SIERRA LEONE MAKES HISTORY
Certainly, yesterday’s debate was unprecedented in the history of our nation. We the onlookers might have observed few things that are noteworthy:
The time alloted to aspirants was grossly inadequate to effectively articulate issues. It is something the organisers might want to review for subsequent debate of such a nature.
The blame games presidential candidates resorted to was unwarranted and premature. Candidates should have used their limited time to articulate reasons why electorates should cast their votes for them and/or tell electorates the things they intend doing if elected.
It can be said that it might have served as amusement during the debate.
Governace is a continuous process of making collective decisions. In post-colonial Sierra Leone, one ought not attribute our current state of affairs as a nation to the actions and inactions of just a government but a shared responsibility of successive governments.
Few observations during the event are summed undermentioned:
▪The moderator remained a gentleman throughout the debate. He displayed class and character as was as consistency and independence. No doubt, he has the requisite and exquisite expertise to coordinate such an event. I hope our media practitioners were viewing.
▪ Some candidates were merely defensive rather than addressing the real issues.
▪ Some others merely played around rather than answering questions.
▪ Others were calm, compuse but barely hit the punch line.
▪ Others were seem to be articulate, more of orators and made flowery promises.
▪ Some other were simply amiss.
There is always room for improvements. Apparently, the debate is a milestone in our country’s history. I’m pretty hoping for its sustainability. I simply can’t ascribe victory to any aspirant.
Simpliciter, Sierra Leoneans won!
I stayed very late last night, went to bed at 02:30AM, just to watch the Presidential Debate. No regrets at all. It assisted in shaping my intuitive conviction about who is better prepared to lead Sierra Leone in the next five years, particularly between Dr. Samura Kamara and Dr. Kandeh Yumkella. I should express my honest appreciation to the organizers and those who sponsored the debate.
The debate began with a lot of uneasiness among the audience and raised some goosebumps in the aspirants due to the 30 seconds time limit given to aspirants to expound their vision and strategies of governance. The time limit was later increased to allow them to articulate their thoughts in a constructive manner, which probably may have been seen a problem during the first session of the debate. Another problem I had with the debate that truly provoked my subconsciousness was to allow the aspirants to communicate in Krio to an audience of foreign communities in and out of the country, particular those having interest in Sierra Leone’s internal affairs. SHAME!!!
Though not exhaustive but as expected the issues were mostly for the aspirants to divulge their manifesto on the essentials of good governance, in the areas of
(i) Human Development including education, health, social welfare, provision of public and private sector services and gender equality
(ii) Economic Development and Sustainable Livelihood including creating of business avenue, inclusion of nationals in private sector empowerment, infrastructure, and the closing of loopholes through integrity, accountability and transparency.
(iii) Safety and Security including national security, strengthening and respect for the rule of law, judicial reform, Gender-based violence, correction system, and impartiality of the police and military, etc.
Performance on Good Governance: The performance of most of the aspirants to me was a disappointment and, to be honest, some of them were not ripe for the position of President of the Republic of Sierra Leone as I thought they were completely oblivious of the issues of good governance. However, since there had been much hype and much intuitive judgements among the Sierra Leone community about Samura and Yumkella leading to the debate, I was interested in knowing who weighs more on the issues between the two of them. Also, I wanted to know how comfortable they are in articulating their strategies on good governance in the context of the realities in Sierra Leone. My feeling is, Samura was better in understanding that the questions on good governance were not meant to narrow down the scope of the answers but to explain how can the MDG/SDG Concept a question is related to be better implemented in Sierra Leone. I think because of his background and wide experience in governance, particularly that of financial management in public sector, he was able to easily pull it off. On the other hand, Yumkella was caught into restricting himself like his response to the “sad story of gender-based violence from Makeni’.
Comportment: Unlike Yumkella who seemed temperamental, Samura did not change his demeanor. Samura was calm and showed maturity throughout the debate while Yumkella spent much of his time going after the lapses of the present government. I feel Yumkella at some point lost it because he was with the same spirit as in the campaign trail failing to realize he was talking to representatives of the international/diplomatic community who were there to listen to the strategies he will bring to address the problems of Sierra Leone, which almost all diplomatic members seated there knew about.
