Seeing the president of Sierra Leone

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Ernest Bai Koroma, president of Sierra Leone since 2007, in front

Earlier this week I went to cover a presentation on performance review of various government ministries, local councils and educational institutes in 2015 (yes, it was a little boring — you can read the news story I wrote on it here). It was held in a reception hall called the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex, where large events like this happen. By my rough count there were at least 350 seats, filled with important people.

There were police officers, and lots of men in suits and ties, and women in bright colored African clothing and head wraps. I was sitting behind the Director General of the Sierra Leone Roads Authority, and other officials.

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There’s me in the back. My colleague sent this to me, saying I was now among the most important people in the country, being pictured with so many of them

Oh yeah, and the president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma was there, and gave a speech at the end. When he first walked in, everyone stood while the triumphant Sierra Leone national anthem sounded from speakers.

At times the proceedings were packed with impenetrable jargon and it was hard to stay focused, much less interested. But President Koroma said the purpose of this performance review was to build more transparency into all these institutions, which gave the mundane presentation more significance.

“Before 2008 [when he implemented this performance review], no public servant imagined that every year they would be openly assessed,” he said. “We have come a long way on this journey of openness in government and open accountability.”

In a country still plagued by corruption, I’m sure more accountability can’t hurt.

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