By David Tam-Baryoh
“During President Kabbah’s ten year tenure in office, thee has been no improvement in the areas of water and electricity…” APC Member of Parliament, Chukmuma Johnson contributing to President Kabbah’s recent parliamentary speech said that the presidential ridicule continued, while the People’s Liberation Party, PLP Member of Parliament Dr. Babar Conteh said, “if we cannot thank him for his achievement (sic) we should thank him for his energy and strength he used to deliver the speech.”
An ardent SLPP follower might assess these view points from two honourable members of the representative house as distorted remarks from an aggrieved opposition. But how many Sierra Leoneans could actually be thinking the same way, for the honourable and most revered president? Or rather, like some PMDC member asked, have opposition MPs lost faith in the Kabbah administration at the last hour of need?
We may wish to recall that in the 1996 presidential and proportional Representative elections, Tejan Kabbah, according to James Jonah, who became minister in the same elections he conducted, polled 76% of the polls. We were later informed that the Interim National Electoral Commission saw reason to discard some 70,000 votes, in order to help validate the entire electioneering process and method used. We wanted to see the back of military boys so much that no complaints were entertained.
During the elections, the actual issue was: do you want elections (which will allow the khaki boys to pack and go), or no elections, and allowed Maada Bio and cohorts, who by then had been accused of squandering the good wishes of the people to stay? The answer was obvious. We were so much in haste, that there was no need to check the characters and good behaviours of those who presented themselves to us for elections. In fact the process was by proportional representation, a process our elites did not even fully comprehend, let alone pa Vamboi in Pujehun and Mamy Adama at the waterloo market selling dry fish and vegetables. In the 2002 general elections, the war became a political issue.
The question was, would you rather not vote for a man who brought peace, (and be accused of being ungrateful) or put your votes for either the APC, whose trumpeted evils were still fresh in our minds, or even the fragmented smaller parties full of hustlers and power seeking megalomaniacs? Again, Tejan carried the day, on the basis of the devil you know is better than the sheep-clothed in angels lurking in the dark of insignificant parties.
In the course of the ensuing eleven- year of leadership, there appeared an agreement between parliamentarians, including the opposition and the executive arm of government, never to criticize or embarrass the president. We did not even begin to hear of some of the important things the honourable members were saying until some younger journalist formed themselves into parliamentary gallery reporters. Some MPs were accused of only being interested in advocating for car loan rather than seeking the interest of the general populace. This allegation may have been wrong and perpetuated by those not fully informed about the aggregated credentials and reputations of the honourable house. The MPs probably may have been waiting for the right time; the time to call a spade a spade and damn political affiliations and consequences. Is this the time? Honourable Elizabeth Alpha Lavalie, a very strong and reliable member of the SLPP said in parliaments last week, “The country’s leadership is not only for men, and that perception should be changed.”
Yes, indeed that is true. Elizabeth Lavalie, Kadi Sesay, Sia Ngongou, Shirely Gbujama, Theresa Koroma, Memunatu, Nana Pratt and others; any of these can be a presidential running mate for any credible political arrangement. And yet, when these names are mentioned in SLPP/APC circles, reference to the running mate issue, tempers flare up. Why? Not even Kabbah is ready to listen to this feeble and effeminate angle of looking at national politics in the 21st century. But Lavalie has raised it. Will the great guys listen? I hope not. Because it be against their nature and their perception of women with regards to leadership, only Isata Jabbie alias I.J and Presidential Lodge baby is an exception to this rule, for at anytime Momodu Koroma becomes Berewa’s Presidential running mate she hopes to be the vice president of Momodu when the former would have become fragile and inactive in politics after his five-year in office, by then the talk about gender equality would have gained grounds in global politics, so the Presidential Lodge Baby would have an easy ride to the office of vice President. This is the triangular political plan in the making that is why the Momodu Koroma issue is not treated lightly by the supremo.
But more importantly, two opposition MPs in parliament have raised the issue of being thankful to Tejan Kabbah. In the words of APC’s Chumkuma Johnson would it be to thank Kabbah for not giving us water and electricity? The youth who sit at up gun turn table every day will be thanking our president for not giving them jobs. Those now admitted in different hospitals in Freetown, will be thanking our honourable president for the troubles of Guma Valley Water Company. The uselessness of take-home monthly salaries for all workers, reference to market forces that determine demand and supply, will make many Sierra Leoneans willing to thank our president very much. They will be so grateful to him, that they will wish he never gets no more position of trust, so that people will not suffer; he it in Kosovo or Albania.
Yes, indeed we must begin to thank his Excellency. The media will remember him so proudly. Paul Kamara of For di People newspaper will like him to proceed to heaven before him. What a good wish and thank! Harry Yansaneh’s father, mother and ten- year- old son will be grateful to Kabbah’s leadership for giving them justice. Every journalist will be grateful to Kabba’s leadership for giving them justice. Every journalist will be happy that his Excellency has served us all so well and must be thanked. All of Kabbah’s friends will be happy that the entire nation says thank you to the man who ended the war so nicely. Dr. Dabo, Prof. Algalie, Shamsu Mustpha, deceased Kemokai and Gloria Newman-Smart, Richie Gordon of Peep, I.B. Kargbo of the “Last Word”, and Mohamed Koroma of “Olangba” Philip Neville of “Something to think” about, David Tam-Baryoh of “Monologue”, Front page program of Radio Uniosil, Ken Moore’s children, all will write very nice goodbye songs in appreciation of the great work of his Excellency for serving mother Salone so well. And of course, the SLPP and Berewa will be happy he is gone. He’s served and paid them so well for serving him so strenuously and faithfully. Oh Kabbah! What a plethora of good will people will miss you!. But like the PLP Member of Parliament said “If we can’t thank the man for lack of success in the leadership chair, we must thank him for his usual two-hour speech delivered after more than ten years in office.
And when His Excellency shall have received those thank you messages from all these people, he will tell them; thank you! Thank You! Bye Bye, Kofi has a job for me in New York.
Oh Kabbah, I miss your speeches.