September 20, 2016 By Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I listened to Palo Conteh, the Minister of Internal Affairs, shooting from the hips in an interview in which he was literarily telling the world, with all the glee of a grim reaper, to go to hell; as Sierra Leone will soon hasten the despatch of anyone sentenced to death for drawing blood from another person.
Fair enough, on the face of it, he has a good point that the law is still very much in our statutes. But I’m not sure that killing is the answer. I am not sure that the increasing wave of dastardly acts is a reason to go down that barbaric road with all pomp and pageantry, when the nation, its people, and its resources are being systematically dismembered to the distrustful swagger and mocking actions and words of national undertakers who don the garb of statesmen and leaders?
How lovely it would be, if the gradually oppressive ‘monarchical’ order, applies the same blood-thirsty rule to the numerous kleptomanias in its circle, that together, form the bedrock of its existence and serve as the face of all that is bad in our governance. It is just infuriating to hear how the supposed custodians of national morals engage in ethically wrong behaviour and go unpunished; yet minnows are killed with a sledge hammer.
I also wish the administration of which Palo is an integral part will simply use the same brainwave and determination to nail people to the cross, to solve the current deplorable state of our socio-economic and political problems – a creation of their making.
In great societies, laws are reworked and new ones created to engage the changing dialectics for larger good. No one is against corporal punishment if deemed absolutely necessary. But correcting the ills of the society is a better option for the development of a nation which is continually plagued by fiscal indiscipline and financial irregularities of complex and unprecedented dimensions.
It is the government and political henchmen like Palo, who, through corrupt tendencies have created the state of economic and socio-political insecurity that are keeping away companies that would have provided employment for our teaming unemployed youths. The roaming young men and women, determined to utilise any available means for survival and social leverage, including fraudulent activities, intimidation and violence, are only taking a cue from the signals emanating from those in the corridors of power. No more, no less.
Eight years on, the much-trumpeted solution to the dilemma of our youths is still in realm of the imagination of our leaders who swore heaven and earth to deal with the problem. Yet, I did warn that post-war histories indicate that insecurity is a terminal outcome of a society which fails to tackle this problem of idle and frustrated young minds that see their leaders living a life of luxury without sweat.
The very idea that ‘Change’ starts with the led and not the leadership can best be described as an abdication of responsibility by the leadership. It is the likes of Palo that encourage (d) the same level of indiscipline being seen in the society now. It is the greedy politicians seeking leverage in national politics that empowered and encouraged the emergence of criminal groups who serve (d) them well.
For example, the battle for control of the APC National Youth League now playing out is an off-shoot of the power tussle within the ruling party, which is already having a spill over effect. Those like Palo, who should nip this in the bud, are turning a blind eye and running after the gold when the gilt is right under their noses.
With activities which are indicators of economic buoyancy of the citizenry not thriving, why aren’t those in power thinking about leveraging our blessed and resourceful land to innovate instead of focusing on how to decimate an already emaciated populace? Or don’t they know that a hungry person does not sing alleluia?
Rather than ministers behaving like talking dolls who spout inane phrases when the strings are pulled, those in power should realise that they have a moral duty to tame and civilise trendy savages, but only if they have ensured that the general welfare of those whom they psychologically manipulated into voting for them, are improved.
Since joining the government, Palo, the preening peacock lusting after glory, has always seen himself as the ‘untouchable’ and a dragon who prides himself on some weird self-absorbed, self-adulatory knowledge, steel and expertise. But he isn’t.
He might pride himself as having wrestled with the Ebola pigs, wriggled with the opposition snakes, able to live with thieves and having lunch with a mix breed of homo sapiens amidst the government’s track record of celebrating looting, emptiness and mediocrity.
However, the crude cloak he adorns, tells a different story of whom and what he is. He is one mortal man who seems to have the eerie ability to screw up the simplest things with unbridled hubris, and who in his delusional mind makes most decent folk want to reach for the ‘vomit bucket’ for crying out loud. Sad nation.
I have a message for him and indeed those in the corridors of power who think the world is simply their oyster: At the cemetery – you will realise that life is worth nothing; the ground we walk today will be our roof tomorrow. Your only epitaph will be the legacy that leaves the majority better off than when you met them rather than the mansions and fat bank accounts you leave behind.
Meanwhile, when you are dead, you do not know you are dead. All of the pain is felt by others. The same thing happens when you are stupid. We are where we are because of our age long laziness on all fronts. Like I’ve said, we have become shock less…We are unprogressive in thought and actions. We revolve around the same circle all the time. Our voice is louder than our actions. We must change our ways and our thinking.
Sierra Leone as a nation appears cursed. This is one of the major reasons why the country is in the current very sorry state. We are collectively guilty as we have, by our complicit silence, contributed in no small way to the creation of the conscience-less nation that we have today and a leadership that promised much and delivered less; except personal aggrandisement.
Because we started worshipping the measurement and not the thing being measured, we are now celebrating IMF migraine, foreign-cash constipation, governance sciatica and socio-political diarrhoea.
The car-crash economic and socio-political dummy bleating in the wind is an indication of how deep the country is truly in shit. It’s a deep governance rot indeed. And we still don’t realise it. We are a revolving people on a journey to nowhere.
Today, our nation is having a downturn in her economic fortunes. Why are we in this state in the first instance? Rather than answers, all we keep on hearing are propaganda and rhetoric as well as annoying and unguarded utterances from those in leadership positions, such as Palo.
Having signed away our future for a morsel of bread, the lie that we have been living appears to have eventually caught up with us. Still our leaders have failed to learn that our dreams are being destroyed by those they have given so much powers and access to our wealth. It is these ‘Samaritans’ who have ensured that we remain perpetual parasites and impoverished dependents of an equally struggling taskmaster.
