Bintumani-III: Transforming Bio-blunder into Bio-700-carat diamond

Oswald Hanciles: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 May 2019:

Bintumani-III (B-3) will debut this week. It’s a fait accompli. To me, the timing of it is another political and public relations blunder by the Bio Administration. It reeks of political capitulation to the majority party in Parliament, the APC – by the SLPP holding the reins of the presidency.

B-3 has offensive odour of the rotten corpses embedded in the 1999 Lome Peace Agreement. Most youth would not know about the RUF rebels’ and AFRC sobels’ strategy and tactics that lead to what I have derided as the ‘Lome Capitulation Accord’.

The RUF,  since it ignited its war against the APC government of President Joseph Saidu Momoh on March 23, 1991,  embarked on a scorch earth strategy  – brutal and nasty murders of the citizenry; maiming of men, women, and children, even babies; arson on private and public property …with a deviltry that rivals Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany’s holocaust on Jews between 1939 and 1945.

The RUF, joined in 1997 by the military junta,  the AFRC, that overthrew the SLPP government of President Tejan Kabbah on May 25, 1997, intensified its atrocities against the people, especially in the January 6, 1999 invasion of Freetown, until…The SLPP government gave in to their demonism.

The RUF rebels and AFRC sobels (regular soldiers of the Sierra Leone Military dubbed “sobels” by the local press because they  behaved as sordidly brutish as the RUF rebels)  were REWARDED in the Lome Peace Agreement  – four cabinet positions in the Kabbah government; and RUF leader, Foday Sankoh, being made “Equivalent to Vice President”, and personally made Chairman of the Strategic Minerals Commission, with more economic and financial powers than President Tejan Kabbah.  It’s like deja vu – Lome like Bintumani- III (B-3).

B-3 is a communications failure.  From what I gauge by talking to ordinary people in Freetown, most of them do not know the rationale of B-3; or, do not buy into its relevance.

Apparently, the propagandists of the APC have successfully picked holes in the probable underlying motive of B-3  – it’s a distraction to cover up for the Bio Administration’s failure to address the economic standstill in the country; and to check the depressed livelihoods of the about 70% of  people in Sierra Leone that the Bio Administration’s 2019-published National Medium-Term Plan (NMTDP) has classified as poor, and 10 percent as “multi-dimensionally poor”.

Speaking Truth to Power

Veteran journalist/columnist/publisher of The Global Times newspaper, Sorie Fofanah, writing in his Manjaroka column, wrote thus: “…’I like people who tell me what I need to hear not what I want to hear’, President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah (President of Sierra Leone -.1996 to 2007)  recalled after a bitter encounter with one of his advisers at State House. Ambassador Alhaji Morikeh Fofana was a plain-spoken man. He served as High Commissioner to the Gambia…After his withdrawal, Ambassador Morikeh Fofanah was appointed as Adviser to the President at State House with the status of a Cabinet Minister… On many occasions, he had disagreements with the President Kabbah…”.

Are there advisers like Ambassador Morikeh Fofanah at State House with President Maada Bio? I doubt it. If there are truth-speaking advisers at Bio’s State House, why  should the First Lady of Sierra Leone put a curse on those who are giving bad advice to the President in a video that has gone viral?

Sorie Fofanah, now a member of the Bio Administration, subtly supports the ‘sweh-ing’ (cursing) of Lady Fatima by going historical: “During my several contacts with President Kabbah, I saw sycophancy at its worse.

I recalled the reaction in Freetown, after President Kabbah had signed the Lome Peace Accord…It was not a popular decision at the time. On that day, I was in the office of a trusted ally of the President who happened to be a Cabinet Minister at the time.

The President phoned him from Lome and asked him about the reaction in Freetown to the signing of the Lome Peace Accord. The Minister shamelessly told the President that there was jubilation all over the country.

I was shocked… The only excuse (of the Minister) was ‘Na so politics dae…You geh for tell the Pa wae tin e want for yeri…’. Sorie Fofanah points out in his newspaper column last week  that “…since I am now a member of the government, certain concerns I have about the Bintumani 3 conference will not be raised here…”.

He has obliquely spoken truth to power nonetheless in his newspaper column – just like I would do in THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN while I was media adviser to President Ernest Bai Koroma at State House between January, 2012 to March, 2018.

