Opinion

On president Koroma’s recent speech to Sierra Leoneans in New York

12 October 2009 at 01:40 | 776 views

Commentary

By Arolyn I. Koroma, USA.

The president Dr. Ernest B. Koroma appeared quite vibrant, confident and relaxed. His delegation included his spouse, First Lady Mrs. Sia N. Koroma, Foreign Minister Mrs. Zainab Bangura, Minister of Information Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, ( later joined by Hon. Minister of Mineral Resources Hon. Alpha Sahid Kanu), Press Secretary. Mr. Sheka Tarawali, and Mr. Mr. Beckley (photographer), Sierra Leone’s U.S. Ambassador H.E. Bockarie K. Stevens, and the Sierra Leone-United States Goodwill Ambassador
Mrs. Isatu Timbo-Nwokedi.

It was an exciting moment for others to witness and listen to a presidential update which revealed Sierra Leoneans developmental wishes for their nation were beginning to confront reality. Those who came with an open mind returned home quite pleased with the direction in which Sierra Leone is heading, and are proud of a president who is once more bringing substantial respect and development to the once forgotten nation.

The President’s strong desire to improve the quality of life of his people and his determination to bring back his nation’s positive image to the world stage is parallel to none. Being a good leader is a craft; one can’t just grab it and run with it. President Koroma excels where others have failed. He stands tall where others’ credibility is doubted.

Dr, Ernest B. Koroma’s administration’s two years achievement update was based on facts. The administration exceeded the people of Sierra Leone’s expectations, and his positive positions on critical international issues are slowly, but surely improving Sierra Leone’s image on the world stage. These growth and development strides are achievable because of his promise and commitment to improve the country’s social and economic status. The developments are neither humanly impossible, nor financially impossible, but the incompetence and corruption infested past administrations preferred to do nothing. While majority of the populace are appreciative, others are perplexed as they witnessed an exponential progression of accomplishments in 24 months, as compared to the previous administration’s 96 months of lack of action.

The ten years of SLPP rule could as well be referred to, in our country’s history, as an interregnum period, an era of no leadership. The period immediately after the war was the time for less financial hardship in Sierra Leone’s history, because the donor nations poured millions upon millions of dollars to resuscitate the country’s ailing economy and to raise the standard of living of its people. The Poverty Reduction Strategy Program (PRSP) financial aid funds were doubled each year for 6 consecutive years totaling approximately $400 million, but there was no leadership, no transparency and no accountability.

The president, in his address, succinctly outlined his two years accomplishments which further amplified the importance of the two year report and the A.P.C.’s commitment to move Sierra Leone at par with advanced states in the continent. The APC administration undertakes intricate projects whose names, before this time, only come up for election votes for years. They are now either fully operational or about to be operational.

Dr. Ernest Koroma is paving the way for future leaders to follow his footsteps. The leadership is proud to be Sierra Leonean first and resented the calling of our capital city “the darkest and most obnoxious city in the west coast of Africa.”

The Bumbuna Hydro Electric Project which the SLPP used for eight years as a political football for votes is now up and running during the two years time of the All People’s Congress administration. Potable water could once more be used in the capital city. The SLPP’s darkest city, Freetown, is once again nightly illuminated .It took the All People’s Congress Party 24 months to finish projects which the previous administration neglected or cannot finish in 96 months. The Bo-Kailahun roads construction will start soon. The Kenema- road will start soon as well.

The government has re-invigorated an anti-corruption agency which is fully empowered to track down culprits and bring them to justice. The agency has begun returning quite substantial amount of funds to the government’s coffers.

The president, in his report, mentioned that the country is not doing too well in the human development index, wherein poverty is pervasive. A very good number of our people could not afford a decent meal, illiteracy is quite high, maternal and infant mortality rate are terrible. Above all he inherited a completely collapsed economy.

As a result, his administration, together with other international agencies will put in place a system to assist pregnant women, avert child mortality and other health issues and minimize or improve the status quo.

Sierra Leone is known to be an agricultural nation. It depends heavily on agriculture, but the previous administration’s budget for FY 2007 was 1.6%. This is a joke. This sum cannot host the famous Kenema Cacao Show. The APC government budgeted 7.7%
FY 2008, GDP, and it have been increased to 9.9% for FY 2010. This is done to resuscitate and alleviates the defunct agricultural industry and bring agriculture back to what it used to be. The APC government of Dr. Ernest Koroma is bringing about 250 farming tractors from India to assist distressed and frustrated farmers by probably loaning or renting them out to farmers. The iron ore industry at Lunsar in the Northern Province, which has been redundant for more than twenty years, has been given a new lease on life and operation will start soon.

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Two world events threatened and pushed African nations’ economies to the brink. First was the February 2007 sudden soaring price of rice which is Sierra Leone’s staple food. This was caused by rice producing countries: China, India, Malaysia and Viet Nam shopping for rice in the world market. This brought a sudden rice price increase from a 25lbs bag of rice which cost $12.oo (U.S.A.) suddenly rose to $22.00, and the 50lbs which cost Le60,000 (Sierra Leone) rose to Le90,000, Le125,000 and still rising.. The price spike of commodities is further exacerbated by the sudden collapse of industrialized nation’s economies in November 2007.

The G8 countries met and put in place a mechanism to cushion and reset their economies, while Africa was left out and African countries’ economies are still bleeding from that economic calamity. This act has led to the free-fall of the Zambian Kwacha, Sierra Leone’s Leone, Nigeria’s Naira, the Liberian dollar, the Guinea’s Franc and so forth. Without the G20, the world richest nations resetting of African economies the Leone will continue to free-fall or depreciate. The global economic crisis brought most nations economies to a temporary standstill, including the 900 million potential consumers in Africa. Despite the above, Sierra Leone is experiencing an exponential development.

The above mentioned prompted the no response to SLPP N/A Chairman Augustine Boss Falay’s interview. His answers were politically rhetorical with no substance. It is no hidden secret that Sierra Leoneans knew that the previous SLPP administration built no hospitals, no schools, roads, no rice price control. They bought no life jackets for the marine activities of the people of Shenge. They neither put in place any economic mechanism, nor were a $500 million left in the SL treasury as professed by the chairman, Augustine Boss Fallay. The chairman speaks like a leader whose party struggles with its past, but forced by the desire to be heard. He lost an opportunity to promote his party, which is probably not his fault because there is no positive record to fall back on.

It is now that the opposition is beginning to know what transparency and accountability meant. While occupying the State House those words were foreign to them. They neglected things like health care, education, infrastructure, energy and power. Additionally, the SLPP missed a golden opportunity to show their leadership skills, because 1999-2007 was a period of plenty. The problem in Sierra Leone immediately after the war was not a financial problem. It was a problem of misguided policy and bad governance. Instead of an administration that loves the country, the SLPP administration specialized in illicit regional trade of the worse kind. They sold to neighboring countries for personal benefit of government rice, generators and transportation meant for Sierra Leone. And the government knew that the nation was in dire need of these items.

The government of Dr. Ernest B. Koroma is bringing back Sierra Leone to a moderate progressive nation in the sub-saharan region. Looking forward to 2012 and beyond, the administration is committed to meet its promises to its citizens. That is, it is committed to work harder to improve the economic lives of its citizens, improve the health care system, and improve the nation’s infrastructure and education.

The president finally pleaded to the Diasporans to soon be home bound, because their families and the nation need them to join the nation building.

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