Ernest Koroma should lead by example

20 September 2007 at 06:44 | 659 views

By Edie Vandy, USA.

Sierra Leone’s brand new President Ernest Bai Koroma, in his maiden speech Monday September 17, 2007 made a solemn pledge of “adopting zero tolerance on corruption and the mismanagement of state resources.”

In essence, President Koroma is aware of this menace called corruption, and has placed his political career on the line with an avowed promise and optimism of fighting it headlong with every strength and arsenal at his disposal, and making Sierra Leone a proud and prosperous nation.

Taking him by his own words, I am now calling on the new President not to waste any time in matching the militant tough talk on defeating corruption by initiating the boldest move in the nation’s history and declare his assets publicly. Those assets should include but not limited to cash at hand, savings account, value of stocks and bonds, properties including cars, houses and lands. Ernest does not need to be rich neither poor to tell us what he has accrued to date, as he is a public servant. Don’t tell me it is too early, for there should be no honeymoon for President Koroma.

The Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, as undemocratic as his election victory was, made history by publicly declaring his assets in fulfillment of his pledge to lead by personal example.

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua turned his campaign promise into action by his announcement that he was worth USD$ 5.4 million. The Nigerian President did not end at that but went ahead to declare his wife Turai’s assets as worth US$ 150,000. He is leading by example. Nigerian commentators have opined that it was the first time in their nation’s history, to have a sitting president declaring his assets in public. Ernest could take a cue from that in view of his presidential victory deemed largely free and fair, by the international community.

This is a pledge Ernest has to fulfill, as a way of setting the framework of taken this nation to higher heights, as promised. Ernest, by taking this daring act would signal in very powerful tsunami waves that he means business and is ready to make right what has gone wrong by successive governments including the old APC. He would have succeeded in exerting pressure on and telling all public officers and administrators and his new staffers he will be selecting that he is not only serious but that he meant every word when he pronounced that there was not going to be any "sacrificial lamb" in his anti-corruption crusade.

Today and even before the dust has settled, some sections of the media and other concerned citizens from the Diaspora have been hailing NEC boss Christiana Thorpe for undertaking a fabulous job in conducting free and fair elections without being cowed, for which she is worth a ‘Nobel Prize’ and some vacation paid for to any destination.

The new President Ernest Koroma could also turn a new page in Sierra Leone and be the first statesman to declare his assets for public scrutiny. Since we are talking about perfection, what’s wrong if we can negotiate this avenue beginning with our new President? Yes, we can, if we can put our minds to it. There should be no excuse over this public asset declaration.

This is my first benchmark for Ernest to demonstrate that he is the leader he has made us to believe. His promise of running the country as a business will be made clearer upon the declaration of his assets. As the new CEO of our nation, we are the shareholders, and should be seen as taking the decisions. We have the right to know his true worth. We equally want to know how fiscally responsive he has been all these years as Insurance broker. The country’s financial books should be open, and he as CEO should take a lead in this process. We are talking about setting precedence here. I am calling on all civil society movement, activists, NGOs and the media in calling for the new President to pursue a path of transparency and accountability by making this public declaration of his assets. If he does this,Ernest would have passed the first test of ascension to the presidency, which will go down towards his leadership report card.

Just recently, Ernest gave his predecessor and outgoing President Kabbah a fail score mark of 3 out of 10. The clock has now started ticking for the new President. He too will be graded, and will be judged on how soon and how best he translates his vision into tangible deliverables for the people to have real impact on their chequered lives. Ernest was not voted in to ‘talk the talk’ alone. He was voted to ‘walk the walk’ and deliver the basics. One thing we all can agree on is that Ernest is going to earn every mark given to him. He has to deliver. Anything less than that is unacceptable.

Editor’s note: A brilliantly argued piece.But I would like to suggest that members of the outgoing government should be made to declare their assets first.