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THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN

Lungi Bridge Project Could Be Salone’s Apollo 11 Moon-landing

July 22, 2019

As the United States celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing of man on the surface of the moon, I state with faith that the $2 billion Lungi Bridge project of the Bio Administration will be Sierra Leone’s own ‘Apollo 11 moon project’; catalyzing Sierra Leone becoming within our lifetime the country in Africa with the fastest developmental surge   – like Singapore; like post-1994-genocide Rwanda.  Retired Brigadier Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, can provide leadership for this quantum leap.  To achieve the President’s ambitious goals – intrinsic in his Free Quality Education programme; the establishment of a directorate for science and technology; his emphasis on Human Resources Development – he has to confront, and puncture, the Big Lie balloon that Sierra Leone is enveloped in. Should I say…. “TRAPPED IN”?  In the Lungi Bridge project, President Bio could be replicating US’ President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on May 25, 1961, when he told the US Congress that the US would land a man on the moon.

At about 04:00 hours Sierra Leone Time, July 20, 2019,  I  watched on CNN probably the most famous female international television host today,  “Amanpour”.  (Christiane Maria Heideh Amanpour was  born 12th January, 1958. She is a British-Iranian journalist. She is the Chief International Anchor for CNN). Amanpour interviewed Charles Fishman, author of “One Giant Step” – a book on the July 16, 1969 landing of man on the moon by the United States. “… In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy announced a goal of ‘landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth’ before the end of the decade, the mission seemed all but impossible. ‘[The U.S.] didn’t have a spaceship that could fly to the moon,’ journalist Charles Fishman notes. ‘… We didn’t have a computer small enough or powerful enough to do the navigation necessary to get people to the moon. We didn’t have space food.’  ….

 

“…..Nevertheless, the race to the moon was on — especially after the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth on April 12, 1961. Fishman’s new book, One Giant Leap, tells the story of the ordinary people who mobilized behind the Apollo program to pull off the most extraordinary human achievement: the July 20, 1969, moon landing. Fishman notes that 410,000 men and women at some 20,000 different companies contributed to the effort (Fishman says) …Apollo was the biggest nonmilitary effort in the history of human civilization.” (SOURCE: https://www.npr.org/2019/06/12/731660780/one-giant-leap-explores-the-herculean-effort-behind-the-1969-moon-landing).  

On the Amanpour show  on July 20, 2019, Charles Fishman got  even the news-seasoned Amanpour awestruck as he spoke as to how the computer board  for the moon mission was meticulously  hand-woven by women; and the parachute which landed the space capsule was also sewn  by hand by women  – and how there were only three specialists in the US who could fold the parachute; and NASA made it a policy NOT to have all three of them driving in the same vehicle at the same time, in case there would be a car accident.  The world we live in today: the digital age… could traced its roots to that Apollo 11 moon mission.

NASA scientists have pioneered more than 6,300 technologies during their bid to understand space that are now routinely used in day-to-day living. Just some of the top inventions which are spinoff from the NASA moon landing include these: 1. CAT scanner: this cancer-detecting technology was first used to find imperfections in space components; 2. Computer microchip: modern microchips descend from integrated circuits used in the Apollo Guidance Computer; 3. Cordless tools: power drills and vacuum cleaners use technology designed to drill for moon samples; 4. Ear thermometer: a camera-like lens that detects infrared energy we feel as heat was originally used to monitor the birth of stars; 5. Freeze-dried food: this reduces food weight and increases shelf life without sacrificing nutritional value…” (By Sasjkia Otto; 22 July,

2009; SOURCE:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/space/5893387/Apollo-11-moon-landing-top-15-Nasa-inventions.html).

 

The Lungi  Bridge Project

 The July 20, 2019 CNN  Amanpour  show on the Apollo 11 project triggered in my mind the Lungi Bridge project.  It could be our own landing of a man of man on the  moon mission.  Sierra Leone will never land a man on the moon – figuratively or literally – if we continue living in our balloon of Orwellian Big Lies.  One of our Big Lies is that we are “Sierra Leonean”. Very few of us are.  Most of us in this 47,000 square miles carved for us by British colonialists are ‘Temne-ian, Mende-ian, Fullah-ian’….etc. Or, at best, Southeast-ian or North-ian. Not
“Sierra Leonean”.  Generally, Sierra Leoneans have to be taught what it means to be part of a country; the responsibilities and duties of being a citizen of a country.

