Politics is our biggest problem in Sierra Leone

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Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marrah: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 October 2021:

I am not saying that that we should trash politics from our governance. I am saying the deep-seated divisive partisan politics in our nation is our biggest problem.

A few months ago, our law firm tried to hire an administrative secretary. We received more than 30 applications. Great, we thought.  We would certainly secure a proficient employee from the crop. At interview, the task assigned to each of them was to type out two duties of a secretary at a law firm within three minutes, using double-spaced size 13 Times New Roman font. That was how we ended up with no one. But just put out a call for party agents to deploy at polling stations and you would get them in droves. Ones whose eyes won’t blink for 24 hours while manning ballot boxes.

Nowadays, competent, blue-collared employees are hard to come by. The plumbers, cooks, mechanics, domestics, masons have all gone into politics. One would think they have gone there to fix our water pipes or electric lines or our homes. No, they are there to hop on the high-speed train to destination wealth. The gravitation is simple. Their friend who couldn’t finish their schooling or degree and joined party politics is now building a house or driving a big car.

So, the message is clear: join politics “the accelerated route to wealth”. And since the good ones who are meant to be training apprentices are all taking the accelerated route, we are mostly left with the inefficient and clumsy.

There is no longer any need to wait because merit has been exiled. It has become mostly about whom you know or if your party is in power. This is why it’s easier for one to find party branches and chapters all over the country and abroad, instead of cooperatives and partnerships. Party politics instead of competence appears to be the concern into which a lot of our viable young energy is poured. It seems and it is the case that in this business the dividends are high with low risk. Entrepreneurship is uncertain and too arduous a road.

Most of our young and vibrant have abandoned creativity for the perks of politics and are prepared to be used as tools to perpetuate any exploit for their political group. The young person appointed to run an office they hardly know anything about, knows that it is their loyalty that gets them the job and it is continuous loyalty that would secure it.

Few weeks ago, a video of some APC bigwigs dancing to a song with lyrics labelling their rivals as “baster-pikin” (bastards) made rounds on social media. Unless I’m unaware, there has been no condemnation of that song by the leadership of the APC or any attempt to dissuade their membership from using the song at their party functions.

Earlier this month some serving ministers abandoned national duties for by-elections in Kabala. One APC stalwart’s newly constructed house was pounded with stones, but it seems only APC supporters have been rounded up and held in detention for more ten days. I doubt that APC supporters would be pelting at their own.

But this is the politics we have. This is what has held back our progress and development more than anything.

You know I have been approached many times by folks who’d ask “why you nor go join politics?” “When you dey join politics?” As a young man (worse if you’re making progress in your career), everybody thinks you should be in politics.

Don’t get me wrong, I love politics. I am a rule of law enthusiast and governance activist. I told myself I won’t get into politics until I made a life for myself. Politics won’t be a means of survival for me. It would be a place of service. Sadly, for many people this is not the case. And that exactly is the driver of our divisive politics.

Wherever divisive party politics rather than progress festers, it is the nation that suffers!