By KABS KANU :
During President Ernest Koroma’s visit to the U.S. last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with the Head of State and have a detailed discussion with him on many important issues , including the the Ebola virus, his trip, the state of the nation since the dismissal of former Vice-President Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana , the health of his All People’s Congress ( APC ) party, and the way forward in Sierra Leone for the remainder of his term .
President Koroma gave me a mouthful of information, including grandiose plans for the nation , in continuation of his Agenda For Prosperity. Listening to the President seamlessly detail all he plans for Sierra Leone during the remaining three years of his tenure I was left with the impression that President Koroma is still targeting a grandstand finish in Sierra Leone . His governance edge and his focus have not been obliterated in any way by the Ebola outbreak and the rudeness being expatiated against him by his opponents on the social media. President Koroma still believes that he has a grandiose mission for Sierra Leone and his determination is to complete it with flourish before he leaves office.
I will start serializing what President Ernest Koroma highlighted to me as his abiding passion for the nation during the remainder of his tenure which ends in 2018, not in chronological manner but in the order of the importance of the topics.
PRESIDENT KOROMA WAS NOT MOVED BY THE DEMONSTRATIONS
But before I do, let me waste no time to make it clear that if anybody is under the illusion that President Koroma was fazed by the demonstrations staged by the self-styled Concerned Sierra Leoneans at the White House Park and the World Bank in Washington DC, that person has really not understood the real President Ernest Bai Koroma. After we all returned to the hotel from the World Bank, the President had a broad smile on his face as he enjoyed many hearty moments with members of his delegation who gathered around him at the expansive suite of the hotel where he had been receiving guests. During the sumptuous lunch that followed , the President cracked jokes with his team about his trips, college life, demonstrations and other social and political matters. He was in very good mood as he had been throughout his trip. At no time did he say anything negative or menacing about the demonstrations . He believed that demonstrations express the healthy state of the multi-party democracy and freedom of expression in the nation. He said that the Sam Sumana issue was now in the hands of the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, and everybody should wait for the verdict.
PRESIDENT KOROMA RULES OUT POSSIBILITY OF A THIRD TERM
One of the most important things President Koroma told me during the interview was that it was never true that he was seeking a third term. The President unequivocally ruled out any possibility of him succeeding himself after his term expires in 2018. There is no need for a third term for him, the President emphasized. The constitution stipulates that all Presidents should serve only two terms and he is going to abide by it.
Asked what would happen if the people of Sierra Leone came out in full force to stage demonstrations, rallies and processions to ask him to stay because of the socio-economic and political developments he has made in the country, President Koroma smiled infectiously and replied : “The people cannot force me to reconsider . After 2018 , my tenure ends and I will give place to another person. What is very important to me is my legacy. I am working towards a legacy that will endure and stand the test of time and that is the most important thing to me . ”
A man of humour, President Koroma then joked ” You would have no new idea left to offer. You would have burned yourself out. This is not an easy job. Do you think I will be able to have the energy to continue ? ”
President Koroma however vowed to leave a strong and flourishing nation due to the Agenda For Prosperity.
PRESIDENT KOROMA HAS A MASSIVE FOUR-PRONG NATIONAL RECOVERY PLAN TO RESTORE SIERRA LEONE BACK TO NORMALCY
Another very important matter that President Koroma addressed during the interview was the way forward for Sierra Leone after Ebola. Dr. Koroma is not only determined to continue to provide proactive leadership until Ebola is completely defeated. The President outlined a four-prong national recovery plan he promises to pursue with determination and diligence to put Sierra Leone back on the track to the fulfillment of the Agenda For Prosperity .
- Re-opening of the schools, ensuring that every child returns to school and training and recruitment of more teachers
- Rebuilding the national health care system and training of more doctors , nurses and health personnel to a level where the system would have the capacity to handle any more crisis
- Providing full support to social protection programs to aid Ebola survivors and family of those killed by the disease
- Reviving the economy and the business climate and getting the nation back on a sound footing.
SEE PART 2 FOR THE FULL DETAILS OF PRESIDENT KOROMA’S FOUR-PRONG MASTER PLAN FOR SIERRA LEONE