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Sierra Leone News: Successive regimes have failed Sierra Leone – IGR

The Executive Director of the Institute of Governance Reform (IGR) said, Sierra Leone’s new President, Julius Maada Bio, has assumed a five-year mandate and is now transitioning from running an election campaign to running a government. Individuals and businesses, have been jockeying for his attention since he took the oath of office. President Bio has an uphill task ahead of him. The country’s economy is in the dumps. The country is at the bottom of the poverty index. Institutions are weak. Corruption is high. Unemployment is at 85%.
Foreign influence in state governance is high. Concerns have been raised about China’s overly close relationship with the Koroma administration. China and Sierra Leone had deals worth over $8 billion USD in extractives, infrastructure and agriculture from 2013.
Lavali furthered that the decisions the new President takes in these formative days and weeks will have far reaching implications for the success of his administration. “It is for this reason that IGR prepared this quick retrospective look at the actions Bio’s predecessor, Ernest Koroma.
Trust in the political class is at an all-time low. Already a number of Bio-pessimists have advanced the belief that the next five years is simply a turn for a new set of elites to steal state money. ”They believe that not only will he renege on his promise to openly declare his assets in the first 100 days, but that he will be unable to shake the culture of corruption and impunity that many associate with the State. Understanding and learning from the decisions, and state management under Koroma is the subject of IGR’s paper, as well as providing policy suggestions for re-building trust in state institutions and ensuring that with a new administration, a new dawn of development will take place in Sierra Leone,” Lavali confirmed. The lessons contained in the IGR brief are particularly important for a government whose assumption to power is based on a narrow lead (3.6%).
Femi Cole, former flag-bearer for the Unity Party, said, “It seems like it’s the same old people coming in to abuse the people of Sierra Leone. It’s a system that is broken and run by cronies of politicians, too many sycophants and hangers-on. It seems like the new administration is going to continue this system of ‘old wine in new bottles’.” She said, she was disgusted by the lack of women appointed in the new administration so far. She hopes for a more inclusive government with more women.
Lavalie also explained about the politics of consumption and it’s far reaching implications. Scholars have explained why the political elite choose to distribute private goods such as financial bribes, cheap alcohol, drugs and food to voters instead of providing public goods such as access to quality health and education. “It is often easier for voters to identify and reward politicians who provide direct short term benefits than longer term interest of society.
Modu Hanciles, a senior citizen, said, “The new government has to be on their toes. Let’s give the government a chance.”
“Bio’s new administration faces a dilemma of making two strategic choices; to either run an effective administration that is committed to achieving results in human development and wealth creation for all, or join the many leaders of failed states in enriching a new set of elites at the expense of many,” Lavalie added.
The Institute of Governance Reform, civil society activist said, Sierra Leone’s continued position at the bottom of many human development indexes is a reflection of the inability of successive governments to invest in improving public goods such as increasing access to clean water, adequate sanitation, healthcare, transportation and quality education as well as an independent judicial system. Instead, elites have generally pursued policies that enrich the political class while millions of voters, including their supporters wallow in poverty. Power was centralized with decision-making concentrated in the hands of the few, and this has been a chief criticism of the two administrations since the end of the war.
President Bio’s campaign manifesto, the New Direction, has set out a very ambitious plan to address lawlessness, improve access to education and social services, and increase access to infrastructure and reliable energy, a solid foundation towards, Sierra Leone becoming a developed nation. AC/14/4/1
By Ade Campbell
Monday April 16, 2018.

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