SLPP Disappointed

Stalwarts of the Sierra Leone People’s Party seem fearful of the party’s victory in 2023 general elections.
The fear, some stalwarts say, is rooted in government’s inability to deliver on its campaign promises .
The 2018 general elections was a cut-throat competition for the presidential aspirants who sold their party ideologies to the electorate. President Bio was a dominant force at the time as a great many Sierra Leoneans needed change.
They were eager to see a young able-bodied man to get them out of the socio-economic quagmire in which, they say , have been trapped for years back. The electorate, during the campaign period, stubbornly saw those qualities in President Bio then. No doubt, they threw weight behind him.
Although the past administration was seen as one of the most hardworking governments the country has ever experienced. But, it was equally viewed by others as a weak and incompetent government.
One of the key parametres used by men in the streets was the non-availability of food on the table and the rising cost of living for many Sierra Leoneans.
The twin factors characterised Sierra Leoneans’ public perception against the then government. The perception was negative, and no doubt, it spread fast like a bush fire in the harmattan in the campaign period.
In the prevalence of such dire situation, Sierra Leoneans had to seek what they referred to as “suitable alternative” to make their lives good, if not better.
The expectations, at the time, were high implying that any government eager to darken the walls of power must work for it.
It was in the face of soaring public expectations that President Julius Maada Bio reappeared on the political scene to canvass a critical mass of voters to seek their endorsement of occupying the most coveted seat at State House.
Bio, like other presidential aspirants, were given the platform to propagate their intended policies, programmes and actions that would lift the nation from the doldrums of corruption, poverty and under-development.
The campaign journey was long and arduous and was trod upon by over ten flag-bearers each representing a political party. However, President Bio was a towering figure and his dominance in the campaign period has a close linkage to the two key promises he made to Sierra Leoneans.
Out of the many promises were investments in the Free, Quality Education and agriculture.
Voters, especially first time voters, were hoodwinked into the beautiful promises which they saw as an economic windfall they were ready to exploit. The first time voters masqueraded the streets with a popular anti-koroma government rhetoric: “ANGRY BOKU” meaning hunger is too high in the country.
The proclamation of the FQE project in the President’s maiden address in parliament further emboldened the hopes of a gullible electorate.
The proclamation came to pass as the FQE project was actualised in what economists say an “ailing economy.” The pupils and parents were ecstatic as money of low-income earners have been supplemented.
However, the implementation of the FQE project is fraught with challenges that seem insurmountable in the short-run and hopes to solve them in the long-run are slowly fading away.
Most school authorities across the country are crying over the late or non-payment of subsidies to run the schools.
Teachers are less motivated owing to the meagre salaries paid to them. The proposed 30% increment in salaries touted in the Finance Act of 2020 is yet to come . If it comes, teachers say, is drop in the ocean for a teeming teacher population. The realisation of the increment remains a wait-and-see affair as government workers are experiencing delayed salaries.
The take-home package, according to them, cannot take them home making it difficult for the academic foot soldiers to make ends meet in their homes.
The promise of agricultural investment was also a ‘New Direction’ campaign tool. As a result of the promise, Sierra Leoneans highly expect the Bio government, at this time, to have engaged the Gbondapi and Tomabom swamplands in southern Sierra Leone. The Tomabom and Gbondapi swampland engagement, many say, would feed the nation and export the left-over abroad.
Sierra Leone is an agrarian nation and the ‘New Direction’ agricultural promise resonates with the green vegetation any nation can take pride in but they lie fallow while the people wallow in poverty.
The current indicators are at variance with the promises as Sierra Leone still grapples with hunger and malnutrition.
As the education and agricultural promises became whittled down, the effect is spilled over to the country’s economy which is characterised by what looks like an ‘uncontrollable inflationary trend.’
The Consumer Pricing Index (CPI) is one of the economic yardsticks for measuring inflation in Sierra Leone. The report is prepared and released annually by Statistics Sierra Leone, a government institution responsible for collating information on the economy and other social sectors.
The CPI 2018-2019 report indicates that the country is still confronted with a double-digit inflation and the low income earners are the hardest-hit.
Sierra Leone’s economic situation is worsened at every tick of the clock by lawsuits the Bio government battles with in the US and UK courts. Only God knows what the outcome of those hearings would mean for a country with one of the weakest economies in the world.
The sad political occurrences have been linked to government claims of inheriting a broken economy riddled with a huge debt burden.
On the Contrary, former President Koroma would be remembered for the ‘Agenda for Change (AFC)’ and the ‘Agenda for Prosperity (AFP)’ that hallmarked his governance style between 2007 and 2018.
The two governance philosophies were adopted by the then government with a view to move the country forward. Under the AFC, five thematic areas were identified viz: Energy, infrastructure, education, health and agriculture. Substantial resources were poured into the sectors for the realisation of the two projects.
While the projects were rolled out in the early years of the Koroma regime, the President was hailed by many Sierra Leoneans as trail-blazer. Freetown dubbed as the darkest city in the world saw light, the country hitherto labelled as the worst in the world in terms of infant and maternal mortality rate was saved through the ‘Free Health Care’ policy, Agriculture was bolstered by a US$55M small-holder commercialisation project, public exams including National Primary School Examination, Basic Education Certificate Examination and the West African Senior School Certificate Examination were paid for by the koroma government.
Of the five afore-mentioned areas, one deserves a particular mention-Infrastructure. The Bai-Koroma regime is on record as one that ushered the country into the most admirable infrastructural investment ever seen in the country.
The investment could be likened only to the Siaka Stevens building projects in the early part of the 1970’s through the self-help governance philosophy.
The infrastructural facelift Sierra Leone enjoyed in the Koroma period made the country the envy of not only Africa but also in the world.
As the sunsets on the political life of President Koroma in March 2018, many Sierra Leoneans touted him as a “failed President” which many say is done in the name of selfish and malicious propaganda.
Comparatively, the Bio and Koroma regimes may seem incomparable owing to the variance in lifespans.
However, the two years of President Koroma is worth celebrating while the two years of President Bio is worth lamenting.
More economic hardship is widely expected in the remaining three years of President Bio considering the glittering signs that already exist.
The adage, coming events cast their shadows fit into the country’s current political structure.

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