The script of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has always been scripted but the implementation of that script is always unscripted. Whilst the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Professor Kelfala Kallon, is over the moon for allegedly demoting the country’s inflation rate to a single digit; the reality of such a feat is not reflecting on the “bread and butter issues” of ordinary Sierra Leoneans. Citizens are hungrier and angrier today than they were four years ago. Probably, just a probability, President Julius Maada Bio is still looking for a baker and the company that produces the butter.
Albeit the SLPP “Drunkardnomists” are chest-beating themselves about how their government has improved the lot of Sierra Leoneans, generally, but that is not seen on the dining tables and in the pockets of ordinary citizens. Majority of Sierra Leoneans are poorly poorer today than they were four years ago. Government jobs appear to be only for those who have the same “work ethic” of the President than those from the northern parts and Western Area of the country. And yet the SLPP, in its 2018 New Direction Manifesto dubbed, “A Manifesto of the People”, promises that it will provide an atmosphere where all citizens, irrespective of tribe, region or political party affiliation, will “…have unlimited access to jobs [and] food….”
But the Commander-in-Chief, after three years, is still telling the people of Sierra Leone that it is “still work in progress” and his “Paopagandists”, both at State House and the Ministry of Information and Communications, are telling us that we should “trust the process.” Trust which process?
A process that “has deliberately chosen to institutionalise regionalism, intolerance and extreme partisanship in the governance of the state” (to borrow the very words in the SLPP 2018 New Direction Manifesto)?
And whilst President Bio and his choir of Free Educationists are singing hymns of “increasing access to [Free] Quality Education”; the reality on the ground is showing that Sierra Leone is implementing the most expensive Free Education the world over. In most, if not all, Government-owned or assisted schools with their Free Education, pupils are often asked by their teachers to either pay for or buy something in school weeks-in and weeks-out. If they are not asked to buy chalk or pamphlet today; they will be asked to pay for furniture or building materials to construct new classrooms tomorrow. And if they are not asked to contribute for the naming ceremony of their teacher’s child, the day after tomorrow, they will be asked to pay for extra-classes on Saturdays.
At the end of the month, or First Term, when parents calculate the amount of monies they have parted ways with, then they always realise how expensive the SLPP’s “Free Education” is.
And three years now, the Bio-led administration has already reneged on one of the promises it promised in its 2018 New Direction Manifesto. In it, unsuspecting Sierra Leoneans are hoodwinked that if voted in, the SLPP government will “remove the double shift system within 3 years by constructing additional classrooms and schools in populated communities to reduce overcrowding in school”. Well, you and I know that apart from private schools, all Government-owned or assisted schools are still grappling with the double-shift system. And there are no signs that the SLPP government is capable of reducing overcrowding in schools.
And I can bet my only ten-year-old Toyota Camry car that President Bio and majority of his ministers do not believe in their own Free Quality Education policy. It is a factual fact that their children are attending expensive private schools in Freetown, the capital, not disrepair Government-owned or assisted schools. And charity, the cliché goes, should begin in one’s own backyard. In the African tradition, our mothers cannot prepare food for the home without then being the first food-tasters.
Another issue on which the SLPP conned Sierra Leoneans in its 2018 New Direction Manifesto is where it states that it will, “build and support at least one primary school in every administrative section in every district, at least a Junior Secondary in every administrative chiefdom or electoral ward and at least a Senior Secondary School equipped with a science laboratory in every electoral constituency.” Added to that, they also promised to “establish functional district libraries equipped with computers and promote mobile library services”. Three years down the line, these campaign pledges appear to be two of the tall stories in “The Arabian Nights”. And President Bio and his choir of Free Educationists will want to convince us that these feats could be achieved in the next two years.
And one of the things I like to hate about President Bio and his SLPP supporters is that they like to play to the gallery. It appears as if they have mastered Law 37 of Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power”. They have always been creating “compelling spectacles” without any benefit to the wellbeing and economic improvement of ordinary citizens. Imagine the President and his government spending billions of Leones on inviting four West African Heads of State for the country’s 60th Independence Anniversary, whilst they are still grappling with solving the basic “bread and butter issues” of average Sierra Leoneans. It is like a father who is struggling to pay the house rent, incapable of feeding his family or providing lunch and transport fares for his children; yet he is throwing lavish parties just to keep up with the Joneses next door! That’s what my “Soja Tong” childhood friends would colloquially refer to as “false life”. Or the “Belgium” and “Swizzy” guys, in Central Freetown, would call “suffer posh”!
Few days ago, last Sunday to be specific, I saw the Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman, Yusif Keketoma Sandi, on AYV Television strenuously trying to defend the indefensible political and economic blunders of the SLPP government. All I can say to my younger brother (“younger brother” with all the metaphorical trappings disrobed) is that citizens are only interested in magniloquent speeches when their stomachs are filled. But if they are hungry and angry, the palpability of Mathew 13:13 will become palpable as “seeing they see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (according to the King James Bible).