Puawui (Dr. Sama Banya): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 April 2018:
The dust is yet to settle as the whole of Sierra Leone continues to be gripped by the SLPP’s spectacular success at the polls. Many are still getting used to saying: ‘President Julius Maada Bio – president of Sierra Leone’.
But not so, the retired octogenarian and SLPP veteran politician – Dr Sama Banya (Puawui) – (Photo), who has decided to come out from retirement from writing, to congratulate the new president and to remind him of his difficult journey to State House. This is what he said:
He said he will – they said he can’t; we said he will and by golly he has. Congratulations Mr. President Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.
It has been a long journey with lots of potholes and breaks and slush in the way, which were much worse than those on the notorious 17 mile stretch of road between Pendembu and Kailahun.
I recall with amusement the blizzard delivered on you by former Vice President Solo B, when you vied for the flag bearer position of Sierra Leone People’s Party which was in governance. You sat through it – looking at Solomon Berewa, but without uttering a word then or thereafter.
All I remember was you turning to me after the meeting and saying, without anger in your tone, “doctor did you hear all that?”
The next was the Sylvia Blyden factor during the contest for the flag bearer and later for the Presidency as the official candidate of the opposition SLPP.
That woman threw everything at you, baring the kitchen sink. Throughout that entire period and after your unsuccessful bid, thanks mainly to the sheer wicked and dishonest manipulation of the former nun turned common mistress of an already married man, Christiana Thorpe, you lost the Presidency.
After you had been persuaded by that hypocritical group of people who called themselves men of God, but primarily to hold the peace in the country, you conceded and gave up your attempts not to accept the falsified results.
Your popularity remained very high within our party. And although you were aware of all those who continued to stab you in the back, you did not hold any grudge. On the contrary, you repeatedly declared publicly your willingness to work with all, in the interest of our party.
Mr. President may also recall the occasion of the laying out ceremony of the remains of the former President Tejan-Kabbah (Photo) at the SLPP headquarters, when I urged the faithful that to maintain the legacy and policy of the late President for party unity, I declared during my tribute that there was no member at the time who was more popular or as popular as you were within the party. I admonished all to rally behind you.
Some of your detractors, led by Andrew Kelly, could no longer contain their indignation and burst out in a scathing attack on me. His newspaper to which I was a columnist, joined the attack.
Mercifully the vast majority of our membership came to my defense. Usu Boie Kamara, your main opponent in the 2011 contest, left our party and joined the ruling APC, where he and others were received with great fanfare.
The 2017 flag bearer contest came and the same group of disaffected members who had not backed you since 2011, and led by the likes of Ambassador Foday Daboh, Brima Keita, Dr. Alusine Fofana, Madam Isata Jabbie – the widow of former late President Tejan-Kabbah and their supporters, left our party and started the nucleus of the KKY Movement, which later formed an alliance with itself and called it the National Grand Coalition (NGC).
They lulled poor Dr. Kandeh Yumkella into believing that they were a popular group with a large following. And the poor chap fell for their self-deception. The result of the February 27 ballot tells the whole story.
Then there was a further rear guard action from John Benjamin, who had carried a grudge since 1996. Eddie Momoh – the editor of the Metro newspaper which was very close to John Benjamin, continued with a series of spurious attacks on you, with repeated falsehood that you had attempted two previous attacks for the Presidency and challenged your attempt to go for a third time.
Mr. President, this old man could go on an and on. But to cut a long narrative short, you are now the president of Sierra Leone. I repeat: You are now president Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone. The battle was rough as only the APC are capable of doing.
In my humble opinion you have inherited a sick, divided, and economically poor country, thanks to ten years of APC’s divisive governance, naked tribalism and regionalism, aided by massive corruption on a scale not hitherto experienced.
Your immediate task now is a healing process. You must put a stop to that crazy Mamamah Airport project with immediate effect.
The outgoing government must be made to respond to the Auditor General’s numerous queries, as well as how they have acquired all their wealth.
You must have absolutely no confidence in the activities of the Anti-Corruption Commission, as it continues to run after head teachers and court clerks, while turning a blind eye to what has stared them in the face for ten years.
I do not intend to resume my Puawui column, but with one more entry, I will resume my retirement activities.