From the Editor’s Keyboard

A Call to Action

27 August 2012 at 04:54 | 882 views

By Titus Boye-Thompson, Guest Writer, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

There will always come a time when civic obligation and the duty to serve will supersede even our innermost desires to remain aloof or otherwise disengaged from the political process. This is a fledgling democracy and hence men are called upon to make their mark in its development. Amongst all those who have thus far answered the call, our current President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma(photo) has exhibited that character trait hardly found in African Leaders – that of enduring compassion and the deep understanding of human frailty to the point that he has opened up opportunities for second chances even to the most vile within our midst. When you consider that this President has resisted the temptation to wield power in an absolute manner, you can understand the breadth of the restraint he has had to deploy. This is a time in our democracy when the world looks in expectation that chaos and anarchy may erupt, an election year in Africa is fraught in most cases with violence, abuse of human rights and the subjugation of individual freedoms. Thus far, Dr ErnestKoroma has charted a course that seeks practical engagement of aggrieved communities rather than shutting them down and avoiding their concerns. There are those who may advocate for a more draconian approach to the exercise of power and the silencing of dissent, rather President Koroma has found it easy to live with a strategy that converts opposition to Party members and enemies to friends. Such an approach has now transformed into a clarion call to action. Dr Koroma has sent a clear signal that the door is open to all Sierra Leoneans who are desirous of serving their nation under his Leadership and many are answering that call.

Those who studied politics or literature will attest to the maxim that “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” President Ernest Bai Koroma has so far behaved in such a way as to test the validity of this maxim. Here is a man who wields power but can not be easily adjudged to have been corrupt in his exercise of that power. On the other hand, he has weighed every decision with temperance and mercy and has listened to the counsel of others even on the most intricate of matters. When a scuffle erupted at State House recently between two of his close aides, everyone thought that he would have wielded the sword and dismissed those concerned. He, being of such considerate nature was understandably distressed by the news and at first considered draconian measures but on reflection in regards to the long service and diligence of those involved, he was temperate enough to allow the matter to be treated with some discretion and turpitude. That is the mark of a great man because for some, they would have resorted to such measures that would have cut their nose to spite their face.

That President Koroma as leader of the All People’s Congress Party enjoys a mass defection from the opposition parties to his fold is quite understandable, given that he had decided long ago to enjoin the open hand approach to any Sierra Leonean. In such a strategy is embedded a notion that together, we must use our best resources to build a better and stronger nation. Further, it has to be by dint of his efforts and the strides he has made in moving this country upwards that is acting as a magnet in bringing over some of the finest and best brains and people of means and resources from other opposition parties to the All People’s Congress. After all, this is a President who came into power at a time when the Country was barely getting out of a dire situation of post conflict “fragile state” with an economy that was primarily donor dependent. His first call was for the unending blackouts to become a thing of the past and for the infrastructure that should underpin a constancy in electricity supply in this Country to be put in place. He achieved this in just under two years and within his first term of office, electricity supply is now constant in most parts of the City of Freetown and other major District Headquarter towns. The scope for rural electricity is well in focus and it will be a distinction of his tenure for any successive Government to achieve total electrification for Sierra Leone within a short time frame. All in all, his call to action on electricity has yielded good and appreciable results.

During a recent address to prospective candidates for elective offices at Councillor, Mayoral and Parliamentary elections in November 2012, President Koroma repeated his call to candidates to work with their communities in order to address their concerns and also to ensure that they have the support of the communities they wished to represent. In making this call, he was also admonishing prospective and incumbent Candidates to accord themselves room for collaboration and an openness that will ensure that the APC Party is strengthened by the selection process and not weakened because of it. That is a call to action that behoves all aspirants within the Party not to subscribe to the opposition SLPP’s tactics of divisiveness and impunity that has now resulted in their implosion that was a direct consequence of the method and manner by which the chose their flag bearer. That call in effect has resulted in a fine array of prospective to fill most of the seats in the country under the APC Symbol. In Freetown, the call has reached such a crescendo where the Mayoral seat is one of the most hotly contested.

In every democracy, fair competition is often expected to yield fair results. That the President has succeeded to make the APC an attractive political force is down to his forthrightness, his openness and his propensity to give chances to those who rise up to the challenge. He has demonstrated that nurturing nature that restrains any urge in him to be draconian or otherwise unyielding. He has presided over a Country where there are NO political prisoners, where due process of the law is followed, even with respect to his closest aides and colleagues wherein he has never knowingly shielded anyone from prosecution if they have been found wanting, he has raised the profile of this Country and improved its economy, attracted inward investment and restructured the mining sector to such an extent that it is now a viable income generating sector within the economy, in the process, he has brought back the railway to Sierra Leone and hopefully will raise the transport infrastructure of this Country to a higher standard not to talk of the thousands of kilometres of roads that have been constructed, overhauled and maintained during his tenure. That he has done all these things is enough to earn him a second term in office. However, it is incumbent on the rest of us, the members of the APC to ensure that other more prominent seats are not lost in the milieu.

The Mayor of Freetown is one of the most important seats that require a good and accomplished person to fill, someone who is well accomplished with a track record of service to the people of this great city. It is a non starter when people only come round to erect a public tap months before election and then expect to be left alone after that secure the symbol. The people of Freetown will need to dig deeper than that and select someone who has shown that they can ask the right questions of the establishment, seek the interests of the common man and has that international exposure to be able to attract interest from abroad to this our great city. It may be well that the people of Freetown are satisfied that their Mayor can demonstrate a clear understanding of the problems they face, that he has the ability to do something about those problems and also that any prospective Mayor would be able to engage them in his determination of how this city is run. In the event, there is a call to action from a prospective Mayor of Freetown who is not afraid to ask the right questions, fighting for Freetown throughout!