Santigie Bangura: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 February 2022:
Early warning signals in Sierra Leone are staring state actors and the international community on the face and beckoning for action. Everyone, except Bio and his Government, agrees that widespread political abuse, repression and belligerence, represent a formidable antecedent to conflict.
It is this grim prognosis of an increasingly toxic political environment that informs the heightened ongoing mediation efforts in the country.
Unfortunately, the unstatesmanlike posture of the President and that of his bellicose minister of Internal Affairs fly rudely in the face of those ongoing labors at getting the political leaders to tone down the rhetoric and, through genuine dialogue, peace building and national cohesion heal the ailing political climate in the country.
I have just listened to an audio in which President Julius Maada Bio threatens to further subject his rather illustrious and very peaceful predecessor, former President Ernest Bai Koroma to more indignities. The offending audio, which is being disseminated by known Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) operatives on social media, contains a statement in which Bio asserted that after serving two consecutive terms in office, Ernest Koroma should no longer be associated with politics in the country’.
The president reportedly made that statement yesterday Wednesday, February 23, 2022 in Port Loko, north-west of Sierra Leone.
On the same day, Wednesday, Bio’s rather intemperate and overzealous Internal Affairs minister, Lahai Lawrence Leema, was on the AYV TV ‘Good Morning Show’ threatening that the Bio-led Government will pulverize anyone standing in the way of their reelection in 2023.
Leema was reacting to the benign statement made about two weeks ago by the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC), Sidi Yahyah Tunis. The APC spokesman was arrested and detained for stating that his party would activate ‘Level 3’ of its strategy which is, as he put it, “to mobilize its supporters and electorates in order to democratically remove the SLPP from power through the ballot.”
But this regime’s tenseness has transcended mere verbal threats. Its unbridled abuse of power has translated into uneven access to justice and fair trial, electoral violence and manipulation of elections results, constriction of the political space including the systematic state sanctioned intimidation, harassment, arrest and detention of members of the opposition.
In all of this, state institutions like the police, judiciary and the electoral commission have been shockingly complicit.
Even more concerning, is the Government’s apparent reinforcement of its violent actions with more military preparedness. Budget records and other credible reports indicate an inordinately ballooning military and police spending. Comparative analysis of ministry of finance budget allocations to Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Defence seen by this writer, show a staggering increase from Le 108.9 billion in 2021 to Le 341.3 billion in 2022, representing a whopping 213.4 percent rise.
Regarding the Sierra Leone Police, the records show 311.5 percent increase in budget allocation from Le 96.3 billion in 2021 to 396.3 billion in in 2022.
One would have thought that at a time when the Government is claiming that Sierra Leone is one of the most peaceful countries in Africa, it should be investing more on consolidating the peace through heightened civic education, national civil registration, elections preparedness in terms of procurement of electoral materials. But clearly, the priority does not appear to be in the direction of fostering peaceful, free, fair, credible and acceptable elections, rather this Bio-led Government is hell- bent on violent suppression of any dissent and cowing the opposition through the force of arms.
But going back to President Bio’s threats to his predecessor, dim witted as it may sound, it beggars belief that Bio and his team could still be edgy about Koroma’s political influence.
If this Bio – led Government has done its assignment of delivering on his manifesto, and that as they claim, Sierra Leone is better today than four years ago, there should be no reason why they should bother themselves with such calm and peace minded former president.
Also, it defies common sense that president Bio expects Koroma to go to sleep particularly in view of the extent to which he (Bio) and his Government have gone to dismantle President Koroma’s legacy of ten years of hard work and their coordinated exertions to shred his reputation.
Needless to remind Bio of the extremely putrid content of his SLPP Government Transition Report, which sought to criminalise the erstwhile APC government led by Koroma. Nor should it be lost on Bio that his divisive and abhorrent Commissions of Inquiry, the direct [Government] animosity against President Koroma and his family constitutes a commanding justification for Ernest Koroma to ferociously defend his record and family name.
Of note, and regarding the state sanctioned hostility against Koroma and his family, includes the trumped up murder charges against his daughter and the attempt to arrest her.
This writer is also aware that President Bio and his Government have in many ways subjected the former president Koroma to unthinkable indignities including the insulting requirement on him to obtain a clearance from the Attorney General each time he wants to travel out of the country.
