Why we must never trust Sierra Leone’s ruling All Peoples Congress Party

Dr. Sama Banya

1 September 2012

President Koroma recently lampooned the opposition SLPP’s declared manifesto offering – a ‘New Direction for Sierra Leone’ and its policy objectives as nothing, but a set of theories that cannot be taken seriously by the electorate. He was wrong and November 17 will bear testament to that.

The reality is that, what most Sierra Leoneans do know is after five long years in power, the ruling Party’s 2007 manifesto theory – erroneously referred to as an ‘Agenda for Change’ has brought nothing but misery for the people of Sierra Leone.

It has been dubbed an ‘Agenda for National Disaster’.

With an economy teetering on the margins of near collapse, unemployment – especially youth unemployment at over 70%; average daily income for ordinary Sierra Leoneans not exceeding $1 Dollar a day; commercial banks running out of cash; over 8o children dying of poor health care every day; prices of basic consumer needs beyond the rich of ordinary people; and now the unnecessary daily suffering and death toll – brought on by a national cholera outbreak – due to the poor governance of a woefully inept government, president Koroma and his Party cannot lecture anyone about manifesto pledges.

The president and his Party have either broken every single manifesto pledge that they promised in 2007, or have been incapable of achieving their own policy aims and objectives.

Writing for the Sierra Leone Telegraph, Dr. Sama Banya – a former long serving senior minister in the APC government, who knows everything about the genesis and modus operandi of that Party, exposes the Party’s hypocrisy and double standards.

This is what he says:

The Constitution of Sierra Leone’s ruling All Peoples Congress Party (APC) of President Ernest Bai Koroma, says that its aims are:

• To cultivate the spirit of patriotism and responsible citizenship among Sierra Leoneans

• To promote the social, economic, political and cultural Development of Sierra Leone

• To ensure the full and active participation of all sections, regions, tribes and groups in the country

• To foster unity, friendship and reconciliation among all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of tribe, creed, religion, sex, ethnic origin, restricted geographical environment, or political persuasion

• To inculcate into the minds of all Sierra Leoneans the spirit of tolerance, fair play, respect for democratic principles and human rights in context of a multiparty democratic system

Its Constitution also says that: “Education is the key to National Development.”
Anyone reading all of that would be quick to agree that these are lofty and very impressive principles.

But there are sections of the Constitution, which I would like to direct the attention of readers.

Do the policies and actions of this government and its operatives ensure the full and active participation of all sections, regions and tribes in the country?

Is this not the government which has no less than sixteen cabinet ministers coming from one region – with nine of them coming from the President’s Bombali district alone?

Is that the APC leadership’s understanding of full participation of all regions and tribes?

At the outset, when criticism was directed at the very conspicuous ethnically divisive and unbalanced government, the minister of information and communication – I.B. Kargbo, who hails from the same district as the head of state, came out with the defence that the district had voted massively for the President and therefore they deserved the (disproportionate) lion’s share of cabinet positions.

In September 2007 no sooner Christiana Thorpe had declared the then opposition leader Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma as the winner of the run-off election, and even before his Excellency was sworn in, APC thugs in broad daylight descended on the headquarter building of the Sierra Leone Peoples party, ransacked, looted and destroyed everything they could lay hands on.

Similar attacks were carried out elsewhere in the country, and the incoming APC government did nothing about it then and afterward.

Intolerance and unprovoked political violence was perpetrated in different parts of the country and at various bye elections. It finally culminated in the setting on fire of the opposition headquarters, destroying its broadcasting equipment and setting two vehicles on fire.

Is this a party that speaks of tolerance and democratic principles?

What about its reference to tolerance and fair play in its Constitution? Does the membership have differing definition to those universal principles?

Were those principles of tolerance and fair play demonstrated when Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio paid his first visit to Bo on being elected as the opposition SLPP flag bearer?

The paragraph that creates the biggest and I would have added laughable irony if it were not such an unfortunate and tragic affair, is that which refers to “fostering unity, friendship and reconciliation among all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of tribe, ethnic origin, restricted geographical environment OR POLITICAL PERSUASION.”

This competes for pride of place in irony and “double speak” with the last paragraph which speaks of the “spirit of fair play, respect for democratic principles and human rights” among other platitudes.

I wonder whether the APC leadership ever refers to the above Mission Statement and compare it with its present modus operandi.

Quite recently, it was revealed in a newspaper publication that he head of almost every district police unit or Local Unit Commander is a northerner.

A cursory look at the regional origins of those heading the country’s government agencies as chairpersons – speaks volumes:

• NASSIT – Northerner

• Sierra Leone Roads Authority – Northerner

• Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation – Northerner

• Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority – Northerner

• National Insurance Company – Northerner

• Salpost – Northerner

• Airports Authority – Northerner

• Sierra Commercial and Rokel Commercial Banks – Northerners

• SALWACO – Westerner

• Guma Valley Water Co. – Westerner

• Ports Authority – Northerner

• National Privatization Commission – Northerner

• National Revenue Authority – Southerner

• National Shipping – Northerner

• Petroleum Unit – Northerner

• Roads Fund – Northerner

• Marine Administration – Northerner

• Lotto – Easterner

• NATCOM – Northerner

• Tourist Board, SALHOC, SierraTel – Northerners

• Assets Commission – Northerner

With the exception of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations, all Press Attaches to our overseas missions are of northern origin.

So what nonsense is this government talking about the “active participation of all sections of society?”

Only recently in a panic attempt at appeasing the very important Creole society, a few like Raymond Moshe Roberts and Marcela Davies have been appointed to Parastatal Boards.

The government has now find itself in collusion with the country’s National Electoral Commission to exclude and marginalize the full participation of all political parties in the democratic process, by unlawfully hiking nomination fees for Presidential, Parliamentary and local government elections.

If we must go back to those happy politically tolerant and totally inclusive days of yesterday, this government must be voted out and the SLPP voted in with its New Direction, under the more youthful and tolerant leadership of Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.

With the charismatic presidential running mate – Dr. Kadi Sesay by his side, Maada Bio and the SLPP are determined to bring real and positive change to Sierra Leone – a change that the people of Sierra Leone can see, feel and believe.

 

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