Opinion

Anthony Kamara Responds to Eddie Momoh

28 September 2012 at 17:19 | 2875 views

By Anthony Kamara, Winnipeg, Canada.

ANTHONY KAMARA RESPONDS TO EDDIE MOMOH’S FALLACY OF THE ‘AGENDA FOR CHANGE’ (Part 2) POSTING IN THE EXPO TIMES OF SEPTEMBER 21 2012.

I have always advised internet savvy intellectuals to be cautious of the print media, the mischief-making 4th Estate whose principal aim is to misinform and magnify falsities in their societies so as to cause unrest, hatred and confusion in the minds of the majority illiterate. politically this is a sinful Estate guilty of the sins of “suppressio veri ac suggestio falsi” (which in Latin means suppression of the truth and suggestion of falsehood. In a country like Sierra Leone where journalists are always as polarising in their print works as the regional divisions of the country, it comes as no big surprise that a veteran journalist like Eddie Momoh with over ten years of journalism at the erstwhile SLBS and over thirty years of freelance journalism experience in London should try to deliberately misinform the reading public on current and issues of the distant past. The article should come as no surprise as Eddie Momoh was one of those disappointed hopefuls in a Berewa led SLPP Administration if the 2007 election had gone the other way. Unfortunately the 2007 election was one about change, and change was ushered in, thus leaving some positions-hopefuls bitter and disappointed. Since the 2007 election, Eddie Momoh and his likes have all become media thugs for the major political parties, a fact no one can disguise. As elections fast approach, they want to confuse the electorate who have already made up their minds on who they’ll be voting for come November.

Let me respond to Part 2 an article which I was able to lay hands on from the EXPO TIMES. I tried in vain to look for Part 1 so that I could have started my response from it but to no avail.

True this nation is better off today than 5 years ago and I go further to say we are better off than the years between 2000 and 2007. We are better off for many reasons including: first the SLPP has been voted out of office for their nepotism and corruption and their indifference to the sufferings of the people of this country: second Sierra Leonean youths are now optimistic that their applications for the American Diversity Lottery (DVL) will not be dumped in the river like the hundreds of thousands of applications dumped in the sea in Freetown some years ago under the Kabba administration to give the false impression to the outside world that all was well at home and our youths are not interested in seeking greener pasture overseas. Third the APC administration has expanded and modernised the roads infrastructure in the city of Freetown like like Motor Main Road Congo Cross, Wilkinson Road, Spur Road and the Regent Road to Grafton is under construction; also the construction of the Peninsular road via Lumley and Goderich is well under way: fourth, to ease traffic congestion in Freetown, we have a brand new road at the junction of Pademba and Jomo Kenyatta road; the streets in the urban

municipalities of Bo, Makeni, Kenema are being expanded and modernised. Fifth, Bumbuna Hydro project is now unquestionably a reality: sixth, there is now free health care for expectant and lactating mothers: Fifthly, the Mining Industry is back in full force at the Marampa Mines with London Mining, and African Minerals in Tonkolili: sixth, more Sierra Leoneans have more money in their pockets than the past twenty years. This is evident by the countless number of vehicles in the streets of the capital and by the great increase in the number of traders in all parts of the city. The shops are overcrowded with imported goods for the people. Above all, crude oil has been discovered in our shores under the Koroma administration and salaries for our University teachers and other tertiary institutions have been increased. For this and many more, this nation is better off than the period 2000 to 2007, a period characterised by all forms of sufferings ranging from corruption, hunger, unemployment, inability by parents to pay children’s school fees etc. Eddie Momoh needs to be reminded that it was the rampant corruption of the Kabba regime that motivated Emerson Bockarie to compose the Anti-SLPP ‘Borbor belleh’ and the ‘Two foot Arata’ calypso, two pieces which were greatly instrumental in rejecting Solomon Berewa and the SLPP. Innocent Lock mot issued the final ejection notice in his ‘Gee dem Notice’.