President Bio has also refused, in many ways, to oblige his predecessor with his retirement entitlements including little things like the statutory provision of four utility vehicles and the once -in -a -year travelling expenses.
There are also major issues relating to travel ban on many APC ministers and other senior functionaries who served in President Koroma’s Government; the assault on President Koroma’s home town of Makeni and slaughtering of innocent people on account of a protest against the controversial removal of a thermal generator; as well as the state killings at the Pademba Road Correctional Facility and in other parts of the country.
Even with such animosity against him and such widespread political abuse, Ernest Bai Koroma has demonstrated extraordinary emotional control and maturity – moved out of the city to his hometown of Makeni, rarely commented on national issues and largely steering clear of the government and its activities.
Ernest Koroma’s calmness in the face of such ill treatment and provocation by president Bio and his Government is the subject of great consternation but also, admiration for the statesman.
It is therefore both insensitive and a mark of low exposure that president Bio could come out in public with that ill-formed demand that his predecessor must resign from the politics of his country.
If anything, Bio should be thankful for the statesman’s restraining influence on the APC in the face of the Government’s excesses. And may be someone should share videos of President Obama in the 2020 United States presidential election and the ensuing gubernatorial elections thereon.
The link below will help change the mindset of Santigie Bangura . This op-Ed was written by his comrade Adams Bangura. The real problem in our nation is the lifetime leader and chairman of the APC who has a major psychological problem.
I personally believe that President Bio has delivered a statement of fact based on the fact that the lifetime leader of APC made this same statement the day he voted for his handpicked stooge “ Drunkard Samura Kamara” , hoping once again to marginalize the Temne people who have the largest voting block for the APC strongholds in the Northwest.
It’s just a matter of time, the young generation within the APC who has fought for the reviewing of their selection constitution to a free and fair elections constitution will prevail over this “ NARCISSISTIC” leader Earnest Koroma.
I hope and pray that people steadily be patience calm, before making any judgement or decision making. No one was expecting Bio’s victory in the late 2018 presidential election, and we all knew the cause and the causes. This is not something I would ever swallow, saying” The former president H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma is a calm and peaceful minded”, no that’s incorrect statement folks. As a peaceful minded President, for how many times E.B.K. attempted requesting for more time?, for how many time he attempts to seek 3rd term, to be like Guinea Alpha Conde and the others?. Does he not know the constitution of the land to serve only ” two terms” if he’s lucky to re-elected? where were you people when all this requests were taking place?. Can we say the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth? without the fact, Sierra Leone will never go forward.
Former President Koroma’s retirement entitle 4 utility vehicles, O boy; with all the riches? what E.B.K want again folks?, let’s come out and say the truth, did late President Tejan Kabba had all this privileges after he exit the state house? all this is to justify problem and anger in the poor people chests. Also let’s try not to remind people of their old wounds, talking about” Makeni” incident will trigger another conflict, it is extremely danger my fellow readers. We always praying for the victims that lost their lives, if you can investigate, you won’t find no politicians family member amongst the victims.
If Ernest Koroma was a calm and peaceful minded president as it mentioned in the article, then why he (E.B.K.) refuses the ACC invitation instead he organized his supporters to surround his residence to protect him?. He could have tell them that no, I am a peaceful stateman period, folks we have to abide to the law that we legislated ourselves. No one is above the law ok… EBK is a calm peaceful minded after sacking an elected Vice president unlawfully, is that what you called” a calm peaceful minded person?”. Well I rest my case.
Thanks for the clarification Mr Thomas. I highly view u as a very good professional journalist that is unbiased. Sierra Leone Telegraph is my first choice when I seek news about Sierra Leone. It would be nice to see more opinionated articles on Sierra Leone Telegraph that are mainly facts based.
In our every day lives, it is true most conflicts arises as a result of perceive or real injustice. In light of this, one has to factor in the building blocks precipitated into an open conflict before jumping into conclusion. Now as as with the current Bio regime, it is true that Koroma led a highly corrupt regime laced with undemocratic acts here and there. However, when compare further, the now, so common, political reprisal—harassment and purposely targeting of perceive political opponents while using the police as a political arm tool, was less observe during the tenure of Koroma.
