From the Editor’s Keyboard

National Security is Paramount

By  | 16 February 2013 at 22:51 | 1708 views

The founder of the ruling APC party in Sierra Leone, the late Dr. Siaka Probyn Stevens was fond of saying: "Eternal vigilance is the price we have to pay for our liberty." Indeed the old man lived by that credo by strengthening the Sierra Leone secret service then known as Special Branch (now known as Office of National Security), establishing a paramilitary force known as Internal Security Unit (ISU), later renamed Special Security Division (SSD). Today it is called OSD.

Stevens survived many coup attempts and handed over a secure government to the civilianised Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh which was only weakened by Foday Sankoh’s rebel war and Momoh’s lack of security consciousness and general incompetence. It was not a surprise, therefore, that he was easily overthrown by junior military officers in April 1992 who called themselves the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC).

Another president that lacked security awareness was Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. Even though he was warned several times by the media including a pro-SLPP journalist, the late Siaka Massaquoi (publisher of the New Vision newspaper) and independent newspapers like Expo Times and several others that the army was disgruntled over the removal of their rice subsidy and other issues, Kabbah did not take action. Neither did he listen even when his Deputy Defence Minister the late Hinga Norman warned him that some officers in the army were planning a coup. When he was toppled by the AFRC military junta he fled to neighbouring Guinea from where he asked students in the country to confront the junta with sticks and stones! In my book, Kabbah was the most unwise and naive (and that is putting it very mildly) president we have ever had in our country.

That is why I am pleading with current president Ernest Koroma never to take security issues lightly in a country like Sierra Leone where the major opposition party is both bitter and reckless (their leader never formally conceded defeat in the last election although did so in a round about way at a meeting at State House and their national chairman was recently threatened with whips and the tires of his car deflated).

I am not saying there is a security threat in the country now, I am just saying all measures should be taken to make sure the country’s peace is never again disturbed because there will be no development in an environment of insecurity and instability. I am sometimes very worried when I see President Koroma in photos walking around Freetown without adequate security.

The Agenda for Prosperity needs peace, security and stability, Mr. President. So you and your government should always remain vigilant and ready. As Pa Sheki would say:

Eternal Vigilance is the price you have to pay, Mr. President, for our liberty. Forward ever, backward never.