John Baimba Sesay,Press Attache, Sierra Leone Embassy in China Discuss Power and Political Representation
14th February 2012 · 0 Comments
President Koroma, our MPs & the people’s power
by John Baimba Sesay (photo)
The November elections are gradually approaching and from the look of things, President Koroma is poised for another victory, just as was the case in 2007,when he democratically removed a sitting government, thus making the APC repeating such history in Sierra Leone .The victory that was ensured by the APC in 2007 came about as a result of the determination of then Opposition Leader Ernest Bai Koroma to usher in new change, new hope and new direction into Sierra Leone’s geo-political and economic standing. Take it or you leave it, even if 12 juntas are combined, they can’t just remove President Koroma from power just like that because, this President is God given, he is destined to rule and he has ruled and performed well.
Local revenue for national development:
The victory that was brought by Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma for his APC party will be repeated in November and this also includes his victory in the number of Parliamentary seats. Victor Foe has predicted a 75% win in the parliamentary elections. The point is, the President Koroma led government has actually lived up to the expectation of all and sundry. We need not refer to the provision of electricity, the fixing of Sierra Leone’s road network and the level of seriousness that has been attached to the aspect of revenue generation at the local level as we now see with the revenue collection agency-the NRA. Today, the NRA has not just continued to perform exceptionally well in the area of revenue collection under the able- leadership of a ‘female general’ appointed by President Koroma (first in the history of the institution) in the person of Haja Kallah-Kamara, but the institution has also seen and witnessed realistic transformation with the introduction of the Automated System for Customs Data and the blinding of the GST and Income Tax, under the umbrella of the Domestic Taxes Department.
My understanding is that the institution did not only exceed last year’s revenue target of over 1.2 trillion Leones, but that these are the monies now been used by the government to meet the infrastructural development back home, coupled with the support coming from our donor partners. And when the people see development, they are bound to appreciate the work of whosoever brought such development and if that is the case, then they must be in love with the present government for not only using their taxes to fix-up the road network but in also meeting their needs. Only recently, the President had the pleasure of making public, over 30 new buses bought by government to meet the daily transportation needs of the poor and average Sierra Leonean.
For President Koroma, his government “promised to improve the quality of life of our people, and we are doing so… We are not making promises on what we will do. You see what we have done in electricity, roads, health… Now, you are seeing with your own eyes what my government has done in the 40 buses being launched today, not with donor money from donor countries, but, with money from the Government of Sierra Leone..”(http://www.sierraexpressmedia.com/archives). This was very realistic and truthful on the part of a President who had once promised to improve the quality of life of his people.
President Koroma, a down to earth Leader
MPs and their chances:
But let us move somehow to looking at the potential chances of some of our Members of Parliament to be returned to their offices after the Presidential and Parliamentary elections, taking into account what has been done by some of them and what they promised to do that they failed to do. I wrote few weeks ago that effective representation plays an important role in the re-election of a Member of Parliament. The people will look up to their MPs, in terms of educating them on national happenings. They bring to the knowledge of those they represent what laws are enacted and other developments by Parliament. (http://www.sierraleonedailymail.com/archives)
Describing the party he is leading as an ordinary man party belonging to traders, teachers, drivers, market women, okada riders, farmers and any other ordinary man and woman in the country, President Koroma recently some of his party’s intends to reflect this by giving the people the power to choose whom they want to represent them at the various representation levels in the country body politic(http://www.awoko.org/2012/01/23/peoples-power-to-choose-mps-councilors-and-mayors-declares-president-koroma/) .This is the beauty of democracy from the perspective of parliamentary representation as espoused by President Koroma. The people now have the chance of actually deciding on their representation in governance.
Biriwa and Safroko Limba chiefdoms:
Constituency 34 is found in the Bombali district and it is covering both the Biriwa and Safroko Limba chiefdoms. Biriwa chiefdom is reportedly having 266 villages while Safroko has a total of 92 villages. From the geo-political arrangement of Sierra Leone’s body politics, these two chiefdoms are arguably among the strongholds of the ruling All Peoples Congress party led by President Ernest Bai Koroma. Prior to the 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, the people of Biriwa were democratically cheated when a Paramount Chief was literally imposed on them by the erstwhile government of Tejan Kabba (h). President Koroma, being an astute and grass root politician and knowing that the will of the people is supreme in any democratic decision, ensured the people of Biriwa got an elected Paramount Chief of their choice.
