By Yusif Moigua
With more funding streaming in from development partners for the mitigation of the demonic coronavirus disease COVID19, where cases keep escalating amid excuses by ministers, deputies and heads of departments and agencies for collective failures and blamed on a pandemic that met an already failed system.
The present policy shifts in the fight against the pandemic are adversely affecting the governance structure, as there has been less actions from the chief executive – president Bio despite the fact that presidential appointees selections are not done based on merits but mere patronage by way of rewards for their loyalties to the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), and president Bio, after long struggles of so many lobbies behind closed doors, begging for cabinet positions they now hardly deliver on, nonetheless he continues to keep them on the jobs they lack capacities to perform.
It is disappointing to the president who hired them, though they are with excuses all over the place, blaming the COVID 19 global pandemic for their underperformances, a situation that is presently slowing down service delivery in every aspect of private and public sectors due to lack of proper supervisions.
Everywhere you go one’s ears are always greeted with blames by ministers, deputies, directors and other heads of MDAs on the COVID 19 pandemic, even petty traders and the least informal sector operators now share blames on the pandemic, that it has slowed down everything in the country, apart from the fact that so many countries are now slowly returning normal livelihood activities.
And the question of why president Julius Maada Bio continues to retain poor performers in public officers, when he is fully aware of their lack of capacity to deliver on their respective assignments as minister, deputies, directors, commissioners, ambassadors, the list is long, is on the lips of every well-meaning Sierra Leonean. He had known very well that these people had failed long before Sierra Leone succumbed to the pandemic.
That in itself is a huge deception at its highest peak, but the chief executive continues to have them in public offices, while the country’s most competent human resources from within the very ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party and the elitist public are going jobless almost everywhere in the country. Is that what the SLPP government of president Bio calls human capital investment?
With all these challenges of inefficiencies being manifested by ministers, deputies, directors and heads of agencies, yet the government of the day keep selecting the wrong people to hold public offices, as we now have the exodus of ruling party diaspora members, relatives and friends of president Bio working in MDAs with little or no knowledge of the country’s public service administration. No wonder he came down heavily on them at a retreat held in January that they have all lived below his expectations. He thus declared 2020 as a year of delivery. The very year of delivery has nothing to point at as a mark of gain being recorded by the present administration except excuses of COVID19 being blamed for massive failures.
What president Bio should not forget is that he was never elected together with his boys, relatives, friends, and in-laws to hold the office he now sits as president of the Republic of Sierra Leone. He was virtually voted alone as president to head and lead the country based on his vast “experiences” not because of the large number of mass exodus of ruling party followers that now rally around him for jobs and other opportunities.
President Bio is expected to have delivered on the much campaign promises he made to the people of Sierra Leone, which are still not met as we piece this article together to make sense out of the incompetent public servants he still have in the system that are always embarrassing him and the ruling SLPP government with their poor performances.
Though it is now categorically clear that people holding higher public offices in MDAs are not fit for their jobs but are being highly favoured by their pay master, president Bio who is also a regular user of the COVID19 pandemic as an excuse for his government’s failures, forgetting that his team had already failed the nation before the country was afflicted by the pandemic. So the government is only hiding under the canopy of the COVID19 pandemic out of mere blame game and delaying tactics to shift his term of office so that he can conduct elections in 2024, as was recently heard in a video posted on social wherein one of the SLPP youth leaders announced 2024 as elections date.
Excuses on the disease from the ruling class are unavoidable as it is always on the lips of every public worker; saying “The coronavirus has ravaged the country and other parts of the world.”
Political analysts who have been religiously observing the trend of the current political administration continue to ask as to why president Bio is loudly silent on the restructuring of the public service. He is refusing to reshuffle cabinet ministers and their deputies who could not deliver of their mandates. Is it because a good number of the ministers, directors, commissioners are his friends and relatives is the reason for him still having them on board to continue to be fed on tax payers moneys. That is not good for the fight against corruption. Put the right personnel in the right place.
The fact that they are not fit for their jobs means they should be fired immediately not by piece mill shakeup like what happened in the cases of Kai Philip Sondai, Edward Soloko, Abu-Abu Abdulai Koroma, Dr Alie Kabba and host of others, which are not good examples of sound leadership that is firmly in charge of the business of hiring and firing of his/her workers.
It is therefore worthy to note that since time is not in the favour of the government, president Bio must thus reshuffle his weak and incompetent cabinet now to save the country from further failures caused by his poorly capacitated workers who keep blaming their very recklessness on the COVID19 pandemic as if Sierra Leone is the only country hit by the global pandemic.
Reshuffles were expected even before now, but up till now there has been no significant cabinet shakeup except continuous recycling of political friends from one MDA to the other. The ruling SLPP has well capacitated experts in public administrators as well as non-political Sierra Leoneans too who are competent to hold such office as cabinet positions, directorates, commissions and heads of agencies but are left in the cold because they don’t have the necessary political connections to the powers that be. Or say they are not card carrying SLPP members and supporters. So they are always left out whenever it comes to matters of job provisions for people with the right links to the government.
Election promises were not preached as if opportunities were going to be selective among members of the party but to capture all on board leaving no one behind. But that is however not seen now as patronages from the president favour only those with connections to relatives of the first gentleman and his wife. They are not jobs offered as a result of competence, which is why the public sector could not perform as expected over the last two years.
Thus the need to replace lazy and hopeless ministers, deputies, directors and others with a new set of well qualified Sierra Leoneans to positions at cabinet, departments and agencies before we approach elections period and do away with the much exhausted COVID19 pandemic excuses from ministers, deputies, directors and other head of agencies if we are to effectively realize 2020 as a ‘year of delivery.’ So again we want to end by asking what exactly is stopping president Bio from reshuffling his incompetent cabinet?