Time to give former president Ernest Bai Koroma his just due

Abdulai Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 August 2021:

Giving credit where credit is due is a rewarding habit to form, and the rewards can be inestimable.  Dr Ernest Bai Koroma served as the Head of African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) to monitor Zambia’s 2021 general elections that took place on the 12 August.

The mission comprised 30 observers, including four independent electoral experts and a technical team. Mr Koroma was ably assisted by HE Dr Speciosa Naigaga Wandira Kazibwe, former Vice President of the Republic of Uganda, and Amb Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Their remit was to assess Zambia’s general elections against the yardsticks of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

It is against the backdrop of the Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, which incorporates the 1981 African Charter on Human Rights and People’s Rights, as well as Zambia’s national legal framework governing elections.

By any standards, this should be a feather to his cap, but more so, a major endorsement to Sierra Leone’s nascent democracy. Our country’s democratic credentials are relatively embryonic when compared to other African countries.

Despite our youthful courtship with democracy, our former Head of State was singled out to head the monitoring group for Zambia’s recently concluded general elections. As a country, we should be proud of ourselves for serving as a beacon of hope for the democratic principles in Africa. The election was widely accepted as fair and peaceful. What makes this election noteworthy is the rarity of its outcome.

The opposition candidate Hakainda Hichilem, who is fondly known by his supporters as an ordinary “Cattle boy” won the bitterly contested elections by a clear margin, ruling out any need for a runoff. The outgoing President Mr Edgar Lungu conceded defeat amidst his accusations of an unfair elections. This is one of the rarest times that an opposition candidate has won against an incumbent president, in a relatively peaceful and fair elections in Africa. (Photo below: Left to right – Lungu, Koroma and Hichilem).

But that should not take away the shine from the role of Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, and by extension the example set by Sierra Leone.

Although the African Union had adopted the principle of two five-year term time limits for African presidents, only a handful and notably Dr. Ernest Koroma and Sirleaf Johnson have followed the gospel teachings. It is therefore not surprising that Dr Koroma was chosen to lead the monitoring mission, among other reasons.

So, what does this mean for us – Sierra Leoneans?

Firstly, we should be proud as citizens of such a nation with such political accreditation. This means that we need to take this into serious consideration, that our country serves as a beacon to others in this drive.

From a personal point of view, Ernest has been treated and accorded the accolade as an elder statesman. By implication, such roles do not only confer credibility and confidence on the beholder, but also designate their roles as members of the pantheon of governance in Africa. Ernest has held the torch to other African leaders in this context.

There is no question that Ernest has been dogged by several controversies since leaving the office of Head of State. Like any other meaningful citizen, he has the inalienable right to participate actively in his party and national politics. However, such participation has not gone unnoticed. Some have been controversial, and others deemed nationally divisive.

What makes his roles glaringly up for scrutiny is the level of expectations that comes with erstwhile Heads of State. As minimum, they are usually expected to retire from active politics and into the sunset of minding their grandchildren and orchards.

Many former presidents tend to disappear from the political scene, take a back seat and serve as elder statesmen for their political parties and country.  No one is writing a prescription for how Ernest should spend his life. But many look up to them as oasis of wisdom and reservoirs for upcoming politicians.

Unfortunately, former president Koroma has found himself dragged into many political shenanigans, rumours and bad press. Some may say that it has been vengeful, and others think that they were self-inflicted; thanks to his reluctance to retire actively from active politics. But irrespective of your political persuasion or unfortunately, tribal disposition, his latest recognition from the continental body is cause for celebration.

We should be proud of the recognition that the AU bestowed on him. This is the kind of activities that many would like to see our former leaders engage in.  But they can only do so if they serve as examples in their roles as leaders of their community.

What makes this worth noting is when juxtaposed with what’s going on in the back yards of our French speaking cousins. From Alpha Conde, Paul Biya, Allassane Quattara, etc have all used political alchemy to stay longer in power. It will be preposterous to conclude that such machinations are the monopoly of our cousins. However, the French speaking countries are unashamedly in the majority. (Photo: Author – Abdulai Mansaray)

Perhaps, the continent of Africa could learn from a new breed of leaders like Ernest, Sirleaf Johnson to name but a few, to ensure that these term times can be accomplished.

Ernest Koroma may not care who gets the credit if the feat is accomplished. It is so much easier to be a critic sometimes than a celebrator.  One of life’s deepest significances is being the light that helps others see.

