When leaders tolerate sycophants – the nation perishes

Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 November 2018:

Don’t call me a pessimist, in fact I have always lived as a disciple of an optimist. African politics is synonymous with sycophancy. Sierra Leoneans have lived with political parrots since independence, and this has proven to be extremely dangerous to our nascent democracy and the rule of law.

A politics made up of lies, bootlicking, demi god worshipping and betrayals seems to be the major undoing in African politics.

A politician seeking the leader’s attention and support has always got something to say in praise of the leader, and is quick to dismiss and attack others to ‘protect the leader’.

Most recently in Sierra Leone politics, some leaders have bought into this sycophantic journey, and unfortunately degenerating from pursuing the nation’s interests to seeking self-preservation.

These shameless acts continue to slow down development and the growth of democracy.  This vice has become a sore thumb in Sierra Leone politics.

It is general truth that sycophancy is unquestionable. Interestingly though, it exists in all the spheres of our lives, be it in the family, school, workplace and even fraternities. This problem has gripped us tight and it seems to be eating deep into Sierra Leone’s politics.

As Sierra Leone’s population comprise of poor and middle-income earners, the first casualties are the poor, uneducated and incompetent politicians who bend over backwards to the leaders.

From the likes of former presidents – Siaka Stevens (Photo above), Joseph Momoh, Tejan Kabbah, Ernest Koroma and now Maada Bio, there is a general trend of sycophancy playing a major role in dissuading our leaders from performing their civic responsibilities they swore to do.

Siaka Stevens ruled the country with clenched fists and even transformed the country to a one-party state. Instead of being vehemently opposed, there were politicians and highly placed people who commended him for a job well done. 

When J.S. Momoh took the reins of government and introduced the ‘Green Revolution’, everyone knew that the project would fail as massive corruption became the order of the day.

Instead of people, especially the politicians castigating the system, they heaped praises on his leadership. Otherwise how can one explain the flowery songs that were composed for Momoh, such as  “Udat gee Momoh Power……”?

Sycophancy can destroy the good intentions of leaders. Some politicians ‘grandify’ and praise leaders even when they are corrupt or incompetent.  

Ernest Koroma came into his political party as a ‘born again’ messiah, with clean hands, good intentions and determined to create a lasting impact on the minds of the people.

No sooner he entered into his third year of his first term, politicians with ill motivated minds created a plaque around his leadership and started echoing – ‘De Pa don Vex’, even when the president  considers  criticisms as the checks and balances of his administration.

The APC party made a mistake of glorifying their leaders, and this trend is now growing in the governing SLPP party.

President Maada Bio has tasted power once and his second stint should not be considered as a newcomer. He knows power and its antecedents. Sycophancy is rearing its ugly head and he should not get carried away.

Politicians in the lower political class also play sycophants to their party leaders or to the recognized politicians in the country. These politicians – some of whom are ministers, members of parliament, and union leaders can go as low as political goons to ensure that Maada Bio gets their attention.

They are the dogs that bark when their masters are criticized and worse still, some of them are always willing and ready to act as sacrificial lambs on behalf of their masters. They support or go against any Bill and issue if their stand resonates with that of their master. They become the proverbial eunuchs and overzealous converts, who weep more than the bereaved.

The faster Sierra Leoneans do away with sycophancy, the better for the future of this wonderful country.

This is a fight that should not only begin in government offices but even in families. President Maada has started making economic strides and reforms that are yielding positive impacts on the ordinary lives of the people. However, he has also implemented on some wrong policies that are to be checked and controlled, if the country is to move forward.

We should be honest and brave enough to praise and condemn in equal measure, when things go right and wrong respectively. People should openly criticize the president when he falters and even revoke some decisions that are not in the interest of the country.  

The glorification of leaders in Sierra Leone has played a huge role in destroying the country’s growth.

As I listened and read from news outlets in the country, the same growing nomenclature of creating a demi god status to our leaders has started growing wings.

These days, it is only praise, praise and that is absolutely wrong.  That’s the way Parrots think they are Eagles and the next move is the tendency to tamper with the constitution.

We know that it can be difficult to soar with eagles when you fly with crows, but we can always still aspire to fly beyond the ordinary political stratosphere.

As leaders make mistakes in their day to day lives, so must there be people around him to inform him that the decision taken is not in the interest of the country.

President Maada Bio’s henchmen should be there to inform him that he is wrong when he is wrong and not the other way around. The press, both electronic and the print should be the vanguard to protect the constitution, lives of the ordinary people and above all, should be in the position to heap praise when it is due and criticize when a decision is not in the interest of the masses.

What the country needs is Democracy and not a Biocracy, like we had in Koromatics

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