Sierra Leone – the gathering storm?

Puawui Dr Sama Banya: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 May 2019:

Much has been said and written about the quality of leadership of the late former President Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah. He had many virtues and left a legacy that is worthy of emulation.

One was highlighted recently by the publisher of the Global Times newspaper Sorie Fofana. Yes, Tejan-Kabbah preferred to be told the truth straight in the face, than to behave like a typical boot licker who tells him what pleases him.

There had been rumours that some renegade members of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces RSLAF were planning a coup. When the President mentioned this to his then Army Force Commander – now referred to as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDF), the poor man was given the assurance that there was no truth in the rumours and that military intelligence had also debunked the rumours.

Sometimes too, he received conflicting reports on the same subject from different sectors of the intelligent services. The poor man had spent twenty years in the United Nations system where Intelligence reports were well worth the papers on which they were printed.

I recall the days of former President Siaka Stevens (photo) when like clockwork, both the Force Commander and the Commissioner of Police again now Inspector General, would wait in the ante-room to the President’s office in order to give him the day’s intelligence report.

There was a Director of Prison at the time, who, although he had past the retirement age by more than five years, continued to hang on. He nearly smothered a colleague Minister of Social Welfare who had dared to suggest that he ought to lay down his uniform.

This man was a Chief Patron of one of the leading soccer teams of the day – our ‘man Friday’ was said to have been a former goalkeeper of the team.

Because of that and especially because of his generous donation, the management decided to include his photograph in the team’s proposed Almanac. When they showed him a sample of the Almanac with the caption that he was the best goalkeeper of his day, it delighted him no end until he read further that the year was 1928. He vehemently admonished them to remove the photograph but retain the donation.

As if to demonstrate his importance, not just as Director of Prison (here again we now have Correctional Centre), he always joined both the Force Commander and the Police Chief in order to add his own Intelligence brief. But I digress.

Back to the events immediately preceding the events of May 1997; ordinary citizens were also reported to be uneasy over some of the strange movements of those times. The rest as they say is history. We paid the high price for over ten years.

I am not an alarmist, but I like many others – am not comfortable with some of the funny things currently happening, which to us lay people, borders on the security of the state.

A military officer who was in charge of ammunitions was facing court martial proceedings for the strange disappearance of arms from the armory. (Photo:  Former president Ernest Bai Koroma – right, with the missing soldier who was head of the country’s military ammunition stores).  

At a time like this, and with the previous declaration of the APC leadership that were the SLPP to be declared the winner of the runoff elections that they would make the country ungovernable, I don’t believe that it is premature or alarmist to take pre-emptive action.

It is not simply a case of a stitch in time saving nine, but credence is given to my gut feeling by the uncalled-for planned demonstrations of the opposition APC.

Can we depend on the current security forces to defend the nation, when nearly the entire membership of the OSD was handpicked and trained in Samu chiefdom?

In the last ten years, recruitment to the military and police as well as promotions, depended on the ethnicity and regional origin of the recruits.

A proverb says that when once bitten by a snake, one is advised either to pick up a stick or other weapon at the sight of an earth worm.

Charles Margai (Photo) was taken in for three days of questioning for merely saying that, were he to be attacked he could raise more than twenty thousand volunteers to defend himself.

The date was April 27, 2015. The country was celebrating 50 years of independence from Britain. The membership of the SLPP was celebrating 60 years of the founding of our party.

The majority of us including Kandeh Yumkella and other “allagbas” were in the party headquarters to praise God. I was to pour the Libation to the spirits of our Founding fathers. The younger folk were masquerading along Wallace Johnson Street when the police went into action.

Our men were chased and beaten up mercilessly, with many of them dragged to the Central Police Station where they were further maltreated and kept in custody for three weeks, before they were charged to court.

Mrs Lulu Sheriff – the women’s leader went to inquire if her boy was among those detained. She was promptly arrested and also detained.

