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21st January 2019

Sierra Leone Magistrates Get Tough on Women and 'Bombers': 'Ya Go Do'?

By Andrew Keili (30/11/18)

Sierra Leone, like many other countries is immersed in deep cultural discrimination against women by traditional customs and laws which must be overcome in order to achieve gender equality.

Such discrimination, sometimes done under the guise of actually favouring women is sometimes sinister and often downright dangerous for women. A case in point is the observation of a reporter in Kuwait. She had done a story on gender roles in Kuwait several years before the gulf war and noted that women normally walked about ten feet behind their husbands. She returned to Kuwait after the war and observed that men now walked several yards behind their wives. She approached one of the women for an explanation. "This is marvelous", she said. "What enabled women here to achieve this reversal of roles? The Kuwaiti woman sadly replied. "Land mines". What a way to show women they were now empowered!

I was recently drawn to a story I heard over SLBC radio about two women locked up for domestic violence against their husbands in Kenema - Yes, it is not a mistake - against their husbands! This has been well captured by Saffa Moiba, writing in Awoko. For the avoidance of doubt I will reproduce the report, courtesy of Awoko - "Two women convicted of psychological and emotional abuse."

"Two women have been sentenced to 3-months imprisonment or pay a fine of Le500,000 for psychological and emotional abuse contrary to Section 2(1)(c) of the Domestic Violence Act of 2007. Hawa Sesay of Nekabo in the Nongowa Chiefdom in Kenema who is married to Amadu Jalloh and Fatmata Barrie of Torkpumbu in Kenema who is married to Abass Bah. Magistrate Alhaji Sulaiman Koroma sentenced Hawa Sesay after she left her husband for a year and married another man in Weima, Malegohun Chiefdom. The second accused, Fatmata Barrie, was found guilty of abandoning her homemaking duties, stressing her husband and making him unhappy. Both accused women pleaded not guilty to the charge against them and argued that they abandoned their husbands because they were no longer active in bed. The court tried and found both accused persons guilty of the offence. The matter was prosecuted by PC 13537 Mansaray Abass from the Legal Justice and Support Department of the Kenema Police division."

Hawa had left her husband for one year and married another man. Fatmata "abandoned her homemaking duties, stressing her husband and making him unhappy." The source of unhappiness for both women? - they had abandoned their husbands because "they were no longer active in bed".

Magistrate Alhaji Sulaiman Koroma who found both women guilty appears to be a hard man. It is surprising that even though the reverse is done on a daily basis to our women the men are often allowed to go free. There are countless cases like this involving men that are not followed through by the Family Support Unit of the police. It looks like in this case Hawa and Fatmata have turned the tables upside down on the men who had made them unhappy because of their non-performance. It is also surprising that Hawa who had got into another marriage was not charged for another crime often committed by men-bigamy-or was it a part-time marriage?

The Domestic Violence Act, 2007, which is cited in this case is "an Act to suppress domestic violence, to provide protection for the victims of domestic violence and to provide for other related matters.". The particular offence cited is for "emotional, verbal or psychological abuse, including any conduct that makes another person feel constantly unhappy, humiliated, ridiculed, afraid or depressed or to feel inadequate or worthless". The "poor husbands" must have felt "unhappy, humiliated, ridiculed and depressed and in fairness to them, unlike other husbands, they did not run off and marry other wives but reported to the police-brave men! Someone opined to me that it was because perhaps they felt "inadequate".

This is a strange case that has got many women up in arms. What is we were to report all the men who inflicted "emotional, verbal or psychological abuse, including any conduct that makes another person feel constantly unhappy, humiliated, ridiculed, afraid or depressed or to feel inadequate or worthless" on their wives and they were sent to the correctional center by a Magistrate ?", they reason. "Ya go do"?

It is pleasing to note that Magistrates are getting tough also on law and order issues. In another story in Awoko -"Four youths accused of public defecation by FCC", FCC is now serious about arresting "Number 2 bombers." According to the story "Four young men were recently caught defecating in a prohibited area, according to the Freetown City Council (FCC). They were charged with Prohibited Use of Public Place contrary to Section 4 of the FCC bylaws. Mohamed Kargbo, Mohamed Lebbie, Mohamed Bangura, and Kabba Musa were found defecating on Regent Street under the Ogugu Bridge in central Freetown. They were caught in the act by officers of the FCC and were taken to the Eastern Police Station. The FCC bylaw states: "No person should urinate or defecate in any street, public place or unauthorized place".

The four accused appeared before Magistrate Santigie Bangura of Court No. 1, pleaded guilty and were sent to the Male Correctional Centre on Pademba Road. I am sure I can be excused for discussing issues of bowel disengagement but it is so important we have to talk about it. I will try to be as civilised as middle class British refer with a stiff upper lip to a "wee" as "Number 1" and bowel emptying as "Number 2". I have written in this column before about the number 2 problem which is serious and we are well aware of the health implications.

In Freetown, especially, sanitation problems abound in well-developed communities which are surrounded by shanty houses, many without toilet facilities. We applaud several projects on floor to address the "Number 2" problem. Thanks to some NGOs which are helping out some communities have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Some NGOs are carrying out massive education campaigns for people to stop using streams and backyards as toilets. We need to have sensitisation campaigns and more facilities. The sceptic may very well ask-Where are the sanitary inspectors of old? Why can we not make the "Number 2" problem a law and order issue with punitive measures? What are our long terms plans for central sewage systems in urban areas?

It is good to see the FCC pushing for having more toilets because in all fairness to the public, what if one really gets stuck to address a “number 2” problem in town? We know what most people especially do with “number 1” but I pity the women who have to find innovative ways to solve their problem.

These difficulties do not however absolve these “convicts” of blame. Under a bridge? -bo una nor try! This is too much. I am certain they must have been repeated offenders. The morale of the story-don’t mess around with FCC-there is a new Sheriff in town. FCC is bent on sorting out the “number 2” problem or are they. In any case if all offenders were to be rounded up and sent to Pademba Road, we will be asking ourselves Ya go do?

The Budget Debate

Who says Parliament cannot be entertaining? The contributions to the budget speech by Parliamentarians have been enlightening. Whatever side of the political divide one finds himself or herself there can be no denying that the Finance Minister was faced with tough choices in preparing his budget. Even detractors cannot come up with ready solutions but we should perhaps examine some of the contributions. Combative APC MPs called it all kinds of negative names-“Criminal budget” etc., but some were more constructive, advising on issues in a bipartisan way.

I rather like the contribution of the APC MP (I forget his name) who gave us a good lecture on the macroeconomic situation in the country. This was indeed enlightening and we were taken on a lecture tour of “Psychoanalytical theory by Sigmund Freud”. After he told the Speaker he wanted to “introspect from your kind decision”, terms like “parito efficiency”, consumerism, co-modification were met with gasps of admiration from his fellow MPs. The hapless speaker appealed to Hon. I.B. Kargbo, Acting Leader of the opposition to intervene. Honourable I.B. Kargbo, did you see this coming? IB retorted, “I can only plead with your honour for him to continue. And so he continued with “demystifying the concept of “parito efficiency” saying that the budget itself was a ”cuncum of misappropriation of public funds”-whatever that means! He was modest enough to describe himself as a Research Economist, although the Speaker chose to describe him as a “Professor of macroeconomics”.

It was not all about the economics professor however, and other speakers like Hon. Matthew Nyumah,Hon. Emerson Lamina and Hon. Hindolo Ngevao defended parts of the budget very well. The NGC Leader, Dr Kandeh Yumkella’s contribution was sobering in certain statements he made to jolt us into reality.

"Over the years, the Public Service Wage Bill has increased dramatically to about 55 percent of domestic revenue, 45 percent of of recurrent expenditure... rendering it fiscally unsustainable. This “wage burden” is largely due to the increase in the number of Sub-vented Agencies. In such a situation, we very seriously question the rationale behind the stated intention of the Government to embark on So why is the massive hiring of personnel creating more commissions, agencies and directorates within ministries". 

He continued…. "Are we a rich or poor nation"? The question is indeed appropriate because the ultimate purpose of an economic blue print is to put the country on a trajectory of growth, wealth creation and prosperity of its people. Several indicators presented in this year’s budget suggest that in spite of three Poverty Reduction Strategies programmes during the past two decades (one from the SLPP government, followed by the Agenda for Change, and the Agenda for Prosperity) this nation has either stayed stagnant or retrogressed in terms of human development and economic transformation.

The budget will in all likelihood be approved but it behooves the government to reflect soberly on the salient contributions made-even that from the "macroeconomics professor".

Courtesy: Ponder My Thoughts by Andrew Keili

 

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Sierra Leone Finance Minister's Balancing Act on a Trapeze 2019 Budget!

By Andrew Keili (14/11/18)

The 2019 budget indeed spells good news for many Sierra Leoneans. 5000 teachers, 3000 health sector workers and 1000 police officers will be recruited in 2019.

A significant number of pensioners who now receive less than Le20,000 per month as pension payment will have this increased to a minimum pension of Le250,000 per month. The salary of civil servants, teachers, police and the military will be increased by between 5 and 10 percent, depending on the grade, in addition to the 10 percent increase announced in the 2018 Revised Budget.

Government is also allocating Le1.14 trillion representing 21 percent of the total budget to the education sector. With US$20.0 million support from the World Bank and US$2.0 million from the domestic capital budget, Government will commence the implementation of a Skills Development Project for our youths in 2019. Development partners will disburse a total Le110.3 billion to fund various projects in the education sector. The Health sector is allocated Le549 billion representing 10 percent of the total budget.

All of this good news was revealed by the Finance Minister in his recent budget speech to Parliament whose objective he said was to “describe the policies and programmes to restore fiscal discipline, diversify the economy for sustained inclusive growth and job creation, promote human capital development while at the same time increase the role of the private sector and expand social protection services consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the new National Development Plan”.

According to the Minister, the new improved performance in revenues is attributable to the implementation of key revenue enhancing measures exercised by this government including inter alia the rationalisation of duty and tax waivers; implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA); the collection of arrears of debt services owed by Stated Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and the enhanced enforcement of tax compliance.

The Minister stated that there has been improved revenue collection during the second and third Quarters of 2018, some 30 percent higher than that collected during the same period in 2017. Though appearing to paint a rosy picture of some economic indices, the fact remains that inflation was 19.2 percent in September 2018 due to the depreciation of the exchange rate. Also, although the total value of exports for the period January to June 2018 is estimated at US$ 515.8 million, the “sharp” increase in exports is accounted for primarily by the export of palm oil by SOCFIN Agribusiness Company; followed by timber and natural honey amounting to US$308.2 million. The rational question to ask is whether such “sharp” increases could be sustained. Mineral export in the first half of 2018 also declined by 16.8 percent from the 2017 figure.

The Minister’s upbeat prognosis for 2019 and ensuing years for steady economic growth is based on his assumption that this will come from the following sources: (i) the expected resumption of iron ore mining at the Marampa Mines in 2019 and at the Tonkolili Mines in 2021 as well as expected increased investments in diamond, rutile and gold mining activities; (ii) reforms and stronger foreign direct investment in the agriculture, fisheries, and tourism sectors; (vi) deepening structural and business regulatory reforms to improve competitiveness and the ease of doing business. He also assumes inflation will return to a single digit figure in 2021 due to higher agricultural production and stability in the exchange rate due to a tight monetary policy.

The government is putting a considerable number of measures in place to plug leaking holes and control expenditure. The 2019 Finance bill broadens the scope and coverage of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and eliminates several duty and tax waivers and exemptions as well as upwardly reviews fees, licenses, rates, charges and levies imposed and collected by MDAs to “reflect current economic trends”.

The budget spells out several measures to strengthen tax compliance and review duty and tax waivers. Expenditure Management and Control Measures adopted include wage bill reform measures and harmonisation of multiple pension laws.

There are some novel ideas introduced in the budget including:
• Reconstitution of Audit Committees in MDAs and the establishment of a special Government Audit Committee in the Ministry of Finance, comprising professionals outside the civil service to follow up on unresolved issues from audit committees of MDAs; 
• The establishment of a National Monitoring and Evaluation Department (NAMED) in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development to monitor and evaluate Government and donor funded projects as well the National Development Plan.

To ensure fiscal oversight over SOEs, the Ministry of Finance has established a Fiscal Risk Management and Fiduciary Oversight of State-Owned Enterprises Division. The National Commission for Privatisation (NCP) and respective Ministries will continue to supervise the general operations of the SOEs. Critics argue that such plans seem to impinge somehow on the mandate of the NCP.

The budget gives out a lot of “freebies” but may need to be more circumspect on the revenue front. There is no doubt that unless the business environment improves drastically the revenue projections may not be realized. The Minister does realise this and states in the section on “Improving the Business Environment thus:

“Private investment remains low in our country. It is constrained by a cumbersome regulatory environment, administrative barriers, unstable macroeconomic environment, weak infrastructure, limited access to finance, unskilled labour and widespread corruption. Accordingly, the 2019 World Bank Doing Business Report ranked Sierra Leone 163 out of 190 countries and the Global Competitiveness Report 2018 also ranked Sierra Leone 134 out of 140 countries.”

To address this issue, he proposes reform measures to make it easy to do business, improve customs processes, pursue financial sector reforms, improve on infrastructure, increase investment in human capital and improve transparency in the management of public resources.

These are quite a handful of measures and the jury will be out on the efficacy of implementation. He also proposes to drop the top marginal income tax rate from 35 percent to 30 percent.

But how will the government raise the needed revenue? The main areas of raising domestic revenue remain the same. Domestic revenue is projected to increase to Le5.66 trillion or $682 m (15.4 percent of GDP) in 2019 from the estimated amount of Le4.46 trillion (14.3 percent of GDP) in 2018. Income taxes will contribute Le2.01 trillion; Goods and Services Tax (GST), Le1.09 trillion; Customs and Excise Duties, Le1.45 trillion, Royalty and Licenses on minerals and petroleum, Le228.8 billion; Royalties and Licenses on fisheries, Le105 billion; Parastatals dividends, Le155.1 billion; revenues from other Government departments including TSA agencies and royalty on timber exports will amount to 491.1 billion. Road User Charges and Vehicle licenses will contribute Le125.4 billion. The budget goes to great lengths in stating how the government intends to diversify the economy into other sectors of the economy that have sustainable growth potential such as agriculture, fisheries, tourism, manufacturing and services. These are examined below in greater detail.

Agriculture is allocated Le294.1 billion or $35.4 m, representing 5 percent of the total budget to support the production of rice and other food crops through the supply of high yielding seeds, fertiliser and other agricultural inputs to farmers as well as the development of irrigation facilities, rehabilitation of inland valley swamps and promotion of agricultural research and to support the cultivation of improved varieties of cocoa, coffee and cashew as well as the enhancement of livestock production. A new tractor policy will promote the mechanisation of agriculture. Competent private firms will be contracted to manage the fleet of tractors. Le70.7 billion will be for counterpart funding of various donor-funded projects. The amount also includes support to the Sierra Leone Seed Certification Agency, Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute as well as the development of rice and livestock value chains. The World Bank, IFAD, JICA and IDB will also disburse the sum of Le124.50 billion for the implementation of various projects in the agriculture sector.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine resources is allocated Le28.6 billion or $3.45 m to support artisanal fishing activities and aquaculture. The amount of Le776.6 million is also provided for the implementation of devolved functions in the fisheries sector. Government is also allocating Le5.6 billion from the domestic capital budget to support the Fish Stock Assessment Project, the Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Management Project and the Radar and Surveillance Systems for effective monitoring.

The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs is allocated Le35.1 billion or $4.23 m, including Le13.0 billion to the National Tourist Board for the development and implementation of the Tourism Marketing Strategy and Le 7.2 billion to Monuments and Relics Commission for the rehabilitation of various historic building and sites nationwide. The National Railway Museum will receive Le4.9 billion. Le4.4 billion is allocated from the domestic capital budget to support the construction of the Cultural Village and the National Arts Gallery, implementation of the Beach Sanitation Project and the reactivation of the Domestic Tourism in Coastal Areas project.

To promote trade and investments in manufacturing and services sectors, 12.9 billion or $1.55m is allocated to the Ministry of Trade and Industry to support various agencies engaged in improving the business environment and the promotion of investment and export activities. In addition, Le718 million is allocated to the Local Content Agency. Additionally, the capital budget makes provision of Le 2.0 billion for the reconstruction and expansion of the Koindu Market.

Government is allocating Le5.4 billion or $0.65 m to the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources for the review of the Mines and Minerals Act 2009 and to support Artisanal Miners and Small-Scale Mining Entrepreneurs. The amount also includes Le2.9 billion or $0.35 m allocated to the National Mineral Agency. The Petroleum Directorate is also allocated Le6.8 billion for the effective governance and management.

Monies are also provided for projects in the energy, water supply and roads in the budget. This includes Le99.6 billion to the energy sector for the rural electrification project involving the procurement of thermal plants and transmission and distribution lines as well as solar street lights for the district headquarter towns and Le174.0 billion to the Ministry of Works and Public Assets for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and upgrading of roads nationwide.

Although this may be a good start by government, a review of these figures in dollar terms would indicate such funds are grossly inadequate to have a paradigm shift in these sectors. Foreign direct investments including public private partnerships would be required to make the required dent in these sectors.

There are also still several realistic risks that have been quite rightly identified in the budget relating to:
• A drop in the price of iron ore 
• Further increases in the price of fuel
• Rising inflation and domestic interest rates 
• Contingent liabilities arising from the inefficiencies of the operations of SOEs as well as Public Private Partnerships;
• Unexpected shortfall in domestic revenue collection;
• Weak implementation of structural reforms 
• The occurrence of natural disasters

The occurrence of any combination of these for a fragile economy like ours will spell disaster. Six of our SOEs are projected to make a total loss of Le 366.7 billion or $44m in 2019 and have to be propped up. These include EGTC (Le 132bn), EDSA (132bn), Salwaco (Le30bn), SLRTC (LE 5.6 bn) and Sierratel (le30.1 bn).

Despite our optimism and the effort of government, Sierra Leone is still a high tax country and lack of infrastructure is still a huge barrier to growth. The upward review of fees, licenses, rates, charges and levies imposed and collected by MDAs to “reflect current economic trends” should be done with circumspection. The government also needs to be mindful of the cost of doing business in Sierra Leone and be consistent in policies and regulations related to doing business. This budget may be viewed as largely a “tax and spend budget” and although it does commendable work in encouraging investment, a lot more effort would need to be put into this area.

We have a long way to go in business as there are still several administrative and other barriers to overcome. Although Sierra Leone ranked 55 out of 190 in starting a business in the recent World Bank Doing Business indicators, the country ranked 182 in dealing with construction permits, 178 in getting electricity, 167 in registering property, 161 in getting credit, 166 in trading across borders and 161 in resolving insolvency.

This is a good balancing act by the Finance Minister but even he will admit that given all the unknown factors, this budget is a balancing act on a trapeze. The present optimism must be tempered with a lot of doses of reality and we must all work together to turn around a dismal situation.

Courtesy: Ponder My Thoughts by Andrew Keili, the Deputy Leader of the opposition National Grand Coalition Party NGC.

 

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Sierra Leone Finance Minister's Balancing Act on a Trapeze 2019 Budget!

By Andrew Keili (14/11/18)

The 2019 budget indeed spells good news for many Sierra Leoneans. 5000 teachers, 3000 health sector workers and 1000 police officers will be recruited in 2019.

A significant number of pensioners who now receive less than Le20,000 per month as pension payment will have this increased to a minimum pension of Le250,000 per month. The salary of civil servants, teachers, police and the military will be increased by between 5 and 10 percent, depending on the grade, in addition to the 10 percent increase announced in the 2018 Revised Budget.

Government is also allocating Le1.14 trillion representing 21 percent of the total budget to the education sector. With US$20.0 million support from the World Bank and US$2.0 million from the domestic capital budget, Government will commence the implementation of a Skills Development Project for our youths in 2019. Development partners will disburse a total Le110.3 billion to fund various projects in the education sector. The Health sector is allocated Le549 billion representing 10 percent of the total budget.

All of this good news was revealed by the Finance Minister in his recent budget speech to Parliament whose objective he said was to “describe the policies and programmes to restore fiscal discipline, diversify the economy for sustained inclusive growth and job creation, promote human capital development while at the same time increase the role of the private sector and expand social protection services consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the new National Development Plan”.

According to the Minister, the new improved performance in revenues is attributable to the implementation of key revenue enhancing measures exercised by this government including inter alia the rationalisation of duty and tax waivers; implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA); the collection of arrears of debt services owed by Stated Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and the enhanced enforcement of tax compliance.

The Minister stated that there has been improved revenue collection during the second and third Quarters of 2018, some 30 percent higher than that collected during the same period in 2017. Though appearing to paint a rosy picture of some economic indices, the fact remains that inflation was 19.2 percent in September 2018 due to the depreciation of the exchange rate. Also, although the total value of exports for the period January to June 2018 is estimated at US$ 515.8 million, the “sharp” increase in exports is accounted for primarily by the export of palm oil by SOCFIN Agribusiness Company; followed by timber and natural honey amounting to US$308.2 million. The rational question to ask is whether such “sharp” increases could be sustained. Mineral export in the first half of 2018 also declined by 16.8 percent from the 2017 figure.

The Minister’s upbeat prognosis for 2019 and ensuing years for steady economic growth is based on his assumption that this will come from the following sources: (i) the expected resumption of iron ore mining at the Marampa Mines in 2019 and at the Tonkolili Mines in 2021 as well as expected increased investments in diamond, rutile and gold mining activities; (ii) reforms and stronger foreign direct investment in the agriculture, fisheries, and tourism sectors; (vi) deepening structural and business regulatory reforms to improve competitiveness and the ease of doing business. He also assumes inflation will return to a single digit figure in 2021 due to higher agricultural production and stability in the exchange rate due to a tight monetary policy.

The government is putting a considerable number of measures in place to plug leaking holes and control expenditure. The 2019 Finance bill broadens the scope and coverage of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and eliminates several duty and tax waivers and exemptions as well as upwardly reviews fees, licenses, rates, charges and levies imposed and collected by MDAs to “reflect current economic trends”.

The budget spells out several measures to strengthen tax compliance and review duty and tax waivers. Expenditure Management and Control Measures adopted include wage bill reform measures and harmonisation of multiple pension laws.

There are some novel ideas introduced in the budget including:
• Reconstitution of Audit Committees in MDAs and the establishment of a special Government Audit Committee in the Ministry of Finance, comprising professionals outside the civil service to follow up on unresolved issues from audit committees of MDAs; 
• The establishment of a National Monitoring and Evaluation Department (NAMED) in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development to monitor and evaluate Government and donor funded projects as well the National Development Plan.

To ensure fiscal oversight over SOEs, the Ministry of Finance has established a Fiscal Risk Management and Fiduciary Oversight of State-Owned Enterprises Division. The National Commission for Privatisation (NCP) and respective Ministries will continue to supervise the general operations of the SOEs. Critics argue that such plans seem to impinge somehow on the mandate of the NCP.

The budget gives out a lot of “freebies” but may need to be more circumspect on the revenue front. There is no doubt that unless the business environment improves drastically the revenue projections may not be realized. The Minister does realise this and states in the section on “Improving the Business Environment thus:

“Private investment remains low in our country. It is constrained by a cumbersome regulatory environment, administrative barriers, unstable macroeconomic environment, weak infrastructure, limited access to finance, unskilled labour and widespread corruption. Accordingly, the 2019 World Bank Doing Business Report ranked Sierra Leone 163 out of 190 countries and the Global Competitiveness Report 2018 also ranked Sierra Leone 134 out of 140 countries.”

To address this issue, he proposes reform measures to make it easy to do business, improve customs processes, pursue financial sector reforms, improve on infrastructure, increase investment in human capital and improve transparency in the management of public resources.

These are quite a handful of measures and the jury will be out on the efficacy of implementation. He also proposes to drop the top marginal income tax rate from 35 percent to 30 percent.

But how will the government raise the needed revenue? The main areas of raising domestic revenue remain the same. Domestic revenue is projected to increase to Le5.66 trillion or $682 m (15.4 percent of GDP) in 2019 from the estimated amount of Le4.46 trillion (14.3 percent of GDP) in 2018. Income taxes will contribute Le2.01 trillion; Goods and Services Tax (GST), Le1.09 trillion; Customs and Excise Duties, Le1.45 trillion, Royalty and Licenses on minerals and petroleum, Le228.8 billion; Royalties and Licenses on fisheries, Le105 billion; Parastatals dividends, Le155.1 billion; revenues from other Government departments including TSA agencies and royalty on timber exports will amount to 491.1 billion. Road User Charges and Vehicle licenses will contribute Le125.4 billion. The budget goes to great lengths in stating how the government intends to diversify the economy into other sectors of the economy that have sustainable growth potential such as agriculture, fisheries, tourism, manufacturing and services. These are examined below in greater detail.

Agriculture is allocated Le294.1 billion or $35.4 m, representing 5 percent of the total budget to support the production of rice and other food crops through the supply of high yielding seeds, fertiliser and other agricultural inputs to farmers as well as the development of irrigation facilities, rehabilitation of inland valley swamps and promotion of agricultural research and to support the cultivation of improved varieties of cocoa, coffee and cashew as well as the enhancement of livestock production. A new tractor policy will promote the mechanisation of agriculture. Competent private firms will be contracted to manage the fleet of tractors. Le70.7 billion will be for counterpart funding of various donor-funded projects. The amount also includes support to the Sierra Leone Seed Certification Agency, Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute as well as the development of rice and livestock value chains. The World Bank, IFAD, JICA and IDB will also disburse the sum of Le124.50 billion for the implementation of various projects in the agriculture sector.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine resources is allocated Le28.6 billion or $3.45 m to support artisanal fishing activities and aquaculture. The amount of Le776.6 million is also provided for the implementation of devolved functions in the fisheries sector. Government is also allocating Le5.6 billion from the domestic capital budget to support the Fish Stock Assessment Project, the Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Management Project and the Radar and Surveillance Systems for effective monitoring.

The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs is allocated Le35.1 billion or $4.23 m, including Le13.0 billion to the National Tourist Board for the development and implementation of the Tourism Marketing Strategy and Le 7.2 billion to Monuments and Relics Commission for the rehabilitation of various historic building and sites nationwide. The National Railway Museum will receive Le4.9 billion. Le4.4 billion is allocated from the domestic capital budget to support the construction of the Cultural Village and the National Arts Gallery, implementation of the Beach Sanitation Project and the reactivation of the Domestic Tourism in Coastal Areas project.

To promote trade and investments in manufacturing and services sectors, 12.9 billion or $1.55m is allocated to the Ministry of Trade and Industry to support various agencies engaged in improving the business environment and the promotion of investment and export activities. In addition, Le718 million is allocated to the Local Content Agency. Additionally, the capital budget makes provision of Le 2.0 billion for the reconstruction and expansion of the Koindu Market.

Government is allocating Le5.4 billion or $0.65 m to the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources for the review of the Mines and Minerals Act 2009 and to support Artisanal Miners and Small-Scale Mining Entrepreneurs. The amount also includes Le2.9 billion or $0.35 m allocated to the National Mineral Agency. The Petroleum Directorate is also allocated Le6.8 billion for the effective governance and management.

Monies are also provided for projects in the energy, water supply and roads in the budget. This includes Le99.6 billion to the energy sector for the rural electrification project involving the procurement of thermal plants and transmission and distribution lines as well as solar street lights for the district headquarter towns and Le174.0 billion to the Ministry of Works and Public Assets for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and upgrading of roads nationwide.

Although this may be a good start by government, a review of these figures in dollar terms would indicate such funds are grossly inadequate to have a paradigm shift in these sectors. Foreign direct investments including public private partnerships would be required to make the required dent in these sectors.

There are also still several realistic risks that have been quite rightly identified in the budget relating to:
• A drop in the price of iron ore 
• Further increases in the price of fuel
• Rising inflation and domestic interest rates 
• Contingent liabilities arising from the inefficiencies of the operations of SOEs as well as Public Private Partnerships;
• Unexpected shortfall in domestic revenue collection;
• Weak implementation of structural reforms 
• The occurrence of natural disasters

The occurrence of any combination of these for a fragile economy like ours will spell disaster. Six of our SOEs are projected to make a total loss of Le 366.7 billion or $44m in 2019 and have to be propped up. These include EGTC (Le 132bn), EDSA (132bn), Salwaco (Le30bn), SLRTC (LE 5.6 bn) and Sierratel (le30.1 bn).

Despite our optimism and the effort of government, Sierra Leone is still a high tax country and lack of infrastructure is still a huge barrier to growth. The upward review of fees, licenses, rates, charges and levies imposed and collected by MDAs to “reflect current economic trends” should be done with circumspection. The government also needs to be mindful of the cost of doing business in Sierra Leone and be consistent in policies and regulations related to doing business. This budget may be viewed as largely a “tax and spend budget” and although it does commendable work in encouraging investment, a lot more effort would need to be put into this area.

We have a long way to go in business as there are still several administrative and other barriers to overcome. Although Sierra Leone ranked 55 out of 190 in starting a business in the recent World Bank Doing Business indicators, the country ranked 182 in dealing with construction permits, 178 in getting electricity, 167 in registering property, 161 in getting credit, 166 in trading across borders and 161 in resolving insolvency.

This is a good balancing act by the Finance Minister but even he will admit that given all the unknown factors, this budget is a balancing act on a trapeze. The present optimism must be tempered with a lot of doses of reality and we must all work together to turn around a dismal situation.

Courtesy: Ponder My Thoughts by Andrew Keili, the Deputy Leader of the opposition National Grand Coalition Party NGC.

 

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Maada Bio the Anti-Corruption Czar, Versus Maada Bio with Taxpayers' 18 Million Dollars!

By Kongosa Box (07/11/18)

We believe that President Julius Maada Bio is really concerned about the structure and eventual outcome of the pending Commission of Inquiry.

It's obvious the commission was set up to investigate ex-President Ernest Koroma and key members of the APC administration. Judging from recent utterances, Bio seems to have backed himself into a corner in which he is now trying to find wiggle room to buy a get out of jail card for himself at the end of his administration.

We are equally convinced that the corruption fight by this SLPP government is a big distraction that will yield no dividend for the country. The instruments crafted to establish the Commission of Inquiry and eventual proceeding will prove very costly, not in line with criminal proceedings as inscribed in our legal books because the Commission is not bound to rules of evidence and it is not time bound, a root cause for political divisions, and frightening economic instability!

President Bio is highly compromised in this corruption fight. We know that his conduct has been questioned and brought to severe critics for corruption as recent as the National Presidential Debate March 2018 where the APC Presidential Candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara informed voters that President Bio funneled 18 Million dollars of taxpayers funds out of State coffers.

It is believed that Bio used a complex finance scheme through international front companies and off-shore bank accounts to hide the transactions - he is yet to give a full account, to voters, of the circumstances around these charges!

The late President Tejan Kabbah, in a blistering speech on January 2, 1997 laid serious corruption charges against then Junta leader Maada Bio, for high crimes and corruption.

In the ensuing years, local press reports documented banking transactions and details of contracts in which President Bio is said to have milked the State in millions. The APC and the international community are quite aware of these shortcomings.

And it is disquieting to note the pains the ruling party, led by President Bio, has gone through to ensure that key members of his cabinet and inner circle are cut out of any investigation by the Commission of Inquiry.

But there he was! The Grand Ayatollah of Corruption himself, perched at the Speaker’s throne orchestrating the biggest hoax of all time on behalf of President Bio. A man who only recently traded his corruption turban for a Speaker’s wig, Dr. Abass Bundu, a former APC operative who was ordered by a prior inquisitor, to refund embezzled funds to State coffers!

The jury is still out as to whether Bundu refunded to the State as ordered by the courts! Of what faith and confidence are we to have in this Commission of Inquiry when the Government Transition Report that paved the way to the Commission of Inquiry was unprofessionally written by SLPP operatives without the presence of independent organisations?

We question the sanity of this charade? Surely, there is a better way to fight corruption and still keep social cohesion intact! The President’s council of advisers should have punctuated the push for a Commission of Inquiry with a careful review of instances where Inquiry Commissions have been instituted the world over and in Sierra Leone in particular! The results have been abysmal!

Evidence shows that the prosecution, seizure and jail term for ‘corrupt politicians’ only appeases the current batch of crooks and thieves that are in power. The moment the opposition gets back in office, all assets seized are returned, pardon issued and reversal of judgment/criminal charges sanctioned by the highest court in the land.

A quick study of Israel, Pakistan and other emerging economies is replete with such reversal of fortunes for former jailed Politicians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is still in office as Prime Minister after decades of court battles of corruption charges.

Nawarz Shariff of Pakistan was recently jailed again just to clear the political landscape for current President Imran Khan to become President. Decades earlier, Shariff was jailed and his assets seized - but all was returned to him by the Supreme Court and he was allowed to come back and serve as President of Pakistan for well over eight years!

In Brazil, President Silva De Lula will eventually be freed and with present popular support he is likely to make a comeback in politics. Similar circumstances swirls around Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia. The latter is also expected to make a strong showing in Gambian politics.

Sierra Leone is about to go into the same type of political circus. And Bio knows this very well because the APC is bound to come after him as soon as he vacates office. APC will attempt to have him thrown in jail and seize his assets as he is attempting to do right now of his opponents.

That is the reason why he is trying to recalibrate his position by coming out in front of the findings of the Commission by suggesting that he only wants to have assets returned, jail term is not his preferred option.

We are yet to find out if his supporters are aware that it is not only the APC, but Bio’s keister is also on the burner too! President Bio has to make a call which way he would like to have it cooked - Medium, Well done or Rare! No condition is permanent, the SLPP hierarchy must always remember that!

 

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Maada Bio the Anti-Corruption Czar, Versus Maada Bio with Taxpayers' 18 Million Dollars!

By Kongosa Box (07/11/18)

We believe that President Julius Maada Bio is really concerned about the structure and eventual outcome of the pending Commission of Inquiry.

It's obvious the commission was set up to investigate ex-President Ernest Koroma and key members of the APC administration. Judging from recent utterances, Bio seems to have backed himself into a corner in which he is now trying to find wiggle room to buy a get out of jail card for himself at the end of his administration.

We are equally convinced that the corruption fight by this SLPP government is a big distraction that will yield no dividend for the country. The instruments crafted to establish the Commission of Inquiry and eventual proceeding will prove very costly, not in line with criminal proceedings as inscribed in our legal books because the Commission is not bound to rules of evidence and it is not time bound, a root cause for political divisions, and frightening economic instability!

President Bio is highly compromised in this corruption fight. We know that his conduct has been questioned and brought to severe critics for corruption as recent as the National Presidential Debate March 2018 where the APC Presidential Candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara informed voters that President Bio funneled 18 Million dollars of taxpayers funds out of State coffers.

It is believed that Bio used a complex finance scheme through international front companies and off-shore bank accounts to hide the transactions - he is yet to give a full account, to voters, of the circumstances around these charges!

The late President Tejan Kabbah, in a blistering speech on January 2, 1997 laid serious corruption charges against then Junta leader Maada Bio, for high crimes and corruption.

In the ensuing years, local press reports documented banking transactions and details of contracts in which President Bio is said to have milked the State in millions. The APC and the international community are quite aware of these shortcomings.

And it is disquieting to note the pains the ruling party, led by President Bio, has gone through to ensure that key members of his cabinet and inner circle are cut out of any investigation by the Commission of Inquiry.

But there he was! The Grand Ayatollah of Corruption himself, perched at the Speaker’s throne orchestrating the biggest hoax of all time on behalf of President Bio. A man who only recently traded his corruption turban for a Speaker’s wig, Dr. Abass Bundu, a former APC operative who was ordered by a prior inquisitor, to refund embezzled funds to State coffers!

The jury is still out as to whether Bundu refunded to the State as ordered by the courts! Of what faith and confidence are we to have in this Commission of Inquiry when the Government Transition Report that paved the way to the Commission of Inquiry was unprofessionally written by SLPP operatives without the presence of independent organisations?

We question the sanity of this charade? Surely, there is a better way to fight corruption and still keep social cohesion intact! The President’s council of advisers should have punctuated the push for a Commission of Inquiry with a careful review of instances where Inquiry Commissions have been instituted the world over and in Sierra Leone in particular! The results have been abysmal!

Evidence shows that the prosecution, seizure and jail term for ‘corrupt politicians’ only appeases the current batch of crooks and thieves that are in power. The moment the opposition gets back in office, all assets seized are returned, pardon issued and reversal of judgment/criminal charges sanctioned by the highest court in the land.

A quick study of Israel, Pakistan and other emerging economies is replete with such reversal of fortunes for former jailed Politicians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is still in office as Prime Minister after decades of court battles of corruption charges.

Nawarz Shariff of Pakistan was recently jailed again just to clear the political landscape for current President Imran Khan to become President. Decades earlier, Shariff was jailed and his assets seized - but all was returned to him by the Supreme Court and he was allowed to come back and serve as President of Pakistan for well over eight years!

In Brazil, President Silva De Lula will eventually be freed and with present popular support he is likely to make a comeback in politics. Similar circumstances swirls around Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia. The latter is also expected to make a strong showing in Gambian politics.

Sierra Leone is about to go into the same type of political circus. And Bio knows this very well because the APC is bound to come after him as soon as he vacates office. APC will attempt to have him thrown in jail and seize his assets as he is attempting to do right now of his opponents.

That is the reason why he is trying to recalibrate his position by coming out in front of the findings of the Commission by suggesting that he only wants to have assets returned, jail term is not his preferred option.

We are yet to find out if his supporters are aware that it is not only the APC, but Bio’s keister is also on the burner too! President Bio has to make a call which way he would like to have it cooked - Medium, Well done or Rare! No condition is permanent, the SLPP hierarchy must always remember that!

 

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Financial Secretary Worried about Sierra Leone's 2 Billion US Dollars Debt!

By the Ranger (31/10/18)

To both the national and international creditors, Sierra Leone is reportedly owing close to 2 billion UD dollars in debts.

Clearly, interest and capital repayments on such a huge debt has direct bearing on the government’s ability to adequately provide the social goods and services that the population needs to live better lives as envisioned in the New Direction manifesto.

The New Direction’s promises call for substantial financial resources at a time when the global development finance landscape is changing from official development assistance and the coverage of remaining financing needs through external debt, to a framework with greater emphasis on the mobilisation of domestic resources.

In response to this changing financial climate, the Economic Development in Africa Report 2016 examined some key policy issues that underlie Africa’s domestic and external debts.

It also provides policy guidance on the delicate balance required between financing development alternatives and overall debt sustainability that concerns policymakers, analysts and multilateral financial institutions. Debt is the most troubling development headache that the Ernest Koroma presidency bequeathed this poor nation.

What happened during the Koroma era was that new sources of external finances without the imposition of condition, explain how Sierra Leone’s debt mounted alarmingly under the former APC government.

The size and rate of growth of Salone’s external debt has implications for sustainability; given how much was also carelessly borrowed for infrastructure from local contractors and suppliers.

Domestic debt and debt markets have witnessed significant developments. It is therefore necessary for this SLPP government to closely monitor evolving debt characteristics and take pre-emptive actions to avoid potential debt distress.

Until recently, the literature on borrowing and debt dynamics had largely overlooked the role domestic debt could play in financing development and focused almost exclusively on external debt.

In the Koroma years, the country looked increasingly to domestic sources. In the future, domestic borrowing is likely to play an increasingly significant role as sustained growth performance boosts national savings and broadens the scope for financing development with domestic resources.

It will also be important for government to find ways of productively utilizing additional liquidity in domestic financial institutions.

However, with domestic debt playing an increasingly important role, the country will face new risks as the numbers of creditors and debt instruments continue to expand. Owing to its size and swift growth, the consideration of domestic debt will become important in assessing public debt sustainability.

Other concerns with regard to domestic debt accumulation include the following: the expansion of public sector borrowing in domestic markets may crowd out private sector investments.

Additionally, financial liberalization has resulted in increased domestic real interest rates. As a result, there are concerns that domestic borrowing may induce elements of macroeconomic instability and that the high interest burden may absorb a significant portion of government revenues, crowding out pro-poor and growth-enhancing spending.

This has significant implications for women and children, who often bear the brunt of major reductions in social expenditure. Despite a long history of high fiscal deficits and a growing need for developmental and structural investments, Sierra Leone’s bond markets have largely remained underdeveloped, mainly due to credibility issues.

Emphasis is on implementing the New Direction within the framework of the new SDGs. Clearly, Sierra Leone’s current public budgetary resources are inadequate to address this need.

IMF, World Bank, EU, DFID and other development partners will need to share the burden. Thus, external assistance, whether concessional debt or grants, must continue to play a key role in financing poverty reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals and growth enhancing programmes in the foreseeable future.

Development challenges have also evolved, with the donor community paying increasing attention (and thus devoting increasing resources) to issues such as climate change and disaster prevention, which did not feature prominently in the development agenda a decade ago.

As Sierra Leone remains wholly commodity dependent, external debt sustainability is also subject to the boom and bust cycles of international commodity markets and the associated fiscal squeeze countries experience when expected revenues fall. The current collapse in iron ore price provides evidence of this.

The apparent end of the upward phase of the commodity price super cycle has translated into lower revenues for government. In short, Sierra Leone needs to be less dependent on volatile commodity markets.

Fifth, the global economic outlook remains gloomy, as fiscal austerity underpins the deceleration in growth in the euro-zone, and China is shifting to a growth strategy that implies lower but more sustainable growth rates and a rebalancing of economic activity away from investment and manufacturing towards consumption and services.

Manufacturing activity and trade also remain weak globally, reflecting not only developments in China, but also subdued global demand and investment more broadly, which could have a negative effect on Africa’s development prospects.

Against this backdrop, government must critically assess its capacity to tackle its significant development challenges in light of its development finance requirements.

This entails a redoubling of efforts to harness potential and innovative sources of finance, including those that may come from the private sector, such as through public–private partnerships, while also tackling rising levels of debt.

The SLPP government of President Julius Maada Bio and its partners will also need to revisit existing debt sustainability frameworks. Debt sustainability is critical for Sierra Leone as it seeks to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and sustainably transform the country.

At this juncture, Sierra Leone's Financial Secretary Sahr Jusu Saffa is right to get concern about the exorbitant debts and it now remains to be seen if this problem would be nipped in the bud as soon as possible.

 

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A Must Read for all true Africans! Why Whites Feel Superior to the Black Race!!

By Dr. Walter (21/10/18)

“It’s amazing how you all sit there and waAfricayoyotrailblat to me said. “Get up and do something about it.

When I first discovered I was going to spend my New Year’s Eve next to him on a non-stop JetBlue flight from Los Angeles to Boston I was angst-ridden. I associate marble-shaven Caucasians with iconoclastic skin-heads, most of who are racist.

“My name is Walter,” he extended his hand as soon as I settled in my seat. I told him mine with a precautious smile. “Where are you from?” he asked. “Zambia.”

“Zambia!” he exclaimed, “Kaunda’s country.” “Yes,” I said, “Now Sata’s.” “But of course,” he responded. “You just elected King Cobra as your president.”

My face lit up at the mention of Sata’s moniker. Walter smiled and in those cold eyes I saw an amenable fellow, one of those American highbrows who shuttle between Africa and the U.S.

“I spent three years in Zambia in the 1980s,” he continued. “I wined and dined with Luke Mwananshiku, Willa Mungomba, Dr. Siteke Mwale, and many other highly intelligent Zambians.” He lowered his voice. “I was part of the IMF group that came to rip you guys off.” He smirked. “Your government put me in a million dollar mansion overlooking a shanty called Kalingalinga.

From my patio I saw it all—the rich and the poor, the ailing, the dead, and the healthy.” “Are you still with the IMF?” I asked. “I have since moved to yet another group with similar intentions.

In the next few months my colleagues and I will be in Kenya to hypnotize the Raisi. I work for the broker that has acquired a chunk of your debt. Your government owes not the World Bank, but us millions of dollars.

We’ll be in Lusaka to offer your president a couple of millions and fly back with a check twenty times greater.” “No, you won’t,” I said. “King Cobra is incorruptible. He is …”

He was laughing. “Says who? Give me an African president, just one, who has not fallen for the carrot and stick.” Quett Masire’s name popped up. “Oh, him, well, we never got to him because he turned down the IMF and the World Bank. It was perhaps the smartest thing for him to do.”

At midnight we were airborne. The captain wished us a happy 2015 and urged us to watch the fireworks across Los Angeles. “Isn’t that beautiful,” Walter said looking down. From my middle seat, I took a glance and nodded admirably.

“That’s white man’s country,” he said. “We came here on Mayflower and turned Indian land into a paradise and now the most powerful nation on earth. We discovered the bulb, and built this aircraft to fly us to pleasure resorts like Lake Zambia or lake Kenya.

I grinned. “There is no Lake Zambia or lake Kenya. He curled his lips into a smug smile. “That’s what we call your countries. You guys are as stagnant as the water in the lake.

We come in with our large boats and fish your minerals and your wildlife and leave morsels—crumbs. That’s your staple food, crumbs. That corn-meal you eat, that’s crumbs, the small Tilapia fish you call Kapenta/omena are crumbs.

We the Bwanas (whites) take the cat fish. I am the "Bwana" and you are the "mtu". I get what I want and you get what you deserve, crumbs. That’s what lazy people get—Zambians, Kenyans, other Africans and the entire Third World.”

The smile vanished from my face. “I see you are getting pissed off,” Walter said and lowered his voice. “You are thinking this Bwana is a racist. That’s how most Zambians and Kenyans respond when I tell them the truth. They go ballistic.

Okay. Let’s for a moment put our skin pigmentations, this black and white crap, aside. Tell me, my friend, what is the difference between you and me?” I said "There’s no difference.”

“Absolutely none,” he exclaimed. “Scientists in the Human Genome Project have proved that. It took them thirteen years to determine the complete sequence of the three billion DNA subunits.

After they were all done it was clear that 99.9% nucleotide bases were exactly the same in you and me. We are the same people. All white, Asian, Latino, and black people on this aircraft are the same.” I gladly nodded.

“And yet I feel superior,” he smiled fatalistically. “Every white person on this plane feels superior to a black person. The white guy who picks up garbage, the homeless white trash on drugs, feels superior to you no matter his status or education.

I can pick up a nincompoop from the New York streets, clean him up, and take him to Lusaka and you all be crowding around him chanting muzungu, muzungu and yet he’s a riffraff. Tell me why my angry friend.”

For a moment I was wordless. “Please don’t blame it on slavery like the African Americans do or colonialism, or some psychological impact or some kind of stigmatisation. And don’t give me the brainwash poppycock. Give me a better answer.”

I was thinking. He continued. “Excuse what I am about to say. Please do not take offense.” I felt a slap of blood rush to my head and prepared for the worst. “You my friend flying with me and all your kind are lazy,” he said. “When you rest your head on the pillow you don’t dream big.

You and other so-called African intellectuals are lazy, each one of you only going for leadership; just to fill their own stomach and steal from the poor. It is you and not those poor starving people, who are the reason Africa is in such a deplorable state.” “That’s not a nice thing to say,” I protested. He was implacable. “Oh yes it is and I will say it again, you are lazy in your minds.

Poor and uneducated Africans are the most hardworking people on earth. I saw them in the Lusaka markets and on the street of Nairobi selling merchandise. I saw them in villages toiling away.

I saw women on Kafue Road crushing stones to sell and I wept. I said to myself where are the Zambian intellectuals? And in kenya l saw women as bricklayers. Where are these intellectual men?

Are the Zambian or Kenyans engineers so imperceptive they cannot invent a simple stone crusher or a simple water filter to purify well water for those poor villagers? Or sort out the drainage system to make Biogas or rivers purification systems.

Are you telling me that after thirty-seven years or more of independence your university school of engineering has not produced a scientist or an engineer who can make simple small machines for mass use?

What is the school there for?” I held my breath. “Do you know where I found your intellectuals? They were in bars quaffing. I saw with my own eyes a bunch of alcoholic graduates. Calling themselves policy makers

Zambian, Kenyans, other African intellectuals work from eight to five and spend the evening drinking. We don’t. We reserve the evening for brainstorming.”

He looked me in the eye. “And you flying to Boston and all of you Africans in the Diaspora are just as lazy and apathetic to their country. You don’t care about your country and yet your very own parents, brothers and sisters live there.

Many have died or are dying of neglect by you as democratic government. They are dying of AIDS because you cannot come up with your own preventive measures. Too much immorality.

You are here calling yourselves graduates, researchers and scientists and are fast at articulating your credentials once asked - oh, I have a PhD in this and that, so what? What next? Handouts from IMF? Then repay?

I was deflated. “Wake up you all!” he exclaimed, attracting the attention of nearby passengers. “You should be busy lifting ideas, formulae, recipes and diagrams from American manufacturing factories and sending them to your own factories.

All those dissertation papers you compile should be your country’s treasure. Why do you think the Asians are a force to reckon with? They stole our ideas and turned them into their own. Look at Japan, China, India, just look at them.”

He paused. “The Bwana has spoken,” he said and grinned. “As long as you are dependent on my plane, I shall feel superior and you my friend shall remain inferior, how about that?

The Chinese, Japanese, Indians, even Latinos are a notch better. You Africans are at the bottom of the totem pole.” He tempered his voice. “Get over this white skin syndrome and begin to feel confident. Become innovative and make your own stuff for God’s sake.”

At 8a.m. the plane touched down at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Walter reached for my hand. “I know I was too strong, but I don’t give a damn. I have been to Zambia , Kenya , other African countries and have seen too much poverty.”

He pulled out a piece of paper and scribbled something. “Here, read this. It was written by a friend.” He had written only the title: “Lords of Poverty.” Thunderstruck, I had a sinking feeling. I watched Walter walk through the airport doors to a waiting car. He had left a huge dust devil twirling in my mind, stirring.

I remembered some who have since passed - how they got the highest grades in mathematics and the sciences and attained the highest education on the planet.

They had been to Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), only to leave us with not a single invention or discovery. I knew some by name and drunk with them at the Lusaka Playhouse and intercontinental hotel, safari park Kenya and Central Sports in Lusaka.

Walter is right. It is true that since independence we have failed to nurture creativity and collective orientations. We as a nation lack a workhorse mentality and behave like 13 million civil servants dependent on a government pay cheque.

We believe that development is generated 8-to-5 behind a desk wearing a tie with our degrees hanging on the wall. Such a working environment does not offer the opportunity for fellowship, the excitement of competition, and the spectacle of innovative rituals.

But the intelligentsia is not solely or even mainly, to blame. The larger failure is due to political circumstances. Knowing well that King Cobra, Kenyatta, and others will not embody innovation at Walter’s level let’s begin to look for a technologically active-positive leader who can succeed them after a term or two.

That way we can make our own stone crushers, water filters, water pumps, razor blades and harvesters or dig our own boreholes without IMF being involved. Let’s dream big and make tractors, cars and planes, or like Walter said, forever remain inferior...

A fundamental transformation of our country from what is essentially non-innovative to a strategic superior African country requires a bold risk-taking educated leader with a triumphalist attitude and we have one in YOU.

Don’t be highly strung and feel insulted by Walter. It is like shooting the messenger. Take a moment and think about our country. Our journey from 1963 has been marked by tears. It has been an emotionally overwhelming experience. Each one of us has lost a loved one to poverty, hunger, and disease. The number of graves is catching up with the population.

It’s time to change our political culture. It’s time for Zambian, Kenyans, Nigerians and other Africans intellectuals to cultivate an active-positive progressive movement that will change our lives for ever. Don’t be afraid or dispirited, rise to the challenge and salvage the remaining.

Courtesy: By Dr. Walter, a US-based Zambian media practitioner and author. He is a PhD candidate with a BA in Mass Communication and Journalism.

 

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National Monthly Cleaning Saturdays: Who Must be in Charge?

Asks Pastor Mohamed Sesay (14/10/18)

Now things are pretty much better for Freetown as city dwellers cooperate with local and central government to solve the trash problem.

The monthly Cleaning Saturdays introduced by the new administration of President Julius Maada Bio are turning out to be a winner for the City of Freetown which, before the advent of Cleaning Saturdays, had become a place of uncontrolled filth.

But in as much as there is a beauty in the cleaning activities, there is also confusion as to who must lead it as no thorough system has been put in place to spell out exactly who must be in charge and it is clear that if things stay as they are, the city will soon deteriorate into the filthy days of the past.

The verbal confrontation between Deputy Minister of Local Government Philip Tetema Tondoneh and the Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, during the past Saturday cleaning, was a thing of revulsion to most people especially when it happened right in front of the general public. That confrontation proved that nobody knows exactly who must be in charge of the cleaning of the City of Freetown.

It has been the tradition in the past for the Freetown City Council which is headed by the Mayor, to be in charge of all cleaning activities in the city with help from government and donors.

The new Mayor of the City of Freetown who won her executive mayorship under the ticket of the outgone main opposition All Peoples Congress party, keeps thinking that things must remain in that status quo but the new government of President Bio thinks otherwise believing that it is the work of Central Government to ensure that the city is clean.

There are a few reasons to the new government's idea: First, the new SLPP government thinks that in the past much money was wasted in the cleaning process with no results at all. Second, the government thinks that it will be inconceivable for an opposition party to take up the cleaning process with the fear of sabotage as openly expressed by Mr Tondoneh during his confrontation with the Mayor.

Cleaning itself is big business and the past City Council administration which was controlled by the opposition APC, did pour more money down the drain but with the city remaining perennially filthy. In fact it came to a point during the last City Council administration, that all ideas were lost as to how to make sure the city is permanently clean.

Mayor Aki-Sawyerr on her part, keeps thinking that she must not be blamed for what happened when she was not yet in office with her believing that she has all the ideas to ensure the city is clean as she promised city dwellers in her manifesto.

The confrontation was all about money with the confusion arising as to who must pay workers and who must not and how many workers must be paid and how many must not.