That Sorie Fofanah has to write his views of doubts about the timing of Bintumani III (B-3) within a week of the debut of B-3 shows that those who planned B-3 had not consulted him. That accentuates one deleterious mindsets of successive governments in Sierra Leone  – their perception that media professionals are messenger boys who are merely told to issue out press releases concocted by so-called experts; or, to do praise-singing of a president.

That’s a key reason why they fail.  That’s a main reason why poverty has festered in Sierra Leone.  Journalists, especially columnists, are thinkers with their minds honed with grappling daily with complex variables of governance.

Will this president, Retired Brigadier Maada Bio, listen to my almost 41 years post-university experience in Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, largely as a columnist and environmentalist?

Capitulation to Predators and Saboteurs

Probably, about 90 percent of the political elite and bureaucratic elite of Sierra Leone have been  shameless predators since 1964.  They see it as their entitlement to steal government money  – they brag about their success after flagrantly  stealing the people’s money,  and are grossly insensitive to the majority of Sierra Leoneans being mired deeper in the murky depths of poverty.

Their egoism is childish – as they seek only their own personal needs.  Their egotism because of stolen wealth is laughably reprehensible.  Where is the Guest List for Bintumani III? Are we going to have the same people – in persons or in type  – who have been like vampires sucking the blood of Sierra Leoneans since 1964 to be managing sessions at Bintumani-III? What could really be the result of it all?

Sterile Talk-Shop

Talk…talk…talk…! PowerPoint presentations. Breakfast, Lunch, Coffee Break… Haa. The Sierra Leonean educated elite and power elite love such meetings in luxury hotels. Since the civil war was declared ended in 2002, there have been hundreds of such conferences, seminars, workshops.

At the end of them, the participants would be self-congratulatory. A foreigner watching some of them could easily get convinced that because of the enthusiastic participation of Sierra Leoneans, our poverty-stricken country would achieve meteoric surge like Singapore. Or, at least post-1994 Rwanda accelerated development.

Sadly, since 2002, real poverty has worsened in Sierra Leone, especially when one adds “Environmental Poverty” + “Slum Poverty” × “Joblessness Poverty”… which will = Ticking Time Bomb problem.

Bio as a Lee Kwan Yew, as a Jerry Rawlings, as a Paul Kigame.

Sorieba Sillah, “courtesy@ PSL” writes: “Facing the reality of another trauma to face our nation will be a shameful and painful symbolism of our nascent democracy.  The proposed motion of BINTUMANI 3 by the President, Julius Maada Bio, and his New Direction government, is a sign of lost control, and does not eliminate the risk of non-compliance by the opposition APC, whose ulterior motive is to bring the country to an ungovernable situation by creating a distraction and a mockery”.

Sorieba’s words I interpret to mean this: Mr. President, you and your SLPP are marching into another landmine of the APC in Bintumani III. What are the ‘escape options’ for the Bio Administration.

Escape Options to Bintumani III

If President Maada Bio cannot endure the ignominy of halting the brakes to Bintumani III at this 11th hour, let the President be prepared to harness the best and brightest and most courageous of the citizenry in post-Bintumani-III engagements.

President Maada Bio has been bragging from Day One of his presidency of more focus on  harnessing the human resources of Sierra Leone. That remains an empty boast. Bio should pick a leaf from Prime Minister Lee of Singapore.  Singapore has always been a “barren rock” of a country.  No marketable natural resources.

About 1962, the GNP per capita of Singapore was about  $600 – that of Sierra Leone was $270. In 2017, the GNP per capita of Singapore was $38,000 – that of Sierra Leone was $800.

Sierra Leone has been endowed with some of the best jewellery diamonds in the world; the best grade of titanuim (rutile) on planet earth; highest grade iron ore; some of the best ocean territorial space for highly Europe-desirable marine life; some of the most idyllic beaches and warm-water ocean ideal for swimmers.

Yet, Singapore with nothing has transformed itself into a first world country within the same period that Sierra Leone with everything has plunged into the abyss of poverty.

What did Singapore use which Sierra Leone has failed to use?

Strong leadership.  Zero Tolerance for corruption.  Inflexible insistence on quality education. Meritocracy in the public sector. It’s something similar that Paul Kagame has used in landlocked Rwanda.  Not appeasement to the forces of evil.

Former foreign affairs minister in the government of President Tejan Kabbah, medical doctor, Sama S. Banya, wrote in the Sierra Leone Telegraph of May 16, 2019, “(For).. what purpose?… Are we operating under the same conditions (for Bintumani-I and Bintumani-II), and is it ideal to have such a conference now? My answer is an emphatic ‘NO’…”.

