“Forward then into battle”

Dr. Sama Banya – Puawui

22 July 2012

Since December 2010, there has been a sustained and vicious attack on the opposition SLPP Presidential candidate – Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, from sections of the press and from a particular publication.

It may have started earlier, and at first appeared to be a personal matter, relating to an alleged physical attack on some members of the staff of the newspaper concerned.

It went on relentlessly, even when I attempted to intervene personally to bring the parties together. Readers may recall that I received my own personal rebuff in the process and advised myself to leave matters to take a natural course.

Sadly, the attacks have persisted with renewed venom.

Other publications and individual columnists have understandably joined in the one sided battle.

But theirs had a reason, in that Maada Bio was an opposition character who they perceived might be a threat to the re-election chances of their party leader.

One of my predictions at the outset, was that the attacks may produce the opposite of the desired effect, by making the victim more popular, perhaps simply out of sympathy from “too much of a thing”.

Members of the SLPP were urged not to vote for Maada Bio, because among other reasons, he had not apologized publicly for the alleged unwholesome attack on the newspaper staff.

David Tam Baryor, in his monologue radio programme, fired a number of oblique volleys.

There is a proverb that says: “Big man en God den nor to equal, but ii don tey wey den dey together.” Translated, it means that an elderly person can never be the equal of God, but they have been together for long.

What I tried to say at the time was that, many members of the SLPP might just come in support of the young man out of sympathy, because they perceive him as being the victim of a bullying process.

As the flag bearer contest heated up, it became clear that Retired Brigadier Maada Bio was gaining support mainly from the rank and file of the party.

It was not an easy contest by any means, because apart from people whom we now know to have been moles within our party, all the aspirants were men and women of character and high calibre, with each of them very capable of leading the SLPP.

Along the way, many colleagues confided that a number of the candidates could be properly labelled as “also ran.” And so it turned out that the retired army strong man topped the poles.

While the majority of the losers immediately congratulated the winner, a handful of others, quite contrary to their written assurances and repeated public pronouncements – that no matter what the outcome, they would not only remain SLPP, but would support the winning candidate – went back on their word.

As they say, the rest is history. The attacks have persisted, with the impression being given that Maada Bio had been the main man behind the military overthrow of the APC Momoh regime in 1992, or that he had been the influential head of the junta throughout.

In fact the NPRC is now referred to as his. In spite of all the character assassination and other accusations, like I have mentioned, Maada’s popularity has continued to ascend.

Large crowds turn out to welcome him in Koinadugu, in Kono, in Bo, in Kenema and in the western area.

At Church and Mosque services, enthusiastic crowds gather round him in admiration and approval.

Other parts of the country have sent messages of support, and are eagerly waiting to receive him.

What then shall we do? There can be only one advice from this old fool and one choice for the party.

It is that we, like Maada ignore all the insults and threats and intimidation and fix our eyes ahead on November 17, which is our goal.

We must not be put off by the advantage of incumbency, nor by the material display of the ruling party.

What our people are interested in right now is how to make ends meet. How they can cope with the galloping inflation, the cost of a pint of palm oil or a tie of potato leaves – neither of which has to do with any global economic downturn.

Of particular importance to parents is that, schools and colleges will soon re-open in September and October respectfully; how are they going to meet the ever rising cost of equipping their children and wards at the various educational institutions?

All we must do is to “show the light and our people will find the way” along which they will march with Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio and Kadi Sesay to state house.

We have enough moral ammunition with which to pulverize the APC on November 17.

We must take our minds back to that Arab proverb, which advises that if we “turn back every time a dog barks, we would never get to our journey’s end.”

We and our candidate must ignore all the insults and innuendos, all the name calling and set our minds resolutely to the sacred task ahead – with God/Allah on our side.

Puawui would like to wish all his Muslim brothers and sisters “Ramadan Mubarak!”

 

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