As that confrontation progressed it became evidently clear that it was more a political party thing than an interest in the cleaning process itself with each side wanting to satisfy their respective party interests.

Minister Tondoneh said that the Mayor was giving the impression that she was in charge when, according to him, she is not. He said something like the Mayor approached Orange Mobile Company for help when, according to him, she was not supposed to but the Mayor stood her ground by saying that Orange went to her and not her to Orange which simply means, according to her, that Orange recognises that she must be in charge and that was why they went to her and not to Central Government.

Tondoneh was to flip and go over the top by threatening to deal with the Mayor "accordingly". This confrontation is very unfortunate but it could never have happened if only a system had been put in place to address the cleaning process in the city.

City Council cannot just be dismissed as irrelevant in the cleaning process. It has a role and it must be allowed to play that role no matter if it is controlled by an opposition party.

Cleaning of the city must never be a Central Government role. What Central Government can do is to assume the role of monitoring the process and making sure that it is carried out to the letter. What is a local council thing must be left with the local council to carry it out.

Both sides must sit to iron out each other's respective roles before the next Cleaning Saturday. That confrontation was not only shameful but reckless with two adults fighting over who must be paid for cleaning and who must not.

This government must not be seen to be playing the bully boy role but rather assuming the motherly figure and then things will work for the city and for the people.

 

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Bye-Elections Cold-Blooded Murder is a Scandal that Shames Sierra Leone Politics!

By Abu Kamarah (07/10/18)

The killing of the Sierra Leonean boy during the Tonko Limba bye-elections is a shameful and scandalous politicking in the country!

For national peace and unity to prevail, such political atrocities must be stop by both the APC and the SLPP political parties! The 'pull him/her down (phd)' political madness and stupidity should and must be put to an end in our motherland’.

May God forbide. If this worrisome road is continued, the next civil war will be both regional and tribal that will result to the ugliest and nastiest of civil wars and the most difficult one to end!

As a young nation in the 21st Century, is that what we want? Please, please and please, the instigators and authors of such primitive politics must bury their empty heads in shame!

Between the Mendes and the Temnes, both are to be blamed equally for the deplorable plight of our country and people for past decades!

And after having lost the last elections, why not give the Maada Bio SLPP government a chance, a breathing space to make mistakes and correct their mistakes? I am a northerner. I witnessed the last elections from start to finish and I was based in Rokupr, so I know what happened!

It’s been said that to whom much is given, a lot more is expected! I was in Kambia Town on that Tuesday night, the eve of the 2018 general elections, former President Ernest Bai Koroma was also in Kambia by 23.30 hours!

Why on earth a sitting President was campaigning at that late hour, dishing out APC Party T-shifts, each accompanied with Le 50,000.00 in Le 10,000.00 notes?

Regrettably, days before that Dr. Sam Sesay, former Agriculture Minister and his marauding APC 'Jamba smoking' thugs, unleashed mayhem and terror on innocent men and women!

Supporters of the NGC Party were chased and banished from Tonko Limba, marooned and forced to seek refuge in bushes and forests for days on end! Personally, I helped to treat and feed some NGC members fleeing from Sam Sesay’s madness and APC thuggery!

I am not saying that the SLPP should reciprocate or 'fallamakatter' or 'tansanneh' or 'kallah' the APC political madness and thuggish electioneering behaviour. What I am trying to simply say is that the SLPP must and should be seen to behave responsibly in a statesman like manner in order to occupy a political moral high ground! 'Tit for tat' politics is very antithetical in a fledgling and neonate democracy like Sierra Leone!

For far too long, this madness has been incubated, nursed and unleashed on our country and people by avaricious, abysmally greedy and unpatriotic political lunatics, parading as politicians (political misfits at best)!

Fellow compatriots, brothers and sisters, let us collectively condemn and denounce these acts of violence, their sponsors and their perpetrators! These acts of vitriolic violence, if not stopped now, by the antagonistic, violent-minded and hate propagating and sponsoring APC and SLPP, will lead Sierra Leone to a hellish and regretting end!

Peaceful, good, sane and nationalistic Sierra Leoneans, today is the time to condemn and express your outrage to prevent any future mayhem!

Courtesy: by worried Abu Kamarah (aka Abu IKh)

 

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Government and Privatisation: Turkeys Don't Vote for Christmas!

By Andrew Keili (30/09/18)

I listened to a refreshingly honest interview on Radio Democracy of the Minister of Water Resources Dr. Jonathan Tengbeh on water supply in the country.

On the matter of Guma Valley Water Company he lamented the fact that his Ministry did not have much of an oversight role of Guma, quite unlike Salwaco which was directly under his Ministry, it was actually within the purview of the National Commission for privatization (NCP).

The mandate of his Ministry is "to formulate and implement policies for the development and management of water resources, in order to ensure all communities have improved access to safe drinking water, in a sustainable manner for socio-economic development". It would seem however that this mandate for Guma has been handed over to another body. The erstwhile Minister Momodu Maligi experienced the same problem in his stewardship of the Ministry and was often at odds with the NCP.

The whole issue of the NCP’s mandate and tenure of its oversight function over State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) under its care should perhaps be subject to scrutiny. The NCP started off with laudable aims.

The Kabbah government, cognisant of the failures and inefficiencies of the public sector, realized the need to have the private sector play a leading role in the revitalization of the economy. One of the main ways in which this could be achieved was by privatizing many of the SOEs that had become a burden on Government but were nevertheless vital in building the financial, infrastructural and other sectors. In 2002, an Act of Parliament was passed to set up a National Commission for Privatisation.

According to the NCP Act, the object for which the Commission was established was to serve as the policy and decision-making body with regard to the divestiture and reform of public enterprises; to transfer the management of all public enterprises to the Commission, and remove the interference in the management of public enterprises from the Ministries thereby ensuring transparency, corporate governance and avoidance of conflict of interest in the affairs of public enterprises.

In the early 1990s, there were 44 public enterprises which were engaged in a variety of economic sectors. The 1993 Public Enterprise Reform Act had divested 14 of these enterprises. In September, 2003 the Government re-launched its privatisation programme with the publication of a Strategic Plan for the Divestiture of Public Enterprises, split broadly into four sectors-finance, utilities, commerce and transport. The Strategic Plan set out an implementation programme for the period 2006-2003 during which it was envisaged that 24 public enterprises would be restructured and divested in some form.

Apart from some of the enterprises in the financial sector such as formal banks, almost all the enterprises operated at a loss, had excessive debt and were over staffed. Poor corporate governance by government-appointed Boards, management problems, lack of capitalization and inefficiencies in operation were the main reasons for their poor financial performance. Many of the enterprises operated in sectors where the policy, legal and regulatory framework were outdated, unclear, or completely nonexistent.

The NCP was established to serve as the policy and decision-making body with regard to the divestiture and reform of public enterprises. The management of all public enterprises would be transferred to the Commission. The Commission would serve as a prudent shareholder and manage and prepare all public enterprises for divestiture and delivery of efficient services. The Commission would be expected to deal with donors for all projects in the divestiture process and approve the appointment of divestiture advisers and consultants.

It was envisaged that the privatization process would stimulate domestic and foreign investment. It would also strengthen the quality and coverage of infrastructural and financial services and help refocus government resources. A secondary effect would be the increase in the scope and scale of private sector activities and the generation of employment through business growth. The Commission’s functions amongst others included acting as a prudent shareholder, fully representing the distinction between shareholding and management, managing and preparing all public enterprises for divestiture and delivery of efficient services and approving policies for divestiture.

The divestiture may take one or a combination of many forms. These include the following:
(a) The sale of the business to a private sector investor or investors or the sale of the assets of the business in part or as a whole;
(b) Joint venture of the State with a private sector investor;
(c) Management contracts with a single company or consortium of companies , of all or part of the public enterprise;
(d) Performance contracts;
(e) Liquidation of the public enterprise;
(f) Sale to other shareholders in the company where Government owns part of the shares;
(g) Leases, in the case of hotels;
(h) Employee or management buyouts so as to broaden local participation in the process.

The process for loss making enterprises engaged in production would be by outright sale without further capitalization. Performing enterprises would initially be run by management contracts of all or part of the enterprises until such time that full divestiture takes place. For commercial banks, the divestiture would be by a withdrawal of Government so as to increase the participation of such private investors as will enhance greater efficiency in the financial sector.

A good 15 years after it was set up, many of the SOEs slated for privatization are still in government hands, with oversight provided by the NCP, which is often at odds with line Ministries. How did this situation arise in which many of the enterprises are still in the same condition with inefficient management teams and high indebtedness after all this time?

My good friend and former Mayor Winstanley Bankole Johnson has always been one dissatisfied with the perpetual role of the NCP in the management of key parastatals, and not been one to mince his words of shy away from controversy, he wrote thus in an article a few years ago: "Privatization is not synonymous with management restructuring. The NCP Head is neither a Super Chairman of all Parastatals; nor does the privatization Act of 2002 allow NCP representation on the Boards, or their meddling in the management, recruitment, promotion and procurement processes of Parastatals as they currently do. The NCP Act is overdue for review if government is serious about reducing corruption and overstaffing in Parastatals."

Johnson accused the Commission of “sitting on the Boards, meddling in the management, and getting involved in staff recruitment and promotion at all levels and instructing CEOs and senior management staff of Parastatals to do their bidding over and above directives from their respective Board Directorates”. He cited the fact that “the former Governor Samba Deen Sesay, on account of sustained dismal performances (even with NCP representations on their Board), invoked Section 31 of the Banking Supervision Act by wresting, and later reverting direct day-to-day supervision of the S.L commercial Bank Ltd.” As evidence of NCP’s ineffectiveness.

Truth be told, there have been some successes. The unbundling of the National Power Authority has helped usher in private sector participation into the electricity sector with improved results. Privatising certain aspects of the Port’s operation and leaving the SLPA to play the role of a landlord have led to efficiencies in port operations including loading and clearing. Though Sierratel and Sierra Leone airport Authority may have mixed results, there could be light at the end of the tunnel if the partial privatisation programmes in train are executed well. There appears to be some positive movement at the government printing Department.

Despite these successes, some SOEs have been fraught with a lot of difficulties, compounded by ineffective Boards and considerable interference by government in their operations. These may include Sierra Leone Housing Corporation, Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation, Sierra Leone State Lottery and Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation. But does anyone know what is happening to these corporations? Mining and General Services, Sierra Leone Postal Services, Sierra Leone Daily Mail. Seaboard West Africa?

The main Banks, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and Rokel Commercial Bank have shown over the past two years or so that with proper management they can run profitably. The extent of government interference over the years despite the oversight of the NCP has been exemplified by the number of non-performing loans from politically exposed persons. SLCB is still 100 percent government owned and there are uncertainties about the plans for divesting of government’s 51 percent shares in RCB.

The new NCP Chairman is a smart, astute and humble person who should know that his success as NCP Chairman ironically will be judged by the extent to which he keeps to the privatisation strategy and gets government interference out of these enterprises. Undoubtedly this will not be an easy task as successive governments have always treated SOEs as personal cash cows for politically connected Board members and other political associates to milk. It was refreshing to see SOEs included in this year’s budget process and having them grilled in public for a for their budgets. This should only be temporary and the privatization originally planned allowed to take root.

And back to Guma! Government should try to solve what appears to be an incessant fight between NCP and the Ministry of Water Resources over Guma. Dr Tengbeh was no doubt being diplomatic when he said they are trying to” collaborate and have a combined strategy”. The Guma Valley Water Company was established in 1961 by the Guma Valley Water Act, 1961 to manage the provision of water to the Freetown municipality. At inception, it had the capacity to provide water for 350,000 inhabitants. To date, this number has more than tripled.

A review of technical commercial and financial practices is being undertaken with donor assistance. The privatization of water is a controversial issue but Private sector participation can be encouraged in areas such as storage, security, support services like metering and bill collection. The Company is faced with problems of insufficient water production, poor distribution, high loss water rate, poor billing and revenue collection. There are insufficient funds to undertake major investments in infrastructure expansion and improvements of the system. Their situation is not helped by the huge indebtedness of government MDAs to Guma.

The NCP is obviously faced with a considerable number of challenges which may include capacity problems of the Secretariat, ability to contract specialists and ability to attract domestic and international investors. The government should perhaps review NCP’s mandate, have its strategic plan revised and look at its interrelationships with parent Ministries, under whom these SOEs are placed. This should not be left solely to NCP. After all Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas!

Courtesy: By Andrew Keili, Ponder My Thoughts

 

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Salient Factors to Consider in the Reformation of Unsafe Prisons in Sierra Leone!

By the Ranger (21/09/18)

Reform of the prison system should take into account the needs relating to the reform of the criminal justice system as a whole in Sierra Leone.

And to also employ an integrated, multi-disciplinary strategy to achieve sustainable impact. Thus, reform initiatives need to also encompass criminal justice institutions other than the prison service, such as the judiciary prosecution and police service, as relevant.

An integrated approach also takes account of areas that are typically not regarded as part of the "criminal justice system". These include, for example, the development of substance dependence treatment programmes in the community or psycho-social counseling programmes, to which certain offenders may be diverted, rather than being imprisoned, thus ensuring that services in prison are not overstretched, trying to meet the needs of a growing number of prisoners with special needs.

The integrated strategy to prison reform can benefit immensely from the establishment and development of collaboration and partnerships with other UN agencies and other international and national organizations engaged in complementary programs.

Thematic Areas of Work in the field of Prison Reform and Alternatives to Imprisonment. UNODC's technical assistance in the area of prison reform covers the following thematic areas:

Pre-trial detention; prison management; alternative measures and sanctions; social reintegration. A cross-cutting theme relevant to all prison related interventions is healthcare, including specifically the prevention, management and treatment of HIV/AIDS and drug dependency.

Pre-Trial Detention

There are three main issues that need to be taken into consideration in the context of pre-trial detention: firstly, pre-trial detention is overused in most countries worldwide and in many developing countries the size of the pre-trial prisoner population is larger than that of the convicted prisoner population. This situation contradicts the provisions in international standards, including ICCPR, that provide for the limited use of pre-trial detention, only when certain conditions are present. Secondly, pre-trial detention is the period most open to abuse in the criminal justice process.

Recognising the particular vulnerability of pre-trial detainees, international human rights instruments provide for a large number of very specific safeguards to ensure that the rights of detainees are not abused, that they are not ill-treated and their access to justice not hindered.

Thirdly, although pre-trial detainees should be presumed innocent until found guilty by a court of law, and treated as such, conditions in pre-trial detention are often much worse than those of prisons for convicted prisoners.

In addition, the lack of resources for prisons in many low-income countries means that people in detention do not have access to legal advice and assistance, with the result being that they may overstay on remand, and/or not receive a fair trial, further adding to the congestion of prisons.

Therefore, improving access to justice, supporting legal and paralegal aid programs, improving information management and cooperation between courts and prisons, to speed up the processing of cases, as well as assisting with the development of safeguards for pre-trial detainees, such as independent monitoring and inspection mechanisms, comprise important elements of UNODC's work in the field of penal reform.

Prison Management

In order for a prison system to be managed in a fair and humane manner, national legislation, policies and practices must be guided by the international standards developed to protect the human rights of prisoners.

Prison authorities have a responsibility to ensure that the supervision and treatment of prisoners is in line with the rule of law, with respect to individuals' human rights, and that the period of imprisonment is used to prepare individuals for life outside prison following release.

But often national legislation and rules relating to the management of prisons are outdated and in need of reform. In many countries the prison department and staff have received no specific training regarding prison management.

Staff morale is usually low and effective leadership to drive prison reform is lacking. Information collection and management systems are also very inadequate (or non-existent) in many prison systems worldwide, hindering the development of sound policies and strategies based on reliable, factual data.

UNODC can provide much assistance in reforming national legislation, developing training programmes for prison managers to improve their leadership role and staff to apply international standards and norms in their daily practice, and by contributing to the institutional capacity building of prison administrations.

Alternative Measures and Sanctions

Overcrowding is a key concern in almost all prison systems worldwide, while punitive criminal policies, as well as a shortage of social protection services in the community, continue to contribute to the rapid growth of the prison population in many countries.

As mentioned earlier, overcrowding is the root cause of many human rights violations in prisons. Solutions to overcrowding need to be explored and implemented in almost all countries in which UNODC is operational.

While overcrowding can be temporarily decreased by building new prisons, practice shows that trying to overcome the harmful effects of prison overcrowding through the construction of new prisons does not provide a sustainable solution.

In addition, building new prisons and maintaining them is expensive, putting pressure on valuable resources. Instead, numerous international instruments recommend a rationalization in sentencing policy, including the wider use of alternatives to prison, aiming to reduce the number of people being isolated from society for long periods.

The use of non-custodial sanctions and measures also reflects a fundamental change in the approach to crime, offenders and their place in society, changing the focus of penitentiary measures from punishment and isolation, to restorative justice and reintegration.

When accompanied by adequate support for offenders, it assists some of the most vulnerable members of society to lead a life without having to relapse back into criminal behavior patterns.

Thus, the implementation of penal sanctions within the community, rather than through a process of isolation from it, offers in the long term better protection for society. Supporting the introduction and implementation of non-custodial sanctions and measures is therefore a key element of UNODC's work in the area of prison reform.

Social Reintegration

One of the principle objectives of the United Nations in the area of prison reform is to contribute to the successful reintegration of prisoners into society following their release.

Social reintegration initiatives should start as early as possible within the criminal justice process in order to have maximum effect. This means that diversion from the criminal justice process (especially of vulnerable groups) to appropriate treatment programs, non-custodial sanctions, instead of isolation from society and purposeful activities and programs in prisons, can all be considered as elements of a comprehensive "social reintegration" policy.

Interventions to support former prisoners following release from prison, continuum of care in the community for those in need, will all be more effective if the period in prison is used to prepare a prisoner for re-entry to society. This policy requires close coordination between criminal justice institutions and social protection and health services in the community and probation services where they exist. UNODC can offer key support and advice in this area, including supporting the development of social reintegration programs in prisons and in assisting with the planning and implementation of continuum of care and support in the community.

Healthcare

Equivalence of healthcare and the right to health is a principle that applies to all prisoners, who are entitled to receive the same quality of medical care that is available in the community. However, this right is rarely realised in prisons, where usually healthcare services are extremely inadequate. Prison health services are almost always severely under-funded and understaffed and sometimes non-existent. Most of the time under the responsibility of the authority in charge of the prisons administration, prison health services work in complete isolation from national health authorities, including national HIV and national TB programmes. Specific women's health needs are rarely addressed.

The right to health includes not only the access to preventive, curative, reproductive, palliative and supportive health care but also the access to the underlying determinants of health, which include: safe drinking water and adequate sanitation; safe food; adequate nutrition and housing; safe health and dental services; healthy working and environmental conditions; health-related education and information and gender equality.

 

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SLPP Fears the Corruption of Hidden 'Paopa' Agenda, Not the Sierra Leone Corruption Law!

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo (14/09/18)

It’s now very clear that what SLPP supporters fear most isn’t the corruption of Sierra Leone law, but the corruption of SLPP 'Paopa' hidden agenda.

One Thursday morning, the lead story in most newspapers was not why the Speaker of the Parliament of Sierra Leone refused to debate Constitutional Instruments Numbers 64 and 65 of 2018 entitled: 'The Commission of Inquiry (Examination, Inquiry and Investigation).'

At least in the interest of justice and as a mark of respect for our Constitution! Instead via the Clerk of Parliament, the House okay the mentioned instrument to a law without discussing it in Parliament.

On their face, any discussion on the said instrument which they’ve now turned law is not important. Speaker Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu simply avoided debating the said instrument because it distracts attention from a revelation that makes Bio SLPP 'Paopa' led government look bad.

But dig deeper not debating such an important instrument before it became law in the House of Parliament and the proposed Commission of Inquiry meant to prosecute alleged corrupt State officials of the past regime the two stories are connected: They represent competing notions of what corruption is.

Speaker’s action highlights one of the enduring riddles of the Bio era. Bio supporters are now saying they care about corruption. In his pronouncement for a Commission of Inquiry for alleged corrupt officials of the past regime, they cheered his vow to 'drain the swamp' in Sierra Leone. When you talk to any of them to explain why they dislike Ernest Bai Koroma and his former APC regime, the first-most-common answer is that he was 'corrupt.'

And yet, Bio supporters appear largely unfazed by the mounting evidence that Bio administration is also in the list of the least ethical regime in modern Sierra Leone history in terms of disrespecting our laws. When asked last whether they considered Bio corrupt, only very few among the current regime said yes. Even the Speaker’s action to disrespect Sections 170(7) and 86 (2) of the 1991 Constitution is unlikely to change that.

The Swamp Isn't Easy to Drain

The answer may lie in how Bio and his supporters define corruption. In his book titled How Fascism Works, the Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley makes an intriguing claim. 'Corruption, to the fascist politician,' he suggests, 'is really about the corruption of purity rather than of the law. Officially, the fascist politician’s denunciations of corruption sound like a denunciation of political corruption. But such talk is intended to evoke corruption in the sense of the usurpation of the traditional order.'

Speaker’s decision to focus on turning the instrument to a law rather than debating the said instrument before it became law illustrates Stanley’s point. In the eyes of many SLPP 'paopa' supporters and members, I suspect, the network hidden agenda isn’t ignoring corruption so much as highlighting the kind that really matters. When Speaker skilfully avoid to debate the mentioned instrument before it became law, he may have been violating the law. But he was upholding traditional 'paopa' and class hierarchies like the former 'tolongbo' Speaker was doing. Since time immemorial, powerful men in our social positions of trust have been cheating on our people and using their power to evade the consequences.

Perfecting the instrument to law, by contrast, signifies the inversion—the corruption—of that 'traditional paopa order.' Throughout Sierra Leonean history, few people have been as sacrosanct as the belief that the Executive must be protected from other Arms of government. By murdering the debate on the instrument, Speaker did not merely violate the law. He did something more subversive: He polluted Sierra Leone’s modern days battle to fight against corruption with a sense of nationalistic purpose to genuinely win international and national admiration and attract genuine investors in the country.

Bio Supporters Honour the Establishment Tradition of Discrimination:

Once you grasp that for Bio and many of his supporters, corruption means less the violation of law than the violation of established hierarchies, their behaviour makes more sense. In all his speeches, Bio has employed the phrase rule of law. Most of them refer to the illegal means of amassing wealth.

Why were Bio supporters so convinced that Ernest was the more corrupt president even as reporters uncovered far more damning evidence about Bio’s regime disrespecting our laws within few months in office than they did about Ernest’s? Likely because Ernest’s threatened and kill all economic growth with his regime as a one man show government which Bio isn’t an exemption. For many Sierra Leonenas, disrespecting the laws to specifically satisfy the Executive Arm - especially with an intention to satisfy a political party hidden agenda - in and of itself represents a form of corruption.

Refusing to debate the instrument before it turned to law makes it harder for SLPP 'Paopa' supporters to claim that Speaker didn’t violate the law. But it doesn’t really matter. For many 'Paopas', Bio and his administration remain uncorrupt - indeed, anticorrupt - because what they fear most isn’t the corruption of Sierra Leone law; it’s the corruption of 'Paopa' hidden agenda.

And in the struggle against that form of corruption - the kind embodied by nearly all of them - Bio isn’t the problem. He’s the solution.

 

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Political, Tribal Chess Game: SLPP Continues to Marginalise Krios and the Western Area Residents!

By Cyril Moijueh Kaitungi (07/09/18)

The political and tribal chess game continues unabated, as the SLPP continues to marginalise the Krios and by extension Western Area residents.

As the Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio continues to sack and marginalise other ethnic groups over his Mende relatives from the South-East, two Krios from the Western Area have suffered the latest political SLPP cheese game.

The two Western Area victims include the CEO SLIEPA, Mr. Dylan Sogie-Thomas, and the Ombudsman Melron Nicol Wilson Esq. who was unlawfully sacked on August 28 2018 and the latter cunningly sent on leave and both replaced by South-Easterners.

As a South Easterner myself and a patriotic Sierra Leonean above all else, I describe this wicked plan by the new government as a platform to sack all Krios and by extension other tribes in the country.

I'm horrified by the revelation from State House on the impromptu leave-cum-sacking scenario of Ombudsman Nicol Wilson and the sacking of SLIEPA's Chief Executive Officer Sogie-Thomas on the same day.

The entire Western Area and by extension the Krios and sympathisers reject in its totality this nefarious divide and rule plot by the SLPP government to victimise the other 15 ethnic tribes.

This atrocious scheme against our citizens has further portrayed the SLPP and its leaders as explicitly wicked and an anti-people party that have no modicum of goodwill towards Sierra Leoneans, but see delight in seeing Sierra Leoneans suffer, as evidenced in the presidency’s rampant sackings.

This is a party whose incompetence and anti-people administration plunged our country into extreme poverty and worst form of hunger and starvation in the last 5 months, and now they are in a wicked plot to sack innocent Krio's.

This is a party and administration that have failed to fulfill the littlest of their 2018 campaign promises, but has rather introduced harsh economic policies that are directly responsible for the collapse of the nation’s economy, dearth of foreign investments, closure of businesses with over 25,000 jobs lost and attendant pressure on families and living standards.

It is thus totally inexcusable that instead of seeking ways to create wealth and better the lives of Sierra Leoneans, the irredeemably wicked SLPP is rather thinking of ways to further pauperised the people, while their officials continue to fritter billions of Leones.

We, therefore urge all Sierra Leoneans to rise and resist this murderous plot by rallying on the platform of re-positioned Sierra Leone as a tribal free country and return our nation to the path of wealth creation, all-inclusiveness and economic empowerment, for which we have enjoyed over the past few years.

 

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The Dumber you are, the More Support you Get from the IMF and World Bank!

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo (31/08/18)

Is the less intellectually endowed African rulers receive more financial supports from the international financial institutions?

A close study of the relationship between the characters that have ruled Sierra Leone and some non-African powers reveals a startling reality. The less intellectually endowed rulers have clearly received more support from the international community and their rogue neo-colonial financial institutions than rulers perceived to be intellectually savvy or patriotic to their countries of origin.

Until the 'misstep' of the threatened mass deportation of persons of Indian ancestry from Uganda, one of the most vicious, dumbass, ignorant and senile rulers who any country has ever had the misfortune to be governed by, who also happened to be an acclaimed cannibal, 'Field Marshall' Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, had a most cordial, near fraternal relationship with the erstwhile colonial masters of his country, the United Kingdom, and by extension, the 'international community'.

In a similar vein, a kleptocrat-per-excellence, butcher of his population and sadistic despot who stole so much from his richly endowed country that he once had the effrontery to loan money to his country, Mobutu Sese Seko of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was a much 'loved' and 'respected' African 'leader' in the corridors of power in Paris. This 'love' and 'respect' for Mr. Mobutu by the erstwhile colonial overlords of the DRC, France, and by extension the 'international community', continued until the very last days of the brute’s regime.

Similar support for despots whose hands are soiled with the bloods of their countrymen and whose pockets are lined with loot from their country’s treasury, by the 'international community', permeates the entire African continent across history and into the present. It really takes spectacular intellectual depravity for anyone to deliberately set out to hurt his own country, deplete its resources only to enrich foreign domains.

Sierra Leone has been particularly afflicted with this syndrome with some of ours receiving the most support from the 'international community' and rogue financial institutions like International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank both whilst in office and some after being forced out/leaving office such as the old despot, Sir Milton Margai and Siaka P. Stevens.

And perhaps the most patriotic and devious, if you factor in his role in the NPRC massacre of 1992 been cut short the moment they begin to display some common sense such as Brigadier Andrew Terence Juxon-Smith, Captain Valentine Strasser and Major Johnny Paul Koroma.

The relationship between the 'international community' and leaders in Sierra Leone who have shown a remarkable disposition towards the wellbeing of their populations and a willingness to assert an independent and patriotic disposition.

Late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah on the other hand, hardly cordial, mostly fraught with suspicion and certainly no mutual 'love' and 'respect especially at the end of his last five years and in his first term years when he went to the Islamic Republic of Iran'.

He was later systematically isolated with very nasty campaigns sponsored by the World Bank and IMF, portrayed as pariah and evil and efforts made to effect 'regime change' either via direct coups or energetic support for a stooge that propped up as 'opposition' elements headed by APC's Ernest Bai Koroma.

Elements that were effectively backed by a deluge of 'civil society activists', 'international election observers' and international right organisations. Like what they did to the late leader of Burkina Faso, Captain Thomas Sankara, who tried to exhibit semblance of intellectual sagacity.

It is perhaps, thus, no surprise whatsoever that the most vilified, rulers in Sierra Leone and heads of any African country, also happens to be the one or those that is/are by far most loved by Western leaders and their rogue neo-colonial financial institutions.

 

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The 'Free Haja Kallah' Campaign: Is PAOPA Killing Democracy in Sierra Leone?

By the Authentic Voice (20/08/18)

"Free Haja Kallah Kamara," the Authentic Voice advocates. Adding that PAOPA is gradually killing democracy in Sierra Leone!

The Authentic voice writes: That disgusting frivolity, clueless victimisation and deliberate retrogression has re-christened itself as PAOPA is nothing short of the opposite of what every Sierra Leonean craved for.

Any utterance that is not in favour of their endeavour and reckless vision to take us backward is visited with mutilating arrows crafted from the same myopic tools used in crushing true justice and the rights of citizens.

Thanks to our gullibility which is now being provocatively smeared on our faces by the same connoisseurs of con-artistry, the Salone Dream we strived so hard to attain for the generations yet unborn has gone bleak. Mute leadership acting partially blind to almost everything negative except the handouts they must be amassing for their tattered pockets. Leaves me wondering; where is the promised change we all could figure was cheap propaganda before we joined the gym of civic rights.

Did we just send the only copy of our final will to the lawyer of that in-law that can't wait to snatch our hard-earned wealth from our children who depend on us for that glorious enduring legacy?

Now the land of milk and honey (Sierra Leone) just changed into the land of 'if ah bin know' and sufferings. That feeling of nearly winning a soccer match only to lose in the last minute is mutual amongst every Sierra Leonean. Indeed, PAOPA had sold us the true promise and our colonial masters claim we bought it, so GOOD DO. The mantle of leadership is meant to be weaved using several virtues that are both natural and earned; the willingness to learn endlessly the but den say "wetin sweet goat na hin dae run hin belleh".

I foresee the Imodium of lies and intimidation that has hindered the needed cleansing becoming the same that will trigger an endless cleansing. As dem dae arrest for breathing now (zero freedom), wonder the fee they intend charging for surviving within this strangling economy. Will anyone be capable of affording folly and blind tribalistic loyalty to dictatorship in a few seconds. "Who feels it, knows it", especially when there is rapid increase in crimes for survival and mass execution(unjustly sacking breadwinners and the insensitive increase in cost of almost everything needed to stay alive).

Acquiring knowledge even for free without any form of hope in a system where platforms to apply such knowledge are been transformed into epitomes of insecurity is definitely the most heartless scam of the century. A popular biblical excerpt worth applying in these times is "let he that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

Enough of the continual attempts at intimidating a woman of integrity worth emulating with a stainless record of Haja Kallah Kamara, the former Director of the National Revenue Authority (NRA). If not for the obvious reason that this government seems clueless on actualising their bound-to-fail bogus election promises and anything even seemingly progressive, why would they go after someone who's report card was so detailed and without spot or blemish? It is evident the barbaric wolves in the Ministry of Finance that desire to see morality and uprightness face extinction desire to manipulate justice for their selfish and retrogressive interests.

Haja Kallah Kamara has a tested and proven track record that she has been a major factor in the successful transformation of the economy of our blessed country. The people of Sierra Leone (not just the women) recognise and celebrate her unrivaled commitment and upright stance. We (Sierra Leoneans) therefore demand her immediate release or show us what you have against her. It is a shame that asylum tenants would sojourn on a quest for self destruct rather than seek sanity.

Sierra Leone strictly desires only that which catapults us into the realm of bliss and a SALONE DREAM well deserved. Anything asides such we absolutely eschew and resist!!! Papa PAOPA, we humbly and kindly request the release of Haja Kallah Kamara in the name of justice and ever growing prosperity.

Courtesy: PLATINUM MEDIA, The Authentic Voice

 

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Should the Innocent Suffer for the Wicked? - A Test Case for President Bio!

By the Ranger (14/08/18)

It is hoped that the new direction by the SLPP government will usher in a new system where the wicked pay the price and the innocent placated.

Throughout the history of this country it has been the norm that the innocent suffer for the wicked. With this new dispensation, i.e. the new direction, it is expected that this old phenomenon will also change for the better.

This expectation brings one to the issue of the blanket travelling ban slammed on all government functionaries in the past regime, by the Sierra Leone Police. Whilst their concern is noted, yet it is also equal to note that there are officials who are untainted, whose freedom to enjoy their god given right is being infringed upon, even as there are no proofs or allegations or suspicions of involvement in any corrupt practices when in governance.

In the aftermath of the release of the Transition Report, the Sierra Leone Police issued a release restricting the movement of all former government functionaries, including those whose names were mentioned in the report. It is believed that this travelling ban will last until the set-up Commission of Enquiry completes its work and gives its findings and recommendations, which is expected to take the best of a year.

Meanwhile whilst the enquiry is going on, the innocent will have to suffer the same plight of others who may be knee deep in the whole saga. Whilst it may be said that they are all being prevented from travelling because investigations are ongoing, it is not known when the investigation will end and if some of them are not culpable, they would have suffered in vain as there has not been any precedent set, where suspects have had redress from the infringement of their freedoms.

As majority of them may not have a fall-back position like the legal practitioners or medical doctors, there is the possibility of them having job opportunities which they will want to take, and some of these jobs may demand that they go out of this jurisdiction, but this ban will prevent them from doing so and by extension, affect them economically.

Will they be compensated for economic loss according to the dictates of the law or will they simply suffer and brood over the missed opportunity of a lucrative job?

What if the case is the need to travel abroad for medical services? Will the ban still prevent them from doing so and in effect complicate their well-being? If at the end of the whole investigations, the suspect is not found culpable, will the government take responsibility for the state of his health?

Some social commentators say that the right to freedom of movement should not be infringed on and the police should be able to conduct a thorough and quick investigation into every individual case to ensure that those who have case to answer, be reprimanded and those who are innocent, allowed to go about their normal business.

It will also clearly be an injustice to keep a blanket ban on all officials of the past APC government until the Commission of Enquiry completes its work, as there may be people who may not have any case to answer.

After all in the present global dispensation, extradition for corruption related offences is possible, they maintained. In their submission, they stated that with the good relationship the government has with the international community, it is much easier to arrest and bring to trial anyone who is alleged to be culpable for corrupt practices whilst in office, wherever they are in the world.

Human Rights activists have condemned the police blanket ban on all government functionaries, describing it as a violation of the rights of individuals to freedom of movement, an integral part of the Constitution and part of International Treaties signed by Sierra Leone governments.

They are calling on the Sierra Leone Police to fast track its investigations and allow those who do not have any case to answer, to enjoy their freedom of movement. President Bio promised that no one’s right will be infringed upon and as President and Fountain of Honour, it is expected that he protects the rights of his subjects.

 

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African Leadership: Is Mandela the Greatest African Politician?

Asks Karim Bah (06/08/18)

After listening to the Barack Obama - Mandela @ 100 lecture, lots of questions rushed to my mind and I tried to write them down to myself.

But I have decided to publish my thoughts. As we celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of Nelson Mandela or Madiba, the debate as to his proper place in our African history keeps raging among Africans of diverse persuasions. Who is the greatest African leader of all times? The debate is endless. Promoted by the Western media, most Africans have come to conclude, without question that Mandela is the greatest of all. He is even celebrated by United Nations for years now - Mandela Day. So is he?

No one can deny Mandela’s great contributions to humanity by leading the people of South Africa in the fight against Apartheid. He is certainly among the greatest, loved and admired by most. To be in prison for 27 years for what you believe in, is no mean feat. Many people, many of us, can hardly endure that if we are honest to ourselves.

Mandela is loved by most, including those who exploit Africa and Africans. How amazing. Mandela has been catapulted to god status by the western media. It’s amazing how the Western media is now thinking for us.

But wait, look at the people telling us to worship Madiba, aren’t they the same people who caused so much pain and suffering to him and us? So why do they now love Mandela so much? I keep wondering. I love Mandela too, but this is getting somewhere else.

Nothing illustrates this dilemma more than to see Obama deliver that so-called famous lecture to mark his 100th birthday few days ago. Barack Obama a great speaker, no doubt. But wait a minute, when did Obama become the new friend of Africa? This wolf in sheep clothing, who bombed Libya on a flimsy pretext, killing Gadaffi and thousands of civilians in the process. Yes I know he was not elected but so was Mubarak who actually murdered more people that Gadaffi, Mobutu put together etc.

NATO and Obama, who claimed they went to Libya to protect the people and usher democracy, killed more people than Gadaffi ever did in 40 years in power. Even the US envoy died in Libya. Ridiculous. The problem is that outsiders are setting the African agenda, they even decide for us who is a great leader and who is not; and who we should love or hate.

Now to the question - is Mandela the greatest leader of all from Africa? Who is the greatest African leader of all ? This is of course a matter of perception. Some might say Kwame Nkrumah. He was actually voted the greatest African of the last Millennium, during a year long BBC poll.

His vision and what he set out to do was more powerful than Mandela - to end colonialism and even highlighted the dangers of neocolonialism and built a new society. The story that Mandela spent 27 years in prison and then forgave his captors is what is promoted on western movies, books and narratives. He didn’t spend as many years in jail as Mandela, but Nkrumah did make history by winning an election while still in prison in Ghana.

But the difference with Mandela and Nkrumah is that, Nkrumah did not allow, (at least he tried to stop) continued foreign economic exploitation of Ghana and other African nations after independence. Nkrumah set out to industrialise Ghana, building the Akosombo Dam and so many other great projects including the Tema Port, hundreds of factories including advanced planning for shipbuilding.

He set out on a big plan for economic emancipation by laying the foundation for industrialisation. His vision were so great. If you go to Accra and take the Trotro (Poda Poda).. and you get to a station popularly known as Atomic. This was an Atomic research center built by Nkrumah to address Ghana’s future issue of energy, a major problem affecting our economic transformation today. Furthermore, what sets out Nkrumah from Mandela is that his vision went beyond Ghana alone. It encompassed the whole of Africa.

Perhaps Nkrumah will never be celebrated like Mandela, because he challenged the international division of labour to which Africa was and is still locked - providers of raw materials, never producers of finished products. He didn’t just want to inherit the colonial state (or Apartheid State in the case of Mandela) without forging new structures that will transform it and make it serve not foreign interest but African interest.

And this is where Mandela failed woefully that some people call him a 'sell out'. I will not go that far. He’s still a great man, but he inherited a colonial (Apartheid) state and left it intact. I wonder how we can achieve development without economic emancipation first, for economic transformation that will in turn lead us "in the direction of progress," to quote Amilcar Cabral.

Nkrumah was in power for about 10 years and until today, 45 years or so since he was overthrown by CIA organised coup, not a single evidence of corruption has been found against him. He built no house for himself. Not in Ghana, not abroad. Am sure there are a lot of criticisms of Nkrumah which can be easily addressed and debunked even if we believe that we can all make mistakes - and Nkrumah made a few.

Another of Africa’s great leaders is Amilcar Cabral of Guinea Bissau. Many of Africa’s youths have not heard about him. But to those who have, he is one of the greatest. Cabral was perhaps even greatest because, for a small country like Guinea Bissau, the most backward economically in Africa..he organised his people, mostly illiterates, to fight for freedom against the murderous Portuguese colonial regime that was worse than Apartheid.

To illustrate this point, around 1953, in one single day, the Portuguese colonial army, shot and killed 1,000 Africans. One single day in Sمo Tomé. They buried these people and planted on top of the graves. This because the Africans refused to accept forced labour. Cabral was in fact not just fighting Portugal, he was fighting the great NATO (that included USA, UK, Spain, France etc. He achieved the greatest military feat by a colonised people anywhere in the world - he led his people to militarily defeat a colonial power in a war of national liberation.

What is great about Cabral is not just his political and military acumen. He was for me a genius. He started building a new society in the liberated territory even before total freedom - a new democratic and progressive state and managed to achieve food security in the liberated zones while other parts still under colonial rule were experiencing famine.

He was such a visionary, that he envisaged all the post-colonial problems even before Nkrumah and the others realised it. The problems of the African peti-Bourgeoisie and their propensity to serve not the people but their foreign masters was clear to Cabral. But we were not to see this great leader in power - he was murdered by Portuguese agents in Conakry at the eve of independence. His legacy is still there for the youths.

Africans, why don’t we celebrate Nkrumah as we do Mandela? Why don’t we celebrate Cabral as we do Mandela? Why don’t we celebrate Samora Machel of Mozambique? Why don't we celebrate Patrice Lumumba of the Congo? Why don't we celebrate Thomas Sankara of Burkina Fasso, the great Malcolm X, the Tanzanian revolutionary teacher Julius Nyerere, the Pan Africanist Steve Biko of South Africa and the musical revolutionary Bob Nesta Marley? And so on.

Why don’t we celebrate the greatest military genius - Tossiant L'Ouveture of Haiti, who led an army of slaves to defeat all the great military powers of the time - France, England, Spain, one after the other. In today’s terms it’s like Sierra Leone defeating the US, UK and Russia in quick succession, and free itself from slavery.

We don’t celebrate them because we are not thinking for ourselves. Others are thinking for us. outsiders are setting the agenda for us? They control the mainstream media and so they can decide for us, who to love and who is greater among them.

Oops! and I haven’t even talked about the priceless Thomas Sankara....Imagine a young man in his 30s turned Burkina Faso, an arid land which suffered perennial famine, to achieve food security in 4 years. Not to talk about his incorruptibility and modesty which were legendary. God bless these true sons of Africa.

So to conclude, it will be difficult to rate which one of these leaders was/is the greatest of all - Nkrumah, Sankara, L’Overture, Nyerere, Machel, Mandela and Cabral. Someone has said, Mandela will be in the running, yes of course, but certainly, in my view, not anywhere in the top 5 all time great African leaders. "There are greater people to celebrate," a friend of mine surmised.

 

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Articulating the Power of Science, Technical and Innovative Education in Sierra Leone

By Thomas B. R. Yormah (30/07/18)

The conversation around Science Technology and Innovation (STI) has been on the table for quite a while now in Sierra Leone politics.

This piece is a moderately modified version of an inspirational talk I gave at a Science Popularisation workshop organised by the then Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) in Freetown on 22 May 2013. This publication is occasioned by the surge of interest the present government has put into technical education and Innovation. For some of us the conversation around STI (Science Technology and Innovation) has been on the table for quite a while now. In addition to this workshop paper, several other very crucial science-related development documents emanating from the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) had long been submitted to MEST but sadly no attention was paid to the issues raised in those documents. And this is the huge challenge facing development in Africa and much of the poor world - that our leaders only pay lip service to the urgent need to leverage STI to leap-frog our development. The reason, perhaps. is that investments in science and technology for development - in Human Resource management generally - do not yield dramatic overnight dividends, and understandably to the chagrin of most politicians. However, when such dividends yield, they are spectacular and lasting. Read on.

Introduction

It is now a generally known fact that the global development agenda has taken a paradigm shift from an assets-based development to a knowledge-driven development. Gone are the days when a nation was considered wealthy and her development sure to be propelled by the quantum of non-human natural resources (such as crude oil, natural gas, coal, precious minerals, mineral ores, fish and other marine resources, fertile agricultural lands, etc.) owned and now are the days where the human resource of a nation, especially the brain power, is the overwhelming guarantee for the development of a nation. Knowledge that is strategically harnessed and packaged can generate enormous wealth for a nation - as exemplified by such industrialised countries as Singapore, Korea, Belgium, Holland, etc. that lack non-human natural resource.

Of all the various forms of knowledge, scientific knowledge is the most fundamentally critical to development. In fact it is the considered view of most development scientists (the late Nobel Laureate, Professor of Particle Physics, Abdus Salam, being among the first proponents of this view) that the division of the globe into two camps - a wealthy, industrialised and developed Northern hemisphere inhabited by the powerful and mighty, on the one hand, and a poor, non-industrialised and yet-to-develop South, inherited and inhabited by the weak and miserable, on the other hand, is essentially an Science Technology & Innovation (STI) divide, wherein the countries of the wealthy North have effectively leveraged STI to create wealth and bring economic and social solace/succour to their populations while the countries of the South are yet to wake up to the realization of how critical science, technology and innovation are to the development of any nation. In a nut-shell, what the foregoing is saying is that the wealthy, powerful and influential folks of this globe are the ones that have put a high premium on science, technology and innovation, while those of us who are still paying mere lip-service to these critical vehicles of development shall remain poor, weak and without influence and shall continue to carry the begging bowl. This is a mantra I have dedicated myself to singing whenever I am given the opportunity until my voice is heard and taken note of in the right quarters.

It is also now clear that the most effective way to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty (Goal 1 of the MDGs - Millennium Development Goals) is by creating wealth and subsequently fairly and prudently distributing that wealth. Wealth creation and its proper management can also ultimately guarantee the achievement of most of the other MDGs. It is to be noted that this piece was written while the MDG prescription for global development was still in force, however, the forgoing argument also applies to the SDGs - Sustainable Development Goals. Thus industrialisation leading to increased employment and diversification of production and marketing of goods consumed locally but also sought after by other nations must be the way forward. One of the key catalysts of industrialisation is capacity building through the acquisition of skills in science, technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, marketing, and related vocations. This is a service the universities and other tertiary institutions are critically placed to provide and must be fully supported to achieve this goal.

It therefore makes sense in this knowledge-driven global economy that greater emphasis is placed on strategic human resource development that will position a nation to acquire competitive advantage in her developmental strides with the ultimate goal of better catering for the needs of her citizens. The knowledge that must go into adding value to our natural resources and into optimising our services, as well as the knowledge that must go into innovating in search of new products and services is scientific knowledge and must be consciously and strategically harnessed/managed by producing the right types and the right quantities of brainpower (vis-à-vis brawn-power). This will naturally require greater investments in the generation, dissemination and utilisation of knowledge (research) - especially scientific knowledge. Key intellectual property (IP) issues must be part of this agenda in order to achieve a wholesome knowledge management platform that will inspire and reward successful players in the knowledge generation process.

Articulating the Power and Relevance of Science

What I have tried to do in the foregoing is to profile the power and potential power of science as it relates to the development aspirations of all nations. Naturally one would want to ask as to why in spite of the very clear potential for science to deliver our development aspirations and in spite of the ever-present and pervasive nature of science and its product – technology – in our societies the profile of science in Sierra Leone is so low. We encounter science in so many ways and on a daily basis – from the mobile phones and/or radios that alarm to wake us up in the mornings, the light bulbs we switch on to aid visibility, the toothpaste, bath soaps, shower gels and other detergents we use in the bathrooms, to the body creams and perfumes we wear, to the microwave, gas and other cookers that make quick breakfasts possible, the beverages and even the daily food supplements we take at breakfast, the vehicles that move us to work/school/market, etc. to the medicines we take to address health issues, etc. etc. - but yet we do not seem to value science or at best we take it for granted! Our policy-makers (politicians, civil servants, parliamentarians, etc.) who are daily immersed in science yet consciously or unconsciously budget pittance in terms of resources for the management of science, technology and innovation! So what can scientists do to address this serious challenge? The following are some of my humble suggestions:

Enhancing the Public Profile of Scientists and therefore of Science

If indeed science has the unrivalled potential to generate wealth and bring about prosperity, as we constantly proclaim, then scientists themselves must be seen to be prosperous. We must endeavour to use the positive attributes of science to create wealth and economic succour to first and foremost materially liberate ourselves and families from the scourge of poverty. Scientists must be imaginative enough to devise ways of income generation outside their monthly salaries. Imagine, almost all the cottage industries in this country are owned by Indians, Lebanese, Chinese, Nigerians and other foreigners. Why can’t a group of science teachers, lecturers, engineers and other professionals come together to start successful enterprises with capital and advice from investment institutions or from taking part in Business Bomba competitions - and embark on mentoring crops of younger scientists? This is how Sierra Leone will build a critical mass of successful and wealthy science professionals that the young folks will look forward to emulate. This will make it a lot easier to sell science as a profitable vocation and will help to popularise science. If we continue to fail to carve out a positive and enviable societal profile – like the healer who fails to cure him/herself – very few people will take us seriously when we proclaim science as the most empowering vocation.

A robust - strong and enduring - scientific profile of any nation must have its foundation in the school system. Good scientists must be caught while very young! This then points the light on the teaching and management of science in schools. Thus successful scientists must be able to consciously as well as unconsciously mentor young and budding scientists. Scientists must also endeavour to position themselves in strategic positions in the governing machinery of the country from where they defend and promote science. In this regard they become good ambassadors of science.

In order to achieve the foregoing, scientists must avoid being too strictly compartmentalised in terms of discipline but should rather endeavour to cut across and foray into especially the social disciplines so that they become better able to conceptualise and articulate the relevance of science to humanity generally. I recall that on a number of occasions genuine attempts have been made to compliment me for style of writings with words like "you don't write like a scientist - more like one from the humanities". I guess the popular perception that scientists are too insular and perhaps narrow-minded is what informs these sincere sentiments. Perhaps we have not celebrated such literary scientists like Albert Einstein, ...and even our very own Professor Kosonikeh Kosso-Thomas - the Engineer Poet - enough.

Making Science Less Cumbersome and More Palatable to Engage

Scientists must endeavour to craft more interesting and engaging ways of communicating science to especially non-scientists and potential scientists targeted for harvesting. The National Science & Technology Council, The Sierra Leone Science Association, The Sierra Leone Association of Mathematics and Science Teachers, The Sierra Leone Institution of Engineers, The Sierra Leone Geological Society, the soon to be launched Sierra Leone Chemical Society, etc. must be in the vanguard of efforts to devise strategies that make science more user-friendly. Granted that as part of the process of mainstreaming science in our societies government policy requires that all school pupils must be required to study some aspect of science up to the end of their Senior Secondary School programme. However, does it make sense to require pupils in the Arts and Commercial streams to happily engage and master the entire WASSCE syllabus for Biology (the most popular science subject that non-science pupils offer in the WASCCE programme)? Would it not make better science to craft a more interesting programme called “Science-for-non-scientists” or “Everyday Science”? This might entail revising/reorganising/revamping/re-engineering the present Science Core syllabus with the view to making it more user-friendly.

Use of the Media to Demystify Science

Mounting regular radio and television Programmes and publishing incisive articles on topical issues with the aim of explaining and clarifying normally mystical science phenomena to lay people will help to give science a more friendly profile and will in turn help to popularise science. The national science associations under the leadership of the Science & Technology Council (which sadly is almost moribund at the moment) must be in the vanguard of this process and government must give the necessary support by building capacity and motivating professionals that participate in these programmes.

The Integration of Science and Business through Entrepreneurship Skills Development to Deliver Wealth Creation

It is now very clear that the potential for science to create wealth and to therefore serve as the engine for development cannot be realised if science remains insular. The fact is, science is very flexible and can easily fuse with business using the right entrepreneurship skills and this is the most potent route via which it can deliver wealth creation for economic and social development. It has now been proven beyond doubt that innovation and entrepreneurship are key to converting knowledge into wealth. One of the key instruments via which this goal can be achieved is the introduction of compulsory entrepreneurship modules in the science curricula of tertiary institutions. Other institutions that can serve as crucial stepping stones in the achievement of this goal include Business Incubators and Science & Technology Parks. This is another way of improving the appeal and positive profile of science.

Award of National Science Prizes to Reward Innovation and Creativity as a Way of Showcasing the Power of Science

The present knowledge-driven global economy places increased premium on the value of knowledge. Thus strategies that promote the generation and marketing of new scientific knowledge have the greatest potential to create wealth and thereby enhance the probability of achieving the Millennium Development Goal 1 of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger - as well as most SDGs. Awards that give national recognition and meaningful material reward to deserving thinkers and innovators is the right way forward in positively profiling science and scientists. It is important to ensure that effective business and entrepreneurship skills are used to make sure that the generated new knowledge (in terms of new goods and services) create gainful employment and a socio-political environment that enables the trickling down of the created wealth to as many deserving members of the nation as possible. I hope and pray that our friends in the All Works of Life (AWOL) national Awards platform will get this message.

Current Challenges Facing Science

The following challenges tend to make science unpopular: Employment challenges – the perception that the only gainful employment available to science graduates is the relatively poorly paid teaching job. Government must do everything to ensure that this becomes a myth - by paying science teachers attractive salaries and by diversifying the economy so that scientists can find employment in the industrial, service, and other sectors.

The migration of potential pure & applied science undergraduate students to the engineering, medicine, and now mining disciplines – thereby undermining science teaching and therefore the foundation of science and all science-related disciplines. This phenomenon has its foundation in the presently skewed reward system in our nation coupled with a lack of professional counselling of undergraduate students.

Some Suggested Solutions to Address Current Challenges

The following suggestions are not exhaustive: Government must be encouraged to fast-track the full establishment of the Teaching Service Commission with a view to massively overhaul the working conditions of teachers (including review of the special incentives for science teachers) and to set standards for the effective professional work and comportment of teachers. This all important commission must be seen to be robust and independent of government in its operations. The present huge paucity of good - effective - science teachers in schools is a cause for serious concern. This calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the regime of training teachers in our tertiary institutions.

Blending entrepreneurship skills with science training can serve as impetus for moulding scientists as employers rather than just employees. Government must empower and work closely with the private sector to fast-track the industrialization of the country; this will act as a pull factor in the cultivation & training of young scientists and will also address the nagging youth unemployment challenge. All key industries must be mandated to have R&D (Research and Development) Units that will foster University-Industry linkages and the cultivation of young scientists.

The mounting of annual job fairs that bring together employers and job seekers with the aim of counseling and exposing job seekers to the range of employment possibilities in the job market will help inform and motivate young scientists in their pursuit of science careers. Industrial attachments and internship programmes in tertiary institutions must be invigorated by closely involving the participation of science students associations and government STI institutions.

