Concerned Citizen (Culled)
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 February 2017
Constitution 066 has unique attributes, and the tussle there cannot be applied to the nation in general. The ruling APC party must be reeling at having been made to work so hard in a constituency that has traditionally given them the least of headaches.
The APC candidates in constituency 066 have always been genuinely returned unopposed by mutual consent and local agreement without any central involvement: 1967- Alimamy Konkoro Koroma -unopposed; 1973- Alimamy Konkoro Koroma – unopposed; 1977- Abdul Karim Koroma -unopposed; 1982- Abdul Karim Koroma- unopposed.
And in 1986 it was Abdul Karim Koroma. But there was a huge tussle in the constituency, because the APC party meddled with the local agreement and awarded party symbol to Abdul Karim Koroma, against the wishes of the people.
Abdul Karim Koroma should have only served two terms in accordance with the local agreement.
In 2002 president Kabbah brought in proportional representation for parliamentary election; and in 2007 there was district block voting and APC won the constituency with 11,602 votes and SLPP polled 2,972 votes.
In 2012, APC’s victory was overwhelming, due to the selection of the right candidate in the person of late honourable doctor Taworo Tara-Koroma.
After last Saturday’s by-election in Tonkolili, SLPP party are in buoyant mood having achieved a feat they could only have imagined in their wildest dreams: SLPP 4,678 votes against APC’s 7,393 votes.
At any rate, last Saturday the SLPP had a pathway into the constituency, because one of the Paramount Chiefs – PC Alhaji Kulio II is a founding member of the SLPP and the constituency’s first member of Parliament at and after independence. The SLPP candidate for last Saturday’s bye-elections is a first cousin of PC Kulio.
Why is Constituency 066 important, and how has the ruling APC neglected the people of Tonkolili?
Constituency 066 immensely contributes to the running of the country – both economically and in manpower. The people know that. (Photo: President Koroma welcoming African Minerals’ Frank Timis to Tonkolili).
However, the current APC government has routinely neglected and ignored the welfare of the people of constituency 066.
Constituency 066 is the host community of the Tonkolili iron ore mines, which started production in May 2011. To date over US $25 billion worth of iron ore has been extracted from the Tonkolili mines, yet leaving the people with nothing.
The Bumbuna Hydro-electricity Dam which supplies about 30 Mega Watts of electricity across the country is located right in the middle of the constituency. Yet the people of Bumbuna were subjected to over five years of darkness, as electricity was supplied to Freetown and other areas.
Constituency 066 is rich in gold and other mineral resources but there has been no development in the towns and villages.
Furthermore, constituency 066 has produced outstanding people that are currently serving everywhere in nation building – healthcare, the civil service, the police and armed forces, education, and private sector enterprise.
Despite all of these contributions to the nation’s wealth, the road network in the district is among the worst in the country. Transport costs are among the highest in the country.
People in Tonkolili are supplied untreated water to drink. Bendugu, which is the largest township doesn’t even have pipe borne water.
Villages are drink water from open water sources that are contaminated by intensive mining activities.
Schools in Tonkolili are few and far between. Children are travelling long distances to get to school. Bendugu has no secondary school and children travel at least 30 miles to Bumbuna and beyond for their senior secondary education.
The township has no mobile phone coverage, even with a multi-billion dollar mining operation a few miles away.
Mabonto/Kafe Simiria lacks a senior secondary school, causing unimaginable hardship for school going children.
Dilapidated water supply system in Mabonto is dysfunctional most of the time.
Lots of outstanding questions are being asked by local people and communities who are dissatisfied about the way public funds are being spent by the ruling APC, feeding into the anger that the people of Tonkolili are directing against the APC government.
The constituency has now been split into constituencies 76 and 77 for the next general elections in 2018.