What would I do if I were President ?



First_Name:  Sylvanus
Last_Name:  Koroma
Email_Address:  triplearap@juno.com
Address:  1521 Childs Street
City:  Wheaton
State:  IL
Zip_Code:  60187
Comments:  Dear Cocorioko,

Thanks for your service to the Sierra Leonean community through your Website both at home and abroad.  I have a suggestion to make.  Recently One of your contributors (Patrick Bockarie) wrote a piece: “If I Am president of the Republic of Sierra Leone”.  As I thought about it, it occurred to me that we should launch a web based Essay debate/Competition concerning the welfare of Sierra Leone on the topic:

“How would I lead Sierra Leone if I was President for one term only (5 years)?”

Apart from the contributor’s piece mentioned above several things have also inspired me to make this suggestion.

1.  Pa Kabbah is now winding down his term of office and public opinion is now slowly looking past him to the next Presidential Elections.  An essay with such a focus will help all in evaluating the next step for Sierra Leone.

2.  It is easy to criticize without suggesting any concrete remedies.  This is especially true of Sierra Leoneans.  We must now move beyond criticism of any incumbent to engage in  the competition of ideas about the way forward.

3.  Sierra Leone needs its best minds and an open independent forum for constructive ideas in order to chart the way forward.

4.  Sierra Leoneans need this kind of debate before the politicking begins (it may have already begun) ahead of the 2007 elections.  In the run up to those elections there will be no serious and concrete discussions of the real issues that the country faces.  We might be able to pre-empt some of the cheap promises and politics that will doubtless as we approach 2007.

5.  We need this debate so that, as Sierra Leoneans, we may elevate the discussion about the problems of Sierra Leone from everyday complaints about lack of electricity, lack of fuel, low salary, unemployment, aids, (as urgent and dire as those are) to debate about long term, broad perspective, and yet viable approaches towards solving the problems of Sierra Leone.

6.  Such a debate will also provide an adequate resource for those who would want to contribute to the progress of Sierra Leone.

7.  Finally such a debate will also be a means of evaluating some of the Presidential hopefuls in advance of 2007.

I suggest a few guidelines for such a competition/debate:

1.    The debate must also be limited in time in the sense that it should address how a competent and successful president for Sierra Leone would lead if he had only one term of office in which to accomplish his goals.

2.    The debate/Essays must be limited in length as well.  I suggest a length of not more than 800.

3.    As far as possible the debate must avoid any semblance of campaigning for office in the next Presidential elections.  In fact, if it is possible, the debate should exclude all intending 2007 Presidential candidates.

4.    The debates/essays must not be academic lectures either.  Its language must be down to earth, (grade 9 or BECE level English) and must major on the practical and pragmatic not theoretical.  It should be a debate on “How I would lead” not “What I will do”

5.    Essays must seek to clearly to identify the dilemmas that any Sierra Leonean Presidential candidate will face and should suggest the best pragmatic way forward.

6.    The Essays/debate must focus on the key question: “What would a leader and his people have to do in Sierra Leone to:

a.    Cause Democracy to become firmly and irreversibly entrenched;
b.    Put Sierra Leone securely and irreversibly on a path to economic prosperity
c.    Enhance the resources of Sierra Leone (human, material, cultural, etc.) so that its people experience a remarkable improvement in their welfare within ten years?
d.    To make it more concrete, what would Sierra Leone under the leadership of a competent and successful president have to do to raise the nation from where it is classified as the least developed country in the world to the a classification within the first 100 developed countries in the world within 15years!

7.    The essays must also focus on key principle issues (policies) by which a competent and successful president should and must rule.  In other words the essays must have the approach of:
a.    What basic principle and policies will be used to steer the ship of state and
b.    What specific actions should such a person take upon becoming President.

8.    The Essays must dwell on the principles and practical steps to be taken to move Sierra Leone forward as a nation, taking into consideration, Security, Political, practical, cultural, and historical realities on the ground, (regional and tribal tendencies, high illiteracy rate, poor infrastructure, unemployment, recent history, etc. etc.)

9.    The Essays must also take into account the regional, international, diplomatic and economic realities in the modern world.

NOTE:  When I started this piece, I was thinking, “What should a competent President do?”  Then I realized, it is not up to one person.  Sierra Leone cannot be left to one person.  So I changed the focus.  It is not what a President does – rather it should be “How should a competent President Lead?”  Sierra Leone is bigger than any one person – bigger than even the person who fills the position of ?president’ at any one time.

I look forward to hearing from you or other interested parties about the idea.  Feel free to improve on the idea.

Faithfully Yours

Sylvanus Koroma

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