Letter to editor

A Response to Foday Fofanah of Freetown.

8 December 2005 at 05:49 | 379 views

Dear Editor,

We would very much appreciate if you could find space to please publish this article. Thanks for your kind and positive consideration.

We read with disgust how Foday Fofana, apparently one of the “friends of Berewa“(not Sierra Leone), tried so hard to deliberately mislead Sierra Leoneans and the rest of the world in his article titled Enemies of Salone - Disgruntled Diaspora” published in Friday December 2, 2005 edition of THE EXCLUSIVE News Paper and distributed on Leonenet on Monday 5th December 2005.

Foday Fofana obviously was referring to those honest, democratic, forthright, outspoken and concern Sierra Leoneans who went out to demonstrate against corruption and bad governance in the country during the donor conference for Sierra Leone on the 29th of November 2005 in London.

The article clearly demonstrates that Mr Fofana and the friends of Berewa believe that Sierra Leone of today is still the Sierra Leone of yesterday wherein the government can not be called to account and wherein Sierra Leoneans give a blind eye to bad governance, corruption and exclusion. Sorry, they are very wrong because Sierra Leoneans have wised up and now more prepared then ever to take the bold step to privately and publicly challenge the government on issues that most matter to the development of their country, in other word, become more patriotic.

Let us first of all examine some of the outrageous statements and comments levied by Mr Fofana against advocates for democracy and good governance to see which angle him and his friends are coming from and expose there shallow and low minds which is characterised by their shameful and disgraceful inability to assess and analyse simple statements like that put out by the group “Defenders of Democracy and Good Governance in Sierra Leone”.

Readers should be reminded that two different groups demonstrated at the same time on the morning of the conference; the so called “Friends of Berewa” who were shouting “One Berewa, One State House” on one side and “Defenders of Democracy and Good Governance” shouting for accountability on the other.

Here is the public statement from the group that was distributed to almost everyone attending the meeting:

SILENT VOICES CRYING OUT LOUD TO THE WORLD BANK DONORS

The Sierra Leone government has not made any progress or visible and sustainable improvement on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as set out by the International Community to alleviate Poverty:

EDUCATION - this largely remains disorganised, under funded and with no serious agenda for improvement.

FOOD SECURITY - most Sierra Leoneans can still not afford one proper meal a day.

HEALTH - no improvement as hundreds die of very minor ailments with infant mortality constantly on the rise.

ENVIRONMENT - the filthy state of Freetown the capital city speaks for itself, not to mention mining areas like Kono.

PROCUREMENT - Largely a private affair of government, lacking in scrutiny and transparency.

DEMOCRACY - this is undermined, stifled and crippled by stitched-up allegations and arrest of Charles Margai and his supporters and the deliberate failure to register political parties and victimisation of ordinary voices of dissent. What this means is that our civil liberty, human rights and security of the nation are now at a high risk since the end of hostilities in the country. Recent incident in Bo says it all.

CORRUPTION - this is still very rampant and increasingly remains a major problem in the country with no serious commitment and agenda to tackle it.

QUALITY OF LIFE - unemployment, poverty, lack or absence of basic amenities for the vast majority of citizens and youth problems are a manifestation of the government‘s inability and incompetence to provide proper direction and good governance.

AID - the country’s economy by and large still remains donor driven with no agenda and commitment to generate its own revenues. Aid money has had no sustainable impact on improving quality of life for the majority of Sierra Leoneans.

Aid should be for the people not for the government or for lining the pockets of corrupt ministers and government officers. Therefore, new ideas on how aid is monitored in Sierra Leone should include Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora to ensure proper scrutiny and accountability.

PRESENTED BY:

“Defenders of Democracy and Good Governance in Sierra Leone” to the donor conference for Sierra Leone in London, 29th November 2005.

The demonstration banner read: “Sierra Leoneans Demand - No Aid without Accountability”.

We believe the statement above speaks for itself. Who then in a correct mind frame would refer to the above statement as asking international donors to abandon Sierra Leone? Only the unintelligent, the bootlickers, sycophants, undemocratic and unpatriotic like Mr Fofana and friends of Berewa. Who then will label advocates for good governance and accountability as traitors, disgruntled and heartless? Again, only the shameless, pathetic, mentally retarded and uninformed likes of Mr Fofana and the friends of Berewa.

Before moving on to dissecting Mr Fofana’s unintelligent analysis, let us first examine who the friends of Berewa are. Please note that these people, by their name, are never friends of Sierra Leone. They are nothing but the friends of Berewa and that is all they are. No wonder they were chanting “One Berewa, One State House“. How disgraceful. As far as we know them, these are insignificant, sycophantic bootlickers and pathetic good for nothing hobos living in London. A couple of them are cab drivers - potential Berewa escorts, a few who gallivant around as immigration lawyers extorting poor Sierra Leoneans in London - Berewa’s feature law makers, some of them are security guards - potential Berewa body guards, a couple of mental health nurses - definitely needed for the Berewa led cacogenic team, and a whole host of gullible people who have offered nothing and have nothing to offer to Sierra Leone.

This brings us to Mr Fofana’s misleading and deceptive article, over and above the editor’s grotesque opening statement which reads: “We received with great satisfaction a press release from a group known as The Patriotic Sierra Leoneans based in the UK, which we ran integrally in our Friday December 2 edition.” The message here on who the paymasters of this editor is clear- without the slightest iota of doubt, Berewa.