Now, in the midst of all these security rumours, the opposition APC are calling for a massive turnout of their members over the next two days and to paint the city red. What could the motive be, after the Parliamentary walkout, their refusal to attend the Bintumani conference – coupled with the disappearance of a military officer, who is said to have been a security detail of former President Ernest Bai Koroma?

Over to you Mr Inspector General of Police, and to you Madam President of the Bar Association, as well as to the do-gooder civil society advocates.

9 Comments

  1. Maatto Amara – Please show me some proofs or evidences that Old Stevens was responsible for killing people during his years as President, anytime at all it will be convenient for you. I will give you monies your eyes have never seen if you can back up your unsubstantiated claims with audio, video recordings or even verbal or sworn statements of people who were just ordinary witnesses to such tragic, barbaric killings.

    That’s easy money for you man, with no sweat at all – just provide me with the proofs and…TA-DA! Its yours. My word is my bond, always has been! Please do not ever again in your life mention a disloyal Coup-plotter in the same category with an Immortal Legend – that resembled the invisible wind, whose presence will always be felt everywhere in Sierra Leone. Its offensive to me!

    Now hear me out – I saw Stevens many times up close in real life before, and his presence was always like that of a calm, contented, majestic Lion that had just finished devouring its prey – he was always unfazed, undisturbed! In the evenings, if you can watch attentively, you could see that an esoteric aura – a gentle glowing, magnificent light surrounded him.

    Trust me there’s no one fit enough to be compared to him ever in Sierra Leone. Great men come and go, but Old Stevens was like the shining moon, unique and radiant. There will never be anyone like him again. I know, because like i said before, I saw him many times from a distance and looked directly into his piercing, delightfully charming, captivating eyes – and trust me, it will take me eons and millenniums to explain to you the overpowering feeling of awe, wonder and reverence I felt from just gazing at him…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  2. There is none listed above who loved this country like the present president RTD BRGD Julius Maada Bio. He is indeed a true patriot. Saidu Conteh do you know what Siaka Stevens did during his reign. He was a wicked man. He killed so many souls during his reign, he hated criticism.

  3. One thing for sure, o d Stevens was,and will always be the greatest leader the people dwelling in the “Lion Mountains” has ever seen and will ever have.

    He was a rare breed, a diamond in the rough that skillfully shaped his own rough edges and became a dazzling and priceless, luminous stone. Who is it in the SLPP in the past and in the present that can compare to him? No one at all! Maada Bio, the golden boy of SLPP will never be able to walk even 5 steps in the shoes of Stevens, without becoming overwhelmed, tired and exhausted.

    Listen to what’s real – the only true Legend Sierra Leone has ever had is old Stevens – there are no others. When a General goes to war, he usually returns with a trophy as evidence of his victory – Old Stevens was more than hundreds of Generals put together; and the trophies obtained from his triumphant, victories were countless as the words he spoke, when he was alive.

    Try filling those giant shoes; compete with that if you can! People are always trying to discredit Stevens and EBK, but they will never succeed. Leave EBK to enjoy retirement in peace – old Stevens is gone forever, leave him alone also and totally out of your fruitless, baseless, prejudicial conversations, and let him rest in peace. He has earned and deserves it.

    Its a sad thing to see many people who once exploited and ransacked this nation, now blatantly criticising the APC – a party that was once kind and welcoming to them. Indeed Loyalty and Integrity in these desperate times have become very lonely words, of use to no one, but a very few discerning men,and women.

    .And let those saying that Stevens killed people come forward with proofs and evidence to support their baseless, unfounded claims. Talk is cheap, but it’s action that is expensive and of great value! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  4. Sierra Leone is a small nation with lots of hatredness; we forgot the reason or blindness of this problem. President kabbah was betrayed because he came from a minority ethnic group, the madingo. The truth in Sierra Leone, to bacome a head of state one must belong to the temne or mende ethnic group.

    So let us stop beating around the bush, let us face reality. I cannot compare Sierra Leone with the US. In the US to become president, one must be a republican or democrat. The fulas, madingos, susus are not considered as frist class citizens in this nation. What a shame because these tribes have been in Sierra Leone since the 16th century. So who to blame? The colonial masters or who? I you get the answer, let us know. God bless Sierra Leone.

