Boycotting Parliament is not the solution

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When will some opposition parties  in Sierra Leone learn that politics is not war and they are not in a belligerent  and confrontational relationship with government ?  In Sierra Leone, we don’t do many things right  and one of them is the way politics is conducted , especially by some opposition parties. Where  have dialogue and constructive engagement gone ? Where is peaceful negotiation gone ? Is the opposition unaware that they are a component  of government and that  they should work hand-in-hand with government ? From the way some opposition politicians behave, they need to go back to school to learn deliberative democracy   and constructive engagement  .

The decision to boycott Parliament indefinitely until certain conditions are met is an unnecessary confrontational  stance that will not augur well for the nation and will neither  help to promote harmony  and good working relationships between the political parties in the country, nor will it instill in the Sierra Leonean people trust that their opposition parties will fight their causes well in Parliament   . When the opposition  has the tendency to run away from Parliament whenever the kitchen is hot, who will trust them to stay the course and fight the good fight to safeguard the welfare of the people ?

It all boils down to one thing–THE PYRAMID OF THE SELF ( I, ME, MYSELF ). When you have an opposition party that thinks only about its own  vested and parochial interests, instead of the collective interest of the people, this is what you get. The SELF , instead of the interest of the nation , is on the throne and so whenever the going gets tough, the crybabies in the Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) must seize the ball and cry home with it, abandoning the game and the very spectators  whom they are there to serve.

How many times have the very international community they want to impress not cautioned our politicians that they should engage in dialogue instead of walkouts, shutouts and shutdowns ? By resorting to boycotts , what the SLPP and their new partners in “Crybaby Politics” , the People’s Movement For Democratic Change (PMDC ) , are exposing to the international community is the nation’s soft underbelly of unpreparedness to really move on to more mature and progressive politics.

While Liberian politicians  seems to have learnt their lessons after their destructive war, our’s  in Sierra Leone appear to have learnt nothing. The Liberians will be having their Presidential Elections in just five days .They have been involved in hectic electioneering campaign for the past weeks but relatively it has been done in an atmosphere that is promotive of tranquility , despite the few hiccupps . You would hardly notice that there is electioneering campaign going on next door .

The main problem with our politics is the tendency by the SLPP  to use  the one-dimensional approach to problem-solving . The SLPP  think that if they resort to confrontation that ultimately leads to chaos they will tease the international community to intervene and effect a regime change-which they cannot succeed to do anyway with a popular and mass -supported government -or force the formation of a coalition government. IF THAT IS THE WAY THEY WANT TO REGAIN POWER, WE MUST SAY THAT THEY ARE STILL LOCKED WAY BEHIND  IN THE MENTAL CAGES OF THE  DARK AGES. CHAOS will no longer be the backdoor entry to power in Sierra Leone . The very international community are allergic to violence  and the people of Sierra Leone have grown in democratic  practice to eschew conflicts that change governments , including coups. The experience of the so-called Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) Junta in 1997-1998 when the Sierra Leonean people refused to accept them or succumb to them, despite their guns, bombs and rocket-propelled grenades , should send home a strong message to anarchists that violence is no longer the pathway to power in Sierra Leone.

The opposition must try to be   multi-dimensional and creative . They must try to deploy  fruitful ways  to engage the government constructively . In Parliament, instead of walking out, the opposition can win the day by making very strong, unequivocal, reasoned and uncompromising contributions from the floor. Outside Parliament, they can also engage government in well-reasoned dialogue through inter-party discourse, platforms  and parlays to force the hand of government to take decisions that in their opinion have been stalled. You can never gain Independence by slapping the Queen.

The opposition can also use the mass  media constructively to get Government to listen and  speed up certain actions and decisions.

It is a shame that our politicians still have not  accrued an iota of knowledge about the positive  influence and effects of Mass Media. To them, the media can only be employed as errand boys to besmear and dent the image of their rivals. They do not perceive the media as a potent and positive tool to change the minds of the rulers or effect institional changes or build capacity. The day our politicians learn the positive and dynamic use of the Mass Media to effect meaningful changes in the sociopolitical environment , they will stop boycotting Parliament or staging walkouts.

The opposition also needs to be reasonable. The AWARENESS TIMES struck the right chord in its editorial today when it stated :  ” …whilst some concerns are quite valid, one such concern has no validity and is just a deliberate attempt to mislead political followers. It involves the legitimate right of the Inspector General of Police to temporarily restrict our freedom to rally and assemble, if in his Sole Judgment, it is better that way for the peace, safety and security of the citizens and reasonably justifiable in a democratic setting. ” We agree with the paper  that the opposition is wrong to dispute the Inspector General’s judgement to suspend rallies, processions and public assemblies by political parties because of the inherent and credible dangers they pose to national peace and security. The Police is invested with the authority to protect the peace and stability of the nation. If they believe that the atmosphere is presently not condusive for public political rallies, marches and demonstrations, the integrity and authority of the force should be respected. Politicians are never above the law and are subject to the authority of the Police Force. Ignorant power-seekers like John Benjamin, Abbass Bundu, Suliman Banja Tejan-Sie, and others should set good examples as politicians who respect law and order . What kind of nation do these avaricious and power-blind zealots want to rule if they cannot respect the authority of the Police ?

We  call on the opposition parties that boycotted Parliament today to think about the interest of the nation and call off their unwise and unpatriotic action. This is not the time to provoke confrontations with the Government. The Ernest Koroma Government listens to good reasoning as it has demonstrated many times .The  opposition should take a cue from this and seek  dialogue and constructive engagement .It is the only way to positive action. The Government has never told anybody that it will not release the Shears-Moses Report,  which had been leaked to the public anyway. The Government has the reputation of always acting in the best interest of the people.  With dialogue and constructive engagement as the keynote, we can all build a stronger and more peaceful Sierra Leone.


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