Amidst cheers from residents at Hill Station, President Kabbah waved his way into the Hill Station polling station where he announced to the polling agent that he had lost his voter ID card.
The president’s protocol officer, Sulay Daramy, was quick to point out to the polling staff that the president had brought with him his passport to identify himself.
The polling staff, who should have asked the president to go back and wait until 3 pm when he should have come back to vote as the NEC procedure stipulates, laboriously and shakily thumbed through the voters’ register to locate the president’s name.
After six minutes, which seemed like forever, there it was: the president’s name on the register.
Everybody resumed smiling again including the president who then got his ballot paper, went into the cubicle, and came out again to finally put it into the ballot box.
The president thus fulfilled one of his constitutional rights last Saturday in the presidential run-off.
In an exclusive with Awoko president Kabbah said, “I feel good to have voted, I hope the best man wins- the better of the two.”
When asked what he would continue to do to ensure that supporters of both the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All people’s Congress (APC) to keep the peace as they waited for the final results, the president replied “I am sure that everybody in the country now knows that the best thing for this country is that we should have security and peace. This is a friendly contest so whoever wins they should be the one to be declared and therefore those who are contesting should take that into consideration”.
The president was asked what his plans were after the elections, he replied: “I am looking forward to real relaxation but certainly I will be in Sierra Leone and off for various private things. At my age I want to enjoy myself a little bit before that day comes.”
President Kabbah took time to also counsel the contestants: “those who are contesting for public positions should know that they are offering their service to their country for service.”
Stressing, he noted: “I hope some of them will really understand that public position in any country… you should not look for money.”
He explained that, “when I came initially to this position I didn’t take any salary and we went to Guinea. When we came back I wrote a letter to the Accountant General to send my salary, half of it, to my party so that the party can build up and so on for party activities and the rest I used for other charitable organizations. Because I have a very good pension at the UN which takes care not only of my expenditure but also of my health until God takes me and I think this is the way we should look at things, we should not look at these positions as positions to make money.”
The president continued, “before I become president, heads of state going out on official mission were paid per diem of 20, 000 dollars a day. I came in and I said no, at the end it is supposed to be reimbursement expenditure you incur on behalf of the government or the country. Since I travel, invariably the host government will provide transportation security and food for me. I don’t see any reason why I should collect a per diem. May be my protocol man will take small impress which he has to account for, upon our return, to tip people or other expenditures he will incur, but otherwise, I have never taken any per diem. So I hope that those who are moving into this position will try and emulate this type of example”.
Asked to react to the accolade given him by the opposition leader as the “father of Democracy”, president Kabbah said, “well if somebody decides to call me that then that is that person’s prerogative to do so. But I believe in democracy I fought for it all through my life and I am glad that I can contribute my experience and knowledge about democracy in the governance of my country.”