As Sierra Leone prepares for the Presidential Inauguration on Friday, February 22nd, the final process that puts in motion the Ernest Koroma Administration, following the elections of November 17, 2012, there have been criticisms in some quarters, questioning the essentiality of the inauguration process. Much of the criticism is based on what the cynics claim is going to be unnecessary spending on the part of the government to host the event. Such criticisms do not have merits and must be stopped.
Inauguration of an elected President is a conventional practice. It is a significant function of modern democracy everywhere. It goes back to the first ever inauguration of a democracy, that of the first President of the United States, George Washington.After a long and bitter campaign period, the inauguration, provides the elected President, being the father of the nation, an opportunity to reunite all again, as one country.
|President Earnest Koroma|
During the inauguration Sierra Leone will be ushering in another five years of the Ernest Koroma Government. It will be another moment for the entire country to celebrate the administration’s victory and plans for the future with a President, who appears determined to serve the nation and to take the lead to solidify the democracy that the entire country craves.
As he promised, President Ernest Koroma is resolute to exert policies for the kind of transformations that would see the country overcome hardships and achieve the impossible, as he leads the nation forward in the next five year.
Sierra Leone will, on Friday, celebrate the declaration of its belief in the freedom and rights of all people. It will bring together leaders, both from within and abroad, who would interact with people from all walks of life, be they cleaners or messengers, teachers or media practitioners. For some, it is going to be a rare moment to experience history in the making, and sense the collective strength and soundness of the foundation on which the nation, and its hard-won and cherished democracy is built.
For critical minds regarding the importance of the inauguration, it should be known that the process also propels optimism, and an unflinching will, to continue in the transformation from what was the Agenda for Change to what is now the Agenda for Prosperity. It is important because it will provide an opportunity to showcase the strength and importance of the institutions of society that have been put in place within the past years, and the new pathway to the future. The inauguration gives the entire nation an opportunity to listen to the President as he explains, publicly, in details, his visions and future plans for the country as a whole and outline what he wants his legacy to be.
There are those inaugural addresses that will forever be remembered. President Barack Obama's first inaugural address was one of the most memorable in the history of the United States because of its historic significance; the first American of African ancestry was becoming President of the United States. Another was President Franklin Roosevelt’s, also of the United States in 1933 when he inherited a nation in the midst of a woeful economic crisis, confronted by rising fascism and communism in Europe, and some skepticisms at home about the future of capitalism and representative democracy. Roosevelt reassured his countrymen and women that the nation will forever endure. In May, 1994, South Africa’s first democratic elected President, Nelson Mandela, in his inauguration, called for a united country when he said: “The South Africa we have struggled for, in which all our people, be they African, Colored, Indian or White, regard themselves as citizens of one nation is at hand.“
As were with Presidents Roosevelt’s, Obama’s and Mandela’s, President Ernest Koroma’s Inaugural Address is going to leave an indelible imprint in the political history of the country. He is going to stand front and centre with his policy of audaciousness, defined by courage, boldness, honesty, enthusiasm and the determination to succeed, an undertaken never before seen in Africa, the crusade that is the Agenda for Prosperity. Undoubtedly, the address will be dominated by what he has in stock as the Agenda for Prosperity.
It would be disingenuous for anyone to deny that significant changes have taken place in the country during the past five years under the Agenda for Change; from agriculture to infrastructure to private investments, health care, energy, as well as the enhancing of the mineral and marine sectors and improvements on education and the general wellbeing of the ordinary Sierra Leonean. Also there have been transformations in the armed and police forces, bringing those two institutions to standards. Local councils have seen huge flows of funds from the central government, for the implementation of sound projects. Women are now taking leadership roles in every sector of society and youth participation has been a record high in development programmes throughout the country.
In the information and communication sector, the media, in particular, is allowed to practice freely without fear of government’s interference. The human rights records of the government have been impeccable, realizing that the observance of human rights is fundamental if democracy is to flourish.
One of the most important sectors that have demonstrated the Agenda for Change a success is the National Revenue Authority. With its remarkable performance in revenue collections, the NRA stands as an important lever that smoothly steers the machinery of government in an effective way. As democratic measures introduced in the country since 2007, are gradually paying off, there is now reason for celebration and for welcoming the second chapter of the Koroma Administration.
The inauguration of an elected President is significant, particularly so for a budding democracy like Sierra Leone that is rebuilding from the ashes of a long war - which requires such moments of coming together again.
The inauguration will symbolise a rare moment as the entire country stand together with the newly elected President notwithstanding political differences, because it expounds the unity and strength of Sierra Leone’s democracy by way of smooth transfer of power.
This week’s event will put in motion the new challenge of the day, Agenda for Prosperity, as the First Gentleman of the nation, takes an oath to fight corruption and weed out the ills of society, among other things. The inauguration is about celebrating the country’s hard-earned Democracy, which Sierra Leoneans well deserved. Let the skeptics understand!
Chadia Talib is a writer, women’s right advocate and entrepreneur. She lives in Bo, southern Sierra Leone.