Abdulai Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 June 2018:
The drums may have fallen silent, the last bugle and trumpets sounded, and the dusty feet washed and oiled for another day. And so, it came to pass that President Julius Maada Bio was successfully inaugurated on the 12th of May 2018.
The event epitomised our country’s slow but steady growth and acceptance of democracy. There is no doubt that the events leading to, and during the elections bore the clouds of doomsday.
But thanks to Allah and the people of Sierra Leone, our nation came out “relatively” unscathed. It is no secret that our politicians and leaders were culpable in building the political grenades in the first place. The major ingredients of regionalism and tribalism were served on the menu of destruction.
One even went as far as creating a religious-political party, to feed on the religious fervour of our unsuspecting folks.
So where was Musa when our poor folks were hoodwinked into losing hundreds of thousands of Leones in the Hajjgate scandal?
Where was the defender of the faith, when the innocents were stranded at Lungi and its environs?
Thankfully, our nation stood as one, when it mattered; thanks in part, to the paradoxical effects of our decade long civil war. In fact it was not a civil war. It was a decade long period of barbarism. As a nation, our brutal experiences of the war have served as painful reminders of everything and anything that is bad about wars.
Maybe, just maybe, it is these painful reminders that appear to have saved us from any repeat of this. The scars of this war are yet to heal. Despite efforts by some, and with limited “success” to wreak havoc in our country, sanity prevailed.
There is no question that some parts of the country witnessed pockets of undesirable events. My home town, Jaiama Sewafe had its unfair share of notoriety when thugs wilfully generated panic among the people, resulting in some migratory events from Sewafe to Mashingbi. The rest is history.
Despite the doomsday scenarios that were painted, some with good reason, our nation was spared the agony of another bloodbath, if the doom merchants were to be believed. The run off came and went, ushering what we have been told is a “NEW DIRECTION”. Halleluiah.
With President Bio’s coronation recently concluded, it goes without saying that, it is time to get to work.
There is a notion that we are a divided country. This was very evident during one of the first parliamentary sessions, during which we were reminded of our primary school playground antics. The difference this time was that we voted for the adult teenagers to re-enact it in the full glare of the world media. Even Amalize the cat and Okonkwo would have been embarrassed by the wrestling match that was put on show by our political kindergartens.
It is not every day you get the opposition party in the majority, and there is no question that President Bio and the Biovistas have their work cut out. Against the backdrop of a parliament where the opposition is in the majority, he would need every sinew of his diplomatic nuance, negotiating skills and statesmanship, to steer our country in the vaunted NEW DIRECTION.
There is no doubt that the majority opposition APC party is still licking its wounds from reality. There are those who would expect a formidable opposition in parliament, especially with Yumkella and Sam Sumana, both prodigal scions from the ruling and opposition parties respectively.
But not many Sierra Leoneans would be expecting an opposition for the sake of opposition. What many would be expecting is a CONSTRUCTIVE OPPOSITION for the benefit of the country.
As we know too well, there is a difference between OPPOSITION and SABOTAGE. And that is what the opposition should be wary of – not to present itself as undermining or sabotaging the efforts of the new government. If their opposition in parliament is constructive, Sierra Leoneans are well aware to see it, and would appreciate it.
There are many who believe that our former President Ernest Koroma became emboldened to use abuse and misused our laws and constitution because of the conspicuous absence of a formidable opposition.
Some of us felt that the opposition did not rise to the challenge. This time round, the current factory settings of our parliament should make for a viable, interesting and sound rendezvous. The hope is that the kindergarten show we all witnessed will be a thing of the past.
And this is where the “opposition parties” need to go patriotic. Many would expect the opposition to be well meaning and in the national interests. Otherwise, any frivolous opposition aimed at frustrating the minority ruling party would be seen by the populace as “enemies of the state”.
Any opposition aimed at scoring cheap political points will not wash with the people. It is not surprising that having lost the elections, there are certain elements in the old regime who would not wish the SLPP to succeed.
Some may see this as a natural human tendency, for no one takes power with the aim of losing it. The bitterness, recriminations, regrets, and wishful thinking are all part of the norm for many. We have seen how petty minded some have been in the media recently.
It is certain that if the opposition can serve as the political referee for the country and become the barometer and thermometer of the public’s political opinion, even the ruling SLPP party may end up falling in love with the APC party. Did I hear you say, “hell will freeze”?
This is exactly the kind of attitude our country can ill afford. Politics shouldn’t be a state of war. We should be able to acknowledge the good, the bad and the ugly in people. Ernest Koroma has been dubbed by many of his followers as the man, who single -handedly snapped defeat from the jaws of victory.
My cousins in the SLPP will beg to differ; and that they knew all along that victory was theirs to lose. Irrespective of your political persuasion, Ernest’s tenure of office was not one that was laden with successes or failures only. In his first 5 years, he had the Midas touch. His handover booklet did a good job of concluding that the impact of Ebola was chief reason for his not so good time at state house.
In spite of the terrible marks that he may have received from his critics, I can drive from Freetown to Jaiama Sewafe in less than 4 hours. And if I decide to go to kabala from Makeni, I can do so in 1 hour 20 minutes.
It is no wonder that the “u nor see de road?” became a common mantra of the APC party, when asked about the achievements of the last 10 years.
That is history and as a nation, we could do well to use this as a springboard for the New Direction. What beats me though is how badly some people want to see the current SLPP government fail.
It is really sad that some people’s idea of being a Sierra Leonean is measured along political party lines.
The APC has had its day in government and by the voice of the majority, the SLPP is in power. What is difficult to understand and accept about that? Why do some feel that a particular party has divine right to rule?
We all agree that you need to be a Sierra Leonean to belong to a political party, but you don’t need to belong to a political party to be a Sierra Leonean. It is unfortunate that some people have made it their life’s purpose to wish for the government to fail.
There are others who would try and justify such wishes as a tit for tat. They will gleefully tell you that when APC was in power, the SLPP did the same. Does that make it right?
As a nation, we need to put our differences aside and work for the general good of Sierra Leone. Why are people jubilant or celebrate bad news in our country? Why do people say with glee, that Freetown was gripped in the throes of blackout, as Sierra Leone just qualified for the world cup?
People need to know that whether it is APC, SLPP, NGC or C4C in power, if the government of the day fails, we all fail as a nation, a country and a people. If Bio fails, you, I, your children, and your children’s children fail.