By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
President Julius Maada Bio knew it was a charade. And former President Ernest Bai Koroma also knew that the Head of State was badly in need of a photo opportunity with him for both his pending ECOWAS meeting and the would-be United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. So, the former Fountain of Honour had to play along just to give the current President of Sierra Leone that “feel good” aura and something to smile about.
That meeting between the leadership of the All People’s Congress (APC) and President Bio, at State House on 12 September 2019, was, in my opinion, an orchestrated charade only meant for the cameras. Realistically, the APC’s stance will remain the same if the SLPP’s stance on national issues remains the same. In figurative terms, and as I see it, it is like the meeting of two sticks-in-the-mud.
The APC will not, or will never, change its stance of non-corporation if the ruling SLPP continues with its systematic sackings of North-Westerners; harassments and intimidations of citizens perceived to be supporters of the APC, and if the SLPP still continues with its supremacist agenda aimed at the annihilation of the APC. Not even those handshakes and smiles, at State House last Thursday, will change anything if the ruling SLPP still holds on to its propagandistic lies aimed at painting the APC as a corrupt party when the SLPP has in its current fold countless operatives who were part and parcel of the erstwhile APC government of Ernest Bai Koroma.
The other day, I heard an opinionated fool saying that the main objective of the Bio administration is to exterminate the APC from the political map of Sierra Leone. Well, for those who hold this view, I have news for you: If the APC dies today; the SLPP will have to die also. This is so because each cannot survive without the other. So, the more the SLPP realises that it will have to share the political space with the APC the better it will be for peace and national cohesion in the country.
Probably, just a probability, the hawks within “all the president’s men” at State House and Wallace-Johnson Street, might have now realised that trying to annihilate the APC could be likened to the Achebe-ian fabled puppy which swings itself round a blazing fire with the aim of farting to put it out. It did not happen during the SLPP-backed National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) government era; it will not happen with this SLPP government of President Bio either!
For the APC, that charade at State House was, and still is, being taken with a pinch of salt. For the government of President Bio cannot be calling for peace talks when the Judiciary is still feet-dragging on the Presidential Election petition filed by the APC 2018 presidential candidate, Dr Samura Kamara, against the election of the very President Bio who is now calling for a truce. The APC will always suspect every peace move by the SLPP government when the Appeals filed by 11 of its elected MPs removed from Parliament, by decisions of the High Court of Sierra Leone, are still in comatose by a kind of judicial fiat. And how can the APC take the SLPP’s olive branch seriously when the APC has several constitutional issues which are yet to be addressed by the appropriate authority?
As Chinua Achebe notes, “if you want to get at the root of murder [in a typical African village of old], you have to look for the blacksmith who made the machete” (Anthills of the Savannah). How true. The root causes of the seemingly animosity between the leadership of the APC and that of the SLPP have their antecedents in the supremacist agenda which the SLPP started its rule with, as personified in the 2018 “Report of the Governance Transition Team (GTT)”. And as I noted in one of my One Dropian droppings, you cannot mammy-cuss me in public and then wants to apologise to me in camera. You have to do the apology on camera!
And as the saying goes, a man who has never cultivated the pastime of playing with faeces will not develop the proclivity of smelling his fingers. If Sierra Leone is today yearning for national cohesion and peace; it is because the SLPP government of President Bio deliberately laid the foundation for suspicion between North-Westerners and South-Easterners. If majority of Sierra Leoneans are now desperately longing for the equitable enjoyment of human rights and the rule of law; it is because the SLPP government has unleashed partisan “rats” on the APC and is yet to figure out where to find the “Pied Piper of Hamelin”. And if President Bio is today calling for “peace talks”; it is because he might have realised that the issue of national cohesion cannot be a cul-de-sac but a two-way street.
Albeit I am not a pessimist, but I hold the standpoint that even if that Communiqué, which was the aftermath of last Thursday’s State House charade, had been written in the blood of both leaders; the APC stance of non-corporation remains the same if the ruling SLPP refuses to treat the rank and file of the APC as members of the “Commonweal” of Sierra Leone. For you cannot invite someone to dinner and then asks him to eat the leftovers in the kitchen. Respect is something that is reciprocal; just like the Krio adage of scratching my back and I do the same to yours!
The leadership of the APC had gone to State House, that day, to prove the point that the current problems in Sierra Leone emanated from the doing-without-thinking policies of the SLPP from the onset of its rule. If the APC hadn’t gone there, then the SLPP would have had a logical argument to justify what it has been doing to those outside SLPPdom. If the ruling SLPP desires peace and national cohesion; it actions must be seen steering towards that. But the SLPP’s words are always at variance with its actions. It is like a preacher exhorting his congregation to do as he says not by what he does!
For all I know, last Thursday’s meeting between the leadership of the APC and President Julius Maada Bio at State House was, without any attempt at being a theatrical provocateur, a get-together of the mouths not the hearts! I might be wrong on this only if the ruling SLPP goes the extra mile to prove me wrong.