By Yusif Moijuah
The cries of Sierra Leoneans for good leadership were once answered by God Almighty Allah when he graciously gave us honest and patriotic former President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, yet the cries continued onto the 2018 elections and where we are at the moment as a nation.
He came in with the ticket of the embattled main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party, which defeated former Vice President, Solomon Ekuma Berewa of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in a keenly contested transitional presidential election in 2007.
Koroma’s presidency came and gone in the last ten years but left the people of Sierra Leone with lasting developmental legacies simply because he followed the trajectory left by his predecessor, the late President, Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of blessed memories, being that governance is a continuous process. Then God answered the prayers for a good leadership that came in the personality of President Julius Maada Bio in 2018, now at the helm of affairs.
Better the devil we were already familiar with than the strange angel…Koroma’s APC-led administration inherited a dilapidated post-war national reconstruction and infrastructural drives, amidst worst economy of an isolated country with breakdown of health, education, energy, mining and agriculture among host of other growth sector reforms, all in furtherance of ensuring that his government improves the living standards of the people under his leadership as President of Sierra Leone.
The APC development blueprints spoke well to the needs, wishes and aspirations of the people by way of implementing life touching programs that were geared towards human development, starting with poverty alleviation across the board.
Upon assuming office, former President Koroma rolled out a pro-people Agenda for Change which led the way for national infrastructural development nationwide.
Apart from his fixed focus on nation building through road and other infrastructural development projects, Koroma in little less than 100 days in office restored regular electricity power supply to Freetown and its surroundings.
The then administration targeted itself with the tasks of increasing power generation from 100 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts and made frantic efforts towards hitting its set goals by putting the required measures in place for sustainable power supply in the country.
To that end, the former Minister of Energy, Ambassador Henry Macauley, made electricity the business of everybody which in turn encouraged speedy investments and prepared the stage for the full implementation of the West Africa Power project that is geared towards benefiting Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and others, though it is presently being snail paced by the Energy Minister, Kanja Sesay.
Koroma APC as he is fondly called, wasted no time in completing the first phase of Bumbuna power hydro that generates 50 megawatts of power supply to Freetown and part of the dam’s communities including Makeni.
Former President Koroma further delegated resources towards increasing power supply and transformed what used to be one of Africa’s darkest cities if not the world over into a city of light and consistent power supply to Freetown and the country as a whole.
Regular power supply was also restored in Magbuaraka, Kono, Kambia, Port Loko, Lungi and Waterloo in the Western Rural District. His government rolled out the solar energy scheme with the installation of Solar Lights in all district and chiefdom headquarter towns across the country as part of his APC government’s rural electrification drive which empowered communities with consistent power supplies.
These extremely enhanced livelihood activities in the country with sustainable service delivery in every sector, with 7% of GDP growth outlook by the World Bank on the eve of his final days in office. Koroma’s administration identified factors of growth sectors starting with energy and social services upon which they built strong international confidence that gave way to the huge achievements made by the government of former President Koroma.
He is missed for his friendly business and investment environments he created and encouraged local and direct foreign investments especially in the mining and minerals sectors, agriculture and food security, tourism, information, communications and technology, transport and aviation and host of other growth sectors.
These were sort of free market solutions that attracted the world and opened up Sierra Leone for global business, trade and commerce. No wonder the IMF applauded the administration of former President Koroma for strategic reforms made in growth sectors in 2016. The more reasons we had multinational mining companies investing in the country and laid solid economic foundation. The Koroma government since 2007 increased Sierra Leone’s monetary values in terms of money matters, businesses, trade and investments.
Unfortunately, the deadly Ebola Virus Disease breakout in 2014, a nightmare that killed 3,955 people and reversed all the gains that were made by the then government, but with determination and resilience of the people and the then leadership, the national economy successfully bounced back in 2017 with economic activities at about thirty trillion Leones equivalent to $ 1.4 billion while export returns was at $ 170m equivalent to 870 million Leones.
