Is President Bio peacefully peaceful?

hiIs President Bio Peacefully Peaceful?

By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)

Whilst I was growing up at “Soja Tong”, in Freetown’s Central One of old, my Sherbro-Limba mother had a way of solving certain vices in the home without resorting to corporal punishments. If she noticed that any of my siblings was the one suspected of “finger soup”, or had been caught red-handed in the act of “finger-souping”, she would always put the “two days soup” in the custody of that child by handing over the pantry key to him or her.

That’s exactly what the African Heads of State may have done to President Julius Maada Bio. By giving him the chairmanship of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) of the African Union (AU), it puts our Commander-in-Chief in the spotlight considering the blatant human rights abuses, the political intolerance, and the unmatched corruption which have become the trademarks of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) government under his watchful watch.

This is not lost on Kabs Kanu the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the online Cocorioko newspaper. In a recent article, he notes that “The AU did not just sit down and chose President Bio because he is that good democrat and human rights observer as we were first erroneously told which was why many of us were concerned because President Bio is neither a democrat nor a leader that comes even close to being an observer of human rights”.

I’m tempted to cautiously agree with Kabs Kanu that “President Bio is neither a democrat nor a leader that comes even close to being an observer of human rights”. Because since he took over the rudder of state in 2018 to date, the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) seem to have been transformed into a modern day Gestapo (the official secret police of Nazi Germany). The CID headquarters in Freetown are slowing being transformed into a sort of The Lubyanka (the headquarters of the former KGB in Communist Russian) for APC supporters and sympathizers. And our once peaceful country is now a place where arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions are as frequent as the frequency with which the President flies out of the country. That’s why it did not come as a surprise to me that Sierra Leone has slipped 15 places on the latest World Rule of Law Index.

Despite President Bio has been telling foreign investors that Sierra Leone is peaceful; I have always been wondering how peacefully peaceful is he in his peaceful peace when the killings at Tonko Limba, Mile-91, Makeni, Tombo, and the Pademba Road Correctional Centre are still unresolved. How peacefully peaceful is President Bio in his peaceful peace when Chapter Three of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, which deals with “The recognition and protection of the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual”, appears to have been expunged from that sacred document by his administration? And how peacefully peaceful is President Bio in his peaceful peace when Sierra Leone is today hyper-divided through the seemingly supremacist policies of the SLPP government?
Maybe, just maybe, President Bio has an elementary idea of what “peace” is all about. He may be thinking that “peace is the absence of war”. But I’m suggesting to him that in a country where there are arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions; where citizens’ right to freedom of association is repeatedly stifled; where basic democratic tenets are bastardized, and where the President appears to look more like a tribal chieftain than a father of the nation, such a country cannot be termed as peaceful despite AK-47s are not blazing or being permanently cocked!

Even the seemingly chameleonic Dr Kandeh K. Yumkella, the leader of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) in parliament, has finally found his voice. In a recent tweet, he mustered the courage to overcome his dumbness to write: “…In Sierra Leone…. the continued arbitrary detentions of opposition leaders since 2021 [are] giving a green light to authoritarianism….The seeds of conflict are sewn by years of bad governance and corruption. Respecting freedom of speech and dissenting views is part of democracy…” This appears to be in direct conflict with the peaceful peace which President Bio has been telling foreign investors that Sierra Leone is enjoying.
And that’s not all. For four years now, former Ministers in the erstwhile Government of Ernest Bai Koroma and other presidential appointees are still being prevented from travelling outside Sierra Leone for either medical reasons or to see their families. And, interestingly, they have not been charged for any crime whatsoever—but their only suspected crime: they are All People’s Congress (APC) stalwarts or associated with the last APC government! As of the time of writing this One Dropian dropping, over 100 APC officials are still on a “Travel Ban” list. But a selected few, favoured by the “Paopaists” or who are the Fifth Columnists within the APC, travel freely out of the country like larks!

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)’s so-called fight against corruption is selectively selective as it is only targeting members of the APC even though the last two Audit Reports (2019 and 2020) have shown that the SLPP government seems to be infested with certified thieves. Despite the 2020 Audit Report highlights “inconsistencies, irregularities and inaccuracies” (which are audit euphemisms for frauds and forgeries) in some receipts submitted by the Office of the President in relation to some of President Bio’s countless overseas travels; Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala and his clowns of ACC investigators are still clownishly clowning their clownishness!

In spite of the fact that there are millions-and-one case studies of “unexplained wealth” (in the parlance of the ACC) amongst those walking on, and working at, the corridors of power, the ACC is still uninterested because SLPP members are invloved!
It is in the midst of all these cloudy backgrounds that President Bio, through the rotational nature of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), is being given the chairmanship after the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister informed Sierra Leone that his country had withdrawn its candidacy. But with our Commander-in-Chief’s style of leadership, I’m waiting to see whether he will uphold and implement the APRM’s core ideals in Sierra Leone.

And knowing the ideals of the APRM; President Bio being the current chair reminds me of that sibling who was always given custody of the “two days soup” not because he was the best behaved of us all but because he was known for “finger souping”.

[email protected]/232-76-611-986

Related Posts