Saturday, February 23, 2013

Is Sierra Leone Being Dumbified?

"So They want us to think stupid, so they want us to do," Rodney Winston aka Burning Spear

"Dumbification" is not a standard English word, but it is used in informal urban English to mean "The dumbing down of the human intelligence"  That is the only way I can describe what is currently going on in my country Sierra Leone. I will take the liberty of helping to define dumbification as a deliberate attempt to make the people of a society appear unintelligent, a conscience attempt to take dumb ideas and make the people believe it is fact. Some of the statements coming from public officials in Sierra Leone sound almost like a deliberate attempt to dumbify the people.

Some of us in November 2012  opposed President Koroma's candidacy as was our democratic right. However, I really did not consciously attempt to read and analyze the contents of his political manifesto, the glorious Agenda for Prosperity. So one of these days I sat down with a fine tooth comb and went through every chapter of the agenda for prosperity line by line, to know what it was the president was trying to achieve and how he really attempted to bring prosperity to the people of Sierra Leone, when during the past five years he had presided over a precipitous decline in living standards, while publicizing the construction of roads and mosques and glorifying and spending millions of dollars on electricity projects that constantly kept the people in darkness.

So, I read the Agenda for Prosperity, cover to cover, noting the great aims and lofty ideals, the inconsistencies, the lack of theoretical or ideological foundation, the slide of dialogue from first to third person and the lack of uniformity in thought, content and style. I will analyze the Agenda for Prosperity at a future date, and show how it exposes the theoretical economic shallowness of the current Freetown regime.But that will be another day. This article is aimed at showing the falsity of a statement recently made by Sierra Leone's current Information and Communications Minister Alpha Kanu, who was formerly the minister for Public Affairs, whatever that meant.
Alpha Kanu

On a recent appearance on Star Radio on Monday February 18, 2013, Minister Kanu responding to negative reactions to the over sized and bloated cabinet of of President Koroma, in a country regarded as one of the poorest in the world, had this to say about the president's cabinet, "when you have a big job to do, it takes a large number of workers or people to perform it or else the people who voted will not take you seriously to do what you promised to do when elected" Alpha Kanu, 2013.

Minister Kanu's false logic is that when you have  serious work to do in a short time you needed a lot of people to do it. In other words, the more the number of people you have, the better the capacity you have to do the job. Where does President Koroma find these guys? In other words, instead of too many cooks spoiling the soup, they actually made it sweeter. This assertion was so naive that upon reading it I actually sat back in my chair and laughed, before I realized that these were the people charged with guiding the affairs of our poor country Sierra Leone.

I do not know if Alpha Kanu was educated in a  socialist country like the former Soviet Union where the government does everything for the people. If he did I would understand his world view. However,  the assertion that greater bureaucracy leads to better government has been debunked over 50 years ago even before I was born and for this statement to be proffered as the reason for the monstrosity of the size of the government in Sierra Leone flies in the face of all conventional reasoning and modern intellectual thought. It is what the Krio people describe as "yo sabi but you nor know"

When President Koroma was elected  president in 2007, one of the many promises he made was to run Sierra Leone like a business. I guess Alpha Kanu has a different idea what that means. When economists postulate the idea of running a government like a business, they do not mean running it for profit. What we mean is that the operations of the government are streamlined to make them as efficient as a business. Businesses exist to make a profit, so they have to be run in a way that maximizes their returns. Businesses do not become efficient by employing more people, they do so by employing  highly efficient people and streamlining their operations to achieve optimal productivity at minimum cost. It is not the number of employees that make a business successful.
Youngest Cabinet Minister

The size of the cabinet of a country does not translate to economic progress. If it did, Sierra Leone would have been more developed that USA and Japan combined. Why President Obama has only 15 Cabinet members and some cabinet level postions and Ernest Koroma has 24 Cabinet Ministers, excluding the Vice President and deputy ministers is mind boggling, to say the least.  How does this cabinet ever meet, how does everybody get the chance to talk? As it stands, if you add all the deputy ministers, with some ministries having more than one, the small country of Sierra Leone has almost sixty ministers. Add this to the number of presidential advisers, ambassadors and press attaches, one can easily opine that the greatest obstacle to the achievement of the president's agenda for prosperity is the size of the government of the country, it is just to big to be meaningful, especially when the situation warrants quick decisions to be taken.

Has anybody in Sierra Leone ever sat down and really calculated how much it costs the poor people of Sierra Leone to upkeep such a bloated cabinet and diplomatic service? Has President Koroma and Alpha Kanu not heard that the world is now moving towards an era of smaller governments, the shrinking of the public sector and the expansion of the private sector? Do President Koroma and his minions not realize that this is the era of private sector led economic growth? Even America, which has the most prosperous economy in the history of mankind now has the maintenance of smaller government as a primary public sector objective. So why would you actually have a minister of a poor country like Sierra Leone going over the radio and speaking  like the cleverest student in a Segbwema primary school. This is because this current government listens only to ideas from people who wear red ties.

Mr. Kanu, it is not the size of a government that matters, but the efficiency of the government. It is not the number of ministers that bring progress to a country, but the quality of the ministers. We have had three ministers of education, has that translated into better results in international exams? The resounding answer is no. We have had consistently worse exams than when we had only a minister and a deputy. Why would you have a minister of public affairs, another for internal affairs and another for local government. Is local government not part of public affairs and part of the country's internal affairs. Don't you see the potential for waste duplication and lack of clarify in roles.

What is needed in Sierra Leone is not a large number of minsters, it is the reintroduction of basic intelligence in managing the affairs of the state. The income expended on the upkeep of a single minister; housing, transportation, fuel, security, health, etc is too much for a country like Sierra Leone to have so many ministers and that is not just criticism but economic reality.

The money that is spent on this ministerial mob would be better used in the provision of better services and providing instruments for the growth of the private sector. Minister Kanu is not only wrong, but he seems to be living in a different era altogether.

Koroma cabinet. Not Including Deputy Ministers.
His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma
Alhaji S.S. Sam Sumana
Vice President
Dr. Kaifala Marrah
Minister of Finance and Economic Development
Dr. Samura M.W. Kamara
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation
Ms. Finda Diana Konomanyi
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development
Mr. F.B. Kargbo
Attorney-General and Minister of Justice
Alhaji Alpha Abubakarr Kanu
Minister of Information and Communications
 Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay
Minister of Political and Public Affairs
Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara
Minister of Trade and Industry
Major (RTD) A.P. Conteh
Minister of Defence 
Dr. Minkailu Bah
Minister of Education, Science and Technology
Mr. A.P. Koroma
Minister of Works, Housing, And Infrastructure
 Mr. R. Robbin-Coker
Minister of Energy
Alhaji Minkailu  Mansaray
Minister of Mineral Resources 
Mr. V.C. Minah
Minister of Transport and Aviation
 Mr. E. F. Moijueh Kaikai
Minister of Social Welfare, Gender, And Children's Affairs
 Mr. Alieu Pat-Sowe
Minister of Fisheries, and Marine Resources
 Dr. Mathew Teambo
Minister of Labour And Social Security
Dr. J. Sam-Sesay
Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Forestry 
Mr. Peter Bajuku Konteh
Minister of Tourism and Culture
 Mr. Musa Tarawally
Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment 
Mr. P. Kamara
Minister of Sports
 Mr. J.B Dauda
Minister of Internal Affairs
 Mr. Alimamy Kamara
 Minister of Youth Affairs
 Ms. Miatta Barlay Kargbo
Minister of Health and Sanitation
Mr. Momodu Maligie
 Minister of Water Resources

No comments: