By Isha S. Mansaray
The Sierra Leone Renaissance Movement (SLRM) recently held its first annual summit with the theme, “Sierra Leone at 60-What have we learned and what needs to change”, on which they organised political debates.
He summit was held in the Bank Complex conference room, Kingtom on 28th April 2021.
The SLRM emanated from the desire of action-oriented Sierra Leoneans hoping to reinvent and reposition Sierra Leone as one of the greatest nations in the world. The Movement is open to all patriotic Sierra Leoneans who are dedicated to creating a new path to enhance our future while breaking away from the things that have not worked for us in the past.
Speaking at the summit, NGC rep Abdulai Jalloh said, “Sierra Leone should not celebrate Independence because the country is still dependent.”
He said Sierra Leone is not completely independent and is instead still heavily dependent on international bodies, adding: “This nation is dependent economically and politically on international contributors. For instance, we don’t organise our own general elections and we also rely on international donors for funds to run this country.”
Jalloh posited that the reason why the country is still experiencing too many lapses is because of the two main political parties that have been running the nation for the past 50 years.
“APC has ruled this country for 35 years whilst SLPP has ruled for 20 years with no clear vision of where this country is heading to.”
Jalloh said the best way forward is to elect “new visionary parties that will lead us in the right path”.
For his part, APC rep, Hon. Abdulai Kargbo blamed the country’s lapses on “our parents refuse to tell us the truth”.
He added, “Most of our parents are either APC or SLPP. If a parent is APC, he or she will never tell the real truth about the party to their children; same goes to our SLPP parents. At the end of the day, no one knows the truth. APC will blame it on SLPP and SLPP will blame it on APC.”
According Hon. Kargbo, we need to end all forms of political, regional and tribal discrimination. He added that if we all work together regardless of our diverse political parties or where we are from, all political parties will succeed in national development.
Also speaking, Francis Ben Kaifala of the ACC said the country is worth celebrating as there have been tremendous improvements in the fight against corruption since 2018.
“Sierra Leone increased it scores in the ‘Control of Corruption Indicator’. We moved from 49% in 2018 to 79% in 2019, and 81% in 2020.”
The ACC Commissioner said the global statistics ranking is something worth celebrating as the nation clocks 60 years of independence.
However, Madam Naasu Fofanah of Unity Party countered the ACC boss’ effort in analysing the corruption statistics.
“The data is a deception. Ben, are you talking about qualitative data or quantitative data?” she wandered.
By definition, quantitative data relates to data being measured through quantity, and deals with numbers and quantities of things with less value, whilst Qualitative data refers to data being measured in highly valued quality. It measures people’s psychological perspectives.
Madam Naasu said the country needs more women leadership to bring fresh vision to the public space, and encouraged political parties to allow women to take front row in leadership, “just like men do”.
According to Hon. Tawa Conteh of the SLPP, the country is backward in terms of development and investment. “60 years since independence, the country is still investing in rice cultivation,” he said.
Hon. Tawa said, “These are some of the issues that should not be our main problems,” furthering that the country is suffering through internal exploitation.
In the course of the debate, gender and political activist Theriyeh Koroma said the nation lacks national identity; “The narratives surrounding the discovery of our country are vague. That Pedro da Cintra discovered Sierra Leone is confusing. You can’t discover a place where people are already living.”
She said “we should be discussing different issues by now. 10, 20, 30 years back we were discussing the same issues.” Ms Koroma also pointed out that the main problem affecting our nation is leadership, and encouraged everyone to “come onboard to collaborate on our collective efforts in contributing to national development”.