?


Sierra Leone is not a nation of sheep. For a group of people to be now arguing or claiming that they left Bumbuna 90% complete; that they were making the roads nationwide; that they had improved on agriculture; that they had improved on education, and that they had done all the things which the Koroma administration has now done means that they are subtly accusing majority of Sierra Leoneans who voted in President Koroma of ingratitude.  For how could the SLPP had worked so well, for both the people and country, and yet rejected by the very people at the polls? Should I take it as“Kailahun Court Barray” logic?


What I cannot understand is the desperation of the SLPP’s rank and file to be seeking posthumous achievement awards. Do supporters of the SLPP want to tell us that theirs is a dead party already even before 2012? If not, then why is it that its current executive members and stalwarts are always seeking posthumous acknowledgements of progressive things done by the Koroma administration? The other day, in my area, I saw two boys fighting over a dead rat. The reason for the fighting was as amazing as it was unbelievable: the first boy was saying that it was his father’s snare that killed the rat. But the second boy was arguing that the snare was bought at his own father’s “Fullah” shop so it was his own father who killed the rat because he sold the snare to the first boy’s father.   


Probably, the second boy might have caught the SLPP flu: trying to claim success for things that were never successful during its eleven years reign. The SLPP stalwarts always try to claim that Bumbuna was 90% or so completed before the people of Sierra Leone balloted them out from State House. But who initiated the Bumbuna hydro-electric project in the first place? The Siaka Stevens APC-led government of course! And who completed it? The Ernest Bai Koroma-led APC government! So how can an in-between SLPP government of yore claims ownership of something it neither starts nor completes? If agriculture was highly improved upon during the SLPP eleven years on the seat of state, then would it have been extremely necessary for the Koroma administration to bring in 265 tractors? If the SLPP government of yore had put premium on agriculture as the Koroma administration is now doing, would ex-President Kabba (h)’s promise of every Sierra Leonean going to bed with filled stomachs by 2007 not be fulfilled?  


Despite the SLPP is now claiming ownership of every thing which the Koroma administration has done (the only thing they are yet to claim ownership of is that it was the SLPP government of yore that suggested the president’s name to his father at his naming ceremony!), within three years of his Presidency, Ernest Bai Koroma has established several “firsts” in the history of Sierra Leone. Before coming to power, the assets of former Presidents were a tabooed topic to the extent that it was only through rumours that the citizenry got snippets of the property of their Head of State. What a sitting President had before, during and after quitting State House was so wrapped up in secrecy that most Sierra Leoneans had come to regard the presidency as a shortcut to ill-gotten acquisition of wealth. But President Ernest Bai Koroma changed all that when he become the first Head of State in Sierra Leone to willingly declare his assets. The message he is sending is that: he has no intension of using his Presidency to acquire more wealth. Did the SLPP initiate presidential declaration of assets? No!


Another “first” of President Ernest Bai Koroma is that he is on record to have set benchmarks for his cabinet ministers by asking them to sign Performance Contracts. Before him, it was business as usual for cabinet ministers as they were not given job descriptions and yardsticks as it were. But being a man who is determined to rule Sierra Leone like a business entity, he has given his ministers targets just like a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a company will do and perennially reviews their contracts to see whether they are performing or underperforming. Was the SLPP government under ex-President Tejan Kabba (h) reviewing the performance of ministers? No!


Before now, the position of Chief Justice in Sierra Leone was an exclusive male domain. But President Ernest Bai Koroma, maintaining an election campaign promise that if elected his government would be committed to increasing women’s participation in economic and political life, became the first Head of State to appoint Justice Humu Hawa Jalloh as the first female Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Was the appointment of the current Chief Justice the initiative of the SLPP government of yore? Also it is under the present administration that, for the very first time in the history of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), a female was promoted to the rank of Brigadier. Was this appointment the initiative of the SLPP government of yore?


Another “first” of the current Sierra Leonean president is that unlike his predecessors who were both Heads of State and Ministers of Defence, he has separated the two functions and becomes the first President to appoint a full Minister of Defence in the person of Pallo Conteh. Was this the initiation of the SLPP government of yore? Of course, no!


In 2007 before assuming the mettle of the presidency, the infant and maternal mortality rate in the country was appalling, as women frequently died while giving birth and children also suffered in their infancy because medical services were quite expensive. But three years down the road, President Ernest Bai Koroma has changed all that with his introduction of free health care delivery services to pregnant women, lactating mothers and Under Five children. Yet another first in the history of Sierra Leone! Is the free Medicare the initiative of the SLPP government of yore? Hell, no!


Is the Open Government Initiative (OGI) the initiative of the SLPP? Is the Office of Diaspora Affairs the initiative of the SLPP? Is the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change campaign the initiative of the SLPP? Is the opening of diplomatic ties with South American countries the initiative of the SLPP government of yore? When will the SLPP rank and file stop calling a spade a garden spoon? Those who know the SLPP quite well know that it is a party that is very slow to accept realities. Did it not take over a year before its stalwarts begin to accept the fact that they were no longer in power? Did it not take nearly one year before most of its members finally acknowledged that Ernest Bai Koroma was and still is the President of Sierra Leone?   


From the desperation of the rank and file of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) to claim ownership of everything the Koroma administration has done within three years at the rudder, people should not be surprised if John Benjamin and Sama Puawui Banya should come one day and claim that it was the SLPP that suggested to Pedro Da Cintra the name of this country!  


Contact the author at; 232-76-611986

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