From the Editor’s Keyboard

Sierra Leone is a Blessed Country

2 September 2012 at 02:28 | 1268 views

By Titus Boye-Thompson, Guest Writer, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The hymnist acclaims, “O Lord our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.” The Sierra Leonean muses on the favoured nation status according to Governor Clarkson’s prayer for Sierra Leone and inveigles the wrath of God on those who bring woe and destruction to this Country. That this is a blessed country is without a doubt. A country endowed with precious minerals, fertile soil and temperate climate can only be called blessed. However, the focus sometimes has to be moved away from the rose tinted view of utopia to face the harsh outer realities of life as it is experienced in this blessed land.

Notwithstanding, Sierra Leone is a very difficult Country to govern. It has often been said that God, in giving all the blessed riches to this land was queried as to why he should favour this place so much more than others, to which he retorted, “wait till you see the people I will put there.” Now, truth is stranger than fiction so when you see the people that inhabit this land, sometimes you all but wonder at why we have not been able to reach a better understanding of each other. No matter what is done here, there are always the doubters, unbelievers and bring-them-down propagators who in their own measure, do more to damage this Country’s international status than help to build its local infrastructure. At a time when all the major World indices are going in the right direction for this Country, the wicked detractors will prefer to highlight lies and damn lies to discredit the Leadership of this nation and its hard working peoples.

Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has been one of the many blessings and one of the very few individuals who have been selfless in moving this Country towards prosperity. He may be derided but only by those who have absented themselves away from this place for such a long time that their only connection to Sierra Leone is the odd dance or dinner held in honour of some old school or community by the alma mater or otherwise descendants thereof. The only economic ties that they may have with this place is the infrequent Western Union or other money transfer agencies who remit funds in very small measures to grateful family members when there are ceremonies to be performed. Ask these sorts about current events in Sierra Leone and you will be greeted with drivel about corruption and how the Country is not fit to live in. Sometimes, you have to feel sorry for them but they dwell in their ignorance in such apt bliss that it will be criminal to attempt to bring them out of such a state.

For the serious minded, the evidence of progress and development is clear to see and it is for those who can be responsible with their commentaries that it is advisable to deploy resources in updating them of developments back home. Serious minded Sierra Leoneans wish to return and they do so on regular basis, they are making investments here, building beautiful modern houses, creating jobs in the economy and remitting vast sums to expand their economic interests out here. Such types will be wont to criticize President Ernest Bai Koroma because their overall assessment has been a ringing endorsement of the President’s vision. From the introduction of the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change Secretariat, President Koroma sent a signal message that he was serious about running this Country as a business and to maintain that vision, he had to acknowledge that he was inheriting a business that was reflective of its operational environment but he was determined to make it susceptible to change in order to maintain a progressive dynamic. The principles that surrounded attitudinal change are of a higher order in the annals of organisational change management and are critical to achieving the necessary growth dynamics that differentiates losers from winners. Dr Ernest Bai Koroma knew this, given his experience at the apex of his chosen field of professional endeavour and his vast business acumen was the first recall that he made in taking hold of the reins of leadership in this Country.

For this gift of acumen, forthrightness, integrity and clarity of intentions, we are blessed in this country to have nurtured such a visionary and far sighted leader in this modern age. No doubt therefore that his leadership skills and qualities were immediately picked up when he was asked to play a strategic role on the AU’s high level committee on UN Security Council representation for Africa, one of his earliest international accolades.

That this Country is blessed is also to be seen in the rapid international commendation of President Koroma and following that, the massive influx of capital and financial resources for the expansion of this country’s economy at a rate unprecedented in this Country’s development. It has to be the degree of economic pragmatism, the substantiality of the budgetary management mechanisms in place coupled with the dexterity of Government in the handling of various complex and intricate negotiations that would yield such significant confidence in the minds of investors that caused them to move their resources to this Country. There are other countries in Africa that may have much more resources than Sierra Leone but without the political and social stability that is enjoyed here, not to talk about their substantive and utter lack of control over corruption, malpractice, individual freedoms and rights that would have caused such nations to be classified as unstable, fragile or otherwise fractious states. Even though Sierra Leone was a post conflict Country with all the attendant socio-economic and geo-political stigma attached, it is significant to note that this Country moved from such a status immediately after the APC was swept to power in 2007 with President Ernest Bai Koroma as head. President Koroma immediately sent out the correct signals, spoke the right words and conveyed the proper messages to indicate that Sierra Leone is open for business, that investments are secure in this place and we as a nation will strive to reduce the inherited ills of corruption and weak local infrastructure that had hitherto stopped this Country from growth. The truth be told, whatever stopped the previous Government from solving the electricity problems that bedraggled this Country back to the dark ages is a matter of serious concern but when the issue of power was resolved, even at the interim level, significant confidence was created within the international community and enough for them to start looking at this Country seriously as a destination for their capital and investments.

When some of these things are said, they are done without political but more social considerations because they are the facts as they have occurred. It is a fact the President Ernest Bai Koroma inherited a weak economy, a fractious and unstable democracy and a weak state in economic meltdown. The Country was donor driven and donor controlled. In a short space of time, Sierra Leone is now a serious contender as a developing nation with one of the highest forecasted growth rates in the world. The democracy is much more stable and the economic environment is robust. These are the gains that the Country has made and that are a fact of life, a social and economic fact. It has nothing to do with politics because this Government refused to develop this Country on a factional basis but instead took a holistic approach, ensuring that the road to Kailahun Court Barrie is under construction and more importantly, has now secured the release of Yenga. Agricultural Business Centres have been set up right across the Country and very soon, we will all reap the benefit of processed products and increased yields.

These are some of the positive things that President Ernest Bai Koroma has done and there are much more to list. These are also the reasons why he should be given a further mandate to govern this Country at the first ballot, come November 2012. These are the reasons why patriotic Sierra Leoneans should vote solidly for Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, putting the right man in place taking this Country forwards.

This is not politics. This is fact!