SIERRA LEONE'S MAJORITY LEADER PLAYING THE POWER GAME INSIDE HIS COUNTRY'S POLITICAL ARENA [ A SoftBall Publications' expository interview in part series with Hon. Ibrahim Rassin Bundu - The Chairman of the APC party in Port Loko district, a three term parliamentarian, the Majority Leader of the Sierra Leone Parliament, and one of the longest serving legislators in Sierra Leone ] ________________________________ PART ONE: THE MAKING OF A POLITICIAN ________________________________ According to Hon. Ibrahim R. Bundu, politics has always been about managing the power and authority a man wields. The APC party Majority Leader therefore visualized the concept of politics as a game of power everyone would like to play and should play well to win. In this insightful interview, Hon. I. R. Bundu opens up to his experience as a budding politician when he was first elected to parliament in 2002. Softball Publications caught up with Hon. Bundu in a telephone conversation while he was visiting Ohio in the United States of America. Below is part one of the three part series of Hon. Bundu's interview: SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: Mr. Majority Leader, welcome to America and to the Buckeye State of Ohio. MAJORITY LEADER: Thank you, Mr. Mansaray. SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: Hon. Leader, why are you visiting Ohio? MAJORITY LEADER: To attend a family function ( Laughs ) Are you concern I'm here to legislate a tax increase... No, Akmid... SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: No, Majority Leader... Ohio is a conservative state. We just don't believe in tax increase ( laughs loudly ) MAJORITY LEADER; I understand... I am here to attend a family function. My Gbintis... SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: Tell me about your meeting with the APC-USA Ohio Chapter in Columbus? MAJORITY LEADER: Simple and pleasing. Yes I met with some of the Ohio Chapter members including its president and vice president. Mr. Rashid Bangura and Mr. Sallieu Bangura. You know, as politicians, wherever we go, we see that we meet our colleagues... I mean APC comrades as we say it in our APC way. We had a fruitful conversation. SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: fruitful! MAJORITY LEADER: We discussed "back home issues" affecting our nation and our party. Yes, the discussion was fruitful. I explained our government's structure and position... In a nutshell my Ohio trip is a good one. SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: Sir, you chose to leave the U.S and returned to your country of origin. Leaving your family was a tough decision to make. What was in your mind when you chose to go and participate in the political process of your country? MAJORITY LEADER; It was a personal decision, I never took lightly. Choosing to stay would have been challenging as well. So I left. Looking back, I might have had a reservation. But in life one should have to take risks. Taking the political route, as insensitive at the time as it might seem, it now makes sense. I think we were not that many... willing to do what I did. I did it. Those who were ready to jump into politics on an APC bandwagon were very few. I said to myself that, if you don't take a chance, you'll never know what is out there waiting to welcome you. SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: Did you find your transition from America to Sierra Leone imposing, considering the fact that, you had been away from Sierra Leone for so long and that you may have not been able to grasp what was ahead of you during that time? MAJORITY LEADER: Somehow... I stayed focused. I stayed connected and committed. What was mainly in my mind was what difference I could make to help our party reached its goals and to contribute to the development of my country. As a party, we were able to win 27 seats out of 100. 87 went to the other side. I was one of the 27 APC parliamentarians who sat in the opposition. President Koroma was one of us. We were able to put ourselves together; brought our party to national prominence again and took the reign of power after the 2007 parliamentary and presidential elections. SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: Tell us about your experience as a member of the opposition before your party won victory in the 2007 elections? MAJORITY LEADER: For a fact, that was one of my best times in parliament as a career politician. When we were in the opposition, we saw clearly how power could be managed or mismanaged. We saw what can be done as government officials to win the people's hearts and souls and how to hold a government accountable. We did exactly that when we were in the opposition and I enjoyed it the most. We were mature and open minded. So we did well... Yes! SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: What was the trick... MAJORITY LEADER: We did not criticize, we critiqued. Criticizers only talk. Critics bring solutions to the table. We looked at what was wrong with the government of that day analytically and asked ourselves what can be done differently for the development of Sierra Leone. We worked with the government in power in many instances for the sake of progress in our country and we earned the people's trust; they accepted us as serious politicians. When I hear Americans refer to their congress as do-nothing congress, I feel tempted to tell the American congress to go to the hansard of the Sierra Leone Parliament and see how we in the APC party were able to work with the SLPP government to achieve progress before 2007. When our party was in the opposition and before it become the government of Sierra Leone, we knew the only way to beat our opponents was to earn the trust of the people. SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: I will now ask you the most important and perhaps fascinating question I have for you in this part of the series: Do you regret not having your family with you in Sierra Leone? MAJORITY LEADER: Notwithstanding the distance between my wife, children and I, we have always maintained a very cordial, positive and intimate relationship. We exchange visits. In fact I enjoyed this particular visit so much. Yes, I experienced some aspect of sorrow too during this trip, because we lost an extended family member by the name of Usif Barrie who we buried on Friday. There are days that goes with sorrow and some days that are happy ones. My wife and I were happy to be with one of our sons - Abass Bundu who is in college in New York. SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: Do you have anywhere else to visit before you go back to Sierra Leone. MAJORITY LEADER: I have a plan to travel to Brussels, before returning to Freetown, Sierra Leone. I will be engaged in semi officials business with the the head of delegation to the ASP-EU... our headquarters. SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS: As I made you to know before I started this interview, you are here for a marathon... This is my last question of the first of the series: Why should I believe politics is POWER GAME? MAJORITY LEADER: I like to identify myself as one of those who believe politics is "Power Game." You see, Akmid, power, I believe is the biggest reward everyone would yearn to receive... most people want in life;. I say it like it is. It is a game we all need to play and play well, sometimes honestly. For some of us who grew up around chiefs, we experienced how regardful subjects were to their chiefs. They don't address their chiefs with "Hail to the wealth or to the wives." They say "Hail to the power and authority of those chiefs." After God, it's government, most of our people would say. The three branches of government - the executive, the legislative and the judiciary are all expressions of the Power-That-Be. Right? THIS ENDS PART ONE OF THE THREE- PART-SERIES OF THIS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE LEADER OF THE APC MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT - HON. IBRAHIM RASSIN BUNDU. PART TWO SPEAKS TO THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE LEGISLATIVE BODY AND THE OTHER BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT IN SIERRA LEONE. IN PART THREE, SOFTBALL PUBLICATIONS HAS THE HON. LEADER OF THE MAJORITY PARTY IN PARLIAMENT EXPLAINS HIS AND GOVERNMENT'S POSITIONS ON SOME POLITICAL AND TOPICAL ISSUES IN SIERRA LEONE.