Opinion

My reaction to Edie Vandy’s article

28 October 2007 at 23:17 | 1048 views

By Idrissa Conteh(Atomic Pen).

As a pro-democracy proponent, I enjoyed reading Eddy Vandy’s beautiful article though I
may not agree with some of his views. It is needless to mention that praise-singing journalism
has no place in our decaying society where nothing works.

The article can be divided into three segments: a) the conduct of the elections b) personality
of the President and c) appointment of cabinet ministers.

Regarding the first point, Edie seems
to be blaming the police, NEC and the UN for the defeat of the SLPP at the polls. I find this
analysis rather erroneous and misleading given that the SLPP had dug its own grave long
before the elections.

The SLPP’s attempt to fight corruption through the creation of the toothless and impotent Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) could only help lampoon a very
serious situation. For instance, Momoh Pujeh as Transport Minister was to serve a seven year jail
term after being found guilty of corruption (illegal possession of diamonds), was released just
after serving eight months or so without any explanation. This situation embarrassed the
British-born Deputy ACC Commissioner who subsequently resigned his post and returned to
Britain.

Take Kanji Daramy(photo) at SALPOST, as another example. President Kabbah was obliged to
reluctantly dismiss his tribesman Mr.Daramy after being found wanting of impropriety by a
commission of inquiry set up to look into allegations of corruption and mismanagement at
SALPOST. Mr. Daramy had barely spent some six months or so in the wilderness when a
group of Mandingos pleaded with President Kabbah to get him another job despite his
suffocating record at SALPOST. A few weeks later, we heard on national radio that it had
pleased H.E. the President to appoint Kanji Daramy as Presidential Spokesman - a position
he held until the demise of the SLPP.

The only example former President Kabbah could ever
boast of in his fight against corruption was the dismissal and jailing in the late Justice Taju
Deen in the case against the former Agriculture Minister, Dr. Harry Will in the 3 million-dollar rice
scandal. Perhaps, Kabbah could also be credited for recalling Dr. Kemoh Salia Bao from
Liberia for doing the devil’s advocacy on behalf of Charles Taylor whose country was facing
UN sanctions for its role in Sierra Leone’s ruthless civil war.

As a nation, we must bow our heads in shame for allowing our country to be taken hostage
by a devastating poverty provoked by corruption. Corruption has been the only obstacle to the
development of Sierra Leone. As Sierra Leoneans, we are so cheap that we can do anything
for money as in the example of Dr. Salio Bao.

I will still continue to argue that as a people,
our thinking faculty does not go beyond money, women and alcohol. If you think I am
wrong, please let me know why we have no electricity, no water, no standard health facilities,
no roads, no vibrant system of education etc.

We may also want to find answers to the ever
deteriorating sporting facilities in the country. I have also argued that there is corruption
everywhere in the world but there is no place on earth it has devastated a nation to the point of
blocking every facet of development.
Coming back to Edie’s first point, I would rather say that the SLPP is to blame for digging its
own grave. Besides, this should no longer be the issue. Crying over spilt milk will not in anyway help the SLPP.

While the youths were crying for development and opportunities railing against their tormentors
(borbor belleh, two foot arata, corruption), the SLPP ministers were just sitting in
their hot and dark offices sweating in their coats and ties strategising on how to get quick
commissions at the expense of the people they pretended to rule.

It is ridiculous for a ruling
party to cry foul of electoral fraud when the police and army and all the other arms of
government are at its direct command. How would the SLPP explain the allegation that it was
sidelined by its own police, UN and NEC it created?

As a matter of fact, the SLPP did not relinquish power in such a dramatic manner for nothing.
It had certainly sensed something. What I find disturbing in Edie’s article is the fact that he
woefully failed to acknowledge the demise of the SLPP to its bad governance characterised
by rampant corruption and management.

In 2005, for instance, donors refused to grant Sierra
Leone debt relief on grounds of corruption and bad governance. Decayed by rampant
corruption, inside the SLPP rots and outside it stinks.

On the issue of regionalism and tribalism which my good friend (college mate and UNHCR
colleague), tried to accuse the APC, we all know that of the 22 tribes of Sierra Leone, only
two tribes are truly tribalistic. In Kabbah’s two terms of office, the SLPP won parliamentary
seats in Kambia, Port Loko, Tonkolili and Koinadugu districts in the north overshadowing the
APC in some the constituencies. The APC has won only one seat in the south-east(Moyamba) and may
never win one even in the future with the exception of Kono district.

While the SLPP was
able to campaign freely in the north, Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma was pelted with stones and
missiles in Kailahun and other SLPP strongholds. What do you call this, Edie? I am not
against the inclusion of credible persons from any part of the country to serve in the
government. I merely wanted us to call a spade a spade.

What is wrong if the APC administration names a street after Dr. Christiana Thorpe in
recognition of her contribution to development of our country as a Teacher, Principal,
Minister of education and Chief Electoral Commissioner? Didn’t Kabbah appoint Dr. James
Jonah Minister of Finance after his first election victory in 2002? I sincerely think naming a
street after Dr. Thorpe is a modest gesture compared to what Kabbah did for Jonah.

Regarding the appointment of ministers, I think it is too early to condemn anyone. If my good
friend, Eddy thinks that Zainab Bangura, for instance, would not be up to the job, what
yardstick is he using to arrive at this hasty and subjective conclusion? Are you comparing
Bangura to Momodu Koroma whose administration as Foreign Minister leaves a lot to be
desired? Are you oblivious of the fact that one of the reasons for the failure of SLPP at the
polls was the unpopular Momodu Koroma who was forced down the throat of the party
loyalists by Kabbah?

Zainab Bangura is more experienced and better exposed than Monodu Koroma who was handpicked from the classroom to Statehouse. Bangura and Dr. Sam Sesay
deserve the respect and admiration of the people of Sierra Leone for leaving their highly paid
UN jobs in Liberia to respond to the call of patriotism.

These two compatriots are not job
seekers but patriots who want to be part and parcel of the reconstruction drives our povertydevastated
country. What can the people of Sierra Leone remember Momodu Koroma for in
his capacity as Foreign Minister; the cocaine scandal or the stinking and deplorable conditions
in which he has left the Ministry that can be best described as an eyesore?

As for the personality of the President, it is only out of bitterness, jealousy and envy that he can be criticised at this point in time when he has not even finished putting his administrationin place. He is a fine gentleman preferred by the people of Sierra Leone to the ever sleeping
Berewa whose thirst for money could be boldly read on his face.

In democratic governance, freedom of the press and objective criticisms are the cornerstone in
which a state operates. The problem with us in Sierra Leone is that we are unable to keep our
heads above tribal and regional sentiments in our analysis which will only help keep our
country at the tail of the UN Human Development Index.
Let us give time to President Koroma to work. If things fail to work the way they should, it is
our democratic right to ring an alarm bell.

Photo credit: Sierra Leone web.

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