From the Editor’s Keyboard

The politics of inclusion for national cohesion

29 October 2007 at 08:01 | 1185 views


By Abdulai Bayraytay, Toronto.

There has been spate of political yelling and howling over the termination of the services of some heads of parastatals, notably erstwhile National Revenue Agency boss Dr. John Karimu, Alhaji Kanja Sesay of the National Commission of Social Action (NACSA), among others, by the nascent All People Congress party government of president Ernest Bai Koroma in the West African country of Sierra Leone.

While apologists of these sacked heads of parastatals might have legitimate concerns, the debate however quickly became skewed with insipid insinuations that the president’s action was part of his “witch-hunting” of bringing in more northerners into these key political appointments. What is obvious with this argument is the fact that the commentaries so far against the booting out of particularly Dr. John Karimu and Kanja Sesay respectively were not about their academic qualifications, but more about allegations of fraud and conspiracy that funds from these institutions were diverted to fund the futile campaign of the defeated Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

On the political front, Dr. John Karimu and Kanja Sesay are ardent and fierce SLPP eagles; keeping them in office will do them no good since the electorate who kicked the SLPP from power will not only accuse the APC of maintaining the status quo, but also courting the dire consequential ramifications of keeping in office party members who were bent on using all forms of Machiavellian tactics at their disposal to hold on to power. The question then, hypothetical as it could be, is how genuine would these officials be in the discharge of their duties to the state with their opponents in power?

It should however be illustrious to reckon with the political reality that Dr. John Karimu was part of the “Kailahun Mafia” (courtesy of the Sierra Leone’s political pundits) comprising erstwhile finance minister John Benjamin et al, that not only prevented the APC to effectively campaign in the Kailahun district and other parts of the East, but unashamedly ambushed and threw missiles at the convoy of president Koroma at the height of the elections campaign. Critics of the president’s action to “relieve” particularly Dr. John Karimu of his position could argue this as a legitimate factor.

As more heads are slated to roll from the Sierra Leone Road Authority (SLRA), the Road Transport Authority (RTA), the Sierra Leone State Lottery and the Telecommunications Commission, headed by former SLPP presidential spokesman(Kanji Daramy) who assumed office amidst a corruption scandal at the Sierra Leone Postal Services, among others, the government should be seen to explain to the people the rationale behind these sackings if only to dispel rumours of witch-hunting. This done, then it will not be a novelty as a change of government even in the world’s biggest democracy comes with changes in personnel.

What is however worrying that deserves immediate correction on the part of the APC leadership is the inclusion of persons of integrity from particularly the South and Eastern parts of the country.There are many highly educated,non-SLPP, experienced, competent and moral people from the south-east who can be recruited to join the present crop of south-easterners already in the new team.

This is necessary because the president’s current cabinet is not fully reflective of the regional balance that is so needed to heal the political divide in our country. More needs to be done.

The politics of winner-takes-all could only find expression in olden times, but not in a country like modern Sierra Leone that so badly needs national cohesion after experiencing a ten-year-old devastating civil conflict. And, this is what political prudence is all about!

*Abdulai Bayraytay(pictured) is the deputy editor of the Patriotic Vanguard and a former Information and Research Officer at the Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) in Sierra Leone.