Courtesy: Dr. Thomas B. R. Yormah is Associate Professor of Chemistry at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone; between 2003 and 2007 he was Sierra Leone’s representative on the United Nations Commission for Science & Technology for Development (UNCSTD) - a UN ECOSOC commission with Secretariat hosted by UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade & Development) in Geneva, Switzerland; between September 2009 and December 2011 he was Deputy Vice Chancellor for Fourah Bay College and Pro Vice Chancellor for University of Sierra Leone. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tel.: +232 76626488/ 30 230500

 

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A Worthy National Security Message for President Julius Maada Bio!

By Enzay Amara (21/07/18)

I have listened to a recapitulation of the GTT Report and the criminality with which Ex-President Ernest Koroma's government looted our country is unforgivable.

As a man who assumed the presidency for personal enrichment, Ernest Koroma simply took over the main sources of wealth in Sierra Leone and became a compulsive looter, Mobutu-style. Ernest Koroma and his gang HATE Sierra Leone so much that they readily undermined the country's capacity for recovery, deepened poverty and reduced Sierra Leone to a lootable property.

This is the same criminal APC which took over the country in the late 1960s until the outbreak of war in 1991, a mournful period which laid the groundwork for a hideous civil war.

The Transition Report that catalogued Ernest Koroma's wickedness is so shocking that President Bio needs copious amounts of pragmatism to safely steer the republic. Here is an unflattering message to President Maada Bio. Exposed as heartless criminals who should face the full force of the law, Ernest Koroma and his gang could resist prosecution by conspiring to destabilize the country.

From misuse of office to national betrayal, the case against the former president is so serious that Ernest Koroma's shamelessness could prod him into believing that he has nothing to lose, by destabilizing the state. The man has hundreds of millions of dollars, heartlessly stolen from a postwar country in convalescence. Reacting to the Transition Report, President Bio rightly stated that in the war against corruption, "corruption might fight back."

Fighting back includes scheming to destabilize the state and prevent the rule of law from retrieving the people's money, mostly stashed in offshore accounts. Ernest Koroma certainly retains operational channels of communication with top-ranking police and military officers, who were promoted and positioned to protect the APC during its orgy of national destruction. These are some of the reasons why President Bio should conduct a careful and deliberate reorganization of the security services.

It is terribly foolish to believe that the unprofessional myrmidons in the security services who showed a willingness to murder Sierra Leoneans, steal elections and protect Ernest Koroma at all costs, have become professional men, overnight. Unprofessional instead of nationalistic, Ernest Koroma's errand boys should never be trusted at the helm of our security services.

The infantile naivete which erroneously assumes that Ernest Koroma is a harmless man, should NEVER be embraced by President Maada Bio, who is constitutionally obliged to protect life and limb in Sierra Leone. If Ernest Koroma can criminally sell Sierra Leone to foreign companies and steal hundreds of millions of dollars from a disease-plagued country, he could be reckless enough to connive with loyalists and bid to destabilize the state.

The security services should be reorganized. A plunderer who became president, Ernest Koroma is one of the African reasons why thousands of desperate Africans are starving in the Sahara Desert and perishing in the Mediterranean Sea, fleeing and hoping to liberate themselves from the man-made misery unleashed by thieves like Ernest Koroma.

I wish President Bio the far-sighted posture he needs to steer the ship of state, while lubricating the wheels of justice that will drive the wicked Ernest Koroma to prison.

 

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Why I Want Ernest Koroma and Most of his APC Cabal in Jail for State Looting!

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo (14/07/18)

Many Sierra Leoneans are calling on the SLPP government to look in to APC corruption and those responsible for the loot punished.

A close examination of the powers vested in the President of Sierra Leone will bring out that the occupant of that office is by a wide margin, the most powerful ‘elected’ political office holder on earth. Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Theresa May and other elected political leaders can only dream of the powers Sierra Leone laws vests in the Sierra Leonean President, short of an ability to declare a man as a woman and vice versa, there is hardly anything that the Sierra Leonean President is unable to do (within Sierra Leone) once he sets his mind to it.

Such powers, in the hands of a morally bankrupt personality can be turned into a tool for exploitation, retroversion and monumental fraud and evil – as experienced during Sierra Leone's ‘reign of evil’ (Ernest Bai Koroma 2007 – 2018). On the converse side, if the same powers are handled by a person with his country at heart (late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah R.I.P 1996 - 2007), the positive results could be beyond all known indices for measuring national development.

This reality had formed the basis of the dismay with which Ernest Bai Koroma had been perceived by Sierra Leoneans. Here was a man, who at the onset, portrayed an intellectual comportment and candour indicative of an ability to effect change and right wrongs, and when eventually saddled with the authority to perform, suddenly develops cold feet and seems drowned by the outrageousness of the situation confronting him.

Within 100 days when he was elected into office, the Koroma administration seemed eager to define itself by its ability to withdraw into a cocoon in the face of belligerent and sustained attacks from corrupt elements – in one instance, the government sheepishly cancelled a rogue ‘Income Electrics’ electricity contract which was publicly paraded for fear of attacks from patriots that the President failed in his promised to give the city electricity within his first 100 days in office.

The Sierra Leone Parliament willingly relocated the cancellation to the comfort of the Presidential Villa and in yet another set up populated with minuses against tax payers, the Parliament was unable to properly dig deep in to the fraudulent contract to tell tax payers who sourced the contract and who were the signatories to the exploitative Income Electrics contract, but was willing to scapegoat the then Energy Minister.

All through this period, and with increasing temerity, the Sierra Leone State and its people were subjected to all manner of corruption attacks resulting in thousands of deaths and seizing of entire genuine development of the country by state sponsored pen looters.

Sierra Leone was for all practical purposes, directionless. Enemies of the Sierra Leone preferred the comatose situation which unfortunately was resulting in gradual, but definite demise of not only the country, but also the millions of its citizens who were consumed in the continuing helical of state sponsored looting.

Those who made political capital of the carnage and fanned the embers of ethnocentrism and disunity, whilst posturing as ‘opposition or political party loyalists’ politicians, never threatened hell and brimstone in the event that the Koroma administration failed to exert the only powers it had to address the corruption mayhem – a declaration of Emergency against corruption, which would have accorded President Koroma adequate powers to deploy his authority to quell the corruption in his government.

These characters have recruited their usual cortège of well connected ‘high profile’ lobbyist across the country to ensure amongst other things that the commitment to fight corruption by President Koroma must always remained a lip service issue while spreading the fallacy that the country's economy was in a good shape and that the Anti Corruption Commission was truly fighting corruption in the country.

The question then on the lips of patriotic Sierra Leoneans and our international friends became: ‘was anybody in charge here'? After what appeared to be a timeless existence of corruption activities in his government, Ernest Bai Koroma seems to have woken up.

The declaration of what they referred to as 'Economic Rationalisation’ better know as 'Austerity Measures' and the establishment of additional measures to confront the terror they've unleashed on the economy was a most welcome development which was supported by not just all development partners of Sierra Leone, but also everybody desirous to avoid the poverty spectacle of poverty with mixed colours which was sending many people early in their graves.

There was no doubt be collateral damages, as in all emergency situations, but the world did understand that Sierra Leone, and indeed Ernest Bai Koroma, is taking a stand to confront the economic mess he inflicted in the lives of the majority in his country despite inheriting an almost debt free economy.

For the suffering majority, though it was yet early to assessed the results of the declaration of 'Economic Rationalisation', there was no going back. Capitulating before securing the economy he battered was quite costly.

On the personal angle, it sure feels good to be writing positively about ones current and past Presidents – I sure did hope by then he sustain his actions positively and that his actions weren't not a trematoda.

 

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APC Supporter Cautions the New SLPP Government of President Maada Bio!

By Mohamed Sankoh (07/07/18)

I have followed with patience the political trend since the President Julius Maada Bio won the presidency of Sierra Leone.

As a critique who always doubted the former Head of State ever becoming president under a democratic dispensation, I was shocked by the unexpected outcome of the election. But as a true Muslim and patriotic citizen my criticism is limited to objectivity rather than undermining the government for cheap political goals.

I remain an APC supporter but I will never join with greedy and unpatriotic individuals to undermine the government of the day. Five or ten years of wasted years has huge negative effect on the citizens and very little impact on we the politicians. When a government fails, the country will definitely suffer; yet the politicians whether in opposition or not will continue to enjoy. In my case for example I was lucky, like many others, to be given the opportunity to study here in America by the then government of my party. I owe so much to Former President Ernest Bai Koroma and the party as a whole for aptly empowering the next generation of the leadership of our party.

My concern however is to advise the present SLPP GOVERNMENT to replicate the same. Why this is important is simply because our party will not be flooded by disgruntled elements from other political parties like it happened in 2012. Those disgruntled political prostitutes partially contributed to the problems of our party, APC. For instance, Mohamed Bangura, former Information Minister, who now parades with a $136,000 G-Wagon is a dishonest and power thirst politician.

First he was SLPP, later PMDC, then UDM and now the APC. No doubt that he is a trouble maker and a very greedy and corrupt element who contributed to our failure in the last Presidential election. Chief Sumano Kapen, Franklyn Rogers, Robin Fallay and Med Kay all brought their BAD LUCK and curse to the comradeship of our great party. Honestly it was when these people crosscarpeted that the disturbances ended in the SLPP and ours started whilst the election approached.

The SLPP should equally empower the young and grassroots to enable competitiveness in our democracy and governance system. I am very abhor to political crosscarpeting because those who do so are mostly corrupt, greedy and overambitious politicians whose only motive is to be involved with the powers that be for selfish motives. In most cases these are individuals without morals and integrity, and are also lacking in patriotism. Today, Julius Maada Bio is in power and it's a shame that the same people who wined and dined with us are fighting hard, while most are already dining with the present government.

Some are even using civil society and other organizations to infiltrate and undermine the government. Just last week I was having a chat with a young overzealous SLPP supporter I had befriended on social media during the political campaigns, and he narrated his frustration of how a friend from college who had always expressed his dislike for Julius Maada Bio and SLPP now has closer ties with his government.

He said the young man was now using his civil society organization to advance his interest with ministers and the First Lady by nominating her and other young people in the SLPP government to the 50 MOST INFLUENCIAL SIERRA LEONEANS. Comparing the list of resipients last year and this year, one will clearly see that when it was the APC that was in power, our members flooded the list, and now mostly SLPP members flooded the list.

No prejudice to few deserving individuals who made it on that list. Deserving or not the pattern has Sychophatic motive for political favour and connection. Sychophacy at play! The young man he said was in fact a member of the JFK support group and I had had a discussions with him prior to our convention in Makeni. He is using the rogue award to have political connection in a party he always doubted and blatantly criticise, just as he did when we were in power. Such deceptions are working on the SLPP top politicians expecially the First Lady. They were all smiling at the awards as if a Nobel Peace Prize was awarded them unrealising the ploy to infiltrate the top.

I will not however subcribe to criticism of the First Lady accompanying our Sierra Leone artists supported mainly by Kabaka of the KME fame to Ghana. In fact Mrs Bio deserves much praises for inspiring those young talented stars of our country. Yes Kabaka is APC and one of former president Koroma's most trusted boys, but his intentions and actions may be genuine. Besides, Fatima Bio is also a politician and should according relate when she is working with folks from the other party.

I can understand the frustration of our brothers in the SLPP. No jobs yet and my comrades are already accused of unpatriotically undermining the government as we still occupy top positions in the government. I will not support such ungodly politics because Sierra Leone comes first than my party.

President Bio should however be very proactive and expected to act fast otherwise my comrades are bent on creating havoc and mayhem, politically. Let put the country first.

Courtesy: By Mohamed Sankoh of APC, Fodi Pepu Media Team

 

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Attorney General and Minister of Justice's Firing: Another One Bites the Dust

By Andrew Keili (30/06/18)

Two months and two high profile sackings! Both were unexpected but had generated considerable and diverse comments in the press and social media.

The erstwhile Secretary to the President was a close confidante of the President. The short-lived Attorney General, Charles Margai has been a colossus bestriding the political landscape of Sierra Leone. His appointment two months ago was however unexpected. Though his party had supported the SLPP in the runoff, he had made some caustic remarks about President Bio’s record during his NPRC days. His appointment was greeted with a mixture of enthusiasm and trepidation, depending on one’s political proclivity. To rabid SLPP supporters, who perhaps were looking for political revenge and investigating misdeeds of the past government, this was manna from heaven. Rabid APC people saw in Margai a vindictive political apparatchik with several axes to grind.

APC had valid reasons to be worried. Margai was the one who helped APC wrestle power from SLPP in the 2007 elections with his formation of the PMDC. Since then he and the APC had been strange bedfellows with the relationship swinging to and fro from love to hate. He represented Sam Sumana in the VP constitutional case before the Supreme Court, often taking pot shots at everyone including the Supreme court judges, much to their chagrin. During the tenure of the last regime he was constantly giving his opinion on what he considered excesses of government, especially as they relate to constitutional issues. This brought him into conflict with many people in government. A classic public feud that ensued between himself and the Attorney General at that time Frank Kargbo is worth recalling.

It all started over a fairly innocuous letter written by Margai to Frank Kargbo as Attorney General over the extension of the State of Emergency by President Koroma. Margai sent Kargbo what amounted to a lecture on the constitution. Frank Kargbo then wrote back: "I note the intemperate and "beneath contempt" language in your letter.... But for my previous knowledge of you (I sincerely hope things have remained the same), I would certainly have ascribed the contents to a person with a profoundly disturbed mind. However I also note and put it squarely to your continued sad and unsuccessful quest for relevance in the national political discourse……..You lack less than the competence and credibility to be judge of my effectiveness or otherwise as Attorney General and Minister of Justice as you have never been one. And alas at twilight it certainly appears too late. What fortune Sierra Leone."

Margai gave as good as he got: "When I spoke to Mr. President some time ago about your incompetence, his reply was apt. As the conversation between him and I was confidential, I shall refrain from divulging what was said. You have always ill-advised him on matters of national importance due to incompetence."

Well history has a way of turning the tables. Margai did indeed become Attorney General and APC had cause to be jittery. President Bio has made some very negative comments about the justice system and its excesses and promised to embark upon reform. Charles Margai was the one tapped to head this reform. Over the past week or so there have been considerable rumblings in the press and social media about what his detractors call his unconventional actions, including threats and intimidation of people. The government has not been particularly forthcoming on the reasons for his sacking and Information Minister Mohamed Rado Swarray’s excuses have ranged from justifying it based on the fact that he serves at the President’s discretion to being a little bit forthcoming to say he did not share the President’s vision and to reluctantly admitting that there may indeed have been injudicious indiscretions. One could sense perhaps, quite rightly that the government wanted this to go away and did not want a fight.

Indeed one can only conjecture the real reasons for his sacking. If social media is to be believed, his propensity to threaten occupants of high profile protected jobs to resign, threats to senior personnel within his own Law Officers Department and trying to influence the ouster of judges were cited. A leaked letter whose authenticity was questioned by his spokesman, Adrian Fisher was roundly derided in social media and the press causing considerable embarrassment to the government.

Whatever the reason, Margai has been dismissed as Attorney General and replaced by the eminently qualified Dr Priscilla Schwartz, who becomes the first female Attorney General. She comes in with stellar credentials. She is an international business lawyer with considerable years of experience who has advised governments and private and international companies operating in energy, natural resource and infrastructure sectors in developing countries. She has six years’ experience working as State Counsel and the Personal Assistant to the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Solomon Berewa advising on energy, telecommunications and mining (petroleum and minerals) related legislation and policy providing regulatory advice on structuring of projects in these fields.

Priscilla is also a distinguished UK academic who has published widely in various fields of international business law and economic development issues. Her book, which I have read, based on her PhD thesis, with a focus on Sierra Leone, explores the conflicts between pursuing mining activities to foster economic development and protecting the environment in which such activities take place. We have an Attorney General with practical hands on experience as well as a knowledge of the inner workings of the corporate world as well as of community expectations in the natural resources sector. This is good blend for addressing our development aspirations from the legal standpoint and if harnessed well can augur well for Sierra Leone.

Dr Schwartz’s appointment has met with some rave reviews, some from unexpected quarters. Kabs Kanu’s review in Cokorioko wryly succeeds in touting the virtues of Schwartz whilst deriding APC’s public enemy number 1, Charles Margai. He writes: “I wish to commend President Maada Bio for appointing a woman as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. That is a massive boost to womanhood and gender parity and empowerment in our country.

It will even be greater if women are also considered during the forthcoming appointment of ambassadors and diplomats. Not resisting the urge to praise his former boss’s appointment of women notably the likes of Zainab Bangura, Khadi Bassir, Haja Kalay Kamara, Dr. Sylvia Blyden etc. into high positions, he waxes effusive about Dr Schwartz. Then comes his hammer: “Thank you, President Bio for also being very decisive to remove a man who was full of so much bitterness and resentment for President Koroma that he would have acted foolishly and besmeared the name of your government. Thanks for not giving him a chance. We do not need the politics of revenge in Sierra Leone. His replacement was superb and I see a very bright future for our judiciary.”

We now have a new Attorney General, who should be the Principal adviser to government on legal matters. Whatever the reasons for the change, it is quite obvious that the public wants due process to be the watchword in handling issues related to the changes of personnel in government - an inevitable part of our governance system. Though we have what is essentially a “winner takes all system”, things must be done right.

Our history is replete with several instances of the politicisation of the Attorney General’s role. They have either been too compliant and subject to the whims and caprices of the President or when they choose to be insistent on a particular line of action are dismissed. After Attorney General Berewa, F. M. Carew and Eke Halloway were probably much too compliant. The combative Serry Kamal was dismissed by Ernest Koroma and Frank Kargbo also after an initial compliant stance was ostensibly dismissed because he had a different view of the Sam Sumana ouster.

The politicisation of the AG’s role comes in substantial part from the AG’s membership of the cabinet where key policies are made and scandals covered up. The fear is that if the AG sits in the cabinet, he or she is likely to be influenced more by politics than the law in interpreting the law. An AG for example has responsibility to protect the interests of the public when the government is pursuing policies which violate human rights. A conscientious AG should stick to the constitutional mandate to promote the rule of the law and protect people’s interests, and persuade the government to change its policy, if possible. More often than not as we have seen in the past they have not had enough courage to tell the President of his unlawful policy or acts.

The late distinguished British law lord, Bingham once argued that since the advice of the AG to the government is a matter of public concern, it should be made public. This is even more imperative as the constitution places so much importance on transparency and accountability. No AG must however be allowed to arm himself with massive powers to flout the constitution and systematically destroy the rule of law.

The Priscilla Schwartz I know is respectful, bright and animated. She is a breath of fresh air with a considerable experience which should bear positively on our legal system. We very much hope the government will keep to the undertakings in President Bio’s speech. He talked about reforming laws and undertaking an overhaul of the judiciary and the justice delivery system in the country with a view to restoring public confidence. His statement that “State governance has been treated as if there are no constitutional injunctions or limitations under the 1991 Constitution” should ring in the ears of Dr Schwartz. He also made a personal pledge to refrain from acting unconstitutionally and to scrupulously respect the rule of law in the best interest of national development and stability.

Congratulations and good luck to Dr Schwartz. But what happens now to Charles Margai. Many say it is the end of his lively political journey but those who know Charles Margai say “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”. It is surprising that we haven’t heard from him yet to get his own side of the story. Someone says that one who knows a lot about the inner workings of government and the idiosyncrasies of the various characters we now have in government should only be totally cast aside at the government’s total peril. He most certainly cannot be condemned into irrelevance as he could be an articulate gadfly and knows more than a thing or two about several current players.

Just as an aside, to conclude, I understand Dr Schwartz was actually recommended for another position-to head the Law School by Charles Margai. What an irony? One request I have though for Dr Schwartz as an “Old Boy” of CKC (Yes COBA is CKC Old Boys Association), would you consider legislating that such discrimination against women should be discontinued? Well I don’t expect Dr Schwartz to answer just yet but perhaps I will ask her at our “Old Boys” reunion.

Courtesy: PONDER MY THOUGHTS: By Andrew Keili, NGC Party Running Mate

 

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Cristiano Ronaldo's Vital Lesson! How Many Will Appreciate a Friend's Help?

By Special Commentary (21/06/18)

This piece is worth reading by everyone whether you are sportive or not. It is about football star Cristiano Ronaldo's vital lesson.

When he received one of his awards recently, Ronaldo dedicated it to a certain Alberto Fantrau. Then said: "Yes, I am a great footballer and all my success is thanks to my best friend Alberto."

People looked at each other and said: "Who is this Mr. Fantrau?" Then Ronaldo went on: "We played together in a youth team. When Sporting of Lisbon recruiters came to observe us, they told us that the striker who scored the most goals will be recruited into the sports academy.

That day we won 3-0. I scored the first goal and then Albert scored the second. And then the 3rd goal was the one that impressed everyone. Alberto started from the wing, then found himself face to face with the keeper, dribbled the goalkeeper and all he had to do was push the ball into the empty goal.

In the meantime I was running to his side. And instead of shooting into the empty goal, Alberto decided to pass the ball to me and I scored. This is how I find myself at the Sporting Lisbon Academy.

After the game I went to him, and asked him: "Why did you do that?" And he replied, "Because I know that you are better than me."

Curious to know more, the journalists began to investigate and were able to meet this Alberto Fantrau to ask him if the story told by Ronaldo is true, and he confirmed it, adding that his career as a footballer ended after that match as it was the only opportunity to become professional and since that time he has remained unemployed.

However, journalists, observing his luxurious house and his Mercedes parked in the garage asked Alberto: "But being unemployed how could you have such a nice house and car and living so luxuriously? You seem rather comfortable physically." Alberto's answer: "All that? .. is Ronaldo."

Moral of this story: Let us ask ourselves the following question: How many of us have ever done something like Ronaldo and Alberto? On the contrary, many of us show the opposite of this story showing selfishness and ingratitude to their mates.

Friends! Let's help each other so that we are proud of the success of our brothers and sisters and friends and relatives. Be part of another person's success.

And when we help a person succeed, the latter must never forget those who contributed to this success in his life. And above all, we should never forget that God is watching and judging us.

Courtesy: Salone Media Forum

 

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Sierra Leone Governments Must Remember Economic Development Comes with Sincerity

A Special Commentary (14/06/18)

Setting the quality of economic development is only possible if there is honest and transparent action by all parties within the financial system.

It is apparent reference to Dr. Ezekiel Duramany Lakoh, Head of Department of Accounting at the Institute of Public Administration (IPAM-USL), who warned against double standards in fighting to ensure that there is an effective financial system.

Dr. Lakoh also talked about the importance of starting at the macro level, by safeguarding financial institutions and other stakeholders within the system. "They should be well instituted, monitored and ensure that they all follow key principles and serious reforms in the financial system especially the banks."

Stating that the model of financial intermediation is not broadening the capital market, as the capital market is very close, the need for a functional stock exchange and a growing capital market is required.

Ironically, Dr. Lakoh said Sierra Leone has these one or two year money market facilities that are also causing problem, and he is of the opinion that if the commercial banks are properly monitored there is a high stake especially on domestic debt proliferation.

"What happens to our huge domestic debt? So many questions needs to be directed to, how the banks syndicated some of these facilities and how are these things expanding? How were they created? What are the instruments used, there are so many questions to ask," he quizzed.

Pointing to President Julius Maada Bio’s Executive Orders on revenue mobilisation, Dr. Lakoh thinks that if the current trends continue within the shortest possible time, Sierra Leone will be able to address the huge Debra in the economy.

"Government needs to go back to the table and look at these tax exemptions and see what should be maintained. I think they made those proclamations which is not bad for a start," he said.

Referring to the exemptions, he said that no matter which laws are there, these laws can be changed but that the government needs to quickly look into it which is very important for the country’s international pedigree.

"As a nation it is very important for us to keep to our promises because that will affect the overall market hypothesis in the economy. If we have to form a very strong investor market, the market has to be perfect based on how we maintain rules and regulations within the spectrum overall framework of development vis-à-vis how we treat our investors, in terms of consistencies with investment principles," said Lakoh.

He cautioned that the country is free to decide if during the course of implementation of these principles, they found out that they are not benefiting the nation, they can then alter or renegotiate as it happens elsewhere.

Dr. Lakoh noted that the biggest threat to the country’s extractive development sector is the lack of infrastructure. "And companies will have to spend millions of dollars on the establishment of such infrastructures as they want a mechanism that will ease their investments. That is why some times exemptions are important to protect these industries," he noted.

He also said that economic development doesn’t only mean revenue mobilisation but it also means employment and so what you loss in revenue mobilisation via taxes can be re-compensated by another form of tax by employing people that pay PAYE.

He said the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is a corridor that narrows the path for withdrawal from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) as it strengthens accountability. The system enables one to go through a standard channel for access to any funds required, and secondly it enables government to exactly know the amount of money that floats within the public sector.

With this concentration of all government revenues in one pool, one of the disadvantages of this system according to Lakoh is that the centralisation can crowd out efficiency. So many people will be going through that standard channel, so if that channel entrance is not effective it will slow activities within the public sector and will manifest other inefficiencies.

His advice to government is that economic activities and the efficiency of the financial system depends on a greater extent on the structures and institutions that operate within these sectors.

They have to be very careful because the policies can be very good, but when the structures and institutions within that frameworks are not effective, instead of getting the best results, you will get worse than what you thought. So it’s all about human resource.

Courtesy: Awoko Newspaper Sierra Leone

 

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Charles Margai Should Resign if he’s Truly Loyal to the State and his Profession

By Abdulai Kychom (06/06/18)

Today, there is the political and legal ramifications of the appointment of Charles Francis Margai as Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

Since Julius Maada Bio was elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone on April 4th, 2018, the main feature of his government has been violation of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. Action after action taken by this government had transgressed the constitution with impunity.

Today, the most serious political and legal ramifications of the appointment of Charles Francis Margai as Attorney General and Minister of Justice, on the one hand, and the appointment of Abdulai Bangura Esq. as Deputy Minister of Justice, on the other, is his petition against the appointment of Mr. Arrow Bockarie Esq. as Deputy Minister of Justice by the Koroma administration.

On May 16th 2011, lawyer Charles Margai wrote President Ernest Bai Koroma (former President now) stating that as one of the senior lawyers in the legal profession within Sierra Leone, he would be remiss in his duty to the profession and loyalty to the state of Sierra Leone, if he fails to raise the all important issue of the incorrectness of the appointment of Arrow J. Bockarie Esq. as Deputy Minister of Justice. Quoting Section 64(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991 which provides therefore:- “there shall be an Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, who shall be the principal Legal Adviser to the Government and a Minister.”

Lawyer Charles Margai’s argument was anchored on the premise that the aforementioned offices, are conjunctive and not disjunctive; which could only be made disjunctive by an Act of Parliament.

In a nutshell, it is unconstitutional for President Julius Maada Bio to appoint a Deputy Minister of Justice instead of Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice because these offices are not disjunctive but conjunctive and if the president wants to separate them as he has done now, he should approach Parliament to pass an Act separating the two offices. Certainly, there’s no provision in the Constitution that provides for a Deputy Attorney General, so the only option is for the government to seek a remedy through Parliament.

In his letter dated May 16th 2011, Charles Margai clearly stated that he would be “remiss in his duty to the (legal) profession and loyalty to the state of Sierra Leone, if he (fails) to raise this all important issue with (President Koroma).”

The million dollar question now is what is preventing Charles Margai from making the same application this time round when he fully knows that the disjunctive nature of the current appointment of his Deputy Abdulai Bangura as Minister of Justice only, and not as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, is tantamount to a violation of the Constitution?

So in the light of the indivisibility of the office of Attorney-General and Minister of Justice as per Section 64(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 of 1991, the appointment by President Bio of Abdulai Bangura Esq. as “Deputy Minister of Justice”, is in violation of the said section.

We therefore urge President Bio to reverse the appointment of Mr. Abdulai Bangura Esq. because he’s not qualified to hold that office given the arguments (indivisibility) above and either transfer him to any other Ministry should the president so desire but not remain in his present post, which glaringly transgresses the sacred document we call the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.

We also call on the president to pay rapt attention to the constitution of this country which is our Bible/Quran to govern this land that we all so love dearly.

 

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Chief Minister Francis David - So What's Wrong? APC's Grand Plan Exposed!

By Pastor M. Sesay (31/05/18)

It was during the Margaret Thatcher era as Prime Minister of Britain that Michael Heseltine was appointed New Minister of Trade.

Heseltine was never comfortable with the word "minister" so he made himself 'President of Trade'. There was never any cause to complain by anybody even including the Prime Minister herself and members of the opposition Labour party who saw the move as an innovation not something to die for.

In Britain then, Cabinet Ministers were referred to as "Ministers" but the Minister of Finance has his or her own nomenclature and that is, Chancellor of the Exchequer. There never has been any problem with that. But today in the UK, they are called 'Secretaries' in cabinet and of course there are also ministers.

Sierra Leone's main opposition All Peoples Congress party, since its downfall in the 2018 elections, has not been having any rest or even sleep but has been busy looking for faults in the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party which defeated it, with the APC coming up daily with highly relentless propaganda rhetoric about one fault or the other, but what the APCs must know is that you cannot bring a good man down and His Excellency Dr Bio is a good man that is highly blessed who cannot be put down by any son of man.

Bio is different from the failed ex President Ernest Koroma in that Bio's government is an all inclusive government with consultations with all concerned before major decisions are taken unlike the Lone Ranger Ernest who will just unilaterally think of a plan today and without anybody else knowing, makes it a policy issue in the next hour.

For President Bio it is "we all dae woke" different from Ernest's mantra of "de pa dae woke" so despite the way the failed APC is trying to make mountains out of a nomenclature of "Chief Minister" molehill, it is obviously clear that Vice President Juldeh Jalloh was part of the decision to change the "Chief of Staff" nomenclature which was there in the Ernest Koroma days, to "Chief Minister" which VP Juldeh never had any problem with but which the APCs are lyingly claiming he has a problem with.

In fact, strangely, APC wants to kill itself over something that is just nothing with the failed APC coming up with one allegation after another but its bad plans will never work and it will never succeed in its grand plan to wage a war against the ruling SLPP which is now comfortably in governance.

APC is uncomfortable with the nomenclature of "Chief Minister" because of the grand plan it harboured before the 2018 elections for that Chief Minister position. APC is jittery because it knows that its plan will never work again even after ten or more years in opposition as God wills.

Before the elections, APC had the grand plan to create a Chief Minister which rank will be that of a Prime Minister above the rank of Vice President and that Chief Minister will succeed the President if he becomes incapacitated or died. The National Constitution will then be rewritten for that sole purpose.

After that, failed no more president Ernest Koroma will be made Chief Minister while his stooge, Samura Kamara sits as president-in-waiting-to-die.

After six months in office, Samura will begin to suffer from some strange illness either through "gbagba" or "konthe" or blockage or "allay" and his condition will deteriorate in such a way that there will be no alternative but to step down to suffer alone and failed Ernest will become king and serve his 3rd term as president by default.

But God protected Samura because of his prayers and thanks be to God that the people rejected him because if not, he could right now be expecting some gbagba ailment with all sorts of juju illnesses buffeting him.

For the government, Chief Minister it is and Chief Minister it will remain with no new duties but only a name change. Well done Dr Julius Bio for the innovation.

Courtesy: By Pastor Mohamed Sesay

 

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SLPP Party is on Fire! An Advice to President Julius Maada Bio!!

By Angry SLPP Supporter (21/05/18)

Good Morning Mr. President, it is true that power comes from God but don't forget that He uses people to bring it to fulfilment.

It could have been someone else, if God did not use people like Dr. Prince Harding, Dr. Abass Bundu and others who stood their ground for you to be the President today. It was Dr. Prince Harding who took the bold step to declare on a radio broadcast that the SLPP doesn't need another flagbearer because they already had one in the person of Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio.

He was the one who pioneered the change of the SLPP constitution to pave way for you to have a 2nd chance to contest for the flagbership when people like Alpha Timbo, Alie Bangura, I. J. Kabbah and others were fighting hard to get you out.

You were in London at the time when Dr. Prince Harding staked his neck for you to remain as the flagbearer of the SLPP, which brought the divide in the party. In 2012 John Benjamin who was the chairman of the party connived with ex-president Koroma to rub the election cause he didn't like you and if he was still the chairman of this 2018 election he would have done the same thing, but with Dr. Prince Harding it's the reverse which I guess you know.

There are rumours making the rounds that you promised to deal with Dr. Prince Harding after you win the election which is no longer a hidden secret because we know you are not in talking terms with him and you have sidelined him and the women's leader of the party since you were sworn in as President. Mr. President, there is a parable which says MEK POSIN NOR CRY FOR YOU WHOLE NET DOR CLEAN YOU ASK WHY E YEI RED.

These people have fought for you, it doesn't matter their short comings or mistakes they have made during the electioneering period. I expect you as a good practicing Christian to forgive and continue to work together for the betterment of our country and your great party.

Don't behave like what the late ex-president Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah did to the party, let it be everyone in and no one out. Mr. President, your current administration is not a reflection of those who truly fought for you apart from names like Dr. Alpha T. Wurie, Dr. Abass Bundu, Kanja Sesay, Dr. Manyeh, Lawyer Brewah and Dr. Ndominah.

The rest are total strangers to the party and the party office itself, I even heard that Miss Emma Kowa is a friend to your wife Fatima that is why you appointed her a cabinet minister. It would have been better to give that ministerial position to the SLPP Women's Leader Madam Fatmata Sawaneh just as you did for the young Generation Leader of the party.

Mr. President, I think you could have saved yourself from all of these things if you had consulted the Chairman and Leader of the party Dr. Prince Harding. He knows the party and the people who fought for you more than you do. It is like the women's wing of the party has been absorbed now into what is called the JMB Women and Friends of Fatima Bio, which will result in a very negative consequence at the end if not corrected.

It is very clear now that a lot of people in your party are not happy with the way things are going since you took up the mantle of leadership, but they are still optimistic that you will not let them down. My final word to you Mr. President is this, don't allow your wife to dictates the way you want to run this government, because I see another Grace Mugabe in the making.

There is a school of thought that you are a potential late ex-president J. S. Momoh as well, I saw in a photo you holding the staff together with your wife and kid which is undone and very wrong.

Mr. President, the Presidential Staff that was handed over to you on Saturday May 12 at the national stadium is the sacred symbol of authority of Sierra Leone, it is not a toy for you to allow your wife and kid to play with it.

This is a clear indication that you are not going to deliver if care is not taken, you are the first President who has done such in the world. My final word to you is this, never forget how ex-president Koroma worked for his party and those who fought for him.

 

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Lack of Visionary Leadership in the Opposition APC Party!

By Dr. Yahya Kaloko, USA (14/05/18)

Elections are a part of the democratic process. But their outcome must not be used to stifle the national interest both by winners and losers.

In recent times, our country has undergone over two decades of democratic electoral processes. Just like in other countries practicing democracy, the election results are usually met with mixed feelings on one side, and elation on the other. For some, the outcome may not reflect the will of the people, but the will of the “system” or “process”.

But what tends to be missing in the eyes of many is the vital interests of the state, through the party of choice, or the leadership at the helm. Notwithstanding the party affiliation, as patriots of our young democracy, it is our responsibility to put country first before party politics. MAY GOD SAVE THE REPUBLIC.

I perceive an alarming trend creepily ensconcing the APC party. A cabal within a cabal is emerging. This will not serve the interests of the party, but a select few, the very leadership that is largely responsible for the party’s elections loss. Although some have declared retirement, there is however a semblance of real attempts to largely influence the process of “SELECTION”. Those smart enough know that efforts are ongoing secretly in some high places, aimed at creating robots to head some key leadership positions, to be remotely controlled behind the curtain.

But if history is to serve us well, let’s go back and remember the Ekutay days in our party, and how we ended in the wilderness for so long. We probably did not have enough strong moral voices then to fight against the special interests and other actions. Without holding back, and with no tribal intent, I do foresee the formation of a Kamabai, Binkolo, and Kamalo cabal shaping up, and poised to usurp the party’s top leadership, against the wishes of the majority. But remember, the APC party top leadership must not be slated for Bombali District only. Be warned that in politics, those with a personal agenda, purpose and passion win battles, and may end up writing a distorted history serving only their interests. Please wake up.

The APC party is at the crossroads, with daggers drawn on the sand. The battle between STATUS QUO maintainers and those pushing for CHANGE is beginning to rage. For those on the side of CHANGE, just remember you are faced with formidable foes that are willing to spend millions of ill-gotten wealth to maintain their relevance. But the most potent weapon against them is CHANGE. It may be delayed but cannot be vanquished. Sincere members of the APC, especially the younger generation, must rise and fight for the heart and soul of the party. Otherwise, it would be too late. The APC may end up relegated to the dustbin of History.

I say that because I see myself as a Sierra Leonean first, and APC member second. I will not trade my APC party credentials for anything else, except my patriotism. I believe we currently have a 21st Century leadership deficit in the APC. Our party is beholden to a special interest group that lacks the ability to add value to the party’s future growth. It is surrounded by individuals interested only in gaining from the party, with no apparent value added for long-term sustainability. They are bent on doing everything possible to control the party’s leadership even after they have failed it.

Are we going to continue allowing a culture of “Takers” than providers? Are we going to be silent because of fear of reprisals? But do we have anything more to lose by speaking up? The danger we have in our party today hinges on the divisions within.

There is a top leadership, the Takers, filled with arrogance and greed. They do not see anything wrong with the direction of the party. They have benefitted immensely at the expense of the party’s future. But they are still filled with greed, and willing to do everything possible to maintain the status quo, even after the party’s disastrous loss.

A second group, the Sycophants, sees ills within, but is more interested in maintaining the status quo. It adores the Takers of ill-gotten gains and aspires to be like them. This is the most dangerous group among us. The sychophants have been doing everything under cover of darkness to destroy others who speak up against the status quo. Their main goal was to be recognized with positions, and assume the same life style of the Takers. But if for ten years nothing was offered, are you still hoping?

The third group represents the Real Party Patriots, with the passion to see the party live and if possible rule forever. May God Almighty help them overcome. There are many of us who are willing to stay and fight for the heart and soul of our party. In a choice between what is honorable and personal, this group is willing to follow the honorable path at the expense of personal rewards.

The self-imposed retirement of our erstwhile Vice President Victor Foh is a cause for concern to many well-wishers in the party. What a fine, devoted, and passionate APC leader. Based on service to party, there is none like him in the entire current leadership of th pearty. When it comes to protecting our party from both internal and external foes, there is none comparable to him.

When some in our current leadership abandoned the party in its dark days, Victor Foh and just a few others stayed put. When some in our current leadership joined late Thaimu Bangura’s party, Victor Foh stayed the course, and defended the party. His intransigence to defend the APC at some point got him arrested and charged for treason. Although he has his frailties as a human being, but his commitment to the party is more exemplary than most in our current leadership. Even though he sounds evasive when questioned on his decision to retire and be nonpartisan, I strongly believe he feels sidelined by some in the top leadership, who are more interested in putting friendships and clan above all other vital interests.

To my honorable Senior Victor Foh, I strongly believe your conscience regarding your lifetime unbreakable contributions to your beloved party will help you live happily and at peace, notwithstanding the semblance of a grudging self-imposed retirement. But one more favor I feel compelled to request of you is not to turn your back on the APC. Please ensure you leave the door open to step in at any time when needed to help. There is nobody in the APC party today that can fill your shoes. Our younger generation needs mentoring from someone of your stature.

I personally have had disagreements with you in the past. For example, my past ambitions for the Freetown Mayoral position. But in retrospect, I reasoned with your wisdom. You are a fine man, despite your human frailties. May God Almighty richly bless you for your immense contributions to our beloved APC. You will be missed, but please let it be temporary and short.

To my brother, Ex-President Ernest Koroma, please step aside. The world or leadership is a stage. We cannot bemoan you for all the problems we currently face in the APC. But as a straight shooter, I can say with courage, you are mostly responsible for our elections loss, and the ensuing turmoil. I noticed there are many dancing around the issue, and not been straight with you. We thank you for the great achievements, but it is also time for you to keep your promise, i.e. retire from active politics.

Please do not impose yourself in SELECTING the next leadership of our party. Most of the membership, if not all, is still licking the wounds caused by your ego and intransigence. The lack of respect you showed to your party elders who stood behind the party during its dark moments, while you were absent, does not sit well with many. There are many ways you can continue helping this party recover other than being the king maker. You have no idea the damage you have caused for so many families and generations; how many relationships, homes, and communities have been destroyed by this election loss.

You led us into this abyss. It will further infuriate us more if you try to impose yourself as the king maker in “SELECTING” the future leadership of our party. As a brother, a friend, a party comrade, leader, and an ex-president, the posterity of our party will not be kind to you if you try to do so. As you rightly declared in March, it is time to retire from active politics and stay on the sidelines, in an advisory role. You have done so much good, but again caused so much pain. MAY GOD SAVE THE APC.

To our elected PRESIDENT BIO and the entire SLPP, please remember you have led before and relinquished power. Learn from those experiences and ensure you deliver on the promises you made not only to the SLPP, but the country. Avoid the leadership pitfalls of the APC.

MAY GOD GUIDE US ALL TO DO THE RIGHT THING FOR OUR NATION.

 

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Main Opposition APC Party Lived by Injunctions and Must Die by Injunctions!

By Pastor Mohamed Sesay (07/05/18)

Please help look at the political party called All Peoples Congress party. Look at it again in its new found status as opposition leader.

And suddenly after it was given a good beating by the ever victorious President Julius Maada Bio, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Fountain of Honour, the ever versatile and hands on President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

Before its defeat at the polls in the 2018 Presidential election, APC was a party on a journey all those years ago, a journey to bring down all the facets of society, to tear down everything called legality, to bulldoze every good organization that it thought stood on its way including the Economic Community of West African States, to put in torment all those it deemed to be against it.

To the APC then, law and order was something that could be bought and for the APC, justice was a joke. The APC banked on the courts to take advantage of other political parties and their members. It basked on the infamy of raw injustices meted out on opponents and lived by injunctions and petitions to frustrate opponents.

As the years went, the APC, having been intoxicated with absolute power unchecked, became a no respecter of law and order. It ran riot with much injustice leaving the people completely unprotected.

Because it was in governance, it had everything its way. Applications for injunctions it won. Supreme Court cases, it won hands down. It was enjoying its new found conqueror status then and never cared a bit about the feelings of others.

Now take a look at this cry baby APC now going around complaining for any small thing. Now the APC no longer loves the courts as it used to do. Now suddenly the courts have become sworn enemies. The petitions and injunctions that it once loved, it now hates with passion and wants out of them. It was good for the goose then and now APC never wants it to be good for the gander but APC will never be allowed to have things its own way by dictating terms.

APC must succumb to the dictates of the courts as other political parties especially the now ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party, used to. All those years back, APC enjoyed it when because of petitions and injunctions, the party gained two parliamentary seats in the deepest heartlands of the SLPP.

Sixteen of the APC's supposedly bogusly elected members of Parliament have been injuncted and those 16 must never go to that Parliament until their petitions matters have been heard and decided on.

The first time they went to Parliament as illegals and misbehaved so nobody will know what tricks they will have up their sleeves if they were to be allowed to go there again without the courts making decisions on their matters. All 16 must stay off and if the rest of them want to join them by not going to Parliament, let them do. It's their right and their cuppa tea but those 16 must not go there.

In fact it will be a good thing for this country if there are no APC MPs in Parliament as their plans for gong there may be bad which will invite untold problems to the House. Just hope the APCs see sense and abandon the House until the next elections. All their plans for Speaker and total control have been exposed and neutralized so they have nothing doing there again.

APC, all those years ago, used to live by injunctions so it is high time that APC dies by injunctions.

 

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KKY's Lecture on 'Rankanomics and APC's 1 Billion $US Debt Burden'

By Dr. Kandeh Yumkella (30/04/18)

The latest pop culture music released in Sierra Leone a few weeks ago is about "Ranka Politicians" (reckless politicians).

I would dare say the lyrics also manifest the youths disgust with the effects of ranka economics/rankanomics. The young artists are warning us that governance should not and cannot just be about propaganda. So, if you are a ‘progressive’ within the All People’s Congress (APC ) Party or any other political party, there has to be a limit to your tolerance for an oligarchy whose sole aim is to transform our motherland into a gravy train with less than 1% of the members of your political party ostentatiously enriching themselves at the peril and expense of the majority of the suffering masses.

The time has come to sift through the propaganda and hold our leadership accountable for their stewardship and the debt burden they will bequeath to future generations. So, in Part One of these series, we want to focus on the country’s Debt Burden as one of the cruel and painful legacies of the current Government.

Today, we see the impact of decades of populism, corruption, poor economic management and excessive debt in countries like Venezuela. The painful reality is that the successor government and future generations always end up facing the resultant crises and/or picking up the broken pieces caused by the incompetence, mismanagement and rampant corruption of the preceding government. Excessive borrowing combined with institutionalized leakages and hubris is a recipe for economic disaster and inordinate suffering of the vast majority of our citizens.


Sierra Leone’s Debt Burden


From 2007 when it came to power to 2016, the APC Government has so far borrowed over $1 billion. This could possibly constitute the largest nine year increase in debt Sierra Leone has ever accumulated in the past four decades. In his 2011 Budget Speech, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development, stated that “... the total stock of External Debt stood at $722 million as at end June 2010 relative to $692 million in 2009". According to the current Minister of Finance & Economic Planning, by November 2016, the “... total External Debt amounted to $1.2 billion ... whilst Domestic Debt amounted to Le3.3 trillion". It is therefore obvious that Sierra Leone’s total stock of debt is about $1.74 billion with External Debt and Domestic Debts estimated, respectively, at $1.2 billion and $550 million by December 2016. Between January and September 2016 alone, the APC Government signed an additional eight new loan agreements totaling over $200 million.

Our debt repayment burden has also doubled since 2011 and it is still growing. What the Government has eminently succeeded in doing before their exit in 2018, is to compromise and tie the hands of the next successor Government. The Debt Service burden will make it extremely difficult for the next government to pay salaries, improve education and health care or expand and meet agricultural production towards national food security. Indications are that the borrowing continued unabated as the APC Government was bent on borrowing more and more to fund additional infrastructure projects some of which are white elephant projects, all in the name of "De Pa dae wok". It does not matter whether successive governments are able to provide food and clean water for our people; it does not matter either whether parents are able to pay school fees for their children. What was important for the APC Government is that these white elephant projects glorify the memory of the Supreme Authority.


Raiding the Central Bank


Under the APC Government, being a Central Bank Governor has been both problematic and risky. It is no surprise, therefore, that former President Ernest Koroma appointed no less than five Central Bank Governors in nine years even though, constitutionally, a Governor cannot be removed by Supreme Authority. The job of the Central Bank Governor is to independently manage the economy and protect it from politics and, more importantly, from continuous raid on the vault. Mainly as a result of these infelicities on the part of the Government, by December 2016, Domestic Debt amounted to about Le3.3 trillion and is estimated to reach over Le4 trillion by the end of 2017. Most if not all the white elephant projects, particularly the so-called road infrastructure, are funded through loans from the Central Bank because State house controls it; and when the Auditor General raises the alarm, her findings and recommendations, year in year out, are simply ignored.

Here is what the IMF actually has had to comment a few weeks ago on the current situation regarding the Central Bank in its June 2017 Report,” The significantly increased deficit in 2016 was financed by arrears and increased borrowing from the Bank of Sierra Leone ... Meanwhile, the Government over borrowed from Commercial Banks by 0.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or 37% t nominally…” When the Government over borrows from the Commercial Banks, it means small businesses and the private sector in general cannot get financing; where they do, it is at higher interest rates that make businesses unviable in the long term. Thus, the private sector cannot grow the economy, create wealth or jobs for the youth.


Rankanomics and Propaganda


A few weeks ago, the APC Government’s propaganda machine ‘impersonated (oops, misrepresented!) the new IMF-World Bank $224.2 million Extended Credit Facility as a vote of confidence in the Government. On the contrary, the programme serves as a "Solidarity Pact" to the people of Sierra Leone and is meant to cushion the effect of the gross mismanagement of the country’s economy on the poor and vulnerable segments of the population. Here are some direct quotes from the master document of IMF Country Report No.17/154, June 2017. that prove the point:

- "Fiscal performance was significantly worse than expected. The deficit in 2016 was 3.1 percent of GDP higher than anticipated or 59.5 percent higher in nominal terms, mainly due to overspending on two fronts (page 6)”:
- 52.7 percent higher goods and services spending relative to the last review. Most of this overspending was one-off items, which occurred after spending restraints that had been imposed during the last ECF were lifted. Election preparations, education grants and expenditures on defense and security were some of the major elements underlying the excess spending (page 6); and
- 53.4 percent higher spending on domestically financed capital. The authorities had severely underestimated the rate at which large capital projects were being executed; certificates for road construction were coming due at a much faster pace than anticipated... the overspending is likely to continue in 2017" (page6).

"Unfortunately, the spending pressures that emerged in late 2016 have rendered the 2017 budget unrealistic (page 12). Remember, this is the same time austerity measures and higher fuel prices and other indirect taxes where imposed on ordinary people. But our government never cut back. The report goes on to say that "Staff regrets the lack of fiscal discipline and increased central bank intervention in the second half of 2016 (page 23)".


The Infrastructure Mirage


It is in the above context that it matters what street lights cost; what road construction costs; and what the infrastructure mirage in general costs. It matters because our children and grandchildren will have to pay the debt just because a few people enriched themselves at the country’s expense.

Obviously, there are a lot of questions to be answered by the Government about the actual cost of the infrastructure drive. How many schools, hospitals, doctors and nurses and other services our children had to forgo for the roads. A world bank report titled "Road Works Cost per Kilometer" (by Rodrigo Archondo-Callao) which is based on a survey covering 40 countries gives you a guide on the average cost of construction or rehabilitation of a road. Based on the World Bank data base, the average cost of constructing a NEW road should be about $866,000 per kilometer (eight hundred and sixty-six thousand dollars per kilometer).

For rehabilitation of an existing road including seals, structural and functional overlay, the average cost is $436,000 (four hundred and thirty-six thousand dollars). Of course, we must factor in topographical diversity, meteorological factors, environmental resilience, exchange rates, inflation and labour costs. In some countries with bad terrain, the cost could be $1.2 million per kilometer for a brand-new road. In a country like Sierra Leone, with cheap labor and mostly flat terrain, the cost will even be much lower. The cost should be lower for the expansion an existing road.

All our infrastructure projects during the past 9 years have been 2 to 3 times more expensive than international bench marks. Who gets the extra money? Perhaps, Mr. Minister of Works can tell us why should our road cost $60-100 million more? Could you tell us as citizens who gets the extra cash? Will the road last for a thousand years? Why should we, our children, and grandchildren and our great grandchildren pay for a project for 25 years when we do not know its actual cost? We estimate that for one road project the over pricing could be up to $60-$100 million (using the World Bank rule of thumb of $866 thousand or kilometers). We hope the auditor general will review that project.

The extra cash of $60-100 million could help move our nation forward if spent wisely. It could build us two ultramodern hospitals bigger and better than what we currently have. It could help us pay salaries on time for years and certify the over 30,000 teachers who do not have a payroll identification number (PIN). We could upgrade our vocational institutions with the right curriculum to teach our young people the right skills to ensure they find jobs and make a decent living. We can even provide clean water and the list goes on. The list goes on.

The struggle against ‘RANKAISM’ starts now. So, let us change the political narrative and hold people to account for putting our grandchildren in perpetual debt bondage. Join the debate on Rankanomics.

Courtesy: By Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, NGC Leader and MP for Kambia. Written during the March 2018 Elections but edited for the present and future.

 

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If you Think Life does not Offer People Second Chance, think Maada Bio!

By Alpha Zakir Naik (18/04/18)

President Julius Maada Bio left power under controversial circumstances and moved away to seek greener pastures.

After several years, he came back, ran for the SLPP flagbearer position and lost to Solomon Berewa. He did not despair. He soldiered on, like a gallant soldier.

Against 20 or more personalities, Bio fought his way up to lead the SLPP to the 2012 elections. But he lost the national elections to Ernest Koroma.

Many people wrote him off, including me that he lacks the gravitas and ability to win national elections. We were wrong. Damn wrong! And today, he is the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces. Wow.

What a story! What a remarkable turnaround of events. Bio’s story is symptomatic of Sierra Leone. A country that has faced many challenges: civil war, Ebola, mudslide, hajjgate and so on. As ever, we remained resilient and come out stronger than before.

If you think that life is unfair to you and you’ve got no chance to make it, think Bio. If many people - including those around you - think that you’re unfit for a certain position, think Bio.

People will always say bad things about you. They’ll bring you down. Make you feel not worthy of purpose. Question your ability. And even challenge your existence.

Draw inspiration from Bio - a man who has been vilified, demonized, written off and in some cases scapegoated for all the sins this country has committed.

Your own second chance might be on the way. Don’t listen to the noise of the crowd. Believe in your ability to make it. And in this moment, you can look through the story of a leader whose rise to the top may be akin to the struggles you’re going through. That’s life. And that’s Maada Bio for me.

 

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APC's Vicious Plots Against the New SLPP Govt of President Bio!

By Pastor Sesay (07/04/18)

APC party has hatched a treacherous plan to take this country back to the dark ages of the Ernest Koroma nonsensical era.

PLOT 1: SAMURA KAMARA'S SOUR GRAPES FUTILE COURT CASE PLAN TO SABOTAGE NEW GOVERNMENT; PLOT 2: ABACHA WIOMEN'S LIBELLOUS ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THE VICTORIOUS SLPP; PLOT 3: ALAKI APC'S RUFFIANS GO ON THE RAMPAGE TO CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR NEW GOVERNMENT; PLOT 4: AIG KARROW KAMARA'S MURDEROUS PLOT TO DESTABILIZE THE NEW GOVERNMENT.

