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Defribilating the conscience of Sierra Leone

24 February 2018 at 17:45 | 2702 views

Defebrilating the conscience of Sierra Leone

By Dr Yahya Kaloko, USA

“It is important that we forgive ourselves for making mistakes. We need to learn from our errors and move on.”
― Steve Maraboli

I am a Sierra Leonean, a member of the All People’s Congress and I will continue to support my party, follow a path towards the socio-political and economic defibrillation of our beloved country.

The last decade reflects a semblance of coexistence between ethnic, regional, religious, political, and social harmony, thanks to President Koroma’s leadership during that period. But there is still a great need to defibrillate and sanitize the conscience of our politics, economics, and social relationships.

The central thrust of my request for defibrillating the conscience of our nation is to ensure people of good conscience speak up, notwithstanding which party is in power. There is no justification for maintaining a culture of corruption in our politics and economic wellbeing. It was wrong for the SLPP government to have been involved in blatant national corruption. It does not add up to easily say the country was debt free in 2007, at the time of change of government, and not talking about how corrupt the government was then. It is true that late Alhaji Tejan Kabbah of blessed memory negotiated the debt forgiveness for the country. But this does not exonerate the then SLPP government of institutional corruption and nepotism.

The fact remains that like the Ebola Epidemic under the APC, the Civil War period presided over by the SLPP also yielded abundant foreign aid. It is important to ask how the funds were spent. It is worth noting also that late President Kabbah intervened to free some government officials from the clutches of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Mr Okere Adams, the then Minister of Agriculture was accused of embezzlement of public funds. I don’t think something similar happened under the current APC government.

Corruption is also no less a crime under the APC. We in the APC must not be complicit with the corrupt behavior of some of our party members. We are Sierra Leoneans first, and must stand up to fight against any semblance of institutionalized corruption. It is morally not right for party members, members of different ethnic groups, regions and relatives to be complicit in corruption. It’s a matter of pride to note that ours is the only political movement in our country’s history to have delivered tangible development, from land marks to other socio-economic needs.

Our Democracy has come a long way. 2018 has ushered new hope in our democratic choices for state leadership. The 2018 Presidential Debate, the first in our country’s history, has provided enough material on the content of character of those vying to lead our country. Based on the performance of the various aspirants, I must say as a Sierra Leonean first, not based on party affiliation, and without bias, that the only credible candidate with the required credentials, integrity, and demeanor to lead our country for the next five years is Dr Korthor Samura Kamara. My testimony is based on debate performance.

Dr Korthor Samura’s debate performance reflects his depth of understanding of the intricacies of our economy, and the content of character of some of those who have served in past leadership positions in our country. Based on the arguments between the three main candidates, it is only Dr Korthor Samura Kamara that left the stage relatively unscathed. He was honest in his responses, accepted blame for lapses based on his involvement in governance. He is advocating for greater accountability and effective representation of constituents by Members of Parliament.
He reflects a clear understanding of how our country’s economy works. The only question hanging over his head is the semblance of complicity. He had a working relationship with the two main aspirants, knew what some of them did at the time but never raised the alarm. But the burden of innocence is now on Mr. Bio and Dr. Kandeh Yumkella to convincingly refute the allegations Dr. Samura levied against them. In the eyes of many voters who watched the debate, they are guilty of the allegations made against them, and that is the more reason why they need to act fast to convincingly refute the allegations and proclaim their innocence.

But I have greater concerns relating to how our society hails leadership, notwithstanding historical underpinnings. In order for our country to effectively emancipate itself from the yoke of ethnicity, region, social status, and accumulation of wealth, there is a greater need to defibrillate the political conscience of our nation, and move towards the trajectory of Country First. It should no longer be primarily about party support. Our Democracy can be greatly enhanced through multi-party politics. But I am never a fan of the Mugabes and the Yuweri Musevenis of our continent, who symptomize multi-party rule, but not interested in the title of “Ex President”.

Among the concerns levied by Dr Sumara is the allegation of the $18 million resurfaced by him against Maada Bio. If this proves to be true, then Maada Bio has no business vying to lead our beloved nation. Moreover, if the allegation of the sale of the refinery against Dr Yumkella is true, he also has no moral authority to aspire for the leadership of our country. To be fair to both sides, I personally, and the country as well, should also look forward to any concrete allegations, beyond “guilt by association” against Dr Korthor Samura Kamara based on his decades long service to our country. So far, there is none. But if there is any, please bring it on because the election clock is ticking fast, and our country needs to know because its future is in the balance.

So far, Dr Samura Kamara has demonstrated that his hands are clean and has overseen the good and difficult moments of our nation’s governance. He has demonstrated a semblance of resilience to stay the course in good and bad times, even when working with crooked leadership actors. Throughout the Presidential Debate, he demonstrated decency even when he came under attack from opponents. I am not saying this because he belongs to my party, but with true convictions that among those vying for the office of President in our country, he so far surpasses them. He has a very rich and honorable resume. He worked with them, and knows a lot about them to inflict very painful and disruptive political punches.

To my Diaspora constituency, it is a shame we have allowed ourselves to be led by our party leaderships in ways unbelievable, notwithstanding our level of political sophistication and Western enlightenment. It is sad to say we fail to sufficiently speak up and act in a balanced manner, both in the SLPP and the ruling APC when things go wrong. We complain about corruption back home, but some of us show adoration to corrupt government officials with ill-gotten wealth. Imagine some Diasporans hailing and clapping for a corrupt cabinet minister addressing them in a Diasporan gathering somewhere in Europe. His position was to support the continuation of a status quo in governance because he was just appointed to a cabinet position, and needs more time to loot and enrich himself. It is really disgraceful to hear some Diasporans in the audience chanting “I like this guy”. Really???. What hypocrisy and sycophancy! What does this say about us Diasporans? It feeds into the narrative of corrupt mindsets notwithstanding the degree of enlightenment. Does such behavior encapsulate any moral high ground and love for country?

It is time for us all Diasporans and home-based to level our consciences with the needs of our country. We owe it to ourselves, country, and future generations. Failing to speak up on national concerns breeds corrupt political classes, enables a society where education and experience are devalued. It creates artificial walls in the corridors of power, with revolving doors for the connected few. The government’s loyalty to its citizens becomes estranged, and the electorate’s loyalty to government and country sorely tested, resulting in socio-political and economic dysfunctions.

May God Almighty help us become good stewards of our beloved country. We owe it to our country and future generations of leaders. The beauty of a nation is encapsulated in the mindset, the bravery of its people and the courage to push for the defibrillation and sanitization of its politics and socio-economic needs when it becomes necessary.