The civil war in Sierra Leone has it consequences, apart from the killings and destruction of properties there was tremendous hardship, people find it difficult to make ends meet, even though there was some amount of aid from the Government and the International Community, the hardship could be easily read from the faces of Sierra Leoneans. It took some couple of time for that to phase out.
Many at that time agreed that the necessity for a democratic Government was eminent. In fact, in many places around the world there is a common adage that says “a civilian regime is better than a military regime”, which usher in the democratically elected Government of Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabba, who after few months in power was overthrown by a military regime headed by Jonny Paul Koroma.
Many Sierra Leoneans were not in favor of the junta at the time, and an ECOMOG intervention was part of the immediate solutions. Soon the elected Government was reinstated. Again that period saw a lot of financial and economic scarcity, the hardship in the country was tremendous, hunger and starvation was sensed everywhere, again people would have to depend on foreign aid for their survival.
The Government by then prioritized human and institutional capacity. The debate was controversial, while many thought the Government was on the right track in rebuilding the country’s human and institutional capacity, many thought on the contrary, for them, the issue of bread and butter was their utmost need. Soon the Government became unpopular and in 2007, a change of Government was not an option but a matter of must. Even though the All Peoples Congress (APC) party, which was in opposition at the time, was very divided and had party issues, they went on to win the Presidential election.
The APC Government came with their Agenda for Change, which prioritized energy, infrastructure, health care service for children under five, pregnant women and lactating mothers, agriculture and others. They got to a fabulous start, in the first one hundred days of the APC Government, the capital city started enjoying electricity (although that led to a lot of questions and investigation). Nationwide reconstruction began and many more, although there was a global recession, the economy was relative, with mining companies jetting in, there was massive employment and the standard of living for those people and many others grew rapidly, this gave more chances for the re-election of the incumbent President and the APC party in 2012.
The first two years was fairly good for the Government until 2014 when Ebola emerged, in less than six months the economy started crumbling, for both those in quarantine homes and for others who were not. Hunger and hardship surfaced and became the order of the day.
Again, we would have to hope for foreign support to salvage the situation. The country received both national donations and international assistance. While individuals and country were helping, some top ranked officials were busy embezzling the Ebola funds, the rightful usage of these aids became a theory.
The Government agreed that the Ebola caused a lot of damage to both the economy and their activities, again reversing the country in terms of it developmental activities, hence the need for the post Ebola recovery plan, which the Government introduced to aid the country in regaining its strength. Many analysts believed that this could be difficult especially with most mining companies folding up rendering most youths jobless and helpless.
Many of those youths who were engaged in mining, chose bike riding as a new career, a dream that was dented with an action taken by the Internal Affairs Minister restricting riding in the Commercial Business District. Many of those youths who could not find job for themselves were alleged to be those who were involved in stealing and attacking peaceful citizens at night. Meanwhile, while the Government is faced with all these challenges, hunger , capital scarcity and hardship hit the country, this affected many poor ,average and(well apparently) the Government, this led to the instituting of some austerity measures to come to terms with the already hardship affecting the country and its people.
While people are managing to come to terms with the said problem, the Government announces that it will stop subsidizing fuel( fuel is an important commodity in Sierra Leone, an increase in fuel many believe will create an increase in most commodities in the country including food stuffs).
The withdrawal created a lot of debate, although no formal survey was taken to know the perception of people, but it was clear that majority of the people were not in favor of the withdrawal, amidst the cries and calls, the Government went ahead with its decision. Soon, there was a lot of hue and cry all over the country about this action taken by the Government. This led to many Social Media calls for protest, while some were intimidating, but other calls were genuine.
The Police said they have arrested some people who were posting inciting messages to the public while denying the request of those genuine ones who wrote to them for a peaceful protest. It is still not known how far the Government has gone on the austerity issues and whether we shall catch up by mid next year. But no matter the situation, it is clear that things are very tough and terribly hard for every Sierra Leonean especially the poor, a monthly salary is now not enough for many to take care of their families.
So far the Government has not called for foreign aid, but with elections barely one and half year more to go, we await a very interesting and demanding election.
By Sulaiman Stom Koroma