At a time when the whole nation is thinking that the time for politics is finally over and the country will now be bracing itself to help the new government reverse the negative trends created by the outgone failed All Peoples Congress party which is currently in disarray after it was bulldozed out of office by the might of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, Samura Kamara, the defeated presidential candidate of the perennial loser called the APC, has hatched a treacherous plan to take this country back to the dark ages of the Koroma nonsensical era where anarchy and criminality and high forms of corruption reigned supreme, by lyingly planning to go to the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone to bogusly and falsely claim that he was cheated at the polls.

Having failed with his heartless plan to delay the announcement of the 2018 presidential election, Samura Kamara of Kamalo fame without ever considering the negative effects the prolonging of this election has had on the whole nation, is planning again to take this country to election days when we have long passed that stage.

In his quest to sabotage this government, Samura plans to lie that voters over voted in the victorious SLPP's strongholds when in fact it was in the strongholds of the lying APC that mass over voting and stuffing and thefts of ballot boxes, took place.

Citizens of this country must note that all along Samura never had any good plans for this country but to bring it down by following in the steps of arch failure Ernest Bai Koroma.

Do gooders are egging him on to go to court for pointless matters which will be shamefully thrown out of court by the learned judges who are just fed up with thses APC gimmicks.

Samura, and your failed APC, please note that you will never hold this beautiful nation to ransom as you did over the past ten and more years. The people of this country have found you out with your plots to wreck a nation by tricks. Elections are over with so what else?

HE Dr Bio is the chosen of The Almighty God, who despite all your fake and abominable allegations and blatant lies against him, has sailed through to the throne as appointed of God.

Your plan is to waste tax payers money on a futile endeavor to treacherously war against the man who beat you and to further wage an almighty war against the people of Sierra Leone. You're just wasting your time - your mischievous plan will never work.

All the foreign elections observers have made it plain to the whole world that the runoff election which Samura lost woefully, was held under international best practices. So why is Samura so worked up about a case? Nothing will be achieved just mischief making. This land that some of us love and most of those at the APC hate, must now have rest from elections.

There is one thing remarkable about Abacha women and that is their love for anarchy. For them, selling illegally on main roads, is all what life must be about. They don't give a hoot about the peace and tranquility of this country just that any government must pat them on their backs for gross impunity.

And another strange thing about these Abacha women is that they don't just sell their wares quietly but politicise their selling. During election periods, they will be highly vociferous in their support for the outgone APC administration, their godfather in anarchy who use them against especially the governing Sierra Leone Peoples Party. They not only rain abuses and supporters of the SLPP but they launch physical attacks against them.

Less than 24 hours after SLPP took the reins of power, these highly treacherous Abacha women are up to their dirty and lying tricks again by falsely claiming that SLPP supporters destroyed their tables when in fact it was rabble rousing hooligans of the outgone APC party who went on the rampage past Wednesday that targeted them after they destroyed the banner of HE Dr Bio.

1sr lady, HE Fatima Bio, made a pledge to them that they will not be moved until provisions are made for them but they're jittery not trusting on their fellow woman's promise because, as the saying goes, the guilty are always afraid. Let those Abacha women relax and behave themselves until this new caring government help them.

People living along and around Sanders and Siaka Stevens Streets, were met with a rude awakening when around 6pm past Wednesday they saw ruffians who had broken out of the All Peoples Congress party HQ at Old Railway Line, marching warlike along those streets singing war songs, brandishing machetes and other crude weapons and screaming: "We nor go gree, nar over vote". Panic stricken passers by ran for their lives as the APC warriors marched, attacking whom they can and wresting their phones and belongings from them.

The APC warriors went first to PZ roundabout and destroyed the banner of HE Dr Julius Maada Bio and went on the rampage along Sani Abacha Street and destroyed the tables of the Abacha women and looted their property.

The APC warriors then went to Lightfoot Boston Street where they caused much mayhem and damage to shops and other buildings throwing missiles at them. Two women were mercilessly beaten by the APC thugs and a man was wounded on his head.

All this hooligan behavior is just clear evidence that the outgone APC party is determined to sabotage this new government this early after President Bio was duly elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone on the same day.

APC is criminally minded using young people to carry out its dirty acts all in its quest to undermine the new Bio administration. But it will never work.

AIG Karrow Kamara has been used to giving orders for innocent civilians to be shot at by the police. It has become a hobby for him over the past ten years under the APC administration.

Now that APC is gone, he is up to his old murderous tricks again by creating an atmosphere to create provocation that will lead to chaos.

After hooligans of the outgone APC party attacked SLPP supporters at Kenema, Karrow Kamara ordered police to fire shots at the SLPP Kenema party office where ten people were injured.

Karrow Kamara is one of those APC police officers that are against change hoping to be acting with impunity against innocent citizens. Karrow Kamara who escaped from Kenema last night, must answer for his crimes.

Courtesy: By Pastor Mohamed Sesay, ardent SLPP supporter.

 

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Lawyer Likens Maada's Pedigree to the Vital Stamps on our Parcels!

By Solomon Jamiru Esq (28/03/18)

One rarely see articles that endorse the controversial SLPP leader Julius Maada Bio in Sierra Leone's political landscape as the run-off looms.

Solicitors who register deeds or instruments on behalf of their clients, at the office of Administrator and Registrar-General, Walpole Street, Freetown, can tell you the importance of affixing stamps to such registrable documents.

In a similar token, those who send letters by post or courier appreciate the stamp as a defining feature of the postal service. Those stamps bear duties and so we pay for them.

Whenever we post letters or receive them, we hardly appreciate how faithful and persevering the stamps on those letters have been. As a matter of fact, all we are interested in is the content of the letter, or what is contained in the deed. We tear off the envelope which bears the stamp, we dispose of them, and are quickly consumed in the substance of the letter or deed.

Do you know that a man with a vision is like a postal stamp? As the stamp sticks to the parcel until it reaches its destination, so does a man with vision stick to his goal until the target is hit.

Julius Maada Bio took off the military regalia, stepped down from the most coveted and unrivalled office of head state, supreme executive authority, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, grappled with the turmoils and vicissitudes of post-presidential life (sometimes people transmitting photos of him and the presumptive first lady sitting in a London bus)......suggesting that this is the guy who seeks our presidency....not a presidential material at all. Wow.

The bible says "judge not, and you will not be judged." When the people claimed that they had caught a woman in adultery and brought her to Jesus to sanction her death by stoning, didn't Jesus say to them "who amongst you hasn't sinned, let him cast the first stone", and they all disappeared? Oh mortals, and oh Sierra Leoneans, let us be careful how we classify and judge our fellows.

I have watched Julius Maada Bio go through the hurly-burly of politics, brave through the mockeries and condescending estimations of him, and have always admired how he smiled at the unimaginable conspiracies against him. Today, he has become an irrefutable evidence, and I dare say, the most compelling fact that Sierra leoneans have to come to terms with.

Julius Maada Bio has come to prove that if you stick to your dream just as the stamp sticks to the parcel in the post or courier, someday somehow, you can prove your critics wrong. He is the presumptive first gentleman, and this validates the truth that God most times looks out for, and uses the most unlikely instruments. He does not call those who sit on high horses and make high sounding noises... He qualifies those He calls.

Sierra Leoneans, let us take this story as a humbling experience, and always remember that the stamp on the parcel is an important lesson.

 

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Sierra Leoneans Question the Integrity of CSOs and Local Election Observers!

By Political Logic (20/03/18)
Civil societies and local electoral observers have put gears of political parties which make their activities largely bias in the eyes of the people.

Many of them, who are supposed to advocate for the interests of the people, have supposedly become mouth piece for political parties. The integrity of many Civil Society Organisations CSOs and local electoral observers is compromising our electoral process. The role of observers is to only observe without interfering in any electoral process.

Operatives of these organizations have now been seen campaigning for various political parties especially for the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP and the ruling All Peoples Congress APC party.

Local Electoral Observers should not in any case dictate rules to the entire process. Our electoral process is largely guided by Electoral Act which in any way should not be overlooked. Right in my face I have seen some CSOs and local electoral observers wanted to skew the process in their political party's favour.

I call on the NEC the International Community to ensure that CSOs and local observers work within their ambit and not to go beyond their limits as in this case.

The urge by many of them urging National Electoral Commission in doing their work is unprofessional and not correct. Their actions cannot not produce a free, fair and friendly election.

This means, the actions involving into political parties activities is a recipe for chaos.

 

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APC Does Not Want International Community to Determine its Democracy!

By Sheka Tarawalie (11/03/18)
The author, an official of the APC government, said they do not want the global community to be sole determiners of Sierra Leone democracy.

Mr. Tarawalie writes: If I say I don't like or respect or even somehow admire Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, then I would be doing a great disservice to my conscience. My undying passion - irrespective of my personal circumstances - to see Sierra Leone develop has gotten me to the point that I am colour-blind with reference to any son or daughter of Sierra Leone that has excelled either locally or internationally.

I was colour-blind in my university days when choosing my friends: at FBC, some of my closest buddies were south-easterners who have eventually turned out to be strong SLPP apparatchiks – and we still remain friends! They adored education just as I did. We had – still have - frank, open, heart-to-heart discussions. Politics, after all, is not – should not be - a life-or-death affair, as President Ernest Bai Koroma most times says.

Kandeh Yumkella, every rational and reasonable person can admit, could be used as a sing-song of showcasing Sierra Leone's talented products. I will never fall for the unpalatable bait of decrying everything concerning KKY just to score political points. We should be honest enough (hahaha 'Ar want baby wae honest lek Samura' comes to my mind), yes we should be honest enough to agree that KKY's stint at UNIDO and as UN Under-Secretary-General/Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All is worth commending - albeit there were shortcomings at UNIDO as an organization during his tenure.

But that Yumkella once renounced his Sierra Leonean citizenship - as it turned out to be known subsequently - was a huge (in my Maada Bio voice) huge mistake, whether now revoked or not. And that the UNIDO man did not light a single bulb at his home village of Kychom – to paraphrase the APC's Dr Samura Kamara at the presidential debate – was a most unbelievable anathema. That Kandeh could not repair his father's house but went into a fight over property rights with other family members was a terrible miscalculation. And for KKY to have ultimately concluded that his 'international experience' was enough qualification for him to become President of Sierra Leone in 2018 was a grave miss-reading of the situation and perhaps a politically-suicidal misinterpretation (if 'international experience' were a yardstick, the people of Ghana would have long ago handed over the presidency to Kofi Annan who actually became UN Secretary General and won the Nobel Peace Prize!).

That Kandeh has a few supporters - largely drawn from the SLPP - that keep saying he has taken the right step is just mischievous and dangerous flattery. He'll soon know!

Now, Yumkella and I have met one-on-one and discussed this matter. It was in Vienna in 2015 when I was on official engagement as Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs. I met him through Anthony N'Karimu Kamara, a Makeni/St Francis brother of mine who, after God and his parents, adores Yumkella. For very good reasons, I must state. Anthony has himself got international exposure and opportunities through Yumkella and was/is in fact staying with the renewable energy man in Vienna (Anthony is currently in Sierra Leone acting as KKY's Personal Assistant/PR man - just like my good friend Yusuf Keketoma Sandi has flown from the UK to do for Julius Maada Bio). Anthony and I met at a St Francis function in London and he got to know that I was going to Vienna. He became thrilled and told me how Yumkella had longed to meet me, and this would be a great opportunity. I acquiesced. However, I was only going to do a couple of days in Vienna with a very tight schedule. Yumkella also had several engagements and would have to fly out to the US. Anyway, Anthony and Yumkella were so desirous to have the meeting happen that we ended up having it at the airport on my way out in the afternoon of 30th July 2015. Even though he was to fly out from a different terminal, Yumkella came all the way to my departure gate.

Our discussion was short, frank, and intellectual. He told me he respected and somehow admired me for being 'one of the stars' that had helped President Koroma in delivering his agenda - I felt flattered. He said indeed President Koroma had done a good job, but now it's his turn. I smiled. Kandeh was very sure he would be the flag-bearer of the main opposition SLPP because it's his 'father's party' and the majority of SLPP supporters would choose him over Maada Bio - he kept on chanting the 'tokpoi' mantra of 'SLPP is the only way out'. I listened. And then he did not leave behind the international back-up rap: that the international community would want democracy to mature in Sierra Leone, that this same international community wanted such maturity to take the shape of political parties ruling for two terms after another (the SLPP did two terms and was voted out; now the APC would do two terms and go out - so it's the SLPP's turn again; and that he's the anointed heir of the international community). Still I continued to listen. He ended up by saying he loved President Koroma because he 'has taken Sierra Leone to another level' (he may not say this now - because of politics). And then he concluded that because I was a blue-eyed boy of Pa Koroma, he had deemed it appropriate to tell me to 'advice the Pa' on the matter.

What advice? Yumkella made me laugh. My answer or answers were short and sharp. I thanked him for admiring President Koroma and seeing me as a hard-working government official. I told him it would be virtually impossible for the SLPP to win the next elections, vis-a-vis the current socio-political demographics, that the international community should not be the sole determiners of how our democracy should mature, that the two-term scenario was faecal matter. I told KKY that he should come on the ground and read the situation well before making a decision as to which political bandwagon to jump on. He immediately interrupted me (just as he interrupted Dr Samura Kamara during the presidential debate!) by saying he had already studied the situation, that he had men all over the country, and that he was sure he would be both the flag-bearer of the SLPP and the next President of Sierra Leone. I could read desperation in his eyes and in his voice. Desperate for Sierra Leone's development or desperate for power, I was reading between the lines!

The airport announcer's voice came through calling passengers on my flight to be prepared for boarding. We took photos. I posted one on Facebook (before I suspended my active participation from that wing of the social media), with the message “Bits and pieces of political tolerance... With the SLPP's Kandeh Yumkella in Vienna... SaLone nar we all yone...” (The message and picture are still on my Facebook page posting of 30th July 2015. You can check it out. And certainly I did not know that Yumkella was at the time an American citizen!)

And now... That KKY who was so confident of being the next flag-bearer of the SLPP, who was so sure that the 'SLPP is the only way out', is today parading the nooks and crannies of Sierra Leone denigrating this same 'party of my father' as a failed 'Alhassan' is a lesson I have learnt about the whimsical nature of human behaviour (mortal man nar weather!). That Yumkella could proclaim from rooftops today that there is nothing good in the SLPP strengthens my faith - to trust more in God than in man!

Yumkella's situation brings to mind the well-known Greek Aesopica story of the fox which had seen very ripe grapes hanging on a vine and desired to have them, tried all it could by leaping to get them but could not reach them; dejected, downcast and frustrated at its failure to get what it coveted most (remember how Yumkella's mother was spat at during his first attempt to go to their party office, remember how he and other SLPP alagbas were locked out, how he fought tooth and nail over his membership registration for the SLPP, how he upgraded his membership to grand chief patron etc etc, and still insisted that he was a member of the SLPP until 5th September 2017 when he realised that the flag-bearer position of the party was unattainable and resigned), this fox then found a scapegoatising consolation by saying that the grapes were sour and not ripe after-all.

The man who was so desperate to become Alhassan now thinks calling himself a Gbassay qualifies him to be regarded as a twin (Gbassay nor to twin bra!). He now says he is a Macron. How good is this man in translating scenarios all to his own - or for his own - interest. Tell KKY that he is not a Macron, and cannot be a Macron. Current French President Emmanuel Macron has never worked for UNIDO. He worked as a civil servant in France and then became a government minister before resigning to form his party En Marche. How den connect?

Kandeh's experience in government unfortunately is not worth writing about: he was Minister of Trade for just a few months, and it was under a military junta of which the sale of Sierra Leone's only oil refinery to Nigeria still hangs over his head. In essence, Kandeh does not know anything about democratic statecraft! He needed - he needs - apprenticeship!

Of course the SLPP under Julius Maada Bio is a clattered and tattered entity, but Yumkella should have stayed the course and reform it eventually: you don't burn down your father's house because you found a snake in it; or else the elders will not only question your intentions but go on to doubt your legitimacy!

The Spectator newspaper, once acting as the propaganda medium of KKY, was the first to reveal his political intentions. It's 25th October 2014 edition was unequivocal with the headline 'I AM SLPP AND RETURNING HOME – SAYS DR KANDEH KOLLEH YUMKELLA' (http://www.thespectatornewspaper.sl/articles/i-m-slpp-and-i-m-coming-home-says-dr-kandeh-kolleh-yumkella).

The other day, just before I went out with my wife to watch the award-winning patriotism-laden and race-unifying movie 'The Black Panther' in down-town London (taking time off my current 'assignment'), I decided to listen to some Sierra Leonean music (I do that when not listening to gospel music), and one that made me laugh and got reminded of Yumkella was K-Kwan's 'borku talk borku talk'. To me, that music summaries Yumkella's present political configuration: 'wae e see limousine, e say nar e uncle'; because for Kandeh, even the EU observers are his supporters - not to talk about former Nigerian President Obasanjo (whom he was reportedly referring to as his uncle-in-law) having to be forced to do a clarification of a statement he made recently, thereby denying that he ever endorsed Yumkella's candidature. Another part of the 'borku talk' lyrics says, 'wae u go lent, u say u buy am dear'; and this ignites the question, 'KKY, where's that plane that your boys were splashing on social media as yours?' Yeah... 'from wae u small,u dae pan borku talk... U hair dae white, u dae pan borku talk...' The 419 game has apparently entered into our politics!

Two weeks to elections, Yumkella is losing his voice - it's having a fading strain right now as he jumps from one place to another saying 'the white people' are behind him. Is he not misinterpreting Mrs Philomena Yumkella to be white?

Yumkella was so naïve, politically-speaking, that he told some Sierra Leonean youths that he opened an assembly plant for 'okadas' in Nigeria - and he would be able to do the same in Sierra Leone if elected. So was he elected in Nigeria before he opened the so-called plant? Come on my man, you can do better than that!

Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, an illustrious son of Sierra Leone, could end up being like the fabled antelope that danced itself lame before the main dance - and might end up licking his wounds from the sidelines, watching others enjoying the show.

Or like the third-force parties before him (Karefa-Smart's UNPP, Thaimu Bangura's PDP, Charles Margai's PMDC), Yumkella's NGC would pale into road-side oblivion after March 2018.

What 'Rankanomics'! Shine your eyes everybody! KKY and his NGC 'den go lef u pan wondri'!!!

Courtesy: By Sheka Tarawalie (Shekito), currently in London, UK

 

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Sane SLPP Supporters Betrayed as Maada's $18M Scam Unveiled!

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo (28/02/18)

Thousands of ordinary SLPP members feel betrayed and outraged at the alleged embezzlement of $18 million of national funds in 1996.

The alleged $ 18 million ilmenite embezzlement by Julius Maada Bio the Presidential aspirant of the Sierra Leone People's Party and the party deliberate failures to do genuine background check on their flagship aspirant prior to their convention are an utter betrayal of thousands of ordinary SLPP members and supporters across Sierra Leone and beyond.

It's the thousands of ordinary SLPP members who should feel most outraged at the alleged embezzlement of $18 million of national funds in1996 in the last three months Julius Maada Bio led Sierra Leone as Chairman and Head of State from the National Provisional Ruling Council. And the party hierarchy will have to work hard to earn their trust back for electing a criminal of mixed crimes to lead their party.

The Sierra Leone People's Party is in a state of deep shock after revelations its current Presidential flagship aspirant, Julius Maada Bio, is accused of embezzling $ 18 million of State funds in just three months of his leadership. Added to this are his blooded hands in killing fellow nationals beyond the usual course of legal proceedings.

While some SLPP stakeholders seem willing to hide beyond the illegal 1996 amnesty given to Bio, In some quarters, party members are saying that they really made an unforgivable mistake in stereotyping democracy in favour of Bio.

It appears a breathtaking $18 million of State funds was diverted for personal benefit. A source said that what was taken was "a very significant portion of the money raised by the State at a very sensitive time when the country was at war and innocent people killed ... The State did a lot of work to get that deal as investors were very difficult to get during such difficult period. We all feel completely gutted and furious". He added "No wonder why Maada Bio never criticise the Ebola and landslide nicked corruption"

BIO's DISHONESTY STINKS

What really angers and disappoints about Bio's alleged actions is that after stealing from the State and ruin the economy he returned home financially broke, full of deceitful tricks in all fronts,idle for more than two decades, but within the last ten years of President Koroma's regime, he is able to get fleet of expensive cars and a house. To make matters worse, he is busy running up and down the country criticising the incumbent APC regime saying "APC aren't good for themselves and the country because they destroy the country's economy" shamelessly, Bio can only boast of how strong late President Kabba left the economy, but still refusing to say what was the status of the economy when he handed power over him.

IS BIO GOOD FOR SIERRA LEONE?

NO, the grand embezzlement and the governance failures that allowed it to happen are above all an utter betrayal of, and insult to, millions of Sierra Leoneans and specifically members and supporters across SLPP who are not wealthy or personally powerful but are the soul of the party that he was deceiving with his fake love for his country and people.

They're the ones who turn out in all weather at election times to support MPs and candidates, door-knock, exchange letters, banners and talk up the SLPP cause to anyone who will listen.

They're the ones who greet you at the polling booth on election days with a smile and a how-to-vote guide, and look forward to bantering with voters and their counterparts from other parties.

They're the ones who faithfully attend branch meetings, local party events, run the trivia and soup nights, and buy the party tickets, t-shirts, caps that inevitably is a part of any political gathering - and donate back their cash.

They're the ones who drive up to all kilometres to attend party meetings and pre-selection conventions.

They're the ones who organise local electorate fundraising functions, work tirelessly to make them well-attended and successful, and cheerfully endure the proverbial rubber chicken and drinks at bar prices, because they buy their own tickets as well as sell them.

They're the ones who pay membership subscriptions or respond to bigwigs' circular appeals for donations. Many may not be able to afford to give much, but their trickles join to become a funding river for the party: a river, it seems, that can easily be dipped into by the unscrupulous Bio. And they're the ones who are most entitled to feel gutted and angry at what has happened.

Others are young activists with stars in their eyes and idealism in their hearts. Yet they do so willingly and turn out for the party because they believe, as the SLPP bannered in the days of late President Kabba, that "The SLPP exists to provide high quality governments that empower people to solve the major challenges they face in their lives". Hence the slogan " One Country, One People". This grassroots faith is what's been shaken to its core by what has happened.

The SLPP as an organisation need to recover and be reformed. Julius Maada Bio failed to be refreshingly open and honest with his members and the public as soon as the appalling situation was confirmed. That welcome candour was supposed to be good start to rebuilding trust in his battered character.

But just as with former President Kabba mentioned in the launching of the gunboat, this is yet another case of an elected or appointed official feeling somehow entitled to take advantage of the so-called "little people" who are their rank-and-file members, even though ultimately they owed everything to those they betrayed.

The $18 million ilmenite revelations, be it an accomplice crime or founder of Sierra Leone Peace humiliation in Presidential debate, should remind elected and appointed office holders in political parties and politically-active organisations alike that respecting the trust of their members and the public is fundamental to public life and a healthy democracy. Their position and status is a conferred privilege, not a personal fiefdom.

Unfortunately, most of these office holders, across the political spectrum, don't work very hard to earn and retain that trust.

 

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Sierra Leone Lawyer Denounces President Koroma's Dual Citizenship Hypocrisy!

By Anonymous Lawyer (14/02/18)
President Ernest Koroma's blatant double standard on Sierra Leoneans with dual citizenship is being criticised by all patriotic citizens.

Here, a learned Sierra Leonean lawyer, who prefers anonymity, makes this eye opening, must read legal submission regarding the mischievous way the APC government of Ernest Koroma continues to manhandle the dual citizenship issue. The lawyer writes:

Recent developments have seen the APC Government under Ernest Bai Koroma leading the unholy crusade against Sierra Leoneans holding dual citizenship so as to prevent them from participating as candidates for elective positions in the March 7th, 2018 elections.

It is not their desire to follow the law that is in issue; it is the use of this law as a weapon against those who the government now sees as a threat to their survival after violating same for so long that exposes the hypocrisy and shrewdness of the APC government and President Ernest Bai Koroma.

The correct position is that dual citizenship is generally allowed by law and is not illegal by any means since the passing of the Sierra Leone Citizenship Amendment Act 2006 – which by Section 5 made holding dual citizenship unqualifiedly legal. However, certain positions are, by constitutional mandate under section 75 and 76 of the constitution reserved to be held by persons who do not hold voluntary dual citizenship or are under an oath of allegiance to another country at the time of their nomination and election to parliament, to the vice presidency, the presidency or to be otherwise appointed ministers or deputy ministers.

By section 56 (2) of the Constitution, a person can only be appointed a Minister if he is qualified to be appointed to Parliament. This Provision clearly states as follows:

“A person shall not be appointed a Minister or Deputy Minister unless - 
a. he is qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament; and 
b. he has not contested and lost as a candidate in the general election immediately preceding his nomination for appointment; and 
c. his nomination is approved by Parliament.”

As to what amounts to being qualified for election as a member of Parliament in the first place before being eligible for appointment as a Minister is stated Section 76(1) of the Constitution as follows:

“No person shall be qualified for election as a Member of Parliament - if he is a naturalized citizen of Sierra Leone or is a citizen of a country other than Sierra Leone having become such a citizen voluntarily or is under a declaration of allegiance to such a country”

This provision, when read with Section 75 of the Constitution, limits eligibility for election as member of Parliament to only citizens that are (i) not naturalized citizens and (ii) do not hold citizenship of another country if they held that other citizenship “voluntarily or (iii) are under a declaration of allegiance to such a country”. In effect, it disqualifies any one holding dual citizenship from occupying any position that has eligibility-for-election-to-Parliament as one of its requirements. That includes Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Government.

By Section 56 of the Constitution, the power to appoint Ministers is vested in the President who by Section 40 (2) and (2) respectively is regarded as:

“The President shall be the Fountain of Honour and Justice and the symbol of national unity and sovereignty. The President shall be the guardian of the Constitution and the guarantor of national independence and territorial integrity, and shall ensure respect for treaties and international agreements.”

By this sacred designation, the President ought to be the guardian of the Constitution and should not only ensure that the Constitution is respected and enforced fairly, but also that he himself abides by its mandates and dictates including in ensuring that no Minister of Deputy Minister holding a dual citizenship would be among persons he appoints into Ministerial and Cabinet positions.

As it stands, several ministers of government currently hold dual citizenship; but they continue to occupy their offices in clear violation of the Constitution. If only President Koroma and his advisers were to read the 'Constitution well, they will see that by Section 56 (2) of the Constitution and Section 76(1), it is expressly prohibited for anyone to remain a Minister or Deputy Minister who is a Dual Citizen. By Section 58 of the Constitution, the president can revoke appointments to Ministerial Positions as they hold their position at his sole discretion.

However, the President has remained sealed lipped on the status of more than half of his Ministerial appointments who hold dual citizenship while he continues to shamelessly lead an unholy crusade to disqualify Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkela. That is a betrayal of his position as the Constitutionally designated 'Fountain of Honour' - as he is flagrantly disrespecting the Constitution on the one hand while on the other hand, he is trying to disenfranchise several other Sierra Leoneans from having the opportunity to serve his people for his own selfish ends.

In the first place, a President who respects the Constitution ought to have carried out due diligence on his choice of Ministers and Deputy Ministers before appointing those Ministers and Deputy Ministers into office so as not to be in violation of Section 56 of the Constitution. He either knew that they were dual citizens but sought to appoint them anyway in violation of the Constitution he swore to protect, or he was in fact reckless as to what the Constitution had to say and therefore acted without regard for it. Either way, that he has kept them in cabinet to date while his party is fighting Dr. Yumkella and other dual citizens even in his own party is a testament to the fact that he is no respecter of the Constitution but is merely leading a desperate crusade to disqualify a key opponent to his party’s bid to remain in power and to remove an obvious pending defeat for his hand-picked successor in his party.

As the curtain draws on his regime, one thing that President Koroma will be remembered for is his disrespect for the very Constitution he swore to protect and the many times he has deliberately disregarded its clear stipulations so as to satisfy his selfish narcissistic political agenda.

That these ministers continue to serve in government while his party chose to exclude others from having a fair opportunity to serve their country; and is very determined in seeking to have other parties’ Presidential candidates disqualified on the basis of being under “oath of allegiance” to a foreign country, means that the law is being selectively applied under his watch.

This dishonourable abuse of his position and power, which is unfortunately characteristic of his presidency, undermines the Rule of Law and is a recipe for chaos for the country. The law on the exclusion of certain class of dual citizens should be either wholly properly applied to all affected without a hidden motive or rather be totally abandoned into desuetude or disuse.

By his action in appointing dual citizens throughput the 10 years of his presidency, President Koroma had evidently chosen the latter until now. Going back is regrettably a callous step not befitting the one designated the 'Fountain of Honour' he disappointingly ought to have been.

Courtesy: Written by a Sierra Leonean lawyer who prefers to remain anonymous

 

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Why Yumkella has the Proven Ability to Contest our Nation’s Presidency!

By Dr. Christopher Williams (01/02/18)
Since independence, this is the first time a person with such proven skills and ability to contest for the apex position in Sierra Leone!

The die has been cast. The time for our next general elections is now at our doorstep and whether we like it or not, a decision has to be made for the land that we so love, our Sierra Leone. We have to decide on setting the tone for our country for the next five years, and probably the next ten. I am one Sierra Leonean that gave up on our national politics, because I strongly believed that its degeneracy was irreparable. But current developments such as the emergence of a robust Presidential candidate have forced me to rethink my position and have given me a sign of hope enough to take a decisive and deliberate stance without any fear or favor. My reason for change is not for any personal benefit but rather to bequeath to posterity as part of my last will and testament, a healthy and dynamic Sierra Leone.

It is my humble submission that ever since our independence that our country, like most of Africa, has not been blessed with good leadership, apart from Sir Milton Margai’s very short tenure, in which he governed the country with clean hands. The rest of the leaders have left very much to be desired, some much worse than others. There has been so much Kleptocracy and lack of vision and at times megalomaniacs surrounded by sycophants whose objective had nothing but ill gotten gains. They are willing to fill their pockets and project their personal image as living legends and at times utter dictators that lack the shared knowledge of governance. As a result the nation has plunged from the sublime to the ridiculous. It is at times heart rendering, frustrating and disillusioning for a nation that appears to have such potential in natural and human resources can afford to degenerate so fast.

It is very difficult to forget about the ignominious past that has been dominated by the politics of thuggery, as well as a perverted democratic system that depends on what the leaders dictate. Currently, we have been put into a situation where the direction of our Republic has to be determined. Do we want to have a continuation of the same where anytime we open the newspaper there are reports of kleptocrats who have enriched themselves considerably and who lavishly boast about it; who in few years in major positions have acquired so much wealth way beyond their compensation without any accountability? Or do we want to go the way of proven official thuggery and unscrupulousness, unheeded kleptocracy and pronouncement of “first color” in a nation where most of us are dark-skinned? Or do we need change from a middle aged passionate and compassionate leader who has proven himself with distinguished accolades on the world and domestic scenes and one who is ready to ensure practical growth and development for the land that we love?

President Tejan Kabbah’s tenure in office need not be trivialized. He was faced with all kinds of difficulties such as civil war which he had to encounter and in the end came out successfully. He stabilized Sierra Leone by ensuring peace. He also set up institutions like NASSIT and the National Revenue Collection Agency. Together with the United Nations he set up the Anti Corruption Agency as well as the Special Court System to try some of the rebels and was responsible for many other notable undertakings.

The Ernest Koroma administration, for the last ten years, have been marked with some successes and a host of failures. Since 2002 under the Kabbah administration, the economy had grown phenomenally at the rate of six to seven per cent. This growth continued during the Koroma administration until the advent of the ebola pandemic which partially destroyed the economy. However, at the time of this phenomenal growth, very few Sierra Leoneans derived substantial economic benefits from the continued economic expansion. Approximately half of the national income went to business firms.

Another quarter directly or indirectly benefitted a small and privileged group of Sierra Leoneans, politicians and top salaried government officials. Practices such as super inflated per diem monies paid to officials as well as other unnecessary inflated perks to government officials have had a very negative impact on the economy. The great mass of Sierra Leone households and petty businesses approximately ninety five percent of the people received the remaining quarter of the national income.

Seventy percent of Sierra Leoneans live below the poverty level and twenty six percent of our people live in abject poverty. Forty percent of the people live in urbanized areas, yet industrialization in terms of manufacturing is miniscule giving rise to the high percentage employment, especially youth unemployment. More than half of the total consumption expenditure comes from the very few wealthy Sierra Leoneans residents, expatriates, government officials, landowners, businessmen and women. This should suggest a heavy taxes on consumer goods.

The wealthy have a way of circumventing taxes enforced or not enforced. The Koroma government of patronage and corruptions transcends the laws. I am not sure whether we Sierra Leoneans want this kind of bad governance to continue in the land that we love.

Attempts by State institutions such as the Anti Corruption Commission and by the courts to demand accountability have been thwarted with all kinds of executive and administrative interferences and this has created an atmosphere of inequity, and unfairness for the great bulk of the masses who live in abject poverty throughout the country. We can do better than this.

Income redistribution has not been addressed by the Koroma administration. A relatively large proportion of wages and salaries have gone to a small amount of non Africans as well as non Sierra Leoneans. Equally significant is the distribution between skilled, semi skilled and unskilled Sierra Leoneans as well as the small number of Sierra Leone professionals. The owners of land and capital resources control the bulk of the national income. There is really a need for change.

Development Plans such as quality education at all levels, providing education for skilled trades and providing state-of-the-art cutting edge facility for the twenty first century have been woefully in demand. Just making allocations here and there without positive outcomes and without developing an instrument to measure success is counterproductive at best.

For example the basic amenities of clean water and sustained energy are in short supply throughout the country even though they are much better now than when Koroma took over as President. If manufacturing industries are to develop, water and energy are essential and necessary amenities that have to exist in abundant supply. Recent developments in the agricultural sector are commendable and ought to be viewed as the firsts steps in national food self sufficiency in the long run.

The Koroma administration has been marked by some infrastructural growth, not development, namely the building of arterial roads. These roads are meant to connect the coastal areas to the rest of the country which is a necessary part of social and political unification in the country and is bound to increase commerce nationally. The current administration can be credited for improving this infrastructure considerably.

While these new roads have yielded certain social and economic benefits to hitherto isolated places but they have also have negative side effects, more petty corruption and graft. It will be a blessing if these roads can bring good government to remote areas but a curse if they bring in bad governance. We cannot afford to continue in the same vein with the Koroma regime.

Dr. Samura Kamara served as a key figure throughout the Koroma administration as Finance Minister, Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone and Foreign Minister. He was the major architect of some of these policies. President Koroma even attested that was one of the major reasons he selected him for the Presidency because he helped craft some of those failed policies that have currently put us in financial predicament. Dr. Kamara ought to take full share of the blame for the failure of the Koroma administration as well as take credit for its successes. Do we need him to continue the same failed policies? I would dare say an unequivocal NO!!!

To begin with Dr. Samura Kamara must put to rest the doubt that continues to linger as to whether he has earned an academic doctorate or not. That doubt started at the Parliamentary Hearing committee when he was nominated for the Foreign Minister’s position, and members of the Parliamentary Hearing Committee demanded to see his Ph. D. diploma certificate. He told the committee that he has requested his daughter to send it from London.. Within a few days he was hurriedly endorsed by the committee and we don’t know whether the committee received the document or not.

Also we are not sure where he read for his doctorate degree and when it was conferred on him. Some local newspapers named the University of North Wales, while others stated it was conferred at the University of Wales and Hull University. Which is which and when and where? Sierra Leoneans need the correct information in the name of transparency for an individual aspiring to hold the highest office in the land.

In that same Parliamentary Hearing committee meeting most of us were shocked at the assets that Dr. Kamara declared which at the time was way over US$ 20 million plus holding more than fifty percent of assets in a local Bank in Freetown. He needs to make another declaration of his assets and show how and when he acquired them? These numbers make him one of the richest Sierra Leoneans on the land especially for a man who some of the local newspapers referred to as Mr. 10%.

I am not sure what that means. Could it be acquiring 10% by illegal means of all business concessions that came through his desk for approval as Finance minister at the time? Having an asset of this immense proportion in a country whose national budget last year was only a paltry US$ 900 million holds him suspect. I understand quite recently within the last few months he has single handedly financed the building of a mosque in his hometown. At a time like this with so much at stake we need transparency especially with a Presidential austerity budget in action currently; we need to know who we are voting for.

Another albatross around Dr. Kamara’s neck is that should he be elected President that he would have to carry out the failed policies of the Koroma legacy. Is that what we want for the land that we love? Besides, the APC party has gone on record as making Koroma the life Chair of the party, a blunder which a lot of African countries make. It is unfortunate that we have not learnt from past mistakes.

A President is not a Paramount Chief! In a democracy, the notion of life-long executives is very antithetical and smacks of dictatorship. Should Dr. Kamara be elected, this does not give him a free hand to be his own person rather he will have to act under the whims, caprices and microscope of Koroma. In essence, President Koroma will be enjoying a third term of office from behind the political silhouette. My democratic thinking is that President Koroma has to depart from the political scene should Dr. Kamara be elected.

To compound the situation the APC has maintained that when a President or Vice President does not toe the party line, the party can expel him. If and when that is the case, that should lead to a forfeiture of the public office in question. So should Dr. Kamara be elected President and refuses to toe the party line, the party can get rid of him and obviously he will cease to be President thereby creating a national constitutional crisis. Quite unfortunately the national Supreme Court has reinforced this APC policy with the removal of VP Sam Sumana, a legal travesty.

Dr. Kamara is yet to demonstrate his charisma for the position, by rallying the troops. Others seem to be doing the job for him. He is yet to come up with a Strategic Plan to let us know what he intends to do as a President and why he wants to be President. He acts as though he is still in a fit of abstraction of being elevated to a position that he did not ask for, and perhaps has unwillingly accepted from the powers that be. Let’s face it, Dr. Kamara is a bureaucrat/technocrat that has always operated from behind the scene where he feels most comfortable. Certainly, it takes a lot to be President and perhaps he is not ready for this mantle, at least not yet.

Another potential candidate that has risen to the fore and has been tested is Maada Bio. He is known to have a very blemished political career and a very tarnished experience in governing Sierra Leone; an experience that leaves very bitter memories in the minds and hearts of many Sierra Leoneans. First of all, his ascendancy to the political helm as a military leader demonstrated his unscrupulousness not to stop at anything in achieving his ambition in which he physically deposed the then military comrade unorthodoxly to occupy the position.

He then governed the country with a very heavy hand, living so lavishly that he nearly bankrupted the country. He peevishly and childishly came up with his “ first skin colour” idea in a country where most people are dark-skinned. The United States and the United Kingdom had to negotiate his surrendering of power to a legitimate civilian government after promising and bribing him with a large amount of money laced with opportunities to develop himself academically and otherwise.

His administration was a demonstration of his unfitness to be head of State, a dream he has constantly nurtured to return back to the seat of power at any price and by any means necessary. Consequently, after acquiring his Bachelors and Masters degrees in the U.S. he returned back after seven years to head the SLPP and ran as that party’s flag bearer in the last presidential election which he lost to Ernest Koroma by a very large margin for the latter’s second term.

Currently he is again the flag bearer for the second time for the SLPP, an election that he very well knows that he does not even have a slim chance of winning. He cannot get over the idea that Sierra Leoneans do not want him to be at the helm of their political affairs. He lacks the demeanor, comportment and the wherewithal to ever lead Sierra Leone unless again into an abyss.

The leaders of the SLPP share the blame for failing to convince him that he has outlived his usefulness as a leader and that he can be a more responsible follower than a national leader. The blame is on the followers rather than on him as some of the party leaders are currently deserting him in droves. They have not been able to convince him of his inability not only to lead the party let alone the country. Rather he is languishing in his own obsolescence with a delusion of his own grandeur to become the national boss. In the meantime he is destroying our nation’s oldest party, and what used to be the nation’s most distinguished political party.

Currently, he has become enshrined in political ineptitude that he cannot even obtain a visa to visit the world’s wealthiest and largest economy, The United States of America, a complete negative should the mistake be made to vote him in as the country’s next President. His presidential candidacy is a long shot and again an exercise in futility.

Now to Dr Kandeh Yumkella the middle aged politician, technocrat/bureaucrat with charismatic tendencies that can be contagious. He has enough accolades domestically and internationally to earn his keel. He has demonstrated to the world, to his nation and to his comrades that he is ready, able and willing to become our next President of Sierra Leone.

He has demonstrated people skills at all levels, organizational skills par excellence and his penchant to make the impossible, possible, the improbable, probable, and the unchallengeable, challengeable. He is a rare blend that compounds humility with courage, compassion with determination, and moreover, ability with reliabilty. That all these elements and talents can be subsumed in one individual is a credit and a testament to the personal genius of this man.

It is not too many times that an individual like him, a distinguished son of Sierra Leone, a supra nationalist can submit himself to the task of national leadership. Dr. Yumkella is well positioned to share his mantle of success with the nation that he has already shared with the world at large. For him this is a noble task. He strongly believes in accountability, integrity and sustainability, virtues that that are enduring in our nation’s august son. He wants unselfishly to take us way beyond the path that Presidents Kabbah and Koroma have crafted for us. I believe that Dr. Yumkella is a man of destiny whose future has become intrinsically interwoven into our national destiny. He has been well prepared, groomed and very qualified to assume the mantle of national leadership that will take us into the twenty first century.

Dr. Yumkella has outlined his policy of growth and development for our country. He has said in countless speeches that he wants to go way beyond the mode of allocation to positive outcomes and accountability. He has offered to restructure our educational institutions that currently lie fallow to their former heights of glory so that they can provide the personnel to help the nation on a path to success.

He has said that he wants to prioritize, to align the skills derived in education to the national growth and development needs and make our educational institutions at all levels functional. He wants to ensure that the basic commodities of water and energy be adequately restored, and that they are a right and not a privilege to fuel our industrial manufacturing growth.

In turn that would provide growth and development prosperity that would in turn provide jobs for our unemployed and under employed youths throughout the country. By so doing that would create a tax base that would enhance our national development. Whatever positive results are derived will be shared by the masses and not a kleptocratic oligarchy, as is currently the case.

He would not be learning on the job as most of those before him, rather he is ready to lead his country to the vistas of renown. He towers head and shoulders above all his competitors. Dr. Kamara may come a very distant second and Maada Bio is not even in the game. I am sure President Koroma himself is cognizant of this fact but may not want to admit it in public and perhaps is scared to match any of his aspirants Dr. Yumkella.

Sincerely in our national post independence history, we have never had a person with such proven leadership skills and ability to be elevated to the apex of our nation’s leadership. This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss or pass us by. If we let this opportunity to make him our leader pass us by, we would have only ourselves to blame.

Looking back perhaps the mistake which we made as a nation was to restore the two party system with these same two parties that led us to the brink of disaster. Dr Yumkella opting for the presidency is to rectify that mistake and to prove that these two parties do not control the monopoly of power in our Republic. What we need is a multi party system. The NGC is beginning to look like The United Front Party of the early sixties. It is very inclusive and anti ethnic, virtues that reflect the character of its leadership. Conversely, if we are going to be left with the two party system that it is time to pull out the life support from one of them. The voting public will make that determination. Yes it’s time for a change and Dr Kandeh Yumkella and the NGC is that change.

This is an individual I have come to know and admire for over two decades. Those of you who know me know that I don’t give such unequivocal support to just average folks. Dr Yumkella stands out and the land that we love so much, our Sierra Leone will be made much better by this great man of destiny, Let’s all go out and campaign on his behalf!!! As you can tell, I am energized.

LONG LIVE PRESIDENT DR. KANDEH YUMKELLA AND THE NGC!!!

Courtesy: By Dr. Christopher Williams, Ex. Dean Kent State University

 

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I Spotted the Presidential Material in Yumkella in 2009!

By Umaru Fofana, BBC (20/01/18)
In November 2009 at the Westminster hall in London I was covering the Sierra Leone development partners’ conference.

A very good initiative of the Sierra Leone and British governments to try to woo investors back into the country, President Ernest Bai Koroma had invited a top Sierra Leonean diplomat, Kandeh Yumkella (KKY) to address the conference. It would be my first time to see him albeit we did not meet. I was mesmerised. Why not! After all he was one of only three Sierra Leoneans to have risen to the rank of United Nations Undersecretary General - the others having been Dr James Jonah and Dr Davidson Nicol. There has been a fourth one since - Zainab Bangura.

It would take six years before I could meet Dr Yumkella. We sat together for an interview at his Hill Station house - yet incomplete. He told me how he had spent years building it and wondered why some in present day Sierra Leone would just come up with mansions in no time after their appointment or election to public office.

As a United Nations’ undersecretary general, the Westminster hall was full of businesspeople from around the world listening in with bated breath. And they paid rapt attention. They were expectant to get an assurance about the business climate situation in Sierra Leone. The faces of government officials and businesspeople glowed as Yumkella spoke. Then I thought to myself that this man - whose name had already been touted anyway - would one day run for president of Sierra Leone.

But I was unsure because he had been deemed to be a member of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). Credit due then to the decision to invite one of the country’s illustrious sons to attend to a national call regardless of his political inclination - a rare consideration in present day Sierra Leone. How things have changed in just six years!

Soon I would hear - but couldn’t confirm - that Yumkella was being courted by the All People’s Congress party. A source linked to Olusegun Obasanjo was quoted as saying that the former Nigerian president was working on it. As someone who joined President Ernest Bai Koroma to openly campaign for him in 2012 one could not just shrug off the possibility of his involvement.

But whatever happened Dr Yumkella would later declare his intentions to run to lead Sierra Leone by aspiring to bear the flag for the SLPP. That would be bogged down in controversy with questions over his party membership. Depending on who you believe he has been an SLPP member for years or he only so became this year - 2016.

Be that as it may Dr Yumkella brings along a huge influence that makes him a very safe pair of hands to head the country’s foreign ministry. As for the presidency, I would say thus: Those who think Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was a good president who respected freedoms and established governance and accountability structures would attribute that to his many years as a UN diplomat. And those who think he was too weak, clueless and boring with a tendency to be vindictive would also probably attribute that to his long years at the UN body. That perhaps is how a Yumkella’s presidential candidacy could be viewed.

Yumkella’s chances of becoming the SLPP flag-bearer are tough - in fact very tough - but not dismissible. This may in part be due to the way the political parties are structured in Sierra Leone but also because of his many years abroad and what is generally regarded as having stood aloof on the country and been away for far too long. He does not have the oomph of Dr John Karefa-Smart who, despite having lived overseas for many years - or may be because of that - wielded tremendous popularity back home and in the views of many won the presidential election of 1996. But he may well determine who becomes the next president of Sierra Leone.

But no one can take away the fact that like Karefa-Smart, Yumkella has a huge influence among the intellectual class. And being a northerner he can do better for the SLPP in the northwest than any known APC aspirant can do in the southeast. That support he has in the northwest is what the SLPP needs to be able to win a nationwide election. In the same way any APC candidate needs to get the southeast to be comfortable to win.

In view of the rancour that has developed between supporters of Dr Yumkella and those of Brig (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio - the frontrunner for leadership of the SLPP - there may well be a repeat of the rapture that followed the disagreement between Charles Margai and Solomon Berewa in the SLPP following the party’s 2005 Makeni delegates’ conference. Like then, the current disagreement has the tendency to lead to a split within the party and make an already bad situation even worse.

Now what a split does - assuming Yumkella loses the party leadership tussle and feels hard done by due to the circumstances leading to that and decides to set up a new political party - is this: The SLPP may well be in for another defeat with the possibility of making amends depending on how the sides fell out and made amends or not.

Ordinarily a Yumkella presidential candidate would take more of APC votes in the northwest than any of the currently touted APC candidates would take in the southeast, or even any other SLPP candidate would take in the north - except perhaps Alpha Timbo. And for all you know Timbo may well be a fine compromise candidate if Yumkella and Bio become the albatross around their party’s neck.

Now, if Yumkella runs under another party and loses, he is less likely to support Maada Bio in a runoff and will be more inclined to ensure he loses as a punishment. One cannot rule that out in the event Maada Bio lost the flag-bearer contest. The same as Charles Margai whose disdain for Berewa was such that he chose to do what he did in 2007 to shift the balance of power against his former party. An action he says he now rues.

Just may be the camaraderie that brought Koroma and Yumkella together that led to him being invited to that London conference in 2009 may well be alive to make him support an APC candidate in a runoff election. But two things that could militate against that are the fact that he has been vilified a lot by some individuals who are APC operatives. But also because he has expressed dissatisfaction over the way the country is currently being run for which he blames the APC.

Mind you he is a firm believer in many things Western and would be hard to compromise against his conviction. Put all of that together and make him SLPP presidential candidate, the APC will have all to fight for.

Courtesy: Umaru Fofana, Politico 14/01/16. Reproduced.

 

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Yumkella/Keili Ticket is a Match Made in Heaven! Period!!

By Dr. Barba M. Koroma (10/01/18)

The National Grand Coalition NGC party is already tickling the uneasy APC party thanks to the Yumkella/Keili ticket.

Development expert Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella's choice of engineer Andrew K. Keili as his running mate for the 2018 elections is making waves in the Sierra Leone community at home, in the diaspora, and in social media circles. This choice is considered by many to be a divinely orchestrated union that will produce a successful and happy outcome for the National Grand Coalition party. It is a move that is seen by many as electric, prudent, judicious, and calculated. But adjectives alone cannot do justice to this summation, let’s peel the layers.

BOTH MEN ARE LETTERED

To run through the corridors of academia and be awarded certificates, diplomas, or degrees, at the end of a curriculum, is not the best definition of an educated or lettered person. An educated, learned, or lettered individual in the true sense, is one who matriculates into an academic institution, successfully completes the requirements of a specified curriculum, and then goes out to live the life of one who has been enlightened. In other words, he or she moves from darkness to light, and from ignorance to an awakening. A 19th century educator defined education as a process of conversion of brutes into fine specimens of cultured human beings. As we all know, this definition does not fit everyone out there.

This election cycle in Sierra Leone for example, has among its aspiring candidates, individuals with earned nicknames that spell trouble, others with clouds of character flaws that remind us of fifties-era gangster movies. Such errant behaviors clearly do not fall within the scope expected of fine cultured people. Now, here comes Dr. Yumkella and running mate Engineer Keili, who, interestingly, attended the same secondary school, Christ the King College in the southern city of Bo. Both are fine gentlemen with no ignominious nicknames or palpable defects in character. Sierra Leone has been waiting for men like these who bring to the table excellence that would allow Sierra Leoneans to thrive freely in a morally-sanitized atmosphere free of fear, violence, or intimidation.

BOTH MEN ARE TECHNOCRATS

We live in a world that is ruled by technology, in which developing countries like Sierra Leone are especially disadvantaged, because of lack of informed and capable leadership. It is important to have leaders with initiative and ingenuity at the very top, where critical decisions are made. To make this possible, we need technocrats, these are individuals who combine technical know-how with political power in making sound decisions that capitalize on technology. Sierra Leone has never had a president or his immediate surrogate who is a technocrat. Cabinet members who are, have never had the gravitas to make inroads for implementing a technology-focused agenda.

This is why leaders who combine political power with technical savvy are needed to make smart technology-driven policies. We have seen how the Ernest Bai Koroma administration failed to capitalize on Chinese involvement in Sierra Leone; all they have to show for their presence are a few third-rate roadways and an unnecessary and burdensome toll road. At a time when a handpicked, tried and tested politician who did not deliver even though he served in key positions over many succeeding governments, is being pushed on the people, the Yumkella-Keili ticket is the antidote and alternative to this ploy to continue business-as-usual. Between them, technocrats Dr. Yumkella and his running mate Engr Keili, have a formidable portfolio of expertise and training with years of experience and technical savvy. In addition, both men have the knowledge to speak independently on technology, economics, and development. And unlike their rivals, both men can point to positive and tangible accomplishments in their impressive resumes.

Dr. Yumkella is a world-renowned development expert who for decades at the United Nations, has contributed to formulating and enacting policies on technology and economic development. Engr Keili, a former flagbearer aspirant in his own right, is very familiar with issues affecting Sierra Leone, and has for decades contributed to various efforts directed at policies affecting the mining and other technology sectors in Sierra Leone. Taken together, the technical competencies vested in the Yumkella-Keili ticket would eclipse that of their rivals by a very wide margin.

BOTH MEN HAVE UNTARNISHED PUBLIC, PRIVATE, AND PROFESSIONAL RECORDS

If there is one attribute that is in short supply among politicians in Africa today, it is character, integrity, and honesty. Just ask outspoken critic of African politics and economics, the pre-eminent pundit, Professor PLO Lumumba. There is hardly any African country that is not suffering from corruption on an epic scale. Sierra Leone is no exception. Dr. Yumkella’s blotless professional track record is a far cry from the pattern in Sierra Leone. The same could be said of Engr Keili who has been in the public domain in Sierra Leone for decades. Thus, if a man’s history is a window to his future, we can look forward to a President and Vice President who have abundance of worthy character and integrity, that would allow them to surely deliver the goods in 2018 and beyond.

BOTH MEN HAVE OUTSTANDING COMMUNICATION SKILLS

A key ingredient in leadership is effective communication. Here, we have a duo, Dr. Yumkella and Engr Keili, both with outstanding written and oral skills. Dr. Yumkella is an especially avid speechmaker, and Engr Keili, a consummate writer. Together, they make a dream leadership team for Sierra Leone. In fact, this is a team that would benefit immensely from showcasing their communications skills in a forum such as a debate. Perhaps it is time for all Sierra Leoneans to call for the incorporation of national debates into the system of electing a president in the country, because it provides added scrutiny of candidates, and gives the electorate an opportunity to judge candidates’ ability to sell themselves, and their ideological positions on issues affecting the country. Just in case anyone is wondering, there is plenty of time for radio and television media, in consultation with the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to organize a series of debates in this election cycle.

