Salone@63: Overhaul Our Governance System Now

by Sierraeye

As Sierra Leone commemorates its 63rd year of independence, it’s time for a candid conversation about the state of our nation. For too long, we have plastered over the deep-seated issues inherited from our colonial past, hoping that superficial fixes would suffice. But the cracks in our governance system are widening, and it’s becoming increasingly evident that cosmetic solutions are no longer tenable. The time has come for a radical overhaul of our governance structure – one that genuinely serves the needs of our people and propels our nation forward.

There are glaring inadequacies in key sectors of our society. Our civil service, a relic of bygone eras, is ill-equipped to meet the demands of modern governance. Instead of efficiently delivering essential services to the people, it operates in a bureaucratic haze, hindering progress and perpetuating inefficiency.

Service delivery is hampered by dysfunctional institutions and broken systems, creating a bureaucratic nightmare where even the simplest tasks that should be completed in minutes languish for weeks. The inefficiencies inherent in our institutions cripple progress and stifle the delivery of essential services. What should be straightforward processes become mired in red tape and inefficiency, leaving citizens frustrated and disenfranchised.

Once touted as the best in the region, our educational system is failing our youth. We churn out graduates with inflated grades but deficient skills, leaving them ill-prepared for the realities of the job market and life. As Professor Jimmy Kandeh astutely observes, we are producing legions of certified but uneducated students.

The judiciary, tasked with upholding justice and the rule of law, is marred by rampant injustice and corruption. Access to justice is a privilege reserved for the wealthy and well-connected, while the majority languish in a system plagued by nepotism and favouritism.

Our infrastructure, particularly our road network, resembles a lawless jungle where chaos reigns supreme. Traffic accidents claim countless lives each year, yet little is done to address the underlying issues of road safety.

Healthcare in Sierra Leone is a tale of dysfunction and despair. The recent tragedy at the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH), exacerbated by pervasive electricity challenges afflicting health facilities nationwide, lays bare a glaring truth: those tasked with addressing critical issues have abandoned their responsibilities, evading culpability for their negligence. This failure of duty has exacted a devastating toll, claiming a precious life. The harsh reality is that individuals in positions of power and privilege shield themselves from the repercussions of their actions. They are insulated from the dire consequences of their neglect, enjoying unfettered access to better healthcare services abroad while demonstrating callous indifference to the struggles of ordinary citizens grappling with woefully inadequate resources and infrastructure.

Freetown, our capital city, is a microcosm of neglect and decay. After the first rain, its streets were strewn with garbage, and its waterways choked with filth. Despite being the face of our nation, Freetown remains an embarrassment on the international stage – a stark reminder of our collective failure to prioritize cleanliness and urban planning.

Even the structures we rely on for shelter and safety are compromised. The integrity of construction works is alarmingly low, putting lives at risk and exacerbating the vulnerability of our communities to natural disasters.

At the heart of these systemic failures lies a political class more interested in self-enrichment than public service. Our leaders squander public funds on lavish luxuries, jet-setting across the globe while neglecting the basic needs of their constituents. Predatory governance has become the norm, reducing democracy to a hollow façade.

Meanwhile, a core foundation of our society – our land tenure system – is in dire need of reform. Buying land in Sierra Leone is like purchasing a protracted legal battle, with disputes and conflicts often lasting generations. It’s time to dismantle this archaic system and establish fair and equitable land rights for all citizens.

But perhaps most troubling of all is the pervasive inertia that grips our nation. Our leaders, whether out of incompetence or apathy, seem content to maintain the status quo, unwilling or unable to envision a better future for Sierra Leone. We cannot afford to continue down this path of complacency and stagnation.

As we reflect on 63 years of independence, let us reject the notion that “that’s the way it’s always been done” and dare to imagine a Sierra Leone where governance serves the common good, where justice is blind, and where opportunity abounds for all. It’s time for a radical transformation not just as a lip service, but one that empowers our people, revitalizes our institutions, and, at the very least, ends our retrogression. The time for change is now.

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