My President I greet you well sir, I hope you are doing fine, even though I am seeing more white hair on your head these days than before, that’s the name of the game.
The other day you were in the studio of Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) and you said you usually watch TV and one of the programs you mentioned was View Finder. I trust that you also have time to read newspapers not what the aides around give you to read, but you should find time in the morning to browse through all the papers because I think that will help you in taking certain decisions.
My President the reason why I would like you to read this piece is because it will help you to understand that you have to take certain decisions to improve our lives. You cannot just sit at Hill Station and State House everyday listening to those who have the privilege to meet you and tell you what they know you would like to hear and think you are popular and all is well with us in the country.
You know Mr. President; you are a handsome man who got to that seat because of your looks, because we were tired of the previous government and because we trusted you and not the APC party.
Today, we are asking ourselves, was it a wise choice or did we make a mistake? I believe that whether it was the correct decision or mistake, you are there and you should perform to the fullest of your ability so that posterity will judge you as well as all of us.
Today the cost of living is unprecedented and there are no signs that it will change for the better in the near future. I want to give you some examples of leaders who lost their seat or going through hell presently because of their economic failures.
Let me start with retired President Kuffour. Ghanaians were pissed off with him because he failed to improve their lives economically. He did a lot on infrastructure, but failed woefully in improving the economy, the end result Ghanaians were never happy with him and papers carried lots of stories criticizing him for taking them down the road of poverty.
President Jacob Zuma who is yet to celebrate one year in office has seen all kinds of strikes even Soldiers mutinied because they were expecting him to perform magic overnight in improving their lives.
President Obama took office and his first priority was to improve the economy drastically so that the suicide committed by Americans would stop due to poverty. Up till today his main task is to create millions of jobs improve the lives of Americans economically before turning his attention on infrastructure.
Gordon Brown is fast losing his job because the British felt betrayed by him. Beginning of this year, his government raised Value Added Tax (VAT) to 17.5% and the Sun newspaper blasted him that he was digging his own grave because the cost of living in the UK coupled with the recession will not do him any good.
Today his opponent David Cameron of the Conservative is in the lead on the opinion polls and he is constantly blasting him for driving British people down the road of poverty because of his wrong economic policies.
Mr. President, you may have brilliant ideas of improving the country infrastructure but your failings in the economy will not give you rest because the number of Sierra Leoneans now living in abject poverty has increased since you took power.
No amount of road development, or free health care service, or fighting corruption will change the lives of the poor in a short term, only viable economic policies with more money in our pockets and purses or low cost of living will change our lives.
One thing that the Chinese did was to make sure the cost of living and the economic policies are very positive before they turned their attention to infrastructural development. Today it is very difficult to see a Chinese who can’t afford three square meals a day at a lost cost. I was even living with a dollar a day when I was in China, because the availability, accessibility and the affordability were there in every commodity.
Today people are looking at the free health care as the saviour from rampant death of lactating mothers, pregnant women and under five children. I am not saying it will not help, it will cut down the casualties, but not at the expected rate, because a healthy mother or baby depends on the resistance he or she has within the body.
These people die mostly because of hunger not because of sickness alone, when we are sick, if our bodies cannot withstand the sickness it is because we have no resistance within the body.
Take a look around the country and see babies, under fives and pregnant women, what you see is hunger written all over their faces. If we are able to afford three meals a day whether balanced or not, that would help drastically in cutting the death rate of these categories of people.
A healthy man is someone who has enough resistance in his body to fight basic sickness and to get well soon whenever he is struck down with sickness. If we can afford balance diet, it will give us plenty of energy to be healthy and to live long.
The high mortality rate in the country is because of poverty. My salary is Le150, 000 and a bag of rice is Le140, 000, transportation is expensive, basic commodities like bananas we buy three for a thousand Leones that is grown locally.
Free health care will help decrease the death rate in those categories of age, but it will be a small percentage, because most of the cases the doctors are treating boil down to hunger. These people go to clinics and hospitals for treatment, when they are asked if they have eaten, most of the time the answer is a big No.
The economy since 2007 had been battered, as it was not enough for this government, they brought in 15% GST plus the increase in fuel and the answer we got is more poverty.
I urge the President to listen to obituary announcements or watch it on SLBC TV then you will understand the point I’m making. We have more deaths now than before because we have more hungry people.
Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki told the West that the billion of Dollar spent on AIDS was not the solution to the problem, but most people never took him seriously, today we understand what he was saying.
AIDS is rampant in Africa because of poverty, take a look at the other continents, do they talk of AIDS, no; why because they have enough to eat and drink enough body resistance, peace and tranquil in their minds.
It has been reported that someone with HIV status can live as long as possible without attaining the AIDS status because the resistance within. What gives this resistance; it is energy we get from eating and drinking very well.
Go to the hospitals, majority of Sierra Leoneans that are sick and need to be treated, the first medicine is drip, why because even water we don’t drink enough daily so the body lack the quantity required.
Mr president you may be projecting to restructure 30 roads in the city, talking about solar energy, new airport, free heath care all these are good for the development of the country, but we will not be happy with all those if our pockets and purses are starving.
Cost of living is unprecedented, your major emphasis should be on the economy how to improve our lives, revisit some of those policies and see how you can make food stuff more affordable.
As far as I am concerned and this is the way many of us feel, we will never appreciate all those infrastructural development plans if we are starving to death.
If you had to bend the rules for improving our daily lives, do it, whatever it takes you to do to make sure the cost of living is reduced, do it we will support you.
I personally supported you for bending the rules to allow London Mining access to mine in the country because more than 1000 families will improve their lives through job creation and other benefits. Trade will increase at the Lunsar area fourfold there by benefiting more people and families.
I want to end by wishing the President a happy 49 years of political Independence because we do not have economic independence and also I want the president to know that business will not be as usual, but should change to improve our lives for the better.
By Austin Thomas