Sierra Leone at 51 – our political leaders must think long and hard

Mohamed Kutubu Koroma

Mohamed Kutubu Koroma

27 April 2012

Mohamed Kutubu Koroma

Fifty-one years ago today, the citizens were swept off their feet in great euphoria, when just a minute past midnight on April 27, 1961, they proudly watched, along with the Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Kent, the prime minister – Sir. Milton Margai, the Governor – Sir. Maurice Dorman, as the British union jack was lowered for the last time.

As the British national anthem – ‘God save the Queen’ played by the military brass band echoed across the hills and valleys of Sierra Leone, the nation’s new colours of Green, White, and Blue slowly made its way to the top of the mast – carefully serenaded by the country’s new anthem – ‘High we exalt thee, realm of the free’.

That moment signalled the birth of a new Sierra Leone. A country, which everyone then had hoped would develop into a prosperous, just and egalitarian society, where all citizens were expected to contribute their quota toward its advancement – thereby giving impetus to its newly found political emancipation.

The fundamental question facing the citizens today is what has the nation achieved after fifty-one years of self-rule?

Even more compelling, is that element of self-doubt as to whether after 51 years of self-destruction, Sierra Leone is capable of governing itself.

For many in Sierra Leone and abroad, taking a retrospective look at the last 51 years, it is not difficult to come to the painful realization that the nation of Sierra Leone has become a FAILED state. The question then becomes WHEN?

Though the answer to that crucial question is complex, yet few would deny that the installation of Siaka Probyn Stevens – as the political head of Sierra Leone, marked a rapid and brutal decline of the very fabric that glued the economic and social structures of the country.

He and his rag tag APC mafia came to power with one agenda, which was and continues to be – the dismantling of everything original and profound about that nation we call Sierra Leone.

The cornerstone for the mismanagement and deconstruction of the fabric of the society was carefully laid by Stevens. And sadly, all subsequent governments that followed him – from Joseph Momoh to this day, are pursuing the very same retrogressive program of poor governance.

By comparative analysis, Ernest Bai Koroma in the last five years of his misrule has combined all of the evils inherited from Siaka Stevens into his so called Agenda for Change.

Today, the nation once again finds itself heading into a political abyss of self-annihilation.

But perhaps the trial and successful conclusion of the case against Liberia’s warlord – Charles Taylor, may send a warning message to all political leaders of Sierra Leone, not to take the rights and civil liberties of the people for granted.

The long arm of justice finally reached the former war Lord and criminal escapee, and when it did, it was decisive. Time is up for President Charles Taylor.

Peoples’ justice took an inordinate amount of time to come, but it finally happened and for the citizens of Sierra Leone who were so badly traumatized and have their lives turned upside down for no apparent reasons, they should seek solace in the fact that God never forgot them.

Ernest Bai Koroma, Charles Margai, and Julius Bio should not be so self-serving as to underestimate the far reaching ramifications of what awaits Taylor for the rest of his natural life, should they embark on criminal violence during and after the forthcoming November 17 general and presidential elections.

Montesquieu, in talking about the new urgency of the need to define the necessary elements of a more just and democratic governance, did not include in his widely held views – the gaining of power through violence, because he rightly believed that power belongs to the people and it should be exercised by their just and legitimate consent.

Not too long ago, Ernest Bai Koroma in the midst of abject poverty and unspeakable misery, to which the lives of the citizens have been condemned, decided to spend $5 Million in buying military weapons to arm the police force, simply because of the irrational fears and desires of an Internal Affairs Minister – who wants to protect the president against the citizens.

One may think that for a man who came to power through the help of the opposition leader – Charles Margai, would have been putting in place credible economic programmes that will create jobs, rather than seeking ways and means to hold on to power – through sheer criminal thuggery and violence.

His second approach in hanging on to power is the massive bribing of unprincipled, undisciplined and worthless politicians to defect to his party.

When all is said and done, Ernest Bai Koroma particularly should understand, he will not be treated any differently from the likes of Gaddafi, Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, and his patron Charles Taylor – who now is looking at the possibility of spending the remainder of his life sitting in a British jail – where he will rot.

Ernest Bai Koroma particularly should give serious thoughts as to where he intends to spend the rest of his life after November. He has a choice to return to Makeni as a free man to enjoy his loot, or simply be ready to take Charles Taylor’s place in the dock – where nothing is certain.

HAPPY 51st Independence!

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