On the Speech from the Throne(Part 11)

14 October 2007 at 13:11 | 601 views

By Mohamed Boye Jallo Jamboria, Norway.

The last issue emphasized the role of the citizenry in the quest for change and development.By citizenry is implied both the governors and the governed but excludes those parochical considerations such as is the case in Sierra Leone now,wherein specific groupings or common identity sets tend to think of themselves as ,or rather porport to hold the misconstrued view of their superiority over others in the present Sierra Leonean social structure.

That is why people of little or no substance soon assume prominince the sooner they find themselves in positions or come by some pittance that will soon be exhausted in non productive EGO EXPRESSING and protection buying activities.

The sooner someone gets a job for which a lot of service,accountability and respect for the rights of the citizenry is entailed will that person become a demi-godlike figure aided and abetted by those who are going to be the affected party in future-THE GOD DON HEP HAM SYNDROME.

Which God that helps in such outragous and culturally compromised acts of self destruction has always been a question unanswered by the majority of Sierra Leoneans -AND SIERRA LEONEANS ARE A VERY RELIGOUS SET OF PEOPLE with a lot of knowledge and insight in the philosophical aspects of the key religions in the country.

This has more or less been the underlying factor for a seeming ethnic and /or regional division in especially the political fabric of the Sierra Leonean society.It is seen and /or read in most of the articles that make the rounds in the media.It has always been an issues that even those considered to be educated actively encourage if not believe in.THE ISSUES OF LOOK AT OTHER MEMBERS OF THE SIERRA LEONEAN SOCIETY WHO ARE NOT FROM THE SAME REGION OR ETHNIC BACKGROUND FROM AN ANTAGONISTIC POINT OF VIEW-he is Mende,Themne....this is a mende,themne government.....

This destructive view is most times compromised by the subtly destructive and damaging view of A COW EATING WHERE IT IS TIED!

It is subtly destructive because it is the key for corruption,imbalanced distrubition of resources.

It is the key to the lack of a dedicated pubilc sector in the sense that recruitment and emplyment,it is sad to say, is most times not done on merit but on the basis of who pays to get the job.

Right enough the minimum requirements are most times met but the fact that from recruitmnet the individual’s is psychological view is “I HAVE TO BRIBE OR BE CONNECTED TO SOME BIG MAN TO GET THE JOB” makes the employee redundant and non charlant even before getting on the job.

On the very negative side, is the situation of square pegs in round holes because one irrational BIG MAN wants that job for a candidate of choice or a very instrumental supporter who holds sway over those on which that BIG MAN depend for tenure either as a parliamentarian or otherwise.

This AWARD or rather reward system is the very root from which all grafting,corruption and mismanagement stem from.It is also the vehicle in which regional and ethnic affiliations,petty and pointless as they are most times, is transported into realms that debar the ultimate realisation of a belonging to a nation,which is the why Sierra Leone ,after 40+ years is still in the backwoods of development and countries such as Botswana,Malasysia are making in roads in growth and development.

Malaysia,as an example got the the seedlings of the Masankay palm kernel from Sierra Leone and because of commitment to developing her potentials to the fullest is number one global exporter of palm oil and palm kernel products,whereas Sierra Leone has a food crisis and the cost of a litre of palm oil is but above the reach of the average citizen.

What lessons must be learnt from the above mentioned?It is none but that Sierra Leoneans have been “EATING THEIR CAKES AND EXPECTING TO HAVE THEM IN THEIR HANDS!”, a luxury that has been made sine qua non by the overtly non charlant and callous way those in public offices conduct themselves vis-a-vis the public’s outlook and expectations from those in those offices,usually reinforced by some degenerate social thinkings such as “NOR FORGET U SEF!” and the spiritually insulting and tincomprehensible “GOD DON HEP AM” WHEN A PUBILC FUNCTIONARY blatantly and outragously misuses public assets and funds.

The question here is why have the people ofSierra Leone been in this mental and unprogressive quagmire?
The answer has a more or less politico-historical origin,and has always been one very adverse deterent to:
(1)the consolidation of a sense of belonging to a nation or nation-state by a lot of the citizenry and more destructively so a greater part of the elites.
To put this in very srtaight terms,there are three Sierra Leones existing as one ,viz-Sierra leone of the mende speaking group,Sierra Leone of the northern groupings and thirdly ,Sierra Leone for a more diplomatic but seemingly passive group whose associations and alligences with any of the other two groupings is determined by which of these two holds the fort.

This is a very unobserved but realistic scenerio that most times go unnoticed but which is very much why certain projects that would have brought benefits to the whole nation-like the bumbuna are yet to become realities.
Above all this is one key underlying but unpronounced reason why the Public sector is inefficient and /or most times not contented.It is this divisions in the social fabric of a yet to emerge nation-state called Sierra Leone that has been one of the key factors for over expenditure in the public sector vis-a-vis under collection of revenue.
Those in the public sector just don’t look at their service as a national duty for which they should be seen to produce the required and necessary developmental results but as a FARM with unlimited resource from which everyone with the chance must get a chunk.They ,especially the assumed educated pubilc servants,normally don’t look at the consequences of their actions on both the macro and micro economic sectors.

This is why one welcomed area of President Koroma is mention of a Civil service reform.
The commission that will be charged with the dutry to review existing reform recommendations such as the Joe Amara Bangali commission and others must also have as one and very important terms of reference:
(1) the decentralisation of the civil service
(2)review of the hierarcical structure and the introduction of the condition of contract term of service for all positons above supervisory level.Most importantly the positions of Permanent Secretary must be gotten rid of and replaced by a Head of Administration who must be on contractual term of employment for a preiod not exceeding four years per contract term.

