By WILFRED KANU jr
The time has come for all Sierra Leoneans to unite behind Dr. Samura Kamara. He is the only candidate who has the precise expertise, foresight, and imagination that the nation requires for continued human development. Every patriotic citizen should recognize the neglected achievements of the APC government. People should realize that out of all the candidates in this presidential race, despite their excellent intentions, four of them do not represent a tested organization. The fact remains that they are unproven. On the whole, Sierra Leoneans have no evidence that shows without a doubt that those smaller political parties have the maturity and foresight that is needed to succeed with the vision which they have set forward. Sierra Leone demands economic growth and human development. Dr. Samura Kamara’s party has exhibited a clear indication that it knows the process that must be followed to increase economic growth and human development.
To see the apparent realities describe in this article, one must observe with a trained eye. Even though the Sierra Leone People’s Party has a strong argument against the All People’s Congress, there is definite evidence that illustrates the APC’s history of gaining some headway when it comes to development. As Sierra Leoneans, we can argue that those APC accomplishments, such as free healthcare for women, several infrastructural constructions, restarting of the once obliterated electricity dams or building of tolled roads, (to name a few) come at a slow pace. Others may say they have not transformed the lives of the most impoverished Sierra Leoneans when the price for one bag of rice has risen to more than Le: 200, 000. And although the lack of access to clean drinking water or salaries paid on time justifies the accusation of corruption, no one can say that the APC’s effort to develop the country was entirely none existent. On the other hand, compared to the visible evidence of other performances, there is little to no manifestation of achievements, infrastructure or commercial enterprises that were put in place by the other parties. Suffice it to say the physical evidence shows that only the SLPP has come close when we make this comparison.
When we examine the accolades of each political party in this current presidential election, although accused of mismanagement, the APC stands out as the one that has done the most in every significant aspect of economic and human growth in Sierra Leone. Let’s look at some examples. Before President Koroma came to office, Sierra Leone was in ruins. The SLPP and former President Tejan Kabbah had ended the war, restored peace and achieved reconciliation. The divisions that fueled the civil genocide no longer prevailed. Nevertheless, Sierra Leone’s development was much worse. Education, healthcare, and employment were almost at a standstill. The business sector was in a stalemate, import and export were low and, transportation was more complicated than they are today. The list can go on. Who remembers the urgent pandemic of infant mortality? What about the critically high number of mothers who lost their lives while giving birth? Today, although more is needed, some mothers receive free healthcare in Sierra Leone. The point is that the Koroma administration inherited a nation that was practically rubble. Those who survived the circumstances can genuinely declare that Koroma’s tenure brought some level of solace to many chronic infirmities.
We must all acknowledge that Sierra Leone is going through a complicated process of recovery. This lengthy process began when the APC returned to office in 2007. No matter how many government changes we make, it will take more than twenty years of consistent improvements for the country to begin to see tangible signs of restoration. One of the most significant tasks for President Koroma’s administration was to rebrand the image of Sierra Leone after the free world labeled the country as the nation of “Blood Diamonds?” The APC recognized earlier on that Sierra Leone’s long and arduous process of recovery must begin with international acceptance. And the Koroma administration succeeded in re-branding the image of the nation which then opened the doors to global consideration. The APC also knew that to begin growing the economy and improve human development there had to be an extensive remodeling of the primary gateways that usher in those opportunities.
When you look at Sierra Leone today, in every province, or district, you will find some evidence of this prerequisite underway. Saying this in no wise insinuates that the work is even close to being complete. It only implies that no matter which other presidential candidate became president, this inevitable process of economic growth and human development is going to take decades to have a lasting effect that will change the current situation in the country. With 40 years of experience of working in government, Dr. Samura Kamara is more than adequately prepared for the specific challenges that lay ahead in the next stage that follows the Koroma administration. Voting for the wrong candidate can steer the country away from this fundamental objective and waste precious time. Dr. Samura Kamara has the right foresight that is needed to bring Sierra Leone to the next level of economic growth and human development, but he cannot succeed without the backing of the people.
Ten years ago Sierra Leone was isolated as a land of “Blood Diamonds.” Now, China, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Economic Community of West African States, non-governmental organizations, and other foreign investors feel confident to negotiate with our diplomats. Now the Kamara administration can work to strengthen those connections and bring the country to the next level of growth. Where the previous government had to make do with little opportunities, with good governance the next government can build upon this platform which was not there before. The essential facilities that were either barely working, out of order, or nonexistent are now functional. Of course, in this preliminary stage, they are not noticed by the most impoverished families, but the APC’s process of recovery has started. For those skeptics who might ask which facilities are now functional? The answer is, now we have no dilemma wondering how to do business without global acceptance, a ready workforce, or the portals to usher in new opportunities?
