From the Editor’s Keyboard

Taking a cue from President Ernest Koroma

3 January 2017 at 22:42 | 1645 views

As we begin the year 2017, we have identified a resounding theme in President Ernest Koroma’s New Year message.

It is a theme that is similar to one captured in the familiar quote by US President John F. Kennedy. The one big difference is that President’s Koroma’s message comes with added value.

Kennedy said: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” In not as many words, President Koroma’s New Year message can be interpreted as saying: “Here is what Sierra Leone is already doing for you while I am in charge. So you do not need to ask, you just need to join the efforts of my government.”

In other words, President Koroma takes a profound approach to the civil contract between the state and its citizen; taking Kennedy’s message not one but two notches up. The first notch: President Koroma not waiting to for Sierra Leoneans to ask themselves about what they can do for Sierra Leone; but coming up with clear ways that Sierra Leoneans can contribute to nation-builiding.

The next notch:
President Koroma showing what his government is trying to accomplish; so that Sierra Leoneans find it easier to figure out how they can help out. Such communication should go a long way in saving time as compatriots seek to actively help Sierra Leone move forward in peace, harmony, and prosperity.

The president’s speech covers a wide spectrum of life in Sierra Leone. He makes clear how government is tackling the issues in areas like agriculture, industry, healthcare, education, law and order, national security and international trade. Then, he suggests ways that we all, as a citizenry-government partnership, can meet the challenges we now face.

President Koroma cites the various policies, programmes, and projects that are being implemented across Sierra Leone. In each instance, our head of state clearly indicates the best possible role or part that citizens can play to complement the efforts of his government.

One part of the president’s New Year Message reads: &#8220

"We will continue to empower the Anti-Corruption Commission but you can also help to fight graft when you decide not to pay a bribe, no matter the interest at stake."

This is a case of ‘quid pro quo.’ In Sierra Leone language, “hand-go-hand-cam.” In other words, we as Sierra Leoneans need not wonder what our country can do for us; the president takes every opportunity to brief us his compatriots on what he and his team of ‘public trustees’ are doing. Whether we are impressed or not is another matter. Then, along with each disclosure, President Koroma seems to be saying us, “It’s your turn”.

We at the Patriotic Vanguard have also observed that the president is not merely saying but actually showing us what is being done. In each area of public interaction, he gives a specific example of work being done by his team. One such example is the programme to provide meals for school children. In a similar way, President Koroma illustrates his message vividly; with the mention of specific activities and places as examples. He does not quote statistics. Instead the president speaks in a simple language that anyone receiving his message can understand and appreciate.

This is nothing short of down-to-earth communication between a leader and his people; regardless of where someone lives or what he or she does for a living. For example, there is a portion of the president’s message that reads:

"The school enrolment of a child in Kamakwei in the North may, in the future, translate to the availability of one more doctor in Gbondapi in the South.” With such references to various regions in the country, President Koroma seems to be saying: “I may have been born in one part of the country; but that does not cloud or narrow my perception of Sierra Leone as a whole country; nor has it affected my sworn responsibility to work in the interest of all citizens."

To crown it all, the message shows the president is in touch with the challenging realities facing the ordinary Sierra Leonean. In acknowledging this awareness, President Koroma empathizes thus:

"Every Sierra Leonean has had to make some adjustments and sacrifices - from the fisherman at Funkia to the farmer in Buedu; from the petty trader at Abacha Street to the bike rider in Pujehun and our compatriots in the Diaspora - Sierra Leoneans have shown great resilience and have been at the forefront of discussions and actions to turn this country around."

It is not lost on us at The Patriotic Vanguard that President Koroma uses two key words together: discussions and actions. Indeed, we as Sierra Leoneans need to match our words with constructive action, for the good of the land that we love.

Happy New Year!