“On a Score of 100%, I Will Give President Bio 45% for overall Performance in Three Years…”
-Hon Kandeh Yumkella – Leader, National Grand Coalition (NGC)-
Sierraeye: What is your general assessment of President Bio’s leadership so far? On a scale of 100% how would you rate him?
KKY: On a scale of 100% I will give him 45%. My general assessment is that he had made a number of policy pronouncement, he has tried to drive some policy reforms that’s why I give him 45%.
On his flagship initiatives, I cannot really grade him as a success yet.
On education, yes access has increased significantly, because people have shown up with their kids at school but the schools are congested. I think they should have built more schools and if we are on the rating of how many schools were built, he will score very score very poorly. Improving quality of the educational environment and educational systems, pedagogue he will fair very badly.
Teachers are not highly motivated; a lot of them with pin codes either do not get their salaries or get them on time. There are schools I know where the school supply was given only once, at the beginning of the initiative. Many have not received again. Some have received less quantity. They should have spent more time planning instead of rushing to gain votes, so the quality has become questionable.
On corruption, I don’t see any success yet. I will give you an example; he said the last regime stole a Billion. The question we have for him is, how much of that Billion has he been able to collect? Or is there a real plan of collecting? So far, I don’t see any plans.
Second, Commissions of Inquiry: the Appeals processes or white paper processes are dragging what we see also is ad hoc resolving of issues. For example, they tell us they have seized 31 properties. From whom? That should be out! What criteria did they use to negotiate with people whom they have given back their passports and declared free? What criteria are they using to negotiate? Are people been treated differently? So, we do not see a clear transparent process in resolving the issues they discovered in the Commissions of Inquiry and they seem to be dragging. This shows indecisiveness in the fight against corruption. Also, we do not see a commitment to fighting real time corruption. We see only an obsession with past corruption. Meanwhile, the Auditor General’s report, Africanist Press and so on shows us that corruption is on the rise and not on the decline. Those two-flagship programs, I think it’s a failing grade for now until we can do better evaluation.
Agriculture has started; it is too soon to tell. Some initiatives have started in agriculture…too soon to tell, we don’t know.
On the Economy
This is not my evaluation but the evaluation from a survey done by the Afro Barometer. 84% of those polled in the country say the economy is not going in the right direction. 74% say the whole economic management is not going in the right direction. This is 3,000 polling sample across the country and 3,000 is a very big sample.
I give the President a high grade on managing COVID-19. The government took decisive action backed by parliament to do the needful to prevent the spread of COVID 19. So, for COVID handling he is graded 80%.
On the Mining Sector
That is a failing grade as well. I have to see evidence of the millions of jobs that were promised. Whether in fact the actual ten thousand jobs have been created because what I see is a bloating of the wage bill. The wage bill is bloated so they decided say okay Government can hire but government cannot hire, they can’t even pay on time so that strategy does not make sense. The strategy that would have made sense is empowering the private sector to create the jobs. However, we have not seen much of them in the private sector, and we have not seen any significant foreign direct investment in Sierra Leone in the last three years.
On the 2020 Cyber Crime Bill
Some provisions of Cyber Crime Bill will invade people’s privacy; it will interfere with freedom of speech, of the media and of citizens. This is why my party, in collaboration with other parties is opposing it. Also, the process was not done properly; the Bill was not developed through a consultative processes. Immediately they announced, cabinet approved it. SLAJ itself were not even consulted for something that will infringe on our freedom.
So, there are serious issues related to the cybercrime bill. But we do need cyber security; we need International Corporation on cyber security. But there are some things in this Cyber Crimes bill that will infringe on people’s privacy. For example, there are a lot of powers to the Minister to decide penalties. We believe for such a Bill, we want to see the bill and the prescribed penalties together because we have a bad experience with this government. When they declared a State of Emergency, they promised to bring the regulations to parliament. Those regulations were not properly laid in Parliament until one week before the year expired. So nobody can trust this government to say they will do one thing then later on comes with the regulation, especially because these regulations and the power the Minister has will infringe on peoples freedom, their privacy and also the freedom of the press.
Yes, we need cyber security. Now that consultations have started we will try to reverse and do cyber security without affecting the basic fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens and institutions.
On Good Governance
I have seen a desire to rush things without paying good attention to due process. I think that’s not good for governance. I have also seen a desire to bulldoze things through Parliament in some cases, some retroactive clearances or approval by Parliament. That is not good. Also there have been some unconstitutional actions that have been taken for the past three years that are not good for good for good governance. There has not been some sustained desire or sustained efforts to engage with the opposition. There are some cosmetic efforts that are good for the public but there is no sustained consultation for inclusive governance.
Since we are doing 60 years celebration, I contrast it with the efforts made by President Tejan Kabbah (of blessed memory) to bring the nation together. You can see the effort, it was genuine, and the nation responded. H encouraged them to forgive, and he was pro-active in it. He brought religious collaboration; he was pro-active with the inter-religious council to do that and in making sure that his government was inclusive. Now, our nation is worse than ever before and part of the division now is ethnic division.
On the Mid Term Census
Censuses are especially important for a country’s economic and social planning but why rush it? There is some suspicion that the president is focusing on 2023, demographic numbers to change in certain strong holds, the possibilities of creating constituencies in some strong holds. That is why political parties are very suspicious. They do not agree with the speed.
Sierraeye: Thank You
KKY: You are most welcome.