BOTH MEN ARE SPIRITUALLY INTELLIGENT

Intelligence quotience (IQ) is a measure of a person’s ability to solve mental problems. A high IQ is desirable for solving earthly problems, but as human beings we also need to relate to the spiritual authority of our lives, i.e. God. The ability to do so is called spiritual intelligence. Intelligence is earthly good, but spiritual intelligence is divine and eternal. If we are to measure spiritual intelligence by what people do, Dr. Yumkella and Engr Keili complement each other by showing great commitment to their walk with God. Dr. Yumkella is a Muslim, the son of a Paramount Chief, who has performed pilgrimage (Hajj and Umrah) more than once, and Andrew Keili is a lay preacher-proclaimer, the son of an Anglican Archbishop. The pedigrees and acts of both men go over and beyond average commitment as believers. A man who is not anchored by faith is riding on the high seas of life without a compass. Dr. Yumkella, a Muslim, and Engr Keili, a Christian, have demonstrated humility, submission, and commitment to spirituality, thereby providing a balance between the two major religious sects of the country. In testament of their God-fearing nature, therefore, Alhaji Yumkella and Lay Preacher Keili have shown that they are ready for the job of shepherding a nation.

BOTH MEN HAVE A STRONG WORK ETHICS

A leader cannot give what he or she does not have. A person who has not held a job or provided a means for self-sustenance for the better part of two decades is not considered leadership material. An excellent work ethic is the foundation for good leadership. Since a leader is a role model for the citizenry, he or she must model excellence. In a country like Sierra Leone where productivity has taken a nose dive because of high unemployment and poor governance, the country needs leaders who know how to lead by example. People who aspire to national leadership but do not know what waking up in the morning and reporting for work (day in day and day out) looks like, have questionable work ethic. That anyone would consider casting their future into the hands of individuals with little or no work ethic to speak of, is dumbfounding. The Yumkella-Keili ticket has several decades of solid track record as employees or employers. This is the foundation upon which good leadership is built. For once, Sierra Leoneans can expect dynamic creativity and ingenuity emanating from the top, in the presidency of Yumkella and Keili in 2018 and beyond.

BOTH MEN HAVE A HEART FOR THE COUNTRY OF SIERRA LEONE

To say that one has a heart for his country is to show it in deed, and not in words only. To relinquish power when you have no options is not how you show love for country. Dr. Yumkella could have easily stayed on at the UN to continue an illustrious career. But he chose to return home to Sierra Leone to serve. This is a patriotic act. Listening to him expound with passion his plans for the homeland, will leave you with no doubt that he says what he means, and means what he says. In addition, during his tenure at the UN, Dr. Yumkella brought many vital development projects to Sierra Leone that could have been taken elsewhere. This is how you demonstrate love for country.
Now, consider Andrew Keili, a well-trained mining engineer who for decades stayed on in Sierra Leone through the worst moments of a civil war and raging disease epidemic. This is a man who has the education, connections, and even wherewithal to travel and stay out of the country, but chose to stay within and to weather the storm. There is no better definition of patriotism than that. As a flagbearer aspirant, Andrew has been passionately making his case for turning things around in Sierra Leone. For both men, this is the chance of a lifetime to make good on their dreams of showing more love to the homeland!

BOTH MEN HAVE A STRONG PROGRESSIVE AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Anyone can talk about going to the moon, but a person who has actually landed on the moon is more believable. Other flagbearers merely read prepared speeches about what they might do if elected. Dr. Yumkella, on the other hand, has been in the trenches doing development business around the world for decades. He traveled the world practicing his craft of technocracy and diplomacy, selling big ideas such as the nexus between energy poverty and underdevelopment to world leaders. Dr. Yumkella has a longstanding passion for the chance to make his country the great nation she could be. Engr Keili’s ideas for nitty gritty development initiatives have been put to work over many years as a mining engineer, who also served on many corporate boards.

Now, both men get a chance in 2018 to synergize their amiable interpersonal chemistry (which is better than that of Obama and Biden), generate a fine-oiled development machine in Sierra Leone, and enact lofty ideas, while leveraging Yumkella’s world-class connections.

In conclusion, the Yumkella-Keili ticket is a tour de force as both men have what it takes to deliver. In the Yumkella-Keili ticket, Sierra Leone is getting two for the price of one, a bonanza indeed.

Finally, if Dr. Yumkella’s wisdom in choosing Engr Keili as running mate for the 2018 presidential elections is a glimpse of what’s to come, Sierra Leone is in for a treat; Indonesia, South Korea, and Singapore, here we come! Kandeh and Andrew are birds of a feather; no wonder they flock together.

Courtesy: Dr. Barba M. Koroma, is a scientist with NIH, DHHS. He is also a licensed and ordained Minister of the gospel.

 

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The Liars that are Lying to the NGC Leader, Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella!

By Pastor Mohamed Sesay, Special Commentary (02/01/18)

Standing by the side of the pool were four categories of people from whom Yumkella was seeking advice as his head stays above water for a time.

After spending donkey's years at the UN while systematically trying to create an autobiography of his exploits, the man called Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella and who is dubbed KKY by supporters, returned to Sierra Leone and quickly plunged into the political swimming pool of this country.

Without going through swimming lessons and actually finding out the width, breath, and most importantly the depth of the swimming pool, he just jumped in with trousers and all.

After Yumkella found himself knee deep inside the pool but found himself still sinking, it was then he sought the advice of those whom he thought and believed had had a plunge before him inside that same swimming pool.

Standing by the side of the pool were four categories of people from whom Yumkella was seeking advice as his head stays above water for a time: Those with life rafts readily available. They advised that he hanged on to that raft and returned so he could take some swimming lessons before taking a dip in the far future.

There were those who had entered that swimming pool before but survived after being rescued by the life rafts of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party but who, at this time of Yumkella's struggles, wanted to pretend that they were some swimming experts that survived through their swimming skills.

There were those who never went that deep as Yumkella was now doing but rather stood on the sides while others struggled but who went back home to tell relatives that they did enter that pool and survived it. There were also those who waited for those who were taking the plunge to return and then they went to them and subtly shared the prize monies with them.

As Yumkella shouted desperately as a sudden whirlpool took over, the latter three shouted to him to take their advice. "What must I do to be saved?" Yumkella shouted not knowing who to trust.

Those with the life rafts were calm just pointing at their rafts for Yumkella to see sense and return but he never paid attention to them. "Go for it", the do gooders and the deceitful liars shouted to him. "It's easy." Gasping for breathe as he began to sink finally, Yumkella asked: "How?" "No idea," they answered back.

From the beginning, Yumkella had been a pawn in the hands of his handlers who are mostly former disgruntled SLPP members who, because of their own personal grudges for crimes nobody committed against them, were seeking revenge, saw Yumkella as the right diving board to step on to vent their venom on the very party which made them what most of them are today.

The plot was concrete. It was just reminiscent of the Nikolai and Elena Ceausescu of Romania drama, who, up to the last minute, were told by their handlers that they were popular until they ended up being slaughtered by young soldiers.

Yumkella was afar when he was told that the whole nation has warmed up to him. Having worked for the UN for very long, they thought he was loaded and that he will be ready to deliver those dollar bills.

Dr Gbonda at one stage assumed Yumkella's campaign manager role just hoping against hope but he has since melted after reality dawned on him that what he was actually seeing as some Utopia was actually a mirage.

Lawyer Mogbe Musa, who was so enthusiastic about the KKY movement has gone into hibernation. Tejansie has vamoosed. Kolleh the perennial defector, has safely defected to the APC.

But the liars that are lying to Dr Yumkella and who plan to lie to him to the end, have remained steadfast coming up with one lie after the other.

What most people, even including Yumkella himself, didn't know, was

that the activities that were taking place at SLPP HQ which appeared to be disadvantaging Yumkella, were actually orchestrated by the liars to present a picture of Yumkella being the underdog that was being persecuted by members of Paopa.

The first lie was to rent a crowd so that that crowd will be presented to Yumkella as his new following. The Abacha Street boys and girls rented, were to later laugh it off as they spent their rent money on things for themselves and parents and added a T-shirt to their respective wardrobes.

Yumkella, without thinking, believed that those rented Abacha Street boys were actually SLPP supporters when they were not. This was what prompted his fuss about his membership of the SLPP which was to later cause embarrassment for him.

The liars pushed Yumkella forward to insist he was a member of the SLPP when he never was until after the secret finally came out that he never was a member, the liars told him to go and register so he could be a full member of the SLPP. That registration was to finally destroy whatever credibility was left in Yumkella as it brought shame upon him.

To cut a long story short, Yumkella registered his own party after the liars told him that by just talking about his work at the UN and by laying claim to the Bankasoka project at Port Loko, he will become president, Yumkella is now going around doing exactly as told by the liars wasting his financial resources and bringing unnecessary worries on his family on a fruitless endeavour.

How does Yumkella expect to win an election with just 69 delegates? Only compulsive and pathological liars can make an intelligent man like him believe such a lie.

What the liars never told Yumkella is that ALL the people who are supposedly defecting from the SLPP to his party, are people who had left the SLPP even before the 2012 elections who never even voted for the SLPP but yet, if not for the mess caused by Christiana Thorpe, SLPP could have won that election without them.

Now the liars are on the fringe ready to ditch him as elections draw close and finally dissociate from him after the elections.

Fortunately for Yumkella, those with the life rafts are still waiting to drag him out of the Sierra Leone Political Swimming Pool when he finally decides to come to his senses and they will give him proper swimming lessons for the next dip probably in 2028.

 

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Academic and Political Genius Gives Ernest Koroma Constitutional Tutorials!

By Dr. Abdulai O. Conteh, Special Commentary (20/12/17)

Sierra Leone's revered academics and veteran politician of the APC party fame has unveiled an excellent Constitutional lecture.

Dr. Abdulai O. Conteh has openly admonished President Ernest Koroma on the constitutionality of the Sierra Leone presidency from his base in Bahamas.

This excellent constitutional tutorial is a must read for all Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad.


Your Excellency,

Please permit me to write on a matter of grave national constitutional, legal and political concern that has come to engage the attention of our compatriots both at home and abroad.

I have accordingly taken the liberty to make the format of this letter an open one, as its contents address matters of public national interest. This relates to the position of the Vice President of the country.

Your Excellency, up until 1991 when the current national Constitution was, after a nation-wide consultation and referendum, adopted as the Supreme Law of the land, the position of the vice president was an appointed one. This was the position after the inauguration of the republican form of government in 1971, and the introduction of a one-party form of government in 1978.

The record shows that we even had the positions of First and Second Vice Presidents. But both offices were appointive and in the gift of the President as it were. The then national Constitutions (1971 and 1978) designated the Vice President to be the successor to the presidency in the event of a vacancy in the latter office.

The record will also show that in 1985, just prior to the then President, the late President Siaka Stevens, demitting office, there were moves to change the constitutional and legal position regarding the succession to the presidency by the vice President. But these moves were debated and adopted in Parliament and the necessary legislation enacted. Mercifully, the country was spared any political rumpus that could have resulted from these changes so late in the day and the ill-fated Presidential Council literally proved still-born.

Therefore, in order to put matters beyond conjecture, surmise and any chicanery and to make the whole process regarding the position of the vice presidency transparent, the 1991 national Constitution, for the first time, clearly made the office of the Vice Presidency, not appointive any more, but rather, an elective one.

Thus, after 1st October, 1991, when the national Constitution became operational, the people of Sierra Leone stipulated and granted to themselves the right to have a say as to who shall be their vice president. The position is now covered in clear provisions of the national Constitution, namely, section 54(1), (2) and (3) of the Constitution.

These provisions require that a candidate for the office of president must have a running mate designated as vice president. Together, if the slate containing the candidate for the presidency and his running mate are successful in the presidential elections; they are declared elected President and Vice President respectively.
Thus, gone are the days when a President can appoint a vice President. The two offices are now conjointly elected at the same time by the will of the people, at the time of electing the presidential candidate with his running mate as the vice presidential candidate.

Furthermore, by the constitutional provisions, either the President or the Vice President is removable from office, but not at the will or instance or fiat of one or the other, but rather, by a Parliamentary process colloquially referred to as impeachment

The constitutional provisions on removal from office of either office holder, are, I dare say, clearly stated in section 51 of the national Constitution. It is no doubt instructive to note that there are no separate and particular provisions for the removal of the vice President, but rather, in the event there is a need to remove, the same provisions applicable in the case of the President himself will come into play.

Your Excellency, I note with particular care the reasons given in a Release from your office dated 17th March, 2015, for removing the current holder of the office of Vice President. I hope I fairly summarize these as: i) the expulsion of the vice President from the All Peoples Congress (APC) by a decision dated 6th March, 2015, of the National Advisory Committee of the APC; and ii) your taking note of the fact that on Saturday, March 14, 2015, the vice President sought asylum from a foreign embassy, which the Release states is indicative of “a willingness to abandon his duties and office as Vice President…”

These are matters now in the public domain and it is not intended to debate them here. But the simple and irrefutable fact is that they do not and cannot, in the face of the clear constitutional provisions, provide, with the utmost respect, the warrant or legal basis “for relieving with immediate effect” the Vice President from office.

Your Excellency, with the utmost respect, as the guardian of the Constitution, as stipulated in sub-section (3) of section 40 of the Constitution, you have not been properly advised or served in terms of the provisions of the Constitution you have invoked for taking this most extraordinary measure.

Your Excellency refers to sections 40 (1) and 41 (b) of the national Constitution, as warrant for the measure you have taken. A simple, plain and teleological reading of these provisions would readily show that they vests or grant no such power in you or anyone else for that matter for the following reasons: First, section 40 (1) proclaims you as the President of the Republic to be the Head of State, the supreme executive authority of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

It may be noted that this section vests or grants no power, it is merely declaratory of the attributes or incidence of the office of the President. However, Part II of the Constitution on Executive Powers, in section 56(1) vests executive power in you as the President.

This power may be exercised by you directly or through members of the Cabinet, Ministers, Deputy Ministers or public officers subordinate to you. But importantly, the exercise of executive power is expressly subject to the provisions of the Constitution.

In plain terms, this means that executive power, whatever it may mean or import cannot lawfully be exercised in disregard of the provisions of the Constitution. Executive power is nowhere defined in the Constitution. But the Constitution does clearly provide for the removal of the vice President from office and how this should be done.

This clearly puts the issue of the removal from office of the Vice President beyond the exercise of executive power, and cannot, on any view, be subsumed under it. Section 54 of the Constitution establishes the office of Vice President. Sub –section (8) provides for the removal from office of the Vice President in terms as follows: “(8) The provisions of sections 50 and 51 of this Constitution, relating to the removal from office of the President, shall apply to the removal from office of the Vice President.”

In short, Your Excellency, neither you nor the Vice President can lawfully be removed from office except as provided for in sections 50 and 51 of the Constitution. Permit me therefore, to say, and please believe me when I say that it pains me to say so, that the removal from office of the Vice President, as stated in the Release from your office, is nothing short of an exercise of power that can find no validation in the text of our national Constitution. The second justification provided in the Release for removing the Vice President from office is a reference to section 41(b) of the Constitution.

Your Excellency, again a plain reading of this provision will readily show that it is most inapposite to the situation. This section addresses the qualification for election to the office of the President. Paragraph (b) of section 41 clearly states: “41(1) No person shall be qualified for election as President unless he- (a)… (b) is a member of a political party” (c )…(d) …” It is when section 54 of the Constitution on the Vice Presidency is read along with section 41 (b) that membership of a political party becomes an important qualification for an election to (a) the office of the President and (b) to be a candidate for the office of Vice President.

Needless to say since 2007 and certainly since 2012, neither you nor the Vice President is running for election or is a candidate for election to your respective offices. Your successive election to your respective offices is now a matter of history. Both sections 41 and 54 address the situation of candidates for the respective offices of President and vice President. Neither section requires continuing membership of a political party as a qualification for continuing or remaining in either the office of the President or that of Vice President.

Therefore, reliance on the expulsion of the Vice President from the APC as a warrant for his removal from office, can find no justification in the textual provisions of the Constitution. Membership of a political party is a qualification for election to the office, but nowhere is it stated in the Constitution that membership or continuing membership is a necessary qualification for or coterminous with continuing or remaining in office.

For the avoidance of doubt, Your Excellency, I should make it clear that what is alleged against the Vice President, may or may not be impeachable offences amounting, in the words of section 51 of the Constitution, to “gross misconduct.”

If the latter is the case, then, with respect, it is a matter for Parliament to put in train the impeachment process contemplated and provided for in the national Constitution. president koroma1Please allow me to close by stating that the use of executive power to remove the Vice President from office is irreconcilable with the provisions of the Constitution; and in my humble view, sets to naught the sovereign will of the electorate and people of Sierra Leone so eloquently expressed when in 2007, and again in 2012, you and the Vice President were elected to your respective offices.

I therefore respectfully urge that nothing should be done, least of all, in the guise of executive power, to defeat, disappoint and render nugatory the people’s will and choice. This is the essence of democracy, which I want to hope and believe Your Excellency handsomely subscribes to. It is also an affirmation of the rule of law.

I end by saying that this is not the time for political diversions or brinkmanship. In the midst of fighting the devastating scourge of the Ebola virus which is set to bring our dear country and our neighbours to ruination, we should all strive as Team Sierra Leone, to beat back this scourge and not dissipate scarce human and other resources and goodwill on avoidable and needless diversions.

I remain in faith and with highest esteem,

Your dear compatriot,

Signed

Abdulai O. Conteh
Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal
of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas”

 

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Vital Advice for Mr. President as March 7, 2018 Elections Draw Nearer!

By Mohamed Zackew, Special Commentary (07/12/17)

Mr. President, I write to inform you about the way you have ruled this country some ten years ago.

You came into power by popular votes in run-off polls! Political situation was normalized but less than 72 hours of your victory, the opposition office in Freetown was attacked by your party members, since then, no reaction, no justice. 

Subsequently, some attacks happened in Kono where APC members attacked SLPP office with human faeces. Again, no arrest, no justice!

Less than 95 days to elections, you have concentrated on various security sector ranging from, ONS, POLICE, ARMY, now ministry of defence and ministry of internal affairs. This is bringing some food for thought into the minds of Sierra Leoneans, especially when we all running to national elections. 

Mr. President, your governance system may end up into chaos if you do not handle this election properly. Your leadership style has forced civil servants to bow to your party membership or you don't get the job. 

You have succeeded to make yourself a life leader in a party that has capable people to hold position that you have held on to. You have also succeeded to force members of your party to bow and worship you, whatever you say, remain final. 

You succeeded to remove the legitimate vice president where the country's legal Supreme Court acted on your dictates to do the wrong judgment. You succeeded to transform many wrong things including contractors being APC before gaining contracts, foreign embassy of China to meddle into our internal political affairs etc. 

The relationship between security forces and people has been friendly and cordial after the war. The people of this country love the ARMY AND POLICE and other security apparatus.  We all expect to continue with this cordial relationship. Do not allow any set up between civilians and security forces. 

Mr. President, you came into power peacefully and please do not leave peace into pieces.  The people of this country are concerned with your untimely security arrangement on this crucial period we are running into elections. If I may ask, what is the meaning of security changes at this crucial moment? 

Mr. President, we honour you for strives you made in development during your tenure, CONGRATULATIONS but you cannot do everything. Have your rest now and allow smooth transition of powers peacefully?

Do not force power to where the people of this country do not want. Do not force the security forces against the people of this country. Ballot box in a free, transparent, credible and fair is necessary and relevant to foster peace and unity.. 

Mr. President, we cannot allow you to destroy what you met, the country SIERRA LEONE does not belong to Koroma family alone but many families. 

Lastly, we keep close eyes on your new security arrangement especially on Paolo Conteh. I love you so I volunteer to advise you for better Salone. Many heroes have come and gone. 

 

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APC and KKY Claim to Erects the Bankasoka Hydro in Port Loko! Who is Correct?

By a Special Commentary (16/11/17)

Both the ruling APC and the KKY Movement are claiming responsibility of Bankasoka! Who is saying the truth? Sierra Leoneans want to know!

The National Grand Coalition NGC firebrand Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, the founder of the KKY Movement during his SLPP years, continues to publicise the Bankasoka Hydro Electricity Power Plant in Port Loko as his personal achievement during many of his political campaigns trails recently.

But APC stalwarts say otherwise and refuted all the claims made by the NGC regarding the Bankasoka Hydro. "Dr Kandeh Yumkella Koroma reaffirms his true nature of habitual impersonation and lies!!!," an ardent APC supporter blasts.

The APC press release reads: Days ago, the people of Port Loko chose to give the self-acclaimed flag bearer of the NGC a second chance to turn their minds away from the initial forgery and lies he used to kick-start his political career. Track records form a vital portion of ones integrity and ability to lead. We the people of Sierra Leone have been deceived by Dr Kandeh Yumkella's forgery of his SLPP party membership to the most recent mother of all lies.

The Godfather of all liars (Dr Kandeh Yumkella) fabricated a lie that will remain a negative legacy crafted from the pit of hell. This phenomenal lie obviously took a lot of time, resources and devilish craftiness to put together. From the deceitful edit of a forged video to a disgraceful speech aimed at deceiving our beloved nation to believe that he initiated and executed the Bankasoka Hydro Project in Port Loko.

An interview with Momoh Lawrence Turay, the Community Liaison Officer for the Bankasoka Hydro Project, was enough to clear the air, expose and shame the reincarnation of the "Father of all Liars".

Momoh Lawrence Turay stated with proof that the Bankasoka Hydro Project failed under UNIDO after the official launch of the project. The then UNIDO Secretary General was Dr Kandeh Yumkella who could not ensure even the commencement of a project that was designed to benefit his motherland.

President Ernest Bai Koroma who epitomises true leadership could not afford to have one unfinished project to his name. Two years ago President Koroma approached the Chinese government and successfully convinced them to efficiently ensure the commencement and completion of this project.

The Ministry of Energy has proceeded to prove that the Bankasoka Hydro Project was in fact the idea of the late S.I. Koroma who drew his inspiration from the Bumbuna Project. Due to unforeseen circumstances the project never could not commence in the 90s. Years later, UNIDO showed interest in the project but again nothing came out of it.

In 2007, President Koroma approached UNIDO which once again promised to rejuvenate the project. With all enthusiasm, the President held a meeting in Port Loko where he publicly appreciated UNIDO for their said commitment to bring this project into a reality.

Dr Kandeh Yumkella led UNIDO returned to demonstrate his inefficiency to see projects through by confidently and without remorse broke the hearts of his fellow countrymen by stating that UNIDO was incapable of funding the Bankasoka Hydro Project. Obviously, as then Secretary General of UNIDO, he was in position to ensure UNIDO fund the project.

The government of China without hesitation after meetings with President Koroma, the Minister of Energy and Power Henry Mccauley and a top Sierra Leonean delegation wasted no time in funding the construction of the dam which was contracted to Shanzi (a Chinese firm). Subsequently SCSE were contracted to efficiently execute the transmission and distribution network of the dam which is practically completed. The full commissioning of the completed Bankasoka Hydro Project is slated for midnext month.

A milestone has been achieved that promises to bring the entire nation closer than ever to uninterrupted electricity supply which all Sierra Leoneans desire. All thanks to His Excellency President Koroma, the ever resolute and progressive APC government and the government of China which remain our strongest ally.

We remain one nation bounded by one Love, one family that denounces liars and remains loyal to the truth for our greater good!!!

Courtesy: True Talk Media

 

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Sensible to Attack Chericoco on Performance, Not on his Fula Ethnicity!

By Alhaji U Njai, Special Commentary (01/11/17)

Since Chernor Bah aka Chericoco was selected APC running mate, he has been attacked for his ethnicity which has angered many Fulas.

The Fulanis have felt indignation and angry because of the constant attacks unleashed on Chernor Ramadan Maju Bah not on the basis of his performance and record over the years but on the basis of his Fula ethnicity.

I support no one and will likely be one of those independent voters voting with one hand and holding my nose with the other. But to de-legitimize Chericoco's candidacy based on ethnic origin is wrong, absurd and extremely retrogressive.

Apart from everyone in Sierra Leone except maybe Limbas, Lokos and maybe few others, came from somewhere, this divisive ethnocentric based politics is bad for our country and doesn't reflect the diversity, powerful mixtures and melting pot of cultures in Sierra Leone.

I mean only in Sierra Leone will you find Pateh Johnson; Mende: Daramy, Sillah, Kandeh; Limba: Kamara, Sesay, Samura, Koroma, Conteh; Temne: Mansaray, Marah, Fofanah, Bah, Timbo, Conteh, and so on (you name them) which we should proud of.

Chernor Bah is as legitimate Sierra Leonean as Krain Krain, Red Palm oil and fish. It will be better to attack him and tie him to fail policies of the administration, rather than attacking, bashing or insulting an entire productive segment of the society.

For those throwing missiles now at Fulas, it is very OK to go to the corner store get bread from the Fula man, ride a taxi, or get some menial task done. But it is not OK for a Fula born in the country, who has worked hard, served his community to vie for political office.

So what message are you sending to young Fula boys and girls in this country? How do you expect them to fully embody this country as a place that values them and recognize them as legitimate beings of the state.

To move Sierra Leone to a progressive state we want, we must all aspire towards social justice, respect diversity, and strive for greater inclusion of all those historical marginalized by our biases and false perceptions.

Nobody questions your Sierra Leoneanness if you have a Nigerian, Ghanaian, Liberia or any of the Mende sounding (Kamara, Konteh, Mansaray, Koroma, etc) last names. By comparison, all hell breaks loose when its a Jalloh, Bah, Barrie, Sow, Shaw, Njai, Jah, Faal, Sall, Jeng, Cham, Diop, and so on sounding names. So next time before you get hyper, all against, and get hooked on ignorance, here is a little primer on Fulas in Sierra Leone.

First, they are diverse in heritage, origins and dialect, and have played significant roles in the history of Sierr Leone. After all, Sir Banja Tejan-Sie, the first Governor General of Sierra Leone is a Fula from the Fouta Toro in Sierra Leone. Momoh Jah and Momoh Kai Kai are huge in islamization of the South and East of Sierra Leone.

Second, they are an economic force and provide a strong middle manpower from the bakeries, corner stores to car mechanics in Sierra Leone.

Third, there is the inter-marriages to the point you may be insulting your half Fula nieces, cousins, brothers by being ignorant. I however agree the Fulas need to integrate more in society by giving their daughters away more frequently to other Sierra Leoneans for marriage purposes than is the case now.

Fourth, they are a huge voting block in Sierra Leone based on demographic shifts. If you take all the Jallohs, Bahs, Barries, Shaws, Talls, Njais, Warnes, Diops, Timbos, Kaikais, Jahs, Wuries, Bundus, Chams, and so on, you are pissing off a large segment of the society.

So discussing Chernor or any other Fula candidate should be devoid of ethnophobia and hate, rather focus on policy differences, transformative ideas that will move this country and uplift society from abject socio economic malaise. Jarama Buii!!

 

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It is Astonishing why the APC Party Selects rather than Elects Flagbearers!!

By Abu Shaw (09/08/17)

The National Advisory Council has always chosen their flagbearers and astonishingly, the entire APC membership has accepted it wholesale! Tolongbo!!

It is an indication why democratic elections can be dangerous at times especially when the wrong leaders are elected. Or when such elections end in disunity and chaos. I believe the forgotten people often prefer a good leader who is selected undemocratically rather than a bad leader who is elected democratically. Many will disagree with me but that is the way life is. We disagree to agree. 

That is why the ruling APC party in Sierra Leone is unique in the eyes of its membership. Cynics will say the NAC is autocratic, dictatorial, undemocratic etc. simply because it has the almighty mandate to select rather than elect candidates it deemed fit to lead the APC party.

The National Advisory Council does not really need my humble advice as the constituents of the NAC are competent enough, according to the party hierarchy, to know who is fit to lead my beloved APC party come September 5.

This selection process has always been beneficial to the APC party as unity and peaceful co-existence within the APC membership continue to flourish.

As the APC party awaits the decision of the NAC technocrats to select the successor to president Ernest Koroma for the 2018 general elections, I hope and pray that they choose the correct person to lead the party.

Many competent names have emerged for the coveted post and I believe 50% of them can be brilliant leaders. But the advisory council knows best.

My only advice for the NAC is to consider a woman this time round for the vice president position. Men have come and gone but Sierra Leone's economy since independence has been bastardised with little or no major impact to change the lives of the forgotten people.

I think it is time for the APC party to make a woman a running mate, a platform that will provide the training necessary for them to take over this coveted position in the future. SLPP did it once with Dr. Kadie Sesay as running mate to Maada Bio but ended in humiliating defeat. Some of our women in politics are competent enough to make our homes more comfortable once again. 

So far unfortunately, very few women have thrown their head ties in to the APC flagbearer race namely Zainab Bangura and one Yansanneh. I believe our ladies should be more of challengers by taking the men head on if they are to be taken seriously in politics. 

My idol Captain Thomas Sankara shocked the world in 1984, by becoming one of the first presidents in the world to promote Women's Rights in Burkina Faso. "We should give women a chance as it is wrong for men to dominate women all the time," Sankara once noted.

Kudos to EBK for also setting the pace for promoting women in Sierra Leone politics but I think it is now overdue to have the first female vice president in Sierra Leone.

BUT THE NAC KNOWS BEST.

 

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Our Rotten Educational System Supports Unemployment in Sierra Leone!!

By Abdul Fonti, Special Commentary (06/08/17)

I respect your argument, which was largely, if not squarely, based on the intellectual lens.

You could win any intellectual debate with this argument. However, your points are in contrast with the practical reality and I know this out of experience. 

To say the school curriculum or choice of course has nothing to do with employability is ridiculous to say the least. Then why really do we go to school and choose various disciplines? Why would people study various disciplines if it cannot employ them at the end of an academic struggle? Why do we have less lawyers, medical doctors and even accountants that are unemployed as compared to social workers or peace and conflict graduates in Sierra Leone?

How many jobs in Sierra Leone are available in Peace and Conflict related? You could have had a strong argument if your insistence was on the fact that the government and private sector have not done much to create employment opportunities for Peace and Conflict graduates. I agree with you that no graduate should be superior to another, but the employment reality speaks otherwise. 

In the newspapers for example, you will hardly ever come across a vacancy announcement requiring or seeking a Peace and Conflict graduate. This is simply based on the fact that the current job trend in Sierra Leone does not really cater for such graduates. Say what you may, that is just the sad reality in the country.

So why would I want to go and read Peace and Conflict if I am not sure of employment from that discipline at the end of the day. Current global trends point to targeted education and Sierra Leone should not be an exemption. 

On the school curriculum in Sierra Leone, it is not only outdated but even the curriculum delivery method is faulty altogether. Our education format is still largely based on the theory aspect instead of the practical. We read to pass exams with a curriculum that is so ABSTRACT. 

We continue to produce graduates in Linguistics, Mass Communications, Medicine, Law and Peace and Conflict among other disciplines that are total strangers to the practical aspect of their disciplines. 

Why would I be surprised to employ a Mass Communications graduate in my newsroom who could not even report professionally on a press conference? If you have not yet met linguistic graduates that cannot even speak or write proper English not to talk of pronouncing words correctly, you will need to listen to my experience.

The missing links in the educational system in Sierra Leone is just scary to say the least. In fact, we are operating a chaotic educational system with no career guidance, outmoded curriculums, outdated teaching methods, undeserved grading system, the list goes on.

I believe it is time to go back to the drawing board and try to redirect our educational system to a path that will lead to a serious future. Otherwise, Sierra Leone remains the 'UNFORTUNATE' country it is.

Courtesy: Abdul Fonti on Chernoh Bah and others (FPU) 

 

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Civil Servants who Care for Parties More than Country Have No Place in Sierra Leone!!

By N'Bompa Turay, Special Commentary (09/07/17)

In Sierra Leone, many civil servants, who are supposed to be above politics by serving any government honestly, are sadly doing otherwise!! Shame on them.

Investigations have shown that this cancerous disease is more prevalent now than never before. Many civil servants are today filled with intolerable hatred for the APC government of Ernest Bai Koroma. 

This evil design, mostly carried out by civil servants sympathetic to the opposition SLPP party cause, is geared towards leaking out top government secrets and classified information to sinister minded groups only to discredit the government and country.

Despite the code of ethics, solemn oaths to work honestly and impartially within the civil service framework, some highly placed workers are wolves in sheep clothing. They are the abominable Judases in the public civil service who are always discrediting the lauded achievements of the APC government.  

In past SLPP governments - a party that thinks it only belongs to the Mende ethnic group - senior civil servants belonging to the Limba tribe and other ethnic groups were retired indiscriminately without any justification. It is an open secret that Manso Samura and S.S. Sankoh were wrongfully retired on flimsy accusation of being Limbas. Is it a horrible notorious crime to be a Limba? SLPP party must remember Sierra Leone has 16 tribes in the country.

The regime of President Koroma has on many occasions expressed confidence and believed in the civil service and made sure his government does not interfere in the administration of the civil service. Salary increments among other incentives have been provided by the Koroma government. 

“There are very good civil servants whose performances are laudable. Their loyalty is to serve the nation, the government, and to refrain from every sabotage act that will discredit the government,” President Koroma often says. Yet, there are some very bad eggs sabotaging the impartiality of the civil service!                                           

It is an unpardonable crime for some highly placed civil servants to join forces with sinister quack politicians to discredit and ridicule the government they are serving. 

Those evil civil servants must decide now either to refrain from sabotaging the APC government and serve their country or resign to join the bandwagon of imbeciles. Lonta.

 

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It is Worrying for the Palm Tree as APC Penetrates SLPP Strongholds!!

By Kabs Kanu, Special Commentary (11/06/17)

APC penetrates SLPP stronghold in Segbwema, wins 31% of the votes as ADP too takes 13%, leaving SLPP with a troubling 56 % pyrrhic victory.

If the bye-elections results in Segbwema, the birth place of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party’s most powerful operative, John Oponjo Benjamin , is anything to go by (and why not?), the SLPP  is in trouble as the 2018 elections approach.

All the tumultuous noise being made by rabid supporters, especially their so-called spokesman Lahai Leeman, who has been running his mouth about victory as well as war in Sierra Leone, as if somebody gave him some sassy wood to drink, appears to be mere rum-talk as the results from Segbwema recently demonstrated. It shows SLPP party is not anywhere close to winning any presidential elections in Sierra Leone in the near future.

In Segbwema, of all places, all the SLPP was able to garner was 1, 499 votes, representing only 56% of the votes. Their bitter rival, the ruling All People’s Congress (APC), whom they are vilifying as a spent force come 2018, put up a splendid show, winning 825 votes, which is a very impressive 31%. 

The poor SLPP hold on its stronghold was even emphasised by Mohamed Kamarainba’s Alliance Democratic Party (ADP) taking as many as 341 votes, which is 13 % of the total votes.

If the presidential elections are held today, with such figures from Segbwema, the SLPP will be roundly defeated as was done in 2007 and 2012. The results show that the waves of optimism that APC operatives have been generating about their party having penetrated the SLPP stronghold are based on reality on the ground. 

It is also demonstrative of the fact that APC stalwarts like Robin Faley, Moijue Kai-Kai, Sengu Koroma and Maya Kai Kai among others, are doing a marvellous job in the South-East.

Recent reports show that SLPP supporters are very worried about the results of recent bye-elections in Sierra Leone. Where by now, according to their estimation, the APC should be demonstrating a weakening hold on power, it has turned out that the APC is growing stronger and has even invaded their strongholds.

 

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Save Sierra Leone Democracy from Destruction Post Ernest. How True?

By Mahmud T. Kargbo, Special Commentary (12/05/17)

The identification of faults in any area can often lead to the discovery that an individual or an institution is acting improperly contrary to law.

Few weeks back, the Parliament of Sierra Leone squeezed the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission to admit he made a mistake in the whole electioneering boundary delimitation process. 

Whether the National Electoral Commission Chairman was pushed to twist his initial statement where he said he did his own part of the job and handed over the documents to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice for detail legal consideration, one can't say. We were further made to understand by Hon. Rogers in the popular AYV on Sunday Programme, that the National Electoral Commission didn't procure the machines they are currently using for the voters and civil registration process. 

According to Hon. Rogers, the machines were procured by the Government of Sierra Leone.  Government in it part is saying the National Electoral Commission is an Independent Institution that's suppose to carry out its activities based on its Constitutional and Statutory mandate so they have no business in procuring machines for the National Electoral Commission. An inside source speaking to me in condition of anonymity said: "The machines were procured by one of our International Development Partners, specifically the British Department for International Development.” 

This is quite significant for obvious reasons. First, if the National Electoral Commission Chairperson can admit at the Well of Parliament that he made a mistake in handling the boundary delimitation process, what is the possibility that he will not continue to make more mistakes in this whole electioneering process? 

We all know that there's a price if one fail to go by the laid down rules and regulations of any Institution. In short, ignorant of the law is no excuse. But if our law drafters and enforcers decide to forgive the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, we know immunity is a perk offered by prosecutors in exchange for valuable testimony that they cannot get otherwise, so the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, who changed his initial statement, must have something good to tell especially if he did meet with State House before he faced the Well of Parliament or, at least, he seems to think he does. 

Second, our politicians know immunity is only valuable to people who are guilty - an innocent witness has no obligation to tell anybody anything, really, since they are just free to go; in other words, it doesn’t make sense for our Parliament and the National Electoral Commission Chairman to bargain for immunity unless the Chairman and Parliament are fairly sure he’s going to be found guilty of something in the first place.

Third, my sources told me NEC budgeted to procure U 40 machines, but my sources revealed to me they are currently using U 20 machines, if so why? 

And fourth, am reliably told that from NEC budget, there was provision for NEC to hire vehicles that are suppose to transport technicians to fix machines that will go faulty during the registration process, why this isn't happening?

So far, nobody has seriously taken the NEC Chairperson on these matters, and the investigation on the boundary delimitation possibly treasonous violations continues. But, there’s truly only two ways in which this rout could end: Either President Koroma is implicated in all of this, or he isn’t. 

If he is, the consequences are understandably disastrous: We elected a President that turned out to be comfortable in appointing people in our social positions of trust that are enjoying their jobs with the highest pride when they're working against the rules and regulations of their institutions, or are traitor to his government and the people of Sierra Leone – or, at minimum, they're so careless that their actions amounted to treason.

But even if President Koroma isn’t implicated, his most senior staff already are: Bai Mahmoud Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs, was a "More Time" campaigned Agent. Mohamed Bangura, Minister of Information and Communication, he was very vocal on national issues prior to his appointment, but never campaigned for the recommendations of the Auditor General Report to be actualised. 

Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, openly called the Auditor General Report "Mere Opinion" and he's suppose to advise the Government legally on the importance of the said report. And a combined APC and SLPP, but an APC dominated Parliament failed to genuinely press the Executive Arm of Government for the actualisation of the Auditor General Report. The list can go on. 

And, frankly, the consequences are equally disastrous: We elected a President whose some senior staff seems to be – unbeknownst to him – packed with rogue nationals ready to do dodgy dealings with foreign agents as reported in Panama Papers or are best known as traitors. In this case, President Koroma might not be as personally shaken, but the damage that will be done to the institutions of Sierra Leone democracy that he admirably fashioned over the years might be in danger.

True, the question is, can Sierra Leone democracy outlast this butchery? The dependability and uprightness of these institutions are under unexampled threat in our modern democracy. Not only are the very loyalties of our chief executive in question, but the damage molten upon the bureaucratic apparatuses that run the national government smoothly is also substantial. 

Instead of act as a professionalised, technocratic moderating force for President Koroma, his bureaucracy – or, at least, the appointed, high-ranking, non-civil service segment of it – seems to be acting more like an extension of buffoonish, incompetent past regimes it once claimed never to repeat their odd actions.

Honestly, there's no way we can put the blame on President Koroma. However if President Koroma administration ends, will the institutions of Sierra Leone democracy lead to carnage? - more so than ever before. But, as many must furtively admit in frustration - President Koroma’s efforts in democracy may erode after his tenure if few of his competent lieutenants do not step in. True, the economy was improving very fast before Ebola struck. True, things are improving now but not as fast as the electorates expect. Many Sierra Leoneans are feeling the pinch while the few are having a good time, which is grossly unfair.

Faith in Sierra Leone government and institutions has been tumbling and national approval ratings on government institutions in terms of social service deliveries are not encouraging. That is not on President Koroma. In fact, that disenchantment with government is likely one of the factors that put President Koroma in State House to begin with.

These institutions, and even democracy by its own, do not exist in the synopsis. Laws, rules, norms - all these things exist not for their own sake, but because they are meant to serve the people. 

And until our institutions can earn the trust of the Sierra Leone people by genuinely serving their interests and helping them in their time of need, and by providing them with real solutions in the face of deplorable standard of living, provide affordable, quality housing and education for all nationals and clean up the general atmosphere that is currently promoting the feeling of unease and displeasure within the majority, rather than continue to exist in some self-expressing good wishes numbness of sluggishness or inertness, there appears to be little reason why any administration, with or without President Koroma at its head, could gain legitimacy again.

Hopefully, after President Koroma, which ever political party assumes power after March 7, 2018 elections, the democratic ideals and institutions gained under the APC government will be maintained and improved.

Courtesy: By Mahmud Tim Kargbo, Centre for Research Documentation Policy Studies and Development of Law 4 Lamina Sankoh Street Freetown Sierra Leone Tel: +23278102619 23rd April 2017

 

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Ideas that will Strengthen the APC National Youth League

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo, Special Commentary (03/04/17)

Have you participated in any activities of the APC National Youth League? Do you want to be in the midst of those sharing their experience?

Do you admire the concrete peace in the APC National Youth League? Do you have ideas that you can put into action in strengthening progress in the APC Youth League? Then this is your event, come to celebrate and share with the APC Youth League!

In what is constitutionally suppose to be the last Youth League Conference for President Ernest Bai Koroma as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone; APC Youth and Elders from home and abroad recently trooped down to Port Loko District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone to witness the All People's Congress Youth League Conference. 

One thing that continue to manifest itself clearly is that even when President Ernest Bai Koroma is doing his last constitutional term as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, he still remains highly popular among APC Youth and he's in full control of his government and political Party activities with almost all decision makers within the party and even beyond host serious amount of respect for his leadership qualities. 

His leadership qualities in terms of vision, pragmatism, consensus building, charisma and trust are still at their basking days according to them. This is why the youth of APC are fully behind his leadership and are very willing to throw their unflinching support behind whosoever he chooses as his successor to sustain the APC Party in power in the 2018 transitional elections. 

The truth and what many believe is the greatest disappointment for President Koroma is the fact that youth unemployment still remains a serious national concern under his regime. Unfortunately there's a looming greediness to the fault among most of the people President Koroma empower in his regime, they never have his type of spirit to pay back to the youth of the party by empowering them with skills and finances. 

President Koroma promised to die for the youth of Sierra Leone, but unemployment rate among Sierra Leone youth is still high and to make matters worse, the few youth in the country who are gainfully employed most of them remain academically incapacitated to catch up with the test of times and be in a quality position to positively contribute to our economy. 

In short, human capacity to efficiently provide the skilful labour force for our labour market continue to be a serious problem for sustainable economic growth in Sierra Leone.  It was a 3-day national event between APC Youth League from various aspects of life in Port Loko. 

The rendezvous targeted: Thematic stories, positive debates, creation of advancement stuff and other activities to share and celebrate, laying the centre of attraction on inhaling stories of the youth with an act of explaining the importance of youth joining the APC political party, partly through the sharing of past experiences of ex-APC National Youth leaders with a sense to sustain the party in governance in the coming transitional elections.

Most loyal APC members were expectedly in attendance and the conference gave participants the opportunity to reflect, review and evaluate past cooperation of the youth within the APC, but also expanded on everyone’s knowledge on APC in general, within the context of the APC National Youth League. The conference objectives was focused on the revision of the past and looking towards the future by:


- Analysis and assessment of APCNYL, looking at their strengths and weaknesses;


- Lessons learned from APC National Youth League in Action and what can be taken forward;


- APC National Youth League project placements – how to make sure both young people enjoy the fruits of the party without facing discrimination; 


- Improvement of the quality of future APCNYL projects as well as to strengthening the capacity of affiliating partner organisations in delivering quality youth projects promoting true brotherhood within the party;


- Development of ways of promotion of APCNYL, informing young people within the party about the opportunities it
offers;


- Promotion of evaluation of youth projects as a tool of self-assessment and of an increase of quality of future activities.

 

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Is it True that the Deadly Ebola has Returned to Sierra Leone?

Asks Ahmed S. Nasralla, Special Commentary (06/03/17)

It was on a sunny afternoon, when the village hunter returned from the Gola Forest.

And he has his catch strapped loosely to his back; visibly sick and walking lazily to his thatch-roofed house. Suddenly, his family- wife, children and relatives- as well as neighbours come out to receive him, and the hunter collapses into their arms. Despite some care at home, the hunter’s case worsens. So the family decides to take him to the village herbalist for further treatment. 

Moments later the hunter dies, and family members start to fall ill. Cries and wails fill the hot-burning atmosphere as the villagers, gripped with panic, lament the calamity that has befallen them.

Finally, somebody calls the health emergency line 117 for help, but little help comes a little too late. Mobile network connection is on-and-off in this area. It happens that there is only one health official at the Peripheral Health Unit (PHU) and he’s overwhelmed with other patients. The PHU is about 200 meters from the centre of the village; you have to cross a bridge and walk a bit to get there.

An ambulance with wailing siren screeches to a halt. Three health officials dressed in PPE suits disembark, scaring the villagers some distance away. They walk purposefully into the herbalist’s hut, apply disinfectant all over the room and carefully cart the hunter’s body into the waiting ambulance. They speed off, with the villagers running and shouting after the vehicle.

A flurry of activities follows. Lab officials revealing the result of the tests done on the deceased hunter; contact tracers tracing all those that came in contact with the hunter; quarantine officials leading contact persons to a secluded unfinished building; the town crier announcing an emergency meeting summoned by traditional authorities to institute bye-laws; surveillance team; community health workers (CHWs), infection, prevention and control (IPC) team, burial team, social mobilization team all move into action.

This beckons the question: Has Ebola returned to Sierra Leone? The answer is no, not for now. The events just described were not real but part of a ‘Simulation Exercise for Community Based Ebola Response’, involving about 25 local actors all performing various roles and the community of Mano-Jeigbla as participants. 

The simulation exercise was organized by the NGO SEND Sierra Leone in cooperation with the Rapid Response Team (RRT) of the Kenema District Health Management Team (DHMT). It took place in Mano-Jeigbla Village in Tunkia Chiefdom in Kenema District on 21st February 2017. 

The activity was supported by the project “Prevention of Zoonotic Caused Health Epidemic in Sierra Leone”, implemented by the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, SEND Sierra Leone and The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone with support from Welthungerhilfe (WHH).

A simulation exercise is an interactive drama event that involves people as active participants rather than a mere audience, framing and placing them in a certain scenario and inviting them to act and behave as if the situation was real. 

The objective of this simulation exercise was to test the emergency response protocol of the DHMT in practice and the level of awareness and preparedness in the community two years after the Ebola outbreak. 

Would the various stakeholders – health professionals as well as the community leaders – remember and assume their roles and responsibilities to take rapid action if Ebola (or any other infectious disease) were to return to the community?

“We want to test the people’s knowledge about Ebola; whether they remembered what happened and what to do if it happens again,” said Augustine Brima, a field staff of SEND Sierra Leone who was among the advance team to prepare the community for the exercise.

Mano-Jeigbla village provides the perfect scene for the Ebola response simulation exercise. Located about 40 miles from Kenema town and a walking distance from the Liberian border, Mano-Jeigbla has a population of about 1,287 with 225 houses, most of them mud buildings with thatch-roofs. It is one of 12 villages in Tunkia Chiefdom with a total catchment population of 5,482. (Population and housing statistics from EDC Unit, PHU, Tunkia Chiefdom).

“The human traffic here is high,” said the Town Chief, Saffa Allieu Kallon. “People come and go from the Liberian border and travel to Kenema and other areas.” 

As the simulation exercise goes on, commercial motorbikes ply the route to and from the border transporting people. On the second day of the simulation exercise, 22nd February 2017, the whole community gathered at the village centre to review the exercise and proffer recommendations. 

Meanwhile, if it were real the families quarantined would have been held for 21 days and might have suffered some form of stigmatization on their release.

After the exercise, the villagers went about laughing as they recounted their experiences, but also emphasized that being part of such an exercise had enabled them to reflect and remember better.

Also present were officials from the implementing partners, the DHMT and the World Health Organisation to discuss what the simulation exercise had revealed in terms of gaps and challenges in the communities’ and health system’s ability to respond, share information, coordinate and work together during a health emergency situation. 

The villagers, as well as the officials, highlighted gaps in the exercise and proffered recommendations. "The success of the exercise does not depend on whether the community is perfect in their response to the mock outbreak. It’s about really getting them to do their own thing naturally and together we identify the gaps and plan how to address them,” said Mathilde Gronborg Helms, WHH’s Head of Projects responsible for monitoring the project, adding that the simulation exercise had proved to be a very interesting tool to raise awareness about Ebola and other diseases, and learning easily how to respond to the situation, and putting in place response mechanisms that work well on the ground. 

As such, the exercise served as a reminder of the need for sustained community based surveillance and strengthening of health monitoring and reporting, to promote resilience of the health system to prevent any future epidemic.

“We are not saying that Ebola will return,” said Josephine Jenneh Saidu, District Health Sister at the DHMT in Kenema. “We just want to be prepared, especially as we are now having cases of Lassa Fever, which has similar symptoms to Ebola. That is why the awareness raising should be sustained.”

Awareness and capacity gaps were observed during the simulation exercise and highlighted during the meeting, including the touching of a sick person; taking the sick to a herbalist instead of the health centre or alerting CHWs; eating of bush meat and lack of proper hand-washing practices. 

The villagers further lamented the fact that the only PHU in the chiefdom is grossly understaffed and that the vigilance of CHWs is declining due to lack of support.

Furthermore, lack of access to clean drinking water and toilet facilities is a huge challenge for general health and well-being and could as well accelerate the spread of communicable diseases. The community depends on a nearby stream and a well for water. Only few of the 225 houses have toilets, while the rest use the nearby forest as their rest-room.

“The challenges with the systems will always be there,” said SEND Sierra Leone’s Country Director Joseph Ayamga in an address to the community. “That is why when we work with community people it is their mindset that we challenge. If you don’t have toilets and water wells for example, we challenge you to dig them yourselves like the mud houses you built.  It is about what you can do to help yourself before help comes. It is that same mindset you will approach every challenge, including disease prevention.”

Courtesy: Asks Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)

 

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Time for all our Politicians to Protect the Trees that Provide Shade

By Abu Shaw (03/02/17)

It is indeed worrying for my beloved APC party.

The prolonged infighting between the genuine Welfare Minister Dr. Sylvia Blyden and her Deputy Rugiatu Turay and with no end in sight is good news for the opposition parties.

For bad blood to brew between an APC minister and a deputy like this since last year should have been nipped in the bud by the Ernest Koroma government long time ago.

It is incredible why my government has not done enough to resolve this impasse in-house rather than allowing such a serious problem to escalate to a full blown national and international issue.

President Koroma and all the peace lovers in the APC should not keep quiet any longer on this issue. An amicable resolution must be found NOW to end this madness. 

Our ministers do not have enough time to carry out their national duties and anything that hold them back from performing their constitutional mandates must be discouraged at all cost.

From the Sylvia/Rugiatu imbroglio to the imported marabou man from Niger to the CFN Minors conspiracy are all detraction that the APC government must not condone if we are to win the 2018 elections hands down. For Deputy Minister Rugiatu Turay to continuously disrespect her boss Sylvia and even disobeys government policies is not only an affront to the constitution she swore to uphold, but it raises questions as to who is actually propping up Rugiatu to the road of self destruction. It remains to be seen.

A competent minister like Sylvia should be appreciated rather than demeaned. We are very lucky to have the likes of Sylvia in the APC government. That is why I always doff my humble hat to President Koroma for having the sixth sense to recruit the best minds.

It is an open secret that Sylvia Blyden's switch to the APC after ending her sympathetic feelings for the disunited SLPP party is still felt in the inner circle of the Palm Tree, though many SLPP diehard would hypocritically express happiness to see the back of Sylvia. SLPP loss is an APC gain. She is great addition to the ruling APC party.

I vividly remember the peace pack that SLPP Maada Bio engineered in 2011 for him and Sylvia to smoke the peace pipe. That historic handshake picture is still fresh in many minds. 

If the PaOpa chief can sum up the courage to strike a peace accord with Sylvia, I see no reason why my APC stalwarts cannot do the same to end the Sylvia/Rugiatu continued brouhaha.

We need lasting peace in the APC, not infighting. I am therefore humbly appealing to EBK to intervene ASAP and to usher sanity at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs. 

It's a blessing to have a brilliant mind like Sylvia in our midst. Lets allow Sierra Leone to enjoy the shade of brilliance instead of cutting the tree down. Thank you.

 

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Can the Likes of Maada Bio Really be Considered 'Fathers of Democracy'?  

Asks Mahmud Tim Kargbo, Special Commentary (12/01/17)

Maada Bio's Pa-O-pas and the likes think they would achieve by deceitfully labelling themselves 'fathers of democracy'!!

Are these lies representative of the Pa-O-pa new generation leadership style and distributing such irresponsible baseless claims indicative of the end of the quality leadership of Maada Bio? Many politicians from all political divide, are completely at odds with the needed democratic leadership qualities to succeed President Ernest Koroma.

Is Maada Bio and his Pa-O-pa faction think these deceitful tricks for the ‘Democratic Leadership Qualities’ that must be protected at all costs for good governance can be misused without repercussions? Are Sierra Leoneans and the wider international community expected to fall for the likes of Maada Bio and his Pa-O-pa faction for such deceits?  No way!!!

