Who In Sierra Leone Will Tell President Ernest Koroma The Truth?July 24, 2011
When Ernest Bai Koroma was campaigning for the Presidency in April 2007, he said in Makeni, Bombali district that he dislikes senior civil servants in Sierra Leone getting heavily involved in national politics. He, actually, was criticizing the heavily banded drones of civil servants that used to constitute the campaign trails of then vice president and fellow contestant, Solomon Ekuma Berewa. Ernest said then, that if he became president, he will reduce to zero point the involvement of civil servants into national politics.
Every serious media outlet in Sierra Leone agreed with Ernest Bai Koroma that if our civil servants were to be diligently professional and useful to the country, some amount of de-politicization of the civil service was to be encouraged. On this issue, many agreed with Ernest Koroma that, like the army and police forces, the civil service needed some focusing to do; away from the heavily over burdened influence of state house and general politics. But, since those elections, how far from the fact of the reality on ground, have we observed that the more we tried to change that reality, the more things have remained same?
Last week, both the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party, SLPP tabloid, The Unity, and the Standard Times reported how the Executive Director of the country’s Maritime Administration, Mr. Philip S. J. Lukuley, has left his place of work to campaign for the ruling All peoples’ Congress party; in order to fulfill his alleged promise to the President, that he will make sure that the entire Pujehun district, a very strong hold of the opposition, go red. Allegations are that some 200 gallons of fuel and vehicles belonging to the Maritime Administration and the Ecowas Jetty project in the country were used for unofficial reasons (campaigns); contrary to laid down rules of civil servants’ engagement in such issues.
In this respect, there may be many Lukuley’s as the President’s several official visits in the provinces proved to be loaded with several senior civil servants just to be seen and recognized to being friendly to the first gentleman. Every time this happens, as in the present case of Mr. Lukuley, many offices go empty and work left undone. The effects of such absences cannot easily be quantified in an impoverished economy where the culture of hard work and diligence to duty are a curse other than blessing. Institutional indiscipline by such senior civil servants, even against the dictates of professional and duty-bound standards must be also responsible for the backwardness this country is facing and since politics is the major paradigm against which everything is measured in Sierra Leone, the backwardness of our political culture is a major reason for our economic and socio-political demise.
At a time like this when we hear of chaos within the hierarchy of the judiciary and suspicious bed-fellowship between the Anti Corruption Commission and the highest seat in the land, signs are that we are again heading for the experience of the 2006; when all of our international partners began pulling off their financial strings because of national and government’s lackadaisical attitude on certain national issues as judicial and corruption-fight reforms. It is disheartening to begin to hear that the big talk of government’s avowed support for the ACC and judicial reforms are mere rhetoric’s.
Much so that ailing, less competent and frail-looking judges have taken over the judiciary as the government looks away in the name of separation of power. And now that hoodlums have been let lose to threaten the peace of the country, chasing journalists away from judicial hearings while in-disciplined police officers are hired to let into court premises hired and hungry-looking vagabonds, the future is, again getting bleaker and bleaker.
The hope that besmeared the faces of hopeless citizens in September of 2007 is about fading; all in the face of lawlessness, uncommitted Presidency to take hard decisions and waning courage to continue giving the much needed support to the country’s anti graft commission. Once again, we are down the wrong road, and standing in high traffic not manned by anybody, save the danger of several high-speed vehicles. But who in the land will be courageous enough to tell the President the truth? I fear that my friend the President, is losing touch and the country is about to drift into the abyss of apathy