Huge Task For Mr. President

 

Expectations remain very high among the populace that, as he promised, President Bio will rise up to the occasion by giving Sierra Leoneans renewed hope and confidence in the ability of the government to make living conditions better for the country’s 7.6 million citizens – the majority of whom continue to eke out a meager existence of less than US$2 a day.

No doubt, President Bio inherited a country that is broke, heavily indebted, economically unproductive, unable to feed its teeming population but most troubling, a country that is deeply divided not along ideological lines but along primitive tribal, regional and political lines.

Naturally, as the country’s head of state, everybody expects that President Bio will deliver the promise of Unity, Freedom and Justice for each and every Sierra Leonean as envisioned by the country’s founding fathers when independence was declared on April 27th, 1961.

As such, President Bio’s primary responsibility as Father of the Nation is to unite Sierra Leoneans beyond the current outlook of tribe, region and politics. After the 2018 elections, we saw the ugly head of tribal and political intolerance rising in Kenema, Bo, Freetown and other places across the country between predominantly SLPP and APC supporters.

The clear indication of this confrontational stance between protagonists and antagonist of the country’s two leading political parties that dates back to the 1960s is that we are not ready to work together as collective of tribes for the betterment of each and every Sierra Leonean. Regardless of which political party is in governance.

Let us not be fooled. What both local and international investors look for in a country to commit their monies to medium and long term projects are security, peace, unity and macroeconomic stability. It is only within this confidence building atmosphere that government, international development partners, the private sector and the people can work together to bring about the developments that benefits the people.

Peace and unity among the people will bring about many dividends including Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora who have succeeded in their various fields of endeavor bringing home their hard earned monies, expertise and other resources to help in the development of the country in the areas of trade, commerce, agriculture, mining, housing, transportation, education and health which cry out for massive investment.

As such, President Bio’s nationwide Thank You tour should be used as an opportunity to preach the message of peace and unity and the need for us all to see ourselves as one country, one people pulling in the same direction to bring development to our country. Like Xi Jin Ping, he has to show in thoughts, words and deeds that he is the president for all Sierra Leoneans by creating the platform for national dialogue and consensus on the way forward as one people, one country.

His words must be convincing and reassuring enough to cool down the tensions between North-West and South/East. They should be soothing enough to convince followers of the politically vanquished that his government is not out to witch hunt anybody but to enforce good governance and the rule of law, without which the gains of development would only benefit a corrupt political class.

Let us look to the 1.5 billion Chinese population and learn wisdom of how to build our nation and develop rapidly on our own steam. UN cannot do it. IMF cannot do it. World Bank cannot do it. EU cannot do it. DFID cannot do it. It is 7.6 million Sierra Leoneans working together honestly and harmoniously that can change poverty into prosperity.

We can do it easily if the President and the Government focus first and foremost on attaining food self-sufficiency. Food self-sufficiency will kill many development birds with one stone. These include death of hunger, starvation and malnutrition. It includes the death of mass youth unemployment and rural poverty. It includes erosion of the country’s huge foreign debt mountain; as well as releasing of hundreds of millions of dollars for development purpose now wastefully annually used to import, rice, chicken, eggs, cooking oil, onions, etc that can be easily produced here.

In the president is in doubt where to find the money to fund the country’s Green Revolution, he should not look further than to the mining sector who since independence have milked this country dry leaving it with only gaping holes and lakes as reminder that billions of dollars have been taken out of this country without it showing in infrastructure and other vital development needs. Instead, everything this country has done has been on borrowed money when on the other hand everything that Botswana has done for itself since the 1980s has come from expert management and protection of its mineral resources.

Five years is enough time, if President Bio and his team rise up to the occasion, to turn what seems like a hopeless human situation into a glittering future that will not only lift the burden of poverty from the heads of us living at home but will also attract the hundreds of thousands of Sierra Leoneans who have fled from one hell at home into another hell abroad to return home with pride and dignity.

The fulfillment of this vision depends very much on President Bio and his government and party not relenting for one minute on his and their responsibility to build a strong nation standing solidly on the foundation of unity, freedom and justice for one and all. Meanwhile, we wish him and his government all the best in all their endeavors in pursuit of the nation’s betterment.