Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 September 2015
It is these characteristics, whereby those who should be the moral guardians of the nation, instead prefer the safety of their comfort zone that have inevitably created a destructive national socio-political consciousness and distorted polity.
Sadly, the puritanical assumption that they are being taken seriously, often makes them feel like the last prophet standing; rather than people in unstoppable terminal decline and who are cluttered with much of the baggage of the past, as well as lacking the authoritative voice at the table of credibility.
One of such political office holder is the Chairman of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), Justice Tolla- Thompson. He was recently quoted as telling leaders of the eleven caricatures called political parties in Sierra Leone, that “Democracy without checks and balances is anarchy and that when there is sanity, democracy will succeed”. Hurrah. What words of wisdom.
I nearly choked on my drink, until I realised that it was a classic example of the malady that affects all political beneficiaries who are no longer people of the highest calibre, as they pursue their selfish indulgence and horrendous part time hobby of being seen as a relevant member of the cast of a badly produced drama.
The failure of our democracy is traceable to the refusal of those in power and their cohorts like Justice Thompson to endorse a charter of values that is matched by a credible mechanism, as well as give leadership that will identify and address abuses, without fear or favour.
Where has he been since the escalation of public humiliation and subtle intimidation of politically-divergent individuals by state authority and intolerance to criticisms as well as hostility to the media, by the government?
Was he enthralled by the baleful effects of the arrogance of power? Did he not realise that freedom – a key component of a normal democracy, requires the unhampered ability to criticise, disagree and expose any and all unhappy issues and episodes of our society?
When the sanctity of the constitution was vandalised with impunity and the most encouraging features of our democracy lay not in the headlines, but were buried in the bowels of the inevitable collision of unprecedented scale of impunity – with reality, why did we not hear a word from him?
The constitution of the republic of Sierra Leone was torn to shreds to accommodate the personal agenda of President Koroma, without the legislative arm of government being able to raise a voice in protest. And this was unimportant to a justice who obviously must have been aware of the internal squabbles in the APC that led to the national rumpus and its political implications for the country.
Why didn’t he try telling that to President Koroma, who has become larger than life or his government, which has stubbornly refused to see the folly of its ways in several socio-economic and political profligacies simply because it has emasculated the other arms of our democratic setting?
The APC has been dancing to its own music alone and leaving the rest of the nation wondering what they have done to deserve a government like this. And yet, Mr. Thompson’s derided political mantra was never seen in motion.
The police, para-military and other state arms and agencies have continued to further muddied the political waters by actions that border on the schizophrenic, yet the silence from the honourable (?) chairman was deafening. Or that is not an insane political atmosphere under a warped democracy?
The gloom that envelopes the vanquished main opposition party – the SLPP – has severe ramifications for the country’s politics; yet, the learned elderly jurist forgot his role and the importance of sanity in our democratic setting, from when the comedy began until now when the heat is rising and the play is now tragi-comic.
In other parts of the world, normal political parties are entities with stipulated distinctive philosophy, programmes, values, traditions and norms that will guide its deeds and actions. But what do we have in Sierra Leone – associations of members, united in the lust for power and greed.
As a matter of fact, a critical look at the political parties reveals that none of them is different from the others. Which is why, any one in power goes all out to destabilise the others or lure disenchanted members to cross carpet.
Yet, the political education of the masses and party leaders on the ideals of political ideologies is not a remit that the chairman would take on or be bothered with, in genuine national interest.
The lack of a rigid governance and political framework has allowed many of those in power, devoid of any real checks and balances, to plunder and behave recklessly.
And that is the truth, which people like Justice Tolla Thompson should be fighting for in all honesty, but have been left to patriotic citizens, tired of the antics of both the ruling party and the near-comatose opposition.
One point I have continually stressed is the fact that, one of our major problems has been the penchant for hypocrisy and deception, as well as the ability of those on gravy trains to protect their delicacy.
So, can Justice Tolla Thompson tell his pay masters what he is telling the world and the rest of us?
That, with nobody able to check President Koroma and the ruling party, we are indeed heading for anarchy if they continue to see themselves as larger than life and the rulers of a fiefdom.
