Sierra Leoneans speak to Beyond Borders
How can Sierra Leoneans transform the country? What should Sierra Leone do to build a better and stronger country?
Established to make a real difference about a year ago, Beyond Borders have spoken to Sierra Leoneans from various walks of life on what needs to be done to transform the country.
“Transformation is a long-term process. Transforming Sierra Leone will take twenty years of consistent development, and it is a development trajectory that will be uninterrupted for the next 20 years,” says the Minister of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), Dr. Francis Kaikai.
The Minister of Planning and Economic Development argues that although some people say Sierra Leone has a lot of resources, those resources would not be able to transform the country all by themselves. “For instance, you cannot develop this country with the level of education we have. This is the very reason I am happy for President Bio to have a flagship programme that is bent on human capital development. This is because the illiteracy rate in Sierra Leone is very high and it is an uphill task to transform a nation where most of the people do not understand the concept itself. I can assure you that if we have the resources and we are able to organize in terms of bringing the resources together, by 2023 we would have set the stage to move Sierra Leone to another level,” he maintained, adding, “We can only transform if we start making use of our local products, but since we only depend on exporting them, transformation may be very difficult to achieve because the moment those that are buying our raw materials lose interest, we are doomed as a county.”
Over the past few months, I have interviewed quite a number of people on ways we could collectively transform the country. The National Grand Coalition Leader Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella says the next generation could be influenced not to settle for what we have. “We need to come together as one people because the problems are complex. When you have two decades of decline, everything is broken. One hand cannot wash itself. Given the way our country is messed up now, you need to bring people together,” said the former UN diplomat.
For Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala of the Anti-Corruption Commission, “Any president that wants to succeed must fight corruption.” Minister of Development and Economic Planning, Dr. Francis Kaikai, points out that transforming Sierra Leone is a process. “Everything is important. Everything is critical: education, agriculture, health, etc. We also need to change from the mindset that if a politician does not give you money, you vote him out of power. We need to move from the mindset that people have to sell at Abacha Street because the government is afraid of losing vote.” Former Minister of Internal Affair Edward Soloku reiterates, “We have a herculean task in this country”. Veteran politician, Dr. Sama Banya, who remains very strong and relatively healthy as he turned 90 in June, admits that there are certain people who go into politics just to make their lives better. “To prove that, let us just look at the revelations of the Commission of Inquiry.”