To accuse President Koroma and his ministers of being corrupt is always a very risky matter especially when you cannot substantiate these allegations. Allegations of corruption and nepotism remind me of Sir Albert Margai’s short misrule, corruption and nepotism which the people of this nation abruptly terminated in March 1967. What can be more corrupt than a Prime Minister like Sir Albert Margai who in just three years of his misrule, had developed one of the largest egg and poultry farms in Sierra Leone; in 1964, he suspended all licences to import frozen chickens. The Prime Minister also had a substantial share in the Sierra Leone`s only fish processing company; in 1965 and 1966, most of the Ghanaian fishermen in Sierra Leone who sold direct to petty traders, were deported. In addition he was accumulating a considerable amount of property, both at home and abroad. A summary of his known holdings published in WE Yone in August 1966 included land worth 46,000 and buildings costing 30,000 in Sierra Leone, as well as a building worth Washington 19,000, and one in London of unknown value. The buildings in London and Washington were rented back to the Sierra Leone missions in these capitals.

The article by Ibrahim Taqi in We Yone , August 1966 concluded that since becoming Prime Minister, Sir Albert had made investments totalling not less than 156,000, while his visible earnings during the period totalled 12,500. After the military take-over, the Forster Commission of Inquiry on the Assets of Ex-Ministers (Freetown: Government Printer 1968)

found on the basis of Sir Albert`s own testimony that his income during this period had been at least 200,000.

A considerable amount of detailed information about Sir Albert`s holdings had come from some source in Washington, which suggested that someone in the External Affairs Ministry had been working against the Prime Minister. Rogers-Wright the External Affairs Minister in whose Shekpendeh paper these revelations were published, was dismissed from the cabinet four days after the article appeared.

On the contrary, President Ernest Koroma, the first Sierra Leonean Head of State and Government ever to be described as “rich” on coming to power by virtue of the fact that he was CEO of a very successful Insurance Corporation RITCORP where he made his wealth. Look at the many ways he lavishes money on the needy. Go to the entrance to the Lodge at Hill Station on Friday mornings and see for yourself the scores of paupers waiting for handouts and he never failed to part with Le5000 note to any one of the poor that showed up. He shares his wealth with the poor, a man with a big heart for the needy: an unprecedented act of generosity to the poor which no Head of State has never done or considered doing. President Koroma’s family members are a very industrious and all without exception are either technocrats like his brother Thomas Koroma, an Engineering technocrat with over thirty years experience in the profession, his eldest sister Frances has just retired as a nurse in the USA and returned home, the other sister Admire Sesay runs a restaurant and has been in this business for nearly thirty years, many years before her brother ever dreamt of becoming Head of State etc. How have these family members been enriched by the government? Perhaps Eddie Momoh needs to have lunch at Admire Sesay’s restaurant . Yes, he`s aware of the people`s sufferings but there`s no country anywhere in the world where the poor don`t exist and they are always in the majority in all societies, including the great industrialised nations of the world. There are millions of homeless people moving with their back packs all around the world- in the UK, The USA, Canada, Australia etc. In Sierra Leone, there is the King George’s Old People’s home where the poor and homeless are housed. There is little governments can do about the poor. Did Eddie Momoh not see the countless in the streets of London? Why were there social disturbances recently in North London, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool? It would be preposterous for any returnee Sierra Leonean from the Diaspora like Eddie Momoh to mischievously begin to suggest or even compare what prevails in industrialised countries to poor Sierra Leone. If oil rich Nigeria cannot take care of its millions of homeless, can Sierra Leone do it? Did President Kabba not tell the people of Sierra Leone after James Jonas’ rigged

re-election in 2002 that `no Sierra Leonean would go to bed hungry`? Were Sierra Leoneans not even more hungry since that re-election promise?

What about the filth Eddie Momoh is talking about? I thought Eddie Momoh would tell this nation what the SLPP`s Tejan Kabba did to rid the city of its filth and why there is always filth in Freetown.

On lawlessness, If this nation is visibly lawless today it is because the SLPP sees itself as a parallel government and all the campaign violence in the country always emanates from the South and East of the country from Bo and Kenema in particular. Did Eddie Momoh watch the SLBC TV debate facilitated by Samuel Valcarcel between Momoh Foh and Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie early in March or April this year? Did Momoh Foh not tell viewers it is his people of Bo who don’t like strangers? Violence cannot be eliminated so long as the Bo people don’t accommodate Northerners and other people from other parts of the country.

