People of constituency 110 in Freetown head for the polls today – OP-ed

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.

10 Comments

  1. As the whole world watching, Sierra Leoneans have to be proud of themselves anywhere they are around the globe. It has shown that our practice of democracy is in place. You have to be in office with the will of the people or” the constituency”. I personally congratulated Ms. Davies “Khadija” wishing her a good luck and God’s directions to lead her constituency for the next 36 month.
    I don’t care what someone says about any of the registered parties in this country, you can name them whatever, my priority concerns are the country and it’s people. On the day for the Bi-election, I was unfortunate to be present in Freetown due to some family issues, but thanks to God that, the whole election issues and problems have been laid to rest for sure.

    Let us take an example from some neighbouring West African countries, like Ghana, Gambia, Guinea and Nigeria. Most of their former leaders seized power as they were military men; but after they decided to become civilian elected leaders, no one names them again(JUNTAS)do you know why? because they deserved respect. That’s why after 2018 poll when KKY mentioned it in one of his interviews saying “Junta gov’t”, I was seriously really mad. And we have to understand one thing, according to our constitution the law of the land, it doesn’t matter how much you love EBK, will never become again president of Sierra Leone period. We all loved and respected him as our former leader, also he has done a lot good for the country, may God bless him.

  2. Here we go again hollering and fighting over an insignificant Bye Election while foreign entities are hard at work,purposefully defining our beloved Sierra Leone to the rest of the world in the most unsavory and disreputable ways you never imagined or thought possible. Now I ask you is Sierra Leone a safe Country? Hmmmm don’t answer just yet,scroll over to Google and let them kindly answer such a fundamental question of core importance for you. Gentlemen – Here’s their totally flawed and misinformed response; “The official warnings say that Sierra Leone is a high crime nation, with a significant risk of pick-pocketing and theft. This is not the place to flash a lot of cash or expensive phones.

    Certain places are to be avoided and treated with caution.” (www.worldnomads.com)…OMG someone with a self-seeking agenda,and ulterior motive is out there shredding my fragile,struggling nation already on her knees to pieces,and strangely no one has ever noticed,no one cares,and nothing at all is being done about it.

    Seriously, the SLPP government has failed this nation miserably; How do you expect investors and tourists to come to our beautiful country with mesmerizing beaches and generous welcoming people with such a vividly troubling,alarming description of our Country? But Stargazer what exactly do you expect the Minister of Tourism to do about it? Good Friend, I would advise that she do all that is within her power to directly contact “World Nomads” the writers of those uncorroborated words and impress upon them the need for authenticity and truthfulness and encourage them to retract their erroneous unsound statements about our Sierra Leone the only place I am proud to call my home. OMG…My beautiful neglected Sierra Leone is a bride in desperate need of an urgent face-lift but who will come to her rescue and save her from utter demoralizing disgrace?

  3. Well, these last words have already been proven wrong because there is violence all around the peninsula. When two elephants fight, the grass will suffer. The same story again, no matter if it’s APC or SLPP ruling their ‘beloved country’.

  4. Democracy in its clearest form, is when exercised through the ballot box, to reaffirm one’s hope. By casting that vote they are toiling with the idea their single vote cast will make a difference in their lives for the better for them, and society in general for the greater good. It seems not so in our country. In Sierra Leone that noble idea is turned on its head and shaken to its core values. Rather people vote for their political representatives to reaffirm their unquestionable tribal and regional differences. If you are a student of history, or a Sierra Leonean that is really interested in the short history of our country’s checkered past, there is the sanitised, and clean version of it. Mr Hanciles, took no prisoners, and was straight to the point. What he managed to do with his piece was to unravel the uncomfortable truth, the nitty-gritty of failed political representation in Sierra Leone.

    He pulled out all the stops, and took us on a journey, about the good, the bad and damn right ugly that has been the hallmark of Sierra Leonean politics since independence. More like politics and politicians have managed to dilute tbe nation into sub – ethnic groups, with party affiliation, and unquestionable royalty, never mind which tribe you claim to belong to. Now, whether you are bright enough to know you have been used like a cannon fodder by greedy and unrepentant corrupt political elites, you have to draw your own conclusions. we don’t often like to hear, or talk about it. Rather like a nation suffering from collective amnesia, we prefer to kick the problems of tribal, regional and political divisions to tbe long grass, and pretend tbey don’t exist. Then we turned around and blame the other for our problems.

    As a nation, thiese differences that exist amongst us are always shimmering below the surface, like a volcano ready to erupt any time. Election time like now, is the perfect timing. I only hope it don’t come to that. Mr Hanciles, picked out the lack of true political representation, with precision like a heat seeking missile about the problems holding back our country’s fortunes. The fact we as a nation are collectively heelping to promote tbis big fat lie, about representive politics, or possesrd by, DEMON-CRACY” is not only delusional, but the betrayal of ourselves, and generations yet unborn. I think its about time citizens have a right to recall under performing MPs, including the presidency. Right now Bio is the most suitable candidate for the right of recall to face the people of Sierra Leone at the ballot box.

  5. If the SLPP candidate wins, then it’s a proof that the high court decision was right and justifiable. But if the APC candidate wins, then the high court ruling has a question mark and the re-run is just a waste of our country’s resources.

