From the Editor’s Keyboard

Our land, air and sea weaknesses

22 July 2008 at 04:29 | 537 views


By Gibril Koroma

One of the good things the recent drug incident in Freetown has brought to the fore is what we had always known: that we actually have little or no control over our national territory(land, air and sea).

This is of course not the fault of the current government which has only been in power for less that a year but all past governments, since "independence" in April 1961.

For decades, and up to the present moment,our national army and police have had little or no control over what or who comes into our country by land, air or sea simply because we do not have the means (human and technological) to monitor and police our borders. The problem is worsened by a rising number of destitute and impoverished security personnel too hungry and broke to resist financial temptations.

That was why they could not resist the first group of RUF fighters who initially softened them with looted goods(and drugs) from Liberia and then stormed them at dawn with superior weapons and quickly captured large tracts of the eastern region in 1991. That was the beginning of the horrendous war that destroyed not only lives and property but the minds of a large percentage of the country’s young people.

Indeed a country without a strong army, a strong navy and no airforce like Sierra Leone cannot really claim to be free, independent or sovereign. That is our sad reality and the reality of most African countries.

Little wonder that neighbouring Guinea has occupied parts of our country for many years now without a single shot being fired from either side. Guinea and all the countries that sent peacekeeping troops to our country during the war know our weaknesses. Guinean and other African military commanders were sitting at our military headquarters in Freetown reading top secret files at the height of the war. They know. That’s what war does to a country’s security apparatus.

What should be done? Sierra Leone urgently needs help, ladies and gentlemen. We need help to strengthen our army and create a real navy and airforce.

The problem is not the drug barons; they are just exploiting our weaknesses. The problem we should address is the fact that we cannot adequately police our borders and we cannot pay our security personnel decent salaries. A hungry man is a very weak man.

We need urgent help because we do not have the money or the resources to make a difference in any crisis, drugs or no drugs. Let us therefore stop the blame game; what has happened has happened. We need to offer suggestions and possible solutions to the government and friendly countries to get out of this mess and protect not only our country but other countries that are likely to suffer from our weaknesses.

We should however be very careful not to hand over our security to other countries or open our country to foreign occupation. We need friends willing and ready to help, not new slavemasters. Lontha.

PS:I would like to suggest to the FBI and other international detectives in Freetown to please go to Yenga, in eastern Sierra Leone and find out what the Guinean soldiers are doing there. They should also note that Nino Vieira, the Guinea-Bissau president, has a house in Conakry, Guinea, where he usually spends weekends.President Lansana Conte of Guinea-Conakry is a close friend of his. Guinea-Bissau has been described as a narco-state by credible international organizations.