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That SLPP slogan: "Di Pa dae wok but di mami nor dae cook" (The President is working but the mother does not cook and children do not have food to eat)

  • Written by  Yusuf Keketoma Sandi BA (Hons), LLB (Hons) London
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I still would not stop laughing since I first heard about this SLPP slogan. The reason being that in a country where the recent “2012 US Embassy Sierra Leone Investment Climate Statement” estimates that over 72 percent of our population live on less than $1 per day in extreme poverty, you can laugh your head off whenever you hear APC supporters shout “Di Pa Dae Wok”(The President is working). Therefore, in this piece, I will be discussing those bread and butter issues which will illustrate that whilst the APC apologists keep singing “Di Pa Dae Wok”, ordinary families up and down the country continue to struggle at the mercy of hardship, as one of my friends jokingly said “Di Pa Dae Wok But Di Mami Nor Dae Cook En Di Pikin Den Nor Dae Eat” (The President is working but the mother does not cook and children do not have food to eat).

Therefore, to evaluate how serious ordinary people have been suffering for almost five years under President Koroma’s APC, I had to send two of my researchers in Freetown to check the prices of some basic commodities which really matter to ordinary people and I will compare these prices with what they were in September 2007 when SLPP government handed over power to President Koroma.

However before that, let me remind you what the APC party (then in opposition) said during the 2007 election campaigns. During the 2007 elections, it became so obvious that the APC exploited the cost of living to their political advantage by even promising anxious voters that reducing the prices of basic commodities will be their first priority. In fact, in several interviews, Victor Foh (APC Secretary General) boasted that an APC government will provide a “bread and butter economy” and that the then SLPP government had failed the people of Sierra Leone because of what he referred to as the “high cost of living”. We also remember APC’s famous campaign song by Innocent titled “Ejectment Notice” which APC used to campaign that the SLPP government should be given “Ejectment Notice” because the price of a 50kg bag of rice was at Le60,000. Even our President could not withstand the temptation to play politics on the cost of living, as such in President Koroma’s 2007 manifesto he stated that the topmost economic objective of his APC government would be “to revive the economy and improve the standard of living of every Sierra Leone in line with an APC Agenda for Change and the Millennium Development Goal”. In the same manifesto, the President stated that one of the strategies on how to achieve such an economic objective would be an APC government with “Fiscal Discipline and Financial Prudence to achieve low inflation, low interest rate resulting into long term economic stability”. Therefore, after almost five years Your Excellency, our suffering people would like to get ANSWERS to the following QUESTIONS: What has happened to the standard of living you promised to improve? What has happened to the fiscal discipline and financial prudence you promised? If you campaigned for the people to give the SLPP government “Ejectment Notice” for a bag of rice at Le 60,000 don’t you think the same people MUST give you and the APC government “Eviction Notice” from State House on 17th November since the same 50kg bag of rice is now Le 180,000?

By the way, let me share with my readers few tips on the standard of living and this fiscally disciplined APC government. According to a recent visit to Kroo Bay, by the renowned British Celebrity, John Bishop to raise funds for the BBC Sport Relief 2012, he discovered that there were about 10,900 people living in Kroo Bay but that there were only 18 toilets for those people. Shockingly, if we are to go by his findings then mathematically each toilet is being shared by approximately 605 people in Kroo Bay. As such, if President Koroma’s APC was really serious about improving the standard of living of ordinary people why did they have to spend more than $ 5 million to purchase arms and ammunition for elections when they could have spent just a fraction of that amount to construct more toilet facilities for a community like Kroo Bay. On the fiscal discipline and financial prudence, we still remember that in 2007 John Benjamin (then Minister of finance) rightly confirmed that the SLPP left for the APC government Le 542 billions, a claim which has now been grudgingly confirmed by the present APC minister of finance, Dr. Samura Kamara. However, in 2012, for a government which would be so fiscally disciplined and financially prudent, they have run out of cash not even a penny to pay government workers; our country’s debt liability stands far higher than when SLPP left in 2007; our inflation rate is in record double digits; our budget deficit is at a record high and the value of our currency has been declining since APC came to power. In fact, the APC government have wasted so much money through unnecessary expenditure that even the IMF Mission’s recent visit to Sierra Leone could not hide their frustration with the APC government when they released their statement noting “….the mission Stressed that it was important to CONSTRAIN non-priority expenditure in the remainder of 2012 and to enhance expenditure and cash flow management”. But, ah yah, the APC apologists would still say ‘Di Pa Dae Wok’.

And now to the alarming cost of living and there is no better way to illustrate how the APC government have really “reduce the high cost of living” which they promised in 2007 by showing you a table of retail prices of some basic commodities which compare their prices between September 2007 and April 2012 so that our people can make the judgment whether “Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday” (Yesterday was better than today)

RETAIL MARKET PRICES OF ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES

NO.

ITEMS

SEPTEMBER 07    (Leone)

APRIL 12 (Leone)

1.

RICE (one butter cup)

300

1,000

2.

RICE (50kg bag)

60,000

180,000

3.

VEGETABLE OIL (one pint)

1,200

2,500

4.

VEGETABLE OIL (one batta)

70,000

135,000

5.

PALM OIL (one pint)

800

2,000

6.

PALM OIL (one batta)

60,000

120,000

7.

MEAT (one pound)

6,000

12,000

8.

FISH (kinny, Medium size)

2,000

5,000

9

SUGAR (one butter cup)

500

1,500

10

SALT (one butter cup)

300

500

11.

CASSAVA LEAF (one tie)

300

1,000

12.

JUMBO MAGGIE (one cube)

100

500

13.

ONION

200

1,000

14.

KEROSENE (one gallon)

12,500

18,000

15.

SOFT DRINK

1,000

(coke)2000 (vimto)2,500

16.

STAR BEER

1,500

3,000

17.

GUINESS STOUT

2,500

5,000

18.

TAXI (one way)

500

1,000

19.

PODA PODA (one way)

500

1,000

20.

EXERCISE BOOK (80 pages)

500

1,000

From the table above, it is clear that Mr. Aruna, who lives with his wife and one kid but earns a monthly income of Le150,000, whilst in 2007 would have been able to buy a bag of rice at Le60,000 and still have enough for different soups plus other family needs, now in 2012 Mr. Aruna would not be able to buy even a bag of rice which is at Le 180,000 let alone have money for soups or family needs. Also, a single mother, Fatmata, with two kids who used to go to the market with Le7,000 to prepare a decent meal for her family in 2007, will now in 2012 need more than Le15,000 to cook the same meal. Sadly, in 2007, Mohamed, a young mechanic who used to take Le 2,000 to a cookery shop or restaurant to have a decent meal even with extra meats, but now in 2012 the same Mohammed will need at least Le 5,000 to buy that same size of decent meal and those extra meats. But, ah yah, the APC apologists would still say “Di Pa Dae Wok”.

Therefore, with all the appalling standards of living, the APC’s spending spree and with one of the alarmingly high costs of living in West Africa, President Koroma’s praise singers will still look those suffering people in their eyes and tell them “Di Pa Dae Wok” but at least now the SLPP will respond “Di Pa Dae Wok But Di Mami Nor Dae Cook En Di Pikin Den Nor Dae Eat”.

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