Ibrahim S Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 August 2020:
It was shortly before the 2018 presidential election, President Ernest Koroma told supporters in Kailahun, a stronghold of the then opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party that the ruling APC will win the elections hands down as a result of his massive infrastructural developments he had initiated in the country.
Another politician, Mohamed Bangura, now a member of parliament under the APC stated over the national television that the APC will rule Sierra Leone for the next forty years. As for Alpha Khan, a prominent politician in the APC said, he would consider it an “insult”, if the people of Sierra Leone chose the opposition party over his party. Well, the rest is history.
Sierra Leone did it anyway. The opposition won the election by the stroke of a thread. I know, former president Ernest would feel the “sting” as unfair and unbearable. Since then, the ruling SLPP has been steering the ship of governance. President Maada Bio, by his standards has improved the corruption fight against a society that considered graft as the best way to attain the pinnacle of life. A society where celebrated crooks are admired, and ordinary hardworking teachers are scorned at.
Little wonder, Mr Ernest Koroma remains one of the most popular figures in Sierra Leone politics. There is no poll to confirm this but his popularity in his stronghold of the North seems unwavering. However, his popularity in the party at the national level seems to be taking a nosedive.
Several reformists are now calling for reforms within the party, some for genuine reasons and others for their own personal goals. To some, they consider this time to attack the former president as the best way to win appeals from the general party supporters. Quite recently, at a AYV talk show hosted by Dwight Neal on his “Night Life Train”, a member of the reformist group, National Reform Movement (NRM) appreciated the efforts of genuine members like a former strong member of the APC, Robin Fallay , calling for reforms.
Sherridan, leader of the NRM had offered a passionate defense of voting rights at a time when most people think the rights of the National Advisory Council (NAC), the second highest decision making body in the party was based on cronyism and not fair representation on regional lines.. The calls for reforms are raining on the executive of the party, though, to be fair to the present executive, they are preparing for the October deadline.
History has shown that presidents cannot always transfer their personal popularity to others, as Mr Ernest Koroma was reminded at the last election. And while he has deep affection for Dr Samura, advisers say the former president harbors his own concerns about his former Foreign Minister’s chances. He had originally picked Samura as putative successor, though he never groomed any younger figure to follow, leaving the party in 2018 with weathered leadership.
So, who will really rescue the legacy of Ernest? Ernest failed in some areas of his governance, but there are many areas where he excelled as a leader.
This and many more have left many party supporters anxious for him to play the bigger role that until lately he has resisted. Mr Koroma has been reluctant to fully engage with the party, only occasionally emerging from his Bombali home where he is still writing his overdue memoir to take on the current debacle hitting his party, as he did energetically during his own elections. The party may have won two elections on a landslide platter, but some harbingers of peace emerging from the new trench is posing a serious threat to Ernest’s legacy.
Mr Ernest Koroma and his team have spent some of the past years asking themselves where things went off track, wondering whether they had misjudged the mood of the country and their own accomplishments.
The Koroma presidency lost a great deal of luster because of President Maada Bio’s surprise victory. The people saw his presidency and decided to have a new turn of life by choosing the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party. If former president Koroma is to restore his legacy, his party needs to be united and effect reforms within and outside the party. The simmering calls for reforms may just be a voice in the wilderness urging and trying to win minds in the next battle of the leadership of the party.
The APC party may have abandoned some principles in allowing certain figures accessing the highest secrets of the party and depriving others who have fought tooth and nail to preserve the party feeling dejected. The calls for reforms by some loyalists yesterday and pretending to be reformers today just confirm what many believe that in “politics, there are no permanent friends but interests”. To call for reforms is an understatement, it is desperately needed, and it should be done fairly, respectfully and genuinely.
The legacy of Ernest will only linger if the party is reformed and united. As the October deadline looms, the country will only enjoy the democracy of multi-party politics when there is unity, peace, and justice in the country.
