By Joseph Abu Kamanda
Taking up office on 17th September 2007 as a reputable political party in governance, the All People’s Congress (APC) firstly introduced a prudent, transparent and accountable culture of assets declaration, which former President Ernest Bai Koroma led by example by declaring his assets to the then very serious, objective, apolitical and highly professional Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) through a robust anti-graft law, which is now being followed by his successor, President Julius Maada Bio, cabinet ministers and other public servants.
This clearly notes that the past APC regime meant well for Sierra Leone and translated its visions, aspirations into positive actions just within three years in office (2007- 2010), which transformative developmental actions completely turned the entire Sierra Leone around.
However, these can hardly be discussed without associating them with the great leadership of the APC National Chairman and Leader, former President Koroma.
Addressing the nation during State Opening of Parliament on Friday 8th October 2010, former President Koroma informed the honourable assembly that; “In the midst of the global multiple challenges, we published ‘An Agenda for Change’ as our vision for the large scale transformation of our country. Almost every sector in our country needed transformation; but we had to choose as priorities the sectors that would have the greatest positive impact on the lives of our people: agriculture, energy, infrastructure, health and education.”
The then APC administration painted a vibrant picture of progress in governance, starting with peace and security, democratic consolidation, prosperity and sustainable development, at the peak of a thought-provoking international crisis. Yet the last APC government made the needful reforms.
Nonetheless, the development-oriented political administration further moved on with systemic improvements on governance through national aspirations for change, commitments and successfully defeated the inherited trials left behind by the late President Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
By the late 2010, the APC administration had already shocked Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad, with full realisations of opportune developmental achievements in state governance as an attestation to the fact that the passionate regime indeed worked well.
As a matter of fact, the APC regime didn’t deceive nor disappoint Sierra Leoneans, but delivered its 2007 political campaign manifesto promises in record time, and triumphantly celebrated its third anniversary in office with many long-lasting achievements in such a short period of time; a goal others were and still have been unable to achieve, ever in the history of the country.
These remarkable goals translated the APC government’s development plans – the Agenda for Change – into practical realities of impressive infrastructural development in roads and public sector administrative complexes, healthcare services, regular energy-electricity and water supplies, women’s and gender empowerment, foreign relations and international cooperation, high yield agricultural productivity and food security. Roads in particular were built in all regions of the country, even where the APC party was hardly supported.
The APC opened up the country for business, having transformed it into a viable commercial and business friendly centre, and brought in so many direct foreign and local investments that scaled up the country’s performance in ‘Doing Business in 2010’.
It empowered the ACC with one of the best anti-graft laws in the world that armed the commission with full prosecutorial powers in the mitigation of corruption, which gave credence to the then government’s zero tolerance stance on corruption.
The extraordinary progress rolled out a pro-people policy that provided access to education for all and redeemed the country’s human rights credentials from the bad narratives of one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars to one that is worthy of emulation. Also on the socio-political front, the last APC government introduced political, regional and ethnical tolerances among Sierra Leoneans and to a very large extent consolidated democracy, which is now lacking in the governance system.
These attracted the international community, with high hopes that the then government’s successor was going to emulate the good and fine political leadership values of the APC party, if only the country should move on a faster trajectory of constructive national development.
Sadly though, the legacies of the APC party’s leadership credentials of former President Koroma are being heavily embattled and deliberately destroyed, as the incumbent bureaucrats hardly talk about the good works of the last administration.
Rather they keep claiming credit for everything, even for what they didn’t do. God save Sierra Leone and God save the legacies of our past leaders including former President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and the APC party.
Despite deliberate destruction of huge compendium of data that were published on the official portal of the Office of the President; www.statehouse.gov.sl by media and handlers at State House, yet records from elsewhere about the last administration’s successful three-year achievements in office speak louder than the funny pens and keyboards of pro-government spinners.
Looking specifically at reforms made in the energy and water resources sector, by the time APC actually marked its first 100 days in office, the then ruling party dashed straight into action and kept Freetown in the light with regular electricity supplies.
A city the last APC led government inherited as one of the darkest municipalities on earth, then with zeal, commitment and determination to serve its people and country, the last APC government wasted no time to deliver on the much demanding social services that were missing in action from the then inefficient energy and water resources sector if not in all government departments and agencies.
In Freetown alone, within just three years, the former APC government through the energy ministry, increased electricity generation from an operational five to over sixty megawatts.
A magical move that took all and sundry by storm there and then, the APC government became the real ‘talk and do’ administration. So ‘talk and to phrase’ is also not a new slang in the political campaign languages of Sierra Leone.
Likewise, the former APC governance system made extra efforts and installed new thermal plants in the East of Freetown, with fixed focus on power generation in Bo and Kenema, through the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, and concurrently expanded the Bo/Kenema Power Stations, along with the Dodo Hydroelectricity plant that provided regular power supplies to communities in the abovementioned areas in the east and southern regions.
