Oswald Hanciles (The Guru): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 December 2020:
The bye-election in the hotly contested Constituency 110 in the Freetown Peninsula, awakens in me a sense of déjà vu. In the 1967 parliamentary election, and in the fiercely contested elections of the 1970s, there would be not only enthusiastic campaigning by APC and SLPP partisans, but spasmodic violence all over the country, until the General Elections of 1977, when the APC government led by the wily, pugnacious, and charismatic APC leader, Siaka Stevens, waged a full-scale war on the SLPP opposition (disguised as competitive elections).
Stevens then coerced the SLPP, forced its leaders to capitulate and absorbed into the APC, which led to a de jure One Party State, after the APC was declared winner of the 1977 election by a landslide.
In the 1977 elections, in constituencies across the Southeast – such as Bonthe District where the APC candidates would not have literally won even ONE PERCENT of the votes cast, the APC government arrested SLPP candidates; detained them, and declared the APC candidates elected “unopposed”.
I was in my paternal homeland of Bonthe City in 1977, on holiday from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, where I was a Qualifying Year student; and the history that I write about I lived through – with Victor Foh (who later became Secretary General of the APC; and Vice President to former President Ernest Bai Koroma in the APC government) as District Officer (DO), and the presiding officer of the elections, who orchestrated the APC victory in a district where about 99% of the people and electorate loathed the APC.
Over the past two months, I have felt saddened by what I have seen and heard and read about the Constituency 110 ferocious campaigning, arousing the spectre of violence.
I note the broad swipe in the statement of Hon. Chernor Bah (aka Chericoco), the APC Western Area Chairman that the Constituency 110 bye-election will be “nothing short of a referendum on the Bio-led government – sounding the alarm bells for the imminent exit of a regime characterized by bad governance, intimidation and ominous shenanigans…”.
The famous and strikingly handsome and emotionally-calm “Chericoco” declared to his adoring partisans that they “truly love (their) APC party”; which is “the only alternative to meaningful development in Sierra Leone”.
Clearly, the SLPP that holds the reins of the presidency has also been determined to prove that it would beat the APC in the Western Area, which has traditionally been an APC stronghold. (With the exception of the 2002 presidential election when SLPP presidential candidate, Tejan Kabbah, beat the APC presidential candidate, Ernest Bai Koroma, in the Western Area, the APC would always trounce the SLPP in the Western Area in free and fair elections – in 1996; 2007; 2012; 2018).
There has been wild and resolute campaigning by the SLPP in Constituency 110.
Amid the deafening NOISE… NOISE… NOISE… by both the APC and SLPP partisans, the following questions have not been raised and answered:
1. Since 1961 to the present, between the APC and SLPP which have won Constituency 110; and what have the MPs in successive parliaments done to improve the lot of the people in the constituency?
● How many schools are in Constituency 110; how many laboratories and playing fields and gyms for children and youth?
● What’s the situation of access to clean drinking water; and sanitation in Constituency 110?
2. What is the population dynamics in the constituency, and what have been done (or planned to be done) to cater to the needs of the people in the constituency – children; youth; women; illiterate, etc.?
3. What are the problems of the people in Constituency 110; and what are their human and natural resources, and what has been done to harness these resources, or planned to be done?
Can someone tell me whether those questions have been raised and answered. I haven’t seen them. Since 1967, there has been this ferocious political competition between the APC and SLPP. What have been the result?
99% of Sierra Leoneans are largely poor. After a decade or two of crazy politicking between the APC and SLPP, our economy has imploded (like it did in the 1980s), the best of our university-educated brains have fled the country and settled mainly in the United States and United Kingdom. Between 1991 and 2002, there was our nasty and brutal civil war.
Sierra Leone is endowed with some of the best jewellery diamonds in the world; the best grade of titanium (rutile); high quality iron ore; some of the best territorial ocean space for fisheries; among the top 5 percent of best beaches on earth… Yet!
Yet, after 60 years of mad SLPP-versus-APC politics, Sierra Leone has been among the top 20 poorest countries in the world for almost forty years. Almost all the mineral wealth of Sierra Leone has been taken out of the country. No sustainable industry has been established.
Over the past thirty years, our educational systems which used to be about the best in West Africa in the 1960s, have plummeted to being one of the worst in West Africa.
Worst: there is a rapid and schizophrenic destruction of our invaluable tropical rainforests, which I have called ECOLOGICAL GENOCIDE. It is not only that our crazy politics have resulted in about 70% of Sierra Leoneans living below the United Nations poverty level, but we are also ensuring that there would be permanent poverty for our children and youth.
If you do not agree with me that the politics of Sierra Leone manifest COLLECTIVE MADNESS, then you would have to redefine ‘kraise’ (madness) for me.
But there is a cure.
In order to cure ourselves of this COLLECTIVE MADNESS as we head for the 2023 General Elections, let’s turn the spotlight on EACH constituency to challenge all political parties to provide leadership to uplift our people from the pathetic poverty they are mired in.
Today’s Constituency 110 bye election in Freetown should not be a “referendum on the SLPP”, it should be a beginning of collective therapy to cure the COLLECTIVE POLITICAL MADNESS of Sierra Leoneans. I pause.