One can only hope that the forthcoming 2023 elections in Sierra Leone would reflect the one that Dr Ernest has so recently presided over.

We hope that he would use all his wisdom, experience and political nuance to help Mama Salone maintain that enviable record that he has help set up for others to follow.

So, bravo to Mr Ernest Bai Koroma for his role in putting Mama Salone on the map, again. Keep up the good work and be the elder statesman we all aspire to see, for Mama Salone and Africa at large.

Don’t Forget to Get vaccinated or Get the Marklate.

15 Comments

  1. Mr Charles Caulker from Bo – I think you should have the courage of your conviction and thank Mr Matturi for painstakingly and generously reminding you that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. If you find comments by others to lack grammatical and orthographical correctness, well, your own comment has ironically been shown to fare no better in that domain.

    I think what matters here most is the quality of a contributor’s argument, the breadth and depth of the ideas she/he presents. Grammatical and orthographical correctness while being highly valuable and desirable remains none the less a vehicle, a receptacle, a container: its essence is not itself but what it contains and conveys. You miss the point when when you focus exclusively on the container, at the expense of the content. Especially so when one considers that for most of us here English is a second language, acquired well after we have learned and mastered the intricacies of our mother tongues in a linguistically and culturally diverse and complex Sierra Leonean context.

    Indeed, we should all be congratulated for being able to express ourselves albeit with varying degrees of fluency and accuracy in English in the first place. Mr Thomas, our indefatigable gatekeeper, knows exactly what he is doing when he chooses to publish a comment. His moderating powers all these years speak for themselves. It takes a lot of chutzpah for a new comer to the forum to want to usurp those powers. By the way, Mr Thomas gently reminds readers every so often to write their comments with care before pressing the send button. I believe most of us do heed his request.

  2. As we are eagerly waiting for this gentleman to provides Mr. Jalloh the last two names that he thinks they are in competent in writing. Most of us not interested in that quality education again as we are too old for it, but writing “Engilsh” this way, brother (Charles Caulker in Bo) your English is good as for me, but next time try to edit your writing. (N’dakay) we are understanding each other thanks. We don’t criticize here in this platform we advice and educate one another. Have a good day.

  3. Hahahaha, my senior brothers, professor Amadu Jalloh and diplomatic Sahr Matturi, on an exhibition of professionalism and statesmanship. Hey brother Caulker from the great city of Bo, i guess your bullet has bounce back, making you the target, hahaha. Anyway, TOLERANCE and HUMILITY are essential in a public discourse.

    Now to the topic at hand, yes, though former president EBK belongs to the class of corrupt bunch of African presidents, credit must be indeed accorded him on the basis of merit. I am not really sure what gotten into him during the later part of the second term of his presidency, but truth be told, he performed exemplary during his first 5yrs compare to our current man in state house.

    Though he took over governance from a highly corrupt SLPP government (Pa Kabbah’s regime), he never really focus on vengeance and a so called ‘corruption crusade’ solely on political opponents as it’s the case with the current regime. Peace, national cohesion, and development were a mantra of his leadership for a good part of his first term until he got power drunken in his second term. The rest is history.

  4. As usual Abdulai Mansaray has written a balanced article. Indeed the problem of Earnest Koroma is Earnest Koroma. It’s going to take a while before he can heal his self-inflicted wounds in the domestic political arena. Power got into his head as president which he couldn’t manage effectively to endear himself to the judgement of history. The current perception of Earnest by Sierra Leoneans entirely depends on whom one talks to, their level of objectivity and education, their political party affiliation, their ethnic group and the region they hail from. And this is what is most harmful to the nation, the ultimate impediment to any meaningful progress. It’s an incurable disease which afflicts the entire nation, But all is not lost if somehow we as a people find it in ourselves to understand that APC and SLPP should be given a back seat for a while – they are a curse.

    Earnest Koroma led a corrupt government. When his ministers were cleanly caught in corruption, he would sack them only to bring them back through the revolving door which he had constructed. The Commissions of Inquiry revealed how government officials turned the nation’s bank to a “piggy bank “.

    Domestically Earnest carries a stench which is indescribable. But the African Union seems to smell the best perfume about him. There is not much any of us can do about it . In a massively strange way Sierra Leone’s image is enhanced by Earnest. Ignorance is bliss.

