Salone News

Election 2007: Who will be the next CEO?

30 December 2006 at 02:01 | 481 views

Commentary

By Amara Omar Kuyateh, Maryland, USA.

As Sierra Leone gears up for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2007, there is an unprecedented clamour for information as to what Political or management skills make the 3 contenders for the Presidency, Vice President Solomon Berewa of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Ernest Koroma of the All Peoples Congress (APC), and the leader of the newly formed People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), suitable for such office.

I have read with keen interest over the last couple of months, articles in the local Sierra Leonean press about the suitability of not only the candidates for the Presidency, but in the case of the ruling SLPP, the much publicized, and unprecedented running mate debacle. In various Sierra Leonean internet discussion forums also, this debate has reached fever pitch. Some Political Parties have even made there Party manifestoes available to internet forumites.

Youth For Sierra Leone Improvement (YSLI), an affiliated organization with the Sierra Leone Network (SLN), have also been performing a brilliant job in organizing Political debates, amongst the various Political parties not only in the US, but in Sierra Leone as well. This is indeed a welcomed development in our very young democracy or what some people may choose to call our experiment with "western style democracy". The aim of this article is to continue to spur this debate in the right direction.

"Government ought to be run like a business!" This comment is usually offered as a criticism of inefficiencies and poor management in government. If indeed government should be run as a business, then can we consider the President as the CEO, his Ministers, and the heads of government agencies as the appointed officers of the corporation? This analysis is important because it can offer us a good insight as to why we have failed as a Nation State and why we continue to rank poorly in all sorts of indicators that measure the performance of nations. If the CEO lacks the skill set necessary to run a large organization, and the board members are inexperienced, lack integrity, and the appointed officers lack the necessary skill set, and technical competencies required to perform their roles in order to carry out the corporation’s mission and business objectives, can we expect this corporation to succeed? That organization or corporation is doomed to fail!

As Sierra Leoneans go to the pools in 2007 at this crucial time in our history when donor fatigue is increasingly setting in, after the end of our 10 years bloody civil war, we have an important decision to make. Who amongst the 3 Presidential candidates has demonstrated what we may consider to be the necessary skill set to serve as CEO of Sierra Leone Inc? Or put another way, who can we trust to learn on the job?

These elections are arguably the most important elections in Sierra Leone since our independence from Great Britain. All the stakeholders have an important role to play: Sierra Leoneans in Sierra Leone, and in the Diaspora more importantly, and our international development partners, particularly the United Kingdom, who provide a large percentage of the Sierra Leone government’s budget. The electorate this time around has to examine the record of and the suitability of the candidates. More importantly we all have to ensure the elections are not only free and fair, but also free of voter intimidation.

As we stand at the crossroads of history, yet again, will the partisans of the SLPP, APC, and PMDC, deliver more of the same? Will they be bold and carry out a quiet revolution and give Sierra Leone the leadership it needs, and that it craves? Can they for once in our history, distinguish between political loyalty, political activism and competence for public office? Can they stop the prevalence of sharp and unprofessional practices in our technical, political, and socio-economic affairs? Can they keep the corrupt and incompetent out of the loop? Will they hold their leaders accountable and if so by what yard stick? What policies do they expect leaders to commit to? What solutions do they expect the leaders to deliver to the people of Sierra Leone? What serious steps do they expect their leaders to take to alleviate poverty and improve the lives of the common man? Who will be the most suitable CEO of Sierra Leone Inc? To quote Jack Welch former CEO of General Electric Company and one of the most celebrated CEOs of our time: "To hire good people is hard. Hiring great people is brutally hard. And yet nothing matters more in winning than getting the right people on the field. All the clever strategies and advanced technologies in the world are nowhere near as effective without great people to put them to work".

Jack Welch believes a good CEO needs to have:
1.Integrity
2.Intelligence
3.Maturity
4.Positive energy
5.the ability to energize others
6.Edge: the courage to make tough yes-or-no decisions
7.Execute: the ability to get the job done.

And lastly, according to Jack Welch if the candidate possesses all 7 of the qualities mentioned above we should look for

8.Passion!

The other qualities also mentioned by Jack Welch are; authenticity, the ability to see around the corners, and a strong penchant to surround themselves with people better and smatter than they are.

Over to you Partisans! Let us all hope for the sake of future generation of Sierra Leoneans, that our electorate becomes enlightened enough to elect the right CEO, for the right time. Your country needs you!

About the Author: The Author, Amara Omar Kuyateh is a civil society activist, and he resides in Maryland, USA. He is currently the Sierra Leone Network’s Chief Operating Officer, and the Assistant Treasurer of the Old Prince Waleans Association - DC Metropolitan Area Chapter. He was a delegate at the Consultative Group’s conference on Sierra Leone in London UK in November 2005, and at the Investors Forum in Freetown, in March 2006. For more on the Sierra Leone Network you can visit their website in www.sierraleonenetwork.org. You can send comments to kuyateho@gmail.com.

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