Circumstances, it is said, are like a mattress, if you are on top, you rest easy; but if you are underneath, you suffocate.
The other day, our president was begging for more powers so that he and future leaders can continue to have the audacity to ride roughshod over us and further enhance the rotten culture of personal aggrandisement and the institution of their fantasies, at the expense of everything else.
His cry for our beloved country is not for us to establish a system that makes power less attractive and service more compelling. It is not for a system that stops those who are supposed to be servants of the people turning themselves into “I am the state; the alpha and the omega; the god who can do no wrong” even in the face of maladministration. (I forgot that turkeys can never vote for Christmas).
Generation after generation; government after government and we are still not out of the woods; yet the structural socio-political and economic deficiencies as well as the most ubiquitous proofs of profligacy that have been the norm in our society, are secondary in the list of the urgent reforms that he sees as necessary for Sierra Leone.
Foreign investors (with the exception of the foraging Chinese and such other ilk) are voting with their feet because of dwindling attraction and poor returns. Yet our leaders continue to peddle arrant nonsense and give the excuse that it was Ebola that prevented the expected mass invasion of wheeler dealers. How on earth do we expect serious investors, who are not brain dead or up to no good, to venture into our economic terrace; whose primary barometer has not moved that much in eight years and endemic corruption at the highest level is the password? Experience has shown that when power and resources are concentrated in the hands of those who have not gone through the process of sacrificial service in vivo, neither the nation, the people or even the resources will prosper. They can’t offer what they don’t have.
Oh! what a shame that with the increasing presence of the ever-growing monster called impunity, which is akin to the rule of lawlessness as displayed by the tragic constitutional crisis, his proposition is not based on the compelling argument that sustainable development can only take place in an ordered, predictable and transparent environment where all those in positions of authority are held accountable for their actions and results; where there is impartial enforcement of laws and protection of human rights and there is effective and efficient deployment of policies and resources to meet the needs of society.
In the face of the mind-boggling, licentious scandals that have been unearthed, especially in the last eight years; and the absence of a firm rule of law and order as well as truly independent anti-corruption regime and separation of power, the submission of our leader is not how to ensure that the survival of the nation, which is bigger than anything or anyone for that matter, is made sacrosanct since good governance plays a critical role in determining societal well being.
As leaders who promised us a better tomorrow but have turned out to be the progeny of the past ancestral pledges that bequeathed same stifled dreams and crushed aspirations as they enter the verge of taking their bow, does he in his heart of hearts think that absolute power to continue to impoverish and emasculate the generality of the people, is the panacea for our national plight?
Amidst the God-given and awesome potentials of this beautiful country, Sierra Leoneans have continued to make a lot of sacrifice and have given tears and blood in abundance to the strings of leaders that have ruled the nation and all they have received in return, is eternal disappointment, the swear of bad leadership which we often attribute to the curse of Governor Clarkson as well as a corrupt system and governance that has crippled national existence.
It appears that at every turn, what we get from our burden of necessity, are leaders who are ready to set a whole village on fire, just to kill a rat; those who are like an apparition and are simply offspring of those who consigned us to the back side of the desert from where we are still languishing as a result of the inanities of leadership and those ruining the nation with their greed and avarice.
Our recompense has been corrupt and selfish leaders who turn their backs on policies that they themselves pledged or swore to uphold; and have since sold their heritage to reproach and marauding strangers. Leaders, who continue to bask in the delusion of ephemeral grandeur, acting as if they would be President for life.
Cholera epidemic, Ebola, flood, political rascality, social upheavals and economic strangulation; etc. Some of these problems are man-made; some nature’s annoyance at our belligerence. At the end of the queue, is our nation which is bedevilled by a merciless and corrupt political elite which has abandoned its poor citizens to cruel fate in the midst of plenty. (And please do me a favour and don’t talk of the proposed resettlement because give it a few weeks/months and you’ll start hearing the usual tales by the moonlight)
Yet, as the loftiness of hope seems to dim every day, we simply retort with: How for do? Well, I’m sorry but Na for do. The alternatives are the chaos, confusion and the mayhem all over the place now. Let’s stop calling a spade a spatula! What’s wrong is wrong!