Why these terms of employment for the most senior level of the public service?
It will have, like has been seen in other instututions operating on similar terms -the UN system being one good example,the effect of having more committed senoir administrators as their contract renewal will depend of their previous term’s output.

Secondly it will make the job of senoir administrator more competetive and effecient as more sober minds whose intentions and will is to see nation building achieved.Those who want the job for the skae of CHAP!CHAP will be discouraged by the facts that they have to account for their stewardship after every four or more years.

Another positive effect of this will be the recruitment of senoir management public staff that will not be biased nor based on regional or ethnic terms as, consequent on the change in the recruitment mode sholud be also a change in the recruiting agency’s terms of reference and ultimate responsibility.A pubilc service commission must replace the civil service commission and must be charged with the responsibility of recruiting and maintaining a contented pubilc service.

The implication here is that members of that commission must ,by legal prescription,carry the blame for a badly recruited and non productive public service. Also ,it must be one term of reference that other functionaries be recruited on similar terms with the following conditions:-
(a)Senoir District and Provincial functionaries must also be recruited on contractual terms but on the condition that they are native born from the Districy or Province concerned.Some schools of thought may want to argue that this is institutionalising regionalism but on the other hand it is one of the way out of nepotism,regionalism and ethino centricity in the pubilc soctor.

When pubilc functionaries born of a particular region work in those regions there will be:-
(1) more commitment to work in the sense that work and geography and /or culture are combined.A pubilc servant born of Tonkolili,Kono,Kenema or otherwise will be more committed to progress working in the District of origin than when such functionary works in districts with whichthere is no socio-psychological connetcion.

Also, such functionary will be subject to monitoring from people they are more related to and for whom they may have certain reserved commitments to.The overall effect is that Districts and provinces take direct responsibility for the actions of their pubilc servants and the pubilc servants become more committed to working for their land of birth and consequently more and easily accountable for any act or decision whilst they execute their duties.
(2)Coupled with effective decentralisation,pubilc servants will have the opportunity to effectively make contributions to the progress of their regions of birth with a level of competive commitment that will in the end make development in all Sierra Leone possible if not rapid.

Every District,Province will want the best or will cater for the best infrastructure and srevices .A very important result will be a drastic reduction of ghost workers and mismanagement as one cannot afford the luxury of stealing from oneself.

How can the budget for this be got?For the layman it is an up hill task but a point that has to be made here is that every district and region has resources that can generate the necessary income for such a pubilc service, given the geological facts of the underlying rock structure as they affect both mineral resources and agricultural land distrubution in Sierra Leone.

This geological fact has always been under played or rated and it is one key reason why there are overpopulation in some parts and consequent under population in others-an example being the high level of popultaion in the kono district for diamonds whereas the fact is that kon district is part of a geological belt running north-south and which includes Pujehun,Bonthe,Bo,Kenema,some parts of the Moyamba,Tonkolili,Bombali,Koinadugu and Kambia districts.This of course is not an assertion that all these Districts have diamonds but from recent findings especially in the Kambia,Koinadugu and other districts,it is an assertion that there is need for a new and thorough geological survey and also asserts that districts and provinces must be more praticipatory in the contracting of mining and other leases and that consequent revenue from such activities must be reflected in district and provincial budgets as and when decentralisation becomes functional, so as to allow these districts and provinces to tkae full control of basic developmental processes.

The central government of course will have to maintian and coutinue with certain services provision such as roads, health service and communication to name but a few.Also there must be central educational policy but with provision of the revenue to district and /or provincial bodies to execute and account for.

In effect along the central budget must be dirstict and provincial budgets that will be controlled by the relevant bodies at those levels and who must account for ,physically and fiscally,the use of those monies allocated.
Another positive side of having the public service structured and run on the suggestions made inter alia is that it will make a lot of projects possible.

Bumbuna Dam

The Bunbuna Hydo Project,for example, would have long taken off if there was the will,both politically and administratively.
That project,now watered down,was originally planned during the DELCO Mining days to provide power for a greater part of Sierra Leone alongside power for the first stage processing of Magnitite grade of Iron ore from the Sula Mountains in the Tonkolili district.

This was shelved because of the breakdown in negotiations between Siaka Stevens’ government on the issues of leasehold ,percentage of distribution of profits and above all the uncontracted mining of Bauxite by DELCO.
After this project was shelved in the early 1970s there was very little political and /or administrative will to see it undertaken as those in government and a highly then centralised public service had little or no interest in the welfare of the Tonkolili district ,a district that had been victimised because of Mohamed Sorie Forna and others, along with the fact that senoir functionaries in the pubilc sector by then had no moral commitment to developing the Bumbuna project as it was, by their views, a project in a remote region far removed from the centres of power, Freetown and other towns,which by then had enough electricity.

The premise here is if and only if ALL DISTRICTS HAVE SOME LEVEL OF AUTONOMY AND BUDGET,certain projects can be realised when there is a commited staff that have a level of moral commitmment to the area in which that project is to be undertaken then projects that will in the long trm be beneficial to the country will be undertaken.

Another example is the lack of development of the inland swamp areas like TOMA BUM and THE BOLILANDS(Tonkolili,Bombali and Kambia Districts) amongst the lot that would have made Sierra Leone more or less self sufficient in rice.

Another advantage of a semi autonomous and self accounting public service is that very dire needs at the local level will be addressed and implimented by those that are directly affected and who need those infrastructure for certain very essential services to be provided for the creation of employment and /or services that will impact the overall national political economy in the long term as naturally wharever development that is undertaken in any part of Sierra Leone will in the long term impact the overall developmental pattern and consequently bring benefits such as unemployment reduction,social services and a reduction in the poverty levels.