National Electoral Commission is in a quandary following its unilateral action

Dr. Sama Banya – Puawui

12 August 2012

There are three people whom I admired for their repertoire, namely; late former president Siaka Stevens, late professor Cyril Foray and late former president Joseph Saidu Momoh, in that order. All three men possessed a great sense of humour.

Stevens had an edge over the other two, because very often, he would turn the table on himself and then leave his listeners breaking their sides with laughter, while he would maintain an innocent straight face.

He was also endowed with a lot of common sense. And for a man who only entered oxford to pursue a course in trade unionism, his intelligence was often remarkable.

Former Liberian president Samuel Doe, who came to power by the sword, had unilaterally closed the Liberian / Sierra Leone border, because he said a local Freetown newspaper had insulted his wife.

In those days, our brothers and sisters of the sister republic depended more on us for many amenities than the other way round.

No one in this country appeared to have taken the slightest notice, except perhaps the monkey population. There was quite a lull in the monkey export to Liberia.

After several months, Samuel Doe had it announced over the BBC that Liberia had reopened the border.

The BBC asked Stevens for his comments. This is what he said: “President Samuel Doe had unilaterally closed the border with Sierra Leone, and now that he has again unilaterally reopened it, which is his business.”

Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) had recently unilaterally hiked nomination fees by as much as one thousand percent. Actually, it must have done this on the instigation of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) leadership.

This has raised an almost universal hue and cry from every facet of society, with the exception of the ruling party and its satellite opposition UDM party.

There are now unconfirmed reports that the NEC is having second thoughts on its controversial decision and has come up with lower figures.

The commission and its boss must be left to themselves to sort out the mess.

Other political parties and various civil society movements must have nothing to do with them, except to turn down any proposals that would make a mockery of the democratic process by introducing barriers to popular participation.

The NEC chairman and her bosses had put the cart before the horse, by going straight ahead to announce unreasonable and ridiculously high nomination fees for the November’s elections, without consultations.

When the new proposals are ‘laid on the table’, parliamentarians of all opinions should and must turn them down.

What has NEC done with the more than 70 billion Leones that the finance minister had allocated for the election exercise?

What has happened to all the donor funds that have been provided so far?

And if there is an anticipated shortfall does the NEC chairman not know what to do?

Must she not again go down on her knees before the finance minister, as well as go cap-in-hand to our donor friends, who if they perceive that what she has done so far is not only straightforward and transparent, but should enhance the democratic process, would no doubt be forthcoming.

And here, let me caution honourable members of the ruling party that this is not a matter of towing a party line.

This is an issue that demands their patriotic spirit, to put the interest of the ordinary people of Sierra Leone before that of party affiliation.

Their refusal to support the outrageously scandalous nomination fees will not bring down the government of president Ernest Bai Koroma and the APC.

Here again, I must quote Shaki when he says; “where you are today there we were yesterday; and where we are today is where you will be tomorrow,” especially after November 17.

The APC government’s nemesis is hunting them in diverse ways, and all because a lot of their decisions are not based on efforts at national cohesion.

Sometime in the recent past, they diagnosed a number of serving soldiers of our army as being mentally ill and forcefully discharged them from the army.

Since we were not told that a psychiatrist had done the diagnosis, we can only assume that our ruling party friends were at it again, in their own way of doing things

But they refused to give the men their terminal benefits and had gone on making one excuse after the other, until the so-called men had had enough.

Just last week, there was our flamboyant young minister of defence holding heart to heart discussions with the mad men.

The men did not disappoint him, as they taught him the lesson of his life, which is, that you don’t fool around with peoples’ welfare and then begin to play the Good Samaritan.

And as expected, our ‘police force-for-good’ stepped in, arrested the mad men and charged them to court.

I wonder whether the chief inspector of police – Munu and his men expected those mad men to put in a plea of guilty or not guilty.

As if there wasn’t enough on their plate, the police have taken on the protesting students with brute and savage force, detained them until State House had to intervene.

The question once again is; does this government deserve a second term? The answer is an unequivocal no.

This weekend’s quotation:

“The function of a government is to calm, rather than to excite agitation.” (P. Guedalle – writing of Gladstone and Palmerston)

 

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