By Fiama Yombo…
Sober governments in most parts of the world see themselves as being constitutionally charged with the responsibility for establishing infrastructure with social amenities characterized by the attractiveness and value of real estate or of residential structure; and if this perception is anything to go by, then it goes without saying that Koidu in the Kono District- paradoxically the bread basket of the nation- is a very underdeveloped and perhaps most deprived city in post-war Sierra Leone; and which deplorable condition and backwardness are the attributes of hatred, frivolous jealousy and malice- the rags of foolishness imbibed in the so-called leaders.
The responsibility for bringing sustainable development to the people of Koidu solely lies on the Municipal Council headed by the Mayor- a political doyen who must ensure that the chemistry between his institution and others including companies and central government conducts well and with the view of realizing the desired goal. But in the scenario regarding the Koidu New Sembehun City Council (KNSCC), the situation is not only ridiculous but also pathetic; and with grave sympathy for the poor tax payers 85% of whom go to bed with hunger due to poverty in the superlative degree of comparison only. All municipal councils around the country do not (and I submit, cannot) wholly rely on funds allocated to them by the central government for the development of their respective municipalities in this donor-driven country. Over 75% of funds the Councils spend on development arefrom the revenue generated through the payment of taxes by traders, business entities including companies.The OCTÉA Mining Company, by virtue of its capacity or potential in terms of acquisition in establishment, is the entity that owes the Koidu people and perhaps the rest of the Konos in that part of the country. They owe the people a great deal of reward, which they have to demonstrate as their cooperate social responsibility. But it is rather unfortunate and, indeed, very sad to know that the OCTÉA Mining Company is exploiting the Kono people foot loose and fancy free and without any benefit.
In a recent press briefing summoned at the City Council in Koidu, it was rather disheartening or heart-rending to hear the Mayor being debriefed on the recalcitrance of the OCTÉA Mining Company towards the payment of taxes to the Council. In his statement, the Mayor expressed thatOCTÉA’s attitude towards the municipality is completely against progress. The OCTÉA Mining Company, he noted, “has in use 3 different camp communities, canteens and European and African illicit supermarkets, a workshop, 50 drilling machines, the second biggest washing plant in Africa which worths over $6000000, 22 bulldozers, 45 ADT dumpers, 20 excavators, at least 120 light vehicles, 58 powerhouse generators, 60 water pumps, etc.” It is rather discouraging to hear the Mayor say that: “a company with all these facilities in permanent engagement cannot pay their taxes to improve the lives of the Koidu people over 85% of whom are living in abject poverty.” The Mayor further urged the people of Koidu to ask themselves as to “how can such a rich company be amassing or accumulating wealth from the land of the Kono people on the one hand, depriving them (land owners) of their right to progress or development on the other hand.”
As developments unfold themselves, the Koidu people are reported to have observed with utmost dismay that the Local Government Minister Diana Kabbanee Konomanyi and the Paramount Chief of Tankoro Chiefdom Paul Ngaba Saquee are the big weight behind the recalcitrance of the OCTÉA Mining Company: that they are those that instigate the Company not to pay the taxes that due the Council between the period of 2012 and 2016 which marks the reign and tenure of office of the sitting Mayor- Saa Emerson Lamina. The duo hate the Mayor on the grounds that he is one of the sympathizers of their enemy- the VP. Yes, if OCTÉA pays all their dues to the Council, the Mayor would implement tangible projects that can promote the development and progress of the Kono people; and which will also be a feather on his cap. In other words, they would not like the Mayor (being sympathizer of the VP) to have anything to show at the end of his term of office; rather, they prefer that the Kono citizenry become scape goats and to forefeit in extenuation of the hatred for the VP. What arrant nonsense!Foolishness beyond imagination!
With the circumstances considered so far, the minister and her ally are not enemies of the Vice President but enemies of progress for the Kono people. Enemies of the VP: why can’t they fight him personally? Why should the ordinary people be deprived of their right? Why should they suffer because of their antagonistic demeanour towards the VP? Why should few people hold the future of the land to ransom? The Kono people- particularly the youths- must now be thinking as to what the future holds for them. If the issues are not addressed, then it’s rather unfortunate that the future of Koidu will remain bleak.
It could be recalled that in the early 60s Paramount Chief T.S Mbriwa was banished to Kamakwei because he stood for the Kono cause. Other crux of chiefs headed by representative of Paramount Chiefs in Parliament, PC Sahr Songu Mbriwa with other 13 chiefs surrendered all 14 staff to J.S.Momoh in the mid 80s because Mines Minister, Bash-Conteh wanted to remove the Director-General Aiah Abu Koroma from the position of heading the NDMC. P. C. Saquee in 2012 led a few guillible PCs to President Koroma with the aim of thwarting the reappointment of VP Sam sumana albeit he woefully failed.
This perspective, nonetheless, certainly depicts genii in the guise of human beings called a Local Government Minister and a Paramount Chief who are deceitfully preoccupied with local governance for reducing their subject to objects of irrational hostilities against the Vice President and henchmen, all of whom own Koidu- an eyesore in terms of development.
But then I may renege in my responsibility as a harbinger of good news if I don’t pray for these enemies. For the oldest Book tells us to forgive our enemies “who trespass against us”. Accordingly, on behalf of all suffers in the diamondferous Republic of Kono, I would like to actively pray for them, reciting this 23rd Psalms in good faith: