THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN
“In an exclusive interview (done by The Telegraph newspaper, I was informed in a PV by “Malik”, who had posted the information in THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN WhatsApp forum, which I excerpt this quote from)… the Chief Minister (that is, Prof. David Francis, which the Release described as the “Bradford-trained Professor”… Well, I checked. David Francis is not “Bradford-trained”. He studied at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, to earn his first Bachelor of Arts with honours in History degree in 1993; then a Master’s degree in Human Rights at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law; and Wikipedia states a “second degree in 1995 in Diploma in Law, Development and Social Justice at the International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands; then in 1998, he received a doctorate degree in International Relations at the University of Southampton, United Kingdom. [Global Ranking No. 127]. Prior to his appointment as Chief Minister, David Francis was a Professor at Bradford University, where he was the UNESCO Chair in African Peace and Conflict Studies.. Bradford University is the first British university to open a Department of Peace Studies, in 1973; and Bradford now boasts the largest higher education centre for the study of conflict resolution and peace in the world. At the global ranking for universities at 600 to 800, Bradford University became a university only in 1966. That’s about a HUNDRED YEARS after Northwestern University had been a university in the United States in 1855, and is No. 24 in Global Ranking of Universities. Why the comparison between Bradford University and Northwestern University? Remember, Prof. David Francis, in a Press Release, had denigrated Chernor Alpha M Bah’s media institution as “so-called Africanist Press”; while Chernor Alpha M. Bah is a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University (which is No. 24 in Global Ranking of Universities), where he also teaches. Academically. No 600 en No 24 in Global Ranking of Universities, ‘nar udat dae fityai ee kompin?) …A key outcome of the Retreat was that ministers reaffirmed their commitment to recalibrate their interventions to enhance service delivery in various sectors… According to him (Prof. David Francis), every Minister signs a Performance Contract with the President. Each contract, in part, states milestones to be achieved based on the Medium-Term National Development Framework…”It is this “Performance Contract” that I deride in this piece as “RUBBISH” – and that is the milder of words in my repertoire for patriotic indignation.
For one, Prof. David Francis, and his boss, the President of Sierra Leone, ought to know that I am the MASTER, and I articulate the voices and subconscious yearnings of 7 million other MASTERS and MISTRESSES who are citizens of Sierra Leone; and Prof. David Francis and Retired Brigadier Maada Bio are my (our) SERVANTS. My tone is appropriately that of a MASTER speaking to his SERVANTS. How can these SERVANTS develop a “Performance Contract” mechanism that they have not thoroughly explained to me (us!!); and I have little participation in seeing it through? Randomly ask even the educated citizenry with tertiary-level qualifications what is a “Performance Contract”, and likely, 95% of them won’t know what it is. And the 60% of illiterate Sierra Leoneans? Performance Contract could very well mean a word in Chinese to them. The historicity of this charade called “performance contract” was started by SLPP Leader, Alhaji Tejan Kabbah, during his second term as President (2002 to 2007).
President Tejan Kabbah would get his ministers to assemble at the Atlantic Hall of the National Stadium complex in Freetown, and they would talk and talk and talk… about their glowing achievements. Then they would buy a lot of space in the commercial newspapers, and publicize their achievements in small print that one would need a microscope to read. APC Leader, Ernest Bai Koroma (President – 2007 to March, 2018), continued with this scam of performance appraisals of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).
President Ernest Bai Koroma even established an office at State House to monitor the performance contracts of government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs). Every year, these MDAs would meet in a peer-review session at some luxury hotel in Freetown. I attended one such session in 2017 at Shangri La hotel on Lumley Beach. There was the usual impressive PowerPoint displays that the Sierra Leonean elite have come to so much loved to showcase their learning. There was the usual Tea Break and Coffee Break; and sumptuous Lunch Break. There was the camaraderie. All the elite know each other. The masses they were supposed to serve were invisible. There were absolutely no detailed print and electronic recordings of what was said. The print and electronic media had sent their ‘boys and girls’ to cover the three day session, and they waited only for the lunch breaks, and their travel allowances – to report glowing praises for their ‘friends’ who head MDAs. ‘Nar lie Guru dae lie? Nar udat mehnba anything but those sessions way di press bin dae report’. It was a shameless display of public masturbation by affluent and well-educated elites (SERVANTS), who are to serve their poverty-stricken illiterate and mal-educated people (MASTERS and MISTRESSES). Has much changed over since the avowed “New Direction” of the Bio Administration?
