On the re-opening of SLPP Office … “We would never encourage violence” John Benjamin...

Sierra Leone News: Let’s stick together and move forward

True to their word, the All People’s Congress (APC) did not take part in the recently conducted council elections in Ward 257, Port Loko District. The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) candidate won, leaving the Unity Party (UP) in second place by only eight votes. What is really worrying is the magnitude of rancour, hateful diatribes and calumnies currently polluting our political environment. This can be ominous for a country that should be in a hurry to catch up with other poor, developing countries. Those of us who remember the “firsts” we achieved in West Africa, before and immediately after independence, will bow our head in shame. Why? Because while others have been progressing… we have been systematically taking one step forward and three steps backwards. When foreigners visit Sierra Leone and praise us for our hospitality, one smells surreptitious irony. I say so because we, as Sierra Leoneans, need per force to love ourselves first; you cannot give what you do not have. Arguably, we are playing with some magic to upturn this. In the east end of Freetown, which is still Freetown Urban but with hardly any urban amenities, there is a radio station called Tumac Radio 89.3 FM owned by Mohamed Tunde McCarthy. Recently, the Minister of Information and Communication, Mohamed Rado Swaray, was a guest on the program Report Card. The Minister was asked about Government progress so far. The program was very good as a lot of questions were asked and addressed. In particular, the issue of the dreaded Toll Road and doing business with the Chinese was of high interest. The Toll Road issue, according to the Minister, will be reviewed and a meeting is scheduled for 25 April 2019. On the issue of the Chinese, the Minister said that what the current government was against was the nature of the agreement, whether it was in the interest of the country and that was why Mamamah Airport Project was squashed. We hope the radio will bring more state actors to the radio to interact with the public. For 58 years we have not succeeded in meeting most of our political objectives. Even when the current government is determined to push the country to higher heights, there are scores of Sierra Leoneans who fail to do in-depth analysis but rather choose to make sweeping statements because of partisan lineages. For the most part, we have been a mediocre nation. Do we have to continue to be satisfied with mediocrity and blame everything on poverty? No, I disagree! We are not even poor; we have all it takes to move us up if those behind the steering wheel are ready for it. Maybe you need to know why we blame politicians when things go wrong. Why not, when so much power is placed in their hands and they virtually take overall decisions that affect our livelihoods. Just see what appropriate political will can do. When the Government put its weight behind the ACC, you have seen the unprecedented strides that Commission is making. When the previous Government told us that Sierra Leone was going to be turned into a works yard; roads were being constructed in many places. Even Kennedy Street, tucked in the forsaken eastern part of Freetown got some attention.  One little worry about my country: we don’t hear the term “Senior Citizens” anymore… and we can count our States-people on our five fingers. Are you wondering why Sierra Leone has a long way to go, to have real statesmen? The term politician has come to drag along many derisive connotations over the years and this has distanced it so much from the term Statesman. Statesmen take important role in the management of state affairs. They are disinterested political leaders. If someone is statesmanlike, that means he or she is gifted with, and shows wisdom and a broad-minded outlook in public affairs. The statesman rides the moral high horse as they say. When we look around today, how many of them do we have? How many times do not our people in authority take very erroneous decisions that adversely impinge on our daily lives? Our Constitution says, in order to meet our motto as a nation, we need to promote national integration and unity and discourage discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, circumstances of birth, sex, religion, ethnic or linguistic association or ties. Wow – this is very interesting. It is so well stated. I always say that when it comes to the relevant laws, we have them but what is the use of laws if they are not followed. Check the many laws that have been made over the years without even having the moral obligation to disseminate them to the populace. Why are we so cosmetic and satisfied with mere mediocrity? We will never grow as a nation if we do not start acting outside the box. For us to get what we have never had, we need to do what we have never done before. This is why the current twin fierce war against corruption is most welcome. When we say, Unity is strength; do we really work to achieve it? People are more prone to think individually because they don’t trust the next person. How do we ever really unite when we drink politics, sleep politics, marry politics and work politics and corruptly screw up politics? The Constitution stipulates that for the purpose of promoting national integration and unity, the state has to do certain things. These include the provision of adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout Sierra Leone. You might say this is very ambitious, but for a comparatively small country like Sierra Leone with all the many natural resources, this is definitely doable. The other thing is that the State should secure full rights of residence for every citizen in all parts of the State. Here one reminds herself of the obnoxious laws on land ownership disparities between the Freetown area and the regions, and also between the regions. All these should be made at par. Unity cannot blossom where citizens have limitations in residing in certain parts of the country. One thing that is promoting disunity are the so-called secret or sacred societies, which are promoted in different parts of the country. In this twenty-first century, I think all the cultural and traditional trappings that do not keep us together as a nation, should be abandoned. The Constitution talks about the State’s obligation to protect and defend the liberty of the individual, enforce the rule of law and ensure the efficient functioning of government services. It’s disgusting to know about the recklessness with which some State functionaries misuse resources and abuse their powers with outlandish impunity. This is evident of the revelations of the on going Commissions of Inquiry and the ACC hearings. Even the foot citizen thinks properties belonging to the State should be misused as if the State was an isolated dump site.  Another state obligation is to take all steps to eradicate all corrupt practices. It is always easy to blame corruption on poverty, but again how about those affluent compatriots who indulge in it. Do you want to call it greed or what? Well, by the grace of God, this government is trying hard to make corruption unattractive. Government business is slowed down so much because of corruption, that people are left frustrated. To turn to the legal system for justice also is like being between the rock and the hard place. Now, who do you turn to? The Magistrate Courts are there, the lawyers are there… but where is the justice? Ponder on this! When we instil discipline in all spheres of life, poverty and other vices will quickly recede and our pride and dignity as a nation will return. Like Mandela once said, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

BS/29/4/19

By Beny Sam

Tuesday April 30, 2019.

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