By George S. Khoryama.
Experience is the best teacher, good or bad. The Sierra Leonean experience generally in the way the affairs of their governments are being run one after the other over a long period of time has been that of suspicion of government officials. And it has occurred that only two political parties – the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress (APC) party have been in charge of governance since Independence in 1961. As for the occasional military interregnums their suspicion of the junta had even gone through the ceiling.
Simply put most Sierra Leoneans today no longer trust their officials of government; they suspect every government official to be corrupt with very little or no time for them to separate the good, the bad and the ugly, the new ones from the old. They hold government officials responsible for their suffering and the state of their poverty and rightly so; for the backwardness of the country as for them to perceive nothing good about their leaders and no hope for their future.
Such was the demonstration of the people’s suspicion that visited the recent diamond or stone find in Kono. The diamond digger found something in his pitch and hurried to come down to Freetown with what he believed was a precious gem that could have made him instant ‘money man.’ He reportedly arrived in Freetown over the last week end and in his wisdom, took and reported his find to the Honorable Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Judeh Jalloh. Since it was on a week end and all the offices were closed, VP Jalloh took custody of the find until the following Monday morning when he turned it over to the appropriate authority. In his presence and other officials concerned, the owner identified the object as one that he had left in the custody of the VP.
The object was examined in the presence of everyone concerned including the owner only to be determined that, it was not a genuine diamond but just a shadow of it in the form of a beautiful ornamental stone. Right there and then the object was returned to the finder.
And then came the wrench: On Tuesday morning of May 22, 2018 during the popular Good Morning Sierra Leone program on Radio Democracy 98.1FM the issue of the so-called diamond came up. The people’s suspicion of government officials came alive through their text messages one of which questioned the right of the Vice President to have kept the stone over night instead of passing it on to the appropriate authorities. According to the caller anything could have happened with the stone over the week end period the VP had kept it, suspecting that some wicked machination may have taken place. Another text message inquired why diamonds always turn to stones under the SLPP governments.
Much as our leaders need to be kept on their toes on the premise of accountability, some Sierra Leoneans do carry their manner of suspicion of them to a point of naivety. What for instance the VP could have done on a week end when the fake diamond was placed at his custody and all the offices were closed? Did the texter expect the VP to have summoned the authority concerned to a meeting on a Sunday if only to prove what? Did the official from the so-called Extractive NGO suspect the VP to be keeping ornamental stones in his possession waiting to exchange them for diamonds at the appropriate time? Come on that was a ridiculous suspicion probably by an NGO that wants to satisfy its paymasters at the expense of reality.
Of course the little said about the claim by the other texter that diamonds turn to stones under SLPP governments the better. The texter knows exactly that he or she is mistaken the SLPP government for the other government in our recent history. He only needs to recall the history of diamonds and governments from Siaka Stevens’ days to the last government before now.
For the purpose of this piece, it remains to say that indeed corruption is rampant among government officials. But are there not any clean ones left? The SLPP government officials may be corrupt but let us give them chance to prove us right or wrong. The government is barely one month old in office and someone is suspecting that the VP may have played games with a fake diamond. The fact remains that Sierra Leone is far safer in terms of political, social and economic developments under the SLPP government than any other government in our history.