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Eddie Grant
Reply with quote  #1 
Sierra Leone is heading to general election. By now, we should be discussing issues pertinent to our country.
Unfortunately, the forum is being used for personal attacks making it boring.
One very serious difficulty we, as Sierra Leoneans are facing is the lack of a sense of direction. Most Africans tend to dedicate this important period in their respective countries as a time to demand from their incoming governments the good things they deserve. Sierra Leoneans on the other hand, love to dedicate the same period to vent out personal vendetta, preaching of tribal and regional hatred.
These are the sorts of things politicians in Sierra Leone really cherished. The divide and conquer is the mantra in which these 2 old parties thrive in. They're so successful in making the people to believe that their tribe and or region is more salient than any national development to the point that even PhD holders are not immune.
To verify what I'm saying you only need to go through some of the posts.
When are Sierra Leoneans going to adopt a unique national identity? Which will focus our attention to a proper direction.
Kamabai
Reply with quote  #2 
Eddie Grant,

Who stopped you from posting a thought-provoking post that would generate a debate?  Why would you want to reprimand others for failing to do something that you are capable of doing?  Start the ball rolling and others will follow.
Eddie Grant
Reply with quote  #3 
@Kamabai,
I don't know about you but I'm really concerned over what is happening with our country's politics.
This regional divide is widening and if not put in check, it has the propensity to create civil unrest. I grew up in Makeni so I should be very happy with what's currently happening. But being a selfless individual, I do not like the fact that this government is focusing all the resources in upgrading Makeni to proper city whilst others remain in decrepit situation.
As I write this piece, Ernest Koroma APC have just brought in new construction company, with a contract to tarr 42 streets in the municipality in the midst of the so called austerity.
This is partly as a result of the rejection suffered by the government during the past bye elections in which the people of Makeni made it clear that they've not done enough and that they can reject at will if they renege in their promises to the masses.
If this type of resistance is emulated across the country, it's will serve as a signal to politicians that their position is not guaranteed until they improve the lives of the people.
This is the period when Sierra Leoneans should evaluate the performance of the government and making it known to them that we'll accept nothing short of overall national development.
These, Kamabai are the sorts of things that we must be prioritising on this forum.
Kamabai
Reply with quote  #4 
Eddie,

I could not have said it better.  The politics of regional divide is well and alive in Sierra Leone.  I spent last year's Christmas in Sierra Leone, traveling to many places in that country.

I was shocked when I visited Kenema, to find an entire city so difficult to drive in.  That once great city has been reduced to a village simply because the present government believes that it is the heartland of the opposition.  On the contrary, Makeni, which you mentioned, is getting upgraded in infrastructural development everyday.

Yes, as you noted, this tendency has the propensity to generate civil unrest.  The question is, how do we hold the present government accountable for misgoverning the country?
Eddie Grant
Reply with quote  #5 
@Kamabai,
Well, this is the main theme of this tribal divide. As you mentioned Kenema is not as developed as Makeni, although I have a different view of the city when I visited last September. There are few roads paved there with solar lighting.
My position on this is clear, if people from other regions, say like Kenema can let go of this diehard party loyalty and focus on getting their parties to do what they're supposed to we might just see a different Kenema.
Perhaps Makeni is getting all these improvements because they're telling their leaders that party loyalty alone is not enough to guarantee their stay in power so if Kenema can do the same they too might just get the attention they deserve.
Kamabai
Reply with quote  #6 
Eddie,

There is a divergence of our views on this subject.  I am not from Kenema and I hold no biases towards that city.  I was born and raised in Lungi but schooled in Freetown.  However, I have relatives in all four corners of the country.

There is a development fund that the central government disburses to all districts and major cities every year.  The mayor of Kenema appeared before parliament last year to plead for that city's funds that had not been disbursed for two years in a row.  Why?  Political, regional and other nonsensical reasons.

We as Sierra Leoneans must shed our biases and confront the repugnant attitudes embedded in the present government.  The regionalistic tendency toward governance explains why the civil war spread so quickly in Sierra Leone.  The war started in Kailahun district and the APC government at that time showed a blatant disregard for folks living in that part of the country.  Same for Ebola.

Sierra Leone is too small a country for such blatant tribalistic and regionalistic attitudes to be allowed to flourish unchecked.
Council taxes
Reply with quote  #7 
Decentralisation should be carried out with a full throttle, delegating responsibility for building and maintaining roads in cities to the city councils and at the same time boosting their budgets by letting them introduce banded council taxes and perhaps business rates if this is not yet the norm.The bigger your house is, the more you pay. 