Country-Specifics: On country-specific issues raised by the moderator such as drop in sport, the toll road, Mamamah airport, two SIM, royalties from the mining companies, the national debt, etc, Samura showed honesty by accepting failures of government in some areas but also tried to explain the associated causes while the other aspirants were building houses in the sky.
My Conclusion: It was surprising for some of us to witness extraneous dishonesty, fake promises and politics from those we took to high esteem. I am sure most of the Sierra Leone diaspora must have gone to bed last night extremely disappointed.
A Salone, Usai dem go pull da lie lie sign language interpreter dae? Wit di little knowledge way Ar get in sign language, da man nor make no sense at all mi people dem. People dem jus dae fool we people dem. Da man na big clown mi fambul dem. Di world go dae laugh we so 🤦♂️🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️
NO ONE WON THAT PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE.
Over Tea Break this morning, one of my colleagues asked me: “So, Bosco, away from academics, who won the Sierra Leone presidential debate?” I was a bit surprised that my western colleague with no political interests and filial connections to Sierra Leone could have time to ask a question that has no bearing on our theological positions. I thanked him for asking, but quickly added that the question was a bit misplaced. I told him that NO ONE WON THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE!
Sensing that he was a bit uneasy with my response, I offered to explain further the reasons for my rather eerie opinion on the debate: (1) Unlike other countries, there are no undecided voters in Sierra Leone. I have not found any of my online and offline friends whose opinion about their candidate has had a significant changed since they watched the debate. If anything, their support for their candidates has increased, with some even justifying the performance of their candidates against the fumbling of opponents. (2) There is a huge difference between winning a presidential debate and getting the business of governance done. In Africa, reasoned arguments, no matter how logical they may be, do not win elections. Public oratory does not put food on the table. As the old adage says, “the test of the pudding is in the eating.” And,
(3) The arpeggio and crescendo of personal attacks on the worthiness or lack thereof of candidates betrayed the parties they went there to represent. This debate was meant to present your case, and not to attack your political opponents.
I concluded by observing that although Sierra Leone has come a long way, the nation still has a long way to go. Our responsibility is to pray for God’s choice for our nation at this time and to support the eventual winner of the March 7 presidential and general elections.
© Bosco Bangura │16 February 2018
- The organisers AYT should have done better in ensuring all modalities and necessities put in place before attempting such a venture to be broadcast through out the world. The network and LINK was poor quality and not stable; accessories such as microphones problems and audio control was bad. this is the 21st century ICT age of technology. Broadcasting should not be a critical problem even for amateurs. You can even
- WE MUST DO THE RIGHT THING OR DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CUT CORNERS IN TECHNOLOGY OR CAN ONLY PROVE FUTILE TO CREDIT OR FAILURE. I should believe Sierra Leone has FIBRE OPTIC should be enjoying high speed connectivity……? One can even lease SATELLITE LINK which is appropriate for such local, diaspora and global audience reach.
- ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS from MODERATOR did not meet delivery expectations from participants to local and diaspora audiences. My pass mark is 48% percent to all presidential candidate. No outright winner. Sierra Leone maybe heading for a “COALITION GOVERNMENT” FORESEEING. This is not about eloquence, qualifications, expertise, PHD or finding a winner or loser but about demonstrating capacity in knowledge of country, priorities and solutions in the way forward for governance and nation building and RECONCILIATION which was forgotten. None of the political participants were NOT RELAXED telling by their facial expression, body movements in gesticulation.
- THIS BRINGS ME TO THE QUESTION: IS SIERRA LEONE READY FOR A CHANGE. CAN ONE OF THE SIX PARTICIPANT BRING THAT CHANGE SO DESIRED BY THE PEOPLE OF SIERRA LEONE…? We now need more to hear from the other remaining “presidential candidates” who are greater in numbers than the selected SIX DEBATERS. They may have responded better to QUESTIONS to be able to decide on who to vote for with our precious voting franchise.