Looking at the post-independence history of Sierra Leone, one can argue that the country has known only one dictator – president Siaka Stevens of the ruling APC, though political developments in Sierra Leone today, raise questions as to whether president Koroma’s dictatorial tendency and manipulative behaviour qualify him to be branded a classical dictator.
But the fact remains that, Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world and is showing no signs of digging itself out of the hell hole its in: Poor access to drinking water, poor access to electricity, poor sanitation and squalor, poor healthcare, poor education, lack of job opportunities, abject poverty, high levels of corruption.
Writing in theconversation.com, Pippa Norris asks: Are poor societies stuck with dictators?
When president Koroma took office in 2007, Sierra Leone was bailing itself out of the ravages of a very brutal civil war with the massive help of the international community.
His predecessor – Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was no dictator, but many believe he could have utilised the billions of dollars pumped into Sierra Leone after the war much better and differently, so as to speed-up the post-war recovery process.
Ernest Bai Koroma, who many believe to have dictatorial tendencies, if not a dictator in the classical sense, said in 2007 that he was going to change Sierra Leone for the better; run the country like a business and eradicate poverty.
Nine years on, Sierra Leone is back to where Koroma found it in 2007 – poor and in distress.
Is Sierra Leone poor because of dictatorship? Or is there something else that is worse than dictatorship, at play in many poor countries like Sierra Leone? What lessons can be learnt from other African countries?