In 2018, government agencies, NGOs, foreign investors and the local traders can transport their goods and services throughout the country without much delay. The government only has to get those goods and services into the nation. The APC has repaired the main highways. In some cases, to reduce the traffic and raise money to maintain them the government has tolled some of those roads. The Koroma administration has refurbished other significant gateways to economic growth, like the air and seaport for example. But the postal system is still lagging behind. The APC has revived some of the electricity dams while expediting commerce for import and export. It is true, many young people, newly graduated students, civil servants and ordinary citizens are still suffering. But their struggle stems from the deterioration that took place since the civil war began. Millions of Sierra Leoneans are suffering because of the decline of the economy. The good news is that the Koroma administration has built the necessary platforms that can be used to set a robust financial framework for the future.
Sierra Leoneans must acknowledge that in the degree to which we have deteriorated our economy, we must now end the blaming game to unite behind an experienced candidate who will work hard to restore the system. A different party may begin a new recovery process instead of continuing with the one that is already in motion. This reason alone is why we must do our best to assist our government. That is the most guaranteed way forward. At this stage of our restoration process, realistically, we should not expect a grandstand just yet. The country has many opposing constraints that are equally critical. We need to advance the main gateways of economic growth and human development, which are 1. The Airport, 2. The Seaport, 3. Significant Bridges and Railway, 4. Technology, 5. Telecommunication, Internet Wireless Services, and 6. The Post Office. All of these gateways to economic growth and human development are heavily reliant on each other. It is up to us, the people to demonstrate a collective showing of civil commitment to developing our country.
The improvements made by the Koroma administration are praiseworthy, but we have only come eight places from the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index. These improvements may not be significant for some, but they are enormous. Some may demand that Sierra Leone, with all our natural and mineral resources, not be in dire straits. But we are in the process of recovery that requires our ability to work together in an organized fashion. Samura Kamara can lead Sierra Leone into the next phase of development. What is the most pressing need today? For many, the answer is a sustained level of employment and punctual payment of salaries. As patriotic citizens, we must mobilize behind Dr. Kamara and vote for him knowing that the APC is now in the position to pay wages to police officers, immigration agents. teachers, soldiers, nurses and other civil servants. We can be confident in an expert new administration. It was only natural for the problems the current administration has to exist since they came at a time when the country was much worst. Should the APC be voted back in to continue its development, the new administration will begin in a better position than the former.
No one has to convince you and me that the Kamara administration will improve this economy. Based on his track record we are sure that if he becomes the next President, Dr. Kamara’s government will reestablish more regulation to restrict corruption. Various Sierra Leoneans will ask how can that put money in their pocket or rice in their pot? Well, for one, when all of the major gateways are functioning on a higher level, the price of food will drop. Transportation, internet service, import and export, banking, healthcare, and security are all faculties that will see transformation under Dr. Samura Kamara’s governance. With the use of essential gateways that boost economic growth people will begin to see affordable food, accessible drinking water, improved access to proper healthcare, better education, safer homes and more paying jobs. But this cannot be possible without a highly functioning electricity, roads, civil servants, or other crucial administrative agencies.
One way for Sierra Leone to move further up the United Nations Human Development Index is if we support Dr. Samura Kamara so that he becomes the next President. This suggestion does not mean that the other candidates cannot improve the existing policies. We must be conscious that the Kamara administration is not a continuation of the Koroma government. Some may be curious to hear more about the leading areas that will create economic growth and human development in Sierra Leone. Consider the elimination of redundant laws or restrictions that lead to corruption. Less corruption leads to industrial expansion. These strategies include more accountability in spending as the new government removes some previous hindrances in their economic policy. As we have reached the stage of more responsibility, there will be reforms on mismanagement that the international community demands in financial reports. Second, at the next step of Sierra Leone’s recovery and growth process, when we mobilize behind the Kamara administration, we will do so knowing that it will further improve the current system of taxation.
