Opinion

Does Dr. Sho-Sawyer’s Political Membership Matter?

27 April 2009 at 05:01 | 909 views

By Christian Foday Sesay Jr. PV Correspondent, Texas.

In an article published in the Patriotic Vanguard on Tuesday, 21nd January 2009, titled “Victor Foh Praises Michel Sho-Sawyer”, the writer dedicated the concluding third of his work addressing the concerns of Dr. Michel Sho-Sawyer’s political membership which I thought should not have been an issue for neither the alleged group of APC Diaspora community at the Makeni Convention nor the rest of the nation. Reading through this article, a question kept moving stealthily on my mind and I asked myself: Why should it matter if Dr Sho-Sawyer is a card carrying member of the All People’s Congress Party?

To answer this question is to closely examine the socio-economic and political development of modern day Sierra Leone and the failed politics of past governments under whose very eyeballs the country was crippled. We are living in a Sierra Leone of kaleidoscopic change where the only building block, which is constant, is change itself. Presently, Sierra Leone is being influenced by real, multiple changes that are placing unprecedented challenges on the government’s shoulder.

After the Independence of Sierra Leone on April 27Th, 1961, our parents and grandparents woke up the next morning hoping for a better nation. Sadly though, after 48years later, and much to their chagrin, the nation is going through an abyss of decadence and poverty. This is the reality of the circumstances that this nation, which was once filled with so much potential is trying to come to terms with. But, Suffice it to say that things will only succeed in moving forward together as a nation after certain burning questions such as this have been answered: Does the political affiliation of a public servant matters?

Economically, Sierra Leone continues to rely on significant amounts of foreign assistance, principally from multilateral donors. Almost 2/3 of its budget comes from foreign aid. Although Sierra Leone is a key producer of diamonds, it continues to struggle to control its exploitation and manage revenue collections. The blessings endowed to this young nation through the loving hands of God the Almighty in the form of mineral deposits such as titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromites and agricultural products are yet to be harvested for the benefit of all.

Socially, while Sierra Leone has power over sizeable mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, its physical and social infrastructure are not well developed, and serious social disorders continue to hamper economic development. Medical facilities are almost non existent or less functional. Educationally, Sierra Leone boasts of a system of education which legally requires all children to attend schools- Is that requirement being met? You figure it out. The reasons for this decline in education are multifaceted with shortages of schools and teachers topping the list. A Sierra Leone that was named the “Athens of West Africa” is now experiencing education at an all time low with a heartbreaking 65% rate of adult illiteracy.

Based on the aforementioned synopsis of the socio-economic status of Sierra Leone, our focus as a nation should be much more targeted on solving the bigger picture. We need massive help in the form of human expertise and experiences. Our thoughts should be directed on those whose expertise, commitment and experience will help the nation through these dark chapters in its history rather than the trivial bickering-Does he or she holds an APC, SLPP or PMDC Card?. In order words, we can’t continue to be playing the petty and divisive politics of the past. Our aspirations, more than ever before, should be positioned above any of the political parties-country first! Sierra Leoneans should not care a hoot what someone else’s political affinity is for as long as they are firstly, qualified in accordance with the laws and constitution of Sierra Leone to serve in whatever capacity they have been assigned and secondly, they are performing their task with the utmost efficiency in the interest of the general population.

Like all sobering governments will admit, there is clearly an urgent need for action on this front. One of these actions in my opinion ultimately calls for the government to be run with business minded acumen using its human expertise pool at its disposition as a strategic business partner that will help take the nation out from the cold. Yes, Governments and businesses have two different goals, much different reasons for existing, and deeper responsibilities but looking at the emptiness of Sierra Leone post Independence era, there is much left to be desired and more reason to turn to a productive human capital and their expertise knowledge irrespective of their political identity.

At a time when we are yearning for more international assistance, expertise knowledge and experience will serve as an invaluable point of contact between the Sierra Leonean government, its people and the international players. The return of expatriates generally will be beneficial to the government and our people because they have been far removed from the corruption that had plagued previous governments, had a wealth of skills gained abroad, had a knowledge of the outside world rather than a distrust, and will be able to take a more rational approach to governance given their distance from the history of Sierra Leonean politics. This notion is often reinforced by outside actors such as the European Union, Department for International Development and the World Bank who will in certain situations provide salaries for some of these individuals thus reducing incentives for corruption.

Given the current state of affairs of flux and uncertainty, corruption and misuse of public funds, Sierra Leone cannot achieve sustainable competitive growth and development, by pursuing just the strategies of politics of the past. We need to appreciate the importance of the knowledge existing with the Diaspora community irrespective of their political orientation and harness that knowledge through a strategy of multi-partisanship that will be aligned with the overall vision of the government for the benefit of every Sierra Leonean.

Does Dr. Sho-Sawyer’s political membership matters? In returning to my question regarding the political affiliation of public servants, “No, it doesn’t matter”. Issues such as this ought to be discarded as insignificant. However, we could argue that for the sake of political pragmatism a card member is an enticing choice but the interest and future of the country is what is at stake here. The time is now for us to make the tough decision about the way we look at public servants and their political affiliations.

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