By Mahmud Tim Kargbo
A close examination of the powers vested in the President of Sierra Leone will bring out that the occupant of that office is by a wide margin, the most powerful ‘elected’ political office holder on earth. Donald Trump, Valdimire Putin, Theresa May and other elected political leaders can only dream of the powers Sierra Leone laws vests in the Sierra Leonean President– short of an ability to declare a man as a woman and vice versa, there is hardly anything that the Sierra Leonean President is unable to do (within Sierra Leone) once he sets his mind to it.
Such powers, in the hands of a morally bankrupt personality can be turned into a tool for exploitation, retroversion and monumental fraud and evil – as experienced during Sierra Leone’s‘reign of evil’ ( Ernest Bai Koroma 2007 – 2018). On the converse side, if the same powers are handled by a person with his country at heart (late President Ahmed Tejan Kabba R.I.P 1998 – 2007), the positive results could be beyond all known indices for measuring national development.
This reality had formed the basis of the dismay with which Ernest Bai Koroma had been perceived by Sierra Leoneans. Here was a man, who at the onset, portrayed an intellectual comportment and candour indicative of an ability to effect change and right wrongs, and when eventually saddled with the authority to perform, suddenly develops cold feet and seems drowned by the outrageousness of the situation confronting him.
Within 100 days when he was elected into office, the Koroma administration seemed eager to define itself by its ability to withdraw into a cocoon in the face of belligerent and sustained attacks from corrupt elements – in one instance, the government sheepishly cancelled a rogue ‘Income Electrics’ electricity contract which was publicly paraded for fear of attacks from patriots that the President failed in his promised to give the city electricity within his first 100 days in office. The Sierra Leone Parliament willingly relocated the cancellation to the comfort of the Presidential villa and in yet another set up populated with minuses against tax payers, the Parliament was unable to properly dig deep in to the fraudulent contract to tell tax payers who sourced the contract and who were the signatories to the exploitative Income Electrics contract, but was willing to scapegoat the then Energy Minister.
All through this period, and with increasing temerity, the Sierra Leone State and its people were subjected to all manner of corruption attacks resulting in thousands of deaths and seizing of entire genuine development of the country by state sponsored pen looters.
Sierra Leone was for all practical purposes, directionless.
Enemies of the Sierra Leonean State preferred the comatose situation which unfortunately was resulting in gradual, but definite demise of not only the country, but also the millions of its citizens who were consumed in the continuing helical of state sponsored looting.
Those who made political capital of the carnage and fanned the embers of ethnocentrism and disunity, whilst posturing as ‘opposition or political party loyalists’ politicians, never threatened hell and brimstone in the event that the Koroma administration failed to exert the only powers it had to address the corruption mayhem – a declaration of Emergency against corruption, which would have accorded President Koroma adequate powers to deploy his authority to quell the corruption in his government. These characters have recruited their usual cortège of well connected ‘high profile’ lobbyist across the country to ensure amongst other things that the commitment to fight corruption by President Koroma must always remained a lip service issue while spreading the fallacy that the country’s economy was in a good shape and that the Anti Corruption Commission was truly fighting corruption in the country.
The question then on the lips of patriotic Sierra Leoneans and our international friends became: ‘was anybody in charge here’?
After what appeared to be a timeless existence of corruption activities in his government, Ernest Bai Koroma seems to have woken up. The declaration of what they referred to as ‘Economic Rationalisation’ better know as ‘Austerity Measures’ and the establishment of additional measures to confront the terror they’ve unleashed in the economy was a most welcome development which was supported by not just all development partners of Sierra Leone, but also everybody desirous to avoid the poverty spectacle of poverty with mixed colours which was sending many people early in their graves.
There was no doubt be collateral damages, as in all emergency situations, but the world did understand that Sierra Leone, and indeed Ernest Bai Koroma, is taking a stand to confront the economic mess he inflicted in the lives of the majority in his country despite inheriting an almost debt free economy.
For the suffering majority, though it was yet early to assessed the results of the declaration of ‘Economic Rationalisation’, there was no going back. Capitulating before securing the economy he battered was quite costly.
On the personal angle, it sure feels good to be writing positively about ones current and past Presidents – I sure did hope by then he sustain his actions positively and that his actions weren’t not a trematoda