Alusine Fallay says “Young4na, the reality is your APC party has no option to stop the positive development that is currently taking place in our beloved country but to use the TRIBAL CARD to once again destroy our nation”. Hahahaha, Chief Fallay, with all due respect, if EBK is indeed tribalistic, you could not be far off from that description; f we are to assess your extreme political utterance in this platform, coupled with your almost sort of obsession in stoking the TRIBAL CARD in your commentaries.
For instance, just yesterday, you were on record for declaring in this glorious intellectual forum that, ‘if Sierra Leone is to develop, the Creoles and the South-Easterners should be the only individuals to occupy the civil service, owing to your archaic and TRIBALISTIC sentiment that, the Northerners are illiterate, hence they should focus on their business dealings.’
I am not sure if it is the generation gap, however, I happen to be a millennial, who entered primary school in the early nineties, mingling with kids from diverse regions and tribes with lasting bonds created from so many of them. As far as I am concerned, every Sierra Leonean irrespective of their tribe, origin, or political affiliation deserves to be treated equally under the law, and government jobs should be awarded on the basis of qualifications along with merit, not political party card carriers or citizens whose last names have origin from the South-East. It is an open secret that leaders from both of our major political parties employ tribalism in their governing schemes, so I don’t understand the HYPOCRISY coming from you.
Young4na, With all politics aside, you are really not far from the truth by stating “however, in modern Sierra Leone, this gap is close to non existence today” . I personally believe that the younger generation from the north especially girls, should take advantage of the Free quality education in order to narrow that gap. Can you imagine how powerful and prosperous some of these traders would have been with quality education; they should have been the most successful entrepreneurs in our country by opening factories.
Because naturally, northerners have passion for business and some that are literate in Arabic by studying the Quran, are super smart when they attend Western Schools. The first step is to discourage kids as young as 5 or 6 years old from selling oranges, groundnuts to name but few, because if this trend continues, we will definitely have more traders chasing few customers which will result in low Human Capital Development and more poverty.
Young4na, The reality is your APC party has no option to stop the positive development that is currently taking place in our beloved country but to use the TRIBAL CARD to once again destroy our nation. To strengthen my point please read the link below https://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/is-president-koroma-guilty-of-endorsing-and-presiding-over-a-divisive-policy-of-social-injustice/
Alusine Fallay says — “The reality is, of the two most populous tribes, Mendes who are perceived to be focused on Education has always dominated the government institutions while Temnes who are perceived to focus on trading dominated the business sectors. ….. The reality is no president can deny the fact that the two people that have dominated government institutions in Sierra Leone especially the civil service are the Creoles and South Easterners, and the business sectors are mostly dominated by Northerners.” Chief Fallay, while your sentiment expressed above bears some historical meaning, the continuous harbouring of such sentiments in the midsts of overwhelming evidence depicting a diminishing educational gap in terms of regional college graduates across our nation during the past several decades, symbolizes the anchor of our tribalistic politics.
Across our nation today, all regions, and almost every tribe can boast of highly educated sons and daughters capable to serve in any capacity in our nation’s governmental affairs. So the notion that only the South-Easterners are educated, hence should be the only ones participating in our nation’s civic responsibilities is archaic and tribalistic at best. By all indications, the earlier educational divide points to religious historical reasons. Islam spread through the teachings of Arabic, with its founder being a businessman, first establisheD its earlier foothold in the Northern part of our nation, hence the establishment of the Arabic college in Magburaka, Tonkolili district.
Christianity with a focus in English however, found its foothold in the West and South-East of our nation, hence the establishment of Fourah bay college in the West, and Njala university in the South-East. So in a sense of proximity back then, the Northerners’ only access to higher education was an Arabic college, while the West and South-Easterners had access to tertiary educational institutions established by christian missionaries, leading to the educational gap. However, in modern Sierra Leone, this gap is close to none existence today.
I personally believe that the legacy of Earnest Koroma will be the first President in the history of our nation to institutionalize TRIBALISM. Lies, stealing , violence and destruction is nothing new for the APC based on the fact that the founder of the party (then Prime Minister Stevens) used these ideologies as Cement, Granite, Sand and Water to lay the foundation of the APC. So the lifetime chairman of the APC just continued to strengthen their ideologies. After the 11 years civil war, late President Kabba with the help of the international community reintegrated our citizens and rebuilt our institutions with competent Sierra Leoneans based on qualifications. The reality is, of the two most populous tribes, Mendes who are perceived to be focused on Education has always dominated the government institutions while Temnes who are perceived to focus on trading dominated the business sectors.
