By Thomas Dixon
September 17 2007, a Monday morning in Freetown, Ernest Bai Koroma was announced the winner of a tension-packed Presidential run-off, defeating the then incumbent Vice President Solomon Ekuma Berewa of Sierra Leone People Party.
Even the cloud on that Monday morning welcome the victory of someone who has given hope to many Sierra Leoneans that he was going to change their plights and redeem them from the gate of poverty.
Now is the time for Sierra Leoneans to take stock as President Koroma turned 10 years since he was first elected as President of Sierra Leone and they should ask themselves what they are going to use to remember his Presidency.
This article will look at some of the landmark actions and inactions of President Koroma as factors that could trigger the memory of a President that is at the foothold of the exit door.
“We have turned the country into a works yard,” this was the answer that the former Minister of Information and Communication Ibrahim Ben Kargbo gave when he was asked one year after Koroma had been elected about what he had done since elected.
Indeed as everywhere seemed to be works yard some nine years ago, so it is at the moment when President Koroma is exiting just because some of those road constructions are still in working progress and do not seem to be ending very soon.
According to the World Bank Country Director on one of the local radio, they are currently funding Sierra Leone because of “ the huge infrastructure deficit in the country.”
This is contrasting what President Koroma and his APC see as the Koroma’s legacy but there is much more to be done.
Obviously, there are some people who will see this as a legacy but majority will not because most of the roads are still ongoing while the few that have been completed are enveloped in corruption.
People will want to remember President Koroma for the “uninterrupted” electricity supply he promised the people of Sierra Leone some ten years ago.
President Koroma will go in record as the President who has spent huge amount of money in energy investment but at the same time the investment is not commensurate to the output from the energy sector.
One may want to remember President Koroma for his effort in improving the electricity sector but at least for just 15% of the population of the country.
Others will say because they still have an epileptic and erratic supply of electricity and the fact that only 15% of the population have access to electricity, it means the President has done little in 10 years in that direction
Youth empowerment and employment are the twin challenges President Koroma is facing as he is exiting the Presidency.
He promised to die for the young people by ensuring that they are capacitated and given jobs but to the disappointment of many of the young people, that has not been the case.
Rather, the young people have been dying of preventable diseases, they are frustrated and have resorted to taking all drugs as they have lost all hopes of a better life.
STRENGHENTING GOVERNANCE INSTITUTION
Strengthening governance institutions was one of the promises President Koroma made to the people of this country as he said that there will be no sacred cow in his government.
He will go on record to have empowered the country’s anti-graft agency with prosecutorial powers, making them the most powerful in West Africa.
Whether they have lived up to expectation or not is another discussion but at least Koroma empowered the ACC.
He has also established the Right To Access Information, the Youth Commission and few others but they themselves are grumbling about electricity.
Incidentally, we have seen the collapsed of the other institutions such as the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) , the Independent Media Commission (IMC), the National Electoral Commission (NEC), National Commission for Democracy and many more under the leadership of Koroma because of political interference and starvation of resources.
SACKING OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
Perhaps what the President will best be remembered for was the removal of the elected vice President. This issue still permeates the public discourse and will go down in the history of Sierra Leone as a sad political history.
The President relieved the Vice President when the party expelled him from the party on the pretext that the then Vice President has lost the continuous requirement.
The Supreme Court of Sierra Leone upheld the decision of the President amidst allegations of bribery and corruption but the matter is still in the ECOWAS court.
This decision many believed is unconstitutional and it shows how the judiciary is being controlled by the executive in Sierra Leone.
It has been said that President Koroma was elected at the time when Sierra Leone has the second highest deposit of iron ore in the whole world and when the price of iron ore was relatively good.
The awarding of contracts to mafia mining companies, excessive tax concessions and rogue decisions by government officials largely coupled with the plummeting price of iron ore subjected Sierra Leone into an economic recession.
The country is still in recession and majority of the people are been forced into penury while unexplained wealth for the few continued under the reigns of Koroma unabated.
Ebola and the recent mudslide could be other factors that could make people remember President Koroma particularly those who lost their relative to those unfortunate incidents.
As it barely remains 195 days for President Koroma in office, he will be remembered for the good, the bad and the ugly under his presidency depending on who you talk to.