Fofana stated the following in his article: (our response in bold)

1). “By advocating that the international community should not help Sierra Leone at this hour of need, these disgruntled people are no better than traitors, serving their interests better than the country they claim to love the statement maintained.” Anyone who reads our published statement would say otherwise. Mr Fofana and his friends would have done everyone justice to specifically point out which areas in our statement refers to the above.

2). Big Traitor: “The Patriotic Sierra Leoneans based in the United Kingdom could not have put it so bluntly that these disgruntled compatriots are worse than traitors and the rebels that brought this nation to its knees for no just cause. These faceless activists are made up of hardened failures that went to the UK, USA, and elsewhere and woefully failed to acquire education or material wealth. They have spent donkey years in the Diaspora without reflecting whether they left anyone behind in Mother Sierra Leone. Consequently, having failed in the Diaspora trying to make ends meet doing very odd jobs, they cannot come back home because they have nothing to show; and worst they would die of shame if they come back home and see what many they left here decades ago have achieved”. This is an interestingly gormless statement from someone who has been fed with what to write and completely ignorant of the people he his writing about. The advocates for good governance and accountability are people of good standing, respect and responsibility in their various communities. These are people who in various ways have immensely contributed to Sierra Leone and participated in projecting the good name of the country in the diaspora. They are all professionals who are not looking for favours or lip service from the government unlike the friends of Berewa who are only committed to Berewa for positions and recognition if he (Berewa) becomes president. The only reason why any body could go on the streets of London to shout out “one Berewa, One State house” is for favours. Do you call that patriotism even in the heights of corruption, lies and deception in Sierra Leone?

3). Eternally Disgruntled: “But ironically, these were the same Democrats who hailed the RUF and AFRC junta who killed maimed and raped scores of their relatives and friends back home: and vehemently cried down the democratically elected government of President Kabbah”. The real irony here is those in power today were there, in position of influence, when the rebel war broke out. Their actions then, which they still exhibit now, caused the rebel war. So, with them nothing has changed and with them nothing will ever change. How democratic and patriotic is Kabbah’s government we hasten to ask? Was it not Kabbah’s ministers who went round the world during the interregnum (when they all fled to Guinea) saying that the Nigerian Military should indiscriminately bomb Freetown because “Everybody who is Anybody has left Freetown“? Was it not the members of “Defenders of Democracy and Good Governance in Sierra Leone” who tirelessly fought the government’s case in the diaspora? Would you consider the present government as patriotic and democratic for incarcerating Chief Hinga Norman and Paul Kamara? See what happened to late Yensanneh and Gliria. How could anyone explain what Berewa and others did to John Leigh? A man who single passionately fought the Sierra Leone case in the United States of America during the war. And now you people want to take away the democratic rights of Charles F Margai and the civil liberties of most Sierra Leoneans? We will advise Mr Fofana and the Friends of Berewa to get serious and put their thinking hats on if they have any for their judgement and ability to analyse is as bad as their pay masters. We will reserve the issues around the war for later editions. How about Kabbah’s house in Conakry? Very patriotic indeed.

4). Heartless Rebels: “Otherwise, who as a true Sierra Leonean and at this point in time, when life is extremely hard for the vast majority of the populace, with no end in sight as yet to their sufferings; would campaign against the pledging of Eight Hundred million dollars ($800m) to fast-track poverty reduction in this country” Exactly, you make our point. Who would want eight hundred million dollars ($800m) to go into the hands of a corrupt, incentive, selfish, lacking vision, incompetent government for the reasons stated above? Only the likes of Kabbah, Berewa and his friends who have a secret agenda for spending it on themselves. In fact, our demand was that the donors should consider and ensure that there was tough and stringent monitoring system in place with regard to how the money was to be used. In short, we were advocating that the money must be used for the common good of Sierra Leoneans full stop. To a large extent we succeeded in making the donors listen to our demands.

This now brings us to explain why be believe the donors did listen to us and this is how a credible independent observer and analyst puts it:

The main caveat with this arrangement is that the $800m will be held in Trust Fund managed by the World Bank. The government’s access to this fund is determined by the robustness of its projects, which have been banded under 3 main pillars:

(1) Good Governance with particular focus on decentralisation and devolution of powers to local authorities and capacity building.

(2) Job Creation with priority given to youth employment

(3) Food Security - improving agricultural yields for both the domestic and export markets

The World Bank and its partners will monitor the execution of these projects by holding quarterly meetings with government officials using a system similar to the already established expenditure tracking system. The group will require adequate and timely data on expenditure as against the achievement of project objectives and the required funding will be released in phases.

We must take note of the President’s recent concern that Donors are sometimes slow to honour their pledges. However, if the government adheres to its programmes and meet the necessary benchmarks it is likely to influence the timely releases of Donor Pledges.

We the advocates for Democracy and Good Governance do not just jump to libellous conclusions. We analyse critically and objectively and we do not look for favours. Our sole desire is for the government to be accountable, inclusive, competent, and democratic in their practices and methods and for them to be serious about addressing the needs of the country and its citizens.

We are yet to come across any trustworthy statement from Fofana and the Friends of Berewa. We also appeal to all Sierra Leoneans to weigh statements from the friends of Berewa very critically and question their judgement.

God Bless Sierra Leone, God Bless the People of Sierra Leone.

From Supporters of Democracy and Good Governance in Sierra Leone in collaboration with PMDC supporters. UK/Ireland

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