The first pronouncement made by the lifetime chairman was that he will run the country like his personal business. He intensified corruption in the Educational and Agricultural sectors while signing bad contracts with mining companies to quickly enrich himself and supporters. He sacked most qualified south easterners in government institutions and replaced them with mostly incompetent APC party cardholders from the North without any vetting process. He humiliated his two Vice Presidents (Chief Sam Sumana and Victor Foh) because they are South Easterners.
He took tribalism to a highest level when the people of Makeni rejected Bishop Aruna who was appointed by the Pope because he is a Mende. The reality is no president can deny the fact that the two people that have dominated government institutions in Sierra Leone especially the civil service are the Creoles and South Easterners, and the business sectors are mostly dominated by Northerners. Any attempt to alter that situation through politics will hinder the growth of our nation. But hopefully with the Free quality Education and the successful fight against corruption our country will be restored to our glorious days.
Apparently things are not only getting worse, but they are coming to be offensive as well. The rudimentary problem that is stalling the socio-economic development of the country is seemingly attaining buoyancy in the river of doom. “Discard ‘Tolongbo’. Not every Sierra Leonean can speak Temne – it sends the wrong message. The country will be better for it.” This is the resonating outcry from Edwin John. It is not only an INSULT to a particular ethnic group of the country, yet a significant amount of hatred is attached to it. No wonder attempts to coalesce this nation are reminiscent of a person with trembling hands trying to reassemble a shattered bowl made of fragile ceramic.
What has the Temne language got to do with the position of Chairman and Leader of the APC party? Can Edwin John specify a lingua franca that is universally spoken in the country? Even Krio which is common in the country is not universal – over 20% of the populace cannot communicate fluently in it. Contrastingly, does the Chairman and Leader of the APC has to be a Creole?
What about the Susus, Lokos, Fullahs, Madingos, Konos, Limbas, Mendes and Temnes; to name a few? The danger of Edwin John’s informal splurt has the potential to drive the country back to the days of the Kontri man. It is imperative that there should be restraint in the muddy political discourse that the country finds itself in. Easy!
Mr.Turay of all the points I discussed you chose to challenge me on the tribal aspect. Well I digress, the country has more serious issues facing it. Once again we need a strong and vibrant progressive 21st century APC opposition.
Thank you my brother from another mother ‘the Illustrious’ Alimamy Turay; perhaps just perhaps next time Mr John will choose his choice of spiteful rhetoric more wisely, disguising them instead like wolves in sheep clothing using flattering words laced with lots of partisan anger and frustrations.(lol)
And whats all this nonsense about misappropriation of Ebola funds? This needs to come to an end – show me some proofs in the form of authentic documents and we can go from there. Haters need to leave EBK in peace – let him live,just like everyone else he’s got only one life to live! Ingrates cant wait to throw their bait because for them putting treachery into practice with malice is never too late!
Infrastructure? What Infrastructure? A few roads constructed and you consider that achievement? Look at Ghana compared to Sierra Leone in reference to Infrastructure development. With the amount of money that was coming in. They need to reform their attitude towards corruption; they underestimated the mood of a country that’s simply sick of their few resources in the hands of unpatriotic folks stealing with reckless abandon. That led to 10 years of rebel war. They misappropriated even Ebola and mudslide funds. And then turned around and instituted “austerity measures”. This mainly affected the regular poor man, woman and child.
Whilst these guys were building mansions and driving brand new SUV’s. Whilst the roads in the city are so deplorable, no clean drinking water or consistent electricity, crumbling schools. That’s the Infrastructure we talking about? We can do better. As a patriotic Sierra Leonean we need a vibrant and corrupt free opposition. Until they get progressive and corrupt free individuals that care about the country and not just party or regional affiliation they are in trouble. The country is just sick and tired of corruption, they lost the election directly because of it.