It is high time a thorough evaluation of the past and current activities of the various people eyeing the seat of the Presidency in Sierra Leone be put under the microscope because many of the people planning to occupy State House, the seat of power in the country, have question marks.

And to buttress our democratic credentials, we also need to open some free thematic leadership lectures for the likes of Maada Bio to attend in order to bolster their capabilities and preparedness for the most important job in Sierra Leone. 

It’s either these negative politicians did not benefit from the modules of the democratic training institutions they attended, or Sierra Leone politics has not grown up enough over the years under the Agenda for Prosperity to potentially expose these intellectually dangerous leaders to the seat of power. 

The arbitrary killings of fellow nationals by Bio and co during their so-called National Provisional Ruling Council junta in 1992 eventually added to their desperate efforts to destroy our budding democracy when they partnered with the rebels to asked for 'Peace before Elections'. That was hypocritical deception of the highest order!!!

Not to mention Bio's act in embezzling tax payers' monies that he whittled away abroad and subsequently joined the academic field to improve his education with blood money. All these could have taught Bio and his Pa-O-pa faction that democracy never sleeps in the same bed with people that are true criminals.

Maada Bio's political character is incompatible with the description of 'father of democracy.' And to imagine that the Pa-O-pa faction can still parade these lies around in this modern era where facts and figures are very easy to come by, is itself disgraceful to put it mildly. 

Clearly, some of these corrupt Sierra Leone politicians have continued to be more clueless than one had ever imagined and the malaise is clearly getting worse by the day. 

God help our beloved Sierra Leone from the clutches of sheep in wolf clothing. Amen.

 

 

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The APC Party will Continue to be Pacesetters and for How Long?

By Mohamed Sankoh, Special Commentary (22/12/16)

In Britain, former Prime Minister David Cameron shot himself in the head by provoking Brexit.

In the United States of America, the Republicans came from the opposition to topple the incumbent Democrats. In Nigeria, the opposition won the last General Elections. In Senegal, the opposition came from behind and breasted the tape. 

And in tiny The Gambia, a coalition of the opposition has won the Presidential election of December 1 this year. These victories might have given the opposing Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and its supporters a glimmer of hope. 

But wait a minute. There is a catch or catches here. From Nigeria to Senegal; from Senegal to Zambia, and from Zambia to The Gambia; opposition parties were able to unseat incumbents because they were able to sweep the capitals of those countries. 

But since Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, has no ‘Kamajor’ initiation bushes or ‘Ndorgboryosoi’ mentality; the SLPP should first try to win two seats in Freetown in the next General Elections, and from there they should think of winning three more seats in the next-next General Elections before they should start thinking of coming back to power in the third elections after 2018. 

Also in those countries, where opposition parties magically won the incumbents, the oppositions were not only organised but were seen as forces of change. They were seen as credible alternatives to the ruling parties. And they were also seen as parties whose leaders did not have credibility problems. 

But in the case of the SLPP, majority of Sierra Leoneans still regard it as a tribal and regional outfit not a political party with national appeal. There is no way a single tribe or region could win an election in Sierra Leone.  Not in this planet.

And besides, the political demography of Sierra Leone has always been favouring the ruling APC. The last Local Council by-election in Waterloo showed that, despite the austerity measures, the ruling party still has grip of the Western Area. And since the APC has been making in-roads in the southern and eastern parts of the country while the north and Western Areas are still culs-de-sac for the SLPP. 

It logically follows that in the face of all odds, and even in the optimistic figment of every SLPPer’s imagination, the APC is sure to always take gold in every election. Because whenever Freetown speaks on any matter; that matter will always be settled! And since the electoral voice of Freetown is always echoed by the Abacha Streeters (connotatively used in the generic form here), Freetown will be in APC’s grasp for the next ten or more years. 

And again, for any opposition to wand-flick the feat of defeating an incumbent government that party should be seen to be financially credible. But the SLPP is fiscal hysteria in itself. At present, it is unable to meet the deadline to repay a huge loan at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and the SLPP is now mooting the idea of filing for insolvency. How can any sane citizenry vote for a party that is not only bankrupt but whose leaders are still unable to give account of funds received before and during the last General Elections? Hey, I don’t think a starving man should be made manager of a restaurant (hope you are getting the sharpness of my metaphor?)!  

And it is only an unremorseful pessimist that will think that as things now stand so they would be before and during the next General Elections in Sierra Leone. This is only 2016. And before the would-be 2018 General Elections, things would be better than they now are.  

I am optimistic that before 2018, export of iron ore and other minerals would have increased; Dangote Cement would be in full production by the second quarter of 2017, and the Leone would have appreciated. 

By late 2017 as more companies begin to report more profits, this would translate into more taxes for the government; more investments; more jobs for our youths, and economic buoyancy for local sub-contractors. So, in 1-2-3 language, Sierra Leone as a nation would be expecting huge inflows by 2017.

Courtesy: By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop) 

 

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We Need to Smoke the Peace Pipe for Our Country

By Abu Shaw (02/05/16)

Sierra Leone has suffered immeasurably over the years. Thousands have died needlessly for no justifiable reasons.

Now, we have physical peace in the country since 2002.

But there are certain minds that are still sadly far from peaceful. Political affiliations have blinded some Sierra Leoneans so much so that the country has now almost become less and less significant in their eyes.

This is glaringly wrong. Sierra Leone does need minds that are peaceful at all times. Patriotism is the most significant virtue that citizens of any country must always uphold irrespective of their creed, religion, political partisanship etc. etc.

As journalists, we have the noble obligation to inform, educate, entertain the public with analytical news based on facts and figures. The Organiser newspaper believes many learned journalists in Sierra Leone are shining examples of professional journalism with high integrity and patriotism, a feat that garners respect both nationally and internationally.

As the first country in West Africa to start a newspaper publication, Sierra Leone journalism must always remember the ideals and dreams instituted by the pioneers of this noble profession.

We fervently believe the indefatigable penman and journalist late Wallace Johnson and the likes would oppose the way some of our media colleagues are misrepresenting the ethics of journalism.

We should all be proud of being members of Media Junction, Salone Thinker and other social media interactive forums as they give us the opportunity to brainstorm current news correctly for the benefit and development of our country. That is patriotism of the highest order.

But what is unfolding in the Media Junction for instance where some members are bent on publishing stories about their colleagues based on half truths, provocations and disrespect, is unacceptable and is a real cause for concern.

There is nothing wrong to write factual things with substance but when stories are geared towards provoking others just because they are not supporting the same political party, then we know there is a serious shortage of excellence in the media industry in Sierra Leone.

Such unprofessionalism deters the growth of the country. It is in this vein that we call on all our colleagues home and abroad to put their differences aside and stop attacking one another unnecessarily at the detriment of true journalism and our only beloved country SIERRA LEONE.

 

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How Could Subscribers Get Power, If the Fuel is Stolen?

Asks N'Bompa, Special Commentary (16/11/16)

The National Power Authority (NPA) handed the baton to EDSA and EGTC after going through several mishaps.

The loss in that company National Power Authority) was through mismanagement, illegal connections, defaulting subscribers, several fire incidents etc.

EDSA fought it hard to stand on their feet but it seems the struggle continues. A lot has changed in the system of the power supply. The pre-paid meters are highly appreciated by the subscribers. The administration seems like coping till them recent alteration in the tariffs for power many cried over those changes but remained as subscribers.                                   

Most recently the Anti Corruption Commission and Sierra Leone Police caught a fuel tanker offloading fuel in a petrol station instead of the designated EGTC. The dry season is around the corner and repairs on the turbine of the hydroelectric plant must take effect. Here, the energy company must set up for the distribution of power using the thermal power house.                                                          

But if the fuel is stolen, how could the subscribers get power? This is the similar situation the former NPA had to put up with. Again, I am asking that we change and love our country. Bravo to ACC.                                                                                  

The Minister of Energy Henry Macauley and the EGTC General Manager Mr. Dennis Garvey are asking the general public to bring to their notice if any corrupt or any illegal fuel activity is seen. 

Well meaning Sierra Leoneans are dreaming of seeing real progress in the activities of the fuel company.

I wish to congratulate the Makeni people for their valuable contributions in the hound for fuel criminals and saboteurs. Keep it up and I hope others will follow suit all over the nation.

 

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Alie Kabba Lacks the Nutrients to Lead the SLPP party and Sierra Leone!!

By Abu Shaw in London (12/12/15)

Nineteenth century British politician and historian John Dahberg-Acton once stated: "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

The appropriateness of the above 19th century statement when applied to Alie Kabba, who is vying for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party flag-bearer position, is as timely as the Big Ben in London. 

It was apparently euphoric when Alie Kabba, who dubbed himself, ‘radical progressive nationalist’, declared his intention to go in to Sierra Leone politics one year ago. Many who knew him, including myself, jumped at his vision and immediately joined the campaign bandwagon to fight for the SLPP party leadership and eventually for State House, the seat of power.

One year on however, the Alie Badara Sanjan Kabba’s idealism has waned in strength because he has gradually shown his true colours to the astonishment of many former admirers. The Alie Kabba of NOW is a stark contrast to the individual that initially convinced me and others to lend unwavering support to his SLPP campaign. He is virtually not the same Alie Kabba whose extraordinary vision was based on democracy and the rule of law by having constant consultations with members and the decentralisation of power and respect for one another.

ALIE KABBA'S DEMOCRATIC DREAM EVAPORATES

In my one year membership of the Friends of Alie Kabba UK/Ireland team, Alie Kabba was living the democratic dream. During these formative months, everyone including Alie Kabba, participated in the formation of the Friends of Alie Kabba UK/I and he unhesitatingly endorsed London as the headquarters of his campaign team. He had extensive consultations with the executive members as to whether to run for the SLPP or form another political party - a third force.

After the SWOT analysis, the consensus was for the campaign team to choose the SLPP instead. Everything was rosy and smooth sailing. New members joined the executive team in droves as a result. From London, to Bristol, to Manchester, to Holland to Belgium, Alie Kabba was very humble and very consultative with the team on any decision making, an important tool he used throughout the tour of continental Europe 2015. How his positive attitude changed so quickly for the worse in recent times beggars belief!!

DICTATOR IN THE MAKING DESPITE ORATORY SKILLS

Alie Kabba’s oratory skills are amazing. Alie Kabba is one of the most brilliant speakers Sierra Leone has ever produced. His oratory gift can make any hard nut to crack. It is a gift that God has endowed in him, which in the African setting is called ‘Jayleebaa’. It means praise-singers with extraordinary talent and oratory skills. That is Alie Kabba’s most powerful weapon throughout his political life. But in real life, I believe, action speaks louder than words. In recent weeks, Alie Kabba started showing his true colours. He resorted to doing very strange things hitherto unknown to his character. He suddenly stopped having constant communications with the UK/I executives. Alie Kabba would neither take calls nor respond to emails from some executive members. He started imposing new policies on the UK/I campaign team without any form of consultations.

Consultation became non-existent in Alie Kabba’s lexicon. He secretly transferred his campaign headquarters from London to Europe, with the connivance of very few UK/I bootlicking executive members. I honestly do not have a problem if a leader decides to appoint people here and there to positions of trust as it is his/her functionality to do so. I have nothing against a leader who institutes brilliant policies on its membership. But when such a leader feels he/she has all the answers in the world, then such a leader has a democratic problem. Exhibiting the lack of consulting or brainstorming with close confidants in matters pertaining to governance, are the hallmarks of dictatorship. I absolutely abhor any leader, like Alie Kabba, who used and misused people with no semblance of respect in the guise of democracy. That was how Alie Kabba became a dictator.

AIR TICKET REFUND DENTS HIS CREDIBILITY

One conspicuous fact that came to light recently was Alie Kabba’s determination to enrich his personal coffers at all cost. After the Alie Kabba UK/I Dinner and Dance in September 19, 2015 in London, he emailed the UK/I Chairman, the Finance Office and the European Chair asking for refund of his Chicago-London-Chicago air ticket that he used to grace the London Dinner & Dance where he was Keynote Speaker. It was a real surprise for the rational executive members. It was unbelievable why Alie Kabba would ask for a refund of his air ticket that cost over 1,500 US dollars from the UK/I campaign team, a team that is financially handicap to carry out his own campaign functions? The refund issue eventually made tongues to wag and then questions about Alie Kabba’s real financial standing started to crop up. Is Alie Kabba so hard-up financially to stoop so low?

After lots of arguments, the money was reluctantly transferred to Alie Kabba through Western Union. Since the formation of the UK/I in London, he has never contributed a single penny to top up the meagre finances of the UK/I campaign team. We the few rational executive members started wondering whether Alie Kabba actually has the financial capability to propel his SLPP campaign. Or is he just one of those politicians who has the finances but is naturally greedy and selfish? I cannot remember any other SLPP flag-bearer or other Sierra Leone politicians who go cap in hand to ask for air ticket refunds for his/her own campaign. It was a real blow to Alie Kabba’s credibility. Or perhaps he is an opportunist to the core who is just trying to look for a job!! Posterity will tell!

ALIE KABBA’S PROMISES ARE EMPTY

When Alie Kabba highlighted his vision for Sierra Leone a year ago, I, like many others, plunged in hook, line and sinker. That was why I joined his campaign train in London. If the political and economic promises made by Alie Kabba for Sierra Leone are anything to go by, then there will be a big disappointment for Sierra Leone’s future considering his recent dictatorial tendencies.

Alie Kabba’s empty promises lured me in to joining the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, a party that I actually regretted affiliating myself with. I have never joined any political party in my life in Sierra Leone. To be lured in to the membership of the opposition SLPP thanks to Alie Kabba’s deceptive vision, was very painful to say the least. It was the SLPP party that incarcerated me without justification in 1998.

The SLPP ceased to be my favourite political party after the Tejan Kabbah/Solomon Berewa government arbitrarily arrested and persecuted me at Pademba Road Prisons for 10 months on the flimsy ‘collaboration charge’ excuses. Had it not been for Alie Kabba’s sake, I would not, in my wildest dream, associate my person with the SLPP party.

Alie Kabba has made lots of promises to see Sierra Leone on the hilltop of Africa. He said he wants to see the railways back to catapult the country’s economic growth for the 99% and not only for the 1% of Sierra Leoneans. That is why twelve months later, I have no doubts that Alie Kabba’s glorious promises are empty and deceptive for SLPP, country and man.

ALIE KABBA FALLS FOR FAKE IRON LADY’S CHARM

There are lots of twists and turns in the Alie Kabba dictatorial saga. One who perfectly fits the bill is his so-called Iron Lady Sia Evelyn Nyandemo. She barely knows Alie Kabba proper. She was introduced to the fake radical less than one year ago. But this empty Iron Lady has been elevated by Alie Kabba in so short a time that, suspicion about her real intentions to become First Lady is gradually becoming a reality. However, age is not on her side as Alie Kabba would definitely prefer a younger woman to suit his insatiable desires. 

But the fake Iron Lady, who was recently appointed by her leader as Global Fundraising Chairman, is alleged to have reportedly used one of her closest female relatives to lure Alie Kabba in to her charms. Reliable sources say she tricked Alie Kabba in to this love-nest early this year in London where she positioned her relative called ‘Amy Something’ in to her leader’s waiting hands. Alie Kabba even missed a very important radio interview in London to have a good time with his mysterious mistress. 

Alie Kabba also used his power to sideline the UK/I leadership by appointing another new lady called ‘Janet Something’ as his new Global Chairman. Janet is based in the US very close to her leader. His Global Fundraising Coordinating stooge is well remembered as a former PMDC party heartbreaker. These are the types of supporters currently aiding Alie Kabba’s campaign team. God help Sierra Leone. Amen.

USING AND MISUSING THE ORGANISER NEWSPAPER

My greatest regret was allowing my newspaper (theorganiser.net) to be the mouthpiece of Alie Kabba’s campaign team. My credibility was put on the line which pains me most especially after realising that Alie Kabba is a political LIAR, a former shadow of his political ingenuity. After all the voluntary publications in The Organiser newspaper to promote the messages of Alie Kabba, all I got from Alie Kabba was this disrespectful remarks: “Your newpspaper is not my priority in this campaign."

Alie Kabba sympathisers might say I am exposing him now because he refused to support my newspaper. Far from it! I am doing this because of a culmination of different negative things he has done in recent times, things that have the propensity to affect the SLPP and Sierra Leone in general. If these facts remain untold my conscience will ever remain to haunt my person. Making the dark side of Alie Kabba NOW KNOWN, is vital for the electorates in Sierra Leone.

In fact, Alie Kabba’s ingratitude dawned on me immediately after The Organiser newspaper hits the newsstand in May 2015. In the first week of my newspaper, majority of the executive members in UK/I and in Europe called to thank me for the publication. Alie Kabba made the call to me two months after the resumption of the newspaper and said: “Thank you and I like the name of the newspaper.” I did not take note of his ill conceived perception then. Alie Kabba has always hailed The Organiser newspaper as his main news dissemination outlet for the campaign. But he did not prove it practically. 

It was like a stab in the back but I am delighted now he did not mention my newspaper in his speeches as it would have dampened and tarnished the good image of my newspaper that I personally spent over 1,500 pounds sterling to set up. Now I understand why Alie Kabba requested few months ago to email him a  business proposal for my newspaper. I did as he persistently requested but he deliberately failed to even acknowledge receiving the emails.

He pretended not to know! The newspaper issue is just one of a catalogue of broken promises Alie Kabba has schemed in recent times. But he has woefully failed to have The Organiser newspaper paled in to insignificance. Now he is shamelessly using my business proposal as the main reason for my resignation. What has happened is a real blessing in disguise for me!

Be that as it may, I am now very delighted that the newspaper has moved away from the shackles of this false prophet. Now I am vowing to recommit my editorial stance to the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of my future political affiliations.

HYPOCRISY WITHIN THE ALIE KABBA TEAM

The most worrying episode about the Alie Kabba campaign is the conspicuous hypocrisy that continues to permeate the team. This vice, I believe, has tremendous contribution to the lack of positive attitude in the campaign. The irrational executive members, who are in the majority, are so scared of Alie Kabba that they almost always endorse every policy put forward by the fake radical progressive nationalist whether good or bad. Whenever the few rational executive members called Alie Kabba to attention from straying away, the hypocrites would blindly jump to their leader’s defence.

Few weeks ago, Alie Kabba became so rude and disrespectful that he started shouting at executive members and made loud commands during one Skype meeting with UK/I campaign team. Reports say the former UK/I Chairman Steven Gbekie, was so infuriated with Alie Kabba’s outbursts that he had to tell him three times, in equally commanding voice, to ‘CALM DOWN! CALM DOWN!! CALM DOWN!!! It remains to be seen whether the fake radical knew that he had indeed stepped on the wrong toes.

Alie Kabba did not say sorry for his rudeness and I believe Steven Gbekie’s intervention to calm him down did not go down well with the leader. Instead, Alie Kabba immediately stopped having any form of communications with Mr. Steven Gbekie. The incommunicado went on for a month until Mr. Gbekie tendered his shocking resignation on Saturday December 5, 2015.

“PUBLISH OR PERISH” - SAYS POET YEATS

The legendary Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, one of the foremost figures of the 20th century literature once said: “Publish or perish”. For fear of being burned up with dictators like Alie Kabba, I have decided to publish the dark side of him rather than perish not sharing these salient facts today for the people of Sierra Leone to judge. I do not want Sierra Leoneans to ask me in the future: "Why didn’t you tell us earlier."

I must confess, the Alie Kabba of Kay School years in Kenema is not the same Alie Kabba of today! Alie Kabba of Bo School years is not the same Alie Kabba of today! The Alie Kabba of FBC glorious years is not the same Alie Kabba of today! Within one year of my close association with the Alie Kabba campaign, I have noticed how Alie Kabba has metamorphosed in to a political dictator.

How three decades have changed a radical genius in to an unapproachable politician is beyond belief! This dramatic change from his humble demeanour and selflessness to something different was enough for me to quit the campaign team. And concomitantly, from the SLPP party membership.

How power can corrupt some individuals like Alie Kabba so easily is frightening. If Alie Kabba can be corrupted by power so easily when the REAL power is still far from his grasps, only God knows what the SLPP party and Sierra Leone in general would experience if he grabs presidential powers in the future!!

The 300 year-old 'Power Corrupt Statement’ by John Dahberg-Acton, son of Sir Ferdinand Dalberg-Acton has indeed stood the test of time. Politicians, like Alie Kabba, only justify how absolute power can corrupt some individuals so easily.

The facts above, among others, only indicate that Alie Kabba definitely has no NUTRIENTS OR GOODNESS in him to lead the SLPP, let alone Sierra Leone. God help us.

 

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How SLPP Supporter Are You?

By Abu Shaw in London (06/06/15)

This is the burning question that continues to confront me each time my media colleagues see a picture of me and Alie Kabba on social media networks.

Even family members continue to ask if it is indeed true that I am now a member of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP.

It is ostensibly a big surprise to many who still could not believe their ears. Many close confidantes are very conversant with the deep-seated hatred and animosity I had for the SLPP for the past 17 years. It stemmed from the persecution I personally suffered from the SLPP Tejan Kabbah/Solomon Berewa 'democratic' era.

Detained and incarcerated for 10 months at the Pademba Road Prisons in Freetown by the SLPP government, it was the worst experience I have ever had in my journalism work. The prison was overcrowded with nearly 2000 inmates for a prison that was established to accommodate only 300 inmates. It was a nightmarish situation for me and very unbearable for my family and loved ones generally in 1998.

My only crime was working for a newspaper that strongly opposed military intervention to resolve the bloody conflict in Sierra Leone. The Expo Times newspaper, of which I was the Production Manager strongly advocated for a negotiated settlement to the civil war in our country. We were vehement in our opposition to the Nigeria led ECOMOG soldiers bringing arms and ammunition to fight the RUF and AFRC rebel forces. We believed the best way out of the conflict was dialogue and more dialogue as history taught us that very few wars had ended in battlefields.

This position was totally misunderstood by the military intervention propagandists and the SLPP government. Or did they pretend to misunderstand our position? I believe the latter is the answer. When I was arrested by ECOMOG in Freetown in early 1998, I was charged with collaboration, aiding and abetting the infamous AFRC military junta of Major Johnny Paul Koroma. My innocent dad lost his life as a result of the untold humiliation he endured when the rag-tagged and poorly trained Kamajor fighters took him to the bush hours on end at the outskirts of Kenema town. Only the timely intervention of the Paramount Chief and elders of Nongowa Chiefdom that helped him gain freedom. But my innocent father never really recovered from the shock. My father was the Chief Fullah Imam and Deputy District Imam in Kenema. He died in Freetown whilst I was still languishing at Pademba Prisons Cell 4 Blyden House. His corpse was flown to his resting place in Kenema.

Cell 4 at Blyden House was streets away from freedom as seven padlocked gates, that were heavily manned 24/7 by prison officers, stood between me and the road to liberty. It was there that I joined my colleague inmates Mr Victor Bockarie Foh, President Koroma's controversial Vice President; Mr Hilton Ebenezer Fyle, the former BBC Network Africa presenter; and the former Resident Minister East Mr William Juana Smith of blessed memory. I am still haunted by the summary executions of the 24 soldiers by firing squad in 1998. Nightmares continue to affect me to this day, as I vividly remembered that awful day when wicked prison officers jubilantly commanded all prisoners to enter their cells very early that day. We knew something strange was about to happen. Watching curiously from our small windows upstairs, we saw well armed ECOMOG soldiers marching towards the condemn cells, where the 24 Sierra Leone soldiers were detained since the death penalty was passed by the SLPP kangaroo court martial. There and then we knew that the dreaded execution was going to take place that day. 

Even the heavens noticed the impending nightmare that was underway. Dark cloud instantly overcame the bright weather as Gborie, Zagallo, Hassan Conteh and the 21 others dressed in black shorts and tops embossed with 'C' (connoting condemn), were lined up with their hands cuffed behind their backs. The gallant soldiers were then led away and we could hear their brave voices singing biblical rhymes as they were trucked away to their painful deaths. We cried inconsolably in our cells that fateful night. I was never the same person again after that as bitterness and trauma engulfed me up to this day. I cannot understand why some Sierra Leoneans who do not really know these 24 soldiers would quickly dismiss them as 'bad soldiers' without giving a second thought. As for me personally, I will ever remain to respect these 24 gallant soldiers. I met most of them in prison for the first time and because of the close bond and interactions we had during my 10 months of terrifying ordeal, I immediately changed my misconception I had before about these 24 gallant soldiers.They were decent ordinary Sierra Leoneans, who were only trying to implore their Commander-in-Chief to improve their conditions of service in the military. Even the Nigerian Captain lawyer who defended them at Solomon Berewa's kangaroo Court Martial in Freetown could not understand why the crème de la crème of the Sierra Leone army could  face such unjustifiable execution. It only highlights the utter stupidity of some of our selfish politicians in Sierra Leone.      

After 10 gruesome months of incarceration at the overpopulated prison, I was luckily acquitted  by the Tejan Cole Committee of Investigation in late 1998. The commissioners, after a month of trial, found me not guilty of the collaboration charge. But my colleague Conrad Roy, our brilliant News Editor was not so lucky. He lost his precious life in prison for no justifiable reason. The three other Expo Times staff namely Ibrahim Seaga Shaw the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief; Gibril Gbanabome Koroma General Editor and Charles Abayomi Roberts 'Punchy' Business Editor had to flee in to exile. The rest is now history.

After all the killings and destructions of our country, where did it all end? On the negotiating table of course! We suggested this peace path long before the rebel war escalated. But all our efforts fell on deaf ears. Representatives of the SLPP, RUF and AFRC subsequently met in 2001 in Lome, the Togolese capital, to trash out a negotiated settlement that finally ushered in real peace in 2002.

The wise often say time is the best healer. The timely arrival of Alie Badara Sanjan  Kabba in the political scene to vie for the SLPP flag-bearer position was the turning point in my own political affiliation with a political party for the first time in Sierra Leone. And with a heavy heart, I decided to join the SLPP party for Alie Kabba's vision. That is why I believe the SLPP is a very lucky party to have a natural leader like Alie Kabba in their midst. The SLPP must count on their lucky stars to have somebody like Alie Kabba, though many of the SLPP core members are so tribally blind that they could not see beyond their noses.

When Alie Kabba speaks, you feel his sincerity to the cause. You hear his determination to turn around the misfortunes of our country to the hill top of Africa. This is the vision that converted me in to supporting the Friends of Alie Kabba UK/I campaign team. Besides being tried, tested and succeeded, Alie Kabba is truly one of very few Sierra Leone politicians today who can bring back the glory years of Sir Milton Margai.

That is why I think all SLPP members, especially the delegates, must use their heads and every parts of their body that has even an atom’s weight of life, to vote for Alie Kabba as he is the only credible candidate who can take the SLPP to State House. Do not allow any political rivals to dissuade you either through the brown envelope format or otherwise, from supporting Alie Kabba. I have no doubt that Alie Kabba is a luxury for the 99% of Sierra Leoneans yearning for salvation since the country attained independence in 1961.

The Friends of Alie Kabba UK/I Chairman Steven Beckie and Secretary General Abdulai Braima and our Chairlady aunty Evelyn have all noted that they would have supported any political party that our leader Alie Kabba should have chosen. This is just a classic example of the trust we have in our leader.  

As the Media Officer for the Friends of Alie Kabba UK/I I have to say this: “Yes, I am now SLPP for Alie Kabba’s sake. Yes, I have forgiven the SLPP for Alie Kabba’s sake. I only hope that my innocent dad would forgive me for doing so. Ameen. For more information, please click www.aliekabba.com

 

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The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists Must not be a Family Property

 By Abdul Fonti, Special Commentary (01/10/17) 

The present make up of SLAJ has more questions than answers. A situation that does not auger well for the Sierra Leone media.

Opinions are sacred and cannot be suppressed. Freedom of speech is a basic human rights. Every human being and institution in the society must respect the freedom of individuals to express their opinions. Anything other than that is a human rights violation that should be resisted stoutly.

When internal mechanisms to deliberate or express views in any organisation collapse, the members can easily resort to expressing their rights in public. This is the current case in the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) where certain members are suffering from dictatorial tendencies exhibited by the association's President Mr. Kelvin Lewis.

SLAJ is governed by a constitution that clearly outlines rules and regulations governing the institution. Sadly however, Kelvin Lewis continues to run the affairs of SLAJ outside the dictates of the constitution with TOTAL CONTEMPT. He seems to be suffering from what I will describe as 'election hangover' at the expense of unity and progress in the association.

The Kelvin Lewis led executive has refused to interview a single journalist for membership in SLAJ since he assumed power. This is totally against the spirit of unionism which the association represents. Dozens of practicing journalists have bought application forms awaiting invitation for interviews to no avail. Kelvin's executive has collected those monies and has refused to invite a single member for interview with no explanation whatsoever.

More troubling is the fact that the SLAJ constitution clearly dictates the qualification requirement for membership into the association. If even for argument sake some or all of these applicants are not qualified for membership, the SLAJ executive should be moral enough to at least communicate to the applicants or interview and reject or accept them, especially so after collecting monies from these applicants.

As if that is not dictatorial enough, it would surprise the public to note that journalists in Sierra Leone are parading the streets without identification cards as SLAJ members, thanks to Kelvin Lewis. As shameful as it may sound, this is just the sad and unfortunate status the journalist association find itself.

No wonder the association was shamefully celebrating the other day when BBC Media Action donated a motorbike (Okada) to them. Is this not the same BBC Media Action that SLAJ engaged in a foolish media battle quite recently? Shameful to say the least.

And SLAJ is also operating a Whatsapp social media platform that could best be described as being manned in the North Korean way. Fully paid up members of the association are prevented access to join the SLAJ Whatsapp group with no explanation from the executive.

It would seem that the group is mainly composed of loyalists of Mr. Kelvin Lewis aka Uncle Mr. Kelvin Lewis. While becoming a member of the SLAJ Whatsapp Group is like Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Staff in Sierra Leone applying for U.S Visitors Visa that would not be granted, being in the group will seem that you either support the Kelvin Lewis regime with no objection or you are whisked or thrown out or dragged from or being attacked or accused unjustly.

I am a victim of dictatorial leadership in SLAJ. Kelvin removed me unceremoniously without any authority from the Whatsapp group. My ONLY CRIME was because I referred to President Lewis as Uncle Mr. Kelvin Lewis.

He has however FAILED WOEFULLY to explain which section of the SLAJ Constitution frowns against referring to the SLAJ President as Uncle Mr? Which justification really does Uncle Mr. Kelvin has to unilaterally remove or refuse to add a fully paid up member to a SLAJ Forum, while the person is still a fully paid up and legal member of SLAJ?

Let me rest at this juncture as this is ONLY the first among series of planned publications to expose the excesses of the Kelvin Lewis led executive of SLAJ.

Courtesy: The Author, Mr. Abdul Fonti is a leading Journailst in Sierra Leone 

 

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APC Must Drop Complacency to Win the 2018 Elections!

By a Special Commentary (09/07/17)

Complacency, party affiliations and overconfidence are the causes why the APC lost the bye elections at Kechun in Kambia.

A big disgrace for a ruling political party to lose to an independent candidate! In short, it is a shame, a stigma, a smear on the APC insignia. 

The APC party members believe they should treat any coming elections with the credit it deserves as if they are in opposition.

“Let us seek for correct, down to earth candidates. We need to win all the seats in Freetown and other parts of the country with the right candidates,” APC members warn. 

“Please let us endeavour to give correct candidates to our party. Any loss of election of any form is a plus for the oppositions.

“Let us treat all elections with the sincerity and concerns they deserve. The coming elections are a transition. We must be tactful,” they appeal. A tabulated result of the Friday 30 June 2017 elections below: 

OFFICE OF THE NATIONAL ELECTIONS COORDINATOR

Ward 139 By-Election

Constituency: 42

District: Kambia

Provisional Results

Party - Votes - % (Valid Votes)

APC   -   871 - 49.0%

Independent - 881 - 49.5%

ADP - 27 -  1.5 %

Total No. of Reg. Voters: 3027

Total No. of Valid Votes Cast: 1779

Total No. of Void Votes Cast: 89

Total No. of Votes Cast: 1868

Voter Turnout: 62%

Alhaji Salieu Mansaray, Elections Coordinator - Northern Province

 

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Did the ADP Leader Arrested for Illegal Possession of Gun Violate the Law?

Asks Editayo G. Temple, Special Commentary (11/06/17)

The arrest and detention of the ADP leader for illegal possession of arms has brought focus on the Sierra Leone arms law.

Embattled leader and chairman of a newly registered political party in Sierra Leone, the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP), Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray, was recently arrested and detained at the Dura police station in Kenema District, Eastern, Sierra Leone for allegations of the illegal possession of small arms and ammunition, (Pistol & Teaser).

Apparently, the ARMS AND AMMUNITION ACT 2012, PART 4 SECTION 11: reads:

(1) No person shall have in his possession, custody or control any small arm or light weapon unless that person holds a licence issued by the Registrar under this Act. 

SECTION 29 PARAGRAPHS 1-3: furthered that:

(1) The Registrar shall have such powers as may be necessary to enforce the provisions of this Act, including the power to inspect any premises, vehicle or place in which he believes small arms and light weapons prohibited under this Act may be found, seize, confiscate collect or destroy any small arm or light weapon prohibited under this  Act.

(2) Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of this Act commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than five million Leones or to a term of imprisonment of not less than twelve months.

(3) Any person who conspires to or knowing or wilfully attempt, aids, abets, counsels, procures or commands the commission of an offence under this  Act, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine or term of imprisonment as a principal offender.

Be it as it may, it is now left with the judiciary to decide his fate and to ascertain whether Mr. Mansaray was in possession of the said weapons legally or illegally in accordance with the Sierra Leone Constitution.

 

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Is the NEC Boss Competent to Hold the 2018 Elections?

Asks Editayo G. Temple, Special Commentary (12/05/17)

This is the burning question on the lips of many Sierra Leoneans as we prepare for the March 7 general elections next year.

Are the Biometric Voter Registration Machines supplied for the National Electoral Commission (NEC) National Civil and Voter Registration, 2017, the right model contracted for in terms of efficiency and speed?

Who are the contractors? How many vehicles were supplied and who were the Agents or Contractors, as the case may be?

How effective is your monitoring and evaluating oversight, in relation to the ongoing aforementioned process?

How prepared is NEC to conduct a successful long anticipated referendum slated for September, 2017?

However, most people have been calling for referendum in a bid to let them know what is in the reviewed constitution, ahead of its enactment. It is also eminent that the new government may not have time and resources to conduct such task and other pressing developmental issues, so it's significant we do away with it now. 

On the premise of ‘contributing negligence’ not only N'fa Alie Conteh, the National Electoral Commissioner should be held responsible, but his accomplice, Joseph F. Kamara, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. 

Suspiciously, if N'fa Alie Conteh, the National Returning Officer, has started making and confessing to vivid mistakes, his ability and capacity to conduct a free, fair, violence free and credible transitional general elections, is open for debate. 

Congratulations Parliament, for the indefinite extension of the registration process as an act of allowing NEC to propose further extension without going through the Well. Bringing N'fa to book exhibits your readiness and competence. 

That NEC's ability and competence to conduct the 2018 elections are still questionable and required remedy. But some Sierra Leoneans think his acceptance of his mistake shows his leadership qualities that the country must reap. “It takes a man to raise the white flag when a mistake is done,” one admirer noted.

Courtesy: Editayo George Temple, The Investigative Journalist +23279316750

 

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NEC's Herculean Tasks for the 2018 Elections

By N'Bompa Turay, Guest Editor (06/03/17)

Sierra Leone's National Electoral Commissions (NEC) gears up for the much awaited General and Presidential Elections in March 7, 2018.

Reports say NEC authorities are saddled with herculean tasks to prepare the battle fields for the political giants in their respective political parties in the Presidential and General Election.

NEC has vowed to conduct the elections with infallible impartiality, honesty, strict discipline implementation of all legitimate rules in democratic free and transparency.                                                                 

The indomitable APC won the 2007 and 2012 Presidential and General Elections and now determined to win the forth coming one contained in their catalogue of materialised development programmes, nationwide.                                                           

Generally, there are irreconcilable differences in the midst of some political parties including rebellion, greed, covetousness, introduction of unprintable manicures, cane flogging, devilish satanic threats to invite Satan into the country with proliferation of falsehood etc.

Dr. Nahim stated in a radio programme few years back that the leader of the RUF was one of his patients for mental problem. If this revelation was known to the public, thousands of misguided and gullible people would have refrained from joining the mad band-wagon of Cpl. Foday Sankoh in the eleven years murderous, barbaric and senseless war. 

Dr. Nahim statement was verified when Cpl Foday Sankoh developed dread locks in prison due to lock of mental drugs.                                           

The indomitable APC has its own problems to bring back into their fold, the frustrated, disappointed, neglected members who had been deserted by their elected member of Parliament. It is alleged that some of their MPs had failed miserably in the political collectivism of their party as one unit. Some alienated themselves from their constituencies. 

A political analyst started that some political parties had received colossal billions of US$ Dollars and Leones to buy the votes of gullible and corrupt voters.             Another area of paramount importance is the urgent need for sufficient sensitisation to avoid thousands of invalid voters due to ignorance of the voters. 

Sources within some political parties revealed that if the indomitable APC continues to wins the third term in governance, the government will complete their development programmes and the opposition will be dumb founded with nothing to captivate the public confidence.                   

An APC stalwart stated that the opposition parties will vehemently campaign and contest against the APC, but that they will be fragmented into defeat.                     2018 indeed will be the battle for supremacy by the political giants/gurus in a democratic, fair, free, transparent and non violent election.

 

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JFK: The Man Next Door, Lecturer's Thought‼

By Prof Septimus Kanu, Special Commentary (14/02/17)

Politicians in Sierra Leone are a notorious set - they top superstars list.

And this is especially true for Hon. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara our current Attorney General and Minister of Justice. If I may recalled after collecting series of awards, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General said winning such awards was down to passion and determination and above all education.

He emphasized. He continued to say that he would be very happy if many more Sierra Leoneans will win those awards in years to come because it will help rebrand the country and development will move at a faster rate. The Attorney General averred that Sierra Leone needs more quality people in positions to turn around the economy and this will be possible if we put more emphasis on education for the future generation. "Education he said is a human right.

And, like other rights, it cannot be taken for granted. Across the country, more than 60 percent of the population is illiterate and we must endeavour to lower that percentage. No country has developed with such high percentage of illiterate population. He further said that the challenge is daunting, but will be achieved because that is the only way the country will developed.

"My dream for Sierra Leone is to strengthen our educational sector, produce more educated people to run institutions including foreign ones. When we have more than 90 percent Sierra Leoneans at the helm of affairs, they will be able to win more laurels for the country and the local content policy will be more effective."

He concluded by saying that currently there are many jobs that Sierra Leoneans cannot take because they are not qualified, but his dream in the coming years is to make sure where ever a job is advertised at least a Sierra Leonean should be able to apply for it.

Courtesy: Justice Freedom Knowledge (JFK)

 

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Journalist's View on Why SLPP Thug Attacks the APC Spokesman

By Tony Bee, Special Commentary (10/12/16)

A must read editorial penned by Guest Commentator Tony Bee from Australia.

A warning for the disorganised SLPP to wake up. When I read one of the stories captioned: “Why the SLPP Thug Attacks APC President Spokesman,” that was published on the 2nd of December 2016 from one of the Sierra Leone online newspapers, The Organiser', many thoughts came into my mind. First thought, how the newspaper itself really organised the story.

It was well organised just like how its name rings a bell on the ears of good organisers in the world, especially in Sierra Leone. But unfortunately the 65 years old retired SLPP is not in the global group of good organisers, particular in Sierra Leone. The hard fact is, very good organisers are not brutes. They are always polite, cool, calm, gentle and peaceful in their daily activities.

But for SLPP as a party, it’s no secret that it comprises of many violent men and women in different crack circles always bent on bringing their fellow peace and development loving Sierra Leoneans back to the dark days of Foday Sankoh and his Libyan Green Book Lieutenants in and out of the country. Therefore, anywhere they go, they will go with their violence and thuggery baggage along with them.

That was why Foday Jangray of SLPP tried to molest the polite, cool, calm, gentle and peacefully calculated APC Presidential Spokesman, Abdulai Bayraytay. My second thought was why SLPP Foday Jangray trying to molest his fellow peaceful Sierra Leonean in the public? Is it because of jealousy or envious mind? Or is it because the cool, calm and calculated Bayraytay is the APC presidential spokesman? Or is it because Bayraytay refused to pick up his phone calls when he wanted to invite him to his birthday party? If the alleged invitation was true, was it really based on a sincerely and genuine friendly motive invitation?

Or was there a satanic plan against the young man? Was it part of the plan that Foday was trying to bring to the attention of the general public at Cheznous Restaurant? The fact is we have read and heard about a famous Sierra Leonean DJ, who was invited to a birthday party and how he was allegedly found dead. Sierra Leoneans beware of SLPP thugs.

They can do anything stupid for the sake of power. However, my third thought was on the interesting comments from the extract. When Jangray was alleged to have said: “We are going to remove them, APC from power. We too supposed to be in power now because we are tired of being in the opposition." Honestly speaking these statements are very interesting to me and I also believe that other Sierra Leoneans do enjoy the comments.

The other interesting part of Jangray’s comments, where he said, it is the people of Sierra Leone that continue to vote for APC. It is really good when SLPP know that it is the people of Sierra Leone that are voting APC into power. Is that not an interesting comment? Yes, it is. The fact that Jangray did not say APC came to power by violence or by inciting war, but by the people’s mandate, is interesting.

Now, please read the extract from The Organiser’s newspaper what SLPP Foday Jangray allegedly did to Bayraytay and what he also said to him: “Pointing his fingers at the forehead of the Presidential Spokesman whilst barking at the top of his voice like a mad dog in the country’s linqua franca, Krio “nainh dae tok for the President. Den wan yah we go pull dem nar power. Wisef for cam in now because we don tire for dae na de opposition en de pipul den still dae vote for this useless APC government ya so.” Translated in English: 'He is the one speaking for the President. We shall remove them from power. We too should come in now as we are tired of being in the opposition but the people still continue to vote for the useless APC-led government'.

Sierra Leoneans, have you seen how hungry and desperate SLPP wants to get power by all means (Pa-O-pa). Please be alert in watching their movement in and out of the country. A party that engulfs violence and lawlessness, a party that does not have respect for its authorities, that does not obey its own laws and cannot speak with one voice even when the elections are coming closer, such a party is as useless as Foday's SLPP.

If I may continue to educate Foday Jangray and his SLPP by asking few more questions: who put them in the opposition bench? Is it not because they do not normally put the interest of the country first in their party activities? They always think that their selfish interests are more important than the nation. If they are not in power the country should not be at peace? Is it not because of that the electorates are always voting them out through the ballot box? Are they well organised like a serious opposition part that the people should listen to?

If not, which way are the SLPP going to remove APC from power? Is it through the ballot box that they are seemingly afraid of? If not by what means? Is it by inciting violence or war in the country? Or by joining Sama Sumana who had already made himself well known to the whole world, particularly to Sierra Leoneans all over the universe, especially those in the country that if he is not reinstated as vice president of Sierra Leone he would wage war against the poor innocent people in the country? Are they, SLPP ready to use the poor and defenceless masses children in the country to go and kill themselves in the streets of towns and villages for them in the name of protest or demonstration for fuel price increase by government?

If so, are these poor parents, especially the school going children really willing to go and put their precious lives at stake because of important SLPP one party with many problems? Ebola virus had made the students lose almost a whole academic year without going to schools, colleges and universities. Will they again allow some of the unpatriotic SLPP members whose children, close families and relatives are attending schools, colleges and universities abroad to fool them in the name of demonstrations against inflation in the country while they have their political devil-incarnation motives up their sleeves? Time will tell. My brothers and sisters, especially the students, I value your precious lives.

Therefore, beware of SLPP sinister political motives against the country. Praising you as heroes or heroines at the expense of your valuable lives and those of your poor parents struggling to pay your fees at the same time fighting to get you something to eat is NOT a praise. They are doing you more harm than good. Mind you, they are too ungrateful. You risk your lives for the sake of them, you are just destroying yourselves for nothing.

Let the SLPP bring their own children and relatives abroad to come and demonstrate for them in the country. I will not talk about the arm chair mushroom political organisations so-called civil societies or human rights’ advocates in the country. Such negative groups are only in the country to only protect their own jobs at the expense of the poor nation because they lack the early intervention positive initiatives that will prevent the abuse of individuals or group’s rights.

Courtesy: By Tony Bee, Sydney, Australia 

 

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Reminiscing the First 4 Brilliant Years of the APC in Governance

By Thorlu, Special Commentary (18/11/16)

In 2007, Sierra Leoneans were running to the polling stations to vote for the New APC back in to power leaving their priceless shoes behind.

Simply because of frustrations and the failed policies the SLPP party appalling implemented in the country. Sierra Leoneans were sick and tired of the way the SLPP was doing bad business in the country during their two terms in office. Simply because of frustrations and the failed policies the SLPP party appalling implemented in the country.

Sierra Leoneans were sick and tired of the way the SLPP was doing bad business in the country during their two terms in office. The entire country was in total disarray, full of drugs, underdeveloped roads, crippling economy, shambolic health care system, people dying from all kinds of diseases, schools became the idle zones and drug dealings centres for the drug lords. And to make matters worse the country was in complete darkness for almost 13 years during the SLPP tenure.

The future generation was forced to make big choices in their early lives, whether to go to school, which they can't afford because of the high cost of school fees, or the other alternative was to drop out of school and either embraced prostitution or engage in any violent activities or gangs as a way of life at such tender age. These innocent kids have to sacrifice their bodies or future to engage in awful acts just to make ends meet. What a shame on the SLPP led by President Tejan Kabbah.

The poor leadership skills of the SLPP became the biggest problem in Sierra Leone, based on their unproductive results and failed policies. It came to a point that the citizens of Sierra Leone started to give-up their dreams and ambitions and they felt like SLPP has ruined their futures. The entire country was in complete jeopardy, people came into the conclusion that only one political party in the entire COUNTRY that could seek their interests.

And that party was no other than the APC under the leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma. That's why the ruling APC party came to power in 2007. In the first 100 days in office, the New APC delivers light, something the SLPP cannot accomplish in 13 years in office. The Bumbuna Dam Hydroelectric Project was revived by the APC and the installation of a 1Tomegawatt thermal power generating machine from Japan that eventually alleviated the chronic power shortages.

Electricity generation improved by 49% in 2010 and 70% to present, since Minister Henry Macauley took over (170.45 gigawatt/hour or More ). President Koroma also demonstrated pure leadership skills when he made peace with certain senior APC members that took him and his APC party to court. Because he knew that our country cannot afford another war or discomfort. He publicly apologised for the old APC past activities and reassured the people of Sierra Leone that the new APC is totally different from the old APC, a change that was very visible during the first term in governance.

But very hard to convince us now that the new APC is not looking more like the old APC. He was the first President in the history of Sierra Leone to declare his assets, and urged the rest of his Cabinet Ministers to follow suit. He was the first President to live his entire life in Sierra Leone, doing business in one of the lowest private sectors in Sierra Leone as an insurance broker. He is the first President that spent more money in the educational sector than any other government in Sierra Leone, such as increasing salaries and subventions of teachers.

He is the first president to take an active role in the agricultural sector. President Koroma lived an ordinary life within his community of his fellow countrymen and he perfectly understands the depth, sorrow, pain and sacrifices his people have gone through in the past by the preceding government. For some of these simple reasons above, President Koroma has the fortitude to relate directly to the least common Sierra Leonean and his humble attitude that most leaders do not have.

 

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Some of Us Will Continue to Support President Koroma Forever

By Gunther AB Daramy, Special Commentary (19/10/16)

This prolific Sierra Leone journalist Mr. Gunther Daramy, like others, is very impressed with President Ernest Koroma's presidency.

The reason for this is simple. Under Comrade Ernest Bai Koroma, as Chairman and Leader of our glorious party, and as President of Sierra Leone, we have witnessed tremendous empowerment of young folks of our party and the country as a whole. The appointment of the Secretary General of the National Youth League of the All Peoples Congress (APC), Alie Conteh, as Presidential Youth Aide, at State House, does not come as a surprise to me.

This is because I know our darling Leader will one day reward his hard work and resilience. As a member of the Editorial Team of APC We Yone Newspaper and an Honorary Member of the League, I am au fait with some of the happenings of the APC NYL. Comrade Alie Conteh has served the party diligently. For this reason, some of us are proud to say as young people, there is reason to be resilient and hold the forth to rally around the party in thick and thin.

Comrade Alie Conteh can selflessly pinch from his little and make things happen for needy young people of the party. I can still vividly remember when he disclosed to me some time ago, that he is going to quit his job to serve the party. It was a bold decision indeed.

This is a lesson for all of us whom are in the party young people arm to learn from. At this point in time, let me say Kudus to our President of the APC National Youth League, Bai Mahmoud Bangura, for creating the platform for young party folks. As a way of background, Alie Conteh has served as President of the National Union of APC students (NUAS) in 2007/2008. A lot of achievement on his single head. Meanwhile, I remain APC forever.

Courtesy: Gunther AB Daramy, AKA APC OSE PIKIN

 

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Bondo Society and the FGM Debate Rages on in Sierra Leone!!

By The Ranger, Special Commentary (08/09/16)

The nation has lately been embroiled in a heated debate on social media concerning the Bondo Society and the Female Genital Mutilation.

It could be recalled that hostility towards opponents of the practice was underlined in 2009 when four female journalists in the city of Kenema were forced to strip before being frog marched through the streets because “they spoke unfavourably on radio against female circumcision or FGM as fearfully coined by the West. Anti-FGM campaigners are divided on whether an under-18 ban will have any impact.

Some believe it is a small step in the right direction, others say it will matter little as traditionally a parent makes the decision for a daughter, irrespective of age. Anti campaigners cite ugly medical consequences of the operation being done with unsuitable excision instruments and various health complications that after birth and traumatize those who go through FGM, adding that it has no benefit to those who go through it. Among the womenfolk, according to the Secretary General of the Soweis Association, majority who live in the rural areas accept the custom as a mark of honour in society.

She sees nothing harmful in cutting of the clitoris which anti campaigners call FGM and compares it to male circumcision which nobody opposes. Those accused of advocating for a ban against the Bondo and FGM, have explained that they are not against Bondo which is widely practiced by women of all tribes in the country but against the initiation of girls below the age of consent and discretion.

On the other hand, the government as a signatory to the Maputo Declaration which promotes the rights of women has said it is highly committed to attain the highest possible standard of health for girls and women, particularly their sexual and reproductive health rights. The Bondo is seen being a traditional rural women institution as a means of raising a girl properly. Communities practice it and its associated FGM mostly for cultural reasons. Since it is such a powerful social norm, most families will have their daughters cut despite the health risks and harm.

FGM is practiced under the belief that women and girls will remain pure and ensure a proper marriage. Reasonably, the age old tradition and custom cannot be banned overnight but can gradually be eliminated through education of girls and their families. Research shows that many educated girls and children of educated mothers are opting not to join the Bondo. This is the position of African educationists like FAWE which has built schools for girls in communities to educate and liberate them from their past.

In Nigeria, a civil society organization, Girls Power Initiative's weekly safe space lessons provide an opportunity for hundreds of 10-18 year old Nigerian girls to become empowered with factual information on gender, life management skills, adolescent sexuality, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Girls graduating from the three year program use the information gained to carry out social work interventions in rural communities on issues of early marriage, teenage pregnancies and FGM which have led to a reduction in these practices.

 

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Fighting Corruption: Allow Dr. Sylvia Blyden to be the Sacrificial Lamb

By Gunther AB Daramy, Special Commentary (23/07/16)

Corruption is endemic in Sierra Leone regardless of effort being made by President Koroma to give the Anti-Corruption Commission prosecution powers.

Political heads of ministries, departments and agencies carry the bulk of the blame for the underdevelopment of the country, amid serious corrupt practices at all levels. But if proper investigative journalism is done, you will agree that the problem we have in this country is how civil servants are engaging in serious act of corruption.

It is for this reason that I support moves by the Minister of Social Welfare Gender and Children's Affairs for exposing corruption in her Ministry. While those senior officials indicated by the Minister are presumed innocent, let us allow the due process of the law and at the same time encourage other MDAs to follow suit. Dr. Sylvia Blyden will go down in the history of this country for representing this country with all honesty and sincerity.

It is apparent that government ministries should be devoid of graft. This is because the presence of corruption will hamper socio-economic growth. For this reason, well-meaning Sierra Leoneans should join force with this drive. How many MDAs are embattled by corrupt practices unreported? Why is that many government policies stop at half way?

The ugly reality is many vote controllers, whom necessarily are not politicians are involving in serious act of corruption.

 

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Mohamed Kamaramba Mansaray Stop Misleading the Public!

By John Sorsor, Special Commentary (18/03/16)

The audacious campaign by Mohamed Kamaramba Mansaray against Mohamed Bangura's ministerial appointment is full of lies.

Mohamed Kamaramba Mansaray (MKM) has been engaging in wild ranting, criticising the appointment of the former Chairman and Leader of the United Democratic Movement, Mr. Mohamed Bangura, as the Minister of Information and Communications.

MKK has been running from one media house to another and writing a bogus and unsubstantiated letter to the Speaker of Parliament and copying diplomats on the grounds that President Ernest Koroma has violated our sacred 1991 Constitution by appointing Mohamed Bangura, who some months ago, resigned from the UDM party he established to join the ruling All People's Congress (APC) Party, as a minister.

The failed legal base for MKM's claim is Section 56 (b), which connotes that a person should not be appointed as a Minister or Deputy Minister if he has contested and lost as a candidate in the GENERAL ELECTION IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING his nomination for appointment. For the self-comprehension of my readers, in verbatim Section 56 (b) states that: "...he has not contested and lost as a candidate in the general election immediately preceding his nomination for appointment."

