By Michael Baimba Ojuku Sesay
In this little piece of mine, written in my little corner, I know many sections of the ruling government’s supporters and sympathizers may not be happy with me, especially when being blinded with party colour. For this section of the Sierra Leonean society, your stands against the government, even if it is in the best interest of the country, they considered it unpatriotic. You are only considered a patriot if you dance with them, be it good or bad.
Back to my topic. The novel, Covid-19 is no more a hoax, as many were initially claiming, including the president of the United State of America, Donald Trump. As for some, it was just a flu. These imaginary thoughts however faded away when reality started sinking in. While the virus was roaming around the globe, the president and his cabal gave Sierra Leoneans hopes and assured them of their preparedness against the virus. This is especially so, when the world was looking at Sierra Leone for transfer of knowledge because of its success in its fight against the brother of Coronavirus, the Ebola Epidemic that ravaged the country in 2014. Many, including some international organizations were calling on the government to include opposition members, since they have the knowledge of fighting Ebola. We all saw how that ungodly alliance ended. But that is a story for another day. At first, when the government made some announcements with some measures such as, suspension of flights to and from Sierra Leone and quarantining of incoming passengers to the country, we all applauded them. However, they lost focus, in my opinion, because of certain reasons as stated below:
Firstly, nepotism caused the entrance of the Coronavirus in Sierra Leone. Many Sierra Leoneans could agree with me that, during the suspension of flights to and from the country, the first lady travelled to the Gambia to launch a network called Fatu Network. How she returned to Sierra Leone remains clandestinely clandestine and was never put on quarantine for reasons best known to the powers that be. Additionally, the children of the first lady travelled to the country through Brussels Airlines but were never quarantine, including some relatives to the powers that be. For those that were quarantined, some were even smuggled out of the isolation centres either due to their financial strength or connections within the corridors of power. These people were left to mingled in the society either known or unknown to them being carriers of the virus. To me, this is either because of denial of the existence of the virus or otherwise such as, negligence, contributed greatly to the current coronavirus status in the country.
Secondly, the untruthfulness in reporting about the virus by Government officials. Since the virus entered the country through the above-mentioned cause, the government was economical with the truth in reporting about the virus to Sierra Leoneans. For Sierra Leoneans, the government was just daydreaming about the existence of the virus and can only claim of the existence of the virus in the country, if money is to come. In a country of more than 7 million population, there is only one ventilator machine to help in the fight against the virus. This ‘lack of preparedness’ by the government was and still one of the many reasons why majority of the Sierra Leonean populace is still in denial, even though they had enough time to prepare, because the country is one of the last to register a Coronavirus case. For instance, many Sierra Leoneans were arguing that, if it is true that the virus is real and will kill as many people as it is killing in many countries, the government should have at least bought some ventilators to help in the fight as a sign of preparedness, but they failed woefully. Instead, they were waiting for donor funds. To support their claim, funds started coming into the country shortly after the country reported its first Coronavirus case. Furthermore, the government only started reporting about death cases when Sierra Leoneans, both home and abroad started questioning and joking that, Sierra Leone’s health facilities are so good that, they can handle Covid-19 without death than the developed countries’, because we were yet to register a single death case after almost a month or so of reporting the first case and counting. To give the arguments of the populace more strengths, all Covid-19 related death cases reported by the government, are said to have tested positive after their deaths. Nonetheless, relatives of the deceased are claiming that their love ones did not die of the virus and the government is just fabricating stories to satisfy their partners.
Furthermore, the government’s unreadiness to sacrifice for its citizens. For many officials, especially in developed countries, being in position of trust is considered a privilege to serve citizens. This is, however, not the case for Sierra Leone and Africa at large. When Coronavirus started entering countries, even some developing countries like in Africa, started making some sacrifices. For instance, Ghana provided free electricity and water supply to its citizens for certain months due to Covid-19. This is to ease the suffering on their citizens. Ghana is just one among countries in Africa that made such sacrifices for their people. This is however, not for the Sierra Leone government. In fact, for some of us who have been following events closely in Sierra Leone, we all noticed the lack of water and constant electricity supply during the three days lockdown. Many of our compatriots had to go out of their homes in search of basic water which caused some form confrontation between them and security forces. All this is because the government was and still unwilling to make any sacrifice for its citizens.
If this government is to succeed in the fight against the Coronavirus in Sierra Leone, nepotism should not be the order of the day, untruthfulness in reporting about the virus, and the sacrifices for citizens should be looked at. It is therefore, in my candid opinion, the government investigate these factors and addressed them accordingly.