By Jacob Sax Conteh
It is crystal clear from recent events that Sierra Leone does not have a credible opposition party. The SLPP, the party of Sir Milton Margai, Dr. Kerefa Smart and other tolerant intelligent Sierra Leoneans has been hijacked by anarchists who are bent on destroying the image and persona of Sierra Leone for cheap political gains. These new breed of SLPP supporters know fully well that now that they have transitioned the SLPP from a national party to a regional party where rational voices have been muzzled, their chances of winning national elections have become very slim, so they are resorting to innuendo, cheap propaganda and misinformation to gain the sympathy of the people. However, as any rational person knows, one does not win an election without offering a solution to the people’s problems.
What profit will the people of Falaba, Sulima, Daru or Freetown get from a party that is obsessed with power at any cost? What have the people of Nengbema, Gbonima, Mandu or Mongere gained from a party that does not have any focus on issues that affect our people on a daily basis? At a time when the country is trying to emerge from the Ebola disaster and rebuild itself, the SLPP distractors are engaged in a campaign to smear the image of the country and stop the flow of foreign investment even if it means adding to the suffering of the average Sierra Leonean. How can the SLPP rule a country they constantly trash on social, print and broadcast media?
Perhaps the SLPP activists should consult former RUF leaders and learn a lesson from them. After maiming, rapping and killing Sierra Leoneans for a decade, the Revolutionary United Front tried to transition into the Revolutionary United Front Party without winning a single seat because voters remembered their atrocious acts. In the same way, any person or party who prevents our people from getting the help they need to gain political points will never garner the confidence and votes of those people.
A bigger issue is how can a party play politics after such a major epidemic when we all need to work together to rebuild our country?
One thing the agitators in the SLPP fail to realize is that President Koroma and his government are so focused on advancing the plight of Sierra Leone that they are not distracted by the SLPP propaganda. The administration is still wooing foreign investment into the mining and agricultural sectors. It continues to build roads and healthcare centers in the opposition stronghold southeast as well as other parts of the country.
Today as some African countries like Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, Central Africa Republic and Zaire struggle with warfare and terrorism, we are a peaceful country where one can travel all over the country without fear. Our banks are open and ready to give out loans to deserving persons who want to start businesses. We have freedom of press which allows journalists to publish their stories without intimidation. We have an independent judiciary which is able to adjudicate cases without tampering from the administration. This is the mark of progress.
For all those who whine and complain about conditions in Sierra Leone, the questions to answer is simple: Is life better now in Sierra Leone than it was ten years ago? The answer is a resounding yes. Ten years ago people were throwing rubbish in the streets of Freetown. Ten years ago, pregnant and lactating women and infants did not have access to free health care. Ten years ago in 2005, the people of Hill Station had to travel through Kissy Road, Portee, Wellington, Calabar Town and Allen Town to get to Waterloo. Now they can do that trip in 15 minutes. Ten years ago the hospital in Bonthe was a dilapidated edifice, but now the hospital is running with a dedicated caring staff. Yes, ten years ago, the President of Sierra Leone worked from his house at Hill Station while his kleptocrats siphoned our country’s coffers. Today the president and his staff work at State House.
The Sierra Leone opposition is out to tarnish the image of Sierra Leone, but they can never succeed. The entire world knows that despite the recent Ebola outbreak, Sierra Leone is going to rise again. Only those who work relentlessly to resuscitate our economy and country will enjoy the support of our people, and for now, the SLPP is not on that list.