By Mohamed Sankoh ( One Drop )
Last Friday, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) government of Julius Maada Bio was 100-days-old in power. But what can the Bio-administration show for its stewardship thus far? Nothing much, except for its trademark tribal-supremacist agenda and the loudening hardship in the country generally.
And what an ironic way of giving citizens a befitting commemorative gift of the SLPP’s 100 days in office: An increase in fuel price! That increase has now created the domino effect as the price of a bag of rice has rocketed from the roof and is heading for the sky; the costs of ‘gari’; ‘places’, and even pepper are now sprinting towards the 100-meters finish line, while the exchange rate of the United States’ Dollar as against the Leone will soon land on the moon. Prices of essential commodities are running riot, coupled with the “top-up” on transportation fares, while unemployment is fast becoming the newfound toy of the Bio-administration.
And as if to mock the people’s misery the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa in a Supplementary Government Budget delivered in Parliament last Friday, spoke about their government “providing 10 percent of the basic salary of all civil servants, teachers, police, military, correctional services and National fire Authority in grades 1 to 6 as transport allowance…” This is what I will One Drop-is as logically insulting. This is so because the fuel increase is affecting seven million people and the 10% salary increment might be only benefiting about 71,000 people. Should I call it PAOPAnomics?
And the laughable aspect of this PAOPAnomics is the fanfare with which State House did try to announce their “10 per cent salary” last Friday. To make a comparative analysis, former President Ernest Bai Koroma increased the salaries of all Government workers by 15% at the height of the Ebola epidemic. But the Bio-administration increased the price of fuel and substituted that increase with just a 10% salary increment for a handful of government workers. It is like robbing Peter to compensate Paul! Or a Robin Hood-like economic cushioning?
But if creating hardship for the general citizenry has only been the most significant achievement of the SLPP government in its first 100 days in office, I would have celebrated each time those who voted for the SLPP are grumbling about their lot. But the manner in which the country is, at present, being steered shows that the SLPP is subconsciously creating a South East Vs. North West divide in the country.
Even an opinionated fool has now realised that the Bio-administration seems determined to Green-wash (Is this another One Dropian dropped word?) all democratic tenets in Sierra Leone. The liberals within the SLPP are now mumbling, though in camera, that they are not comfortable with their Government’s divide and rule policy, which the current administration appears to be used to purge northerners and those from the Western Area from state institutions. And those who by their “protest votes” voted for the SLPP, but not slippers, are now regretting that they are also guilty of what is currently occurring the country. Should I call it Protest Guilt?
I can understand, to a certain extent, the misplaced fear of President Julius Maada Bio and his government of their shadows. It is now an open secret that most of the top functionaries in the current SLPP-administration were Fifth Columnists in the former APC government of Ernest Bai Koroma. I can also understand the out-of-place dread by the Bio-administration of the “what goes around; comes around” ghost which is now haunting them. But we all know ourselves in Sierra Leone, so the adage goes. We know that every tribe has its traits, peculiarities, and likings. But “sabotage” and “subterfuge” are not innate in the DNAs of the two major tribes from the Northern region and the Krios from, or in, the Western Area!
But as the axiom goes, a man who has the proclivity to play with sh**t has the habit of smelling his fingers; so while President Bio and his “London Cable” seem to be playing God by deciding who should have bread and rice on their dining tables, they should also have it at the front of their minds (they might forget it if they have it at the back) that no matter how difficult the start of the marathon, there is always a finish line. At the zenith of the late Ahmad Tejan Kabba’s power, no diehard SLPPer ever thought there would be an Ernest Bai Koroma presidency after Tejan Kabba. But it happened. And at the pinnacle of the Koroma presidency, unapologetic APCers never thought, not even in their wildest nightmarish dreams, that there would be a Maada Bio presidency after Ernest Koroma. But it is today!
So those tribal hawks and partisan hyenas in the Bio-administration, who think that by systematically purging Northerners and those from the Western Area from public offices they will consolidate their entire tribal-supremacist agenda, are either feigning ignorance of history or just plain stupid. In fact, the deliberate marginalisation of those perceived to be supporters of the All People’s Congress (APC) is hardening them more to stick to their APC than associate with a government which seems to be splitting the country from its head down to its heel.
And world history is replete with countless instances in which when a people or peoples thought they were being marginalised or targeted; they resorted to actions that were similar to some of the memorable lines in Claude Mckay’s poem: “If we must die”. Yea, world history is full of men and women who always had “…face the murderous, cowardly pack,/Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!” So, those who are now feeling that they are being marginalised or targeted will someday express their now bottled-up anger in the ballot box!
And the awful thing about the current state of affairs in Sierra Leone is that the SLPP government seems to be driving marginalised citizens to start thinking of their Northern-ness and Western Area-ness. And when one flings “hardship” into the cauldron of all those “Nesses”; the soup will not be edible because the SLPP appears to have replaced its “One Country, One People” philosophy with that of It Is Our Tribesmen’s Turn To Eat.
But the junta and kamajor Sierra Leone People’s Party and the “London Cable” still have time to do political regret and try to exorcise tribalism from their ranks and the corridors of power. Or should I take it that under the SLPP Sierra Leone is now One Country; Two Peoples?
*Sierra Leoneans wake up against this barbaric government in our country*