    • You really touched the nucleus of my emotions Ibrahim. Don’t worry Ibrahim. Things are going to change and the FULAS, the MADINGOS and the SUSUS will forever be considered as FIRST CLASS CITIZENS. What an emotional feeling that needs attention. GOD BLESS YOU Ibrahim.

  5. I personally believe that with the end of the Bintumani 3 conference last week, peace has already been solidified. The mixed messages from the current leadership of the APC party will be disregarded by most of their supporters since Dr. Alpha Kanu who has always been the best spokesman (Vuvuzula ) for his party chairman for life and was also his apprentice exposed him to the world by referring to him as unpatriotic, which is an indication that he has fired the first shot and I predict this is the beginning of the end to his lifetime leadership dream.

    Late President Siaka Stevens succeeded during his tenure because he used violence by executing the most prominent party leaders like Mohamed Sorie Fornah, Ibrahim Bash- Taqi and others in order to send a message to any opposition which eventually brought us to a one party dictatorship.

    But former President Koroma also unsuccessfully tried to copy from his APC predecessor by attacking the SLPP office and some of his thugs almost killed then opposition candidate Maada Bio in Bo during the 2012 presidential campaign – and also unsuccessful failed to introduce “after me na me” in parliament.

    On the contrary President Maada Bio brought back peace and democracy through Bintumani 1 and 2 and just created the open space for every opposition to express their right to free speech without fear of violence and Dr. Alpha Kanu rose up to the occasion, so I believe that the leadership is now becoming more nervous so they have to throw every mess on the walls hoping some will stick or hit a fan and eventually disrupt the process of peace and progress that we are now experiencing.

    My only advice to the leadership of the APC (who is also an insurance broker) is – stop using his party as his insurance policy and the supporters as collateral and allow peace and democracy to reign.

    • Alusine, I respect your views but, mentioning the execution of people by the late President Siaka Stevens reminds people of some of the dark days in our country’s political history, which in my view is not good for the family of the victims.

      By the way, people were not only executed by the Stevens regime, but also, by the late President J.S. Momoh, the NPRC under Captain Strasser(the most brutal) and by the late President Kabba. Whatever the reasons which everyone knows(treason) is not a good idea. But all is carried out under the laws of the land. The DEATH PENALTY must be abolished. AMEN.

      To make a point and give credit to former President Koroma, such ugly decisions/acts never happened under his watch, although there was an opportunity to do so. DISCUSS. So, let’s pray for the souls of all those killed in those unfortunate circumstances to rest in peace. AMEN AND AMEN.

  6. I am impressed that my uncle is still actively lending his thoughts for all of us. Live long Puawui! God bless and protect Mama Salone!

  7. Its true that fear-mongers are the ones that create fires and hurricanes no one will ever see. Storms brewed in teacups are being stirred consistently by their mischievous hands. Strange is it not, that old political dinosaurs, we thought were extinct, out of nowhere have resurfaced once again, ready to destroy our nation because of hatred, tribalism and greed?

    Dr Banya needs to be reminded that expressing ones grievances through peaceful protests is a right, written and guaranteed to all citizens in the constitution of Sierra Leone. No need to panic and raise false alarms. Making mountains out of molehills will only make matters worse. All the APC wants is for its concerns to be heard – we have no intention of creating chaos or promoting lawlessness and mayhem.

    What good is in such acts of irresponsible behavior to us. I’m still at at loss for words. The SLPP should pay greater attention to governance and leave the trivialities and the opposition alone. They are doing everything humanly possible to tarnish the image, reputation and legacy of EBK in the eyes of the world.

    Falsehood and deceit has now become a widely acceptable norm, since the SLPP came to Power – one year in power, and still nothing tangible to show for it. Many Sierra Leoneans still can’t afford ordinary pillows to lay their heads on – or three square meals a day, yet no one cares. Its obvious that the bickering, fighting and finger-pointing is more important to them than moving this nation forward….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

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