Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 June 2017
Joseph B. Dauda – a Sierra Leonean politician and former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Koroma government, has today passed away in Ghana, aged 72. The circumstances of his death have not been officially announced, but it is believed he had been ill for some time.
J.B Dauda will be remembered by many as the opposition SLPP politician who broke the back of the SLPP, when he defected to the ruling APC in 2011, after his appointment by president Koroma as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Until recently, he served in the Koroma government as Minister of Internal Affairs, and was forced to retire due to ill health.
He was born on the 24th of December, 1942, in the village of Bambawo in the Nongowa Chiefdom, and attended the Fourah Bay College (University of Sierra Leone) in 1964 to 1967, where he studied History. He then went to the UK where he studied Law at the University of London.
J.B Dauda returned to Sierra Leone where he practiced law from 1972 to 1986, when he then decided to embark on a career change to become a full-time politician. In 1986 he contested and won parliamentary election for his Kenema constituency.
In 1987 to 1988 he served in the APC government of Joseph Saidu Momoh as Minister of State in the Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. But he was then moved to the Trade ministry where he also became a minister, to help the failing and corrupt APC government improve the declining economy.
Whilst the APC government of Joseph Momoh was crumbling, J.B Dauda stayed the course to help buttress the government, and in 1991 he was appointed as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, until the APC government was overthrown by a group of young military officers, led by Captain valentine Strasser.
It took another eight years before JB could return to mainstream politics, but as Minister of Rural Development and Local Government, under the elected SLPP government of president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah in 1999. And in 2002 he was transferred to the ministry of finance to help the SLPP government stabilise the economy.
But J.B Dauda’s presidential ambition was to become the catalyst that unravelled his relationships with senior SLPP politicians, especially the younger and highly driven presidential aspirants, such as Julius Maada Bio, Charles Margai, and John Benjamin.
And in 2005, J.B Dauda was rejected by the rank and file members of the SLPP, when he put forward his name for election as the party’s 2007 presidential candidate at the national convention in Makeni. He along with the other aspiring presidential candidates were defeated by the incumbent vice-president Solomon Berewa – an outcome that many observers say caused ripples that are still being felt by the SLPP today.
With a defeated SLPP at the 2007 national elections, largely due to the defection of Charles Margai and several others to form the PMDC party which went into coalition with APC , it was just a matter of time before J.B Dauda himself walk across the Red political carpet to once again rejoin the ruling APC.
On the 4th of December, 2010, J.B Dauda was sent a letter of suspension from the SLPP for accepting an appointment offer from the ruling APC, to join the Koroma government as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. This was a shrewd and cunning move – many critics say political bribery by president Koroma to break the back of the opposition SLPP.
Not only did J.B Dauda accepted the Koroma offer, but to add further humiliation to the SLPP’s embarrassment, he tendered his resignation from the SLPP and joined the ruling APC as a member.
Writing to the SLPP National Chairman and Leader on the 8th of February 2011, J.B Dauda said: “I wish to inform you that my decision to accept the (APC) appointment was based purely and wholly on my desire to serve my country. Throughout my long career in politics, I have always been guided by the principles that I put my country before Party”.
President Koroma and his ruling APC could not have been happier. This is how State House reported their victory:
“The former strong man of the SLPP and now the current Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Joseph B. Dauda and a total of One hundred and twenty political groups from the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) and mainly from the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), over the weekend in the Eastern Region of Kenema town, break away from their different political parties and openly declared for the All Peoples Congress Party (APC).
“The occasion took place at the Kenema field, during President Ernest Bai Koroma’s visits to the region to inspect ongoing road infrastructure and agriculture projects, the Kenema hospital, Kenema City Hall that is still under construction and time off to address his party membership and sympathizers.
“Wearing a red gown the former SLPP strong man – J. B. Dauda who hailed from Kenema while openly declaring for the APC in front of a jam packed field, together with Paramount Chiefs of the region referred to the occasion as history making and noted that what convinced him most is President Koroma’s genuine intention to develop this nation regardless of tribe, race or culture and void of petty politics.” (Photo: JB – Far right, accompanying IB Kargbo on a trip abroad).
And welcoming J.B Dauda, this is what president Koroma told him and the rest of his fellow defectors: “Before, most of the Mende people were afraid to come out and openly declare for the APC. But today Kenema has been shaken as the people have openly declared and march through the town. This is unprecedented in our history”.
In reply, J.B Dauda said: “Today Kenema has gone Red. And just look at me, I am putting on Red. Please my people do not turn back, but rather move forward and start to put in place your 2012 campaign mechanism for the APC until the last ballot”.
And sadly today, with the passing of J.B Dauda, the rest as they say: Is history. But will history repeat itself before the 2018 presidential and general elections?