Dr. Sama Banya, one of the most prolific columnists in Sierra Leone’s history,  speculates on the muted purpose of Bintumani-III: “Is the purpose to assure the 16 APC Members of Parliament who are facing election petitions that they need not worry because we have forgiven them their intransigence? Is it to assure them that the Commission of Inquiry are just a Sunday School picnic and that they may retain whatever they have acquired (STOLEN FROM THE POVERTY-STRICKEN PEOPLE), no matter what?”

The normal sycophants who cling to government are not going to help President Maada Bio answer those questions.  They await for President Maada Bio to fail  – then they would massacre his name.

Like the SLPP blamed President Tejan Kabbah for losing the 2007 presidential election.  Like the APC Ethnic Supremacists are blaming President Ernest Bai Koroma for the APC losing the presidency in 2018.

Within Bintumani-III lurks a 700-carat diamond. And integral with Bintumani-III is a Ticking Time Bomb, made to tick faster.

As I have been writing on social media, President Maada Bio has the choice of being revolutionary or committing political suicide.  I pause.

13 Comments

  1. One more day left before BINTUMANI THREE. I would like to give this advice one more time. Please President Bio, will you please postpone BINTUMANI THREE and form a GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY? You can then organise BINTUMANI THREE thereafter.

    I gave President Momoh a similar advice three months after the rebel innvation. I took the letter and handed it over to a SSD PERSONNEL (an officer with some sort of big healed wound) who said that, he was the driver of the motorcade Jeep. He said he would handover the letter. I even posted the letter. Whether the late President received it or not, I don’t know.

    My message then was very simple. Mr. President, please declare STATE OF EMERGENCY and transfer the DEPUTY FORCE COMMANDER (Rtd Brigadier A. B. Thoronka), the DEPUTY HEAD of the MIB, the DEPUTY IG, the DEPUTY SSD commander and the DEPUTY CHEIF PRISON OFFICER to BO.

    These individuals Will serve as a BUFFER COMMAND between the soldiers on the war front and the POWER BASE in the capital Freetown. Also, soldiers or officials from the war areas should report to the BUFFER COMMAND rather than coming to Freetown. Maybe things should have been different today if my advice was considered. Again, I don’t know whether the late President received my letter.

    Today, I am advising President Bio to postpone the BINTUMANI THREE and form a GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY. Doing so is not a sign of weakness. It’s just a bold step to get the country out of this impasse/mess and move forward. I hope the President listens.

  2. Please Forumites, may I kindly request that you tone down the personal insults which we are having to edit from far too many comments coming through. Please tone it down and lets show respect for each other, and agree to disagree without abuse.

    Yes discussions do get quite emotive at times, but lets show maturity and respect. Thank you. Please note that persistent offenders will be removed from the Forum. Final warning.

    Sierra Leone Telegraph

  3. The scriptures states “ Blessed are the Peacemakers so they will be called children of God “ . Peace building is synonymous to making sausages which is basically made from desirable and undesirable parts of an animal but after the process it always tastes delicious.

    I also believe it’s by Gods intervention for President Maada Bio to be continuously involved in the peace processes of our nation since the civil war and as our leader we have to support him in any direction that will consolidate our peace.

    Our president has surrounded himself with renowned peace makers like his Vice President Juldeh Jalloh, Chief Minister Professor David Francis and Minister Memunatu Pratt, so I’m sure – as a do and talk president and also the architect of our peace he doesn’t need more opinions to distract him .

  4. I just wonder if BINTUMANI THREE will be a success. People have already started drawing their own conclusions even before BINTUMANI THREE commences. Saboteurs are already on the move. Sierra Leoneans have been asked to curse whoever hates Sierra Leone. By the way I did but, have started getting nightmares ever since. Maybe, I will have to withdraw the curse.

    What worries me most is, if the APC will participate. Also, Would they behave the same way they did during the last state opening of parliament? Remember the RED BERETS? To be honest, such behaviors are not insulting, but ANNOYING and PROVOCATIVE. It just makes the opposing side, in this case the SLPP, lose temper.

    Also, who is going to lead the conference? Is it going to be a conference with representatives from all the political parties and a cross section of the country? Are foreign peace organizations and representatives going to attend? Until all these questions are answered, I have little hope of a successful BUNTUMANI THREE.

