Hope for the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) to make it in 2023 remains a big question mark. The youths who made several sacrifices to bring the party in power have been neglected.
A great number of youths despite their academic credentials now wallow in deep poverty. Government jobs which they had hoped to secure are very hard to come by.
One of the youths, Mohamed Abu who spoke to this press is a graduate from Njala University. Talking to Nightwatch from the southern headquaters of Bo, the young graduate said he was badly disappointed with the New Direction Government.
Abu explained to this press how he vigorously campaigned to ensure that SLPP is brought back to governance.
During campaign, he went on, he had it hot with many of his friends including those in the SLPP who were not ready to subscribe to the PAOPA ideology.
The PAOPA is a campaign slogan that was initiated within the SLPP by those who believe in the philosophy of President Julius Maada Bio.
Hopes were high at the time that the President would surely bring in a fundamental turning point to the country’s economy.
Abu said he was part of the slogan, and he fought very hard to ensure that the New Direction won the election.
Abu’s dream came to pass as the New Direction was ushered into governance, but said he had been left on the high seas as his struggles did not bring him the much needed opportunities.
“Since the New Direction came into governance, I have got no job in spite of my qualifications as a graduate,” he expressed disappointment.
Abu is not the only graduate that is affected by the governance style of the New Direction.
A number of graduates who spoke to this press also expressed similar sentiments of disappointment they have suffered in the hands of the New Direction Government.
The young graduates are not the only class of youths that have been disappointed by the New Direction.
Those in the informal sector also are weeping bitterly against the New Direction’s style of handling national affairs.
Most of them spoke bluntly that the New Direction has failed the nation.
A tricycle (keke) rider in Bo town told this press that most of his colleague riders were not happy with the current dispensation.
They all said one thing in common: the prevalent hardship in the country which is making very difficult to make ends meet.
Lamin Mansaray is a tricycle rider in Bo town that have spent almost three years ridding Keke in that part of the country.
He told this press that many issues in the transport industry which were overlooked by the previous regime are now considered highly by this government.
Mansaray said during the past regime, a tricycle rider can be excused for a certain period having bought either a motor or a tricycle especially in the processes of registration and licensing.
In the present government, he went on, one can be arrested for failing to register and licence a tricycle regardless of whether it is bought within the same day.
As the harassment continues, some tricycle riders have left the keke trade for another one. Others, he said, continue to ply, but with sunken hearts.
Similar disgruntlements against the New Direction Government are also heard in the Okada Industry.
A great number of commercial motorists who spoke to this press have not reserved their disappointment with the New Direction government.
One of them, Allieu Kamara told Nightwatch that he was a key member in the SLPP Campaign Task Force that saw the party in victory.
Kamara said most of them who worked very hard to ensure that the party came to power had been forsaken.
“Situation for us is very tough as we have seen great disappointment in the hands of the current SLPP Government. We never got what we expected,” he said.
Most of these disappointed youths were getting solace at most SLPP offices across the country. They had hoped that spending time in the party offices will avail them the opportunity to see politicians and put their problems across possibly for a solution.
But, most politicians who were giving beautiful assurances to the youths never appeared in the party offices.
Even President Julius Maada Bio who became President under the SLPP ticket seems to have little time to go to party offices including the SLPP headquaters in Freetown.
As the grumblings and disappointments continue, a great number of youths were spending great chunk of their time at the SLPP headquaters in Freetown.
The hope to see ministers or deputy ministers as well as highly placed government officials remained high.
But, the hope came to an abrupt end when the New Direction Government ordered youths to leave party offices.
The youths were accused of fomenting and masterminding violence on the streets.
The allegation was that political violence on the streets was planned in party offices.
The disappointed youths although unhappy, had no alternative but to comply with the directive.
Today, these youths are on the streets venting anger at the New Direction.
The greatest irony towards the plight of the youths is that the New Direction Government has taken no reasonable measures to ease the youths’ suffering.
Hope for a rapid change in the private sector was very high among the youths of Sierra Leone.
With an expanded private sector, government will not be the only source of employment opportunities in the country.
However, promises of an enhanced private sector came from the New Direction government during the campaign period.
The New Direction did promise the people of Sierra Leone that the SLPP Government will ensure that Sierra Leoneans are given priority in many businesses and in the employment world.
It promised that the promotion of goods and services from Sierra Leone will be legislated through a ‘Sierra Leone First Policy.’
Under the New Direction, companies will be required to provide the necessary training for Sierra Leoneans and also review their procurement and employment rules to ensure this is achieved.
The focus will be on increasing access to finance, reducing the cost of doing business, promoting local entrepreneurship, capacity building and developing the infrastructure.
The New Direction came up with such fine promises owing to what it referred to as a country with a largely informal sector.
Government said in the campaign period that large formal private sector activities are restricted only to mining, hotel and tourism, construction, banking and a few agricultural activities.
It also claimed that on the overall, the Sierra Leonean private sector is characterised by foreign dominance, high cost and risk of doing business, limited access to finance, poor infrastructure, and weak legal and regulatory frameworks, poor macro-economic environment and corruption.
These factors, put together, produce a weak economy, an economy that finds it difficult to provide jobs for its citizens.
By all indications, the New Direction is in no mood to satisfy its angry youths.
Even if it does, time is no more on their side as the country slowly enters a period of active politicking.