Let’s cry for ourselves before it’s too late. Those who earnestly desire the truth, the most auspicious time to hear it is now. Can two walk together, except they be agreed? It is no longer the time to hide behind a finger while the errors of our leaders continue to produce the terror stalking and destroying our land.
Somehow we’ve been brainwashed into believing the people who run the goat and yam administration and whose hysterical response to recurring damaging social issues, threatens to cause so many of us stomach rupture. Yet, it is our docility that has brought us to this harmful segment of our growth and development where we have become subservient to the very people we made relevant in the scheme of things.
The evident consequence of this is that we have become a society where we shy away from our civic responsibility of speaking out when our rights are being trampled upon. Our culture and our education have not helped the matter. And amidst the theatre of political recklessness, we have been saddled with a merry-go-round of acts that are the direct fallout of the rampant, systemic and deep-rooted corrupt governance culture. We have become a weak queen on the chessboard.
I was lamenting these and several other things when someone called my attention to President Koroma’s retinue of hangers-on and joy-riders, to the UN General Assembly amidst the prevailing waves of national disasters and economic strangulation that have continued to tie us to the apron strings of modern colonialists.
He was also peeved that the government is hell-bent on committing generations unborn to a fanciful project like Mamamah airport despite IMF’s reservations and the resultant debt profile as well as a host of other issues.
My reaction was one of shock and horror. Not about his submissions but because he had always been one of those whose loyalty to the government, I had felt, was unflinching.
Anyway, with mountain high challenges in the economy, trailed by an unemployment time bomb, security problems that go beyond the looming social and political pressures, as well as a crumbling mineral sector, falling educational standards and a health sector in much need of reforms, I was in no mood for selective cobwebs.
As far as I was concerned whatever President Koroma does now, is simply a classic example and vivid manifestation of the old saying that literally translates to a departing office holder defecating on the chair he is vacating and saying catch me if you can.
He is no different from leaders who, once they attain power, vacate this earth and migrate from the midst of fellow citizens, to another far away planet where their desire for primitive wealth acquisition, corruption, tribal prejudice, naked pursuit of power and the tendency to be worshipped as ‘gods’ makes life more desirable for them.
Attitudes they say often fail to stand the test of logical scrutiny. With a pathetic lifestyle of ostentatiously lusting after material wealth and banal commitment to symbols to the glory of money and the applause of people, how do you bring the focus of such characters to the plight of ordinary people who have persevered so much in the face of government’s underperformance and lack of care?
How do you account for a society saddled with monsters strutting the national landscape as leaders and so seemingly unable, or unwilling, to do what less endowed rivals in other parts of the world have done, and dramatically improve the lot of the masses? How do you counterbalance the national leadership madness for the sanity of ordinary citizens trying to make sense of their lives?
The appalling poverty in Sierra Leone where the poor die like cockroaches in their prime, is a reproach to the well-fed marauding politicians that strut the land; fly the world at our expense, corner our commonwealth for their comfort and pleasure and sell our heritage to the highest bidder.
Our lack of growth is primarily due to the fact that the government has continually failed to take drastic measures to improve the country and reverse the damage of the past. But why should they? When we have sat down, folded our hands and allowed our dignity and pride to elude us as we cower before our leaders and cheer them to high heavens because it guarantees our survival.
Leaders without vision have become heroes even where they have failed woefully to roll out policies that will bail out the waters threatening to sink the ship of state. Or, to give us palliatives for our headaches. When we say the pain is in our heads, they insist that it is in our hearts and simply our imagination not their illusion.
As another set of victims is added to the long list of the many casualties of our national disasters, negligence and dereliction of duty, combined with negative triumphalism and myopia; have ensured that the deceit of the last eight years keep coming unstuck like a deck of cards. Beneath them all, is a depiction that the seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate and the barns are broken down.