  5. I am new to the Sierra Leone Telegraph which in my opinion is the best online newspaper for us Sierra Leoneans. I enjoy reading your articles and stories but can I say that I am finding some of the readers comments very diffcult and challenging to read and understand. Some of their Engilsh writing is so bad that I am struggling to make sense of what they are trying to say. We have Free Quality Education in this country oooooh!

    Please Editor, can you tell your commentators, especailly TWO in particular, to work on their writing and editing? I think they are just lazy writers who cannot be bothered to check before posting. Its a shame. Lol. No offence or disrespect meant please. I look forward to improvement. Lol

    • I supposed the free quality education that you are boasting about Mr Caulker, was never offered to the readers and commentators you are referring to. Nevertheless, since we not all born with the Queens English, and the half education we received, before our country was plunged to civil war, and forcing some of us to flee our country, maybe you are educated and lucky enough to express your self in the queen’s language. Next time we might just express ourselves in the Krio language, which is the widely spoken and understood language in our country. Sometimes even some of our English school teachers, are more confromtable in conducting their lessons in the Krio language. Some countries don’t even use the Queen’s language, but are economically develop. This feeling of superiority over others is the very problems we have in Sierra Leone.

      If all your contribution to this forum is to criticised your fellow Sierra-leoneans that take the trouble to express themselves in this forum about issues they feel strongly about in our country, and talking about quality free education, that is still in working progress, one is left wondering, whether you are part of this failed government of Bio, or a supporter of his. What ever, you are entitled to your opinions. Next time we will try and write in our mother’s tongue. I don’t know how good is your Fulani language, but maybe you will need an interpreter. Or better still we will express ourselves in the krio language. This is the very put down you expect from a Sierra Leonean.

      • Sometimes, it pays to remain quiet and be assumed a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubts.

      • Khooooooo, Ndarkay!! Sorry if you feel offended my brother. We are not going to fall out on this issue because of my observation. Khooooh – I feel welcome here already. Lol. Have a pleasant and blessed Sunday. Peace and out. Lol.

    • Please Editor, can you tell your commentators, especailly THREE in particular, to work on their writing and editing? Mr Charles Caulker in Bo is the third person, in my view. I don’t know the other TWO. I hope Mr Charles Caulker sends me their names for clarity. Even Mr Charles Caulker failed to work on his writing and editing. Instead of writing “English”, he wrote “Engilsh”.

      Instead of “especially”, he wrote “especailly”. Argue/deny Mr Charles Caulker in BO. I can understand very well what you are trying to say. There is no need for me to complain to the Editor of this popular and globally read online newspaper about your mistakes. It can happen to anyone, and I hope you get that. If you don’t understand someone’s comment, ask for an explanation. Period! You are on a glorious platform where men and women are vigilant and can put you on the defensive side of the argument or discussion if you lose your way around. So, be very careful on this glorious platform Mr Charles Caulker in BO.

      Because you are new, I forgive you. But, I urge you to participate in the discussion on the issues we have at hand, rather than becoming this platform’s English language grammar or literacy professor. God bless the Editor of this globally respected online newspaper Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas, and all forumites. Good night Mr Charles Caulker in Bo.

  6. I personally have been always saying this, and will be continue to do so. In reality, the whole All people’s Congress” APC” party not yet serious about their mission of victory, not yesterday, today, tomorrow or ever. I am confidently believed that there is no actual chosen candidate for APC comes 2023 presidential election yet, congratulations to Mr. Bio. If there was any serious candidate in the party, to be Frank with this powerful platform; that candidate should be introduced and recognized by the whole African continent today not the former president H.E.Ernest Bai Koroma. I am seeing folks offering praises, even clapping with their toes and even making it to the nation that, without Ernest B. Koroma no APC wow. I believe if the constitution was to allow this man to run for the third term, there would be no man to challenge him period.

    To go to Zambia to monitor their presidential election with all generosity, I applauded him for his excellent performance, standing middle the two candidates, the winner and the loser in the eye of the whole world, showing gratitude, this is something he hadn’t done for his country after 2018 presidential poll was closed. I hope that he has ever done this for Bio& Samura. Think the world not watching, no, they are. People acting like they fearing for their lives if the former president EBK not be praise by them. Guys are protecting Ernest koroma please continue doing so. Take care, if we deceived ourselves not to say the truth we will remain blind forever. I can’t wait to see come 2023 and vote for Bio second time.

