Saturday September 3, 2005

 Recent events surrounding the forthcoming Leadership Elections for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party seems to confirm a popular saying among wise people “that in the heat of things, the wise head is usually one that stays calm throughout”. That precisely characterises the Cool disposition of Solomon Berewa despite all the noise and fanfare being drummed by his main challenger, Charles Margai. Berewa has shown that he is the only proper choice and the person most capable of leading the country out of this traumatic period in its history.

 Those who know him refer to him as Mister cool. Even in court, they claim, Berewa maintain his composure when opposing counsel dishes out sometimes-unwarranted attacks on him personally. His strength, which colleagues and opponents have conceded to in equal measure, is his sharp intelligence, coupled with his capacity to surgically analyse every situation before making a commitment.

The apogee of Berewa’s forensic mind was evident in his handling of the rebel war. Unruffled and undeterred by the immediate hullabaloo that accompanied the Lome agreement, Berewa’s wisdom to move the peace process forward was vindicated when the RUF leader squandered the opportunity for national reconciliation in the eyes of the major stakeholders of the process like the UK, USA, and Nigeria in the tragic events of 8th May 2000. This clearly underlines the fact that he is a man with the mental stamina that this country desperately deserves.  At the height of his negotiations to end the Rebel war, many thought that he would sell out and compromise the constitution of this country, but they were disappointed as there is no evidence to show that he ever did.

In fact it is on record that he did not compromise the constitution and even went on to acquire not only friends but also new and very reliable supporters as a result. This can be explained in light of the fact that this distinguished seasoned lawyer has always sought to protect the legal framework to which he has devoted the better part of his life fighting for. As a politician, the 2002 election highlighted the strengths of Mr Solomon Berewa as a disciplined politician with considerable reserves of stamina. On the stump, he proved himself articulate, fluent and confident: seldom discomforted by a question or a challenge.

 Berewa can only better the situation as to suggest otherwise will be arguing against the evidence. As Attorney General, he sought to resurrect a Judiciary that was crumbling and at the throes of death, updating the law and helping to create new legislation to replace archaic laws in the statute book, and finally fighting to preserve the very survival of this country. In short, the man has form and a proven track record, which evens his opponents, cannot deny him. Can anyone really show me when Berewa ever referred to people as his enemies? No! This man is a seasoned professional who believes in the democratic norm and sees people as opponents, rather than enemies. When asked what he will do if he lost the leadership battle, his reply was pristine and typical of the man himself: “I will return to my chambers”, he replied without hesitation. This is a clear pointer to his respect for the democratic process; rather than pre-empting the outcome like some of his opponents who even before the convention have signalled an intention to challenge the result if it does not go their way – this is clearly what democracy is not about. This sad, but predictable ranting, of some of his opponents clearly indicates that they want to have the best of both worlds- a situation, which political pundits will admit, is a recipe for disaster.

 Rather than contemplating challenging results, they should instead be thinking of ways to support who ever wins and plot ways of assisting in the big battle that is the actual presidential elections itself. The people of Sierra Leone need a matured politician who has something to show, not one that relies on past “glory” to which they did not even contribute. A name is as good as it gives and truly we must not just be going about trying to reap from what we did not sow. What has Charles Margai got to show in terms of solid and visible achievements? Nothing of significance that posterity will judge him by. And we must learn to respect the memory of our past Leaders just because we share the same name. Our Great Leaders, Sir Milton and Sir Albert did a good job and that is why history has judged them well. Let Charles aspire to Leadership on his own achievements rather than trying to use their names in the process.

 Africa has come a long way and we must now strive to detach and wean ourselves from the politics of mere association. Instead, let the people have a Leader who have proved himself in their chosen field. Berewa has proved himself as a Student, a Father, and a respected Legal Luminary, who’s record as Attorney General and currently as Vice President is laudable.

Berewa’s noble quest to seek the highest office in this country is guided by one principle: the imperative of justice; by one criterion: the general interest; by one aim to improve the lot of ever Sierra Leonean Man and Woman. Berewa is certainly mindful that these noble aspirations can only be realized by fully embracing free market ideal rooted in solid social democratic principles which embraces good public services and decentralization of decision-making. Crucially his impressive rise from a humble but respectable background provides a compelling narrative which places him in a good stead to understand and champion the challenges of the under-privilege in achieving their personal aspirations.

In the run-up to the Makeni convention, I urge all those who have embarked on supporting this noble purpose to remain resolute in our determination to engage, inform and help others understand that we need a leader who has the will to make the unpopular decisions that will move the nation forward. The fact remains it is only Mr Solomon Berewa who posses the substance, intellect and a proven track record to achieve sustainable political and social -economic development. Remember “any man can hold the helm when the sea is calm, but he who holds the helm in torrential and stormy weather is the man”.


             This why I say that this truly is Berewa time

 By Ansu Bapoto Momoh

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