Just few days in office then, the dishonest leadership of the SLPP President Bio and his boys started shouting all over the place of inheriting a ‘broken’ and ‘worst’ economy from the last Koroma-led APC regime.
These are lies designed to tarnish the image of the APC leadership and the entire party but have all failed with their weak ploys and petty conspiracies against the beleaguered opposition side.
No matter what the government does, there is no way the SLPP can extinguish the APC and its indelible legacies of good works, nor the name of its leader and Chairman, former President, Ernest Bai Koroma. That has in the last one year and five months plus been a very difficult task for ruling party operatives and strategists.
In fact, this is one of the main reasons most cynics are of the view that the there will be no Ernest Bai Koroma legacies as long as the ruling SLPP is in governance due to the destructive manner in which state data have been managed on the official website of the Office of the President
Considering the level of hate statements meant to blackmail members of the former Koroma administration, the APC party and its members have left many of us to believe that the ruling party is ready to destroy every trace of the APC and Koroma.
The destruction of data on web portal of the Office of the President, ministries, departments and agencies are typical examples of their destructive politics that is seemingly affecting the legacies of former President Koroma.
The SLPP can hardly talk about development in Sierra Leone without making references to the APC and acknowledging the efforts of former President Koroma, for records would always have it out clearly with facts and figures about sustainable developmental achievements made by the Koroma Presidency.
In the area of agriculture and food security, agri-businesses were already at their various booming peaks with large scale private sector investment in palm oil plantation in Pujehun district by SOCFIN agricultural company, Tropical Farm, Lion Mountain to name the few; all enhanced the level of local food production of staple food rice, cassava and other food substitutes to rice.
Apart from passing one of the world’s toughest anti-corruption laws that earned the Commission investigations and prosecutorial powers and enhanced the office of Auditor General’s Office, which is why his government achieved lots in public accountability in governance with fixed focus on public expenditures by MDAs.
The ACC then had the teeth to bite not as it was beforehand when it used to be called a toothless bull dog. Since then Koroma’s anti graft battle prosecuted some of his ministers and other public officials that were found wanting for corrupt offences, where the Koroma-led APC administration made considerable accomplishments.
In further casting charms on graft, the former President Koroma government’s growing efforts in fighting corruption earned the then APC regime of Sierra Leone the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Award as one of the most improved nations in terms of governance in 2016.
Former President Koroma passed the free health care law providing medical treatment to under-five children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, which dropped the rate in maternal deaths in Sierra Leone.
Transport, aviation and ICT were other sectors the government of former President Koroma made progress starting with the landing of the fiber-optic cable, installation of its lines that connected the whole country and the neighbouring countries that led to the so-called high speed they now offer.
Bollore Transport Logistics embarked on the expansion of the Queen Elizabeth II Quay which would have by now opened the port as large transshipment hub in the sub-region, had it not been for the high taxes that the Bio administration levied on importers and business operators.
In an exclusive interview with the Leading Edge Publication, former President Koroma described human capital as one of the vital assets for Sierra Leone, and that by having knowledgeable and skilled workers can support private and public sectors.
He made sure that his development blueprints AFP and AFC have some balance by way of support to other sectors of the economy predicting; “if we continue with the same infrastructure development strategy, Sierra Leone will become an economic hub in the region.”
This is almost the exact opposite of what former President Koroma expected from his successor President Bio.
Instead, things have even gone worse than where Koroma left Sierra Leone.
God save the people of Sierra Leone from the hands of bad leaders, as we keep praying to have good a leader that will come and redeem Sierra Leone from the present economic bondage once more.
Human rights, rule of law, democratic good governance, social actions and protection, gender child rights, water and sanitation to all district and major towns, as well as foreign affairs and international cooperation are the key areas including those highlighted above where the last APC Koroma-led administration made steady progress despite recent drop in normal trends.
That is why we are hastily asking who is quenching shining lights on the nationalistic legacies of our beloved former President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone? We wait for answers from his successor, President Bio.