One of the major tragedies of postcolonial Africa, according to the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai in her book “The Challenge for Africa” (William Heinemann, 2009), is that the African peoples have trusted their leaders, but only few of those leaders have honoured that trust. She notes further that, “what has held Africa back, and continues to do so, has its origins in a lack of principled, ethical leadership (page25)”.
Now enters President Ernest Bai Koroma and his agendas: “Agenda for Change” and “Agenda for Prosperity”. But since the “Agenda for Change” is now a footnote in the “Agenda for Prosperity”; I will synopsize the “Agenda for Prosperity”. What really is this “Agenda for Prosperity”? This was, and still is, the question which the Publisher of The Global Times newspaper, Sorie Fofana, asked in a special commentary in the “Friday 1st February 2013” edition of his newspaper (Vol:6 No.898), and I think he still wants answers to. Mr Fofana noted that, “Some people are now asking one simple question: What does the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ really mean? Does it mean that by 2017 every Sierra Leonean would have prospered (page 3)?”
It is because of that reason that Mr Fofana wants the “government [to] come out clearly and explain to us what the Agenda for Prosperity really stands for”. Well, I think I will do the explaining in a synopsized way. In summary, the “Agenda for Prosperity” is a sketch based on consolidating the progress achieved in the “Agenda for Change” and the desire to build upon those achievements to create a prosperous Sierra Leone. To put it in long hand, it is the second term wish list of President Ernest Bai Koroma to create the environment so that Sierra Leone “too can create a most productive workforce; we too can construct first class roads and other social infrastructure everywhere; we too can utilize our will and resources to transform the education sector; we too can build a healthcare system that is the envy of the world; we too can have billions of dollars in reserves; we too can become a donor nation, spreading the resources of our productivity, democracy, peace and religious tolerance to the people of the world” (according to the speech delivered by President Koroma at the Sierra Leone Conference on Development and Transformation in 2012 at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown).
So what the above short and long hands of the President’s second term agenda is saying is that, if the gains made in the first term are improved upon, with the concerted efforts of all Sierra Leoneans, then Sierra Leone is sure to become a prosperous nation. The President’s second term agenda is simply a sort of roadmap, which if followed to the latter, will make Sierra Leone a prosperous nation.
It should be noted that the “Agenda for Prosperity” is not a micro credit loan scheme in which an SLPP-style “Soft Loans” (in the Shakespearean-like idiot’s tale of ex-President Tejan Kabba(h)) will be given by the government, but a set of policies geared towards national wealth in the form of billions of dollars in reserves so that Sierra Leone too can become a donor nation someday. So it will be very simplistic, or outright stupid, for someone to think that the “Agenda for Prosperity” is a catchphrase for putting monies in every citizen’s pockets. As I see it, the issue of prosperity in a democracy, with all its capitalist antecedents, is an individualistic matter than national. But with President Koroma’s second term wish list, as encapsulated in the “Agenda for Prosperity”, economic and political structures will be built or rejuvenated and fortified towards provoking national wealth from which progressive and business-minded citizens can tap from in their pursuit of wealth and happiness.
If people are still confused after that synopsized explanation of the “Agenda for Prosperity”, then I will summarize the summary further: the “Agenda for Prosperity” is the progression of the “Agenda for Change”. Or, if you believe in sound bites, you can call it Koromaism Part Two.
Now back to the Kenyan Nobel Peace Laureate, Wangari Maathai. It is true that “the African peoples have trusted their leaders, but only few of those leaders have honoured that trust”. And one leader who has honoured the trust his people have placed in him is President Ernest Bai Koroma of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Before the September of 2007, majority of progressive Sierra Leoneans were looking for a politician whom they could trust to provide them with basic amenities to make life manageable. That’s why majority of Sierra Leoneans, who voted in the 2007 elections, lucky-dipped President Koroma as the most trusted politicians amongst the lot.
And true to form, President Koroma is honouring that trust with his agendas: “Agenda for Change” and “Agenda for Prosperity”. The “Agenda for Change” was a sort of statement of intent while the “Agenda for Prosperity” is a mascot of that trust which majority of progressive Sierra Leoneans put in him. And the ingredients of the “Agenda for Prosperity”, when they would have been potpourri-ed, will surely give many progressive Sierra Leoneans “a relentless optimism in the face of hardship” to quote Barack Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope” (page 356).
That’s why I will agree with Sorie Fofana’s epilogue in that article under review of Margret Thatcher’s statement that, “It is not how long one stays in office. It is what one does in office that matters most.” Sierra Leoneans will take that as a reference point after President Ernest Bai Koroma would have left office in 2017, and also to reference Wangari Maathai’s belief that “…only few of [African] leaders have honoured that trust [which their people placed in them]. And President Koroma will be one of such leaders after his “Agenda for Prosperity” would have blossomed.
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