A divisive and vindictive government deserves to be voted out

Dr. Sama Banya

14 August 2012

This government of President Ernest Bai Koroma has been the most divisive, ethnically and regionally biased and vindictive government that the poor people of Sierra Leone have had the painful experience to suffer.

And, if it was not for the fact that the people of this country – especially from the south east, had suffered very terribly at the hands of Foday Sankoh and his murderous gang, later aided and abated by the notorious limb chopping AFRC of Johnny Paul Koroma, this country would have been plunged into another civil strife that would have made our previous eleven year experience appear like a Sunday school picnic.

The latter SLPP government was served by many who are now members of President Ernest Bai Koroma’s present APC government.

But one may recall that, just as President Koroma was declared winner of the 2007 run-off election, the untamed APC thugs went on a campaign of violence, rape and destruction against the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in particular and the people of the South East in general.

The government itself engaged in ethnic and regional cleansing, with a strong anti-SLPP prejudice. It was a blessing for this country that wise counsel has always prevailed in the SLPP.

The sackings of people of south-eastern descent and perceived SLPP affiliation from public sector jobs, was done without any compunction or fear of a possible backlash.

The sackings went as far down the food chain as office messengers and cleaners.

As we approach the next Presidential and Parliamentary elections, the government’s created Office of the Diaspora is frightened to release the list of those that it had employed, since it was created.

The biased recruitment into the security forces, particularly the Operational Support Division or OSD is an open secret.

The chairman of our Port Loko district branch was forced to resign or lose his job at London Mining Ltd.

Alhajie Y. B. Kamara – the SLPP’s northern regional chairman prior to the 2007 elections, continued to be tormented and pressurized to such extent – including his Forwarding and Clearing Agency, the poor man had to declare for the APC.

With this APC government, it is not a case of “Live and let Live”, but an undeclared policy of either you are for me or you perish. With them it is live and let die.

My own personal experience with this regime speaks volumes.

I was appointed minister of foreign Affairs and International Cooperation under former President Tejan-Kabbah from March 1998 to February 2001. In a cabinet reshuffle I was transferred to the office of the President as senior Adviser to the President.

I received a letter from the Secretary to President, which confirmed my new appointment with the following conditions; that I would retain “all my privileges and conditions of service which I had as a cabinet minister.”

The letter did not say “OF a cabinet minister, but AS a cabinet minister. In other words; it was a ‘continuing service’.

I did not take a new oath of office, because there was no change of government and I had previously been sworn in. In the last cabinet meeting that I attended, President Tejan-Kabbah in his brief statement added that I was free to attend all cabinet meetings.

The Cabinet Secretariat, the ministry of Finance and the Accountant-General’s office, cooperated fully as I continued to have all my previous privileges and facilities.

When the committee on pensions for Presidents, Vice Presidents and ministers took their initial decision, I was included as a beneficiary. However at the end of their deliberations, the then Labour minister – now minister of mineral resources, honourable Minkailu Mansaray alerted his colleagues that by including me, they would be enhancing my capacity to continue my literary assault on the government.

The committee then reversed its decision and my name was removed from the pensions list that was submitted to Parliament.

Since then I have petitioned Mr. Speaker, who is chairman of that committee and reminded him that I was being penalized on a purely technical point. I called on him on four different occasions, and each time he would assure me of the genuineness of my case and that he would convene a meeting of the committee to review their decision.

I also wrote a humble petition to his Excellency the President, not for him to overrule the decision of Parliament, but at least to intercede with Mr. Speaker.

I called on the late deputy Speaker – honourable Chukuma Johnson who promised to take up the matter with his Excellency. From my first meeting with the speaker, up to this time tomorrow, there has been NO ACKOWLEDGMENT of my petition.

It took the President’s office three years to respond and only to say vaguely that the decision was a Parliamentary one and not of the Presidency, although my petition only requested his intervention with the committee.

It does not require the brain of an Einstein or other genius to deduce that if I had been an APC adherent, or a cross carpetter, my case would have been handled differently and certainly in my favour at that.

Here is a government that continued to pay another ex-minister, who had been removed from office because of a criminal conviction, his salaries and allowances, along with other privileges like housing, a government vehicle and security – for more than two years now, playing god with my case.

And yet it would go into the technicalities of a title, simply because Puawui continues to write incisively critical opinions about the government.

But if it pleases my maker to outlive this cruel and corrupt ridden administration, I would still continue to pursue my cause, confident that I would have justice in the end.

 

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