I was chatting on the phone with a fellow journalist in Freetown the other day and he was telling me about how Sierra Leone has changed in many ways. He proudly stated, for instance, that the country’s security apparatus is now a far cry from what I left behind in the late 90s.
He said if the then President Ahmad or Ahmed (take your pick) Tejan Kabba or Kabbah (choose one) had paid much attention to security as President Koroma is now doing, many people would not have lost their lives and property at such a massive scale in the country. Kabbah or Kabba was warned many times on the security situation at the time by the media and even by his Deputy Defence Minister, to no avail. Instead at one point he went on a spree, jailing journalists “fiti fata” and ignoring and isolating the late Sam Hinga Norman his Deputy Defence Minister.
He was eventually overthrown and what did he do? He made his way to Guinea from where he issued daily threats directed at anybody that criticized him. As a politician, the man was a disaster.
President Ernest Bai Koroma on the other hand, came with a vigilant eye on security although he seldom talks about it. I used to worry about the security situation in the country but that is no longer the case. My journalist friend said the current government and our international friends have learned some lessons from the past and security is now at the top of the list because without peace and security nothing would work in any country. Moreover, security is not just about the President and his government but about every Sierra Leonean and foreigner living in the country. It’s also about prosperity and progress.
Today, security in Sierra Leone is not only closely monitored by the government but also by ECOWAS, the AU, the UN and Western countries who have spent a huge amount of money and invested so much in the country. They know that without security all that money will go down the drain. So it’s a collective duty, a good example of globalization.
We should therefore be grateful and thankful for having a President who pays close attention to security, working quietly without fanfare. That is a mark of good leadership.