By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop) :
When Lesser Fever was raging and claiming the lives of many Sierra Leoneans in Kenema District, during the rule of ex-President Tejan Kabba(h) and his Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), there were never calls for the then President to pay visits to Lesser Fever areas. When the eleven years war was going on, there were never calls for Tejan Kabba(h) to visit Kailahun township itself!
But now with the Ebola virus, SLPP apologists are shouting from atop the Sam Bangura building for President Ernest Bai Koroma to cancel his August visit to the United States of America and visit the epicentres of the Ebola virus. What many of those who are now calling for the President to visit the Ebola areas are feigning ignorance of is the principle of “Delegated Responsibility” in governance.
The President does not need to put himself in harm’s way to show how committed he is to the fight against the Ebola virus. President Koroma does not need to visit Ebola patients and hug them or shake their hands just to show them that he cares for their plights. What is expected of him (which is what he has been indefatigably doing since the outbreak to date) is to marshal resources, both financial and human, at the disposal of the state in the fight against the Ebola virus.
That brings me to the issue of “Delegated Responsibility” in governance. Since the outbreak of the Ebola virus, the Minister of Health Miatta Kargbo, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Brima Kargbo and other medical officials have been visiting Kailahun and Kenema Districts. They have been coordinating with stakeholders and Civil Society Organizations in the fight against the Ebola virus. And now the newly sworn-in Resident Minister East, Maya Kaikai, is now at the epicentre of the Ebola virus with the mandate from President Koroma to back up and prop-up the Ebola Response Team in the eastern parts of the country.
Added to that (or should I rightly write “those”?) above, President Ernest Bai Koroma has shown the highest degree of transparency and accountability in the manner in which donations are handled. Monies and items donated towards the anti-Ebola cause are not done in camera but publicly. And such donations have been going towards the fight against the Ebola virus. In fact, the local Awoko newspaper has been tabulating the financial contributions in the spirit of both transparency and giving the public the right to know how much has been pumped into the Ebola fight. And to ice that accountability cake further, many CSOs have been tasked and financed to engage in nationwide sensitization campaigns, especially in the Ebola areas.
So what else can President Ernest Bai Koroma do to show that he cares and is in sympathy with Ebola victims and their loved ones? Asking the President to visit Ebola areas is like Nigerians asking their President, Goodluck Jonathan, to visit Boko Haram’s headquarters alone just to prove to the parents of the abducted Chibok girls that he really cares about their plights. Or it is like asking the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, to visit the current theatre of war between Israel and Palestine alone and announced!
Yes, indeed, Freedom of Expression is a right which nobody or any government has the right to curtail in a democracy like ours. But people, in exercising that right, should do so in a reasonable, sensible and logical manner. It doesn’t follow that because every Sierra Leonean is endowed with an anus means sane people should strip and squat at the PZ area, during rush hours, to answer to nature’s call!