It is a fact also, that even as the elections are just months away, people have started canvassing, some for re-election into parliament, while others are trying to ask that chance be given them to prove that they too can represent the interest of the electorate in Parliament effectively. Constituency 34, in the Bombali district is no exception to this.
I once had the opportunity of meeting one young, courageous and pro-poor people gentleman by the name of Albert Deen Kamara, who is seeking to get the APC symbol for Constituency 34 thus at the end, seeking the mandate of the people in the above mentioned Constituency for representation in Parliament. My discussion him, prior to my departure for Beijing was very insightful and one that left me with the conclusion, that as a country we actually have the human resource to be a developed nation.
Participatory approach to governance:
President Koroma’s Agenda for Change requires people who share his vision, people who, without allowing the President to talk, can understand his plans for national development. One point should be stated here that in development, the participatory approach is of essence to good governance and democracy.
Albert Deen Kamara, a youthful man, demonstrated his determination to change the status of the constituency by concentrating on education, especially that of the girl child. ‘I have always got myself involved in agriculture, which is practically part of the President’s Agenda for Change and if I should empower my people in both Biriwa and Safroko chiefdoms, there is the need to see how we could, collectively with the people, improve on education thus improving on the human resource of not just the Constituency but that of the country as a whole…’
Albert, seeking the people’s power will be a good start…
He spoke of the desire to work with all stakeholders in the constituency, also on the need to form committees and the need to create a middle income class as that will go a long way in developing the constituency and emphasized that ‘we don’t always need to be looking up to central government for all development but with the collective effort of people, something positive will happen which will make government impress with you…’
In a rather very passionate manner, Albert Deen Kamara spoke of the need for community participation in all decision making ‘…I will always try to be with my people, I want to be the torch for the Constituency …the participatory approach to development is what I will concentrate on so as not to only ensure the APC remains in power but at the same time, to have something as a pointer to development ‘ But is it that the people of Constituency 34 have not been getting effective representation in Parliament? Well, Kamara thinks “this government has done extremely well for the common man to the point that today, we can boast of electricity and road development among others… we still need to do more at the constituency level to see how we could complement President Koroma’s work and that is why I want to come up as an alternative.’ The APC, for Kamara is a pro-poor people party and one that caters for the need of the average Sierra Leonean. Therefore, he sees himself as a man of the people.
He emphasized on the importance of agriculture, stating that he believes also in putting premium on agriculture, because as a man with several acres of plantation, he will be an example for others to be involved in agriculture, “and this is a paramount aspect in the President’s Agenda for Change…” He thinks he can tell a story towards solving a problem but cannot practically be a problem solver and as such, looks forward to ‘bringing a new direction, new hope and development to the people of Biriwa and Safroko Limba Chiefdoms with the support of the All Peoples Congress party.”
The President did make the point that it is the people’s power to choose their councilors and Parliamentarians and I most humble would want to appreciate the President for that. And Albert thinks “this cuts across…I have gone round the constituency, I had held discussions with people and have seen the determination in them to have someone who cannot not only represent them but one that will bring about change and new direction though with the collective efforts of all and sundry in the Constituency,”
That said, it is indeed left with whosoever is vying to ensure, the support of the people is got, because at the end, it is the people who will determine their representation and President Koroma, being the type of Leader that listens to his people, will surely want to see a continuation of his development strides but only when he is voted into office for another five year term in office. Only when the people are met, spoke with, convinced with good policies that they are sure of getting more results.
President Koroma and his government will have all the determination for a better Sierra Leone but this only will become a reality when such determination trickles down to those seeking party symbols for parliamentary seats.
Notwithstanding the track record of President Koroma in terms of his performance, I encourage all to get to the registration centres and register as that is one of the ways he can be returned to State House. It is your civic responsibility. Register NOW and then vote NOVEMBER 17TH.
By Daily Mail