Usu Boie: Man of the People

19 May 2014 at 05:18 | 7355 views

By Alpha Rashid Jalloh, Freetown.

For a long time I have not seen Usu Boie or have a chance to talk to him but
what triggered my thoughts towards him was when one day I witnessed an
argument amongst Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) supporters , one of whom categorically said that the mistake they made in losing Usu Boie from the SLPP would not be repeated in the case of Yumkella.

Yumkella , a UN executive, has thrown his hat into the political ring. He is expected to slug it out with former junta man Julius Maada Bio and others for the SLPP leadership in the next convention. Usu Boie on the other hand gunned for the party leadership in 2012 with Maada Bio but had to call it quits after the party’s convention because he sensed that some big guns and the average minds were exhibiting ethnocentrism. He was second in the poll when the
convention was held but ended crossing over to the APC which his family
supported in the days of Siaka Stevens. I do not know his father Pa Boie but my
family at Jenkins Street in Freetown was close to him and had always described
him as one of the few godly persons of his time.

For sometime now there had been speculations that Usu Boie would throw his hat into the leadership circle of the APC and it sparked debates. Some called him a stranger others say he was a man who came back home,especially those who knew his family background. Some say he is not an orator
so he does not fit into the leadership circle.

One day I met a group of youths arguing about him ad some proffering the same views aove about him. I pointed out to them that Pa Kabbah was not an orator but he ended being a good leader and Ernest Koroma was a man who before he became leader of the APC was being described as too quiet and therefore would not make a good leader. This is a country where people assess a leader based on oratory and friskiness. Those days are gone, they were the days of Sekou Toure or Siaka Stevens when it was not what people called development that was development but what you (the leader) called development that was good for them. It was for the good of the
people that you use allegories, images, myths and rhapsodies to instill in them an ant -like disposition so that they would follow you where ever you want them, because it is only you the leader that knows what is good for them.

I remember when I was deputy editor of Concord Times the argument as to what I actually saw in Ernest that made me feel that he was the competent man to lead APC had always arisen. He was not seen as the popular type or the man whose rhapsody can captivate people. But I had always argued that those were elusive yardsticks to evaluate or judge a person. And today look at him, he is a man who everybody wants to hear to the extent that the youths have declared him World’s Best. So, if you are to judge Usu Boie based on oratory you would be taking a deceptive path in your analysis.

I have my own personal views about this man based on realism. I have conducted investigations about him and tried to assess his leadership qualities. I am a man who is very critically minded to the extent that people use it to close
doors on me. But like what Bob Marley says, “We are what we are. That’s the way life is going to be “. I see leadership qualities in Boie just as I saw in other people that I predicted that they would be leaders and it came to pass.

Leadership is not just about oratory, it is about pragmatism and condescending yourself to the level of the average man so as to be au fait with the realities of the society. If a leader can weigh the psychological needs of the average man and put them first before others, then he would be sure to have the rest of mankind following him. A leader should not also be stingy in a society like ours where a man’s generosity is the yardstick the average man uses to judge his fitness for leadership. To him compassion should be the first virtue that a leader should possess. A leader with compassion is perceived as a source of hope for the average man, but the man who tells you about development theories only is not likely to be appreciated because in real life situations when development
takes place the average man cannot utilize it because of his materialistic nature.

The hospital would be standing close to him but he would not benefit from it because he cannot afford to make use of its services, he cannot send his children to school because of being penniless or make use of government buses when to get two thousand Leones a day is a big task. He would find it difficult to appreciate your development. The realistic disposition to such issues relating to
development is what I have found in Usu Boie, that is, the manifestation
that he is not only a man with the virtue of compassion but pragmatically
believes that economic development should go pari pasu with human development.

One cannot go without the other otherwise you are creating a phantasmagoric
situation in which you would wake up one morning and see your subjects
abandoning you for another potential leader. When the box gives its verdict you
are gone. There are certain things I look out for when assessing a man in politics. First, your word and promises must be certain. It is characteristic of African politicians in general and Sierra Leoneans in particular to be Machiavellian and believe in the medicinal lie theory; telling lies because when they tell lies there must be someone to believe them. Usu, on the other hand, would tell you that what you expect from him is not possible, if it is not, the average man would interpret it differently because he has been used to hear those who raise his hopes.

Secondly, Usu believes in identifying talents and enabling them to be placed within the system and that is what makes the US, UK and all the big countries better than Africa today. We have been used to seeing situations in which any kweh kweh man could be placed in any office and people would cynically say, “For learn book noh to hin na di tin”. If that is so, then what is the essence of being educated? What is the essence of having brilliant people in society who ended being outcasts while the efulehfu occupy public positions and mind you efulehfus are very belligerent towards talented people.

Thirdly, a good leader needs to have some taste of public administration which
Usu has done for donkey years in the Ministry of Mines now known as
Ministry of Mineral Resources. Fourthly, a leader should be innovative and not
just rely on subordinates who may be deceptive. My findings in the Ministry of
Trade where Usu is the current Minister has reveled so many things which are
outside this discourse but I would find time to make an analysis on them.

And finally we come again to compassion. In a poverty- stricken country like
Sierra Leone, the leader needs to stretch his hand a bit because our social set
up and privileges provided by government could not be compared to the West. So, the leader has to fill the gap by helping the poor and needy. A visit to Usu
Boie’s office would make you have a first hand knowledge of what sort of a man
he is. You see all sorts of people with diverse problems including traders
patiently waiting to see him to unravel their problems. And fortunately he is
always ready and willing to listen to every one and would straight away tell you
if it was not possible.

These facts are enough to tell you that Usu is a man of the people. But where
does he stand in the current political fray? He does not show interest in
anything except his official work. Observers say it is time to earmark him for
the future. I would not praise Usu for now but I would doff my hat to him.

Photo: Sierra Leone Trade Minister Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara.