© By John E. Leigh
We need a genuine Unity Government in Sierra Leone to replace Kabbah’s powerful regime of national disappointment and widespread frustration. But the violence and rank opportunism to grab power leave much to be desired. Politicians are disgracing us.
The long-running marginalization and exploitation of the common people by evil leaders and their equally evil, collusive supportive cabal – local and foreign – may be brought to an overdue swift end on or about Saturday September 8 if we take proper advantage of the unique opportunity presented to us by those of our citizens who heroically voted on August 11. Today, our First Round voters are admired and respected the world over for what they achieved on that voting day and for the determination and decisiveness; the peacefulness, politeness and patience they stoically displayed in spite of the daily hardships they suffer – hardships presided over by an overrated democratically-elected regime impervious to people’s sufferings.
Certified NEC results show that the opportunity presented our country on August 11 by our voters is the unique chance to terminate the practice of concentrating state power in the hands of one single individual who may or may not be reasonable in his dealing with his colleagues, underlings or with people less fortunate than himself. Imagine having a president with monopoly state power concentrated in his hands only but who views as an enemy, all individuals with a different viewpoint on public policy issues, no matter how genuine or beneficial the different ideas. Such is Sierra Leone for the past 5 years. Concentrating state power in the single person of such an individual who confuses sycophancy with genuine loyalty may also be behind the huge suffering and frustration visited upon us today. We must avoid a repetition of such nonsense.
SPLIT SIERRA LEONE’S POLITICAL POWER
Thanks to our First Round voters, we now have the opportunity to apportion political power among at least two groupings by putting at least two individuals, each in charge of one of the two key political branches of our government: one Legislative, the other the Executive branch.
In this regard, the APC/Margai alliance has clearly won control of parliament winning 69 out of 112 ordinary seats. We can’t change that. Let the APC/PMDC “alliance” have Sierra Leone’s legislative powers so they may have the opportunity to demonstrate true leadership on behalf of the people. But please do not give them control of the Executive branch as well by voting in Mr. Ernest Koroma as our next president, especially after having learned from SLPP’s Kabbah’s administration that absolute power corrupts absolutely. In order words, let us share power in the public interest after 5 years of Tejan Kabbah!
Please let us vote SLPP and Solo Be to take charge of the Executive Branch, i.e. the presidency, so that no one individual will again have monopoly political power over the poor people of Sierra Leone as has been the case under the Kabbah regime. Also, by voting in Berewa as president, the vaulting, venal opportunistic ambitions of the likes of PMDC Margai can be checked for the good of those who had trusted him with their votes in the current elections but had been betrayed in his notorious pursuit of self-interest.
WE NEED PEACE, NOT VIOLENCE
We all are aware that in the on-going desperate maneuverings to gain power in Sierra Leone, our people have been subjected to unnecessary violence with lots of pots calling kettles black. And we have also been presented with dazzling displays of venal opportunism to gain power purely for personal aggrandizement.
Let it be known, however, that the recent disturbances in Bo, Kenema and Kailahun Districts were not instigated by either the APC or the SLPP. Rather, they emanate from PMDC supporters who are furious at the Margai sellout to APC. Such desperate conduct clearly points towards a future, if given power, characterized by the continued replication and expansion of the same troubles and sufferings we’ve experienced in past years if we fail to correct our political system of monopoly political power concentrated in the hands of a single politician, buttressed with venal opportunist.
CHANGE, NOT CONTINUITY
As we weigh our options before voting on September 8, we must first recognize the plain truth: a sizeable majority of our people wants CHANGE, not CONTINUITY.
Fully 62% of Sierra Leoneans who cast their ballots on Saturday August 11 voted for those parties and candidates who advocated a change away from the policies, practices and personalities of the current SLPP regime of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and his small insider faction.
In my view, the vote for change was even greater that the 62% reported above.
Although 38% of voters supported Solo B, the presidential candidate officially supporting the Kabbah-imposed “Continuity” doctrine, a large portion of such voters also want changes of the type that would more promptly and securely free them from their harsh daily life of massive unemployment, extreme poverty with no practical safety net in the face of escalating cost of living expenses – all this while suffering other daily hardships such as zero electricity, insufficient water, garbage-strewn streets, violent crimes, high rents, etc. and with no relief in sight!
Furthermore, I know from personal experience that many of our pro-Berewa’s voters also want to free their government from the clutches of delinquent, incompetent, sycophantic, clannish, greedy, selfish, insensitive and corrupt elected and appointed officials and so they deliberately voted for Solo B and the SLPP because, among the presidential candidates, he and his party were viewed as the lesser evil of all the others based on the post-independence governance history of our country.
The above are exactly some of the changes which the people of Sierra Leone are desperate for. The changes our people desire, however, cannot mean jumping from the frying pan into the fire by selecting a president the political leader of the so-called New APC but who is surrounded by OLD APC nation wreckers like Victor Watergate and others that serve as his executive officers. Nor does it mean selling out your supporters who were merely protesting the bad treatment of the Kamajors and their leader, Chief Sam Hinga Norma rather than switching to the dreaded opposition.
Many voters jumping from the ‘frying pan’ today, however, are young adults unaware of the true ‘fire’ record of our politicians and their political parties. Many of our voters today were born or were 3, 5 or 10 years old or so when the destruction of Sierra Leone was in full swing in the late seventies and early eighties under the leadership of parties or groups other than the SLPP and so grew up not knowing the truth about the governance of their country and how prosperous and democratic it was under the SLPP just after Independence, from 1961 to 1967.
A PROPOSED SOLUTION
My recommendation to cope with the September 8 opportunity is for us the voters to use the second round of voting on September 8 to once and for all split the government for the peoples’ benefit and to now and henceforth block our oversupply of evil politicians and opportunists from ever again splitting the people for the benefit of themselves and their equally awful supporters and cronies. Let’s split them for our own good!
Again, because the APC/PMDC alliance has already won control of parliament convincingly, we should now vote in SLPP’s Solo B as our next president on September 8. This way we have a split government forcing the president to negotiate and reach good governance agreements with parliamentarians from different tribes. Berewa and SLPP on the one hand and Koroma and the APC on the other hand must be compelled to discuss and agree on all of the important national issues facing Sierra Leone or likely to face our country during the next five years.
Constant negotiations and agreements in the public interest between different tribal groups is an excellent way to address the chronic issue of tribal voting and thus avoid tribalistic hegemonistic policies and practices that have known to generate war. Cross-tribal negotiations and compromises is a far superior system to the present situation of one tribe seeking to and dominating the others as NEC’s voting results have exposed. Tribal voting and tribalism are bad practices for our country.
The problems facing our people today are many and difficult. These include our massive unemployment, the future of our youths, the borbor-pain situation, the high cost of living, insufficient electric generation & supply, the provision of insufficient quantities of pipe-borne clean drinking water, bad roads and sidewalks, food insecurity, crime control, high rents and housing scarcity, foreign affairs (America, UK, Germany, Canada & the rest of the West vs. Ghadaffi, Iran, etc., NASSIT, NasCA, Impartial Elections, Executions of opponents, the freedom and return home of Johnny Pay Paul Koroma and his AFRC Coupligans to positions of authority, the trial or freedom of Omery Golley, the future of the Special Court and its convicts, regional development, foreign investments, A productive minerals policy for the people, political and criminal violence, costly and frequent presidential overseas travels, award of contracts, the judiciary, national budgets, the appointments and dismissals of public officials including cabinet ministers, ambassadors, judges, etc., the grant of national honors, high interest rates, Anti-corruption Commission, trade policy, high customs duties and favored treatment, the military, the police, street trading, market women, the prisons, favoritism, nepotism, tribal hegemony and so on and on and on and on.
Most of the above matters for the past five years have been decided by one single political individual – the president who happened to control parliament with a big majority of seats. Let’s don’t allow such again this time around. Let’s form a genuine Unity Government wherein one man, one party does not single-handedly control everything by himself alone as Kabbah did. Let us share the job between the APC and the SLPP.
This is what I call a genuine Unity Government. It is a government not controlled by one man or one party. The tribes of the North must negotiate with the tribes of the Southeast. The concerns and standards of the Western Area must be respected and attended by all. When such a two-way split but unity regime comes in force, our people will benefit because each will compete for the voters favor. At the next elections the public would by then ought to know whom to vote for based on the performances of Unity Government principals and participant. In the meantime, Borbor-Pain suffering is bound to be reduced.
This, my fellow Sierra Leoneans, is the right solution for our country today and represents my view of what constitutes a genuine Unity Government. Thank you. JEL**08/31/07, Concord, Massachusetts.