By Andrew K Michael, DEC/25/2015, SSN;
Recent politics is still fresh in the minds of South Sudanese as they celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the commencement of a New Year. While a lot has happened, including the return of our brothers from the opposition, the most conspicuous and perhaps controversial one is the relieving of ex-state governors and appointments of the new ones to head the highly disputed, newly created 28 states of South Sudan.
This came in the wake of the constitutional amendment by the country’s law-making body, the South Sudanese Parliament. Despite boycotts by a whole lot of MPs, it has been amended and in what stunned the holiday-going citizens, the results were aired out by the national broadcaster, the South Sudan Television (SSTV), on the eve of Christmas, 24 December 2015.
What bad or good impact this brings, revoking it now is a history and I need to, in a letter to my governor and fellow citizens of Jonglei (New Jonglei), focus on the way forward!
My worry disappeared into thin air a few minutes past 2000 hours last night when I learned that the President actually heeded to the call of the people of Twic East County when Mr. Philip Aguer was named the next governor of Jonglei State.
I was a bit concerned about the results because the politics that preceded the final announcement in a decree was ill-informed and mostly the elites preferred candidates the youth were not interested in becoming their leaders!
A number of youth were concerned and thought a leverage of some sort would be applied to thwart from being announced the governor on the eleventh hour a hard-working and approachable man, a man who likes his job and who believes in his people and who up to date is recalled for the job well done during the dark days, working for the welfare of the displaced, Mr. Philip Aguer Panyang.
I did not know Mr. Philip before, due to our social distance, especially in terms of age, but I learned about him later. In fact from the people he served during difficult days characterised by hunger and displacement and killing.
I would have been one of them had it not been the fact that I was displaced to other part of the country. Thanks and congratulations, Mr. Philip. Your becoming our leader is a true manifestation of that fact that honesty and doing ones’ best and working hard pay. Your people know you.
Hon. Philip, the people of Jonglei expect more from you and it is our hope you will not let us down. On the other hand, we will work with you for as long as you cooperate as you used to in the bad 1990s.
You know more than anyone else that it is quite challenging to manage people of a manageable size, let alone meeting the demands of close to a million people. But you can do that so long as you work with us together.
Jonglei is equally (I don’t want to be construed as bragging by using the word ‘more’) blessed with man power, resources among others, like any other state of the 28 states. You need to listen to what your people say and, of course, screen what they say and do what is best.
Your advisers must be of different backgrounds in terms of where they come from and what they know. They shouldn’t be the egocentric types who just think overnight of what will benefit them, advance those ideas to you pretending to be doing their job.
You need to double, double check what they say lest they create more problems in a state where people need positives changes.
Hon. Philip, our state will only move forward if key institutions are made to provide services beyond paying civil servant salaries as it appears to be the case now. The people who head ministries, the directors general who do administrative work of the ministries and the rest of the directors who head certain departments must prove they are capable of doing their job and to the expectation of the people.
Otherwise they lose their jobs if they continue to enjoy all the luxuries we sometimes see, including having large flat TVs in their offices, driving rather expensive vehicles (call them V8s or whatever!), some (some not all!) drinking beers during lunch hours in nearby restaurants after emptying their meal bowls.
All these at the expense of ordinary citizens (in most cases displaced from their homes) and low-ranking civil servants like teachers, police personnel and army soldiers who should be having almost equal share of the pie like their leaders and bosses.
Hon Philip, we had better develop a system that will hold these individuals heading the institutions accountable for what they do. This must happen and fast when you arrive in your Bor’s office.
These folks must report to work as per the labour law timing of the country-why on earth should government officials report back to work after lunch as late as 1500 hours? Why two-hour lunch breaks in each of the five working days? To drink beers in due course or what exactly?
Hon. Philip, you will let us know why they do this when you come to Jonglei in a few days!
With your coming, Hon. Philip, we are delighted and we will be able to expect senior civil servants holding high positions (mentioned earlier) to account for every South Sudanese Pound under their custody!
Because that money is not theirs, it is ours as citizens. We want it spent on constructing roads, hospitals, schools and other prominent infrastructures-it is not for buying TVs and V8s (can’t some simple land cruisers do?).
