The past few days in Freetown has been devoted to ceremonial charades. The President's nominees for ministerial positions are supposed to parade before a parliamentary committee to determine their fitness for office. With the current parliamentary line up, even Joe Kpana in the village knows that this is a mere formality as the country's parliament is merely a highly paid rubber stamp rubber for the executive and whatever President Koroma wants, President Koroma will get. But as the country's laws still demand this formality, everybody is willing to comply. Some opposition MPs decided to make some of the appointees sweat by asking some not so tough questions and APC's army of propaganda specialists attired in the guise of journalism instantly cried foul.
|Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai|
"Moijue where is the 'O' Level"
Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs appointee Moijue Kaikai was asked by female MP Hon Dr. Bernadette Lahai for evidence of education at at just the 'O' Level, and APC cried foul, saying the Honorable member of parliament was trying to discredit him. Well that is a new one. If people who want to join the police are asked about their educational credentials, why is it
an embarrassment to ask a minister who is supposed to head a ministry concerned with social safety nets, children's affairs and gender issues about 'O' level education? If this fellow is to be dealing with children's affairs and it is universally accepted that in contemporary times education is the most important asset to give to children, then what example is being set by having a role model who did not even have the mental fortitude to get 'O' Levels. Mind you, Bo School was built for these fellows, the sons and nominees of paramount chiefs and even the poor Segbwema Blogger was able to get one foot in through the door.
Being accused of providing educational documents that were too scanty for consideration to the country's cabinet, Moijue Kaikai's evidence of a stellar education was that the very MP Bernadette Lahai had seen him attending school when she and his elder sister were friends. If seeing a person wearing a uniform to school is now the new evidence of education in Sierra Leone, then the country could qualify as a top nation of rocket scientists and nuclear engineers. The next Nobel Prize in Physics could even come from Segbwema.
Of course APC's caboodle of imaginative defenders soon rushed to poor Mr. Kaikai's aid. One said that Moijue Kaikai had benefited from the colonial system of standard 1-4 education, in which a standard 4 student was far more educated than the SSS esucation of today. Unfortunately for this not so particularly bright defender, Mr. Kaikai is not old enough to have benefited from that colonial form of standard education and that particular line of defense does not hold water.
Another fellow minimized the importance of college education stating that afterwards, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, the pioneers of Microsoft and Apple were both college dropouts. The fact that both Jobs and Gates were the pioneers of the computer technology that has drastically facilitated contemporary scientific inquiry and revolutionized communication did not in anyway register to this unimaginative knucklehead. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did not drop out of college because they were academic failures, they dropped out because they wanted to focus on research in academic endeavors that were yet unexplored, a feat ten times more challenging than getting a PhD degree by memorizing a body of existing literature. Talk about a faulty premise!
One fellow even wrote on Facebook that the minister did not need to be educated because there were permanent secretaries and administrative secretaries who are the professional heads of the ministries and they write speeches and prepare reports for the ministers. I just hope one of these secretaries will be around when a primary school pupil asks the minister about the definition of gender.
Of course there are technocrats in ministries who have intimate knowledge of the day to day operations of their departments, but is that an excuse to have half literates being their boss and getting 5 times more than their pay. The ministry of welfare, gender and children's affairs is not the ministry of local government where you deal mostly with traditional chiefs. This is a ministry where the minster meets daily with visiting social scholars who would like information on the country policies on such social and gender issues such as safety nets for the aged, gender equity and bias, the education of the girl child, FGM, just to start naming a few. Is the minister going to always be calling the permanent secretary to each and every meeting or always be reading even when asked questions? For a country that has had a top class university in Africa for over 100 hundred years to have a minister without O levels manning such a vital ministry is not just an affront to the intelligence of Sierra Leoneans, it is a travesty.
Then the comedy continued from there. Alhaji Usu Boie a potential 2017 APC flagbearer and mines expert was not sent to that ministry, but was sent to the trade ministry and what did he do? Well I do not know if he thought he had just won the Nobel Prize for international trade, but he took to the streets of Freetown cheering and waving to throngs of adulating supporters as if he had just been awarded the presidency. It begs the question, what is happening to Sierra Leone?
Well Some good News! Mohamed Bai Attila a blind musician and political activist became the country's first blind man to be made a minster in the nation's history. His appointment is a considerable step by the president in a continent where disability is viewed as a social and economic stigma and disadvantage and consequently there are very few accommodations for the disabled. Minister Attila is truly a trailblazer in Sierra Leone. The bad news is that he is the Deputy Minister for guess which ministry, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs. This ministry now has the unique distinction of having a head who is intellectually challenged supported by a deputy who is visually challenged. God bless the poor folks at the Welfare Ministry.