President Koroma’s unshakable laurels

By John Baimba Sesay-China :
Imagine, a convict taken to the gibbet, with the executioner standing
just next him, and he (convict) is told to find a way out. You know
what that means. Is this not the case of a cross section of opposition
operatives?  A dying man searches for anything, everything available
to survive.Removed from governance some seven years ago, it is just normal to
image how they may be trying to negatively portray the workings and
successes of the Government in the most untruthful manner. For them,
since President Koroma and his Government were elected, nothing is
happening.

PRESIDENTKOROMA THE CHIEF (581 x 600)

 

A new trend has been manufactured; i.e., taking their mendacious
propaganda on cyber space, though with indications of a broken house
from within.  Come to think of it, it would appear, a fractured
opposition trying to seek the attention of the populace, in the midst
of tremendous and tangible developments, spearheaded by the current
administration of President Koroma.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know, in a democracy, all stakeholders have a
critical role to play. These include, but not limited to civil society
groups as well as political parties. In fact, opposition parties are
expected to play a constructive role by  not just criticizing, or out
rightly undermining Government’s work, but proffering better
alternatives or suggestions to challenging issues.

Hard facts! President Koroma inherited a literally broken nation. From
its economy, to infrastructure, fight against corruption to youth
unemployment, Sierra Leone was on the brinks. Since 2007, there has
been the herculean task of meeting a plethora of challenges, the ones
listed above not being least. Elected on a platform of ‘Change’, the
Government was committed to meeting the goals outlined in the ‘Change’
trajectory.

Take agriculture for instance. By 2007, the state of agriculture was
one requiring instantaneous consideration, especially for a country
where the sector accounts for  a country  for  over 45% of  her  Gross
Domestic Product; employing  over two-thirds of the population, plus,
generating  about a quarter of the export income.

There also, was a clear paradoxical situation. Food security was  the
then Government’s  driving mantra,  given a pledge made by former
President Tejan Kabba(h) on 19th May, 2002 “to work even harder to
ensure that by 2007 no Sierra Leonean goes to bed hungry.” In a rather
ridiculous and contradictory position, the budgetary allocation to the
sector was at a paltry 1.6%. That itself, was unthinkable.

President Koroma and his Government came and mapped out a clear vision
of working towards making the sector the ‘engine’ for socio-economic
growth and development. This was through the commercialization of
agriculture and the promotion of the private sector. As a result, the
sector has today continued to make strides in meeting present day
needs of our people.

There was the prioritization of the Smallholder Commercialization
Programme (SCP) as an investment plan aimed at kick-starting the
National Sustainable Agricultural Development Programme (NSADP).
Government also ensured an increased budgetary allocation to the
sector from a derisory 1.6% in 2007 to over 10%. Also, Government, as
part of its effort to improve farmers’ access to financial services,
constructed and equipped additional Financial Services Associations
(FSAs or Village Banks) across the country.

The health sector saw some new initiatives, with the introduction of
the Free Health Care Initiative for pregnant women, lactating mothers
and children under the age five in April of 2010, amongst other
measures by Government, aimed at improving the sector.

There also has been the active participation of the private sector in
the transformation process of the country. By 2010, President Koroma
underscored that his Government was “underpinning the success of our
Agenda for Change through strong partnerships with the private
sector”. [President Koroma, WAICA Conference Address, November 2010]

Government then ensured, private sector development was placed at the
centre of the country’s transformation drive. What followed was the
implementation of a robust private sector participation in the
country’s economy. This then resulted in; the formulation of National
Private Sector Development Strategy; development of a National Export
Strategy; privatization of the Freetown Port aimed at realizing its
modernization, ensure an improved turn-round in terms of ships, and
decreases in freight and insurance costs; and the establishment of a
Public Private Partnership Unit in the office of the President to
assist MDAs in structuring and negotiating agreements.

Infrastructure is another key governance success of this government. A
developed infrastructure helps in ensuring economic growth. Good roads
lead to improved agricultural productivity. So far, Sierra Leone is on
track on this.

Examples abound on what Government has done in fixing the country’s
infrastructure, social infrastructure included, too;

Reconstruction work on the Lumley-Tokeh Road (21Km)  gone miles,  with
the Freetown-Conakry Highway (86Km), consisting of the Rogbere –
Pamlap road (78km), Pamlap – Faremoryah road (8km)  reconstructed with
a new common border post between Sierra Leone and Guinea, at Pamlap.
There also was the reconstruction of the Lungi – Port Loko Road (62Km)
and 30 Km of feeder roads in the Lungi township. This is added to the
recently commissioned Regent-Grafton Road, coupled with ongoing
mobilization of resources for the construction of the Mamamah Airport,
expected to commence soon.

The democratic credentials of the Government and President are as
outstanding as the President’s desire to see Sierra Leone on top of
the apex of development. His scores, legacies and achievements shall
form the bases upon which a fresh mandate will be sought from Sierra
Leoneans by the governing party in 2018. His commitment towards
leaving a working decentralization process is laudable and should be
commended.

However, we cannot overemphasize the fact, that as a nation, we have
not reached our desired target. There still are challenges.  This, the
President knows. Thus, in his blueprint for national development, the
‘Agenda for Prosperity’, he  recognized these challenges, and as such
had  designed  the AfP ” for Sierra Leone to overcome challenges to
its economic development from (a) the relatively undiversified nature
of the economy, with high unemployment; (b) a recent rate of economic
growth which is too low to have the desired impact on poverty; (c)
potential external shocks such as inflationary pressures from
international food and fuel prices; (d) potential fluctuations in
international prices of commodity exports; (e) the possibility of
“Dutch Disease”, that is distortion to the economy caused by an
appreciating exchange rate due to earnings from commodity exports; (f)
high domestic debt; and (g) low domestic revenues.”

A clear vision outlined by the President, which is ,taking the country
to a middle-income country by 2035, thereby  becoming a nation that
“would have gender equality, a well-educated, healthy population, good
governance and rule of law, well-developed infrastructure,
macroeconomic stability, with private-sector, export-led growth
generating wide employment opportunities; there would be good
environmental protection, and responsible natural resource
exploitation”

These countless gains notwithstanding, there are a few who just think,
nothing is happening in Sierra Leone. This, they doing for want of
political scores, but it is a gimmick that won’t work.  Sierra
Leoneans are not shaken; they are not moved with whatever propaganda
is dished out. They know who has demonstrated a clear sense of
sincerity and commitment to work for the good of the country
(President Koroma). Let the preposterous propaganda continue, if that
is what can make some have a rest. But the Government is desirous to
meet the expectations of the people

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