President Koroma’s Unfulfilled Promises

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When President Ernest Bai Koroma was opposition leader, he used to accuse then ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) of using government vehicles and civil servants in campaigning for political power.

He frowned against the idea and he used to call on the international community to put a check to what he referred to as “misuses of state resources” for political or selfish gains.

He did promise to fight corruption with might and there will be no sacred cows in his government. He conned the media with a promise to remove the obnoxious Part 5 of the 1965 Public Order Act. This archaic law criminalizes journalists; therefore President Ernest Bai Koroma insisted that law should be expunged from the country’s law books.

President Koroma further promised to separate the Justice Ministry from the Office of Attorney General. He also went on records as saying he would not appoint a sitting Member of Parliament to Ministerial positions.

As President, Ernest Bai Koroma promised to ensure that the lives of every Sierra Leonean are improved devoid of sentiments or political affiliations. The apex of it all was his personal pledge to lay his life for the youths and making sure that he provides more jobs and cut down the highest unemployment rate in the country.

Now, on a sound footing, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of blessed memory stated in his handing over speech: “My government inherited a public debt of 1.6 billion United States Dollars. With stringent financial practices, today, we enjoy total debt relief and over 500 billion Leones at the Central Bank for use by your Government.”

Today, Sierra Leone’s External Debt Portfolio, which was 1.3 billion United States Dollars in December 2016, had grown by 120 billion margins, appreciating to 1.47 billion United States Dollars as at June 2017. This means President Koroma’s promise on economic prudence were what PMDC’s Secretary General called “complete bogus and unfulfilled promises.”

At the National Stadium during his inaugural address in November 2017, President Koroma enthusiastically called on Sierra Leoneans to change their attitudes from the usual but negative way of doing things, “we must change our attitude,” hence the birth of the Agenda for Change and the establishment of the Attitudinal and Behavioral Change Secretariat.

As an insurance broker he stood on the platform of business when he promised to run the country as a business. Indeed no one dares asking how and who will get the accrued profits. Who the shareholders are and how many stakes the business had sprouted.

He skillfully used education to lure voters to his nest but to the displeasure of parents, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology -Dr. Minkailu Bah has been very much successful in chasing “Ghost Teachers” to an extent that the living teachers are now becoming ghosts.

Without being equivocal, President Ernest Bai Koroma’s tenure has been one of a nightmare without day break. He promised “no sacred cows” but it appears as if the grazing sites for all the cows have been infiltrated by humans so the cows are feeding everywhere because they are hungry. In a popular broadcast, President Koroma came out publicly saying his cabinet was corrupt. He did nothing to plug the corruption infested. Now that he is exiting the corridors of political power, he has left many sacred cows that are being recycled from one governance institution to the other. This is a complete failure and therefore corruption has become the rule rather than the exception.

Standard Times’ Executive Editor-Philip Neville once described the situation as, “Hard Times in Sierra Leone.” He described the promises made by President Koroma as “bogus.” According to the publication, “Most part of his campaign promises has since been shelved, with few successes such as road rehabilitations and the provision of electricity to some part of the city. Youth unemployment has been a major concern as it continues to rise on an unimaginable proportion.  The Youth Commission he promised to establish is more of a dream than reality and the quest for sustainability and livelihood of the youths in major cities and towns has resulted to armed robbery and pick-pocketing as they are left to fend for themselves both night and during the day.”

Regarding the misuse of state resources, the publication says, “What the APC leader and President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma accused the previous SLPP government of using civil servants and government vehicles to campaign during the 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary elections is extant today in his regime as government vehicles and civil servants are seen openly campaigning on behalf of the APC party at the Kenema bye-election and the Pujehun Parliamentary elections.”  The use of state resources by the ruling APC Government to campaign has been rife leaving the average citizen wonder if government means business at all.

The current Minister of Defense -Paolo Conteh was asked to apologize for using one of his convoy vehicles to campaign for the APC in Constituency 107 ahead of Saturday 14th November 2015 bye-election. This demand was made by the Program Director -Media Center for Governance Reform. He added that the “Act is unacceptable and called on the military authorities to provide an answer for the misuse of tax payers’ money.” What action did President Koroma take for such abuse of power?

Do we need a sorcerer to tell us that youth unemployment is on the increase with no end in sight? Do we need an ‘Alfa Man’ to tell us that inflation is high beyond the required digits? Do we need a Priest to tell us that majority of Sierra Leoneans are suffering without the normal three meal per day?

Who do we need to tell us that economic mismanagement and bad policies have become the root cause of the country’s poor economic performance and the hardship suffered by majority of Sierra Leoneans?

Do we need an academic expert to tell us that President Koroma’s decision to travel with a 49-man delegation to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) conference in New York is a complete waste of state resources?

Who do we need now to tell us that President Koroma inherited a debt-free Sierra Leone but he is leaving us in huge debt?

The deadly Ebola Virus Disease is a glaring example of economic mismanagement. The much trumpeted Hajj-gate shows thieving by state officials and leadership failure. We were catapulted to an Agenda for Austerity and nothing came out of the austerity measures put in place by the Government.

Bumbuna hydro project meant to supply 50 megawatts only succeeded in providing 18 or a total of 30 megawatts with support from other thermal plants. The list is endless but the latest is the Ministers with dual citizenship known locally as “2 sims” who were expected to rise since the matter came into public domain. This is a complete bogus and unfulfilled promise, as reiterated by Dr. Sesay.

This is the Pen of The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans with Elkass Sannoh

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Abu Bakarr Tarawally is a Journalist based in Freetown. He works for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer. He has once served as Editor for a few newspapers in Freetown, including Sierra Express Media, The Exclusive Newspaper and his own newspaper, the Daily Express Publications. He is a teacher trainer, and loves writing and reading a lot. Email: abstarawally@gmail.com. Call +232 88601277 or +2327661303.

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