By Thomas Dixon
2007 elections was when Sierra Leoneans saw an influx of Diaspora into the politics of the country.
It was that election that attracted a lot of Sierra Leoneans living in the Diaspora to contest for parliamentary positions and most of them won the elections but why should Sierra Leoneans continue to vote for people that do not understand their plights? This article seeks to expose the abysmal failure of Sierra Leoneans Diaspora in the politics of this country.
Mainstream International Relations (IR) literature nor its opponents such as neorealism, neoliberal institutionalism, constructivism or new constitutionalism have not paid much attention to Diaspora but the concept of Diaspora has been growing particularly in Africa.
In 2003, African Union amended its Constitutive Act of 2000, Article 3(q), by inviting ‘the African Diaspora to participate as an important component in the building of the African Union’ (AU 2003: 2) and according to the AU, ‘the role of the Diaspora in their relations with the continent is to contribute to the development of the continent and the strengthening of the African Union.’
The World Bank has effectively mainstreamed African Diasporas into the discussion on international development.
In 2007, World Bank launched the African Diaspora Program (ADP), providing policy advice, monitoring and support in order to engage Diasporas in development cooperation.
Individual African states have created some form of platform in order to support or control their citizens and former citizens living abroad, including setting up entire Diaspora affairs ministries or a special Diaspora office.
In Sierra Leone, President Koroma had a plan of engaging the Diaspora by creating the Office of the Diaspora so as to ensure that Sierra Leoneans living in the Diaspora fill the skill gaps and engage in meaningful business.
For that Office to be effective, the President decided to put the office under his watchful eyes so that people will know that his government wanted to tap into the skills and business acumen of Sierra Leoneans living in the Diaspora.
However, the Office of the Diaspora in Sierra Leone was plagued with corruption by the Diasporas themselves and as such the office did not achieve anything meaningful.
It will be a remiss, if this article did not mention the contribution of Sierra Leoneans living in the Diaspora to the socio-economic development of the country as well as individual Sierra Leoneans.
There are family members back home who depend largely on their relatives in the west for survival and every now and then those relatives abroad will contribute to the livelihood of their relatives back home by sending some amount of money for them every forth week.
When these moneys are sent in dollars, pounds and EURO, they contribute to the economy of the country and help the country gather enough FOREX for her development. Thus Sierra Leone like other African countries has a Diaspora-driven economy that should not be overlooked.
Apart from the economic contribution, most of the Sierra Leoneans living abroad are helping to develop the human resource of this country by sending to help a relative who is in the university or in a higher learning institution while some of them are actually developing themselves so that they will help the country when they returned.
Since the 2007 elections, the Sierra Leone community in the Diaspora has developed keen interest in no other facets than politics largely because of the fact that politics in this part of the world is corrupt-ridden, full of deceit and the fact that our politics has been commercialized over the years.
The report cards of the people that has been coming from the Diaspora to serve in the politics, is so damning that Sierra Leoneans who have lived in the country throughout their lives no longer trust them.
One of the reasons Sierra Leoneans are saying that the last two parliaments have been a disappointment is because majority of the Members of Parliament were/are from the Diaspora.
Most of those people don’t understand the dynamics of the politics in Sierra Leone as they come from the Diaspora, used their moneys to be given symbol and then go to Parliament as novice.
We have seen situation in this country in which people from the Diaspora that President Koroma appointed turned out to be a disappointment not only to the President but the country as a whole.
Some of them deceived the people and the president that they are University Graduate when in fact they don’t even have a BECE.
One prominent case in point was Mohamed Bangura, the Minister of Information and Communication when he allegedly presented a certificate to Parliament that he claimed he got from Canada but the said certificate has fundamental error.
There are plethora of Diaspora that have lied about their qualifications and then presented fictitious certificates.
We have seen others like the former Minister of Health and Sanitation, Sheku Tejan Koroma, Phillip Koroma of Attitudinal and Behavioral Change and host of others caught pilfering the public purse instead of serving the public interest.
Lo and Behold, most of the folks in the Diaspora have seen how some of their colleagues have amassed unexplained wealth and they themselves want to come to get their own slice of the cake.
When they come, they will come with their usual gimmicks-spending scholarship for 10 primary school kids in the constituency or construct a tap or a public toilet just because they want to fool the gullible Sierra Leoneans.
They will said that they will bring heaven on earth, only for them to be elected and they begin to steal from the people for their own personal interests.
This article is not saying that there are no good Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora. Of cause, we have very good and progressive Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora but this time around we have to ensure that they are vetted properly before they are given positions of trust or else we are doomed.