The money is ours because it is obtained from us in the form of taxes and natural resources. Everyone has a share and everyone doesn’t expect it lavishly spent on things that mount to one single objective: to comfort the elites in the form of TVs in their offices (and presumably in their homes who knows!) and window-tainted vehicles of all sorts of models and lavish spending like renting expensive houses abroad and paying near to million SSP in dowry to win parents who should be having their daughters in schools!
If we have roads, schools and hospitals in place, all the problems facing us now will vanish: Insecurity emanating from cattle rustling, poverty, diseases and illiteracy. These are achievable if we care about how the money is spent in the public domain and you must do something about this.
When you come, Hon. Philip, I suggest you go the Mugufuli (John Pombe Mugufuli is new Tanzanian President who in less than two months in office has shocked the region about his people-centred leadership approach) way, inspecting all the key institutions and question all that appears not in place. And then, instantly and swiftly, make any decision you think is worth taking, even if it means sacking somebody who not is doing their job to the expectation.
Hon. Philip, we expect not any sort of buttering you up and lobbying in a bit to taking certain positions that is not based on merits by the elites. You are given powers by the people to make informed decisions for as long as it is for the welfare of the people.
Such dilemmas as I don’t need to appoint my nephew who is very capable to be the minister of X ministry should not haunt you for as long as the results (positive) will be seen tomorrow!
The same is true; you just don’t need to pick minions because they come from certain clans not represented. We are going to be one clan anyway and will be interested in the positive results of our work, not representation!
The issue of some people having money sloshing around in their pockets and mostly spent in beer drinking areas must be checked and their source thoroughly audited because where do they get the money when they don’t have enterprises making money for them? Quite a challenging situation, but we ought to rescue it anyway. You lead us there.
To the people of Jonglei State, it is time to cut the cackle and get down to business. The time for game playing sun-rise to sun-set has surely passed; the time of finger-pointing and name-calling is now a distant history and so we must change.
We must prove, rather than preaching, that we are who we are: innovative, God-anointed, peace-loving, hard-working people! My fellow citizens, you will agree with me that in Greater Bor, we believe that it is not about what can be done for us; it’s about what can be done by us, together as citizens that counts!
Let’s make this our slogan and when we go by this slogan, not only can we become the peace makers and role models in this country, we can build the capacity of others-from the border states to the rest of the country. Yes, it is possible and we can do that!
Let us retrieve our heart of independence which once prevailed among us. Today, people are more dependent on others than ever before. Why? Because we do not want to work; work in this context means doing what you can (not criminality for sure!) even if it means making use of the waters of the River Nile to irrigate your vegetables and sell them.
This will enable you earn money and support yourself and your family. Boda boda riding is work. Chapatti making is a lucrative business right now and can be carried out by both men and women! It’s not Ugandans and Kenyans and Ethiopians and Sudanese and Eritreans who should do this kind of work while we sit all day long playing cards and knitting bed sheets (that are not converted into cash) and expect to eat at the end of the day!
If opportunities haven’t come your way to work in somebody’s office (which we seem to like) don’t give up. Unfortunately, youngsters seem to detest blue-collar jobs and this is noticeable on the streets of Bor and other major towns in South Sudan, with Ugandans proudly fetching water from stone-throw water points for us at a fee!
I am wondering if this was the case years back, but I doubt my judgement, for I learn from our elders who speak to us in various fora that we used to be industrious people. That spirit we have to bring it back and embrace it for us to have a future full of peace and all sort of development.
Finally, I charge you with the words of Martin Luther King Jr: ‘…even if it falls on your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep the street like Michelangelo painted picture; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.’
And now, more than ever before, the people of Greater Bor have the opportunity to move forward. I want to share with you and especially the young people a verse from the most inspirational book on earth, the Bible: Ephesians 5: 15-16. I always thank God for showing me this verse. I encourage you read it and think if it touches you as it does to me. Amen.
Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year!
Andrew K Michael can be reached at email@example.com
(Note: I have used the title honourable (instead of H.E.) throughout this article because that is what the SSTV said during the announcement).