By Rev. Wilfred Leeroy Kabs-Kanu , Editor -In-Chief
Even if it is true that certain indices of life in Sierra Leone are much better than what they were under the All People’s Congress ( APC ) rule, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, who bade farewell to the nation in parliament this week, will never escape the harsh judgements of history.
Regardless of the puerile effusions of those who gained tremendous pecuniary and other illegal advantages under him, Kabbah was a failure and Sierra Leoneans have nothing much to remember him for, except that he was an addition to their never-ending and multifarious woes.
Kanbbah was the President who was given about everything to kickstart the nation back to its pre-and -immediate post -Independence glories, but the man just refused to spark. People talk glibly when they catalogue what President Siaka Stevens and General Saidu Momoh did not achieve .They have to realize that the resources provided President Kabbah were far in excess of what was available for Stevens or Momoh. President Siaka Stevens ruled at a time when the international community and stakeholders were not all that focussed on Sierra Leone. Though we received loans and aid from friendly nations, our mother country , Britain, and stakeholders did not adopt Sierra Leone as a Special Baby that needed to be thoroughly financed and propped , as was done during the Kabbah reign.
Infact, the British Department For International Development once made a public release in which it implied that there was no reason anymore for Sierra Leone to continue to wallow in backwardness because she was receiving sufficient financial aid from Britain. Some goodwill nations and Non-Governmental organizatioms poured money into the country, but does Kabbah have anything to show for all these financial windfalls ? This newspaper is a constant critic of President Siaka Stevens, but in all fairness to the late man, though he did not receive the financial windfalls Kabbah enjoyed in his time, most of the infrastructural developments in Sierra Leone today were constructed during the Siaka Stevens/”Agba Satani” rule.
In today’s much technologically advanced era which has reduced the world into a global village, one does not need to be physically in any location anymore to write about that place. We are in the United States in body, but thanks to technology, we are also in Sierra Leone and see the state of the country through documentaries , films and other multi-media facilities .Also, technology has laid the world so bare before our eyes that it is even possible for somebody in the U.S. to see the state of a country better than somebody in that nation who does not even have electricity to listen to the radio, view TV or surf the web. Is it not why the internet press in the U.S. outdo newspapers published inside the country for scoops and speedy dissemination of information ? When Solomon Berewa won the SLPP nomination in Makeni two years ago and when the APC Organizing Secretary Foday Kalokoh died in a road accident recently , COCORIOKO flashed the stories and pictures online before even people heard the news in Freetown, the capital , not to mention the remote areas where communication is poor.
Therefore, those who want to rationalize the SLPP government’s failure by contending that the government’s critics are in the U.S and know nothing about what is going on in the country should tell their stories to the baboons in the Gola Forest. If COCORIOKO wants the hair in Kabbah’s nose, we CAN get it while we are right here in the U.S. THIS IS HOW MUCH PRESENCE WE HAVE IN SIERRA LEONE.
There is no way anybody can rationalize President Kabbah’s failures. All the evidence is right under our noses. The country is in a state of complete disrepair and dilapedation. Private and government buildings are falling apart due to lack of care.Our roads have gone from bad to death traps. All the fine network of well-paved roads that once made travelling to the interior so pleasurable have depreciated to the point that they are mere potholes where drivers perform delicate balancing acts with their steerings. The only few good roads were constructed either by the APC or the NPRC junta.
Education has depreciated more under Kabbah’s government than in previous administrations. In the Siaka Stevens era, those priviledged to attend the nation’s university and colleges lived in a virtual paradise. Students were fully supported by government scholarships and they enjoyed excellent dining and lodging facilities. Today, it is a nightmare to be a university student in Sierra Leone—No scholarships or stipends .The students have to provide their own catering services and dorms are without light and water. For a country that received so much aid from Britain, stakeholders and the international community, this is unacceptable. Kabbah should have done better. In just a few years of rule, the NPRC did better for Sierra Leone than Kabbah’s ten-year tenure.
Kabbah is leaving Sierra Leone in pitch darkness .There is no electricity or water .Are those trying to rationalize Kabbah’s failures not ashamed that while we continue to be without light and water, neighbouring Liberia, in just one-and-the-half years of civil government , has electricity in the city and the government has gone far with plans to restore light in the hinterland ?
It is even the most silly distortion of facts for one to argue that what is being written against Kabbah today could not have been written against other leaders in the past. The press freedom in Sierra Leone today is not of Kabbah’s making. It is being imposed on him by the stakeholders who have made the promotion of democratic institutions a pre-condition for continued international aid. If Siaka Stevens and Momoh had lived in this era, they could have accepted freedom of the press. They would not have had any choice. The leaders who were intolerant to press freedom lived in an epoch when the international community did not care what happened in countries.
Kabbah promised food security , but today every other Sierra Leonean goes to bed hungry. Food is so costly, families cannot afford even a square meal a day. Making the family pot boil involves so much “dregging” and hurstling .I agtree that the Siaka Stevens APC government initiated this suffering , but what did Kabbah do to alleviate the situation ? Life is worse in Sierra Leone than it was during the Stevens era.
Kabbah promised to build a bridge from Freetown to Lungi to facilitate easier and faster travel to the nation’s only international airport , but not only did he fail but his government could not even provide ferries. In the past, at least passengers made it safely and consumately to and from Lungi but today, not only is the journey so dangerous , with one malfunctioning ferry, but a once one hour trip takes more than the 16 hours one spends in aircrafts to get to Sierra Leone from the U.S. IT IS A SHAME .
As for the way corruption worsened under Kabbah, the least said, the better. Sierra Leone is more corrupt today than it ever was during the Siaka Stevens era. Siaka Stevens was the founding father of corruption in Sierra Leone but the Kabbah government perfected what Shaki started.
How can History judge President Kabbah kindly with all these failures ? Kabbah, unfortunately, only ended up as another statistics in Sierra Leone’s unending run of disasterous leaderships.
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