This 57th year, our celebration of Freedom coincides with the election of a new leader and the promise of a new direction. Just a month ago, the people of our country looked at the many candidates before them vying for national leadership and decided to settle for a familiar face.
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, who had briefly led Sierra Leone during the bitter years of the war and initiated the first dialogue with the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) that ultimately led to the attainment of peace was chosen among the lot to help steer the country in a different direction for the next five years.
We wish the new President success. Unless the people of Sierra Leone have decided to embrace suffering and misery as their destiny among the countries of the earth, we are of the fervent belief that with politics aside, Sierra Leoneans of all stripes should pray for the success of this new government. We are not just saying this because we believe in the Presidency of Julius Maada Bio, but because we believe that after 57 years of suffering, after decades of blood, sweat and tears, the people of Sierra Leone need to see some improvement in their daily lives and in their standards of living. The people simply need a break.
A small country like Rwanda, even more densely populated than Sierra Leone, went through years of tense political strife that culminated in the death of over half a million of its citizens. Much like Sierra Leone there was also destruction on a large scale.
Rwandan society was more fragmented, with tribal divisions deeper than they will ever be in Sierra Leone. Because were the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda largely avoided each other socially, in Sierra Leone all tribes coexist together, we marry each other, go to the same schools and have the same religiond. Political divisions in Sierra Leone are largely the machinations of failed politicians who try to incite ethnic and regional tensions and hatred with the sole desire of getting votes, as most of the time they have no tangible record to show after spending years in power. However, the people of Sierra Leone have decided and for the next five years we implore the politicians who have failed the country to join the new leaders in working for a peaceful and prosperous country. It is the only we we can put Sierra Leone first.
To the outgoing All Peoples Congress Party (APC), you employed many shenanigans to perpetuate your rule, even after years of failed promises. You promised cheap food, and saw the increase in food prices by more than free fold. You promised to improve education and presided over the greatest decline in the status of our premier educational institutions since independence. Late President Tejan Kabba implemented an ambitious plan to professionalize the country’s police force and you succeeded in a few years to make it a tool for the suppression of the masses. Our foreign ambassadors, instead of representing all the citizens of their countries abroad became party agents, interested in spending time with only people who belonged to diaspora chapters of the APC party. In spite of all these you paid journalists to write glowing reviews about Koroma calling him the world's great, you harassed members of the opposition and gave crucial out appointments to unqualified people.
As the Accountant General reports of the past few years and the current transition team is discovering, APC robbed Sierra Leone blind, while giving pittances to their supporters and sycophants.
Just recently, a sacked Minister of Sicial Welfare Sylvia Blyden, was on private TV accusing her colleagues around the President Ernest Bai Koroma of being a corrupt lot. Sylvia’s deputy minister publicly accused her of massive embezzlement, nothing was ever investigated. The same drama had played out in the same ministry during the ill fated period of ministers Moijueh and Atilla.
During the deadly Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, while the whole world was rushing to save Sierra Leone from the ravages of the virus, members of the APC government were busy squandering resources meant for the fight against the terrible scourge and stealing funds that were to be used in alleviating the plight of the victims. Positions awarded for pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Mecca were routinely sold not to the righteous among the Muslims in the country, but to those who saw the titles of Alhaji and Haja as status symbols devoid of any religious piety.
In a country that depends on loans for public administration, new districts were created for political purposes, even though the cost of administering these districts would become a huge burden on the very limited resources of the country.
So it is but a shame to hear these same group of politicians vow to make the country ungovernable again because of reasons they can seek solutions to in court if they so desire.
We pray that whatever residual evil political machinations the APC lot have up their sleeves for Sierra Leone shall not come to pass. For most of our history in Sierra Leone, APC has been in leadership. In all those years they have only succeeded in giving us mediocre leadership and institutionalizing a legacy of corruption, declining living standards and decline of public institutions.
Under years of failed APC leadership, Sierra Leone now looks like the failed prodigal brother of almost every country in West Africa. We we hope that members of the historic APC party do not continue to be the barriers to the progress that this country so badly needs. If only for the sake of the welfare of their supporters, APC members should say yes to progress and no to stagnation and backwardness.
Our prayers and good wishes are with the great and resilient men, women and children of Sierra Leone. Happy 57th Anniversary!