By Bobby Gboyor, Washington, DC….
The question has been asked, and fairly so, about what managerial skills does Alie Kabba possess to become the next President of Sierra Leone. This is a question that should be asked of any potential candidate whose name is put forward for the presidency of our beloved country. However, for us in Collective Action for Peace and Progress (CAPP-SL), we would rather ask the question: What LEADERSHIP skills does Alie Kabba or any other candidate for the presidency of Sierra Leone have to aspire to that high office. Our reason for asking the question this way is simple: We do not need a manager at the helm of affairs in our country; we need a leader! By that I mean a leader who can guide and inspire competent managers/technocrats to handle various sectors of the administration and hold those managers accountable for their stewardship. Managers, in this sense, are ministers and senior officials entrusted with the responsibility to oversee and direct the day-to-day affairs of government.
We want a visionary and patriotic leader with a passion for nation building, not a manager who awards contracts to his cronies and makes them sacred cows or untouchables. We perceive the President to be above management and, therefore, capable of holding accountable his managers who fall out of line in delivering on the President’s strategic plan for nation building. In sum, although management ability is an important criterion for the presidency, it is not the ultimate determination. What is required of the man or woman who occupies the highest office of the land is VISION, STRATEGIC THINKING, SELFLESSNESS, DECISIVENESS AND LOVE FOR COUNTRY AND PEOPLE; the man or woman who puts country and people first above all.
Alie Kabba is first and foremost a visionary leader and fighter for ordinary people yearning for opportunity and dignity, but the man’s record also clearly shows that he is an astute manager when it comes to organising and managing people and resources. So in responding to the question whether Alie is a good manager in the context of the leadership of Sierra Leone, we have to look at a bigger picture. A great leader is one with a vision to take a country to a place it has not been before, the Promised Land, if you will; one who dreams of bringing about transformational change to his people, a change that has been long awaited but never fulfilled, a change for good that goes beyond cosmetic surgery and drops in an ocean to one that is inspired by the collective will of the people to change society in its totality, from abject poverty and squalor to one that improves the standard of living for all citizens. We in CAPP-SL firmly believe that Alie is that kind of leader.
Our man is, in fact, both a leader and manager. Alie is Executive Director for one of the largest and most successful African organizations in the United States — the United African Organization (UAO). He has been the CEO of UAO for more than ten years. During this period, he has, almost single-handedly developed UAO from its very humble beginnings as an unknown entity to a vibrant organization that is recognized across America and courted by lawmakers and advocacy groups.
With Alie at the helm, UAO has grown to be a strong voice for social justice and equal opportunity. The organization is fiscally sound with a steadily increasing budget and staff as well as the power to leverage policymakers on positions and matters germane to the interests of Africans. UAO’s annual Chicago African Summit is the premier forum of its kind wherein key elected officials at the City, State and Federal levels participate to engage with constituents; and policy advocates, scholars, community organizers and allies convene to discuss issues and priorities for community development and empowerment.
Through the work of UAO, the profile of African immigrants in the State of Illinois is higher than ever before. Our brothers and sisters in Illinois now have access to more opportunities than their counterparts in other parts of the United States.
Alie Kabba’s stature as a leader is recognized in multiple arenas in the US. He has had a stellar career as Public Service Administrator with the State of Illinois, where he headed a program with more than $300 million budget before transitioning into his role as head of UAO. Last year, in appreciation of his dynamic leadership of UAO, he was awarded a fellowship by a high profile foundation in the United States that gave him the opportunity to travel around the US and the world to learn, empower and motivate other leaders to organize and build their communities. He is the recipient of several awards for his distinguished leadership roles, and he has been named among the top 100 black leaders in the US. This is not a small achievement for our own Sierra Leonean brother from Koindu to receive such accolades!
For more than ten years Alie has devoted his life to organizing African communities, and he has been a leading force in several campaigns to push for major legislative victories on behalf of millions of undocumented and legal immigrants in the US. He has also testified in the Congress of the United States of America on issues affecting immigrant communities from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
President Obama was not a manager before he became a US Senator and then President of the United States. He was a community organizer, just like our very own Alie Kabba, in the same great city where our man Alie has been knocking on doors and inspiring his community for a long time. So, my fellow Sierra Leoneans, let our managers run our companies and make our private sector viable and competitive, and let us look for and support a visionary leader to build our nation that we call Sierra Leone. That man, we believe, is none other than the man himself, Comrade Alie Kabba.
Part 2 is on the pipelene!