The catch area is that: "CONTESTED AND LOST AS A CANDIDATE IN THE GENERAL ELECTION IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING HIS NOMINATION FOR APPOINTMENT." Oh yes! Mr. Mohamed Bangura was a presidential runner in the 2012 election but withdrew as a candidate at the brink of time and threw his weight behind President Ernest Koroma. According to my view, the time for his withdrawal was too poor as his face was already on the ballot paper, but some schools of thoughts are saying that he didn't inform National Electoral Commission on time.

And unfortunately for him, some of his supporters voted for him and he garnered 5096 votes. Does that disqualify him from becoming a minister? A BIG NO! HE IS QUALIFIED. One would like to ask HOW? The very Section 56 (b) that Mohamed Kamaramba Mansaray is relying on has a very important phrase which is "GENERAL ELECTION".

The consolidated electoral law of Sierra Leone called the PUBLIC ELECTIONS ACT, 2012 gazetted on 24th May, 2012 with a volume No 26 in its interpretation Section (page 3), says "GENERAL ELECTION" means a general election for Members of Parliament." This interpretation leads us to the question; was Mohamed Bangura a Presidential Candidate or a Parliamentary Candidate in the 2012 Election?

If he was a Presidential Candidate, then he is well qualified to be appointed as a minister. Now, is MKM telling the public that he is not aware of the existence of the Public Elections Act of 2012 which is a federate of all the electoral laws in Sierra Leone or he just wants to misdirect the public or wants to be needlessly mischievous? I pause!

 

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Put Sierra Leone First as Guest Writer Sides Centre for Research

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo, Special Commentary (10/03/16)

The Centre for Research, Documentation Policy Studies and Development of Law is challenging everyone to put the country first!!!

With the recent stubbornness by fuel importers in Sierra Leone to reduce the pump price of fuel to match the international prices, I am sure everybody is disturbed whether you take sides or not. That is why I believe the Centre for Research is saying the truth. The biggest challenge the coming generation would face is lack of ‘clarity of thought’.

And it's got nothing to do with their genes or DNA or anything else; but for the way this country is changing. Truth is slowly dying its own death; courtesy of ‘perception’. There is nothing absolutely nothing called Truth in today’s Sierra Leone. There are lots of truths, which are now just perceptions. So what happens when perception takes over truth? They can be mended to one’s advantage or disadvantage; while truth is not. Sierra Leoneans have grown to such a stage that they are now capable of manipulating anything.

Though the basic truth might remain same that every human grows old day-by-day, we have changed the perception to growing younger with new medication and other deceitful treatments. While our politicians and those in social positions of trust say they hate exploitation, they supply deceitful tricks to fuel business people to cheat the poor. Everyone knows the true intentions of not reducing the pump price of fuel is to maximise profit for most of our people in social positions of trust who are incidentally also shareholders to the fuel companies operating within Sierra Leone.

We know those who are supporting them are direct beneficiaries of the system. This is one of the most beautiful ways of converting truth in to perception. So the point I am trying to make is that we have reached a stage where you can never prove anything right or wrong to someone. Irrespective of whatever facts or truths that you show to the other person, he will go with his own perception rather than believing the actual truth especially when he's benefiting with his/her deceitful tricks at the expense of the majority.

The people in social positions of trust, especially in Western nations, can die to redeem their people from poverty and make them great, but not in Sierra Leone. Many men and women who are living in this magnificent land built NO greatness, over many decades and it continues unfortunately. We possessed great mineral resources for which all of us should take pride; but only the selected few are benefiting from these resources.

With quality leadership we should feel fortunate to have born on this great land, but how can we, in a land where truth doesn't prevail for a long time. We all need to introspect and ask ourselves to pick sides. You always have a choice, to choose Truth or Perception. If you are not in a position to choose, all you can do is to pray to the almighty to ‘Save our culture, save our country.’

Putting our political affiliations aside coupled with intensive calls for divine intervention, I am convinced our beloved Sierra Leone will rise again.

 

 

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Delayed Stipend Payments Not Good for Youth Farm Project

By Special Commentary (04/03/16)

The vision by the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Youth Affairs needs to buckle up to make the youth farm project a success.

The large expanse of land under cultivation and the energy exhibited by a group of young people we met at the National Youth Farm near Masiaka was clearly indicative of an excellent vision by the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Youth Affairs. On the other hand, a derelict farm tractor (said to be the personal property of the Youth Minister) and the absolute absence of modern agricultural inputs and starving crops also mean a sustainable youth farm project shall remain a farce or rather turn out to become a monumental failure.

The 250 hectare farm is by no means an ambitious project by the Youth Ministry. What we however discovered when we visited the farm recently speaks volume of the seriousness by key stakeholders like the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure the success and sustainability of our national youth farm project. Speaking to Platinum Media, Senior Farm Supervisor, Abu Bakarr Sesay lamented over the delay of "stipend" payment to some 300 volunteers at the farm.

"75% of our volunteers are women and most of them work in a large farm like this is by manual labour..." he said as he used an improvised handkerchief to clear his sweaty face. Mohamed S. Kanu who introduced himself as Head of the Marketing Department said his office merely exists on paper as there are no processing or marketing facilities to add value to whatever little produce they have harvested since the farm was established two years ago.

"Some of our volunteers don't receive any stipends....most of the produce we harvest is stored as seedlings for the next planting season," he disclosed. Mr. Kanu also believed the initial support the project was getting from donors is no longer forthcoming. "Only government is supporting us now and we are still not able to stand on our own because the support is far from being enough," he lamented.

The youth farm is clearly struggling. The shocking aridity of the land points to the absence of proper soil management practices. We discovered that some of the large water tanks reportedly provided by an NGO for irrigation purposes were actually empty. We were unable to get the Youth Affairs Minister, Alimamy Kamara for his comments. However, we left the youth farm with the impression that another brilliant vision by government to harness youth potential may hit the rocks if something is not done immediately.

Sierra Leoneans should not be surprised to see our youth farm producing crops that are barely enough to feed a single household. Platinum media cannot understand why there appears to be very little intervention from the Agriculture Ministry and other agricultural institutions towards the national youth farm. We will press further to talk to officials from both ministries on the unforgivable state of our national youth farm project.

Courtesy: Platinum Media

 

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Killer Car Seats Killing More! Police, SLRSA on Sleep Mode!

By Special Commentary (22/02/16)

The alarming rate of vehicle accidents on our roads cannot be unconnected to reckless driving and persistent use of derelict vehicles.

Platinum Media has discovered that a major cause for the horrific deaths and injuries has been the continued use of improvised iron seats mostly in "poda podas." We were unable to access reliable statistics from the traffic division of the Sierra Leone Police but a senior police officer confirmed that many Sierra Leoneans have perished under the thinly covered pieces of iron converted into seats by greedy car owners.

The officer however fell short of telling us what his institution has done to prevent more horrible deaths and injuries on passengers. Sources at Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) have said there were initial moves to ban the use of Iron seats. "We were working with the police to arrest these vehicles...but I cannot explain why that exercise suddenly stopped," explained a traffic Warden who also asked to remain anonymous.

Mahmoud Dumbuya, a professional welder at Kissy, Eastern Freetown said he has been approached several times by drivers and vehicle owners who would ask him to replace the soft original mini car seats with metal ones. "The vehicles normally come as three-seaters....the welded seats will ensure additional sitting capacity for the poda podas and more money for drivers," he maintained.

Platinum reporters visited the Clay Factory Lorry Park recently and out of 22 "poda podas" they inspected, 15 had makeshift iron seats in them. As we call on government to take immediate action on this, it staggers our imagination to learn both the police and SLRSA have failed to remain proactive over a major cause of death and injury for poor Sierra Leoneans on our highways.

Courtesy: Platinum Media

 

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This is a Conspiracy as 10,000 Pre-Paid Meters Destroyed by Fire!

By Special Commentary (15/02/16)

The rampant fire outbreaks in the capital Freetown today has made tongues to wag as to whether these fires are the result of sabotage!

Information from our very reliable source has revealed that 10,000 prepaid meters were destroyed by the latest fire outbreak at the Electricity House on Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown. The element of alleged foul play became apparent when we discovered that the meters, worth over one million United States dollars were destroyed the same day they were to be transferred to the EDSA sub-station at Falcon Bridge.

Reports also confirmed that there was a pending audit of the said meters. It was also revealed that an undisclosed quantity of these meters had earlier disappeared, prompting earlier investigations that suggested the existence of a long thriving criminal syndicate at EDSA. Seven people earlier arrested by police are reportedly in custody but police sources say there are serious challenges in acquiring strong evidence to charge them to court.

This has further exposed the poor capacity of our law enforcement agency to investigate and prosecute such offenses. There is not yet an official statement from the Ministry but we learnt that the Minister Henry Macauley has been collaborating with police investigators to nab the culprits. He has temporarily relocated to Brook Street as his office at Electricity House was on the floor that was severely affected.

As the energy situation improves across the country, Sierra Leoneans believe government must put in place a mechanism that will sanitize our corrupt energy sector. Such mechanism must not be devoid of aspects of capacity building and ways of developing an ethical work culture among all categories of staff. People are convinced the energy sector is plagued by shameless rogues determined to reverse the gains made by government in that very sector.

Minister Macauley who has been praised recently for the improved power supply in Freetown must act decisively on this matter or risk being lambasted by an increasingly angry public.

Courtesy: Platinum Media

 

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Clever to Stop Politicising a Matter in a Competent Court of Law

By Special Commentary (10/02/16)

Alie Kabba's bigamy charge has prompted the clarion call to stop politicising a matter that is before a competent court of jurisdiction.

The rule of law presupposes that no one is above the law. Therefore, if the "Almighty" Alie Kabba contravenes the law of this land do you expect him to go Scot-free? Without law and order, the life of man will be nasty and brutish. On the issue of bail, the Master and Registrar approves the bail conditions. If the sureties failed to comply with the bail conditions, there is no need for us to cry over spilt milk. Similarly, we should put aside the ancient fashion of male chauvinism.

This is the modern trend of globalisation where gender parity is holding sway. Diana Konomanyi, the complainant, has the right to institute a legal action against an individual who cheated her passion, fate and confidence. Do you know the emotional and psychological stress she might be going through all these years? Why are we using politics in an issue that has to do with a life-long happiness and sorrow?

Are we chewing more than we can bite on this particular issue? We need to be circumspect the way and manner we come out with sound judgement on a matter of such magnitude. Diana has life after politics which is why she initially accepted the hands of Alie Kabba in marriage 2013.

Let us assume that Alie Kabba, who is vying for the SLPP flag-bearer post, did the right thing; do you think that Diana will institute a legal action against him? If the answer is no then we are merely beating a dead horse.

 

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After Thought of Alie Kabba: "OMG is it the Beginning of my End?"

By  Special Commentary (01/02/16)

In my ignorant exuberance, and maybe due to the effect of illegal substances I took, I introduced the people's court to humiliate fellow students.

After my rustication from college, my greed set in and I shamelessly squandered money meant for the education of fellow students. The money and my lust for popularity led me to Libya via Ghana where I personally introduced Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh. I personally pleaded with Ghadafi to help sponsor a revolution in Sierra Leone. That was how RUF was born. I stole money from RUF and sought asylum in the US.

The U.S. System was too stiff for my lifestyle and I had my fair share of problems with the System. I beat my wives, abandoned my kids and my mentor ended up in prison. Nothing worked. I lied about several things to preserve my image. Having fell through the cracks on the TRC I saw a perfect opportunity to repair my damaged image - marry Lady Diana because I knew it would not cost me a dime and that I will live comfortably under her shadow.

The problem was I was still married to Edith Kabba but tricking Diana was easy for an old crook like me. After my marriage to Diana, I realized that the woman had far more personality than I can stand. I was always particularly upset when people referred to us as Madam minister and her husband instead of Alie Kabba and wife. After all it was I who staged the riot against President Siaka Stevens in 1985 not Diana.

I was returned unopposed in the Gardeners stage managed Student Union elections not Diana. That is not me so I decided to redeem my image and personality by declaring to run as flag bearer of SLPP. My supporters did well on social media and my lost glory seemed to have returned - with some help from the practice I had demonstrating for Ebola money and the sacking of Sam Sumana. Even though this was unrelated and directly in conflict with my aims it was still good practice.

Thanks to a few sycophants who followed like blind rats my message went far and wide. Unfortunately, social media was not reality on the ground. I found that out late after making a few stupid remarks in gatherings. My luck ran out and I spent the new year in prison. I was so afraid of going back in that I had to submit an expired passport to prevent it. That did not change my fate because I was in again for a couple of days.

I am out now but this time I have realized I am in deep trouble - which is why I ordered no clapping or dancing. I am so scared. Could it be that this is my nemeses for all the bad things I did to this country and my people? US is not safe for me either. Edith will be waiting with her court case, the child support issues, the monies I owe to the hair braiders in Chicago and above all I am no longer part of the United Africans Organisation UAO. The campaign has been trashed into an abysmal hole. OMG is it the beginning of my end?

Courtesy: Awareness Times

 

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The Naivety Behind the Comparison of FBC and UNIMAK

By Claude B. Davies (23/01/16)

It amazes me to read a piece on the social media captioned: "UNIMAK defeats FBC."

For those who might be lost about what UNIMAK means, it is the University of Makeni and of course, FBC (Fourah Bay College) is one of the premier colleges under the University of Sierra Leone. I shall endeavour to write this piece in the simplest form of the English language for all to understand. For crying out loud, the deliberate attempt to bring down the hard-earned reputation of FBC by a one-off attainment of a UNIMAK scholar in the Law School is good for nothing.

What is the fuss behind that piece promulgating the success of a student from the University of Makeni and tending to suggest that that is the end of the long celebrated glory of FBC? Whether the author of that piece is numb to the fact that UNIMAK is a University and not a secondary/high school, and that they have also got students with equal potentials as those at FBC is another question for that author to ponder upon.

Oh yes! What does that author have to say when for over the years, Fourahbites (students from Fourah Bay College) have been emerging as 'Star Pupils' on the Bar examinations on many occasions since the establishment of the Sierra Leone Bar in the 90s? Would that have suggested the supremacy of FBC to other Universities in England, the United States and other countries where students come from to sit to the Sierra Leone Bar? If your answer is NO, then start to see the naivety of such an author.

Again, does being the Star Pupil of the Bar exams suggest that that student, upon becoming a legal practitioner when being called to the Bar will be the most brilliant and successful lawyer in practice? Of course not. Does the author of that piece know that there were 3 students from UNIMAK from among which, one failed and the other was expelled? Please pardon my mathematics, but to get 1 student to succeed out of 3 when one failed and the other expelled is far from being the best. So why the fuss of saying UNIMAK defeats FBC? I ask again.

Am sure, even the administrators of UNIMAK are counting on FBC and/or the University of Sierra Leone as a sister University to complement their development in the academic sphere in this present dispensation. I pray not to be otherwise interpreted by my reaction to such a piece as is being circulated in the social media. I sincerely give a doffing salute to the Star Pupil from UNIMAK and would accord her the mutual respect as a soon-to-be colleague in legal practice, and hope she becomes a beacon to the others who are to come.

The establishment of more Universities should not by any means prompt severance in our country's educational stride, rather, it should be complementary. It is therefore my expectation that the success of a student from another University within the Sierra Leone jurisdiction should be celebrated in unison rather than drawing strings of comparison.

Courtesy: By Claude Bhamee Davies

 

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The Liars that are Lying to Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, the NGC Leader!

By Pastor Mohamed Sesay (02/01/18)

Standing by the side of the pool were four categories of people from whom Yumkella was seeking advice as his head stays above water for a time.


After spending donkey's years at the UN while systematically trying to create an autobiography of his exploits, the man called Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella and who is dubbed KKY by supporters, returned to Sierra Leone and quickly plunged into the political swimming pool of this country.

Without going through swimming lessons and actually finding out the width, breath, and most importantly the depth of the swimming pool, he just jumped in with trousers and all.

After Yumkella found himself knee deep inside the pool but found himself still sinking, it was then he sought the advice of those whom he thought and believed had had a plunge before him inside that same swimming pool.

Standing by the side of the pool were four categories of people from whom Yumkella was seeking advice as his head stays above water for a time:

Those with life rafts readily available. They advised that he hanged on to that raft and returned so he could take some swimming lessons before taking a dip in the far future.

There were those who had entered that swimming pool before but survived after being rescued by the life rafts of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party but who, at this time of Yumkella's struggles, wanted to pretend that they were some swimming experts that survived through their swimming skills.

There were those who never went that deep as Yumkella was now doing but rather stood on the sides while others struggled but who went back home to tell relatives that they did enter that pool and survived it.

There were also those who waited for those who were taking the plunge to return and then they went to them and subtly shared the prize monies with them.

As Yumkella shouted desperately as a sudden whirlpool took over, the latter three shouted to him to take their advice. "What must I do to be saved?" Yumkella shouted not knowing who to trust.

Those with the life rafts were calm just pointing at their rafts for Yumkella to see sense and return but he never paid attention to them. "Go for it", the do gooders and the deceitful liars shouted to him. "It's easy." Gasping for breathe as he began to sink finally, Yumkella asked: "How?" "No idea," they answered back.

From the beginning, Yumkella had been a pawn in the hands of his handlers who are mostly former disgruntled SLPP members who, because of their own personal grudges for crimes nobody committed against them, were seeking revenge, saw Yumkella as the right diving board to step on to vent their venom on the very party which made them what most of them are today.

The plot was concrete. It was just reminiscent of the Nikolai and Elena Ceausescu of Romania drama, who, up to the last minute, were told by their handlers that they were popular until they ended up being slaughtered by young soldiers.

Yumkella was afar when he was told that the whole nation has warmed up to him. Having worked for the UN for very long, they thought he was loaded and that he will be ready to deliver those dollar bills.

Dr Gbonda at one stage assumed Yumkella's campaign manager role just hoping against hope but he has since melted after reality dawned on him that what he was actually seeing as some Utopia was actually a mirage.

Lawyer Mogbe Musa, who was so enthusiastic about the KKY movement has gone into hibernation. Tejansie has vamoosed. Kolleh the perennial defector, has safely defected to the APC.

But the liars that are lying to Dr Yumkella and who plan to lie to him to the end, have remained steadfast coming up with one lie after the other.

What most people, even including Yumkella himself, didn't know, was that the activities that were taking place at SLPP HQ which appeared to be disadvantaging Yumkella, were actually orchestrated by the liars to present a picture of Yumkella being the underdog that was being persecuted by members of Paopa.

The first lie was to rent a crowd so that that crowd will be presented to Yumkella as his new following. The Abacha Street boys and girls rented, were to later laugh it off as they spent their rent money on things for themselves and parents and added a T-shirt to their respective wardrobes.

Yumkella, without thinking, believed that those rented Abacha Street boys were actually SLPP supporters when they were not. This was what prompted his fuss about his membership of the SLPP which was to later cause embarrassment for him.

The liars pushed Yumkella forward to insist he was a member of the SLPP when he never was until after the secret finally came out that he never was a member, the liars told him to go and register so he could be a full member of the SLPP. That registration was to finally destroy whatever credibility was left in Yumkella as it brought shame upon him.

To cut a long story short, Yumkella registered his own party after the liars told him that by just talking about his work at the UN and by laying claim to the Bankasoka project at Port Loko, he will become president, Yumkella is now going around doing exactly as told by the liars wasting his financial resources and bringing unnecessary worries on his family on a fruitless endeavour.

How does Yumkella expect to win an election with just 69 delegates? Only compulsive and pathological liars can make an intelligent man like him believe such a lie.

What the liars never told Yumkella is that ALL the people who are supposedly defecting from the SLPP to his party, are people who had left the SLPP even before the 2012 elections who never even voted for the SLPP but yet, if not for the mess caused by Christiana Thorpe, SLPP could have won that election without them.

Now the liars are on the fringe ready to ditch him as elections draw close and finally dissociate from him after the elections.

Fortunately for Yumkella, those with the life rafts are still waiting to drag him out of the Sierra Leone Political Swimming Pool when he finally decides to come to his senses and they will give him proper swimming lessons for the next dip probably in 2028.

 

 

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An Excellent Constitutional Tutorial for all Sierra Leoneans!

By Dr. Abdulai O. Conteh, Guest Editor (20/12/17)

Sierra Leone's veteran and revered politician of the APC party fame, has openly admonished President Ernest Koroma on the constitutionality of the Sierra Leone presidency.

This excellent constitutional tutorial is a must read for all Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad.


Your Excellency,

Please permit me to write on a matter of grave national constitutional, legal and political concern that has come to engage the attention of our compatriots both at home and abroad.

I have accordingly taken the liberty to make the format of this letter an open one, as its contents address matters of public national interest. This relates to the position of the Vice President of the country.

Your Excellency, up until 1991 when the current national Constitution was, after a nation-wide consultation and referendum, adopted as the Supreme Law of the land, the position of the vice president was an appointed one. This was the position after the inauguration of the republican form of government in 1971, and the introduction of a one-party form of government in 1978.

The record shows that we even had the positions of First and Second Vice Presidents. But both offices were appointive and in the gift of the President as it were. The then national Constitutions (1971 and 1978) designated the Vice President to be the successor to the presidency in the event of a vacancy in the latter office.

The record will also show that in 1985, just prior to the then President, the late President Siaka Stevens, demitting office, there were moves to change the constitutional and legal position regarding the succession to the presidency by the vice President. But these moves were debated and adopted in Parliament and the necessary legislation enacted. Mercifully, the country was spared any political rumpus that could have resulted from these changes so late in the day and the ill-fated Presidential Council literally proved still-born.

Therefore, in order to put matters beyond conjecture, surmise and any chicanery and to make the whole process regarding the position of the vice presidency transparent, the 1991 national Constitution, for the first time, clearly made the office of the Vice Presidency, not appointive any more, but rather, an elective one.

Thus, after 1st October, 1991, when the national Constitution became operational, the people of Sierra Leone stipulated and granted to themselves the right to have a say as to who shall be their vice president. The position is now covered in clear provisions of the national Constitution, namely, section 54(1), (2) and (3) of the Constitution.

These provisions require that a candidate for the office of president must have a running mate designated as vice president. Together, if the slate containing the candidate for the presidency and his running mate are successful in the presidential elections; they are declared elected President and Vice President respectively.
Thus, gone are the days when a President can appoint a vice President. The two offices are now conjointly elected at the same time by the will of the people, at the time of electing the presidential candidate with his running mate as the vice presidential candidate.

Furthermore, by the constitutional provisions, either the President or the Vice President is removable from office, but not at the will or instance or fiat of one or the other, but rather, by a Parliamentary process colloquially referred to as impeachment

The constitutional provisions on removal from office of either office holder, are, I dare say, clearly stated in section 51 of the national Constitution. It is no doubt instructive to note that there are no separate and particular provisions for the removal of the vice President, but rather, in the event there is a need to remove, the same provisions applicable in the case of the President himself will come into play.

Your Excellency, I note with particular care the reasons given in a Release from your office dated 17th March, 2015, for removing the current holder of the office of Vice President. I hope I fairly summarize these as: i) the expulsion of the vice President from the All Peoples Congress (APC) by a decision dated 6th March, 2015, of the National Advisory Committee of the APC; and ii) your taking note of the fact that on Saturday, March 14, 2015, the vice President sought asylum from a foreign embassy, which the Release states is indicative of “a willingness to abandon his duties and office as Vice President…”

These are matters now in the public domain and it is not intended to debate them here. But the simple and irrefutable fact is that they do not and cannot, in the face of the clear constitutional provisions, provide, with the utmost respect, the warrant or legal basis “for relieving with immediate effect” the Vice President from office.

Your Excellency, with the utmost respect, as the guardian of the Constitution, as stipulated in sub-section (3) of section 40 of the Constitution, you have not been properly advised or served in terms of the provisions of the Constitution you have invoked for taking this most extraordinary measure.

Your Excellency refers to sections 40 (1) and 41 (b) of the national Constitution, as warrant for the measure you have taken. A simple, plain and teleological reading of these provisions would readily show that they vests or grant no such power in you or anyone else for that matter for the following reasons: First, section 40 (1) proclaims you as the President of the Republic to be the Head of State, the supreme executive authority of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

It may be noted that this section vests or grants no power, it is merely declaratory of the attributes or incidence of the office of the President. However, Part II of the Constitution on Executive Powers, in section 56(1) vests executive power in you as the President.

This power may be exercised by you directly or through members of the Cabinet, Ministers, Deputy Ministers or public officers subordinate to you. But importantly, the exercise of executive power is expressly subject to the provisions of the Constitution.

In plain terms, this means that executive power, whatever it may mean or import cannot lawfully be exercised in disregard of the provisions of the Constitution. Executive power is nowhere defined in the Constitution. But the Constitution does clearly provide for the removal of the vice President from office and how this should be done.

This clearly puts the issue of the removal from office of the Vice President beyond the exercise of executive power, and cannot, on any view, be subsumed under it. Section 54 of the Constitution establishes the office of Vice President. Sub –section (8) provides for the removal from office of the Vice President in terms as follows: “(8) The provisions of sections 50 and 51 of this Constitution, relating to the removal from office of the President, shall apply to the removal from office of the Vice President.”

In short, Your Excellency, neither you nor the Vice President can lawfully be removed from office except as provided for in sections 50 and 51 of the Constitution. Permit me therefore, to say, and please believe me when I say that it pains me to say so, that the removal from office of the Vice President, as stated in the Release from your office, is nothing short of an exercise of power that can find no validation in the text of our national Constitution. The second justification provided in the Release for removing the Vice President from office is a reference to section 41(b) of the Constitution.

Your Excellency, again a plain reading of this provision will readily show that it is most inapposite to the situation. This section addresses the qualification for election to the office of the President. Paragraph (b) of section 41 clearly states: “41(1) No person shall be qualified for election as President unless he- (a)… (b) is a member of a political party” (c )…(d) …” It is when section 54 of the Constitution on the Vice Presidency is read along with section 41 (b) that membership of a political party becomes an important qualification for an election to (a) the office of the President and (b) to be a candidate for the office of Vice President.

Needless to say since 2007 and certainly since 2012, neither you nor the Vice President is running for election or is a candidate for election to your respective offices. Your successive election to your respective offices is now a matter of history. Both sections 41 and 54 address the situation of candidates for the respective offices of President and vice President. Neither section requires continuing membership of a political party as a qualification for continuing or remaining in either the office of the President or that of Vice President.

Therefore, reliance on the expulsion of the Vice President from the APC as a warrant for his removal from office, can find no justification in the textual provisions of the Constitution. Membership of a political party is a qualification for election to the office, but nowhere is it stated in the Constitution that membership or continuing membership is a necessary qualification for or coterminous with continuing or remaining in office.

For the avoidance of doubt, Your Excellency, I should make it clear that what is alleged against the Vice President, may or may not be impeachable offences amounting, in the words of section 51 of the Constitution, to “gross misconduct.”

If the latter is the case, then, with respect, it is a matter for Parliament to put in train the impeachment process contemplated and provided for in the national Constitution. president koroma1Please allow me to close by stating that the use of executive power to remove the Vice President from office is irreconcilable with the provisions of the Constitution; and in my humble view, sets to naught the sovereign will of the electorate and people of Sierra Leone so eloquently expressed when in 2007, and again in 2012, you and the Vice President were elected to your respective offices.

I therefore respectfully urge that nothing should be done, least of all, in the guise of executive power, to defeat, disappoint and render nugatory the people’s will and choice. This is the essence of democracy, which I want to hope and believe Your Excellency handsomely subscribes to. It is also an affirmation of the rule of law.

I end by saying that this is not the time for political diversions or brinkmanship. In the midst of fighting the devastating scourge of the Ebola virus which is set to bring our dear country and our neighbours to ruination, we should all strive as Team Sierra Leone, to beat back this scourge and not dissipate scarce human and other resources and goodwill on avoidable and needless diversions.

I remain in faith and with highest esteem,

Your dear compatriot,

Signed

Abdulai O. Conteh
Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal
of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas”

 

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Advice to Mr. President as March 7, 2018 Elections Draw Nearer!

By Mohamed Zackew (07/12/17)

Mr. President, I write to inform you about the way you have ruled this country some ten years ago. You came into power by popular votes in run-off polls! Political situation was normalized but less than 72 hours of your victory, the opposition office in Freetown was attacked by your party members, since then, no reaction, no justice. 

 

Subsequently, some attacks happened in Kono where APC members attacked SLPP office with human faeces. Again, no arrest, no justice!

 

Less than 95 days to elections, you have concentrated on various security sector ranging from, ONS, POLICE, ARMY, now ministry of defence and ministry of internal affairs. This is bringing some food for thought into the minds of Sierra Leoneans, especially when we all running to national elections. 

 

Mr. President, your governance system may end up into chaos if you do not handle this election properly. Your leadership style has forced civil servants to bow to your party membership or you don't get the job. 

 

You have succeeded to make yourself a life leader in a party that has capable people to hold position that you have held on to. You have also succeeded to force members of your party to bow and worship you, whatever you say, remain final. 

 

You succeeded to remove the legitimate vice president where the country's legal Supreme Court acted on your dictates to do the wrong judgment. You succeeded to transform many wrong things including contractors being APC before gaining contracts, foreign embassy of China to meddle into our internal political affairs etc. 

 

The relationship between security forces and people has been friendly and cordial after the war. The people of this country love the ARMY AND POLICE and other security apparatus.  We all expect to continue with this cordial relationship. Do not allow any set up between civilians and security forces. 

 

Mr. President, you came into power peacefully and please do not leave peace into pieces.  The people of this country are concerned with your untimely security arrangement on this crucial period we are running into elections. If I may ask, what is the meaning of security changes at this crucial moment? 

 

Mr. President, we honour you for strives you made in development during your tenure, CONGRATULATIONS but you cannot do everything. Have your rest now and allow smooth transition of powers peacefully?

 

Do not force power to where the people of this country do not want. Do not force the security forces against the people of this country. Ballot box in a free, transparent, credible and fair is necessary and relevant to foster peace and unity.. 

Mr. President, we cannot allow you to destroy what you met, the country SIERRA LEONE does not belong to Koroma family alone but many families. 

 

Lastly, we keep close eyes on your new security arrangement especially on Paolo Conteh. I love you so I volunteer to advise you for better Salone. Many heroes have come and gone. 

 

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Who Erects the Bankasoka Hydro in Port Loko, APC or KKY?

By a Guest Editor (16/11/17)

Both the ruling APC and the KKY Movement are claiming responsibility of Bankasoka! Who is saying the truth? Sierra Leoneans want to know!

The National Grand Coalition NGC firebrand Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, the founder of the KKY Movement during his SLPP years, continues to publicise the Bankasoka Hydro Electricity Power Plant in Port Loko as his personal achievement during many of his political campaigns trails recently.

But APC stalwarts say otherwise and refuted all the claims made by the NGC regarding the Bankasoka Hydro. "Dr Kandeh Yumkella Koroma reaffirms his true nature of habitual impersonation and lies!!!," an ardent APC supporter blasts.

The APC press release reads: Days ago, the people of Port Loko chose to give the self-acclaimed flag bearer of the NGC a second chance to turn their minds away from the initial forgery and lies he used to kick-start his political career. Track records form a vital portion of ones integrity and ability to lead. We the people of Sierra Leone have been deceived by Dr Kandeh Yumkella's forgery of his SLPP party membership to the most recent mother of all lies.

The Godfather of all liars (Dr Kandeh Yumkella) fabricated a lie that will remain a negative legacy crafted from the pit of hell. This phenomenal lie obviously took a lot of time, resources and devilish craftiness to put together. From the deceitful edit of a forged video to a disgraceful speech aimed at deceiving our beloved nation to believe that he initiated and executed the Bankasoka Hydro Project in Port Loko.

An interview with Momoh Lawrence Turay, the Community Liaison Officer for the Bankasoka Hydro Project, was enough to clear the air, expose and shame the reincarnation of the "Father of all Liars".

Momoh Lawrence Turay stated with proof that the Bankasoka Hydro Project failed under UNIDO after the official launch of the project. The then UNIDO Secretary General was Dr Kandeh Yumkella who could not ensure even the commencement of a project that was designed to benefit his motherland.

President Ernest Bai Koroma who epitomises true leadership could not afford to have one unfinished project to his name. Two years ago President Koroma approached the Chinese government and successfully convinced them to efficiently ensure the commencement and completion of this project.

The Ministry of Energy has proceeded to prove that the Bankasoka Hydro Project was in fact the idea of the late S.I. Koroma who drew his inspiration from the Bumbuna Project. Due to unforeseen circumstances the project never could not commence in the 90s. Years later, UNIDO showed interest in the project but again nothing came out of it.

In 2007, President Koroma approached UNIDO which once again promised to rejuvenate the project. With all enthusiasm, the President held a meeting in Port Loko where he publicly appreciated UNIDO for their said commitment to bring this project into a reality.

Dr Kandeh Yumkella led UNIDO returned to demonstrate his inefficiency to see projects through by confidently and without remorse broke the hearts of his fellow countrymen by stating that UNIDO was incapable of funding the Bankasoka Hydro Project. Obviously, as then Secretary General of UNIDO, he was in position to ensure UNIDO fund the project.

The government of China without hesitation after meetings with President Koroma, the Minister of Energy and Power Henry Mccauley and a top Sierra Leonean delegation wasted no time in funding the construction of the dam which was contracted to Shanzi (a Chinese firm). Subsequently SCSE were contracted to efficiently execute the transmission and distribution network of the dam which is practically completed. The full commissioning of the completed Bankasoka Hydro Project is slated for midnext month.

A milestone has been achieved that promises to bring the entire nation closer than ever to uninterrupted electricity supply which all Sierra Leoneans desire. All thanks to His Excellency President Koroma, the ever resolute and progressive APC government and the government of China which remain our strongest ally.

We remain one nation bounded by one Love, one family that denounces liars and remains loyal to the truth for our greater good!!!

Courtesy: True Talk Media

 

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Attack Chericoco on Performance, Not on his Fula Ethnicity! Crazy!!

By Alhaji U Njai, Guest Editor (01/11/17)

Since Chernor Bah aka Chericoco was selected APC running mate, he has been attacked for his ethnicity which has angered many Fulas.

The Fulanis have felt indignation and angry because of the constant attacks unleashed on Chernor Ramadan Maju Bah not on the basis of his performance and record over the years but on the basis of his Fula ethnicity.

I support no one and will likely be one of those independent voters voting with one hand and holding my nose with the other. But to de-legitimize Chericoco's candidacy based on ethnic origin is wrong, absurd and extremely retrogressive.

Apart from everyone in Sierra Leone except maybe Limbas, Lokos and maybe few others, came from somewhere, this divisive ethnocentric based politics is bad for our country and doesn't reflect the diversity, powerful mixtures and melting pot of cultures in Sierra Leone.

I mean only in Sierra Leone will you find Pateh Johnson; Mende: Daramy, Sillah, Kandeh; Limba: Kamara, Sesay, Samura, Koroma, Conteh; Temne: Mansaray, Marah, Fofanah, Bah, Timbo, Conteh, and so on (you name them) which we should proud of.

Chernor Bah is as legitimate Sierra Leonean as Krain Krain, Red Palm oil and fish. It will be better to attack him and tie him to fail policies of the administration, rather than attacking, bashing or insulting an entire productive segment of the society.

For those throwing missiles now at Fulas, it is very OK to go to the corner store get bread from the Fula man, ride a taxi, or get some menial task done. But it is not OK for a Fula born in the country, who has worked hard, served his community to vie for political office.

So what message are you sending to young Fula boys and girls in this country? How do you expect them to fully embody this country as a place that values them and recognize them as legitimate beings of the state.

To move Sierra Leone to a progressive state we want, we must all aspire towards social justice, respect diversity, and strive for greater inclusion of all those historical marginalized by our biases and false perceptions.

Nobody questions your Sierra Leoneanness if you have a Nigerian, Ghanaian, Liberia or any of the Mende sounding (Kamara, Konteh, Mansaray, Koroma, etc) last names. By comparison, all hell breaks loose when its a Jalloh, Bah, Barrie, Sow, Shaw, Njai, Jah, Faal, Sall, Jeng, Cham, Diop, and so on sounding names. So next time before you get hyper, all against, and get hooked on ignorance, here is a little primer on Fulas in Sierra Leone.

First, they are diverse in heritage, origins and dialect, and have played significant roles in the history of Sierr Leone. After all, Sir Banja Tejan-Sie, the first Governor General of Sierra Leone is a Fula from the Fouta Toro in Sierra Leone. Momoh Jah and Momoh Kai Kai are huge in islamization of the South and East of Sierra Leone.

Second, they are an economic force and provide a strong middle manpower from the bakeries, corner stores to car mechanics in Sierra Leone.

Third, there is the inter-marriages to the point you may be insulting your half Fula nieces, cousins, brothers by being ignorant. I however agree the Fulas need to integrate more in society by giving their daughters away more frequently to other Sierra Leoneans for marriage purposes than is the case now.

Fourth, they are a huge voting block in Sierra Leone based on demographic shifts. If you take all the Jallohs, Bahs, Barries, Shaws, Talls, Njais, Warnes, Diops, Timbos, Kaikais, Jahs, Wuries, Bundus, Chams, and so on, you are pissing off a large segment of the society.

So discussing Chernor or any other Fula candidate should be devoid of ethnophobia and hate, rather focus on policy differences, transformative ideas that will move this country and uplift society from abject socio economic malaise. Jarama Buii!!

 

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From Kenema with Hate: Why SLPP will Lose the 2018 Elections!

By Bockarie K. Sama (01/10/17)

This writer, an ardent supporter of the main opposition party, has highlighted why his beloved SLPP party has messed up big time.

To many of us who quietly support the party but have become rather embarrassed by its self-destructive character of recent, the just concluded Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) delegates’ conference in Kenema has been my last barometer before deciding whether the party will win the 2018 presidential elections. And my honest assessment is: not by any chance save for a miracle.

A Flawed Process:

As one of the candidates expressed in the Awoko newspaper, the process was extremely untidy. In the first place, the conference was scheduled to start at 9:00am on Friday. I had gotten there at 11:00am, only to learn that it has been moved to 3:00pm. So I left and came back at about 3:30pm. There was a lot of confusion of delegates not receiving their tags, observers not been allowed to get into the hall, and so on. What’s more, nobody seemed to be in charge. Meanwhile pro-Maada Bio Paopa songs followed other Mende songs blared from the speakers of the musical set, as the faithfuls danced the time away.

Then came the opening session: all the national executive officers and flag bearer aspirants and the presumptive first lady were seated at the high table. The peculiar thing was the absence of the National Chairman and Leader, Chief Somano Kapen. We later learned that he had had a standing off with his deputy, Dr. Prince Harding, who had moved the commencement time without his consent. But the process moved on briskly passed the opening session. It was what happened when the conference was actually called to order after the opening session that got my skin crawling. The Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Prince Harding, reading from a prepared statement, called on the conference to reverse the decision reached between the national executive of the party and some flag bearer aspirants at the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), agreeing that the forthcoming Flag bearer elections be held in Freetown. It was my first exposure to Dr. Harding’s brash approach and complete disregard or perhaps ignorance of his role as chairman of a meeting, let alone a political party.

He ramped through a controversial motion moved by the putative Chairman or our City Council Mayor Mr. J. S. Kaifala, and seconded by Hon. Dickson Rogers, who was ubiquitous all through the convention. Like a Roman crowd, the conference yelled their support to move the Flag bearer convention back to Kenema. It took but for the sanity of one delegate who challenged the efficacy and ramifications of that decision. Brigadier Bio nodded his approval, and Prince Harding was forced to eat humble pie.

The polling process itself on Saturday started sluggishly. People moved around freely canvassing support, and delegates were left alone to vote their conscience. But that was to change completely the following day. Despite several attempts by the Paopa High Command, led by Brig. Bio to coerce delegates to vote Brig. Bio’s anointed candidates, it appeared he was not getting 100% of what he wanted. So when Hon. Kowa, his wife’s choice lost to Sawaneh, whom Mrs. Bio suspected of being in an adulterous relationship with her husband, Mrs. Bio allegedly went home and berated her husband. That is when Mr. Bio sprang into action and came to the hall to ensure that there will be no more ‘bush shaking’. From then on, a fool proof (or is it proven) strategy was put in place to ensure that none of their ‘delegates’ falls out of line.

In the sham election that followed that moment, only very trusted delegates were allowed to cast the ballots given to them by the IEMOC officials. All others who took the oath of allegiance but didn’t seem extremely loyal to the Paopa creed were asked to bring back their ballots without casting them. So delegates took their ballots, went into the polling booth, pretended to vote but brought back their ballots to the proper high command, which designated a trusted assistant to cast it for their favoured candidate. In essence, the elections were fixed and rigged. Its only good trait was that there was no physical violence.

An Executive of Concubines and Paopaists:

For some of us who live in Kenema and have followed the SLPP political process, the outcome was not in any doubt - the candidates Bio choose will emerge victorious. Bio very popular within SLPP circles, there is no if about that. I knew this from the start, but I would rather he had kept away from endorsing candidates, because his experience with that is not good. I was at his residence when the Kono group went to see him about Dr. Manyeh’s intentions. I didn’t quite like the way he spoke but I was still hopeful that he will learn from his experience from John Benjamin and Chief Kapen, both of whom he had endorsed at some point in time, but who came out against him down the line. But it appears Bio’s desire to have ironclad control of everything SLPP took the better of him.

Look at the people he favoured. He favoured Prince Harding over Dr. Morie Manyeh. Most sane SLPP supports both at home and abroad believe that Dr. Harding is not an ideal candidate for this party, especially at a time when we need to reconcile and clear the bad blood that he has engendered in the party. Is he the Chairman and Leader who will champion reconciliation and discipline at this time? Is Mr. Bio hanging on Dr. Harding’s boast that he has struck a deal with President Ernest Koroma and he has promised to hand over power to Brig. Bio? Really…is Bio that naïve or is it part of their Burkina Faso detente. How did Bio come around endorsing Napoleon Koroma over people like Kalilu Totangi and Mohamed Rado Swaray, who we all know should have been the frontrunners of that contest? Is it because Mr. Koroma’s only campaign slogan was “mi na pure pure paopa? Or was it because he has been providing that flawed legal advice that has increased tension in this party in Bio’s favour?

The new Organising Secretary of this party is a very young man who has lived his entire adult life in the UK. Does Mr. Bio really believe that this young man who left this country at a very young age so long ago is a more suitable candidate to people like V. V. Kamara who have made SLPP their home over the decades? Is his endorsement of Jimmy Songa in any way associated with Songa’s role in collecting $50 a month on his behalf to pay his rent? How does Mr. Bio imagine his alleged girlfriend, Fatmata Sawaneh, who is not on speaking terms with the Deputy Women’s Leader, who is also alleged to be the girlfriend of another paopa kingpin? Do you expect the National Women’s Leader to work amicably with the presumed First Lady now that she has publicly accused the latter of literally being in bed with the presumptive flag bearer of the party?

It’s a strange outcome, all in the name of campism; which in my view renders our efforts to get to state house, a bit herculean.

The Bio Factor:

I certainly looked forward to a balanced team of credible talents from diverse backgrounds on the national executive. But as it has turned out, the executive was handpicked by Brig. Bio in a last minute late night meeting with all the district executives and several Bio loyalists and some Members of Parliament. It is now confirmed that at that meeting held at Dauda Town in Kenema, Mr. Bio and his team (The Paopa High Command) invited Dr. Morie K. Manyeh to ask him to step down for Dr. Prince A. Harding, a demand we are told he turned down and walked away. It also emerged that Mr. Bio and his men asked one of the contestants for the position of National Secretary General, Alhaji Brima Koroma to step down for lawyer Umaru Mapoleon Koroma. He also refused to do that and even threatened to resign his position of Director of Administration at the party HQ. We also learnt that a similar proposal was made to Hon. Emma Kowa in favour of Fatmata Sawaneh, for the Women’s Leader position.

Considering that Mr. Bio remains the most favoured Flag Bearer aspirant within the SLPP, including mine, he has used the political capital we have accorded him to elect the national executive officers of this party. He has not given the delegates any chance to vet the contestants, especially for the three key senior positions that are very vital to the survival of the party. By out rightly endorsing candidates within the internal party politics even at this hour when he should be preparing for the national elections, Mr. Bio has fallen short of my expectations of the leadership temperament that I always assumed he had plenty of. Does he realise that by clearly speaking out in favour of one candidate that late in the contests, he is clearly saying to the others to go to hell? He was visibly angry and agitated. He scolded his senior Paopaists whom he suspected wanted to deviate from his dictates; threatened his supporters of resigning as the leader of the Paopa movement if they do not elect Dr. Harding and others. Then we saw him move to a back house where he doled out cash for the operation, according to eye witnesses.

As if that was not enough, he started inviting delegates and other executive members to both threaten and bribe them for his choices. Then he came to the hall where the elections were ongoing, surrounded by Prince Harding and other cronies. Then went back to the hideout, only for Kanja Sesay and Prince Harding to emerge moments later, holding up theirs and parading the compound in show of solidarity. The High Priest had spoken and the troops shall fall in line.

Prior to Mr. Bio’s arrival at the scene, Fatmata Sawaneh had won the Women’s Leader position over Hon. Kowa, who was the preferred candidate of Mrs. Fatima Jabbi Maada Bio. The First Lady in Waiting didn’t take kindly to this, so she bolted from the hall, but not before exchanging a few choice words with the newly elected Women’s Leader, who she said was having an affair with her husband; all this playing out in open court. It all left me gasping for breath. Will this conduct of Maada Bio, alienating people and openly stating that he cannot work with A and B except C, give me confidence that we can win the next election? Can I count on a First Lady with such a combustible temperament, who is bound to accuse every beautiful young woman who comes around her husband of been a harlot and a prostitute, to endear herself to the women voters of this country? I will leave that to time and his strategy for winning back those whom he has opening rejected. But the wife thing remains very troubling.

It has been my fervent prayers that the Kenema convention would at least give us a fighting chance as a political party. But thanks to Brig. J. M. Bio and his Paopa High Command, victory for the SLPP come 2018 is now a furlong hope. See you on the long bench at the Ataya Base on March 8, 2018. That is where a party run at the whims of an ego tripper belongs.

 

 

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Sierra Leone and China: Who Owns the Toll Road from Hastings to Masiaka?

Asks Pastor Mohamed Sesay (03/09/17)

This is the question being asked by Sierra Leoneans after the Chinese started collecting monies in the name of Toll Road Tax.

Ownership must come in here because it will be totally inconceivable for a Sierra Leonean company to go and pitch tent on a Chinese road and start collecting money there even to the inconvenience and detriment of the Chinese people.

Most Sierra Leoneans are baffled as to how the Chinese were able to reach that point where it all seems like the Sierra Leonean people are being taken on a roller-coaster ride by the Chinese who don't give a hoot as to the feelings and sufferings of those who use that road.

Whatever arrangement this government made with the Chinese will never be to the liking of majority of the people of this country which means the toll road tax is very unpopular and therefore all toll gates must be removed and other arrangements be made as to how to pay the Chinese company maintaining that road.

Without the toll tax collection lasting even a week the people of this country are suffering under its heavy weight already but to the Chinese who are collecting the monies it's all fun as they sit there enjoying themselves over their new found gold mine and now planning the kinds of minerals they will be buying with that money that they will ship to China leaving the people of this country wallowing in squalor.

That road had been there even before the Chinese ever were so how come now have they claimed ownership of it and are now busy collecting monies from Sierra Leoneans for its use?

The road neither belongs to the Chinese nor to this government but to the people so it is the people who own the road that must decide what they must do with it but the very people who own their road were never consulted to know if they will be happy to see Chinese people sitting on it and collecting money from them.

This is sickening. Imagine a landlord inviting a builder to help do repairs on his house with an arrangement that after the repairs the builder will collect rent for some time. Imagine after the builder has completed less than one tenth of the job he then begins to collect rent from the landlord.

The people of Sierra Leone are the rightful landlords of that road so how could somebody from somewhere else just begin to collect rent from them on their own bona fide property? Madness if the Sierra Leonean people allow this to happen.

Indeed there was an arrangement between this government and the Chinese contractors on an unknown system for the Chinese to maintain and expand the road and then collect the cost for that but what the people are facing now is totally unfair considering that the Chinese have fulfilled less than one tenth of their own side of the bargain but are now collecting. This is totally wrong making it clear that the Chinese are not interested in the road but rather on the benefits they will get from it.

This is no normal loan arrangement but rather a loan shark trying to fleece another person by pretending to be lending the person money like what we had in the olden days in this country with loan sharks giving 'wan pon for wan pon five' which was killing for those who became victims. The landlords of this road say that their road is not for sale neither is it meant for paying to use it.

It's unimaginable for Chinese people to pay to Sierra Leone tax collectors in China. It would never happen. I cannot understand why we should reduce our pride as Sierra Leoneans so low. Don't we have competent Sierra Leoneans who can collect these taxes themselve? No wonder many people, including Koya Chiefdom, are disgruntled.

Government must not over look this Toll Road Tax issue as it is surely a subtraction of electoral votes. Bai Bureh, who fought the Hut Tax War against colonialists in the 19th century would be crying in his noble grave for this Toll Road Tax.

 

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Astonishing why the APC Party Selects rather than Elects Flagbearers!!

By Abu Shaw (09/08/17)

The National Advisory Council has always chosen their flagbearers and astonishingly, the entire APC membership has accepted it wholesale!!!

It is an indication why democratic elections can be dangerous at times especially when the wrong leaders are elected. Or when such elections end in disunity and chaos. I believe the forgotten people often prefer a good leader who is selected undemocratically rather than a bad leader who is elected democratically. Many will disagree with me but that is the way life is. We disagree to agree. 

That is why the ruling APC party in Sierra Leone is unique in the eyes of its membership. Cynics will say the NAC is autocratic, dictatorial, undemocratic etc. simply because it has the almighty mandate to select rather than elect candidates it deemed fit to lead the APC party.

The National Advisory Council does not really need my humble advice as the constituents of the NAC are competent enough, according to the party hierarchy, to know who is fit to lead my beloved APC party come September 5.

This selection process has always been beneficial to the APC party as unity and peaceful co-existence within the APC membership continue to flourish.

As the APC party awaits the decision of the NAC technocrats to select the successor to president Ernest Koroma for the 2018 general elections, I hope and pray that they choose the correct person to lead the party.

Many competent names have emerged for the coveted post and I believe 50% of them can be brilliant leaders. But the advisory council knows best.

My only advice for the NAC is to consider a woman this time round for the vice president position. Men have come and gone but Sierra Leone's economy since independence has been bastardised with little or no major impact to change the lives of the forgotten people.

I think it is time for the APC party to make a woman a running mate, a platform that will provide the training necessary for them to take over this coveted position in the future. SLPP did it once with Dr. Kadie Sesay as running mate to Maada Bio but ended in humiliating defeat. Some of our women in politics are competent enough to make our homes more comfortable once again. 

So far unfortunately, very few women have thrown their head ties in to the APC flagbearer race namely Zainab Bangura and one Yansanneh. I believe our ladies should be more of challengers by taking the men head on if they are to be taken seriously in politics. 

My idol Captain Thomas Sankara shocked the world in 1984, by becoming one of the first presidents in the world to promote Women's Rights in Burkina Faso. "We should give women a chance as it is wrong for men to dominate women all the time," Sankara once noted.

Kudos to EBK for also setting the pace for promoting women in Sierra Leone politics but I think it is now overdue to have the first female vice president in Sierra Leone.

BUT THE NAC KNOWS BEST.

 

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Rotten Educational System Supports Unemployment in Sierra Leone!!

By Abdul Fonti (06/08/17)

I respect your argument, which was largely, if not squarely, based on the intellectual lens.

You could win any intellectual debate with this argument. However, your points are in contrast with the practical reality and I know this out of experience. 

To say the school curriculum or choice of course has nothing to do with employability is ridiculous to say the least. Then why really do we go to school and choose various disciplines? Why would people study various disciplines if it cannot employ them at the end of an academic struggle? Why do we have less lawyers, medical doctors and even accountants that are unemployed as compared to social workers or peace and conflict graduates in Sierra Leone?

How many jobs in Sierra Leone are available in Peace and Conflict related? You could have had a strong argument if your insistence was on the fact that the government and private sector have not done much to create employment opportunities for Peace and Conflict graduates. I agree with you that no graduate should be superior to another, but the employment reality speaks otherwise. 

In the newspapers for example, you will hardly ever come across a vacancy announcement requiring or seeking a Peace and Conflict graduate. This is simply based on the fact that the current job trend in Sierra Leone does not really cater for such graduates. Say what you may, that is just the sad reality in the country.

So why would I want to go and read Peace and Conflict if I am not sure of employment from that discipline at the end of the day. Current global trends point to targeted education and Sierra Leone should not be an exemption. 

On the school curriculum in Sierra Leone, it is not only outdated but even the curriculum delivery method is faulty altogether. Our education format is still largely based on the theory aspect instead of the practical. We read to pass exams with a curriculum that is so ABSTRACT. 

We continue to produce graduates in Linguistics, Mass Communications, Medicine, Law and Peace and Conflict among other disciplines that are total strangers to the practical aspect of their disciplines. 

Why would I be surprised to employ a Mass Communications graduate in my newsroom who could not even report professionally on a press conference? If you have not yet met linguistic graduates that cannot even speak or write proper English not to talk of pronouncing words correctly, you will need to listen to my experience.

The missing links in the educational system in Sierra Leone is just scary to say the least. In fact, we are operating a chaotic educational system with no career guidance, outmoded curriculums, outdated teaching methods, undeserved grading system, the list goes on.

I believe it is time to go back to the drawing board and try to redirect our educational system to a path that will lead to a serious future. Otherwise, Sierra Leone remains the 'UNFORTUNATE' country it is.

Courtesy: Abdul Fonti on Chernoh Bah and others (FPU) 

 

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Civil Servants Caring for Parties than Country Have No Place in Sierra Leone!!