  5. Saidu Conteh, you sound like an educated man but most of the time you come across as an agitator and demagogue. Facts mean nothing to you even when they hit you in the face and almost dislodge your eyes. Mother Sierra Leone has a long way to go if people of your disposition are around who twist reality because it does not align itself with your personal analysis.

    For the life of me I cannot understand why anybody can even imply that APC were not involved in corruption while they held power.The question then has to be where have you been living Saidu Conteh – on the furthest planet ?

    All former APC officials being brought before the Commissions of Inquiry and Anti Corruption Commission [ACC] accused of corruption have not been able to produce any scrap of evidence to exculpate themselves. Most of them have opted to settle out of court to avoid jail time.

    And you still claim, Saidu Conteh, in your little world which you inhabit alone, that APC were not corrupt. What constitutes corruption to you in this context? Presumably even the revelation that Ernest Koroma and his gang had turned the nation’s bank into a piggy bank fell short of what your understanding of what corruption is Saidu Conteh.

    I hope your shadow never darkens the corridors of power in our dear country because you will turn it to hell on earth. You scare me. In due course I hope to address the article itself.

    • Good evening bro. You are my mentor on this very crediable media outlet. Kindly continue your constructive criticism and praises when you deem it necessary. Once more thanks.

  6. Noorudin kaikai…Bintumani 3 is nothing but a farce, a political charade, designed to make the government in power looks favorable in the eyes of the world – my advice to them is to look for pawns somewhere else to use in their petty, litre political games.

    Count the APC out – not interested at all! Truly laughable! One year in power, and still nothing tangible to show for it – all I see is government officials on a wild goose chase, dashing anxiously back and forth in search of evidence of Corruption against the opposition, something that doesn’t exist. Trust me on this – A wayward Circus is what you guys have managed to put together, not a productive functioning adminstration.

    This government you are bragging about resembles a loony masquerade, where all you will ever see or hear is meaningless sounds and deafening noises – a far cry from what a legitimate functioning government should be…Rising Sun Will Rse Again.

    • Saidu Conteh, your dispensations on issues are really unfortunate. What will the APC gain if they boycott Bintumani 3? Nothing! I must say. However, it will continue to defame their party and show how unpatriotic they are to Mama Salone… This is not about APC ok.

  7. Reading the Post, I think the author should have titled it “Bintumani-111: An Attempt to Transform Bio-blunder into Bio -700-carat diamond”. The (desired) objective of Bintumani 111 is to chart a path towards national cohesion, and should be seen in that light.

    Another attempt, apart from Bintumani 111, is to implement the product of that Constitional review conducted by the late Justice Cowan. A national Constitution embodies the political, economic and social aspirations of a nation which collectively, in so far as the Constitution is adhered to and the structures it created remain independent, promotes national COHESION.

    A lot of resources, human and financial, was expended in the review exercise – which was widely acclaimed to be thorough and progressive. That Constitional report is gathering dust somewhere.

  8. Mr. President thanks you for your hard work in the past one year. Continue with it and may the Lord bless you and give you wisdom to rule. If I was the only one in Sierra Leone, you will be in power for life because the APC is only a consumer of the nation’s resources.

  9. It is interesting to read what supreme Ernest Koroma sycophant – Oswald Hanciles, has to say about other sycophants. If Mr. Hanciles was only this forthcoming during the rule of Ernest Koroma, perhaps Sierra Leone could have been a better place to live.

  10. For full disclosure, I am a die hard SLPP supporter but I want to hastily state that I do not see the need for this proposed Bintumani 3 conference. I see it as a capitulation to the obstructionist and political grandstanding tactics of the APC party supporters and it will only serve to make President Bio look more ineffectual.

    President Bio, in my opinion has gotten off on a sound footing in the past one year of his administration. He needs to keep his eye on the bread and butter issues that affect the down trodden population in Sierra Leone, more than his pursuit to appeasing the APC party and his distractors. The APC party hierarchy and some of their supports will never be satisfied with the SLPP or any other party in power.

    It is a known fact that many in the APC are bereft of ideas to feed themselves and their families and the only hope they have is to create chaos and subterfuge so that they will continue to plunder our country’s resources. If I have his ear, I will advise him to pay little attention to all the nay sayers and his detractors because no matter how hard he tries, he is not going to be loved by everyone.

    His hard work and dedication to transforming our country will speak volumes than his vain attempt to placate common criminals in the APC Party, whose objective is not nation building but the accumulation of personal wealth.

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