You were prevented from entering Kailahun during the campaign for the Presidential run-off; that should have been your second visit to Kailahun as Opposition Leader. You were unable to meet your APC supporters who had remained committed to your party since the days of late President Stevens. They are isolated but still remained firm and committed waiting for your visit now as President.
The name Kailahun, unlike other elections, featured prominently in the last Presidential elections and that name today continues to be caricatured in all forms. The District is known for their block votes for the SLPP; but in the last Presidential elections these votes were nullified due to the incidence of over-voting. The over voting has been interpreted in different ways, linking it to the mockery they now face as Kailahun Court Barry.
The first ridicule was that majority of the people saw the SLPP as corrupt for which they should be voted out of power; and the second is when the SLPP tried in vain to prevent the announcement of the results through a court injunction.
The issue concerning the Kailahun Court Barry does not end here. The issue is for President Koroma to stand out amidst the ridicule and embrace the Kailahun people. His first step, as I had expected was to have visited Kailahun as a form of reconciliation. The President has still not done that despite his numerous visits, holidays in the North and the brief stoppages in the East and South.
There is more beyond the visit to Kailahun, as the District is now associated with the activities of the SLPP. The first act of reconciliation should have been a visit to that place as you were earlier prevented from entering their District. It should not be taken that since Kailahun rebuked you, you should not visit them or consider them. A politician’s first success is scored in the opponent’s strong hold.
Before the 2007 Presidential elections, campaigns were characterized by violence and this continued unto the local council elections. This is enough justification to heal this nation from political violence and annihilation; and if I were the President, my first move on assuming power is to visit each District and reconcile the Country. President Koroma is yet to do this; more so when the majority of the people from that part of the Country do not know him.
Kailahun, despite being SLPP, has a lot to offer this Country in terms of agricultural produce as they are known as the bread basket of the country.
Since the era of the colonialist right unto the days of the SLPP farmers in Kailahun cannot take their produce to either Kenema or Freetown.
The consequence of political isolation is grave; considering what happened in Kailahun during the days of the APC 24 year rule, as we saw them associating themselves with Liberia rather than Sierra Leone. President Koroma should not allow this to happen this time round. Say what you may about former President Kabbah, his concentration in the North was superb; areas that never saw Schools, clinics, good roads had them. He did not only concentrate in areas that were SLPP; as his national cohesion was also reflected in his cabinet.
You can make a big plus by paying a visit to Kailahun and assuring them that their road would be speedily constructed and that they are part of Sierra Leone as they are in your heart at all times. It is evident that the Paramount Chief of Luawa last week expressed his disappointment in Parliament over the neglect of the Kailahun Road. Lest I forget to ask again your Excellency, when would the People of Kailahun expect you?
By Ishmael Bayoh