Lansana Fofanah: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 March 2021:
Demonstrating leadership by example, the President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency, Julius Maada Bio, his Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, and key government officials are among the first Sierra Leoneans to take the first dose of newly arrived Coronavirus vaccines.
This was after the government had engaged development partners on Friday 12th March 2021 on plans for a nationwide rollout of the vaccines.
The Deputy Leader and Chairman of the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party – Minkailu Mansaray, and Secretary-General – Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, were also among those taking the vaccine at State House on Monday 15th March 2021.
Taking his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, President Bio noted that it would be unwise for his leadership to ask Sierra Leoneans to be vaccinated during the planned nationwide exercise, without him first taking the lead.
President Bio went ahead to allay the fears of Sierra Leoneans by assuring them that the vaccines are safe and called on everyone to take the vaccine.
What caught the eyes of many was the proactive move by senior opposition politicians – Ambassador Osman Foday Yansaneh (Photo above), Minkailu Mansaray, and Alhaji Alpha Kanu of the APC to endorse the vaccination roll-out programme at State House, even though they represent the main opposition – All Peoples Congress (APC) Party.
Their decision to take the vaccine led to criticisms and social media bashing from some members of their party, who believe that the fight against Covid should be left to the current government.
Such unpatriotic thinking should never be allowed to breathe in our political space, for Sierra Leone has grown above hate and bad politics.
Since the outbreak of the covid pandemic in 2019, the Government of President Bio never considered the Corona fight a one-man show, but a collective responsibility of everyone; a reason he appointed Hon. Alhaji Alpha Kanu (Photo) of the opposition APC as Strategic Adviser Social Mobilization & Food Security at the National Coronavirus Centre (NaCOVERC).
Interestingly, this is not the first time our leaders are coming together to put aside their political differences for the collective good of the nation.
In 2014, the outbreak of Ebola was challenging, but those challenges were overcome due to the collective responsibility of the then APC government and the active participation of members of the main opposition – the Sierra Leone Peoples Party at the time.
With nationalistic and patriotic thinking, President Bio and team were seen traversing the length and breadth of the country, taking the message of Ebola to hard-reached areas. This made the fight against Ebola a success story in the strongholds of President Bio at the time.
Now that Government is planning to embark on a nationwide vaccination, traditional leaders, civil societies, and political parties should call on their constituents to emulate the bold and encouraging steps of Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, Minkailu Bah, Alhaji Alpha Kanu, to get vaccinated.
A collective approach to the fight against Coronavirus is all that Sierra Leone needs.
Thank you very much, Mr Lansana Fofana, for your brilliant writing. I have some reservations about this statement “Such unpatriotic thinking should never be allowed to breathe in our political space, for Sierra Leone has grown above hate and bad politics”. I believe that the people you are referring to have extremist thinking and not unpatriotic thinking. It’s the political culture that lay the grounds for extremists to breed. When you deny rights and civil liberties, limited access to relevant education and job, selective justice, marginalisation, political intimidation, unlawful incarceration etc., people have no other option but to go extreme. They build a world of their own. Being extreme and sometimes radical does not mean that you are unpatriotic. There are extremists in every organisation, tribe, country, etc.
Now to your point, “Fighting Covid in Sierra Leone goes beyond party politics”. When the President show leadership and leads, the people follow. But when the President shows spectatorship and becomes a lame duck, the people don’t listen. Instead, they mock him. Simple as that. President Bio missed a golden opportunity to work with the opposition parties when he came to office. By the way, I supported him when he took office because of the way he started doing his job. What motivated me to keep supporting him during the early days of his presidency was when he invited members of the opposition to State House for a reset discussion to work together. If he had continued with that idea in good faith, his second term would have been secured, in my view. Sadly, the extremists in the SLPP party pulled him back to establish the breakaway Bio SLPP kakistocracy, in my view.
All of a sudden, things change. We saw next – violence, barbarity, selective justice on corruption, unlawful incarceration of opposition members and their supporters, etc. We then fell out. Since then, I decided to speak about what I believe is the pathway for peace, progress, national cohesion and prosperity for our beloved Sierra Leone. It’s unacceptable for Sierra Leone to continue responding to the effects of its numerous problems without dealing with the cause. That has to stop. Can you imagine how divisive we are? Dangerous stuff. We only come together as a nation when Leone Stars wins a match, when something is said about Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyers’ excellent handling of her job and now with the COVID 19 vaccines. Anyway, we have a third area that unites us as Sierra Leoneans and as a nation. God bless our beloved country. Amen and Amen. Father God.