Another Big Lie is embedded in the democratic politics we were forced to practice starting 1996.  Compelled by the British to live as “Sierra Leoneans” within their carved political space during the Conference of Berlin in 1884/1885, we were implicitly coerced by the West in the 1990s to practice democratic politics in the Western mode – after the economy had imploded when the APC’s General Joseph Saidu Momoh was President; and the civil war was ignited on March 23, 1991.  Sierra Leone’s elite have disguised their  subdued ethnic war as competitive democratic politics – with the Temne-speaking educated elite of the Northwest waging civil war on the Mende-speaking  educated elite of the Southeast, and vice versa.  This ‘civil war’  would be won  when one regional/ethnic block grabs control of the presidency – this gives the winning side a sense of entitlement to ‘legitimate war booty’; to get all the best jobs in the public sector; to plunder and rape the state with impunity, and be protected by a president.  Then, both the Mende-speaking SLPP-inclined educated elite in Parliament and government and the Temne-speaking APC-dominated educated elite would PRETEND that they seek the interest of  “our people”.  Big Lie!! For almost 60 years, the predatory SLPP/APC elite have been like vampires, while the  vast majority of people  have been exponentially impoverished.  The Bio  Administration’s National Medium-Term Development Plan (NMTDP) launched in January, 2019, states that over 60 percent of Sierra Leoneans live in poverty; and 10% are “multi-dimensionally poor”. Solutions?

Bio-Political-Radicalism or Bio-Political-Suicide

President Maada Bio should stop playing ‘politricks’ in his vaunted Anti-Corruption Campaign.  Bio should stop the Selective Justice inherent in his corruption campaign – targeting the Temne-speaking political elite of the APC for alleged corruption in the Commission of Inquiry (COI); while protecting the Mende-speaking SLPP-supporting governmental bureaucratic elite who – most of them; not all of them – have been almost equally corrupt.  The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) should stop its out-of-court-settlement strategy, which is actually incentivizing corruption, and covering up for the corrupt  – ‘Man way done tiff $1,900,000, ACC dae fine am $100,000’.  SLPP leader, and President of Sierra Leone between 1996 and 2002, Alhaji Tejan Kabbah,   did the same thing.  Kabbah’s landslide 72 percent presidential victory in 2002 led to the SLPP losing the 2007 presidential election. President Maada Bio should wage an all-out Yogi-dispassionate war on corruption.  That way, the President would earn enormous political capital from the majority youth electorate; and, when he does, I predict a landslide victory for Bio in the 2023 presidential election.

Another Big Lie to be punctured is that there are civil servants who ‘work’ in government.  Most of them don’t work. They are lazy.  They largely steal government money. They ‘suffocate and murder ideas and projects’ from the private sector.  It was the SLPP’s President Tejan Kabbah who established the “Human Resources Management Office (HRMO)” in the early 2000s. It was meant to spur productivity in government.  It is a charade. There has been very little improvement in public sector productivity over the past 20 years. Today, another SLPP Leader as President, Retired Brigadier Maada Bio, is singing the same song as Tejan Kabbah of better harnessing the human resources of Sierra Leone.  It’s a Big Lie!! Over the past one year, I have dealt with some ministries and civil servants: they are still as lazy and lackadaisical as ever.

One Big Lie of the Ernest Bai Koroma presidency was the establishment of performance tracking office at State House; the mockery of government ministers signing performance contracts.  The Chief of Staff Office was established by former President Koroma to monitor and appraise government ministers.  Largely, it was treated with disdain.  The former President would sack ministers on his whim, or, what he believed was political expediency – not based on their performance.  The ministers knew that.  All they needed to do was to play on the emotions of President Koroma; or, appear to be fierce supporters of the APC. Today, President Bio has appointed the “Chief Minister” to perform a role similar to Koroma’s “Chief of Staff”.  I am yet to see whether this is not another effort to bamboozle the public, or, reward of a crony.  Solution?: In Development Communications mode, elite media professionals and credible civil society activists and international partners should be brought in to monitor and appraise all government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) – weekly, monthly.  Productivity must be encouraged; and rewarded; and seen to be rewarded.

President Maada Bio would commit political suicide if he does not listen to sages like me and take radical action to overhaul the public sector in Sierra Leone; or, he may paved the way for the SLPP to go into another decades of political exile. The main political opposition ‘smells blood’, as it watches President Bio’s leadership of Big Lies which the APC KNOWS WOULD FAIL.  The President can listen to the usual sycophants who keep on telling him that he is laying concrete foundations for development and electoral trumping of the APC in 2023; but, really aim to enrich themselves through his patronage.  The choice is for the President to make: ‘To land a Sierra Leonean on the moon in the Lungi Bridge project, or, to resurrect Foday Sankoh to unleash blood and gore’