The high octane of political intrigues and the twists and turns of the parochial, limited adherence to truth, statistics and democratic transformation as well as equity and justice, by those in power, more than any reaction from those who feel cheated, are the catalysts for our insane political dispensation.
Nothing degrades a system as much as unworthy leadership, impunity and intolerance in an escalating streak of authoritarian madness, which anyone who happens to occupy any position with the slightest power in Sierra Leone, often display.
The blatant and immoral decision by people like Justice Tolla Thompson, to turn a blind eye in the face of perceived shortcuts and circumvention of the system for the profit of a cabal, by leaders with many questions and few answers, is why our political colouration is totally faded.
In other climes there are accepted standards for doing things, otherwise referred to as international best practices; rather than the tilt towards national fragmentation wrapped in political desperation and polarisation along ethnic lines, by those in power.
We have become a nation in deep political crisis, run with such crass disdain for decency, common sense and the rule of law, even as the ruling party continues to contrive more crises, without making any effort to solve any of those on the ground. They are fuelling the political fault lines that often give rise to primordial sentiments.
In the increasing atmosphere of rot and uncertainty being foisted on our nation by the powerful, the absence of moral voices to assume the awesome responsibility of guiding our long suffering nation has seen the descent into an unenviable abyss.
The desperate yearnings of the overwhelming majority of the down trodden for an alternative platform to change the trajectory of our beloved country has been kicked into touch, time and time again, simply because fellow travellers of the farce called governance, have by the unwitting silence in the nation’s hour of need, given a tacit endorsement to the status quo.
It is disheartening that the corruptive syndrome has systematically turned out to be the norm in our society, especially among the political class, irrespective of party affiliation. And this is what has, and what continues to serve as one of the greatest impediments to good governance.
So, Justice Tolla Thompson might have just woken up to the reality of life, but I can assure him that a cross-section of emerging Sierra Leonean men and women are now breaking old suspicions, barriers, prejudices and biases, and are seeing themselves as having a common destiny, despite ethnic, political and religious differences?
They realise that Sierra Leone needs rescuing from the clutches of power mongers and hungry politicians and political jobbers.
Not only are they starting to appreciate the need to redefine the political narrative of our beloved country, they are also ready to be the vanguard of a renewed clamour for good governance and the elevation of national discourse on socio-political issues, accountability and the fight against impunity, intolerance and corruption.
Without a shadow of doubt, the natural law of diminishing returns is setting into our democratic arena, and irrelevant dinosaurs and ubiquitous politicians and hangers-on, whose credentials include standing in the way of truth, are being seen for the great impediments to progress which they have become.
There is no way that we can continue with a warped political structure and with defenders of a society of inequalities, greed and exclusion, which have become impervious to change.
They have to be dragged into a new consciousness and made to realise that there is still hope for them and the country, despite the daunting challenges they are currently facing in this atmosphere of contrived chaos and distorted agenda for change.
They have to be made aware of the fact that governance is all about people, especially the generality of those in the lower rung of the social ladder.
If the current farce is to change, then there has to be a difference in the attitude of those who call themselves our leaders.
The nation has to be rescued from oppressive and arrogant leadership, to one that is anchored on respect for rule of law and deep commitment to the service of the people.
So if Justice Thompson’s statement is an alert that gives an inclination of the fear and thinking in the corridors of power, then we need to make it clear to the political class – either in the ruling party or in any of the disabled opposition groups, that if it suits them to protect their irresponsible structures of kleptocracy and undemocratic practices by using impoverished youths as thugs and ‘supporters’, then they should be prepared for the inevitable whirlwind when it blows.
The nation’s problem today is of epic proportion and true change is a must. Following the recent developments in the socio-political and even economic history, failure in the pursuit of proper democratic environment and ethos devoid of violence and political intrigues, despite the deep social inequalities and diminishing values, is not an option.
Let the house rat hear and tell the bush rat that, people who have been and are still part of the problem of Sierra Leone, have lost the credibility and moral authority to preach from the pulpit of deceit where they stand, to those on the march to the Promised Land.