Though the beaten Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) Presidential candidate, Ret. Brigadier Maada Bio , went to State House on Monday to concede defeat at the November 17 Presidential Elections , the Government of Sierra Leone must not drop its guard. The regular Police, officers of the Operational Support Division (OSD ) and the 1, 500 soldiers deployed throughout the nation to police the presidential, legislative and local council elections must remain at their posts. Security in the nation must remain watertight until it is proved beyond every reasonable doubt that his disciples have stopped fighting the people’s verdict.
We make bold to proffer this suggestion because though many people and media outlets reported that Maada Bio went to State House to concede, it is still not clear yet whether Maada Bio and his supporters have decided to put their elections defeat behind them. COCORIOKO was one of the newspapers , like many local and international media , who reported on Monday evening that Maada Bio had conceded .We even wrote a complimentary editorial praising Mr. Bio for what we described as his statesmanship for bowing for once to the wishes of the electorate and accepting his defeat. We stand by our editorial.
Surprising facts have however started emerging to this media that though Bio conceded last Monday, it was not without preconditions . When he met in close counsel with the President, Bio was said to have given many preconditions that are not going down well with the public.
And there lies the catch.
He should not have given President Ernest Bai Koroma any preconditions, if he was really truthful and honest about conceding that he was the loser in the elections . President Koroma won the 2012 elections clearly . His party, the All People’s Congress ( APC ) , also overwhelmingly won the parliamentary and local council elections. If Bio made any preconditions for conceding, like demanding some ministerial posts and the release of vandals and troublemakers, who broke the law , it was inappropriate and unacceptable and we are calling on President Koroma not to accept any preconditions from Bio and his cohorts in the present circumstances . Though we want national reconciliation and national unity and have preached it from the rooftops , and we will also support an inclusive government , we do not think that Bio should dictate it as this could be mean the APC sharing power with the SLPP after winning an election by a wide margin. Any power-sharing should be at the discretion of President Ernest Bai Koroma.
In all political dispensations, when a candidate concedes defeat, it is usually done unconditionally . The defeated candidate takes his/her decision to concede based on the genuine belief that he/she has been beaten and in an act of good faith and indelible sportsmanship , he/she congratulates the winner and admits that the victor won. If what we are hearing is true that Bio never congratulated President Koroma and that he said later to his supporters that he stood by his protests that the election was unfair and he will continue fighting, then he did not really concede in the true sense of the word. If Bio and supporters were busy yesterday pushing their case through the Supreme Court for hearing , as we have also learnt, then the nation should begin to rethink whether Bio was really serious about the mission he undertook at State House on Monday. How can you concede and the next day you are in court pursuing legal action ?
We have even learnt that the radical faction within the SLPP did not support Bio’s decision to concede. Could it be that they are behind what may appear to be a case of flip-flopping by Bio ?
Yesterday, there was confusion , unease and disenchantment in ruling party circles . Many APC supporters and officials confessed to Cocorioko that they were really confused about this whole matter of Bio’s concession. They were confused because they heard that Bio demanded that 5 ministerial positions be given to the SLPP. They were upfront and emphatic on FACEBOOK that if Bio’s concession came with such unreasonable demands to President Koroma, then the nation would be better without such an unusual concession. The APC supporters and officials who spoke to COCORIOKO did not want President Koroma to dish out any ministerial posts to the SLPP based on Bio’s demands. Their reason was clear : IT WILL TANTAMOUNT TO POWER-SHARING and after winning a free, fair and transparent election , the APC is not compelled to share power with anybody at the behest of the losers. If the government wants to do it at its own free will, well and good , but the decision should not be dictated by the losing side.
Secondly, APC operatives are arguing that if President Koroma grants Bio his preconditions, it would appear like Bio is a co-winner and is exercising that right to dictate who should be appointed cabinet ministers . Bio has to know that he is the loser. He lost the elections clearly in polls that have been universally acclaimed by international observers, international organizations and local monitoring organizations for being free, fair and credible. He has no right to demand that his party be given 5 or more ministerial appointments as a precondition for conceding If this is true, it is an insult to the nation and the collective franchise of voters who chose President Koroma over the selfsame Bio at the polls.
If President Koroma wants to include SLPP members in the cabinet, let it be a decision that comes from his heart . After all, constitutionally, he has what is known as Presidential Prerogative which he can exercise to appoint whoever he wants in his cabinet , without any questions from any quarter. However, on no account should any ministerial position be handed to the SLPP because Maada Bio demanded it. It is improper and an insult to the people who voted for an APC Government. It will also set a bad precedent in the nation. In future, other losers will make unreasonable demands before conceding and post-elections periods will become stormy and unstable with the losing party testing the wits of the winning government and the nation.
Given the doctrine of separation of powers, Bio should also know that the executive cannot interfere with the operations of the judiciary. We are living in an ordered and structured society. We are not living in Lembeyma Village where anybody can dictate to the chief what they want. If true, Maada Bio ‘s demand for the President to release thugs who have violated the law demonstrates his ignorance of or contempt for the doctrine of the Separation of powers and the rule of law. The President, of course, can invoke the prerogative of mercy to pardon criminals or for those not tried yet he can have his Attorney General enter a plea of nolle prosequi on their behalf . However, that decision must come from the President himself. Nobody has a right to force his hand. Nobody ever pushes a President to do anything. If Bio had been the winner, would he have allowed the APC to dictate to him to include APC members in his cabinet ? No way . The President enjoys the confidence of his subjects who trust in his wisdom and discretion. Any decent person knows these facts. Let the President exercise his wisdom and prerogative to form his cabinet.
When 58% of Sierra Leoneans voted for President Koroma and the APC, they voted for an APC Government because they thought that an APC Government would best serve their interests. Let the people have what they voted for on November 17, unless President Koroma, by his own free will, wants to do otherwise.
If Bio really conceded on Monday, he must drop his preconditions and court case. He has to be unequivocal about his intentions.He must accept defeat and drop further actions and posturings.
This is one time that he must never have his way.
The sense of the house among majority of Sierra Leoneans on Facebook and other forums is that there should be no Maada Bio-dictated power-sharing.