A case in point is the numerous opposition figures (Dr. Denis bright, Ms. Claudius Cole, Sylvia Blyden, Mohamed Kamaraimba etc) representing various opposition parties in the political space, that have been subjected to imprisonment or police detention in recent memory. So the issue of president Bio contentious relationship with former president Koroma is not only limited to the 2 leaders, rather it points to a broader picture of the current regime being unhinge, and highly intolerant to any perceive opposition.
It’s good to see the sycophants are still in the A.P.C.
Appointing oneself chairman for life,seeking to impose a selection process on the party is not peaceful and democratic. He is just part of the problem, please, we have had enough of these sycophants.
The newspaper articles on Sierra Leone Telegraph are turning into subjective, biased, and propaganda tools instead of giving us fair, unbiased and objective news about Sierra Leone.
Mustapha, please note that the Sierra Leone Telegraph does not take responsibility for, or ownership of the views or opinions of our Op Ed contributors. We welcome and will publish all shades of views and opinions about issues affecting our nation, including yours. Thank you.
Bio’s comments have opened up a whole can of worms. This is like two political gladiators walking a tight rope. And is only going to be one winner. This political posturing by Bio, and his sidekick Lahai Lawrence Leema one of the most unapologetic thuggish elements within the Bio orbit, coming out of the shadows and buttressing Bio’s unhinged comments about ex President Koroma,should not be dismissed as some misfit trying to curry favours from his boss, but should be taken seriously. Now if we follow the principles that all Sierra Leoneans are equal in the eyes of the law, and most importantly no one is above the law and no one is below it, this is the time the inspector General of Police to come out of his egg shell and show some back bone and order an investigation in to Bio’s comments and invite Mr Leema to CID headquarters to answer serious questions about inciting public violence by his use of language dim provocative in the public sphere , there by undermining the security of the state of Sierra Leone.
Because when his violent pressure coker words reached their bioling points come 2023,and there is a breakdown of law and order, Mr Leema and his ilk will be on the first flight out of the country at Lungi International Airport, with their stolen ill gotten wealth . In the past four years, Mr Leema’s propensity for violent acts in any hot spot is wellknown.Socalled Pademba Road prison riots,to more recently the Belgium Markets riots, when SLPP thugs were unleashed to unsuspecting traders. You have the spectacle of Belgians Market traders pleading with the Sierra Leone police to stop the thugs from running a mock. Leaving them traumatise and dejected and loosing all faith in our police service. This sowing of seeds of violence is not good and healthy for our democracy. By making this comments, and knowing the security challenges facing our West African region, four military coups with in the ECOWAS region alone, one would have expected our leaders to learn from the mistakes of others in the region. Bio have fallen far below the standards expected of him.
We cannot allow or be force to choose between a peaceful transfer of power, or violence. And if the penny finally drop and the sensible peoples of Sierra Leone think they are worse off than when Bio took office back in 2018 and decided to vote for some one eles we’ve never heard of, that person should be given the chance to form a government and allow to govern peacefully . A one person one vote and a peaceful transfer of power is what we want in Sierra Leone.
Why should anyone be surprised at what you are seeing now from this current president.
Since day one myself and the rest of the real Patriots Sierra Leoneans,have been saying what everyone is saying now: that mada bio is a failure, racist, nepotistic buffoon,and above all a non fit as political head in our country Sierra Leone.But most of you in this forum are educated fools who lack the temerity to call a spade a spade.Rather you chose to call a mango a pineapple.What a distinct difference! But guys, be rest assured that, in politics there’s that phenomenon called “correctthe wrongs”.
Every individual that have serve this bio administration will surely be held accountable for every tiny actions of theirs,through the rule of law and accountability. Watch!…For no matter how long is the night the day is sure to come. Thank God, we all are no longer going to struggle to get the facts as they are all ready in our hands.Videos,Audios, Pictorial evidences you name them, are all in our hands,archives ready to be tendered when the moment is right… every Jack and Jill will pay the price fully for their wrong doings and accordingly to laws of Sierra Leone. Una leh wi dae go nomor.Wi mos rich!….
Until war breaks out again in Sierra Leone no one will understand why Maada Bio and his SLPP are not fit to rule Sierra Leone..Wait and see if these CORRUPT people will give up power easily without creating problems,confusion and chaos in the next coming election…Una wait and see.