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IF YOU REFUSE TO RETIRE; YOU WILL EXPIRE OOOOHH!!

September 2, 2021

By: Winstanley. R. Bankole Johnson

The recent ruses over the Police Inspector General (IG) Sovula attaining the age of 61 years and overdue for retirement and doubts about him ever proceeding on retirement presently speaks to two issues:

  • The absence of structured succession planning within the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) hierarchy
  • Deep-rooted sycophancy within the Civil Service

both of which for what is purported to be “A Force for Good” and in which so much resources have been invested over the last twenty years to rebrand and reposition it as a repository of Law and Order is ominous both for the Police as a national security force for our country.

In serious corporate organizations where structured succession planning exists, replacements of substantive executives need not be an issue for public discourse. It comes and passes away like calendar days. As a matter of fact as early as two years into ones’ retirement one’s body clock should have started feeling a mental mismatch or revulsion and a disappearance of affinity with an organization s/he possibly would have served for the better part of their adult life. But we are talking here about a government agency, where sycophancy is a norm.   You will appreciate this point when you reflect on the fact that appearances of the top police hierarchy at nearly every function they know the President or his Vice will be in attendance is like a sine –qua non, even though a retinue of well-armed close protection officers and posse of other security guards would have been deployed. 

What really is making the exit of IG Sovula all the more odious is the fact that though the circumstances might seem to differ, almost the same virulence and hatred prevailed in the days leading to the rather indecent exit of his precursor IG Richard Moigbe. Back then it was a leaked letter on his imminent retirement by a subordinate that excited the debate. Today it is Press reactions in favour of the sitting IG that is exciting the debate: “IG Sovula to go or not to go on retirement?”

Whichever side of the divide you stand, governments need to revisit the replacement strategies to such a sublime position of a Police Inspector General even if only to resuscitate whatever apolitical respect is left of it. It is really sad that the institution should be traversing such a morass of indiscipline and an absence of confidentiality at a time when as a Force they can boast of the highest number of personnel with academic excellence within their ranks than ever before. 

Legacies

According to pro-Sovula SLPP tabloids he is indispensable, having assumed office at a time when morale within the Police Force was at its lowest ebb, but which in under three years he has single-handedly transformed into a Force that can now hold its own within the entire African continent and beyond.  Very good!!  But hasn’t that always been the case for appointments to all positions immediately upon the incumbency of new political dispensations in this country? I ask so because I know that from the Justice sector, through the security apparatuses, the economy, education, roads and telecommunications infrastructure and healthcare services deliveries, right on to our mortuaries and cemeteries, there is nothing that was inherited by this government from the previous APC administration that was “worth writing home about”. That statement which to me is neither new nor has it ever been true, remains as unfortunate an effort at destroying APC legacies as anyone striving to stir up dust in a waterlogged pitch.

And from social media clips the IG Sovula is warming up to the gallery not to remain unnoticed. For example, scarcely had the NACOVERC issued their Presser on 25th August assuaging citizens that government efforts to contain and win the fight against the Covid-19 Virus was being evidenced by low infection and hospitalization rates than the Police IG emerged with their own Presser Ref. P369 of 26th giving various ultimata to their personnel to either comply with or face serious sanctions (as if a new wave had emerged) which includes but not limited to being denied accesses to salaries, promotions and even entry to their workstations. From both Pressers could emerge one simple conclusion: Synergy between Government institutions is absent! Period!! Everyone is trying to outshine the other for the singular attention of the Executive. So to co-relate even for the same purpose is anathema.

Gains

The thankful thing is that bad as the Police Force was deemed to have been before his appointment, IG Sovula was able to keep his head above waters throughout his 30-odd years of professional career and to have risen through the ranks unblemished and become the obvious choice for the coveted post of IG under this dispensation. When one considers that adage that if the head of a fish is rotten then so will the entire body be, then Sovula ought to be commended for having been able to so commendably extricate himself from all the malaises that was making society paint the Police in such a bad light.

The fact remains though that as bad as the Police Force was deemed to have been before Sovula became IG (or under the APC) the following gains prevailed thanks largely to effective Policing techniques introduced by the past administration:

  • The country was peaceful and cohesive throughout the entire EBK administration and even scored a global ranking for that. So there was no need for a Peace Commission
  • Law and Order prevailed with lower crime rates and far fewer armed robberies
  • Participation by the Sierra Leone Police in international Peace Keeping assignments were introduced and enhanced (UNAMID; AMISOM). As a matter of fact I am informed that the present AMISOM Commander is from the SLP
  • Peaceful conduct of elections without citizens  witnessing the open disenfranchisement of voters by destruction of ballot boxes in broad day light by sitting Cabinet Minister and with impunity
  • The establishment of a Formed Police Unit
  • The establishment of a Police Garments Factory
  • Establishment of a Police Estate Department

So in reality the SLP could not have been as bad as was being inferred in pre-Sovula era.

Anyway as far as us the good and loyal citizens are concerned whether IG Sovula proceeds on timely or deferred retirement is not important, not the least within a governance paradigm that recognizes only those who share work ethics with the President. What is certain is that no matter for how long anyone is retained in office, it will not be beyond the day s/he begins to use Rollators or Wheelchairs to arrive at work. In this life if you refuse to retire, you will expire oooooohhh!!

Harmonize

I made mention to the NACOVERC above and with respect to their recently revised regulations for Prayer Houses (particularly Church Worship Services for which I believe many are appreciative), would like to draw the specific attention of Mr. Sheku A F Bangura, the Chairman of NACOVERC to a seeming paradox regarding both the stipulated hours of worship and attendees between regular Church Services of Worship and Funeral Services.

I am bringing this out because when I attempted to attend a funeral service recently, a Priest politely informed me that unlike normal Services of Worship that has been extended to ninety (90) minutes with a maximum number of attendees of “half the normal sitting capacity of a Church”, the maximum number of sympathizers allowed per funerals within the same ninety (90) minutes durations is restricted to fifty (50). I am unable to appreciate the rational for this “variant” variance and honestly believe that unless the NACOVERC can advance abundant evidences justifying it, would appeal that the distinction between the number of attendees at normal Services of Worship and Funeral Services within the same confined premises be harmonized. That is to say: All Church Services to be conducted within the stipulated timeframe of ninety (90) minutes for a congregation not exceeding “half the normal sitting capacity of a Church”.

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