Wednesday March 22, 2006 :
When one looks at the promise that Liberia has suddenly become since she elected Dr. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as her President, one cannot help but be disappointed by the snail pace at which Sierra Leone’s socio-economic and political reconstruction have been conducted since the election of the SLPP government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah TEN YEARS AGO .
When one looks at the frenetic pace Liberia is going since she elected her first post-war democratic government only three months ago, it is safe to assume that a post-war Liberia in 10 years would be an Eldorado of Socio-economic and political renaissance , not the hopeless case that Sierra Leone has been ten years since she elected her first post-war democratic government.
Liberia , in just three months of democratic rule , is talking about building a nation that will be the model and success story of Africa. She is talking about switching the lights on soon. A master plan is already in force to reconstruct all her roads and the government is already talking about a socio-economic blueprint that will ensure economic revival in no time in Liberia.
KABBAH: JUST BIG TALK
With somebody of the commitment, seriousness and prudence of Dr. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the helm , the Liberians will accomplish it, except something dramatically disastrous happens , which we at COCORIOKO are praying not to be. .
The Liberians will accomplish it , not because they are more blessed than Sierra Leone. They will accomplish it because they have elected into power a government which, by all indications, appears set to put the nation’s interest at the forefront. Dr Sirleaf demonstrated it when she drove to the Finance Ministry and dismissed everybody from that hub of Liberian corruption. She did the double by banning from travelling all members of the interim government she succeeded, until they had accounted satisfactorily for their stewardship. She performed the impressive treble when she warned that corruption and her government will be a deadly mix .
Liberians will accomplish it because they have a President who is ready to take bold decisions in the supreme interest of her country. One can empathize with Dr. Sirleaf for having to eat humble pie by demanding the transfer of former President Charles Taylor to Sierra Leone to face justice after initially emphasizing that it was not her priority. . She was quite right in her criticism of Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo and the UN that they should have turned Taylor over long ago instead of waiting for her to come and risk undermining the security of her new democracy by doing it. Dr. Sirleaf knows the dangers involved but because she wants to see the stakeholders and the U.S . help rebuild her country , she decided to take the bull by the horns. Faced with such a situation , would our President , Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, have moved with such swiftness and dispatch ? Would he have placed the interest of the nation over his many cronies ? We doubt that very much.
When corruption in Sierra Leone reached its nadir during Kabbah’s rule and the stakeholders and Britain raised an outcry and threatened to cut off aid if there was no crackdown, did President Kabbah comply ? Did he fire the corrupt elements in his government ? Did he put into motion any reforms aimed at nipping corruption in the bud ? Did he play ball with those who wanted to help us rebuild and develop our country ?
The problem with Sierra Leone is that we do not have serious people at the helm of administration . Sierra Leone elected her first post-. government 10 years ago , but what have we to show for it ? The country is in pitch darkness because there is no electricity . Our roads are about the most pot-holed , rugged and impassable in West Africa. Our bridges continue to be death-traps. Pipe-borne water is a luxury . Our schools, colleges and universities have virtually fallen apart both academically and infrastructurally. .Every other man in the street is stark illiterate. There is hardly any building even in the capital that has not become dilapedated . Food is scarce and very expensive and people still go to bed hungry. “Suck Air ” has worsened than it was during the APC rule. There is not a single good and equipped hospital in the country . Once famous and effective service-delivery hospitals like Masanga, Lunsar, Segbwema, Kamakwie and Serabu have all gone to the dogs. We have the highest post-natal death rate in the world . The mortality rate is at an all-time low of 45 years.
Everything is passing us by. And from all indications, the situation will not change and will only get worse until we elect into office people who will place the interest of the nation first .