The Oswald Hanciles Column : In June of 2007, I was in a hotel room in the posh Allen Avenue axis in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria, when the hotel supplied-newspaper was pushed under my door. The newspaper had a full page interview with the then Leader of Sierra Leone’s opposition, the APC, and presidential candidate in the 2007 elections, Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma. (As far as I could tell, Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma was the only political leader from Sierra Leone who had gone to Nigeria for the inauguration of newly elected Nigerian President, Yar’Ardua). In that paper, Hon. Koroma was quoted as saying once he would be elected President, he would “run the country like a business”.
That pronouncement of parliamentarian, Hon. Koroma, has been echoed several times by H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma - as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. As I made a tour of Northern Province and Eastern Province districts in Sierra Leone this past two weeks, and saw the “community banks” and “financial services” buildings dotting every chiefdom in those areas, as I spoke with the bank managers and marvelled at their innovative approach to alleviating poverty, I started putting the words of President Koroma – to “run the country like a business” – into context. In a collaborative move between the Government of Sierra Leone and International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD), rural banks are in operation all over the country. At the Pendembu Community Bank in Kailahun District, I met the mild-mannered Foday Nallo, the Acting Marketing and Loans Manager of the Bank. It smacked of an ‘African Socialism’ that understands the mindset of our rural people.