While the governing elites in successive governments preen, using pedantic words to sugarcoat their successes… Would prices of our local staple food of rice be cheaper and more affordable? No! Prices keep on rising. Would there be more vegetables and fruits for the majority of people? No!! Sierra Leoneans are some of the most malnourished people on earth. The Chinese and South Koreans come with their fishing trawlers and plunder our territorial ocean space – with impunity. The Chinese and British and WHITE South Africans and Americans mine our diamonds; iron ore, bauxite, titanium, gold… with impunity, giving us the crumbs as royalty and taxes; we have very weak monitoring mechanisms for our mineral wealth. As the bulk of our wealth is stolen from us with too many government politicians and bureaucrats in cohort with these international thieves masquerading as investors, Sierra Leone’s population at about 4 percent average growth rate is one of the fastest growing in the world, and we have the “Ticking Time Bomb” problem of about 70% of youths of employable age that are unemployed in especially cities. Worse, in the crammed mountainous Freetown Peninsula, and the rest of the country, there is ongoing accelerated irreversible and irreparable environmental degradation. As Climate Change gains momentum, the gnawing poverty of today would be exacerbated into cataclysmic poverty, making conflict in the not-too-distant future a certainty, and peace an illusion. Wait! Professor David Francis is an expert from Bradford University which, according to a Wiki posting, “boasts the largest higher education centre for the study of conflict resolution and peace in the world….(Bradford University’s) first chancellor, Harold Wilson, a former United Kingdom Prime Minister (1964 to 1970; and 1974 to 1976), said of the university: ‘You can be confident of your university developing in the future with the same dynamism as has been shown in the past – educating men and women who receive education and training relevant to the needs of our changing society”. I hope Prof. David Francis is not in the process of CREATING “conflict” in Sierra Leone; so he runs back to Bradford University, where he would have the opportunity to upgrade his CV, as he writes more theories on “peace” in Sierra Leone. Those of us with ears to the ground, who daily interact with ordinary people, would state unequivocally that since he took up office as Chief Minister, Sierra Leone has become more politically polarized as a country than even the civil war years of 1991 to 2002; and while he is giving “A” grades to some ministers, the rising prices of consumables for the ordinary citizenry would make nearly all of the masses give “F” grades to some of the very heads of MDAs that Prof. David Francis has given excellent grades to.
Now, Prof. David Francis, on behalf of your MASTERS and MISTRESSES, I speak. In three years, you have VIOLATED a key LAW in Sierra Leone – the Access to Information Act of 2009. This law mandates all government MDAs to proactively inform the people in comprehensive and comprehensible ways (in languages like Krio, Mende, Temne, Limba, Fullah; using all media, and face-to-face engagements) what they want to do; what they are doing; what they have done… Your Performance Contract system is antithetical to this LAW. You have operated largely in secret; and you have only told us the grades awarded; Like you would do at Bradford University. But, Sierra Leone is NOT a course for a Master’s class in Bradford University.
When you re-read your “Peace” textbooks, you are sure to relearn that the first thing for governments to do in a dynamically competitive democratic environment like Sierra Leone is build up TRUST in the, and with the, majority of people. To build up this vital TRUST for your vaunted Performance Contract system, you have to involve ALL political parties in the process; involve credible religious and civil society leaders; involve credible thinkers with vast knowledge and experience; involve media professionals with experience and integrity. They should not just study statistics on paper. They must go on field trips every three months and talk with the masses and stakeholders in the goods and services and ideas value chain that government should oversee, and guide, to ensure significant improvements in people’s livelihoods. Trust me: when you adhere to what MASTER Oswald Hanciles says here on behalf of his masterly peers, there will be real sustainable development (“development” is not just government showing roads and bridges it has built; or tractors it has bought; or, announcing cabinet minister jobs to people from Tonkilili or Pujehun districts), as people would be energized to work harder and produce more. International development agencies will be impressed and pump billions of dollars into our starved economy; making our country more attractive for Foreign Direct Investment.
Take my benign “rubbish” vexatious word in good stead, and exercise Yogic discipline to be of greater service to my ‘Bonthe brother’, the President. Mediocre performance marked as excellent performance by the Office of the Chief Minister would be suicidal for the Bio Presidency, and the SLPP. I watch you! I have much stronger words in my arsenal to unleash than “rubbish”. Precedence shows that my words, when ignored, can be politically lethal.