Taking the Bull by the Horns: A Road Map for Sierra Leone—Part 2

8 June 2006 at 21:56 | 435 views

In the first installment on this topic, some of the benefits of decentralizing the governance structure, thereby giving more autonomy to the districts, was looked at in terms of a more dedicated and effective administration.

By Mohamed Boye Jallo Jamboria, Norway

In this issue, this, along with others will form the core topic but with a closer view to justify how a more dedicated and effective administration can be achieved with greater autonomy for the districts.

As I stated before, there are various schools of thought on decentralization. Some from the reactions I have received so far have been very positive whilst others have been mere expressions of pettiness and narrow-mindedness by some whose kins and relatives are in power now and who feel they stand to lose their grip on the Sa. Lone cake.

That is Stakers (Unfortunate in Nowegian). These are the types of citizens that exist only as Sierra Leoneans when the grapes are in their courtyard.

This attitude of waiting for the grapes before you can act or seek the interest of your land of birth is one of the key deficiencies that decentralization will help to cure. If you are, for example, say from Pujehun or Koinadugu and you are employed by the district authority of that district (your home land)will you have to wait for someone that is your blood relative in power before you act in the best interest of the district?

Or, on the other hand will you make your sojourn of duty in your home district a holiday trip for impregnating poor people’s daughters and stealing money to go and develop another district? This is exactly the kind of scenario that our so-called educated men in administration are involved in.

Now if a look is taken of the very political situation, there has been room for the regionalization or ethnicization of the Sierra Leone’s People Party, a party formed from a coalition of chiefs, elites in the whole of the former protectorate without regional or ethnic consideration.

This same group was divided by selfish and regional interests into first: SLPP-APC (The APC being the result of a breakaway from the SLPP by Albert Margai and Siaka Stevens to form EBIM, but the two being selfish, parted company with Albert coming back to the SLPP and Siaka and twelve others forming the APC because of the ethnocentrism that started in the SLPP immediately after it had won the 1958 elections.

This seeming simple crisis was to lead Sierra Leone to war in 1991 after the elites and politicians have shelved national interest for selfish, parochial and unprogressive interests.

One may want to ask why the people that are assumed educated should be acting in such manner. The answer is not hard to find if a look is taken of the modus operandi of the various regions as expressed by certain social axioms like: nar we tem, sabanoh, tawoepaneh, ndavuyama, moa laylaysia etc. These are all expressions of clannishness in one way or the other and any society that operates on the basis of clans is as good as a divided one.

This division has been the greatest setback to the cultivation of a sense of national service and in its place has always been a sense of self protection and aggrandizement. A situation that has made mockery of GOD because when a man misuses public funds, the blind and poor ones say GOD has helped him: which God, is the big question.

Such unchecked and wanton misuse of the state resulted in a social situation that led to Foday Sankoh and others of the same shortsightedness like him(some of whom hold high offices today in Sierra Leone) to be recruited by covert means by a consortium of disgruntled mining companies and politicians to kick out the APC.

APC is out and are fighting tooth and nail to come back. Who knows what their hidden agenda may be? The SLPP made a lot of noise about democracy, a process that was already on the ground as this was one of the conditionalities for the IMF to restart the Structural Adjustment Programme.

This was the reason for the employment of Dr. Jim Forna by the NPRC upon the advice of the National Advisory Council led by Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to help justify a change of government in 1992 only to help topple that same government in January of 1996 as the IMF FUNDS MADE THE NPRC SEEM LIKE REDEEMERS TO THE DEPRESSED MASSES.

The reason for all this intrigue is for Sierra Leoneans to see how deceptive tactics are always used because those they entrust power to don’t use it in the national interest, and also for them to realize that for as long as everything is centralized the few educated will always misuse and abuse the majority.

Decentralization will cure this ailment as every district will employ its own sons and daughters to run its affairs within the national laws and policies.

Also a decentralized Sierra Leone will have much less political tension as every party will receive support from the quality and performance of its members in the various districts. This will also allow for a national policy such as electing a national assembly from politicians that have served in district assemblies and are of good standing and performance within their districts. This automatically will rule out the issue of rigged national elections as the proportional representation system will be used and a politician in Kambia has no business to campaign for someone in Kailahun.The Kailahun people will judge who they feel is best for them and send him to the national assembly. It is the opposite of this situation that obtains in the present setup.

Also on the issue of presidency, anyone acceding to that office will definitely have to have a national clout not any Jack or Jill that has been overseas (GOD KNOWS WHAT SOME OF THESE HAVE BEEN DOING OVERSEAS) or who "knows book"; a potential politician’s "book" will be measured by his use of that book to help develop his homeland (especially those in high international offices) before he can be given a ticket into politics.

Instead he should have served, first in a district assembly and next in the national assembly for at least one term. Within that period he should have demonstrated a national orientation and built a political base nationwide and not ride on a free party ticket as is the case now.

This will definitely stop the present hustle and bustle for the leadership of the country like is seen now between the various candidates and their cronies. It will also mean that anyone that shall wish to contest the presidency shall have prove his mettle by serving first in a district assembly and shall have proven his ability to work in the interest of the people he governs. Also he shall have served in the national assembly and likewise proven his ability to think and work beyond his district’s interest.

An unseen but very good side to this kind of scenario is that it will minimize if not stop the unholy bond of parliament with the executive in the sense that, in tune with the present constitutional provisions, the executive will be of little influence on the parliament as election to this body shall be free of influence of one single political party.

District votes will take precedence over a national vote and each district shall elect those they trust and who had served their interest before and these will not easily sell their districts’ interest for selfish interest.

To be continued.

Photo: The author.