It is indeed good news that the All Peoples Party is trying to review its communist type Constitution to make it democratic. Our current national constitution came into force in 1991 and the current APC constitution was written in 1995, so that party had no right to put certain clauses in that constitution because our national constitution makes it very clear that political parties should operate along democratic lines. Let me tell you that political party constitutions are in actual fact no secret to the rest of citizens as some people erroneously think. It is the party that wins the presidential elections that forms the national government. So you see, an undemocratic party taking national power will behave undemocratically and the nation suffers. For a lot of our compatriots who are partisan fanatics and sycophants, politics is war and they must fight to death. These are the real cankerworms in our body politic. For them their party comes first and if their party does not win elections, everything else must go down. Governance is described as a set of values, policies and institutions by which society manages its economic, political and social processes at all levels through interactions among government, civil society and private sector. Good governance ensures that political, social and economic priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decision making over the allocation of resources. Good governance should be able to widen people’s choices and their wellbeing, rendering three key elements of a healthy life, the acquisition of knowledge and access to resources. If we go by the above description, you find out that a lot is lacking. Like I always say, democracy itself has its failings especially considering the African situation where ethnicity poses a natural division among people. Well this is the reality of our existence in Africa and there is very little you can do about it. When you come to this world, you just find yourself in a family and hear yourself speaking their language. In our Sierra Leone situation, what acerbates the divisional trend is the truism that politically it is the North-west against the South-east in terms of the two main political parties.
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Now let’s look at the two main parties. It looks like they will rule Sierra Leone for a very long time to come since the other fifteen odd other political parties do not seem to have the capacity and capability to even field all candidates for elections. Many do not go beyond Waterloo and the District where the flag bearer hails from. Even a single candidate for a bye election, they cannot field. Yet all 15 cannot come together to have a formidable force to challenge the hegemonial dominance of the two main parties. When it comes to politicking, our parties forget that majority of our people live in abject poverty. They will lavish ill-gotten money on rallies and other campaign events. They will also praise-sing and make Gods out of their leaders as if they were not mere mortals. Of course this becomes worse if their party wins’ election. Did you ever realize that throughout his reign President William Jefferson Clinton was simply called Bill Clinton? Or President Barrack Obama simply called Obama? Why is it that in Africa we unduly eulogize our leaders even when they are not doing the right thing? While we heap all the fantastic misnomer titles on them, their people stay poor and hungry; the nation’s wealth is plundered and in the most arrogant tradition as if the country’s are their personal property as evident by the bizarre revelations of the Commissions of Inquiry that are rounding off now. It is we ourselves who make Gods out of our leaders. When the lizard of the homestead refuses to do the things its kind is known for, it will be mistaken for the lizard of the farmyard. You remember former President Obama addressing the AU Diplomats in Addis some years back? That time round, he lashed out straight and blunt. Obama at the time wondered why some African leaders are not willing to leave office and handover power peacefully. He was surprised that with all the wealth African leaders amass in office; they still want to change their country’s constitutions to allow a third term or an unconstitutional extension of their stay in office. Don’t you find it shameful that Obama, with African roots could do it right and make America and the world proud, while some of his counterparts in Africa continue megalomaniac stature? Over here we almost got in a mess, but for Ebola which intensified and needed no distraction. The Third term bid campaign started by some fanatics did not get off the ground, thank God. You see in this country; it is us the citizens that make our leaders feel like Gods. I only hope nobody is going to start it with the current leadership. A couple of years ago when Former President Obama said that Africa did not need great Leaders, but rather great institutions, he actually put his finger squarely on the biggest of banes of African governance. What he was saying was that no matter how astute the leadership, you need structures that are effective and functional enough to realise the brightest of ideas or visions. Well we are still struggling to arrive and the journey seems torturous. Sometimes it is good to ask to what extent are our structures aligned with our strategies. Most of our reasons for failure in governance have been systemic. Sometimes they deliberately flout compliance principles. I listened to radio some years ago and someone was analysing the effect of the tens of billions of Leones loan issued to one single entity. Well they say that the very rich and the very stupid have one thing in common. That is, they twist the facts to fit their warped thinking. Sometimes when you think you are on top of your trade that is the time you blunder big time. What a pity? Can you blame the current government for cancelling some mining Agreements? An IMF report by the close of 2011 clearly stated that there were significant concessions to Africa Minerals Limited compared to the legislation for taxation of mining activities. This tax concession includes: lower corporate income tax of 25% versus 30% in Current Legislation; 100% carry forward of loses as against 50%; Lower withholding Tax at 5% versus 10% and many others, depriving the country of huge sums of Foreign currency. We watched on helplessly until that outfit crumbled and almost paralysed its benefactor government. When one considers that the estimated mining life given was over 60 years, then we had every reason to be worried. Yet we take investment as the magic wand. How can we ever lift the poverty yolk from our already grossly impoverished populace? Do you see the point? The report points out that the employment to population ratio has remained constant at 40 to 45%, indicating that the absorptive capacity of the Labour market in Sierra Leone is very limited. I think we will remain stuck in this for a long time. This is worrying since the most productive sector the youth may not be adequately absorbed as many of them lack the relevant education and or skills. It’s a big dilemma. We can set all the structures at the ministry of youth and sports but our greatest problem will remain the lack of relevant qualifications and skills for most of our youth, many of whom loath manual work but will prefer to stay in the big cities to hustle.
By Beny SAM
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