When President Koroma assumed the mantle of national leadership some 11 months ago, it was borne out of the desire by Sierra Leoneans to see a positive change on the part of our national leaders, especially in providing us the needed development that could take us to the apex of human development.
We have for the past couple of years ever been at the bottom of the human development table and so, some years back, when the Kabbah led government was invited to hear the report from the UN body in Sierra Leone, all Berewa could say then was that, we must be happy, being at the bottom of the human development index, because, in his view that could help us get more developmental assistance from the west.
Since they never knew the magnitude of such statement and the repercussion it was going to create, the SLPP and by extension, Berewa got kicked out of office for being insensitive to national issues, perhaps, coupled with the superb role played by the PMDC. And today, the SLPP are in the political wilderness, wandering what next awaits them.
But to the topic itself; my assessment of the current ministers and recently I said, the Trade Minister, in my opinion scored some marks, with room for greater improvement. But what about Afsatu Kabba? Well, I must hasten to say that, it was only when President Koroma came into political power that, we heard the word, ‘Koroma NPA’, which means, Koroma electricity, as we used to have the ‘Kabbah Tiger’.
The government, upon assuming power paid its greatest attention to the issue of electricity, and to this end, a woman was appointed by the President to head the ministry in charge of the provision of electricity. Not that, there were not other issues to look at, but the government knew the importance of light to the economy of a country. In fact, in one of my many interviews with people, the Administrative Secretary of the SLPP, rated the current government as having performed slightly above 50%, with regard the provision of electricity, and I am tempted to go by that, looking at current trends.
Prior to this period, there had been efforts by the then government to ensuring that, electricity be provided for the people of this country, and so even Lloyd During, as Minister in charge of electricity in the latter parts of the SLPP did some efforts in that direction, notwithstanding the very fact that, much was not achieved by Kabbah.
To the point that, when Emmanuel Grant was sacked by Kabbah as Energy Minister, it was the expectation of many Sierra Leoneans that, there was going to be ‘light’ but it turned out to be a failure and disappointment. No light, no water, and in fact at one point, University students almost went without the ‘Kabbah electricity’, and there was a time when the Secretary General for the SLPP,JJ Saffa was reportedly mobbed by students, during a debate organized for political parties. Why? No light on campus of course!
The latter parts of my studies at Fourah Bay College witnessed the arrival of the ‘Koroma NPA’ but before that, I used to spend a lot of Leones on candle alone, not to talk of my expenditure on water. So when the Koroma NPA came, it was seen as welcome news, not only to students, but to the general populace of the country.
The decision by President Koroma to prioritize electricity was indeed in place, taking into cognizance the fact that, the development of a country to an extent depends on that country’s electricity supply, because, industries and factories like the Sierra Leone Brewery et al, can function properly and get more locals employed when there is electricity, thus creating a conducive environment for more work to take place.
Perhaps, the more the government, through the ministry in charge of electricity, provides the needed light for not only Freetown, the better, because, even places like Makeni, and Bo cannot boast of electricity. And I was not happy at one point to learn in Makeni that, it was only when the president visits Makeni that, the NPA generators are put on to convince the president that, there is the ‘Koroma NPA’ in Makeni, a clear deceitful behavior indeed, on the part of those workers in Makeni.
Afsatu Kabba must be a committed minister, and that commitment has been seen in these few months, especially in the ‘Koroma NPA’. She has scored marks, in my opinion and more marks are bound to be scored, when Bumbuna would have been completed.
And this could be another area that the government must pay attention. It should be a policy on the part of Afsatu Kabba and even the President to be regularly visiting Bumbuna, thus impressing on the contractors the need to finish with the work. Come to look at it, the attention given to electricity by President Koroma himself shows how important electricity is, to national development.
Comparatively, the current minister of energy and Power is believed to have scored greater marks, unlike the SLPP days. I had spoken to a number of staff at certain workplaces, and one worker told me, prior to the coming of the ‘Koroma NPA’, they were using at least 30 gallons of diesel daily, but that has drastically reduced today. Not only that, one Mohamed Jalloh who stays at Wellington told me that, prior to this time, he hardly sees light, but that again, has changed, following the coming of the ‘Koroma NPA’
At Kissy ‘Looking town’, precisely back of Kissy Mental Home, people I spoke to spoke of how they were not considered as part of the city, by previous ministers of Energy and Power but this, they say, has changed today. Another mark indeed!
There was also recently a meeting of Ministers from Cote d’Ivorie, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone here in Sierra Leone on the ‘interconnection project’ aimed at costless power supply for the above stated countries. This is a project, said to establish a corridor of low cost power supply from the four countries, though, it is said to be costing two hundred million euros, and it is believed that, with the commitment of Afsatu Kabba and other energy ministers in the four countries, it would be successful. We are waiting to see that success, anyway.
And coupled with these and many other successes, that perhaps may, have led to the election of Afsatu Kabba as Chairperson of the Ministers of Energy and Power of the Cote d’Ivorie, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Coming again to look at the priority that the government has laid to the issue of electricity, it is no secret that, the success of the government could largely be evaluated on how far, they fulfill their promises, especially in the provision of electricity. Even though the city is today enjoying light, there is the need to again turn to the provinces and see what could be done for them, for Freetown is not Sierra Leone.
Also, even as the Minster is doing her best in providing us with ‘Koroma NPA’, she must also be looking at the aspect of water supply. She must be working in concert with other government ministries like Health in providing hospitals with water supply, a case in point being the Cottage hospital. So in my view, the Ministry of Energy and Power has impressed me. Till then when I shall be looking at the Information Ministry, especially the relationship between the Minister and his deputy, and other areas like Slena, the Public Order Act and even the District Information Officers and the much talked about Government Communication Strategy, [email protected] is my email By John Baimba Sesay