By Unisa Kanu :
If you wish to know the reasons why the business of a president-elect in Nigeria has everything to do with Sierra Leone politics, then you only have to read recent postings in the SL social media to form an opinion. You might even want to go into recent archives to get a glimpse of the special relations that bind the two former British Colonies. Of course, regular readers on FB couldn’t have missed the most recent visit to Freetown by Former General-turned-President Obansango to show support and solidarity for the people of Sierra Leone as they make a final push in their bid to flush out the Ebola virus. Considering the respect and dignity that he commands on a continental scale, many now regard him as a kingmaker in Nigerian politics!
Talk of crucial support and the restoration of legitimate leadership during the Tejan Kabbah era, one name that distinctively stands out from a Sierra Leonean perspective – and will undoubtedly remain so for years to come – is the late Nigerian Head of State and Goodwill Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Gen Sani Abacha! Internally, allegations of massive corruption, a damaging track-record of atrocities and human rights abuses might weigh down negatively on the neutrality of an outsider, but come to Freetown and you get an entirely different narration of his life history. To us, Sani Abacha was simply an angel, born in Nigeria, lived on to attain the position of a president, sent on a mission to save Sierra Leone, and then die honorably shortly after the mission has been accomplished! Nothing could summarize it better than the ceremonial peak-of-an-occasion at the Siaka Stevens Stadium, when he held up the hands of Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, in a remarkable triumph that became a display of defiance a against senseless rebellion! It was a defining moment that laid the foundation stone for a revitalized democracy in Sierra Leone, on which the Actual rebuilding of a shattered nation was to commence in Earnest!
Therefore, it’s quite understandable when social media in SL became overwhelmed by partisan articles, with the two main parties in the country each appearing to present reasons why it perceptively stands to enjoy a more preferential closeness with the newly-elected Buhari presidency than the other.
Supporters of the opposition SLPP have many reasons to relate to Buhari’s victory with optimism because they believe their prospective flag-bearer in the upcoming 2018 elections, Julius Maada Bio, coincidentally shares a lot in common with the formative background of Buhari’s political career. (1) Buhari and Bio led their respective countries through a coup d’état. (2) Burahri is only coming back to power after a payback from his infinite patience saw him eventually successful after several failed attempts. By sighting Buhari as a living example, the Bio sympathizers have already seized the opportunity to make a similar case for his second bid to become the flag-bearer. (3) As a former military personal, Buhari had and has capitalized on the ‘no-nonsense’ disciplinary wildcard to his advantage. Since time erodes the intensity of events, Bio could attempt to divorce the years of an inexperienced first term in office to likewise re-launch a new case of discipline in the fight against corruption. A few musicians like Emmerson can help him out with some rejuvenating propaganda lyrics! (4) The fact that an incumbent has ‘handed over power peacefully to the WINNER’ the smooth transition could well be exploited by the SLPP as WINNER automatically becomes OPPISITION! There is every possibility for the ’10-YEAR-OSUSU’ delusion to hype the expectations of the opposition in SL! Their skewed rationale has it that, since they ruled for 10 years and handed over power to the APC after defeat, then, win-or-lose, the latter should be prepared to do the same in the 2018 elections. To attract the attention of a potentially tough new regime in Nigeria and the International Community, there is a real tendency for the opposition to go haywire over every little bit of disagreement with the ruling government! Like a ‘spoilt child’ seeking motherly attention from a strong regional ally and the IC, the smearing engineers and the spin doctors are already potting a field trip! The impatient and hyper-active reaction that has led to the call for mass protests by the opposition over the VP/constitutional debacle is just a litmus test of events to come!
Meanwhile, in the eyes of its proud supporters, the incumbent APC do possess an established track-record for fighting the cause and tribulations of the dispossessed! Known for its tactically sharp and shrewd readings of political events, the forum debaters have already exhibited similar party traits by quickly striking ‘blood relations’ using the acronym advantage. (1) APC in Sierra Leone is APC in Nigeria! Interestingly, the deductive interpretations get a lot more interesting when we come to see how the colours of the Sierra Leone national flag [Green, White and Bue] are synchronized into the Nigeria APC party symbol. As colours play out, the prominently Red colour of the Sierra Leone APC symbol is seen depicted in the Nigeria APC symbol as a foundation colour for affiliates! Meaning? “Flesh-and-Blood from the roots!’’ (2) Many supporters of the ruling party foresee the posting of emissaries by the Koroma government to set the records straight and counter whatever unfounded ‘cry-baby’ allegations that might emanate from the opposition camp. This will likely be preceded first by a thankful message for Nigeria’s vital support in the fight against the Ebola scourge in Sierra Leone. (3) From the benefit of incumbency, Ernest Bai Koroma’s government will move speedily to “sweep up” or revamp the special diplomatic overtures and restore frequent visitations, as they both link arms as long-term allies, secure and strong in the dispensation of their sub-regional obligations. If declared Ebola-free, we might probably witness an offer being made by the SL government for its troops to participate in the conclusive phase of fighting Boko Haram! Diplomats of both governments stand to confer and compare notes during important summits, upping the stakes on bilateral talks, etc., (4) Since both countries are reeling from the effects of two killing machines [Boko Haram and Ebola] there is every possibility for the Korom-Buhari governments to confer and compare notes on how they can both regain their self-worth and dignity, rely less on handouts, and fully utilize their resources and home-made initiatives to power their countries progress!
As the people of Nigeria continue to celebrate the emergence of a justified change in their country, the President and his government should be prepared for the huge internal challenges ahead! They should also be equally prepared to handle many issues from the periphery of the regional ECOWAS! Being a regional super-power with the biggest economy in Africa, ee-nor-be-easy-o!