A rabid Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP) supporter, Mr. Kai Lebbie , yesterday called COCORIOKO to affirm that the SLPP government did enough recently to compensate the men and women of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces.
Mr. Lebbie , who lives in Somerset,New Jersey , a bitter political battleground in the United States, was responding directly to the article written by New Jersey Mortgage Banker and Restaurant Mogul, Mr. Foday Mansaray , who argued that the recent compensation package provided for the army by the President Tejan Kabbah-led government was insufficient . Mr. Mansaray said : “Our soldiers have been relegated to the lowest pay in the world. Even the recent allowance increase announced by the finance minister cannot buy a bag of rice – compared to the 70s and 80s, when a private soldier gets a bag or 2 of rice, and many other amenities. Morale in the military is very low today. The military barracks is a disgrace to military life. Wilberforce barracks is no longer the place it used to be. The last time I visited the barracks, it was in such a deplorable state that I had to shed tears for our fathers who worked so hard and remained loyal to our country till death.”
But a seemingly very aggravated Kai Lebbie stormed last night : “If the compensation was not enough, how much more must the SLPP government pay the soldiers ? How much more ? “.Mr. Lebbie also enquired (In contradiction of Mr. Mansaray’s praise of the Sierra Leone Army) : “How many wars have the army really fought ? How many wars have they gone to on behalf of the Sierra Leonean people ? “. Mr .Lebbie also asked rhetorically : “Even the rebel war, why did the British government have to intervene ?” .He answered his own question : “Because the military in Sierra Leone were also rebels ! ! !”.
Mr .Lebbie charged that most of the military officers in the Sierra Leone army were not fighting for the people. He said that they were fighting for their own interest.He added : “They only added salt to injury ” . Mr.Lebbie said that he could prove with facts that some of the havoc caused during the war was perpetuated by the Sierra Leone army .Many of my people in Kono—Gandorhun–were killed by military officers ..So what special compensation do they need apart from what the government has provided them ? ” /
Mr. Lebbie said that though the SLPP has too many problems , the fact must be conceded that “The standard of living of the people today is far greater than it was under the APC.” Mr. Lebbie blamed the APC for many of the problems in Sierra Leone, including what he described as the downfall of education. He lamented that people left college in those days and could not even get jobs. . Mr. Lebbie stated emphatically that “The government cannot pay the military more than other professionals or the average person. They are all Sierra Leoneans and deserve the same treatment ….The teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, they are all professionals. Why must the army be treated more differently than them ?”. Mr. Lebbie asserted that the Sierra Leone army was more disgruntled under the APC , even when their own collegue, General Joseph Saidu Momoh, was in power .”Why was the 1992 coup staged ? ” an animated Lebbie asked . Was it not because the army was dissatisfied with their conditions of service ? He neglected the army and instead of buying ammunition for them to prosecute the war, he bought posh cars and built mansions for his concubines “. Mr .Lebbie stated that the army was getting better salaries today than in the APC era.
TOMMOROW’S ISSUE : KAI LEBBIE ADDRESSES THE ISSUE OF HOW TRIBALISM CAME TO SIERRA