Any grants given to the local councils by the central Government should be based on a formula that reflects the population of each council.

If the above is in place, we will all know where the buck stops, when city roads are full of potholes.
Eddie Grant
Reply with quote  #8 
@Kamabai,
From my recollection, Kenema equally received the Le19 billions annual, regional development funds like all other district headquater towns. It was reported that the mayor and city council members were embroiled in deep dispute over the disbursement of this funds. There were claims that a chunk was unceremoniously distributed to district elders such as paramount chiefs, town chiefs and other chiefdom elders.
I was in Koidu town Kono district when Ernest Koroma visited in 2010 and made this disclosure.
Kamabai, Kenema looks better today than when SLPP was in power. And I'm not trying to be funny, it's just the plain truth. At that time, flooding in Kenema was very frequent and deadly with the deforestation, clogged waterways and deep portholes in the city.
Yet, in 2007, the people of Kenema overwhelmingly voted for the SLPP though they neglected them when in governance. These are the kind of things I'm talking about. We mustn't sacrifice our well-being to satisfy party loyalty.
Let me put it this way, we should only vote for a party that will work for us.
Kamabai
Reply with quote  #9 
Eddie,

I brought in the example of Kenema because of my familiarity with that city.  Kenema does not look better today than it was under SLPP rule.

My uncle of blessed memory owned a lucrative diamond business on Hanga Road in Kenema and I spent all my vacation time in that city when attended the Methodist Boys High School in Freetown.  The streets used to be paved and there was 24 hour light. Not anymore.

Today, Kenema is an eye sore and a disgrace to Sierra Leone.  Let us remove our regional biases and consider that Kenema is the third largest city in Sierra Leone.  There is a need to develop it.

 Unfortunately the present APC government is very regionalistic.  This is why the best form of government for Sierra Leone should be a decentralized form of government.

Let each region be allowed to control its resources and use those resources development purposes.  Of course some disbursement should be made to the central government.  But it is very important that power be given to the regions.
Eddie Grant
Reply with quote  #10 
@Kamabai,
Still in Kenema since it's the town you're most familiar with.
If I may ask, when last did you visit Kenema? Because what you're describing here seems more like pretty war era. Yes before the war, the town used to enjoy free flowing electricity but was never 24 hours.
Don't forget that I also spent ample time of my school vacation in Kenema and Kono. My late uncle owned a big house there and was a business tycoon until his life was cut short by kamajors for speaking his local direct to his niece.
That said, the era you described was during the old APC. The SLPP took over power after the war. The town was in dire need of upgrading. The previous infrastructure was destroyed, and this exactly my point. The SLPP was supposed to have upgraded Kenema not only because it's the 3rd largest town but because there was overwhelming support for the party there. But alas, was left in the same condition as during the war apart from the few schools and some health structures erected through the SABABU projects.
In fact, the whole region was neglected. The Kenema/Kailahun highway was one of the worst roads anyonemail can travel in. The famous TIGO spot near Kailahun became deeper and more dangerous than when I left the country.
When can be critical to the APC because of their excesses but it's only fair to credit them with the elimination of this threat. Today, one can smooth ride from Kenema to Kailahun without having to worry about the TIGO spot.
As for decentralisation, I don't know what evidence there is that regions will do better than now when there's still entrenched greed for wealth. We haven't seen the signs that this could be the solution to under-development when some functions of members of parliament was devolved to local councils.
Kamabai
Reply with quote  #11 
Eddie,

I was in Kenema in December 2016.  But I don't want to belabor this point.  I am more interested in finding solutions to our problems than in crying about the problems.

Decentralization can work.  It has worked in our countries.  We cannot continue to pretend to like each other when in fact we really dislike each other.  This is the outcome of regionalism and tribalism in our country.  The solution is decentralization.   Decentralization will promote the much needed development.

Our four regions, Western Area, Northern Province, Southern Province and Eastern Province should be ruled by regional governors that are elected by the people.  Each region should also have a regional parliament with legislative powers.  We will still have a central government with a president. But no longer will power be concentrated in the hands of one man.  