Also, new advances in healthcare will save more lives, as people save on the cost of treatment and medicine. Another political party may promise the same, but in real terms, Sierra Leoneans know that these significant improvements also come with a budget which must be available. Thirdly, Dr. Koroma’s administration has brought Sierra Leone’s recovery to a stage where unemployed people can now volunteer their skills and abilities to support the country. This tribute of solidarity says a lot about our civic loyalty. It means that we understand the slow process of recovery and do not do things to impede them. Such things as taking bribes, leaving trash in public areas, free consumption or wood, and iron, corruption, stealing from public property, etc. Unemployed young men and women now have the responsibility to rally behind Dr. Samura Kamara and volunteer their skills and abilities to help push the country forward. Understanding that Sierra Leone is digging her way out of years of devastation, we must know that volunteering plays a crucial role to overturn the prolonged economic recession that many of our people are experiencing right now.
Every citizen has a responsibility to serve their country. Quite like the Tamaboro and Kamajor warriors who came forward to protect their community in a time of war. Sierra Leonean youths and citizens must rise to support their leaders in a brave effort to guide the country out of the stagnant economic recession. Organizing a functional waste management system, volunteering to maintain public structures or mobilizing to repair smaller streets that lead to the main roads or services are just a few examples. We can come together to vote for Dr. Samura Kamara and then support his administration further to ensure it’s success. The idea is when we boost some strategic services, that will increase the performance. With improved performance comes some level of economic growth and human development. All future government administrations will also be in the reconstruction and restoration phase. We the people must use our civic loyalty to ensure their success. It is time to ignore the divisive WhatsApp messages or songs that encourage self-pity.
We are not looking for people who can tell us how unfortunate things are. Instead, we need to rally behind a proven leader that has a decent track record in governance and warrant their success. After all the developments that the APC has done in Sierra Leone, the party deserves full support. Instead of making complaints and asking what the government has done for us, we must begin to ask ourselves what we can do for our country? Sierra Leone has entered a time when civilian responsibilities are required. As a member of the diaspora who visited the country recently, one of the things I noticed is how much more the Diasporans must contribute financially, intellectually or morally to the recovery effort. For example, instead of trying to go there to make money for ourselves, old boys and old girls should organize themselves to donate uniforms, books, computers, and other supplies that their former Alma mater or students may be lacking at this present moment. We can do the same in other spheres.
There was a time when we had a football league in Sierra Leone. There were teams like Blackpool, Lions or Port Authority. Our national football team, the Leone Stars competed in well-publicized matches beside Liberia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, or Ghana. During that time, the local economy was much stabler while legends like Brima Artuga and Mohamed Kallon rose to national prominence. After the APC left power, amidst several disruptions, a genocide happened. Today, rather than aspiring to become the next Artuga, many of our young people resort to drinking and smoking. Although it is always refreshing to have a smoke with friends, a youth who drinks or smokes all the time can never become the next Mohamed Kallon. That is why the right leader must be elected to regenerate such opportunities like the football league and the progression of science, literature, music, and arts.
We should strive to improve literacy in Sierra Leone. It is time to stop licking our wounds. We know the scars are there. We see that the hardship persists. No one denies that. We must strive to become the Athens of West Africa once again. It is time for Sierra Leone to rise behind an adequate leader who represents a party that has made some developments. Even if the APC can rectify its flaws, the APC can correct its areas of mismanagement from the past. We know that among all the other parties, this has been the only one that has consistently in development. After the other parties ruined the economy, the APC is the party that has returned with reconstruction and restoration. There are many talents and potentials in our nation. Looking forward, we must have unity and a constructive stir of solidarity.
The APC has rebranded Sierra Leone, and it has turned on some electricity. The party has opened the country for investments, refurbished the sea and airport and reestablished a functional transportation system. The party has a verifiable reputation for making development in the country. APC has built roads, established a general healthcare system, and encouraged tourism. It has promoted democracy and freedom of speech, protected journalism, and human rights. The ultimate theme is loyalty. Citizens must ignore the false allegations against our officials. We must ignore those who promote strife, doomsday, a state of penury or those songs or WhatsApp propaganda that serve us to wallow in a state of poverty. Sierra Leoneans must have an open mind and ask not what our government can do for us but what we can do for our country?
The Koroma administration has built an ideal platform for Dr. Samura Kamara to advance the nation. We must be honest and recognize that there is a lot of work to be done. The new administration can slow the freefall of the Leones to a point where it starts to gain value at a rapid pace. Even in the wake of the Ebola Outbreak, rain floods, and the Mudslide. Unlike other administrations, the economy did not deteriorate at an astronomical pace during these times of crisis. We must commend the government since the Sierra Leone economy did not decline at a devastating rater during the Ebola Outbreak or the Mudslide. Sierra Leone deserves good governance to bring a steady rise in economic growth and human development. To cross to the year 2020 on an upward trajectory economically, we must vote Dr. Samura Kamara as the next president of Sierra Leone.