Many people applauded after President Tejan Kabbah had delivered his “Forty-Sixth Independence Anniversary” message to the nation on 27th April 2007. They applauded not because the speech was good or gave hope to many hopeless Sierra Leoneans who are still going to bed hungry, but because a drab speech with recycled messages had come to an end.
To say the best, we are very disappointed with the message which the President was trying to put across. Throughout the message, we found snippets of half-truths. And in some areas where the truth could not be clothed, Mr President spoke with his tongue in his cheek or used diplomatic euphemisms.
Despite there are no signs that Freetown and its environs could get eleven hours of electricity supply by May 2008, President Kabbah told the nation that, “the signs are now clear that we shall soon be able to provide reliable electricity for our capital city and some rural areas.” Does the President want to tell us that more “Kabbah Tiger” generators have been imported?
And in the midst of recent armed robberies at our petrol stations in the capital; the impracticalities of achieving food security even in the next five years, and the bulk of Sierra Leoneans at home unable to provide themselves two un-squared meals a day, our Fountain of Honour told us that, “…we [the government] have been able to provide a safe and secure environment for our society and now poised to achieving the goal of food security.” Except we are dead to language. But if we are not, we may safely say our President is a Utopian.
Like we said at the start of this editorial that the President’s speech was iced with recycled messages, one of his clichéd slogans popped up: “Sierra Leone is open for business.” We want to advice that this government should only improve the road network electricity and water supplies, and relax the heavy taxation then the tiger would not be proclaiming its “tigritude” (to quote Wole Soyinka).
Another area of the President’s speech that needs some comments is where he touched on “the inculcation of the habit of paying taxes and utility bills…” and made a very misplaced comparison to “the United States and those countries [who] are able to provide services and facilities because of the willingness of their citizens to pay their taxes.”
Fine point sir, Mr Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Sierra Leone. But don’t you think that Sierra Leoneans will be more willing to pay their taxes if these monies are used to provide better utilities and improve existing infrastructures? Again, don’t you think that it is innate that people would refuse to render unto the Government the things that are the Government’s if they believe in their guts that their taxes are ending up in the deep pockets of government functionaries?
We were shocked when the President did try to ram down our throats his expounded “Seven National Values” which he said were: “Resourcefulness, excellence, tolerance, good neighborliness, generosity, honesty and self-esteem.” We only have to dissect some of the President’s appointments, decisions, the manner in which some of his ministers behave in the public domain and the way he inadvertently economizes the truth to infer that our Defense Minister dose not practice what he preaches.
On the whole, President Kabbah’s “Forty-Sixth Independence Anniversary” message sounded like a remix version of an old song. And could Mr President sing us a new song?
At least for the last time?