It was Aristotle, a Greek philosopher who once opined that, by nature, human beings are political animals and as such, ‘man’ must be free to exercise his political beliefs. In the words of Alpha Kanu, during a debate with JJ Saffa over UN radio in the not-too-distant past, Sierra Leoneans should put off their ‘monochromatic prisms’. In essence, we need to as a nation come together and contribute to national development, irrespective of the diverse political beliefs held by people, which is often the case even in the developed world.
It is against this backdrop that I am attempting to look at the current political impasses, in relation to political appointments already made and those in the waiting by my president Hon Dr Ernest Bai Koroma.
In politics, and by extension in governance, the views of all must be accepted in good faith and the importance of opposition parties in any given democratic setup need not be overlooked. The SLPP, whilst in governance failed to realise that, the people’s mandate need not be toyed with an such failure led to them being shown the exit door from the corridors of political power. O yes, today they are in the political wilderness, contemplating on how to regain what had been taken from them by the electoral democratically.
Lessons are said to be learnt from past happenings and for the SLPP, now in political clink, if I could say, their lessons, I want to believe, they’ve learnt.
Notwithstanding these, and many other facts, current happenings within the political makeup in the country have drawn my attention, especially those that have to do with national cohesion. Prior to your election into office and immediately after the same, Mr President, you promised the nation in some felicitous speeches that you were going to ensure a government of inclusion and in my interpretation, you were going to work with all, despite their political beliefs, but based on current happenings, perhaps, the meaning of a government of inclusion needs further modification. When you assumed office in the September, you did you best in unifying the country but in this same effort, some actions by your government have been seen as bringing more divide than you are trying to bring the nation together.
Governance is all about performance. Party politics must not be allowed to be more influential than the intended development and performance people are voted for into office. ‘The recent past government was well known for tribalism, corruption and the rest’ a friend had argued but, is the same not being perpetuated by the current setup?
Mr President, words making the round suggest that the best way you could succeeded is to ensure all those with political views as opposed to those of the current government be replaced with those having the same political views as those in power. This in my view is not healthy for good governance.
What if all Sierra Leoneans were APC, who else could have been in position to check, and where and when necessary, right the wrongs of those in power, as is most often the function of an effective opposition? In simple terms, democracy means, ‘of’, ‘for’ and ‘by’ the people and ‘by’ the people, everybody should be involved. Alpha Kanu, presidential affairs minister did ask that people’s monochromatic tendencies will not tell well for the peace and development of this country. Governance concerns people and people in politics cut across political lines. You cannot govern just few Sierra Leoneans.
Practically and honestly speaking, what I have seen in your appointments show that there are more of northerners as opposed to the southerners and easterners with regards political appointments. It is no gainsaying that a given government is at liberty to work with those it thinks are loyalists to the given political party in power. This is always the case from the viewpoint of African politics. ‘Everything’, Francis Munu once said, ‘has a beginning’ and if my president could be the beginner of working with perceived opposition elites, then history definitely will never ignore such a move
Mr President as you used to say, you were elected to serve the country and not a given political party. Let’s you appointments be reflective of national cohesion. Appointments to positions of trust, in my view encompass key challenges among them the ability to perform, and in this case, the idea of having the technical know-how is very paramount. Indeed, there are those with the technical know-how like the IB Kargbos, the Sam Sesays to name but a few.
However, the display of regional inequality in terms of appointments, calls for greater attention from your office. Forget not the recent statements by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on the current political situation in the country. Whilst you were in opposition, campaigning for the presidency some few years back, you once told the people of Blama and Kenema, in my presence that you were disappointed at the way the SLPP led government was running the affairs of the state and that once you become president, you were going to ensure, national interest superseded all.
Charles Margai, in his decision to lend the PMDC support to the APC was clear in stating that, such an action was taken in the interest of national unity as was the case in 1996 when Thaimu Bangura [late] backed Dr Tejan Kabbah in an effort to bridge the regional gap that was and in my opinion, still existing in the politics of our beloved country.
In the case of Thaimu, it was a forlorn hope because the political marriage between DPD and SLPP at the time took less than two political years. Thaimu was made Finance minister, then he was demoted to another ministry thereafter, leading to his political downfall. For many but SLPP sympathizers, the decision by Thaimu Bangura was a gloat.
Margai, a southerner, came and did likewise. He was vilified by his very brothers key among them was one Sidique Janneh for going APC (courtesy, IRN interview with Janneh prior to presidential runoff) Margai stood his ground and, whether it was out of pressure of what, he asked that, he is to blame in the event Ernest Koroma as president failed to perform (Courtesy, PMDC press conference prior to runoff election).
Recently I learnt, the Publicity Secretary for the PMDC was challenging the Finance Minister on issues of national concern to the extent that he claimed the minister was not au fait with current happenings in the country. (Courtesy Concord Times of May 8th 2008). It would be interesting to note that the political marriage between the PMDC and the APC led to the ‘birth’ of few southerners being made ministers among them, ministers for lands and health.
Mr President, this is a country of 5.3 million Sierra Leoneans and if all were APC sympathizers or supporters, no need for elections, no need for the word accountability, and no need for the call for national cooperation towards the fight against corruption, which I observed has been a key challenge to your administration. You may have all the good intentions but to turn the country around but you cannot achieve that without the concerted effort of all and sundry.
Let somebody be replaced as a result of his or her inefficiency to perform what is expected, and not because of his or her political beliefs. If an individual’s ability to perform is not commensurate to the task given him or her, then the exit door must be shown that individual.
By John Baimba Sesay