It is worrisome that the core business of good governance is being systematically relegated to the background at the expense of the people and the long term interest of the nation. The perplexed poor continue to groan and wail from their pit of despair because they have absolutely nowhere to graze for survival, in the midst of a large expanse of green pastures which the few marauding and plundering political elite, have through greed and selfishness, appropriated and cornered.
The lack of depth, substance, and practical validity of most of the tantalising dividends of the so-called agenda for change and prosperity have started to come to light even as corruption, falling education and health care standards make us a tribe of refugees around the planet.
Indeed, honesty, transparency and accountability that have continued to defy all labours to make them berth naturally under the sails of the national ship, because of unfavourable winds of greed and corruption, have seen square pegs in round holes and have sent Sierra Leone to the theatre for an emergency c-section.
Without fear of repetition, I have maintained that until there is a common agreement as part of our social contract, about what we consider acceptable norms, then we will be experiencing this sort of underlying muzzling of desirable purpose to prevent progress and there will never be a shift towards a comfortable positive national projection in the mindset of anyone who becomes our leader.
Collectively, we ought to take a step backward and carry out a scoping exercise on some of the recent actions of our leaders, irrespective of personalities, to ensure they are not at variance with our aspirations. We need to stop being bedevilled by parochial interests that often toe the lines of ethnic, religious and politically partisan considerations and instead be propelled by national interest.
Our people are dying, the IMF has warned against the cost implication of Mamamah airport, for example; yet the drums continue to be rolled out for this and other vain and inglorious projects while the blood of our fellow citizens flow like a river, with each recurring disaster.
Don’t get me wrong but the long term implications of the project is that in another half a century, we would be looking to relocate the airport. Those with vision who chose Lungi had long term dream to open up the country. The money for Mamamah could easily have been committed to a permanent bridge between Kissy and Tagrin.
We play politics with everything; yet, as a result of weak goal setting and severe goal displacement, the plight of the extremely poor generality of the people of our beloved nation has not been the central concern of those who profess to care for them and who swore on oath to serve them faithfully.
For a while now, it appears the nation has been on auto pilot, as the government has shown neither the capacity nor the willingness to resolve the several national problems we face and has simply abandoned responsibilities to outsiders. We might as well ask to be re-colonised.
The consequence has been progress deferred. The big losers of course have been the people, the small artisans who need electricity for a job to earn the next meal, the farmer who remains in subsistence because of poor infrastructure and lack of national planning.
As public officials live like lords off a wobbly state and those below them make the national stadium their abode because after eight years, issues such as lack of housing, poor national drainage system, etc, have been irrelevant in the thinking of the government and instead, untruth and neglect have been the prescription medicine given to the forlorn masses to swallow.
So I hope we are all paying attention to the on-going migrant and refugee crisis engulfing Europe because if our present and future leaders continue with their rancid romance with the current degree of gullibility and ineptness as well as violation of the tenets of good governance and democracy, the European crisis will be microscopic compared to what will happen in our country.
No worries though, nature will take care of its own as we’re mere ants in Nature’s scheme of things. This is a great land and it will be a great land again, definitely – as long as we are ready, willing and able to begin to address the mammoth challenges facing us as a nation and a people devoid of the antics of selfish leaders.
Sierra Leone shall rise again as long as we are all excited and determined to see the prospect of collectively bringing the sharp axe upon the dead woods in the system that produces the thieving politicians, whose cheap talk are often stitched up behind every word they utter.
So long as patriotic citizens, tired of the rot in the country are willing to play the role that will elicit the type of protests that will stop the perennial “man’s inhumanity to man”, no matter the culture that is breeding it.
If for nothing else, it is a major reason for us to condemn those that are taking us nowhere and to vow to ensure that we all become aware of the necessity for leaders of thought and vision, who will, maybe, just maybe, pioneer good governance.
Now is not the time for politics as usual. It is time to cry out that enough is enough.
Oh God, save the poor of Sierra Leone. They are your people and the sheep of your pasture.