President Koroma bids farewell to his people

Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray:

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 December 2017:

It was little more than ten years ago that the Electoral Commissioner, Madam Christiana Thorpe announced the tense election results between the two leading arch rivals – the Sierra Leone People’s Party and the All People’s Congress.  As curious and eager to know the meaning of my vote, I stayed all night gauging the repercussions of people yearning for change; a clarion call to yield prosperity for a nation on edge.

I vowed to elect a leader that would embrace the promise of change, patriotism, dedication and above all else, stability and tranquility to a wretched country.

In my tiny village of Jaiama Sewafe, I saw thousands standing for hours in line waiting to take a decision that would change their destiny. Most of the voters yearned for a new dawn in their lives.

A decade that swept so fast, before a mammoth of his supporters and opposition allies, President Koroma delivered what is expected to be his final formal address to the nation. His hair is now greyer, his tone more somber, his political finesse is shifting and his efferent and broad smile still lingers.

In his speech to the nation on Thursday, he recounted a litany of his proudest achievements, among them the economic recovery, the expansion of the diplomatic houses in the world, the extension of health care coverage to lactating mothers and many more. “That’s what we did” were his words.

He repeatedly never said,” That is what I did”. He ascribed the successes of his government to the people by almost every measure. According to him, Sierra Leone is now a stronger and better place than  it was when he started his political journey.

President Koroma may be ending his term with a healthy approval rating.  He quieted boos from the opposition when he noted that his administration did not kill or hung any citizen. He prayed for the transfer of power from one freely elected president to the next.

When the opposition chanted, “tem don don”, the president smiled and looked at the gallery and opposition section, as if to say, you will miss me when I am gone.

President Koroma was speaking amid a new and potentially explosive challenging era, involving his choice for his party. His party, the APC is being challenged by a re-energized SLPP flagbearer, Maada Bio who seems to beam with confidence in winning the next election, a new kid on the block, Kandeh Yumkella whose oratory skills has earned him support amongst the youths and a troublesome youthful Kamarainba of ADP whose youth exuberance factor seems to be digging into the heart of the two major strongholds of  APC and SLPP respectively.

Ernest Koroma’s effort to make his case for his legacy and rally support for his reeling party is aware of the huge challenges facing the country. At a point in his speech, he acknowledged the role of the masses as the deciding factor in the political race.

There has been an accelerating sense of time running out for the Ernest Koroma team as attention now shifts to his protégé, Samura Kamara. The president didn’t directly criticize Yumkella, Maada Bio, but he did pointedly made references  – and everyone knows where he was coming from.

However, the camaraderie that existed between Samura and Yumkella as they sat and shared jokes, and the rancorous boos from the opposition in the wells of parliament demonstrate the growth of our democracy.

At  various junctures and interjections, the president  would smile and wait for decorum. Indeed, our democracy is gaining strength.

The speech was conversational in thought and personal, citing his flaws as a human being during his tenure and problems that remain. He faulted himself for some of the mistakes he would have done to some people in his presidency.

Again and again, the president called for Sierra Leoneans to participate in their democracy.

As the president moves to his retirement stage in life, it is the ardent belief that whosoever emerges as the ultimate winner will bring in a new team of political players and not recycled politicians.

The country is blessed with competent, vibrant, young and capable indigenes ready to take the mantle of leadership in all spheres of life.

Sierra Leone should face the new phase of our political journey with renewed enthusiasm and confidence.

From the swearing in ceremony of Ernest Koroma in 2007 that brought him to international prominence, to his final speech in Parliament on Thursday, Ernest has mastered classic rhetorical devices that have projected power and confidence in communication.

The country is in top gear and no one should stop this drive towards economic prosperity.

2 Comments

  1. Based on my experience I personally have after visiting Sierra Leone for the past decade excluding the Ebola period, the country has gone from bad to worst, which reminds me of the late 60’s to the 70’s and 80’s when the APC curse took a stronghold over my country. During the APC regime, People started lining up early in the morning just to get basic rice for their families, then water and fuel.

    I believe APC party is always a curse for our country. But it became worse after President Koroma, who is so arrogant that he refused to admit that he has failed his people as compared to late president Saidu Momoh who was honest and humble enough to say he has failed.

    This president is even encouraging his thieving politicians to openly count millions of Leones in his party office just to prove that they are the best thieves, while government workers are going without pay for months. His cousin John Sesay mortgaged Sierra Rutile with the hope that he will be the next president and then share the profits with the president.

    The rule in Freetown is “SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ” and “419” that’s why the Pademba Road prison is full beyond capacity since some people are doing anything just to survive.

    After the Ebola outbreak, flooding, hunger, begging and mudslides, I hope the people of Sierra Leone will break the curse that has continuously gripped our nation under the APC government. And the only way they can do it is to vote them out of office in march 2018.

  2. Posterity will not judge Ernest Bai Koroma kindly. In spite of all this talk about his achievements, there is legacy to point at. Unlike his predecessor, who left Sierra Leoneans in a post war era with much to celebrate, Ernest Bai Koroma, is departing without adding any significant gain to the socio economic wellbeing of the citizens. His most significant achievement is the polarization of our nation and the advancement of corruption and kleptocracy.

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