By Titus Boye-Thompson :
Sierra Leone has come a long way and whilst that is not in dispute, it is important for those who are influencers and opinion formers to act responsibly by not requesting open defiance and conflict in such a straggling democracy. This is in no way an attempt to encroach on the rights of people to demonstrate their angst on Government policy or the perceived actions of political leaders but there is a duty on all Sierra Leoneans to have due regard for the office to which individuals swear allegiance and the responsibilities they have to shoulder in such offices.
Whatever you may say, it is unthinkable for a truly committed political leader to embark on a downward path of destruction, a vain disregard of the wishes of the people or a latent dismantling of democratic principles and institutions unless otherwise, purely on a simplistic conviction that there is a higher good being served. There is no attempt here to make value judgment on the actions of political leadership outside the overall plebiscite to which leaders must succumb such as the ballot box. In essence, such a periodic check on the exigencies of political power, a test of the people’s trust and confidence reposed on political leadership accords for political parties altogether to submit to a proper examination by the people and for the electorate to speak in their own indomitable way.
The Nigerian election extracted a heavy toll on lackluster leadership and comatose policy frameworks that left a large part of the Northern region under hostage to a militant and terrorist organization. Sierra Leone cannot allow such a distention of authority to take place or ferment. There is however a truism that political structures and their effective administration must account for good governance. If the party in power cannot be made accountable, then the opposition in place would have failed in their task of acting as the watchdog for accountability, ensuring that the dominant party in power responds to accepted principles of responsibility and probity. When considered, the APC party in Sierra Leone is not holding on to power by a landslide. There are sufficient apolitical combinations that can easily be played out to conduct an efficient parliamentary democracy. The reason for the opposition being inconsistent in dealing with important national issues are to be found in their internal distraction caused by infighting, internecine implosion and political intrigue. To face these issues requires that maturity in form and function by those who seek leadership positions in the country and this inability to undertake such a simple task of settling scores among kith and kin is a clear indication that they are unfit to rule.
There is a second dimension to the whole saga of political demonstrations. There are those who are so malleable as to be easily led to believe that the cause for which their support is called for is noble and true. Those who call for popular support in such instances would never admit that there are insidious movements working alongside their campaign to unseat a popular president, to destabilize a nation in turmoil as it deals with the bone breaking clutches of the Ebola virus disease that has rampaged the country and left its people mourning. They would be apt to deny they are seeking to impose a fractious regime bedeviled with internal strife and factions, some as blood thirsty as to even eat its own, upon a peaceful nation wriggling from the crutches of disease and a sluggish economy. The attempts to cloak all of this under a constitutional argument becomes futile when the matter is under the examination of the supreme court that has asked for restraint in commentary and reporting of the issues raised and under judicial review. Their argument therefore does not hold water. The democratic institutions established to ensure checks and balances on the executive branch have been apprised of these actions and in the name of clarity, respect for authority and a deliberate avoidance of misconception, would necessitate that any and all sides hold their fire and await the outcome of the judicial process. The very fact that some would attempt to run a parallel opposition without legitimacy, to threaten and cajole violence against the state is both inciting and dangerous. Such acts are inimical to the good governance that they proclaim and a rule by mob justice is inconsistent with the rule of law and justice, another asset they claim to be protective of. The whole act is prodigious, it is bereft of legality, executed without responsibility and it decries the ones who so vehemently oppose what they perceive as an over use of authority.
The hunter becomes the hunted when such obverse actions are taken, devoid of any semblance of decency and respect for authority. Without a doubt, there are several ways that Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora can make the Government back home become apprised of their grievances but none of these ways include a de facto opposition being concocted in the name of a conscience movement. There are no ways to enforce the conscience of the people other than through the ballot box. No democracy should be dismantled because a few disgruntled ones can muster some noise and arouse the eavesdropping of Western media to dig through cracks within an albeit weakened and fragile socio-economic geo-political system. The dynamic is downplayed when a counter agitation challenges the insurgent conscience movement on the very ground to which the palpably distended conscience battle plays out. No one should expect to unseat a President who has done his best to arrest the decline and malaise superintended by his opponents.
The attraction of technology in reaching disparate groups is easy to contrive because it is cheap and widely available, To disregard its effect would be folly thus although it is clearly not the relevant constituency that determines the outcome of elections in situ, the concomitant effect of bad publicity is it tends to rub off the dirt intended for others upon innocent bystanders, hence to avoid its persistence would be a more pragmatic approach. For those who utilize such tactics, it is not important that the constituency to which their cries would resonate are incapable of any direct action to unseat the democracy that is constituted on the ground. However their actions are an unnecessary distraction at the best of times. Even if they cause grown men to shed a tear they should not expect the howling of womenfolk. This is not the time to reject the thrust of opportunities in the horizon, not a time to deflate impetus for rebuilding a societal fabric that requires concerted effort and a paradigm shift in how the lives and customs people are used to must now be ordered, to repair the loss and imbibe a reflection of the dehumanizing disease that has been a scourge on this blessed land. Now is the time to take stern action to bring this country back to a path of growth. Now is the time for President Ernest Bai Koroma to remain focused on rebuilding this fractured nation by a truly rallying call to nationhood. Now is the time to heal the wounds of our own ineptitude, to build stronger and former structures that will change the mindset of a people mired in disillusionment and despair. This is definitely not the time to use callous pretexts to unwittingly seek support for unrest and conflict, and falsely in the name of democracy, whose democracy, one should ask.