Former SLFA (Sierra Leone Football Association) President, Isha Johansen fits remarkably well in time- honoured adage that the art of being a good guest is knowing when to leave. Madam Johansen backed out before the whistle is blown.
She knew just quite well that she does not enjoy the support and cooperation of not only the rank file but also football stakeholders. Madam Johansen will go down in the football annals as one of the most embattled SLFA president in history.
Since she could not get the support she needed throughout her leadership, it goes without saying that she is failed leader. The country’s national football team has never made it to any international competition.
Leone Stars has conspicuously disappeared from international competitions for years before Johansen appeared on the stage of football leadership. Her coming however raised hopes, but those hopes were dashed just months during the Johansen leadership.
Apart from Sierra Leone’s disappearance from international competitions, local leagues also went dormant. The youths lay fallow as there was no game to play.
Isha was also slammed with corruption charges. She battled it in court and emerged victorious. Despite her legal victory, Johansen remained the most hated figure.
Football stakeholders would not hesitate to hype criticisms against her. Tension rose as the election drew near. Madam Johansen smelled the rat and honourably left. She knew she would lose had she contested.
Other aspirants borrowed a page from Isha’s book. They melted in thin air before the elections. Rodney escaped at the eleventh hour, a move that shocked a number if his fans. But, the bottom line is, he did well. He never wanted to fight a losing battle. The elections appeared to have been a foregone conclusion if not a fait accompli.
Here is Preside Julius Maada Bio, a President who has reigned for over three years with little success. His failings are clearly seen in every sector of the economy.
The failings range from electricity, health, infrastructure, economy, trade and commerce, national cohesion and lawlessness. In spite of the rhetorics about a sound health system in the country, the health sector still remains one of the weakest in the world.
Frequent outbreaks of viruses have not taught political authorities lessons of change. When Ebola struck in May 2014, it swallowed a huge chunk of the country’s population. Health professionals were also not spared.
11 medics and over 300 nurses succumbed to the virus. The deaths of health officials made matters worse. For a very long time the health sector has seen a mass exodus of health officers. As the country struggles to enter its recovery phase, Corona Virus Disease also attacked the country on 31st March, 2020.
It shows the country’s negative side to the world. Currently, Sierra Leone needs over 3,000 medical doctors to take care of the country’s 7, 000, 000 ( Seven Million) population.
The disclosure was made by former Minister of Health now Minister of Higher Education, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie. The minister said 100 must be trained every year.
The question funding the training remains a hot topic discussion. Sierra Leone’s health sector is characterized by frequent industrial owing to worsening welfare conditions. Sound policies that would create a positive turn-around are yet to be formulated and implemented.
Consequently, Sierra Leone is going back to the era of health crisis back in early 2000 when Sierra Leone had the worst records of maternal and infant mortality in the world. As bad indicators continue to showcase in the health service, Sierra Leone still remains on a catch-up trajectory with other countries as far as the recommended UN benchmark is concerned.
The Bio administration still wrestles with the problem of a required infrastructure that forms part of the country’s readiness for growth and transformation. Sierra Leones is a nation that wanted to transform overnight after many years of poverty and under-development.
In 2012, government held a development and transformation conference that set the pace for the country’s middle-income status.
However, infrastructure is critical to any development aspirations of Sierra Leone. Since New Direction took over state governance in 2918, it has succeeded only to continue the infrastructural projects left behind by the past government. Government has initiated no new road project of their own.
Even the Bo-Mattru Road Project which prominently in the President’s maiden address to the nation is far from completion. For development in a nation on wheels, a good network of roads and bridges are required.
Marked failings are also visible in the country’s economy. Sierra Leone is still known for high inflation in spite of claims of a single-digit one by Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone. Professor Kallon recently claimed that the country’s inflation has dropped, but the drop does not reflect the current price realities.
A civil servant had argued no one needs to be told about a drop in inflation. One knows when they get to the market. Sierra Leone is still hunted by unfavorable terns of trade, payment deficits and price taking in the world market.
Sierra Leone is largely a primary producer, and pays more for its imports than she receives for her export. The New Direction has found it difficult almost impossible to bring innovation to the sector. As the country’s productivity remains low, talk of a buoyant trade and commerce remains farcical.
The New Direction had wanted to garner public sympathy for its economic failings by linking them to the outbreak of the Corona Virus, but it failed to succeed.
Why? Many Sierra Leoneans say government has already before the virus struck. One hardly talks peace and national cohesion in a country ridden with economic hardship. No one talks about security where livelihoods are threatened.
Government has made repeated attempts to foster peace and national cohesion with opposition parties especially the main opposition, APC (All People’s Congress). Bintumani-111, a viable platform for peace and reconciliation was never attended by APC members.
New Government had a bad start in its relationship with opposition parties. Former government officials were hounded, humiliated and intimidated. No politics of positive was practised throughout New Direction’s leadership.
Absence a peaceful co-existence in any country leads to lawlessness. When a particular section of the population feels marginalized and discriminated, the ultimate option is to take the law into own hands. So be it under the New Direction Government.
The north and west regions have been tagged as enemy zones for the government. Killings and intimidation in areas deemed opposition strongholds are rife. A combination of these failings depopularises the Bio administration.
The question goes: Will he back out before 2023 election and come back later. A soldier who fights and withdraws is the best fighter. He lives to tell the story and may come back one day. Will Bio come back one day if he backs out.