By Titus Boye-Thompson
The announcement from State House came very late in the day but at the start of what would turn out to be a tumultuous weekend. The President saw reason to make certain changes in the administrative setup. In the wash, certain high profile figures lost their jobs and some other s moved into new positions. The appointments were more welcomed than the sackings and for a while, this was a matter for some bemusement. On close scrutiny however, it is clear that this was a diplomatic shuffle that was made in the indomitable style of President Ernest Bai Koroma. Replacing Seray Timbo at NATCOMM showed the President’s hand that Mr Timbo is on his way to the Ministry of Works. This is not nuclear science as Seray Timbo has been earmarked for that Ministry for a while given his close affinity to the area of concern and the strategic vision of the President to put roads, housing and infrastructure at the center of his Agenda for Prosperity.
Winstanley Johnson’s move to Sierra Leone Commercial Bank as Chairman of the Board is one of the most insightful moves announced by President Koroma over the weekend. This is a man who has done so much for the All People’s Party in the Western Area but is yet unfulfilled in his political aspirations. He ventured some while back to coordinate the Creole aspirations and the meeting that he called to discuss pertinent issues affecting his people of Freetown was instructive and to all intents and purposes, very successful. His tenure as Chairman of the Roads Fund Authority was not to his favor and thus a move such as this is in no way reticent of his experience and skills. This is an example of using the right people to make a difference and for this move, President Koroma scored a double whammy.
Closer examination of the various other appointments reveals that this was a President who sought to correct a lot of issues that had been at the thrust of his mind. The call to service of Inspector General Brima Acha Kamara Rtd and Major General Nelson-Williams Rtd were telling of the President’s sense of fairness and concern. Theirs is a well reasoned decision because it would be unhelpful for senior officers at the heart of our security services to be left to wallow after leaving office, especially after their exit were so dramatic and without public acrimony that spoke to derision or mutiny. This move to assuage two of the country’s eminent security officers is cognizant of the President’s avowed sense of duty and loyalty. Singularly, their elevation to civilian diplomatic service sends a signal to other high ranking officers that this is a President who would not abandon them in their time of greatest need and that there is a life after service and a contribution to make by those who have served and served well. The mistakes or oversight of a few good men will be rectified by the passing of time.
There is nothing wrong with the President showing some concern for others. There is also nothing wrong with the President showing that even if he does not act in the time expected, whenever he acts, he would do so in a manner befitting his sense of fairness. Some of the appointees would now breathe a sigh of relief because after a while in the wings, they have now been called to service. The hope that gives is that in the thrust of his mind, the President does have his ways to make amends, he may tend to have forgotten but never would it be his intention to neglect those who have served him over the years.
The lesson to be drawn from this would have to be a realization that the internecine battles amongst the party activists is destructive to the party and government and should not in any way be allowed to continue. Those who see it necessary to display public acrimony would only do so to their own detriment because after such a show of steadfastness, it is very difficult indeed for anyone to sustain a squabble that in the main would cause harm to the party’s image and by extension, the Presidency. The main battle front is drawn for a clear focus on accentuating the positives of this government and the vision of President Koroma. To do otherwise would be to detract from a worthy array of achievements and tend to denigrate the work of a seasoned and established politician.
The old battle lines of political succession are now a matter for the dustbin. To the minds of those who would seek to use the relationship between the highest offices in the land as a matter for gainsaying, it is now irreverent that there should be no further attempt to cause the President unnecessary discomfiture by seeking to portray him as an unfair and disloyal person. In his own way, President Koroma does what he does his timing and decisions are wont to be second guessed. To stretch the football analogy a bit, he now behaves like a team manager who decides on how his players get on and off the field but at the end of the game, he still considers everybody who puts on his jersey to be part of the winning team.
The myriad issues that have been considered in the making of the appointments have tended to disclose some of the innermost battles the President faces day in and day out in the exercise of his high office and function of head of state. These have been very tough yet seasoned decisions that would refer back to a legacy of fairness and reward. The President has sought to rebuild lost friendships, remake battered images and accorded sound assurances to those who have been true and loyal to him over time. The issue of their reward now should not be seen as a weakness but rather a sense of fortitude had directed him to mend fences that may have been badly damaged in some cases due to exigent circumstances much more than anything. In reaching out, President Koroma is sending am message to those who may feel displaced thus far. One day, your time will come and when that time comes, it would be prudent to be ready to take up the challenge.
On a personal note, I made a decision myself to ceasefire on all political battles to which I have been drawn and to spend my time much more gainfully in helping my country to reach the next level. I have served in a very high estate and that opportunity opened my eyes to a lot of the good that can be done by positive and constructive engagement. I am proud to relate to my many firsts for Sierra Leone but would restrain myself from opening up another front by doing so. I would only say that President Koroma has my utmost respect and loyalty. In the event, I would go back to defending his record with impunity because I now see that he continues to be the best thing since sliced bread for Sierra Leone. I will await his call to my next office but in the time I wait, I will give him my service and troth by communicating development, an area to which I have unparalleled equal. It is exigent that the good news of how this country is making strides to prosperity should be recorded and told for posterity’s sake. The catalogue of decisions that a President has to make is evocative of battlefield maneuvers. Not every soldier is put in the line of fire. Some would have to be Generals and so be strategically protected for their cognitive skills much more than their ability to handle a rifle. The ability to be a General is intrinsic for some. Others have to be taught how to do it. Those who have it in them recognize this and are therefore not afraid to walk away even in the face of heavy bombardment, not to talk of having to face the ungodly tirade of friendly fire.
Finally, I would wish to congratulate a close colleague, Ishmael Koroma who will be on his way to a diplomatic station in Ethiopia. His elevation should be a reassurance that President Koroma does not forget promises that he had made in the past. This is another one for the Ariogbos, so I wish him well in his new position. I know from working with him under very difficult circumstances that he is one who would discharge his duties with utmost zeal and dexterity. All in all, there i a reassurance that the future can be but bright for Sierra Leone as long as this country is blessed with a President in touch with reality.