Dr. Sama Banya – Puawui
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 April 2014
In an otherwise brilliant and flattering introduction to Puawui’s return, a statement is made that needs correction, and I do so with the greatest respect.
It states that, I had all along been a supporter of retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, in the campaign for the position of flag bearer in the 2012 presidential election.
The fact of the matter is that, I neither backed Bio, nor campaigned on his behalf or that of any of the nineteen contestants – all of whom, with the exception of one, sought my moral support in the contest.
The approaches were done in the traditional African way, with a “token handshake” of a few Thousand Leones.
I thanked each candidate or his/her representative for the honour, but made it very clear that in my position of one who was seeking a compromise among the contestants, I would disqualify myself if I backed anyone.
In fairness to them, they understood and respected that position.
I made the position clear in an SLBC radio interview, while the voting was taking place.
However, as soon as Maada Bio was declared the winner, I threw my weight into the national elections campaign, to work very assiduously for the success of our presidential candidate.
It was the same way that I supported the late former president Tejan-Kabbah even though I had contested against him for the party leadership in 1996. That is me.
Now for today’s thought:
It was the last testament of the famous King Arthur, as he lay on his dying bed; he said: “The old order changeth yielding place to the new; for God fulfills himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world. I have lived my life and that which is within me, may he himself makes pure….”
A female publisher who is not known for civility, but on the contrary is notorious for trading insults even with people older than any of her parents, has said of me: “Sama Banya is a fool at forty – is still a fool at eighty.”
I admitted that yes, I was a fool, but one who was sometimes brilliant.
Interestingly, the lady marked my 80th birthday by the presentation to me of US$100 and a wall clock with a bold SLPP emblem of the famous palm tree on it.
Beautiful and decorated as it was, the clock has never worked, and has been dumped in a corner of my surgery. I may end up sending it for auction, and the money devoted to any charity that preaches good manners.
There is something to say for old age. One is excused for saying anything, like thinking allowed, all of which are attributed to old age, which is sometimes compared with childhood.
A few misguided people associate what should be an enviable characteristic of old age to dementia. Whatever interpretation is ascribed to my own habit of thinking and speaking out freely, has not affected my own opinion that it is one of the finer points of my character.
I therefore offer no apology – if “apropos” (oodat ask you?) I venture another opinion now.
And let me say at once, that this is not the meanderings of an octogenarian, but an opinion arrived at from talking to a cross section of people over the last twelve months or a little over.
In Sierra Leone today, there are only two candidates whose popularity are unmatched by anyone else.
And the other is retired brigadier Julius Maada Bio – the erstwhile flag bearer and 2012 presidential candidate of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).
In Ernest’s case, one may say that for now he is the APC, and vice versa that the APC is Ernest Bai Koroma.
None of the names of prospective candidates being bandied around for his successor comes anywhere near Ernest – both in charisma and in popularity.
Whatever brave face the APC leadership may be putting on, this situation is almost a nightmare to the general membership, as the clock ticks (not too slowly for that matter) towards the end of president Ernest Bai Koroma’s second and final term, regardless of the boot-licking and sycophantic lullabies of Logus Koroma and his cohort (Photo).
Within the SLPP opposition, even those who are uncompromisingly opposed to Maada Bio, such as John Oponjo Benjamin, Andrew Keilie, Joe Kallon, John Karimu, and others, acknowledge that unless they rally behind a single popular candidate (an Achilles tendon of the party) within that group – and even with that, theirs would be a formidable task to match the popularity of Maada Bio today.
Unfortunately for the doctor and diplomat, most of the grassroots members of the party already regard his candidacy, not in its own right, but as the product of the have-been group who appear desperately to spite Bio.
They see the Benjamin group rightly or wrongly, now regarded as old and been-there-before, and in their minds – tired as well.
For the records, I have every personal reason, not even to say a single word in favour of Maada Bio, and he knows that. But to me, the SLPP looms much bigger than Puawui or anyone else.
A new crop of impartial and perhaps mostly younger people, like the members of CUT, need to persevere in their recent efforts at reconciliation.
Sadly, I have to admit that my younger friend – the former vice president and SLPP candidate, has disqualified himself by his association with the other faction, and not in an advisory capacity at that.
The old order must therefore give way to the new. Ask those who participated in Rex Bonopha’s recent Kenema wedding, and they would tell you.