In their blind panic, our leaders are desperately looking for quick fixes and are even ready to sign away our future to those with bigger talons, to suck us dry. Without a hoot for future ramifications, they ignore the common sense dictum that says once you are funded by other people’s money, either investors or international bankers, what they think is what matters, as they dictate what you can and cannot do; or what they want in exchange.
In a discussion with one of those who are latching on to the ever increasing number of aspirants for 2018, I realised that part of our problem is the peacock approach that most of those who should know better take to the realities of our current situation.
I realised that the current hardship facing the nation is simply as a result of the fact that almost every one of us benefited from the cycle of corruption unleashed by our leaders and their cohorts; but tacitly welcomed by the generality of us. This shows how morally bankrupt we are.
Ours is a peculiar mess in need of perpetual emphasis until true change. We may be close to the snag but we are being held back by nonentities who live big and grow fat on what should otherwise be the commonwealth of all citizens. The looters now own the capital and risking it is the last thing on their minds. This is why not one of our so-called rich men has an industry or a business that can be termed a long term national asset; beneficial to the utmost growth of Sierra Leone.
I am not dumb not to know when slight changes happen and propagandists latch on it to massage the government’s ego. However, all this masturbating the government’s self-worth must stop, until we see genuine change and improvement in people’s lives. People are suffering; no money; no job; no nothing and you are massaging the egos of those whose principal job is to ensure that this does not happen.
It is this same set of oppressors who see the downtrodden of the society as mere landscape features that must be exterminated. There is a wide disconnect between the ruling elites and the masses so much that even the media hasn’t grasped the depth of poverty and hunger in the land and the effect of the social degradation now apparent.
Someone was complaining a few days ago about being stuck in traffic for over an hour, just because the President was going home. The trouble is the ‘Pa’ had not even left his office when the roads were closed. As a result, the ‘god’ of our land, who is failing to lift the bruised and battered populace, made several poor struggling people, dashing around the land for survival, to miss opportunities that would have given them succour.
Well, the political class is aware that nothing guarantees bondage better than poverty. It is why the cornerstone of their governance is to ensure that the majority remain poor, hungry and battered to submission by the realities of their existence. This in turn saps them of any ability to rise up and challenge the audacity of the impunity of their leaders.
For us to move forward, we have to invest in our ability to create the future we want to see. That literally means we need to imbibe the culture of building solutions. It is because there is no political will to lead that our leaders feed us with a diet of dust. We need to start changing our mindset. We are in crisis because we squandered our boom at the inception of this administration.
Please let’s not blame this mess on any past administration. It all started and ended with this government. Fair enough, beyond the cacophony of blame and socio-economic and political shenanigans, it is our ‘collective’ stupidity that has continued to ensure that we’ve been engaging so much in motion without locomotion. It is our combined actions and inactions that has brought us to this state of economic comatose that we are going through.
Rather than keep quiet and enjoy their loot, our leaders are running their mouths and misleading us with distorted stories of progress, change and buoyancy; while indulging in financial recklessness.
What temerity on our collective intelligence?
They are telling us how rosy the future is, amidst the painful economic strangulation; yet we can barely feed ourselves. All our vital institutions have been crippled by corruption so much that their ineffectual dexterity is a signpost of the extreme rot pervading our stunted growth. Until we create a conducive atmosphere for investment to thrive, our youths will continue to be jobless and become agents of social and economic destruction.
Politically, the further decimation of the opposition, whose death wish is legendary, has created a void which is being filled by impunity. Aided by a poodle legislature and a horrendously corrupt judiciary, those in power bare their fangs on the very heart of our nation; draining the blood like Dracula and oblivious (or is it uncaring) of the import of the damage they do and the death knell they sound for our tomorrow.
Following their wanton display of greed, there are civil servants and private sector managers that have assets worth 100 times their entire career earnings. They don’t know any better and their children having seen their parent’s and leaders’ model don’t know any better. This is why we have the cyclical samba dance of greed and stunted growth.
Sierra Leone moving forward is dependent on the reconstruction of our national political-economic architecture and the removal of the current system that subjugates economic development to sentiments and petty ethno-political and religious considerations, as the Kabala imbroglio has shown.
We currently practise a system that empowers corruption and guarantees bad governance and we need to change that. We cannot continue to trust the goodwill, good intention and integrity of the men and women we elect into political office. We must evolve and develop a system that motivates hard work, merit, good governance; and sanctions a system of political patronage and nepotism as we have now.
Our leaders promote a system that ensures that those who refuse to work, not only eat, but eat MORE than those who work. This injustice has been our bane and the major, if not the sole reason, we have been burdened with poor, nay, despicable leadership.
Sadly, we have been forced to distort our perception of reality so much so that we, and especially those in the Diaspora, substitute our own experiences as the reality of all other compatriots.
Unfortunately, it takes a deliberate and often painful effort, to pierce the bubble wrap and actually see the bleak landscape inhabited by the masses that service our comforts and execute our needs. But, bubble or not, we cannot hide from reality.
This is why things must change. This indeed is where our CHANGE must begin. Change will come to our nation only when we start to point out the irresponsible guys; whether past or present; in our system and fight for the entrenchment of true democratic ideals, good governance and accountability across board.
Sierra Leoneans stand up and save your country, God has been more than kind to us. Let us fight for a system that will promote both equality and equity. Nothing will change until we are ready to address our fundamental flaws. We need to overhaul our laws where things can be done differently. Until then….