  7. When you hear the phrase, give the devil its due. This is what it meant. Generally speaking, the trouble with Sierra-leoneans psych, is not that we don’t like to celebrate people that have achieved , or to put it in an other way, some one that have made something out of their life , and contributed immensely to the improvement of human endeavours , through grit and hard work. And some times rising from humble backgrounds, and making it all the way to the top echelon of political societies. And despite overcoming all the obstacle placed in their path , they still managed to reach the mountain top. And throughout that journey, they always strive to make a difference to people’s lives. Regardless who, or where they come from. Occasionally, people they have met needing help in difficult circumstances , and that will in mean people and places they have not been, or visited, but all the same having a positive impact into their lives to make a difference .

    As a country, is the sort of people we want to celebrate, proud about, and above all else wants to associate with. Mandela ,Bob Marley, Thomas Sankara, Tony Blair, Ambassador Peter Penfold, Sani Abacha, and many others. The irony of all ironies, Sierra-Leonean are quick to celebrate others as long as you are foreign , but not their kind , or kindred. No you are a Sierra-leonean , we will cut you down to size and bring you down from the mountain top. Probably the only Sierra Leoneans that are etched in our minds that we still celebrate today, is men like Bia Bureh, and Mammy Yoko. Given we hardly talked about our struggle for Independence, and let alone celebrate the heros that made it happened, like Sir Milton Margai, Saika Stevens, Benkole Bright,Dr John Kerefah Smart, CA Camara Taylor, and others.And recently, less celebrated figures that have achieved something, like Isah Johansen the first female President of the Sierra Leone Football association, and one of few women in the world to have headed a national football association, appreciated and toasted outside of Sierra Leone, but roasted in Sierra Leone in political games of chickens.

    And our Mayor Akin Swayer,the latest international celebrity, a champion of not only the poor in Freetown , but a campaigner of environmental issues, that world leaders sit up and listen to, but demonised by the incompetent do nothing Bio government. What we are good at are, Put downs, character assassinations, gossip, unfounded rumours. And quite frankly Sierra Leone is one of few African countries , that have produced more people with international name recognition and celebrated and appreciated outside their country, unless and of course with in the confine of their village or town, where they are celebrated and honoured as a local son and daughter that have made it. Or spare a thought for Sierra Leone Music talent, Emerson Amidu Bockarie, with all his raw talents but have to to express his lyrics and music in the safty of Nigeria, or risk falling foul of Bio’s vandetta politics. So clearly, as a nation we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves why this Sierra Leonean put down by fellow Sierra-leoneans. Where did we get it wrong? Can’t we all learn to see each other frist as Sierra-leoneans, before we starts reverting to our tiny tribalistic enclaves? Former president Koroma is setting the agenda for change. It doesn’t mean you have to be in politics to do your Patriotic duty towards your country and flag. All roads leads to Rome. We should be proud of our country and the people that are flying our flag.

  8. Brilliant and fascinating article there by Mr Abdulai Mansaray. It’s OK if you disagree with Mr Abdulai Mansaray. Whether you like our former Commander in Chief of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed forces or not, hate him or love him, madness or calmness against him, grudge or kindness for him, take it or leave it, sad or happy, APC or SLPP or thinking about him as corrupt or honest doesn’t matter. It’s all politics. What matters is this – the former Commander of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Dr Ernest bai Koroma, should be given what is just due. Period! Nothing more and nothing less. Our former President, Dr Ernest Koroma, has achieved what is expected of any elderly statesperson.

    I’m not surprised by the achievement of this great former President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, who is now extending and expanding his political ingenuity and experience to Africa and the rest of the world. His success has made many Sierra Leoneans, including Sahr Matturi, feel good and proud to be a Sierra Leonean. Talking about the mess left behind by the former SLPP government, which the former President tried to clean, is for the birds.

    This former President will ensure that we get the APC flag bearer and leader that will help us home the next President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. What is wrong with that, Ladies and gentlemen? I hope they don’t forget to switch off the light before they leave office in 2023. God bless the former Commander in Chief of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and Mr Abdulai Mansaray for his brilliant article. Yeah.

  9. If only Ernest Bai Koroma had kept his own promise to leave politics in three months after the last election, if only.

  10. Very well said, regardless of all the mess that has surrounded him while he was in and out of office. Africa needs to see more of this exercise by our leaders!

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