Sierra Leone Government Overestimates its Appeal at African Development Bank

Dr Samura Kamara, Sierra Leone's candidate for the presidency of the African Development Bank, fell at the first voting hurdle during multi-round elections for the position, well before Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria's candidate, eventually clinched the job in the sixth round of voting. The early exit was an embarrassment for Sierra Leone, whose officials had earlier expressed optimism that Dr Kamara would be elected the next president of the bank. Independent analysts outside the country had however rated Dr Kamara as an outsider, particularly so since there were three other countries from the West African region: Nigeria, Chad and Mali. Regional bloc voting is common at such events and a candidate who is the sole representative of a regional bloc has a solid base from which to build support.

Analysts have opined that the decision to put Dr Kamara up as a candidate represents a continued denial by Sierra Leone Government officials of the parlous state of the country and its position relative to its West African neighbours and competitors. Unlike other candidates, such as Adesinya, whose credentials were largely gained outside government,  Kamara has spent much of his working life within government, including the last eight years of APC rule. As such, his performance evaluation must be heavily weighted by the performance of the government within which he has held very senior positions: Governor of the  Bank of Sierra Leone, Financial Secretary, Minister of Finance and now Minister of Foreign Affairs. One must ask, has the Government of Sierra Leone performed satisfactorily in general, and in particular in areas within his purview? Has it done as well as its neighbours and African brothers? Has Sierra Leone development been sufficient during the twenty plus years during which Dr Kamara served at the helm of affairs in Sierra Leone's Samura KamaraSierra Leone to justify giving him a key role in development of the entire continent.? If Dr Kamara points to his efforts at reconstruction many would point to the country's dismal educational record, measured by performance at public exams (see Dysfunctional Education) or to the catastrophic failure of the health system during the still-to-be-concluded Ebola outbreak. For health and education are as sure indicators of a nation's development as infrastructure, about which in any event Sierra Leone can hardly boast.

The issue of corruption is another area where Sierra Leone scores poorly, and the Governors of the African Development Bank, who elect the President and who nclude a substantial number of WesternAkinwumi Adesina interests, would have been concerned to ensure that not a whiff of corruption could be associated with their institution. One could argue that Nigeria, which yielded the winner, has also often been tainted by corruption charges. True, but their candidate, now ADB president, has not spent his last twenty or thirty years within the Nigerian government.

Far more worrying than Dr Kamara's failure at the elections is the fact that he was put up as a candidate in the first place by the Government of Sierra Leone. It indicates a continued mis-analysis of Sierra Leone's position within the region and the continent. It indicates there is still not yet the understanding within government circles that the country has a great deal of work to do before it can hold its head high in the development race in West Africa, let alone Africa.

Apologists for the Sierra Leone government have come up with all the old, familiar excuses for yet another embarrasment: conspiracy, betrayal, lack of money with which to "lobby" etc, etc. With experience, we will do better next time...The truth is the winner was an excellent candidate from a country whose development indicators comprehensively outstrip ours. The truth is, our government should forget about these prestige positions, about taking part in continental competitions where we are clearly out of our depth, and take a long, cold, hard look within at why Sierra Leone is failing.