  6. It is interesting that this constituency has been the most talked about and recognised than any other thanks to the controversy around the election of a member of Parliament. I cannot agree more about the lack of facilities in the area despite home to many top government officials past and present. What our country needs is a transformational leader that can bring real change to turn around the fortunes of our people. We have witnessed huge amounts of money spent in this election to bribe voters but that’s the only time they are needed and dumped after.

  7. I just wish all this dishonesty, thieving and fraud catches up with the culprits. For 60 years, Sierra Leone has been taken as a mug. Business people fighting their way to the top to abuse the people’s human rights to their own advantage. It is a shame and disgrace for our people. Why Sierra Leone, what have we done? Other countries are doing so well in terms of developing their countries. It is only in Sierra Leone that you will have a president, who hasn’t got any political skills or knowledge, to prepare him for the position; just gets away with lies and thuggery, killings with no remorse and yet gets away with all the bad things. The only first lady in the history of our Country who has not been voted into the govt, doing the job of ministers, championing women military army officers with no army training just because her husband is the president, so she has to rule the country no matter what. It is really sickening and it is wrong.

    A wife of a president should mind her own business not to interfere with any government affairs and she is getting a way with it. This is all abuse of power. None of us Sierra Leoneans know where this is taking us. Only God Almighty will free us now from this set up mess. As for our good education in the past, it is all gone to the trash. Every Dick, Tom and Harry now can be an education minister as long as you have close ties with the president even if you don’t have the required qualification. It is all money, money making and businesses to enrich themselves whilst the people are drowning in poverty. No electricity, no clean water, no better education -the list is enermous. But God Almighty will find a solution for Sierra Leone. But it is really painful for the citizens.

    • Telling Me, Ms Gloria? The present First Lady of Sierra Leone is the only most irresponsible and corrupt our country has ever had. She has still not been investigated for the corruption behind the so called “Hands off our Girls” seminar she organized sometime ago. A blank check was dished out to her without scrutiny. Can you imagine? What about the most hogwash, irresponsible and ridiculous representation of the Sierra Leone High Commissioner in the Gambia? Argue or Denny. Fantastic comment there by Ms Gloria and may God bless you. “Waitin Den Day Talk”? Nonsense.

  8. I personally believe that the main reason why the spotlight is on constituency 110, is because the lifetime leader of the destructive APC party is a resident of that area. The only so-called development that the myopic APC supporters are proud of in that constituency, is the $5 million mansion of the former president, which was built by the Chinese from the stolen monies from our citizens. He made sure he built a “Berlin Wall” around his mansion so that only the chosen few will be privileged to enter his compound as compared to building a $2 million hospital, which should have benefitted the whole community. The community lacks decent roads even though it is one of the most thriving fishing sectors (Funkia Village) in our country.

    Thanks to the Almighty President Bio just launched a $3 million road project through his campaign strategy to win that constituency, rather than using the destructive APC tactics of sending thugs to intimidate voters just like in the 70’s and 2018 election, which was annulled by the judiciary. Whether the SLPP candidate wins or loses, the reality is thatthe people of that constituency will continue to benefit from the new road project which has already started by the CSE company.

    Finally, the people of Sierra Leone are looking forward to the day when justice will be served by returning the mansion, which former President Koroma built with STOLEN MONEY after demolishing the house that he built with his own money because of GREED. Hopefully, after the confiscation of the mansion, which has been recommended by the just concluded COI and the government White Paper Report, the Mansion will by converted to a hospital or community center which will benefit the citizens of constituency 110. We hope and pray that the best candidate will win today in a free and fair election that is free from violence.

    • With all due respect Mr Alusine Fallay. Saying to me that President Bio is almighty, is absurd, appalling and unacceptable. Do you want to remind many Sierra Leoneans including myself of the days of the illegal and unconstitutional Supreme Council of State era in Sierra Leone? You must be joking. Sierra Leone will never have an almighty or supreme leader again. The NPRC was the most corrupt and brutal regime in our country’s history. You know that very well Mr Alusine Fallay. President Bio should have included his term as Supreme Leader of State of the NPRC in the COI, if he was serious about fighting corruption. What he did, was to try and empty other people’s pockets after having squandered the country’s coffers years back to fill his own pocket. Do you know who sold our oil refinery? SAD.

      If you want to talk about the Mother of all corruption and brutal executions in the country, start from the NPRC JUNTA PART I and II days down to this present day. The other day, I heard you talking about executions under past APC regimes. But what you did not talk about, was how fine and decent men were brutally eliminated under an illegal and unconstitutional group of JUNTA blokes. By the way, President Bio was part of that regime. Am I right or wrong Mr Alusine Fallay? Bottom line, former President Ernest Bai Koroma, who of course is the Peoples’ Commander has done nothing wrong as far as I’m concerned. Who cares if they sing, dance, jump or whatever about corruption under the former President.

      I respect your views Mr Alusine Fallay, but be rest assured that there will be a firm and overwhelming fight back with facts if the red line is crossed. Finally, I will ask you this question again Mr Alusine Fallay – Who was the Liaison Commandant who was overseeing all those corrupt and brutal strategies during the NPRC JUNTA era? God bless, guide and protect the former Commander in Chief of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma.

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