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Despite critics’ debates among Diasporas around the world concerning the awesome contributions of President Ernest Bai Koroma’s administration in Sierra Leone, I have seen that there is much more ongoing progress in Sierra Leone today than at any other time in recent history.
Judging by all performance metrics – the economy, governance, and social structure of Sierra Leone – it is safe to say now that the people of Sierra Leone are in resoundingly better spirit to reelect the incumbent president, Ernest Bai Koroma because of his performance as head of state. According to responses from many Sierra Leoneans that were interviewed during my vacation.
Most significantly, perhaps, is the fact that the incumbent president has policies that are mostly congruent with the nation’s priorities that put him on a safer reelection driver seat. Apart from the vast infrastructural development, especially the road construction, that is going on in most parts of the country Ernest Koroma also scores an “A” in championing popular causes in the country.
Before he took over the reins of government power, there was an albatross – the unpopular armed robbery saga which served as a deterrent to so many Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora from visiting Sierra Leone, but his administration was swiftly able to counter it within a short time with some strategic alliances – government collaborated with the opposition, the police, and the military to find a solution to the arm robbery nightmare. One of the solutions was to put the youth to work.
The inception of motor bike transportation system called “Okada” is one of the strategies the government used to provide work. Many of the responses I received from motor bike riders that I interviewed noted that the Okada system is one of the focal point for economic and social activities that have helped to combat the ugly look of arm robbery. Although critics say that the abundance of motor bikes littering the streets of the capital city of Freetown in a disorderly manner has increased pollution and nurtured the potentials for accidents yet, some people say the advent of “Okada” has fostered more livable communities because of faster movement of people from one end to another.
I also saw that the government is promoting competition and a vibrant democratic process. Politics and electioneering atmosphere is very tense in the country. Competitive elections are necessary for a representative democracy, but resistance against the reelection of EBK is low because incumbents have strategic advantages which are keeping other candidates from running effectively against him.
Many people that I interviewed regarding chances of the opposition SLPP flag bearer said the former military junta, Julius Maada Bio, should not have been enlisted to be among the successor contenders. Even among the opposition party members, some say they would rather stay home without casting their vote, because they cannot vote for Maada Bio.
“Let us face the fact here, whether Ernest Koroma is a born leader or has developed skills and the ability to become leader, many of us have seen that the president has certain characteristics that seem natural and have put him in where he is looked up to as an effective leader of our beloved country” A college student in Bo said, “President Koroma has the quality of keeping the main goal in focus and he is trying to maintain a high standard in raising the bar of governing” “Re-election is imminent” another student from Fourah Bay College noted.
In view of people’s opinion and in my own observation, I was impressed by the fact that President Koroma is a man who never let his detractor’s opinion divert him from the course he thinks is right. Based on his approval ratings, I noticed that the president has demonstrated a warm-hearted feelings and deep concern for the welfare of his people. Despite the facts that too many streets in Freetown are congested in disorderly manner with abrupt street trading and misbehavior of Okada drivers I saw a lot of contentment and ease of mind on the faces of people.
Attending two functions at the State House where I had the opportunity to interview journalists, I have to say that President Koroma performed his official duties with unswerving integrity and fearless determination. His forthrightness, frank, and honest attitude in relation to public matters graded him as being destined for office for the second term, an opposition journalist told me.
“Knowing that Ernest Koroma’s ratings are high, and in the midst of some poor economic circumstances that were left behind by the ten year civil war, and the massive corruption raged by the past regime, the main opposition party, SLPP failed to elect a better candidate who should have tested Ernest Koroma. Instead, the party decided to choose someone that they feel will destroy the reputation of the incumbent”, a teacher at Ahmadiyya School said.
We must be aware that the people of Sierra Leone are sensitive to their presidential candidates’ profiles. They also seem to know instinctively how people think and feel and how the aspiring leaders’ personality would react to every change in the socio-political atmosphere of our country. “If we have established ourselves to make drastic changes after our return from ten years of conflict, we should put people with integrity into our political contest so that our national development goal will be achieved” a senior civil servant told me.
Based on my fact finding about the president, it seems impossible to translate into words the popularity, respect, and admiration for this president. I saw the love and interest of this president etched upon the faces of the people all over the country. So far in the contest, and the names of presidential candidates concerned, no one at this moment can exceed Ernest Koroma in popularity as well as the possession of integrity and charisma.
At this time, the people of Sierra Leone need a president with vision, and vision is what many people believe Ernest Koroma has as a charismatic leader. In line with the nation’s thinking about sustainable peace and unity, the country needs a president like Ernest Koroma, who has the vision and where with all to take us to the next level.
The existential threat of the opposition leader, with a military junta background and mind set, has directly influenced people’s choices of reelecting EBK.
Because of all these amazing changes which have occurred during the first term of Ernest Bai Koroma, it will be good for many people in the Diaspora to witness the inauguration of Ernest Koroma for the second term on January and be a part of the history making president in Sierra Leone. Stay tuned, more reports coming.
Sanpha Sesay, Texas Chief Correspondent
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