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22nd April 2018

Is Business Oriented John Bono Sisay Perfect for the APC Leadership?

By a press release (27/06/17)

As the APC flagbearer slot to replace President Ernest Koroma gains momentum, a name that refuses to go away is John Bono Sisay.


There is the belief that people who transitioned from the world of corporate affairs into governance are somehow unfit or heavy handed for the delicate and multi-faceted world of politics. (Pictured: Is John Sisay, eyeing the APC leadership, a serious contender?).

But is there any evidence to support this claim? Are all individuals who were successful businessmen entering public service expected to behave roughly or savagely? Hardly seems likely.

John Bonoh Sisay is an example of a businessman who could easily go into public service and do better. His time at the helm of Sierra Rutile Limited saw him achieve successes of legendary proportions. His company was the first from Sierra Leone to raise money from the United Kingdom Capital markets after the civil war. Sierra Rutile was also the first and only company to date to win the prestigious International Company of the Year award at the London Stock Exchange AIM awards in 2013.

There are companies that struggled to breach the multi-million dollar gap in this country, but John Sisay took over a company with a market valuation of under $25million dollars and by the time he was finished crafting it with his God given ability of transformation, it was valued at its peak, pre-Ebola, at over $800 million.  

Then he did the unspeakable: he successfully transitioned it to new management, leaving no debts, bad blood or enmity, only those that worked under him for years missing his decisive approach to business.

Logically, one capable of controlling an entire business enterprise would have acquired the human resource management skills and creative acumen necessary to lead groups of people towards a common political goal. 

Lumkile Mondi, a South African journalist, writes: "Businessmen who become politicians can bring fresh energy into the public service. They come from an ecosystem that is driven by urgency to produce measurable results. Politicians often weave these concepts into their speeches to sound clever, but for business people they are a matter of life and death. Businesses that run without a sense of urgency to produce measurable results fail."

The difference between a CEO and a politician serving in a governance position is the concept of measurable results. In the cutthroat world of business, if a CEO is not performing, if the numbers aren't adding up, if the growth that was expected of him or her doesn't come in the period of time they promised they will quickly see the CEO's resignation or removal from the position. Seems harsh, but when you accept a position you are expected to perform above and beyond expectations, a trait lacking in most of our modern politicians.

The majority of politicians are strongly under the influence of a myriad of invisible political pressure groups that push a leader more in the direction of maintaining a good image of the political powers that be, rather than actually performing well and putting the needs of the citizenship first. 

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg did it despite the initial doubt of a businessman’s clout in the office of public service, he is one of the many examples that have broken the glass ceiling. 

Sierra Leone was in the top 3 fastest growing economies before Ebola struck and sent us reeling. God bless President Koroma, a successful businessman, for still continuing to steer the ship towards development, despite the many obstacles in the path. 

A stable economy is the building block for every other form of development in a country. So it stands to reason that the successor of President Koroma should be an individual not only capable of re-establishing the economy and doubling and tripling it, but should be an individual that has proven track record of stabilising and upgrading institutions. 

Let's look at this statistically. In Australia, a developed first world economy, for those that work in the mining sector, their salaries support 4 people. Here in Sierra Leone, studies show that every individual in the mining sector supports 15-18 people! Imagine the lives that have been transformed by this! 

And Mr Sisay ensured that not only did many Sierra Leoneans make up the Sierra Rutile work force, he implemented a local content policy that saw majority of management positions being occupied by Sierra Leoneans. This clever initiative is one of the key reasons when Ebola struck and all the other mining companies fled back to their countries, the work of Sierra Rutile continued stronger and focused. 

Now John Bonoh Sisay has set his eyes on the will of the people. After a successful tour of the entire country, meeting Sierra Leoneans in all the districts, first hand witnessing their plights, dreams and wishes, he is ready to give his all to Sierra Leone. It's time Sierra Leoneans look up to a leader not coming with promises but with a CV of actual accomplishments. 

Sierra Leone has undergone a massive infrastructural development. The foundation is laid for further development. Thanks to President Koroma for taking the bold step on something that our past leaders shied from. 

What Sierra Leone needs now is an economic transformation on which a solid foundation can be laid and built upon. So who do we need to continue the economic direction we were heading pre Ebola?  

It is view of many, certainly not a journalist, a lawyer, a career politician or an engineer but an individual with a successful and proven track record in the business sector with an in depth understanding of how to robustly grow the economy by liberalising it and making sure that Sierra Leoneans are a cornerstone part of that growth to ensure its sustainable and lasting impact.


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