I live in the United States and have seen how decentralization works.  The governors of the fifty states of the United States preside over the development their states.  This is my prescription for Salone.
Eddie Grant
Reply with quote  #12 
@Kamabai,
It always help to be realistic when proposing or suggesting something.
Your comparison of the mighty US and the tiny Salone is at best unreasonable. The smallest state in the US is three times bigger than Salone. We already have a form of decentralised government. We have mayors, district chairpersons, councillors and paramount chiefs. This type of decentralisation is fitting with Salone due to its size and economy. Your suggestion that each region have a parliament is suicidal aimed at depleting our meagre resources.
Talk of liking each other is not the case here what is so important is the fact that we're yet to confront our woes.
Furthermore, if you were in Kenema in 2016 and still claim that Kenema is not better today than 10 years ago then you're being unreasonable and that you're trying to exonerate the SLPP because it's your party. And that's what I have been trying to say here that we should move away from that type of mentality and face reality.
Eddie Grant
Reply with quote  #13 
Why are we where we are today? Follow the story and find out who's the architect of our current woes.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155157293157340&id=693252339.
Kamabai
Reply with quote  #14 
Eddie,

Three important things to make clear here.  I am not comparing Salone to the United States.  You got that wrong.  What I am saying is that we can learn something from the model of decentralization in the United States.  There are many things that smaller countries can learn from the bigger industrialized countries in the world.  That is not tantamount to making a comparative analysis.

Second, the system in Salone that you are touting as a form of decentralization is simply not a decentralized system.  What we have in Salone is simply an extension of the useless  centralized system that has done nothing but to throw that country into confusion and chaos.  The mayors, the district chairpersons and councillors that you referring to all serve at the pleasure of the president in Freetown .  Even paramount chiefs today can be removed from office if the president of Salone deems fit to do so.  A truly decentralized political system transfers authority from the central government to local governments.  That is not the case in Salone.  Power is concentrated in the hands of the executive president.

Third, given your inherent bias to issues that do not fall within the purview of your likes, I believe that you are the wrong person to broach a debate of this kind. Why are you in the habit of throwing party or other labels at your opponents in a debate?  I find that strategy to be a weakness of debating skills.

 Are you really party neutral as you profess to be?  What makes you neutral if you are so intolerant of a critique of the APC and so full of hatred of anything that is not allied to your region of origin?   You became irate the sooner I mentioned Kenema.  If I had centered my arguments on my place of birth, Lungi, for obvious reasons you would have taken a totally different position.  My friend, you do not know Kenema.  There is nothing that you have said about Kenema that is true.  

Lastly, can we have an honest debate on this forum about the future of Salone without succumbing to party or tribal labels? 


Knice
Reply with quote  #15 
"When are Sierra Leoneans going to adopt a unique national identity?"

A country cannot ADOPT a unique national identity. Such identity EVOLVES over time; and the condition that nurtures its evolution is good governance. Good governance in turn encompasses among many factors, respect for and fidelity to rules (usually a Constitution) that level the playing field for all stakeholders; free and clean elections beyond reproach; valuing merit and competence above all in the appointment of managers of public agencies; the supremacy of individual rights and freedom above government requirements; equal application of the law to president and common citizen alike in all cases; and competence and transparency in the delivery of public services.

When these basic requirements are met, people will start trusting their government as a prelude to developing pride in their country. PRIDE IN COUNTRY is the essential seed for the evolution of a unique national identity. Ghana for instance is consistently fulfilling these requirements and therefore further ahead of Sierra Leone in her march towards this worthy objective.

Knice
Reply with quote  #16 
1.  Size has nothing to do with it. Both Sierra Leone and the USA are populated by people; and people everywhere have the same needs. I can think of many countries about the size of Sierra Leone and even smaller who are doing very well and who are not resorting to the size excuse. 

2.  My mother is from Kenema and I did a good part of my growing up in Kenema. Moreover I have been to Kenema several times over the past twenty years, including during the past ten years. I can attest to the reality that Kenema is much worse off today than she was ten years ago; worse off today than twenty years ago; heck, worse off today than in 1961! 

3. How effective can Sierra Leonean 'decentralization', if you want to call it that be, when the APC at will can carve the country up into Bantustans to secure its electoral prospects?  The reality in Sierra Leone is that the so-called Chiefs, Mayors, Chairpersons, etc. can make no decisions that cannot be overturned by the Freetown government when they see fit.  

4. The truth is that the solution for the mess we have gotten ourselves into is not only four autonomous regional governments; but fourteen autonomous district governments as well. There is NO reason whatsoever why a broader and more effective decentralization should cost any more than the ineffective centralized edifice in Freetown. After all the aggregate national needs remain the same. All that changes in a maximally decentralized country is the jurisdictional responsibility and control of the funding for meeting these needs.
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