These, according to former President Koroma, propelled rural electrifications through the installations of solar panels in provincial towns and cities as Kabala, Makeni, Bonthe, Pujehun, Port Loko, Moyamba, Kambia, Lungi, Kailahun, Magburaka, Mamusa, Blama Massaquoi, Kissy Koya, Makandeh and Mambioma Koidu. They also clearly speak to truth that rural electrification is actually not a new phenomenon. And these result oriented performances by the last APC regime are yet to come by from the obligatory orders of the day. Rather, we were told by the new political leaders to wait and trust an unreliable process. The Holy Bible says patient is a virtue and those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength…that we know and fervently believe, but what is set to sustain us while waiting and trusting the much shaky process with no glimmer of hope? So can somebody wakeup from his slumber, please?
Further down memory lane on gains made by the last political system under the APC government; through the Three Town Water Project, funded by the African Development Bank, the then APC administration quenched the thirsts of well over thirty-three thousand (33,000) people with pipe borne water in Kono, Bo, Kenema, Koinadugu, Lunsar, Port Loko, Pujehun, Lungi, Mile 91, Magbuaraka, Bonthe, Moyamba and Kailahun. The former regime also provided regular water supplies to over six hundred and thirty (630) residents through eighty-five (85) boreholes powered by solar and hand pumps, all in three years.
Besides, the momentous improvements made in energy and water resources sectors, the former political hegemony of the party of constructive national development, with support from partners, rolled out the Free Healthcare Policy in 2010 and provided free healthcare facilities to under-fives, pregnant women and lactating mothers. The APC government also signed into law that these specific citizens are entitled to free healthcare services nationwide. The Free Healthcare Policy then received the warmest receptions from across the board, particularly for its drastic reduction of maternal mortality rates in the country.
Also part of its three years achievements from 2007 to 2010, the APC governance strategies encouraged huge investments in the mining industry, which also brought in multinational companies such as African Minerals, London Mining, Cape Lambert to name just a few, who injected solid financial vaccination support into the national economy all just within three years in office.
The last APC government under the wise and transformative leadership of former President Koroma celebrated its third anniversary in 2010 with massive road infrastructural development goals evidently recorded right across the country. The past government connected everywhere with roads including Tokeh, Kenema, Pendembu, Black Hall Road, Kissy, Bonthe, and Matotoka, Bo-Misiaka, Bo-Bandaguma, Rourah Bay, Mambolo, Rokupru, Kassiri, Kychom, Yargoi in Bonthe district, Gbangbatoke, Gbondapi, Matru Jong, Tombo and in Shenge.
So if my south and easterner brothers and sisters are today walking on tar marked roads in these districts, region, towns, chiefdoms and other communities across the country, then they must bless and be much thankful to former President Koroma and the APC administration for a job perfectly done in record time of three years through the effective implementation of the Agenda for Change.
Other major beneficiaries of the former government’s road infrastructural drives are Kailahun, Bo, Makeni, Koinadugu/Kabala, Port Loko, Kambia, Tonkolili, Moyamba, Pujehun, Kono, Waterloo, Freetown, Lungi and Kenema, though at some point Kenema refused to accept development projects from the last APC government on grounds that they were waiting for President Bio’s SLPP New Direction to provide them with social services.
Apart from serving as a passionate national builder whose administration attained so much in national development, the former APC government also prioritised and delivered food security with increased agricultural productivity.
The Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security under the last APC regime provided farmers with seedlings and farming implements including tractors and power tillers for the cultivations of in-land valley swamps. These, backed by Agricultural Business Centres, Small Holders Commercialisation initiative hiked the level of productivity in varieties of value added local food products everywhere in Sierra Leone, and even exported very large quantities to overseas.
On women and gender empowerments, the last APC administration placed high trust and confidence in womenfolk by appointing them to high profile positions such as cabinet ministers, deputies, ambassadors, directors, commissioners, policy advisers in the Office of the President…the list is long, all in furtherance of raising the bar very high for women and gender empowerment.
Within the period under review, former President Koroma and the then governing APC party made impressive economic reforms, increased our international reserves compared to what he inherited in 2007 to an extent that the International Monetary Fund’s review of the year under review showed impressive improvement in public finance, growth rate twice the average growth rate of sub-Sahara Africa, and higher growth rate in 2010.
The APC government by 2010 raised the economy at double the average growth rate in Africa as a whole. “IMF and our figures indicate a rebound of economic activities and further growth in 2010. My administration has increased revenues by opening tax base, through the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax, evasion and avoidance through an automated system of custom data, which then raised the revenue collected by government to the sum of Le 98.5bn from GSTs,” the former President once told the nation.
With these ephemeral synopses of remarkable transformative achievements recorded by the former APC regime, education, youth, ICT judicial reforms and lots of other areas that are not catalogued herein the 36 months spanning from 2007 to 2010, it is sufficient to say loudly that former President Koroma and his party indeed did a very good job through passionate demonstrations of love for the country and the people from all shades of opinions; that is why people keep crying for the timely return of the APC government to come and once more save the country from these lazy and cheating monsters.