Talking about sub-standard roads, Eddie Momoh must accept that having the sub-standard roads such as we have today is better than those we had under the three SLPP administrations 1961-64, 1964-67 and 2000-2007. We have our experiences of the roads network of the 1960s. Up to the closing 60s, it took not less than five to six hours to travel from Freetown to Bo (168 miles), three to three and half hours to Makeni (115 miles) from Freetown. Today vehicles plying the Freetown-Bo route do it for less than three hours while those to Makeni do it for less than 90 minutes. All this makes today better than all the years between 2000 and 2007 when the SLPP was in governance.

Did Eddie Momoh say Sierra Leone used to export rice to other countries? To which countries? Perhaps this writer is trying to confuse export and smuggling of our agricultural products to Guinea and Liberia. Who does not know that our local farmers have always had subsistence agricultural produce and that a large percentage of our agricultural produce found their way to Liberia and our rice both local and imported to Guinea on boats? We have never been a rice-exporting nation; on the contrary, we have always imported rice from places like China, Vietnam, India, Italy, America etc. because we cannot produce enough for ourselves. Why lie to the younger generation?

Describing the Finance Minister Samura Kamara as elusive, Eddie Momoh should not lose sight of the fact that Dr. Samura Kamara was voluntarily inherited by President Koroma because of his expertise in the office he holds and his performance already tested and the President`s belief in inclusion of the best in our society regardless of party affiliation. The SLPP of Tejan Kabba saw him as the right man for that office and so tapped his expertise to manage the

affairs of the country’s finances. Today Eddie Momoh ungratefully describes Dr. Samura as ‘elusive’ in the APC government, but not elusive in the SLPP.

Political sycophancy is a normal feature of politics in Sierra Leone especially under SLPP administrations. Does Eddie Momoh recall the ‘Albert Margai Calypso’ of the years 1965 to 1967? President Koroma was popular from the beginning to the end of his first term. The truth is the people praise a leader when praise is due. President Koroma is the most popular and loved this nation has ever had. Sir Albert was unpopular from the beginning of his administration (1964) to his fall (1967). President Koroma has done “multum in parvo” and therefore deserves the praises heaped upon him by his admirers and therefore, deserves a second term. In Sierra Leone, everything people do is politicized and that’s now a feature of our local politics and the people of Sierra Leone have come to accept it that way.

The late Edward Kargbo of Marikan transport was one of the richest politicians in Sierra Leone no doubt, a status he achieved through hard work. Who did not know that he spent his life on the transport sector helping Sierra Leoneans with vehicular mobility with his fleet of buses seen all over the country? The government had to scrap the railway all over the country because the people for whom it was intended to help preferred to smuggle their Cacao, Piassava, Cocoa and other agricultural produce across the border to Liberia citing low purchase price from the Marketing Board. Besides how could government continue with a railway where the actual beneficiaries were the Ticket Inspectors, station Masters and the Bureaucrats of the Railway? Eddie Momoh must tell the people the reasons why the Railway to Pendembu and Makeni was discontinued in 1969. True the Railway was meant to help with transportation of agricultural produce for export overseas, but people in border districts in the East prefer to smuggle their goods to Liberia, thus denying the country of a source of foreign exchange earner. What justification is there for the continued existence of the Railway line? It is not the act of phasing out the Railway that matters, but the reasons for the act. Can Eddie Momoh not see reason for the phasing out?

Urban migration by rural people is always due to unemployment in those areas. The interior people also want to see light, enjoy pipe-borne water supply, albeit at great cost. What about the hundreds of thousands who fled the civil war atrocities in the interior? The vast majority of those people never returned to their villages to resume their cacao, piassava agricultural activities and people like Eddie Momoh never appealed to such people to return to their communities and continue with their former income earning activities. Instead these people prefer to join the thousands of homeless in the city of Freetown and other urban centres of Bo Makeni, Kenema etc. thereby multiplying the already existing social problems in all these places.

But Eddie Momoh must be cautious about his criticisms of President Koroma because the President is in fact his Cousin in-law. That lady, Kumba wife or former wife (whatever applies) whom he met at the former SLBS thirty plus years ago is President Koroma’s first cousin from Kamabai. She may not take it kindly if she is aware of malicious articles like this against her cousin President because after all ‘blood tik pass wata’.

Once again, Eddie, let’s be honest, this country is far better than the pre-2008 years of the SLPP Kabba administration. This response should answer all the criticisms in your article in the EXPO TIMES.

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