By N'Bompa Turay (09/07/17)

In Sierra Leone, many civil servants, who are supposed to be above politics by serving any government honestly, are sadly doing otherwise!! Shame on them.

Investigations have shown that this cancerous disease is more prevalent now than never before. Many civil servants are today filled with intolerable hatred for the APC government of Ernest Bai Koroma. 

This evil design, mostly carried out by civil servants sympathetic to the opposition SLPP party cause, is geared towards leaking out top government secrets and classified information to sinister minded groups only to discredit the government and country.

Despite the code of ethics, solemn oaths to work honestly and impartially within the civil service framework, some highly placed workers are wolves in sheep clothing. They are the abominable Judases in the public civil service who are always discrediting the lauded achievements of the APC government.  

In past SLPP governments - a party that thinks it only belongs to the Mende ethnic group - senior civil servants belonging to the Limba tribe and other ethnic groups were retired indiscriminately without any justification. It is an open secret that Manso Samura and S.S. Sankoh were wrongfully retired on flimsy accusation of being Limbas. Is it a horrible notorious crime to be a Limba? SLPP party must remember Sierra Leone has 16 tribes in the country.

The regime of President Koroma has on many occasions expressed confidence and believed in the civil service and made sure his government does not interfere in the administration of the civil service. Salary increments among other incentives have been provided by the Koroma government. 

“There are very good civil servants whose performances are laudable. Their loyalty is to serve the nation, the government, and to refrain from every sabotage act that will discredit the government,” President Koroma often says. Yet, there are some very bad eggs sabotaging the impartiality of the civil service!                                           

It is an unpardonable crime for some highly placed civil servants to join forces with sinister quack politicians to discredit and ridicule the government they are serving. 

Those evil civil servants must decide now either to refrain from sabotaging the APC government and serve their country or resign to join the bandwagon of imbeciles. Lonta.

 

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APC Penetrating SLPP Stronghold is a Worry for the Palm Tree!!

By Kabs Kanu (11/06/17)

APC penetrates SLPP stronghold in Segbwema, wins 31% of the votes as ADP too takes 13%, leaving SLPP with a troubling 56 % pyrrhic victory.

If the bye-elections results in Segbwema, the birth place of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party’s most powerful operative, John Oponjo Benjamin , is anything to go by (and why not?), the SLPP  is in trouble as the 2018 elections approach.

All the tumultuous noise being made by rabid supporters, especially their so-called spokesman Lahai Leeman, who has been running his mouth about victory as well as war in Sierra Leone, as if somebody gave him some sassy wood to drink, appears to be mere rum-talk as the results from Segbwema recently demonstrated. It shows SLPP party is not anywhere close to winning any presidential elections in Sierra Leone in the near future.

In Segbwema, of all places, all the SLPP was able to garner was 1, 499 votes, representing only 56% of the votes. Their bitter rival, the ruling All People’s Congress (APC), whom they are vilifying as a spent force come 2018, put up a splendid show, winning 825 votes, which is a very impressive 31%. 

The poor SLPP hold on its stronghold was even emphasised by Mohamed Kamarainba’s Alliance Democratic Party (ADP) taking as many as 341 votes, which is 13 % of the total votes.

If the presidential elections are held today, with such figures from Segbwema, the SLPP will be roundly defeated as was done in 2007 and 2012. The results show that the waves of optimism that APC operatives have been generating about their party having penetrated the SLPP stronghold are based on reality on the ground. 

It is also demonstrative of the fact that APC stalwarts like Robin Faley, Moijue Kai-Kai, Sengu Koroma and Maya Kai Kai among others, are doing a marvellous job in the South-East.

Recent reports show that SLPP supporters are very worried about the results of recent bye-elections in Sierra Leone. Where by now, according to their estimation, the APC should be demonstrating a weakening hold on power, it has turned out that the APC is growing stronger and has even invaded their strongholds.

 

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Save Sierra Leone Democracy from Destruction Post Ernest

By Mahmud T. Kargbo (12/05/17)

The identification of faults in any area can often lead to the discovery that an individual or an institution is acting improperly contrary to law.

Few weeks back, the Parliament of Sierra Leone squeezed the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission to admit he made a mistake in the whole electioneering boundary delimitation process. 

Whether the National Electoral Commission Chairman was pushed to twist his initial statement where he said he did his own part of the job and handed over the documents to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice for detail legal consideration, one can't say. We were further made to understand by Hon. Rogers in the popular AYV on Sunday Programme, that the National Electoral Commission didn't procure the machines they are currently using for the voters and civil registration process. 

According to Hon. Rogers, the machines were procured by the Government of Sierra Leone.  Government in it part is saying the National Electoral Commission is an Independent Institution that's suppose to carry out its activities based on its Constitutional and Statutory mandate so they have no business in procuring machines for the National Electoral Commission. An inside source speaking to me in condition of anonymity said: "The machines were procured by one of our International Development Partners, specifically the British Department for International Development.” 

This is quite significant for obvious reasons. First, if the National Electoral Commission Chairperson can admit at the Well of Parliament that he made a mistake in handling the boundary delimitation process, what is the possibility that he will not continue to make more mistakes in this whole electioneering process? 

We all know that there's a price if one fail to go by the laid down rules and regulations of any Institution. In short, ignorant of the law is no excuse. But if our law drafters and enforcers decide to forgive the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, we know immunity is a perk offered by prosecutors in exchange for valuable testimony that they cannot get otherwise, so the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, who changed his initial statement, must have something good to tell especially if he did meet with State House before he faced the Well of Parliament or, at least, he seems to think he does. 

Second, our politicians know immunity is only valuable to people who are guilty - an innocent witness has no obligation to tell anybody anything, really, since they are just free to go; in other words, it doesn’t make sense for our Parliament and the National Electoral Commission Chairman to bargain for immunity unless the Chairman and Parliament are fairly sure he’s going to be found guilty of something in the first place.

Third, my sources told me NEC budgeted to procure U 40 machines, but my sources revealed to me they are currently using U 20 machines, if so why? 

And fourth, am reliably told that from NEC budget, there was provision for NEC to hire vehicles that are suppose to transport technicians to fix machines that will go faulty during the registration process, why this isn't happening?

So far, nobody has seriously taken the NEC Chairperson on these matters, and the investigation on the boundary delimitation possibly treasonous violations continues. But, there’s truly only two ways in which this rout could end: Either President Koroma is implicated in all of this, or he isn’t. 

If he is, the consequences are understandably disastrous: We elected a President that turned out to be comfortable in appointing people in our social positions of trust that are enjoying their jobs with the highest pride when they're working against the rules and regulations of their institutions, or are traitor to his government and the people of Sierra Leone – or, at minimum, they're so careless that their actions amounted to treason.

But even if President Koroma isn’t implicated, his most senior staff already are: Bai Mahmoud Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs, was a "More Time" campaigned Agent. Mohamed Bangura, Minister of Information and Communication, he was very vocal on national issues prior to his appointment, but never campaigned for the recommendations of the Auditor General Report to be actualised. 

Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, openly called the Auditor General Report "Mere Opinion" and he's suppose to advise the Government legally on the importance of the said report. And a combined APC and SLPP, but an APC dominated Parliament failed to genuinely press the Executive Arm of Government for the actualisation of the Auditor General Report. The list can go on. 

And, frankly, the consequences are equally disastrous: We elected a President whose some senior staff seems to be – unbeknownst to him – packed with rogue nationals ready to do dodgy dealings with foreign agents as reported in Panama Papers or are best known as traitors. In this case, President Koroma might not be as personally shaken, but the damage that will be done to the institutions of Sierra Leone democracy that he admirably fashioned over the years might be in danger.

True, the question is, can Sierra Leone democracy outlast this butchery? The dependability and uprightness of these institutions are under unexampled threat in our modern democracy. Not only are the very loyalties of our chief executive in question, but the damage molten upon the bureaucratic apparatuses that run the national government smoothly is also substantial. 

Instead of act as a professionalised, technocratic moderating force for President Koroma, his bureaucracy – or, at least, the appointed, high-ranking, non-civil service segment of it – seems to be acting more like an extension of buffoonish, incompetent past regimes it once claimed never to repeat their odd actions.

Honestly, there's no way we can put the blame on President Koroma. However if President Koroma administration ends, will the institutions of Sierra Leone democracy lead to carnage? - more so than ever before. But, as many must furtively admit in frustration - President Koroma’s efforts in democracy may erode after his tenure if few of his competent lieutenants do not step in. True, the economy was improving very fast before Ebola struck. True, things are improving now but not as fast as the electorates expect. Many Sierra Leoneans are feeling the pinch while the few are having a good time, which is grossly unfair.

Faith in Sierra Leone government and institutions has been tumbling and national approval ratings on government institutions in terms of social service deliveries are not encouraging. That is not on President Koroma. In fact, that disenchantment with government is likely one of the factors that put President Koroma in State House to begin with.

These institutions, and even democracy by its own, do not exist in the synopsis. Laws, rules, norms - all these things exist not for their own sake, but because they are meant to serve the people. 

And until our institutions can earn the trust of the Sierra Leone people by genuinely serving their interests and helping them in their time of need, and by providing them with real solutions in the face of deplorable standard of living, provide affordable, quality housing and education for all nationals and clean up the general atmosphere that is currently promoting the feeling of unease and displeasure within the majority, rather than continue to exist in some self-expressing good wishes numbness of sluggishness or inertness, there appears to be little reason why any administration, with or without President Koroma at its head, could gain legitimacy again.

Hopefully, after President Koroma, which ever political party assumes power after March 7, 2018 elections, the democratic ideals and institutions gained under the APC government will be maintained and improved.

Courtesy: By Mahmud Tim Kargbo, Centre for Research Documentation Policy Studies and Development of Law 4 Lamina Sankoh Street Freetown Sierra Leone Tel: +23278102619 23rd April 2017

 

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Ideas to Strengthen the APC National Youth League

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo (03/04/17)

Have you participated in any activities of the APC National Youth League? Do you want to be in the midst of those sharing their experience? 

Do you admire the concrete peace in the APC National Youth League? Do you have ideas that you can put into action in strengthening progress in the APC Youth League? Then this is your event, come to celebrate and share with the APC Youth League!

In what is constitutionally suppose to be the last Youth League Conference for President Ernest Bai Koroma as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone; APC Youth and Elders from home and abroad recently trooped down to Port Loko District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone to witness the All People's Congress Youth League Conference. 

One thing that continue to manifest itself clearly is that even when President Ernest Bai Koroma is doing his last constitutional term as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, he still remains highly popular among APC Youth and he's in full control of his government and political Party activities with almost all decision makers within the party and even beyond host serious amount of respect for his leadership qualities. 

His leadership qualities in terms of vision, pragmatism, consensus building, charisma and trust are still at their basking days according to them. This is why the youth of APC are fully behind his leadership and are very willing to throw their unflinching support behind whosoever he chooses as his successor to sustain the APC Party in power in the 2018 transitional elections. 

The truth and what many believe is the greatest disappointment for President Koroma is the fact that youth unemployment still remains a serious national concern under his regime. Unfortunately there's a looming greediness to the fault among most of the people President Koroma empower in his regime, they never have his type of spirit to pay back to the youth of the party by empowering them with skills and finances. 

President Koroma promised to die for the youth of Sierra Leone, but unemployment rate among Sierra Leone youth is still high and to make matters worse, the few youth in the country who are gainfully employed most of them remain academically incapacitated to catch up with the test of times and be in a quality position to positively contribute to our economy. 

In short, human capacity to efficiently provide the skilful labour force for our labour market continue to be a serious problem for sustainable economic growth in Sierra Leone.  It was a 3-day national event between APC Youth League from various aspects of life in Port Loko. 

The rendezvous targeted: Thematic stories, positive debates, creation of advancement stuff and other activities to share and celebrate, laying the centre of attraction on inhaling stories of the youth with an act of explaining the importance of youth joining the APC political party, partly through the sharing of past experiences of ex-APC National Youth leaders with a sense to sustain the party in governance in the coming transitional elections.

Most loyal APC members were expectedly in attendance and the conference gave participants the opportunity to reflect, review and evaluate past cooperation of the youth within the APC, but also expanded on everyone’s knowledge on APC in general, within the context of the APC National Youth League. The conference objectives was focused on the revision of the past and looking towards the future by:


- Analysis and assessment of APCNYL, looking at their strengths and weaknesses;


- Lessons learned from APC National Youth League in Action and what can be taken forward;


- APC National Youth League project placements – how to make sure both young people enjoy the fruits of the party without facing discrimination; 


- Improvement of the quality of future APCNYL projects as well as to strengthening the capacity of affiliating partner organisations in delivering quality youth projects promoting true brotherhood within the party;


- Development of ways of promotion of APCNYL, informing young people within the party about the opportunities it
offers;


- Promotion of evaluation of youth projects as a tool of self-assessment and of an increase of quality of future activities.

 

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Has the Deadly Ebola Returned to Sierra Leone?

Asks Ahmed S. Nasralla (06/03/17)

It was on a sunny afternoon, when the village hunter returned from the Gola Forest.

And he has his catch strapped loosely to his back; visibly sick and walking lazily to his thatch-roofed house. Suddenly, his family- wife, children and relatives- as well as neighbours come out to receive him, and the hunter collapses into their arms. Despite some care at home, the hunter’s case worsens. So the family decides to take him to the village herbalist for further treatment. 

Moments later the hunter dies, and family members start to fall ill. Cries and wails fill the hot-burning atmosphere as the villagers, gripped with panic, lament the calamity that has befallen them.

Finally, somebody calls the health emergency line 117 for help, but little help comes a little too late. Mobile network connection is on-and-off in this area. It happens that there is only one health official at the Peripheral Health Unit (PHU) and he’s overwhelmed with other patients. The PHU is about 200 meters from the centre of the village; you have to cross a bridge and walk a bit to get there.

An ambulance with wailing siren screeches to a halt. Three health officials dressed in PPE suits disembark, scaring the villagers some distance away. They walk purposefully into the herbalist’s hut, apply disinfectant all over the room and carefully cart the hunter’s body into the waiting ambulance. They speed off, with the villagers running and shouting after the vehicle.

A flurry of activities follows. Lab officials revealing the result of the tests done on the deceased hunter; contact tracers tracing all those that came in contact with the hunter; quarantine officials leading contact persons to a secluded unfinished building; the town crier announcing an emergency meeting summoned by traditional authorities to institute bye-laws; surveillance team; community health workers (CHWs), infection, prevention and control (IPC) team, burial team, social mobilization team all move into action.

This beckons the question: Has Ebola returned to Sierra Leone? The answer is no, not for now. The events just described were not real but part of a ‘Simulation Exercise for Community Based Ebola Response’, involving about 25 local actors all performing various roles and the community of Mano-Jeigbla as participants. 

The simulation exercise was organized by the NGO SEND Sierra Leone in cooperation with the Rapid Response Team (RRT) of the Kenema District Health Management Team (DHMT). It took place in Mano-Jeigbla Village in Tunkia Chiefdom in Kenema District on 21st February 2017. 

The activity was supported by the project “Prevention of Zoonotic Caused Health Epidemic in Sierra Leone”, implemented by the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, SEND Sierra Leone and The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone with support from Welthungerhilfe (WHH).

A simulation exercise is an interactive drama event that involves people as active participants rather than a mere audience, framing and placing them in a certain scenario and inviting them to act and behave as if the situation was real. 

The objective of this simulation exercise was to test the emergency response protocol of the DHMT in practice and the level of awareness and preparedness in the community two years after the Ebola outbreak. 

Would the various stakeholders – health professionals as well as the community leaders – remember and assume their roles and responsibilities to take rapid action if Ebola (or any other infectious disease) were to return to the community?

“We want to test the people’s knowledge about Ebola; whether they remembered what happened and what to do if it happens again,” said Augustine Brima, a field staff of SEND Sierra Leone who was among the advance team to prepare the community for the exercise.

Mano-Jeigbla village provides the perfect scene for the Ebola response simulation exercise. Located about 40 miles from Kenema town and a walking distance from the Liberian border, Mano-Jeigbla has a population of about 1,287 with 225 houses, most of them mud buildings with thatch-roofs. It is one of 12 villages in Tunkia Chiefdom with a total catchment population of 5,482. (Population and housing statistics from EDC Unit, PHU, Tunkia Chiefdom).

“The human traffic here is high,” said the Town Chief, Saffa Allieu Kallon. “People come and go from the Liberian border and travel to Kenema and other areas.” 

As the simulation exercise goes on, commercial motorbikes ply the route to and from the border transporting people. On the second day of the simulation exercise, 22nd February 2017, the whole community gathered at the village centre to review the exercise and proffer recommendations. 

Meanwhile, if it were real the families quarantined would have been held for 21 days and might have suffered some form of stigmatization on their release.

After the exercise, the villagers went about laughing as they recounted their experiences, but also emphasized that being part of such an exercise had enabled them to reflect and remember better.

Also present were officials from the implementing partners, the DHMT and the World Health Organisation to discuss what the simulation exercise had revealed in terms of gaps and challenges in the communities’ and health system’s ability to respond, share information, coordinate and work together during a health emergency situation. 

The villagers, as well as the officials, highlighted gaps in the exercise and proffered recommendations. "The success of the exercise does not depend on whether the community is perfect in their response to the mock outbreak. It’s about really getting them to do their own thing naturally and together we identify the gaps and plan how to address them,” said Mathilde Gronborg Helms, WHH’s Head of Projects responsible for monitoring the project, adding that the simulation exercise had proved to be a very interesting tool to raise awareness about Ebola and other diseases, and learning easily how to respond to the situation, and putting in place response mechanisms that work well on the ground. 

As such, the exercise served as a reminder of the need for sustained community based surveillance and strengthening of health monitoring and reporting, to promote resilience of the health system to prevent any future epidemic.

“We are not saying that Ebola will return,” said Josephine Jenneh Saidu, District Health Sister at the DHMT in Kenema. “We just want to be prepared, especially as we are now having cases of Lassa Fever, which has similar symptoms to Ebola. That is why the awareness raising should be sustained.”

Awareness and capacity gaps were observed during the simulation exercise and highlighted during the meeting, including the touching of a sick person; taking the sick to a herbalist instead of the health centre or alerting CHWs; eating of bush meat and lack of proper hand-washing practices. 

The villagers further lamented the fact that the only PHU in the chiefdom is grossly understaffed and that the vigilance of CHWs is declining due to lack of support.

Furthermore, lack of access to clean drinking water and toilet facilities is a huge challenge for general health and well-being and could as well accelerate the spread of communicable diseases. The community depends on a nearby stream and a well for water. Only few of the 225 houses have toilets, while the rest use the nearby forest as their rest-room.

“The challenges with the systems will always be there,” said SEND Sierra Leone’s Country Director Joseph Ayamga in an address to the community. “That is why when we work with community people it is their mindset that we challenge. If you don’t have toilets and water wells for example, we challenge you to dig them yourselves like the mud houses you built.  It is about what you can do to help yourself before help comes. It is that same mindset you will approach every challenge, including disease prevention.”

Courtesy: Asks Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)

 

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Time for Our Politicians to Protect the Trees that Provide Shade

By Abu Shaw (03/02/17)

It is indeed worrying for my beloved APC party.

The prolonged infighting between the genuine Welfare Minister Dr. Sylvia Blyden and her Deputy Rugiatu Turay and with no end in sight is good news for the opposition parties.

For bad blood to brew between an APC minister and a deputy like this since last year should have been nipped in the bud by the Ernest Koroma government long time ago.

It is incredible why my government has not done enough to resolve this impasse in-house rather than allowing such a serious problem to escalate to a full blown national and international issue.

President Koroma and all the peace lovers in the APC should not keep quiet any longer on this issue. An amicable resolution must be found NOW to end this madness. 

Our ministers do not have enough time to carry out their national duties and anything that hold them back from performing their constitutional mandates must be discouraged at all cost.

From the Sylvia/Rugiatu imbroglio to the imported marabou man from Niger to the CFN Minors conspiracy are all detraction that the APC government must not condone if we are to win the 2018 elections hands down. For Deputy Minister Rugiatu Turay to continuously disrespect her boss Sylvia and even disobeys government policies is not only an affront to the constitution she swore to uphold, but it raises questions as to who is actually propping up Rugiatu to the road of self destruction. It remains to be seen.

A competent minister like Sylvia should be appreciated rather than demeaned. We are very lucky to have the likes of Sylvia in the APC government. That is why I always doff my humble hat to President Koroma for having the sixth sense to recruit the best minds.

It is an open secret that Sylvia Blyden's switch to the APC after ending her sympathetic feelings for the disunited SLPP party is still felt in the inner circle of the Palm Tree, though many SLPP diehard would hypocritically express happiness to see the back of Sylvia. SLPP loss is an APC gain. She is great addition to the ruling APC party.

I vividly remember the peace pack that SLPP Maada Bio engineered in 2011 for him and Sylvia to smoke the peace pipe. That historic handshake picture is still fresh in many minds. 

If the PaOpa chief can sum up the courage to strike a peace accord with Sylvia, I see no reason why my APC stalwarts cannot do the same to end the Sylvia/Rugiatu continued brouhaha.

We need lasting peace in the APC, not infighting. I am therefore humbly appealing to EBK to intervene ASAP and to usher sanity at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs. 

It's a blessing to have a brilliant mind like Sylvia in our midst. Lets allow Sierra Leone to enjoy the shade of brilliance instead of cutting the tree down. Thank you.

 

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Are the Likes of Maada Bio Really 'Fathers of Democracy'?  

Asks Mahmud Tim Kargbo (12/01/17)

Maada Bio's Pa-O-pas and the likes think they would achieve by deceitfully labelling themselves 'fathers of democracy'!!

Are these lies representative of the Pa-O-pa new generation leadership style and distributing such irresponsible baseless claims indicative of the end of the quality leadership of Maada Bio? Many politicians from all political divide, are completely at odds with the needed democratic leadership qualities to succeed President Ernest Koroma.

Is Maada Bio and his Pa-O-pa faction think these deceitful tricks for the ‘Democratic Leadership Qualities’ that must be protected at all costs for good governance can be misused without repercussions? Are Sierra Leoneans and the wider international community expected to fall for the likes of Maada Bio and his Pa-O-pa faction for such deceits?  No way!!!

It is high time a thorough evaluation of the past and current activities of the various people eyeing the seat of the Presidency in Sierra Leone be put under the microscope because many of the people planning to occupy State House, the seat of power in the country, have question marks.

And to buttress our democratic credentials, we also need to open some free thematic leadership lectures for the likes of Maada Bio to attend in order to bolster their capabilities and preparedness for the most important job in Sierra Leone. 

It’s either these negative politicians did not benefit from the modules of the democratic training institutions they attended, or Sierra Leone politics has not grown up enough over the years under the Agenda for Prosperity to potentially expose these intellectually dangerous leaders to the seat of power. 

The arbitrary killings of fellow nationals by Bio and co during their so-called National Provisional Ruling Council junta in 1992 eventually added to their desperate efforts to destroy our budding democracy when they partnered with the rebels to asked for 'Peace before Elections'. That was hypocritical deception of the highest order!!!

Not to mention Bio's act in embezzling tax payers' monies that he whittled away abroad and subsequently joined the academic field to improve his education with blood money. All these could have taught Bio and his Pa-O-pa faction that democracy never sleeps in the same bed with people that are true criminals.

Maada Bio's political character is incompatible with the description of 'father of democracy.' And to imagine that the Pa-O-pa faction can still parade these lies around in this modern era where facts and figures are very easy to come by, is itself disgraceful to put it mildly. 

Clearly, some of these corrupt Sierra Leone politicians have continued to be more clueless than one had ever imagined and the malaise is clearly getting worse by the day. 

God help our beloved Sierra Leone from the clutches of sheep in wolf clothing. Amen.

 

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The APC Party will Continue to be Pacesetters

By Mohamed Sankoh (22/12/16)

In Britain, former Prime Minister David Cameron shot himself in the head by provoking Brexit.

In the United States of America, the Republicans came from the opposition to topple the incumbent Democrats. In Nigeria, the opposition won the last General Elections. In Senegal, the opposition came from behind and breasted the tape. 

And in tiny The Gambia, a coalition of the opposition has won the Presidential election of December 1 this year. These victories might have given the opposing Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and its supporters a glimmer of hope. 

But wait a minute. There is a catch or catches here. From Nigeria to Senegal; from Senegal to Zambia, and from Zambia to The Gambia; opposition parties were able to unseat incumbents because they were able to sweep the capitals of those countries. 

But since Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, has no ‘Kamajor’ initiation bushes or ‘Ndorgboryosoi’ mentality; the SLPP should first try to win two seats in Freetown in the next General Elections, and from there they should think of winning three more seats in the next-next General Elections before they should start thinking of coming back to power in the third elections after 2018. 

Also in those countries, where opposition parties magically won the incumbents, the oppositions were not only organised but were seen as forces of change. They were seen as credible alternatives to the ruling parties. And they were also seen as parties whose leaders did not have credibility problems. 

But in the case of the SLPP, majority of Sierra Leoneans still regard it as a tribal and regional outfit not a political party with national appeal. There is no way a single tribe or region could win an election in Sierra Leone.  Not in this planet.

And besides, the political demography of Sierra Leone has always been favouring the ruling APC. The last Local Council by-election in Waterloo showed that, despite the austerity measures, the ruling party still has grip of the Western Area. And since the APC has been making in-roads in the southern and eastern parts of the country while the north and Western Areas are still culs-de-sac for the SLPP. 

It logically follows that in the face of all odds, and even in the optimistic figment of every SLPPer’s imagination, the APC is sure to always take gold in every election. Because whenever Freetown speaks on any matter; that matter will always be settled! And since the electoral voice of Freetown is always echoed by the Abacha Streeters (connotatively used in the generic form here), Freetown will be in APC’s grasp for the next ten or more years. 

And again, for any opposition to wand-flick the feat of defeating an incumbent government that party should be seen to be financially credible. But the SLPP is fiscal hysteria in itself. At present, it is unable to meet the deadline to repay a huge loan at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and the SLPP is now mooting the idea of filing for insolvency. How can any sane citizenry vote for a party that is not only bankrupt but whose leaders are still unable to give account of funds received before and during the last General Elections? Hey, I don’t think a starving man should be made manager of a restaurant (hope you are getting the sharpness of my metaphor?)!  

And it is only an unremorseful pessimist that will think that as things now stand so they would be before and during the next General Elections in Sierra Leone. This is only 2016. And before the would-be 2018 General Elections, things would be better than they now are.  

I am optimistic that before 2018, export of iron ore and other minerals would have increased; Dangote Cement would be in full production by the second quarter of 2017, and the Leone would have appreciated. 

By late 2017 as more companies begin to report more profits, this would translate into more taxes for the government; more investments; more jobs for our youths, and economic buoyancy for local sub-contractors. So, in 1-2-3 language, Sierra Leone as a nation would be expecting huge inflows by 2017.

Courtesy: By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop) 

 

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If the Fuel is Stolen, How Could Subscribers Get Power?

Asks N'Bompa (16/11/16)

The National Power Authority (NPA) handed the baton to EDSA and EGTC after going through several mishaps.

The loss in that company National Power Authority) was through mismanagement, illegal connections, defaulting subscribers, several fire incidents etc.

EDSA fought it hard to stand on their feet but it seems the struggle continues. A lot has changed in the system of the power supply. The pre-paid meters are highly appreciated by the subscribers. The administration seems like coping till them recent alteration in the tariffs for power many cried over those changes but remained as subscribers.                                   

Most recently the Anti Corruption Commission and Sierra Leone Police caught a fuel tanker offloading fuel in a petrol station instead of the designated EGTC. The dry season is around the corner and repairs on the turbine of the hydroelectric plant must take effect. Here, the energy company must set up for the distribution of power using the thermal power house.                                                          

But if the fuel is stolen, how could the subscribers get power? This is the similar situation the former NPA had to put up with. Again, I am asking that we change and love our country. Bravo to ACC.                                                                                  

The Minister of Energy Henry Macauley and the EGTC General Manager Mr. Dennis Garvey are asking the general public to bring to their notice if any corrupt or any illegal fuel activity is seen. 

Well meaning Sierra Leoneans are dreaming of seeing real progress in the activities of the fuel company.

I wish to congratulate the Makeni people for their valuable contributions in the hound for fuel criminals and saboteurs. Keep it up and I hope others will follow suit all over the nation.

 

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Why we Need to Smoke the Peace Pipe for Our Country

By Abu Shaw (02/05/16)

Sierra Leone has suffered immeasurably over the years. Thousands have died needlessly for no justifiable reasons. Now, we have physical peace in the country since 2002.

But there are certain minds that are still sadly far from peaceful. Political affiliations have blinded some Sierra Leoneans so much so that the country has now almost become less and less significant in their eyes.

This is glaringly wrong. Sierra Leone does need minds that are peaceful at all times. Patriotism is the most significant virtue that citizens of any country must always uphold irrespective of their creed, religion, political partisanship etc. etc.

As journalists, we have the noble obligation to inform, educate, entertain the public with analytical news based on facts and figures. The Organiser newspaper believes many learned journalists in Sierra Leone are shining examples of professional journalism with high integrity and patriotism, a feat that garners respect both nationally and internationally.

As the first country in West Africa to start a newspaper publication, Sierra Leone journalism must always remember the ideals and dreams instituted by the pioneers of this noble profession.

We fervently believe the indefatigable penman and journalist late Wallace Johnson and the likes would oppose the way some of our media colleagues are misrepresenting the ethics of journalism.

We should all be proud of being members of Media Junction, Salone Thinker and other social media interactive forums as they give us the opportunity to brainstorm current news correctly for the benefit and development of our country. That is patriotism of the highest order.

But what is unfolding in the Media Junction for instance where some members are bent on publishing stories about their colleagues based on half truths, provocations and disrespect, is unacceptable and is a real cause for concern.

There is nothing wrong to write factual things with substance but when stories are geared towards provoking others just because they are not supporting the same political party, then we know there is a serious shortage of excellence in the media industry in Sierra Leone.

Such unprofessionalism deters the growth of the country. It is in this vein that we call on all our colleagues home and abroad to put their differences aside and stop attacking one another unnecessarily at the detriment of true journalism and our only beloved country SIERRA LEONE.

 

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Youths Violence in Sierra Leone: Does the Youths Trust the System?

Asks Saikujohn Barrie (25/08/16)

Stakeholders TAKE internal examination of yourselves! That is what this writer has urged as the spate of youths violence in the country continues.

The recent waves of violence in Sierra Leone has sent a signal that the youth or should I say the people no longer trust the system to address their concerns. We saw youths burning houses in Kabala after their compatriots were killed by police. 

And in Moyamba the house of the Paramount Chief was burnt because they (youths) had problem with the PC. What is apparent in both cases is that the youths have problems but instead of relying on the right channels to seek redress, they embarked on physically expressing their frustration by burning houses. 

This is criminal damage (arson) and it is unacceptable. However, I want to focus on issues beyond the burning of houses which I believe should be looked into by government and stakeholders. 

I think government is pivotal in all this because it is in charge of these institutions that deal with any problem in our society. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice should not look at the actions of the youths as mere lawlessness but he should ask himself why these youths did not go to police and wait for the courts to address their concerns. 

I strongly believe that these youths believed that if they go to court in the case of the Kabala incident or Ministry of Local Government in the case of Moyamba respectively, they will not get JUSTICE. I see their fear! If these youths have trust and confidence in these institutions they would just have gone there to seek redress.

I appreciate the reforms that have taken place since the coming of the Attorney General Joseph F. Kamara but he needs to work hard to restore confidence and trust in the minds of our people FOR our national institutions especially the Judiciary. 

The citizens of any nation need to trust their institutions otherwise society will collapse as it has started in salone. How can people just burn houses? This is unbelievable and unimaginable. Let us fish politics out of these incidents so that we will be able to address the root causes of our problems. 

But associating any incident to politics will blind us to the realities of our problems. We need to take politics out of these problems for better society. In progressive societies, people trust their institutions that is why in the West an individual will sue a government to court and they sometime win. 

But that is unimaginable in Sierra Leone. Those who always talk about patriotism whenever a problem happens, they themselves at times prove unpatriotic because they call for patriotism because they are benefiting from the status quo. 

This government needs to give maximum support to the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change (ABC) so that it will create impact. Our people have attitudinal sickness and that has resulted to what we are seeing now. 

This attitudinal problems does not limit to the ordinary man or woman or the poor but even Ministers, Police, Lawyers etc. I think, therefore, the recent violence in the country should prompt our government and community leaders to take an internal examination of themselves. 

Are you guys doing the right thing for the good of all in the country? I rest my case.

 

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We Need to Smoke the Peace Pipe for the Sake of Sierra Leone

By Abu Shaw (02/05/16)

Sierra Leone has suffered immeasurably over the years. Thousands have died needlessly for no justifiable reasons. Now, we have physical peace in the country since 2002.

But there are certain minds that are still sadly far from peaceful. Political affiliations have blinded some Sierra Leoneans so much so that the country has now almost become less and less significant in their eyes.

This is glaringly wrong. Sierra Leone does need minds that are peaceful at all times. Patriotism is the most significant virtue that citizens of any country must always uphold irrespective of their creed, religion, political partisanship etc. etc.

As journalists, we have the noble obligation to inform, educate, entertain the public with analytical news based on facts and figures. The Organiser newspaper believes many learned journalists in Sierra Leone are shining examples of professional journalism with high integrity and patriotism, a feat that garners respect both nationally and internationally.

As the first country in West Africa to start a newspaper publication, Sierra Leone journalism must always remember the ideals and dreams instituted by the pioneers of this noble profession.

We fervently believe the indefatigable penman and journalist late Wallace Johnson and the likes would oppose the way some of our media colleagues are misrepresenting the ethics of journalism.

We should all be proud of being members of Media Junction, Salone Thinker and other social media interactive forums as they give us the opportunity to brainstorm current news correctly for the benefit and development of our country. That is patriotism of the highest order.

But what is unfolding in the Media Junction for instance where some members are bent on publishing stories about their colleagues based on half truths, provocations and disrespect, is unacceptable and is a real cause for concern.

There is nothing wrong to write factual things with substance but when stories are geared towards provoking others just because they are not supporting the same political party, then we know there is a serious shortage of excellence in the media industry in Sierra Leone.

Such unprofessionalism deters the growth of the country. It is in this vein that we call on all our colleagues home and abroad to put their differences aside and stop attacking one another unnecessarily at the detriment of true journalism and our only beloved country SIERRA LEONE.

 

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Why Alie Kabba Lacks the Nutrients to Lead the SLPP party and Sierra Leone!!

By Abu Shaw in London (12/12/15)

Nineteenth century British politician and historian John Dahberg-Acton once stated: "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

The appropriateness of the above 19th century statement when applied to Alie Kabba, who is vying for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party flag-bearer position, is as timely as the Big Ben in London. 

It was apparently euphoric when Alie Kabba, who dubbed himself, ‘radical progressive nationalist’, declared his intention to go in to Sierra Leone politics one year ago. Many who knew him, including myself, jumped at his vision and immediately joined the campaign bandwagon to fight for the SLPP party leadership and eventually for State House, the seat of power.

One year on however, the Alie Badara Sanjan Kabba’s idealism has waned in strength because he has gradually shown his true colours to the astonishment of many former admirers. The Alie Kabba of NOW is a stark contrast to the individual that initially convinced me and others to lend unwavering support to his SLPP campaign. He is virtually not the same Alie Kabba whose extraordinary vision was based on democracy and the rule of law by having constant consultations with members and the decentralisation of power and respect for one another.

ALIE KABBA'S DEMOCRATIC DREAM EVAPORATES

In my one year membership of the Friends of Alie Kabba UK/Ireland team, Alie Kabba was living the democratic dream. During these formative months, everyone including Alie Kabba, participated in the formation of the Friends of Alie Kabba UK/I and he unhesitatingly endorsed London as the headquarters of his campaign team. He had extensive consultations with the executive members as to whether to run for the SLPP or form another political party - a third force.

After the SWOT analysis, the consensus was for the campaign team to choose the SLPP instead. Everything was rosy and smooth sailing. New members joined the executive team in droves as a result. From London, to Bristol, to Manchester, to Holland to Belgium, Alie Kabba was very humble and very consultative with the team on any decision making, an important tool he used throughout the tour of continental Europe 2015. How his positive attitude changed so quickly for the worse in recent times beggars belief!!

DICTATOR IN THE MAKING DESPITE ORATORY SKILLS

Alie Kabba’s oratory skills are amazing. Alie Kabba is one of the most brilliant speakers Sierra Leone has ever produced. His oratory gift can make any hard nut to crack. It is a gift that God has endowed in him, which in the African setting is called ‘Jayleebaa’. It means praise-singers with extraordinary talent and oratory skills. That is Alie Kabba’s most powerful weapon throughout his political life. But in real life, I believe, action speaks louder than words. In recent weeks, Alie Kabba started showing his true colours. He resorted to doing very strange things hitherto unknown to his character. He suddenly stopped having constant communications with the UK/I executives. Alie Kabba would neither take calls nor respond to emails from some executive members. He started imposing new policies on the UK/I campaign team without any form of consultations.

Consultation became non-existent in Alie Kabba’s lexicon. He secretly transferred his campaign headquarters from London to Europe, with the connivance of very few UK/I bootlicking executive members. I honestly do not have a problem if a leader decides to appoint people here and there to positions of trust as it is his/her functionality to do so. I have nothing against a leader who institutes brilliant policies on its membership. But when such a leader feels he/she has all the answers in the world, then such a leader has a democratic problem. Exhibiting the lack of consulting or brainstorming with close confidants in matters pertaining to governance, are the hallmarks of dictatorship. I absolutely abhor any leader, like Alie Kabba, who used and misused people with no semblance of respect in the guise of democracy. That was how Alie Kabba became a dictator.

AIR TICKET REFUND DENTS HIS CREDIBILITY

One conspicuous fact that came to light recently was Alie Kabba’s determination to enrich his personal coffers at all cost. After the Alie Kabba UK/I Dinner and Dance in September 19, 2015 in London, he emailed the UK/I Chairman, the Finance Office and the European Chair asking for refund of his Chicago-London-Chicago air ticket that he used to grace the London Dinner & Dance where he was Keynote Speaker. It was a real surprise for the rational executive members. It was unbelievable why Alie Kabba would ask for a refund of his air ticket that cost over 1,500 US dollars from the UK/I campaign team, a team that is financially handicap to carry out his own campaign functions? The refund issue eventually made tongues to wag and then questions about Alie Kabba’s real financial standing started to crop up. Is Alie Kabba so hard-up financially to stoop so low?

After lots of arguments, the money was reluctantly transferred to Alie Kabba through Western Union. Since the formation of the UK/I in London, he has never contributed a single penny to top up the meagre finances of the UK/I campaign team. We the few rational executive members started wondering whether Alie Kabba actually has the financial capability to propel his SLPP campaign. Or is he just one of those politicians who has the finances but is naturally greedy and selfish? I cannot remember any other SLPP flag-bearer or other Sierra Leone politicians who go cap in hand to ask for air ticket refunds for his/her own campaign. It was a real blow to Alie Kabba’s credibility. Or perhaps he is an opportunist to the core who is just trying to look for a job!! Posterity will tell!

ALIE KABBA’S PROMISES ARE EMPTY

When Alie Kabba highlighted his vision for Sierra Leone a year ago, I, like many others, plunged in hook, line and sinker. That was why I joined his campaign train in London. If the political and economic promises made by Alie Kabba for Sierra Leone are anything to go by, then there will be a big disappointment for Sierra Leone’s future considering his recent dictatorial tendencies.

Alie Kabba’s empty promises lured me in to joining the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, a party that I actually regretted affiliating myself with. I have never joined any political party in my life in Sierra Leone. To be lured in to the membership of the opposition SLPP thanks to Alie Kabba’s deceptive vision, was very painful to say the least. It was the SLPP party that incarcerated me without justification in 1998.

The SLPP ceased to be my favourite political party after the Tejan Kabbah/Solomon Berewa government arbitrarily arrested and persecuted me at Pademba Road Prisons for 10 months on the flimsy ‘collaboration charge’ excuses. Had it not been for Alie Kabba’s sake, I would not, in my wildest dream, associate my person with the SLPP party.

Alie Kabba has made lots of promises to see Sierra Leone on the hilltop of Africa. He said he wants to see the railways back to catapult the country’s economic growth for the 99% and not only for the 1% of Sierra Leoneans. That is why twelve months later, I have no doubts that Alie Kabba’s glorious promises are empty and deceptive for SLPP, country and man.

ALIE KABBA FALLS FOR FAKE IRON LADY’S CHARM

There are lots of twists and turns in the Alie Kabba dictatorial saga. One who perfectly fits the bill is his so-called Iron Lady Sia Evelyn Nyandemo. She barely knows Alie Kabba proper. She was introduced to the fake radical less than one year ago. But this empty Iron Lady has been elevated by Alie Kabba in so short a time that, suspicion about her real intentions to become First Lady is gradually becoming a reality. However, age is not on her side as Alie Kabba would definitely prefer a younger woman to suit his insatiable desires. 

But the fake Iron Lady, who was recently appointed by her leader as Global Fundraising Chairman, is alleged to have reportedly used one of her closest female relatives to lure Alie Kabba in to her charms. Reliable sources say she tricked Alie Kabba in to this love-nest early this year in London where she positioned her relative called ‘Amy Something’ in to her leader’s waiting hands. Alie Kabba even missed a very important radio interview in London to have a good time with his mysterious mistress. 

Alie Kabba also used his power to sideline the UK/I leadership by appointing another new lady called ‘Janet Something’ as his new Global Chairman. Janet is based in the US very close to her leader. His Global Fundraising Coordinating stooge is well remembered as a former PMDC party heartbreaker. These are the types of supporters currently aiding Alie Kabba’s campaign team. God help Sierra Leone. Amen.

USING AND MISUSING THE ORGANISER NEWSPAPER

My greatest regret was allowing my newspaper (theorganiser.net) to be the mouthpiece of Alie Kabba’s campaign team. My credibility was put on the line which pains me most especially after realising that Alie Kabba is a political LIAR, a former shadow of his political ingenuity. After all the voluntary publications in The Organiser newspaper to promote the messages of Alie Kabba, all I got from Alie Kabba was this disrespectful remarks: “Your newpspaper is not my priority in this campaign."

Alie Kabba sympathisers might say I am exposing him now because he refused to support my newspaper. Far from it! I am doing this because of a culmination of different negative things he has done in recent times, things that have the propensity to affect the SLPP and Sierra Leone in general. If these facts remain untold my conscience will ever remain to haunt my person. Making the dark side of Alie Kabba NOW KNOWN, is vital for the electorates in Sierra Leone.

In fact, Alie Kabba’s ingratitude dawned on me immediately after The Organiser newspaper hits the newsstand in May 2015. In the first week of my newspaper, majority of the executive members in UK/I and in Europe called to thank me for the publication. Alie Kabba made the call to me two months after the resumption of the newspaper and said: “Thank you and I like the name of the newspaper.” I did not take note of his ill conceived perception then. Alie Kabba has always hailed The Organiser newspaper as his main news dissemination outlet for the campaign. But he did not prove it practically. 

It was like a stab in the back but I am delighted now he did not mention my newspaper in his speeches as it would have dampened and tarnished the good image of my newspaper that I personally spent over 1,500 pounds sterling to set up. Now I understand why Alie Kabba requested few months ago to email him a  business proposal for my newspaper. I did as he persistently requested but he deliberately failed to even acknowledge receiving the emails.

He pretended not to know! The newspaper issue is just one of a catalogue of broken promises Alie Kabba has schemed in recent times. But he has woefully failed to have The Organiser newspaper paled in to insignificance. Now he is shamelessly using my business proposal as the main reason for my resignation. What has happened is a real blessing in disguise for me!

Be that as it may, I am now very delighted that the newspaper has moved away from the shackles of this false prophet. Now I am vowing to recommit my editorial stance to the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of my future political affiliations.

HYPOCRISY WITHIN THE ALIE KABBA TEAM

The most worrying episode about the Alie Kabba campaign is the conspicuous hypocrisy that continues to permeate the team. This vice, I believe, has tremendous contribution to the lack of positive attitude in the campaign. The irrational executive members, who are in the majority, are so scared of Alie Kabba that they almost always endorse every policy put forward by the fake radical progressive nationalist whether good or bad. Whenever the few rational executive members called Alie Kabba to attention from straying away, the hypocrites would blindly jump to their leader’s defence.

Few weeks ago, Alie Kabba became so rude and disrespectful that he started shouting at executive members and made loud commands during one Skype meeting with UK/I campaign team. Reports say the former UK/I Chairman Steven Gbekie, was so infuriated with Alie Kabba’s outbursts that he had to tell him three times, in equally commanding voice, to ‘CALM DOWN! CALM DOWN!! CALM DOWN!!! It remains to be seen whether the fake radical knew that he had indeed stepped on the wrong toes.

Alie Kabba did not say sorry for his rudeness and I believe Steven Gbekie’s intervention to calm him down did not go down well with the leader. Instead, Alie Kabba immediately stopped having any form of communications with Mr. Steven Gbekie. The incommunicado went on for a month until Mr. Gbekie tendered his shocking resignation on Saturday December 5, 2015.

“PUBLISH OR PERISH” - SAYS POET YEATS

The legendary Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, one of the foremost figures of the 20th century literature once said: “Publish or perish”. For fear of being burned up with dictators like Alie Kabba, I have decided to publish the dark side of him rather than perish not sharing these salient facts today for the people of Sierra Leone to judge. I do not want Sierra Leoneans to ask me in the future: "Why didn’t you tell us earlier."

I must confess, the Alie Kabba of Kay School years in Kenema is not the same Alie Kabba of today! Alie Kabba of Bo School years is not the same Alie Kabba of today! The Alie Kabba of FBC glorious years is not the same Alie Kabba of today! Within one year of my close association with the Alie Kabba campaign, I have noticed how Alie Kabba has metamorphosed in to a political dictator.

How three decades have changed a radical genius in to an unapproachable politician is beyond belief! This dramatic change from his humble demeanour and selflessness to something different was enough for me to quit the campaign team. And concomitantly, from the SLPP party membership.

How power can corrupt some individuals like Alie Kabba so easily is frightening. If Alie Kabba can be corrupted by power so easily when the REAL power is still far from his grasps, only God knows what the SLPP party and Sierra Leone in general would experience if he grabs presidential powers in the future!!

The 300 year-old 'Power Corrupt Statement’ by John Dahberg-Acton, son of Sir Ferdinand Dalberg-Acton has indeed stood the test of time. Politicians, like Alie Kabba, only justify how absolute power can corrupt some individuals so easily.

The facts above, among others, only indicate that Alie Kabba definitely has no NUTRIENTS OR GOODNESS in him to lead the SLPP, let alone Sierra Leone. God help us.

 

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How SLPP Supporter Are You?

By Abu Shaw in London (06/06/15)

This is the burning question that continues to confront me each time my media colleagues see a picture of me and Alie Kabba on social media networks. Even family members continue to ask if it is indeed true that I am now a member of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP.

It is ostensibly a big surprise to many who still could not believe their ears. Many close confidantes are very conversant with the deep-seated hatred and animosity I had for the SLPP for the past 17 years. It stemmed from the persecution I personally suffered from the SLPP Tejan Kabbah/Solomon Berewa 'democratic' era.

Detained and incarcerated for 10 months at the Pademba Road Prisons in Freetown by the SLPP government, it was the worst experience I have ever had in my journalism work. The prison was overcrowded with nearly 2000 inmates for a prison that was established to accommodate only 300 inmates. It was a nightmarish situation for me and very unbearable for my family and loved ones generally in 1998.

My only crime was working for a newspaper that strongly opposed military intervention to resolve the bloody conflict in Sierra Leone. The Expo Times newspaper, of which I was the Production Manager strongly advocated for a negotiated settlement to the civil war in our country. We were vehement in our opposition to the Nigeria led ECOMOG soldiers bringing arms and ammunition to fight the RUF and AFRC rebel forces. We believed the best way out of the conflict was dialogue and more dialogue as history taught us that very few wars had ended in battlefields.

This position was totally misunderstood by the military intervention propagandists and the SLPP government. Or did they pretend to misunderstand our position? I believe the latter is the answer. When I was arrested by ECOMOG in Freetown in early 1998, I was charged with collaboration, aiding and abetting the infamous AFRC military junta of Major Johnny Paul Koroma. My innocent dad lost his life as a result of the untold humiliation he endured when the rag-tagged and poorly trained Kamajor fighters took him to the bush hours on end at the outskirts of Kenema town. Only the timely intervention of the Paramount Chief and elders of Nongowa Chiefdom that helped him gain freedom. But my innocent father never really recovered from the shock. My father was the Chief Fullah Imam and Deputy District Imam in Kenema. He died in Freetown whilst I was still languishing at Pademba Prisons Cell 4 Blyden House. His corpse was flown to his resting place in Kenema.

Cell 4 at Blyden House was streets away from freedom as seven padlocked gates, that were heavily manned 24/7 by prison officers, stood between me and the road to liberty. It was there that I joined my colleague inmates Mr Victor Bockarie Foh, President Koroma's controversial Vice President; Mr Hilton Ebenezer Fyle, the former BBC Network Africa presenter; and the former Resident Minister East Mr William Juana Smith of blessed memory. I am still haunted by the summary executions of the 24 soldiers by firing squad in 1998. Nightmares continue to affect me to this day, as I vividly remembered that awful day when wicked prison officers jubilantly commanded all prisoners to enter their cells very early that day. We knew something strange was about to happen. Watching curiously from our small windows upstairs, we saw well armed ECOMOG soldiers marching towards the condemn cells, where the 24 Sierra Leone soldiers were detained since the death penalty was passed by the SLPP kangaroo court martial. There and then we knew that the dreaded execution was going to take place that day. 

Even the heavens noticed the impending nightmare that was underway. Dark cloud instantly overcame the bright weather as Gborie, Zagallo, Hassan Conteh and the 21 others dressed in black shorts and tops embossed with 'C' (connoting condemn), were lined up with their hands cuffed behind their backs. The gallant soldiers were then led away and we could hear their brave voices singing biblical rhymes as they were trucked away to their painful deaths. We cried inconsolably in our cells that fateful night. I was never the same person again after that as bitterness and trauma engulfed me up to this day. I cannot understand why some Sierra Leoneans who do not really know these 24 soldiers would quickly dismiss them as 'bad soldiers' without giving a second thought. As for me personally, I will ever remain to respect these 24 gallant soldiers. I met most of them in prison for the first time and because of the close bond and interactions we had during my 10 months of terrifying ordeal, I immediately changed my misconception I had before about these 24 gallant soldiers.They were decent ordinary Sierra Leoneans, who were only trying to implore their Commander-in-Chief to improve their conditions of service in the military. Even the Nigerian Captain lawyer who defended them at Solomon Berewa's kangaroo Court Martial in Freetown could not understand why the crème de la crème of the Sierra Leone army could  face such unjustifiable execution. It only highlights the utter stupidity of some of our selfish politicians in Sierra Leone.      

After 10 gruesome months of incarceration at the overpopulated prison, I was luckily acquitted  by the Tejan Cole Committee of Investigation in late 1998. The commissioners, after a month of trial, found me not guilty of the collaboration charge. But my colleague Conrad Roy, our brilliant News Editor was not so lucky. He lost his precious life in prison for no justifiable reason. The three other Expo Times staff namely Ibrahim Seaga Shaw the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief; Gibril Gbanabome Koroma General Editor and Charles Abayomi Roberts 'Punchy' Business Editor had to flee in to exile. The rest is now history.

After all the killings and destructions of our country, where did it all end? On the negotiating table of course! We suggested this peace path long before the rebel war escalated. But all our efforts fell on deaf ears. Representatives of the SLPP, RUF and AFRC subsequently met in 2001 in Lome, the Togolese capital, to trash out a negotiated settlement that finally ushered in real peace in 2002.

The wise often say time is the best healer. The timely arrival of Alie Badara Sanjan  Kabba in the political scene to vie for the SLPP flag-bearer position was the turning point in my own political affiliation with a political party for the first time in Sierra Leone. And with a heavy heart, I decided to join the SLPP party for Alie Kabba's vision. That is why I believe the SLPP is a very lucky party to have a natural leader like Alie Kabba in their midst. The SLPP must count on their lucky stars to have somebody like Alie Kabba, though many of the SLPP core members are so tribally blind that they could not see beyond their noses.

When Alie Kabba speaks, you feel his sincerity to the cause. You hear his determination to turn around the misfortunes of our country to the hill top of Africa. This is the vision that converted me in to supporting the Friends of Alie Kabba UK/I campaign team. Besides being tried, tested and succeeded, Alie Kabba is truly one of very few Sierra Leone politicians today who can bring back the glory years of Sir Milton Margai.

That is why I think all SLPP members, especially the delegates, must use their heads and every parts of their body that has even an atom’s weight of life, to vote for Alie Kabba as he is the only credible candidate who can take the SLPP to State House. Do not allow any political rivals to dissuade you either through the brown envelope format or otherwise, from supporting Alie Kabba. I have no doubt that Alie Kabba is a luxury for the 99% of Sierra Leoneans yearning for salvation since the country attained independence in 1961.

The Friends of Alie Kabba UK/I Chairman Steven Beckie and Secretary General Abdulai Braima and our Chairlady aunty Evelyn have all noted that they would have supported any political party that our leader Alie Kabba should have chosen. This is just a classic example of the trust we have in our leader.  

As the Media Officer for the Friends of Alie Kabba UK/I I have to say this: “Yes, I am now SLPP for Alie Kabba’s sake. Yes, I have forgiven the SLPP for Alie Kabba’s sake. I only hope that my innocent dad would forgive me for doing so. Ameen. For more information, please click www.aliekabba.com

TRIBUTE: Alpha Shaw

Journalist, Student Activist, Leader, 1958-1980

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