December 14, 2015 Author, Mohamed Massaquoi
There is no doubting the fact that the controversial third term ambition of some elected office holders, particularly presidents, has taken the centre stage in the realm of socio-political commentary in Africa.
The temptation for public office holders to elongate their tenure beyond constitutional limits has always been the bane of political progress in some Africa states over the years. Consequently, successful political transition from one administration to another has always been a curse which the country finds it difficult to break.
It is however unfortunate that certain individuals, including some Members of Parliament, are not ready to learn from historical realities and are bent on treading on this dangerous, self-destruct path which breeds no good to the nation.
The State Opening of Parliament past Friday was marred by animated heckling between opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party lawmakers and their All Peoples Congress colleagues as the former sang and banged their tables that there should be no more time for the president, while the latter cacophonously sang and danced to the ‘more time’ tune. This action by our Members of Parliament brought to the fore the sad reality that we have not learnt our lessons as a country.
For the past two years since some individuals started the debate about President Koroma going for a third term agenda, his handlers have been feebly denying that the president has no third term ambition. But the apostles of this agenda have graduated to constructing and reconstructing structures, hatching schemes and propounding all sorts of theories that will see to the success of their notorious agenda.
One of such theories is that at present there is no credible alternative to President Koroma who could carry on with the reforms started by his government. This argument is a fallacy of the highest order especially when Sierra Leone is viewed from the standpoint of Almighty God’s abundant blessing to the country with highly skilled individuals (men and women) in all areas of human endeavour. It is therefore a deliberate, callous and dangerous underestimation of God’s will and supremacy as well as a mockery of His essence for anyone to suggest that one man is indispensable in a country of not less than six million people.
It is all the more embarrassing to listen to the views of the Presidential Youth Aide, Bai Marmoud Koroma, who recently changed the concept from ‘After You Na You’ to the even retrogressive ‘More Time’.
The implication of the third term political drama could be costly if allowed to succeed as it has the latent capacity of creating an ugly precedent that would encourage bad governance in the future which will be quite unbefitting of a country which calls itself one of the greatest respecters of democracy.
I also wish to particularly commend some civil society organisations like the Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law, Campaign for Good Governance, and the main opposition party the Sierra Leone Peoples Party for consistently standing on the side of the people to discourage the third term plan.
Furthermore, the Sierra Leonean press must be commended for the way it is handling the third term issue, with the exception of few. As the Fourth Estate of the realm, it has indeed earned the confidence of Sierra Leoneans by siding with them at this critical period of our national history. The stream of brilliant and analytical articles consistently puncturing the arguments of third termers and putting forward realistic alternatives to tenure elongation are very vital to putting an end to the current unwanted political pregnancy conceived by Sierra Leone which if not aborted will lead to the birth of an illegitimate political child.
The greatest credit will, however, go to some Members of Parliament who stood their ground that Sierra Leone’s unity and progress must not be compromised at the alter of insatiable political ambition of some few individuals. Yes, those legislators, who value their personal credibility, cherish their integrity and have genuine concern for their political future more than any immediate pecuniary gains they will accrue as a result of supporting tenure elongation.
The most important question is whether President Koroma is actually interested in the THIRD TERM AGENDA. That is the question on the lips of many Sierra Leoneans even as the constitutional review process is going on.
Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee, Justice Edmond Cowan, few days ago clearly stated on Radio Democracy FM 98.1 that most of those who have submitted position papers, including political parties, are against the Third Term Agenda.
According to recent report from the eastern district town of Kenema, President Koroma was reported to have responded to the question about the rumours that he intends to stay in office after the end of his second and final term. In response, the president reportedly stated that while he would like to see his party given a third consecutive term, he is not interested in serving beyond his second termHowever, a small group of supporters of the president’s party were reported to have marked the occasion in T-shirts carrying the message “More Time”.
The former Secretary-General of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Jacob Jusu Saffa, who is known by the nom de guerre ‘J.J. Blood’, has issued a stern warning to the president that he should not hold on to power beyond the stipulated date as mandated in the 1991 Constitution and the electoral laws of the country, noting that any plot for postponement of the elections until 2020 would not be in the interest of the democratic process the country has enjoyed for the past two decades.
Saffa said unequivocally that any attempt by the government will be resisted by Sierra Leoneans, adding that the SLPP members have been following the debate for an extension of term of the presidency and also the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections with keen interest.
He opined that the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) was employing the tactic of floating the debate to gauge the mood of Sierra Leoneans with regard the touted third term bid of President Koroma.
“We will chase them, Sierra Leoneans will not allow themselves to be ruled by this administration for another term or extend their mandate for even a day,” Saffa said. “We are not ready to settle for that, we believe if Ernest Koroma has performed well for the people of Sierra Leone, there is no need for him to ask for an extension of two years.”
He recalled that the debate as to whether President Koroma should be given another term started as a political slogan ‘After You Na U’, and that because Sierra Leoneans voiced their dislike for it, the pioneers have now embarked on the extension of his term by two years.
“We are not ready for that,” the erstwhile university lecturer fumed. “This government has failed the people; I think this is the time for the SLPP to take over the mantle of leadership through the ballot box by 2018. History has told us that only the SLPP has the capacity to rule this country without any blemish. We brought in democratic governance, we reinstalled peace and stability in the country, we promoted quality and affordable education, we created jobs for the youths, and we provided good healthcare facility for women, children and the aged. When the APC came into governance, they changed the entire legacy left behind by the SLPP and now our people are suffering.”