Salone News

Ernest Koroma at MMTC was a disaster

26 June 2007 at 00:52 | 359 views

Commentary.

By John Mannah, USA.

I was elated and enthusiastically so when I read the article captioned, “Ernest Koroma Speaks to Milton Margai College Students” in the 11th June Edition of the Cocorioko Newspaper.

I was happy for Sierra Leone since our democracy is coming of age, and a good day for all democratic loving people to read that the playing field is being leveled for all its participants. The public space especially our colleges and universities should not only be accorded to the ruling party and its presidential candidate to make his case for election to this high office, but also to opposition party members and their presidential candidates as well.

Politics is about making choices between opposing points of views, and the populace is better served when they hear from different political platforms and opinions. This development is not only good for the forum at which it takes place, but for the Sierra Leonean people in general. At the end of the day, when all would have been said and done, it is Sierra Leone that will win.

This golden opportunity that was offered to the APC flag bearer was however not given the respect and dignity it deserved. The Honorable Ernest Bai Koroma’s rhetoric and promulgation was a big disappointment to the MMTC audience on that day and the Sierra Leonean people at large. This is because instead of the Honorable Ernest Bai Koroma using this platform to give a motivational speech about his job as an opposition leader, presidential candidate and potential president of Sierra Leone, thereby portraying the job of politics as a honorable profession, so that young people in the audience could dream of becoming politicians, thus making the larger statement that as a young man or woman sitting in the audience, if they worked hard, passed their exams and graduate, they can enter any profession of their choice especially that of a politician and will equally have the opportunity to stand in front of an audience like the one he was talking to that day.

Politicians like Ernest Bai Koroma are role models to our young people and they should endeavor to do everything in their power to respect and perform that role.

Ernest Koroma should have used the monumental opportunity he had with these young and future leaders of Sierra Leone to tell them about hope and possibilities; that Sierra Leone before 2002 was a country at war with itself, but through the courage and hard work of people like himself, the government and the hard work of the Sierra Leonean people, the country is free today and the college students now have a chance to pursue their dreams in peace and tranquility, a situation that avails him the opportunity to make his presentation to them, and by inference ask for their votes in the coming elections.

The presidential candidate should have used this opportunity to present a policy paper on the various micro and macro problems facing Sierra Leone today, namely; poor electricity supply and what his government would do to ameliorate this problem, or the lack of water supply or joblessness among the youths or how he will solve the present health care challenges facing the country. The type of economic policy his new APC will usher into Sierra Leone that will create the type of environment for socio-economic growth that the current SLPP government has failed to provide. These are the alternatives Sierra Leoneans are looking forward to from their future leaders, concrete, tangible and practical blue prints that will address the problems affecting the day to day lives of the people.

Alas, Ernest Koroma either does not have the political skills Sierra Leoneans are looking for or he went right back and copied from the old APC manuscript. He gave a speech of gloom and doom. That everything happening in present day Sierra Leone today is bad. He assailed president Alhaji Tejan Kabbah “as the worst performing president Sierra Leone has ever had”. He said president Kabbah has “woefully failed the nation and Solomon Berewa being his running mate cannot be absolved of any complicity in the conspiracy to misdirect, misinform, misrule and mislead the nation”. He said things in the country are as bad, if not worse today than they were when the war started in 1991”.

This type of disingenuity and dishonesty is why Sierra Leoneans got tired of the APC and therefore jubilated in all the corners of Sierra Leone when they were removed from power in 1992. The country rejected this type of politics in `1992 and will not buy it ever in her political trajectory. The country has gone through a lot, and is therefore looking for honest leaders this time. Leaders who have the wherewithal and courage to inject the culture of honesty, decency, respect for self and the profession they practice, a culture of justice, fair play, sincerity of purpose and forthrightness.

Sierra Leoneans are looking for leaders that are going to call them to action, and tell them that the war did a catastrophic damage to the country’s infrastructure as well as its psyche. Leaders who will give them credit for the work they have done in collaboration with their government to get to where they are now, even though more work needs to be done. The people are ready to make the necessary sacrifice to put in the hard work again to get their country to where it used to be, and it starts with telling them the truth, not platitudes and melodrama that Ernest Koroma displayed at MMTC on 11th June 2007.

Any patriotic and honest right thinking Sierra Leonean regardless of party affiliation will tell you that president Kabbah’s leadership has fundamentally altered the role of government and the shape of the Sierra Leone nation for years if not generations to come.

President Kabbah, to name a few of his achievements, ended the war, has created an enabling democratic environment that is the envy of some of our sister African countries, invested in schools, colleges and universities to give our citizens the skills they need to make a better tomorrow, and to guarantee a retirement of dignity after a lifetime of work. The Kabbah administration has promulgated laws that guarantee women’s rights, children’s rights and workers’ rights. It is also the first in its kind in Sierra Leone that speaks to the hopes of all Sierra Leoneans.

There is a simple litmus test provided in the Sierra Leonean Constitution to measure the success or failure of those who govern. I can name five things that in my opinion any government is supposed to do when it takes power:

1. Create a unified country where everybody feels like they have a stake in the future of the country.
2. Establish an administration where there is a sense of justice.
3. Ensure domestic tranquility where the country is calm and peaceful for all to pursue their individual interests.
4. Provide for the common defense, where there is a well trained and equipped security force.
5. Promote the general welfare, where people are respected and the government rules through representative democracy.

The quintessential question for all Sierra Leoneans then becomes “Are you better off now than you were five years ago when president Kabbah declared the war over in 2002?” An even larger question will be, “Are we (moving forward) together as a Nation?” The answer to both of these questions is indeed unequivocally “Yes”. Sierra Leoneans are better off now than they were five years ago when president Kabbah was sworn in as president in a second administration. Indeed we are moving forward together as a Nation.

Sierra Leoneans have always turned to the SLPP in times of national challenge. It is the party with the vision, a sense of creativity, and a willingness to experiment boldly and to use the government to do big things that make the country better off. The SLPP and president Kabbah have not got things right all the time, but they have indeed tried as they “dealt with the hand they were given”.

Vice President Berewa, the SLPP leader and presidential candidate indeed has a right to be proud of his experience as a successful vice president and the few times he has acted as president under a charismatic and pragmatic leader in the successful presidency of Dr. Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.

Honorable Ernest Bai Koroma has to tell us not only what he is against, but what he is for. Tell us a reason to vote for you as our next president. Sierra Leoneans are looking for an optimistic, new day and can do character in their next president, not a doom and gloom persona. Berating the profession and highest office in the land is a sign of poor judgment and lack of political maturity. Ernest Koroma can be our next president, and he owes it to Sierra Leoneans to be sworn into an office that has the dignity and respect president Kabbah has restored to it.

Photo: APC leader Ernest Bai Koroma.

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