They need to reform; choosing another old guard tainted with this blemish won’t do it. Siaka Stevens did it when he chose Momoh. The country learned from that debacle and decided “not anymore”. Recruit young progressive minded patriotic citizens with love of country first – not party or leader will be a good start. The country needs a professional, progressive and vibrant opposition – free of any stains. 21st century APC with country first and corruption free slogan will do it. Discard “Tolongbo”. Not every Sierra Leonean can speak Temne – it sends the wrong message. The country will be better for it.
The Former President has nothing to worry about – He is like the matchless Star Polaris(Northern Star) that is divinely fixed and cannot be moved by the fidgeting disruptive hands of ordinary men.(lol)And who is it upon the face of the beautiful earth that is truly able to disrupt and reverse the incomparable blessings that ceaselessly keep on coming toward him from the generous prudent hands of merciful Omnipotent Heaven? (lol)
Now lets be real,next only to Stevens the father of our nation EBK stands unrivaled like a colossal gladiator,hands down undefeated in the grimmest most ruthless unforgiving political arenas of our beloved Sierra Leone.
Asking me who will rescue former President Ernest Bai Koroma’s legacy? The answer is very simple; Chief Sam Sumana. Punt Uit! Will the APC listen loud and clear and do the right thing? Even the unknown and mysterious Aliens on planet mars, where the Bio SLPP kakistocracy has taken us known that. “The Gron Dry”. Can you imagine? God bless Chief Sam Sumana.
In observation of the current political climate in our nation, the argument regarding the need for the current leadership of the APC to step aside is indeed cumbersome. While individuals like myself, who are neither registered members or legitimate stakeholders lack the moral authority to dictate the affairs of the APC, as patriotic citizens however, we are indeed obliged to render our opinions and suggestions. In light of this, I happen to be a fervent supporter of the NRM faction cause; owing to the fact that, these group of young APCers want nothing but the best for their party.
By all indications, the majority of the APC membership have a desire to modernize their party structure, transforming its core functions to the democratic principles on which our nation is governed. However, a few of the old folks within the party who perceive an erosion of their influence if such changes are instituted, appear to be against such modernization. While this internal battle was raging within, a more destructive external threat suddenly emanates from the SLPP PAOPA faction, with an obsession to obliterate the centerpiece that holds the entire APC party in place.
Against this backdrop, the supreme leader, Ernest Bai Koroma, who was almost on his way out the door. immediately seems like the only defence mechanism the party needs if they are to survive as a unit. As time lapses, with a barrage of constant bombardment from the PAOPA faction to decimate the core structures of the APC party, the majority of the APC membership were force to coalesce around the one and only leader they have known for over 2 decades. So in essence, the current political victimization is partly responsible why EBK remains a force to reckon within our contemporary politics.
Any party that lost an election, needs to go back to the drawing board, and figure out why they lost to the opposition. First things first. Go back to your manifesto, and examine your promises you made to the general public. Did you achieve all or part of your promises you made? If no, then you look at the core issues you failed on. Was your messaging right.? Did you underestimate the talents of the voting public? Or better still did you take your supporters for granted? As far as the EBK government was concerned, I will say they achieved greatly in infrastructure projects. On the other hand, the presumption of unchecked corruption among some APC members clouded the minds of the voting public. It is easy to paint you with a bad brush than a good one. The human mind is difficult to read.
As for EBK, he should be proud of his achievements. One would have thought a presidential library would have helped remind the public of his achievements. It is not too late to amend the party constitution, if the APC can’t find an ideal candidate to lead the party in the upcoming 2023 elections. EBK IS YOUNGER THAN JOE BIDEN, TRUMP, THE IVORIAN PRESIDENT and our next door Guinean leader, wannabe reincarnated Napoleon Bornapat Alpha Conde. So I can’t see anything stopping EBK from running for the presidency. He still has more to give to our nation. We have to learn to make use of our talented people in Sierra Leone. That is the missing jigsaws in our country’s development.