By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
Before President Julius Maada Bio took over State House, his economic status was not even upper middle class. People like the current Minister of Finance Jacob Jusu Saffa aka JJ Blood; the Minister of Information and Communications Mohamed Swaray; the deputy Internal Affairs Minister Lahai Lawrence Leema, and many others in the current Bio Administration were poverty-stricken like church mice. But today, the spoils of politics have made them the newfound bourgeoisies in, and of, Sierra Leone.
In less than eight months in power, there are already widespread allegations of senior members of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) buying or building mansions in Freetown and in the southern and eastern regions. There are also accusations of them buying expensive cars and electronic gadgets and living lives of splendour as if they are Founders of or Shareholders in Microsoft Corporation. But they seem to be ignorant of what Thomas Hughes says in his classical novel “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” that, “…he who multiplieth possessions multiplieth troubles…”
So let President Bio, his Ministers and other Presidential Appointees multiply their possessions today because in few years’ time those multiplied possessions would not only bring along troubles but would provoke Commissions of Inquiry in themselves. That is the principal reason why I’m in total support of the proposed Commission of Inquiry of the SLPP. History is not only cyclical but has the hydra-headed habit of presenting déjà vu just to transform conveniences into inconveniences. Let the SLPP initiates its own pre-targeted Commission of Inquiry today because few years from now the All People’s Congress (APC) would also be initiating its own Inquiry into the assets which President Bio and his current Ministers and other Presidential Appointees are now acquiring.
Interestingly, operatives of the SLPP government are now hiding in a fog; for they are the figurative kings without clothes. The cloak-and-dagger tactic which they used to infiltrate and bring down the APC government of Ernest Bai Koroma now appears to have been mastered by APC operatives in the corridors of power. Even if the SLPP’s systematic sackings of Northerners and Western Area-ners reach their crescendos, there is no way APCers would not be around the Seat of State. Diehard tribalists in the SLPP government should know that whatever exclusionary policy they are perpetrating and perpetuating, there would still be middle-level APCers at State House; in the Ministry of Finance; at the Accountant General’s Office; at the Registrar General’s Office; in all the Embassies; in the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC); at the Office of National Security (ONS), and there would even be APCers working at the Presidential Lodge at Hill Station.
So Sierra Leone is now, and will always be, in a sort of vicious circle. SLPP Fifth Columnists in the APC, who are now key players in the current SLPP government, do not have any moral standing to demand patriotism from APC supporters when they were neck deep in subterfuge during the Ernest Bai Koroma era. Sierra Leone is a small country so people know who has what property and when and how that property was acquired and from whom it was bought. So if Ali Baba thinks he is holier than the 40 thieves, history will come full circle and the law of Kama will come knocking at some doors someday.
Unlike the SLPP operatives in the erstwhile APC government who were leaking official state secrets to their SLPP tribesmen with reckless abandon; APCers in public offices may go underground to become archivists. They may be documenting each and every asset bought by President Bio and his Ministers and other Presidential Appointees. Now with smartphones in vogue, the work of APC archivists may be surreptitiously clinical. Not even the Registrar General might be able to keep Conveyances from low level workers whose duty is to do the filing at the Registrar General’s Office! In fact, before the Conveyances reach the Registrar General’s Office, some lowly-paid clerks must have typed them in some SLPP-leaning Law Firms. And houses and cars are not things that could be hidden from the public stare.
So in few years’ time when the APC would have out-balloted the SLPP, the current President, his Ministers and other Presidential Appointees should know that they would be in the same situation which they are now subjecting the rank and file of the APC. And when that time comes, the APC leadership may not listen to meaningless religious platitudes such as “turn the other cheek” or “let bygones be bygones”; or that moralists’ mumbo-jumbo of not “sticking out a finger in a defiant gesture”, to quote the Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka. The APC may go back to the Old Testament and evokes Moses’ Law! As one poet (whose name I might have eaten with Potato Leaves) once noted, “Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return”.
But the APC may not be doing evil in return after it would have out-balloted the SLPP. But it may just be reciprocating what the SLPP is doing now to its rank and file. The SLPP government of President Bio has started spinning the retributive wheel of statecraft and it will come full circle in few years’ time. And when that wheel comes full circle it will be déjà vu and we would not be expecting the current “them” to be grumbling about the would-be “us”! For when a coin is tossed up; it surely has to fall to the ground.
Few days ago, a friend of mine asked me what sort of Flagbearer am I visualising for the APC in 2023. My retort was terse: The candidate must not be afraid of facing the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also of going to hell when s/he dies! That should be the overriding criterion for the APC delegates in 2021. In fact, it would be their Hobson’s choice!
And it is on that note that I will epilogue today’s One Dropian dropping with a quotation from Brooke Foss Westcott that, “Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes of men. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become”.