Former President Koroma in his quiet moment
April 20, 2018 By Alusine Sesay
A senior colleague and mentor in the media told me during a privileged conversation that former President Ernest Bai Koroma would have left office as a statesman but ended up in his quiet corner at Goderich, western Freetown. Former President Koroma assumed office in 2007 when he secured the mandate of the electorate in the 2007 run-off election. After the All People’s Congress lost popularity for it’s over 24 years of misrule under Siaka Stevens and Joseph Saidu Momoh, Koroma canvassed voters on the platform that he was going to lead a new APC different from the previous regime people were tired of. His campaign messages resonated with and captivated the minds of voters who cast their ballot in his favour. Throughout his first term in office, President Koroma was popular and extremely hailed by the general populace, who would always cheer him up whenever he passed by in his presidential convoy. His popularity grew like bush fire in the harmmatan to the extent that people voted him in for the second time in 2012 without the elections going into a run-off. Now that he has relinquished power to President Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, former President Koroma would, in his quiet moment, be pondering and reflecting on his stewardship of the country for the past ten years. He would be pondering as to whether he strictly went by the oath he took as president to diligently respect the constitution of Sierra Leone.
Prior to the 2018 elections, former President Koroma boastfully stated that his predecessor – the one that would take after him in the now main opposition All People’s Congress – would ride on his popularity to win the elections. I believe he would be trying to recover from the shock of the outcome of the 2018 election which brought Julius Maada Bio and the SLPP to power. He would also be pondering as to how his actions in the final term of his presidency affected the APC and prevented it from winning the elections. Undoubtedly, he was popular especially before the 2012 elections, but his popularity, running up to the 2018 elections, was extremely dampened for varied reasons.
From a humble politician, former President Koroma turned out to be a benevolent dictator who thought he could do anything and get away with it. Yes, he did get away with a lot of mischiefs he meted on people when he was the president. But what happened, the people, who were patiently waiting, took their pound of flesh and voted the APC out of power. Beware of people power. In his second term in office, President Koroma stepped on the toes of many, not only within his APC party but outside the party’s realm. In his quest to run the country as a benevolent dictator, he encouraged too much of bootlicking and promoted mediocrity as against competence. He was cozier with people who were ready to dance to his tune to the detriment of not only his APC party, but to the entire country. He made lots of blunders that people closed to him were afraid to tell him to his face that he was wrong in certain actions. They were afraid to put him in the right direction because many were afraid of losing their lucrative jobs he created for them, although many would be regretting their dumbness now that the party is in opposition. Those who dared to stand in his way were stampeded on and treated with utter disrespect. I need not mention names of people he openly humiliated because the records are there and written boldly in the archives of the country’s political governance.
Former President Koroma had no constitutional right to sack his former Vice President, Alhaji Sam-Sumana, but went ahead and did it and was blindly backed by some of his henchmen within the party and the humpty-dumpty Judiciary we have in the country. Sad, to say the least. While the Supreme Court backed his decision to sack his Vice President, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice wronged the decision outright and ordered that Chief Sam-Sumana be paid his entire emolument. It is my view that that singular decision of former President Koroma to sack his Vice President contributed greatly to bringing the party down on its knees in the 2018 elections. What was more interesting is that the party and its stalwarts behaved like Mungo Park, who boasted of discovering the Sahara Desert – something that had been in existence before he was brought to the world. They treated the issue with outright complacency hoping that they have the numbers to win the elections, but later came to their senses when they realised that something shocking was about to happen. With their hands within their legs like puppets, they approached Sam-Sumana, whose Coalition For Change party seriously bruised the APC’s ego in Kono, and begged him to declare for them in the run-off. But Sam-Sumana was clever enough to have maintained silence because he would have faced the wrath of his people who voted for him in an outright protest against the injustice meted on him by former President Koroma. I think the APC must have learnt from their mistakes and would make the necessary amends. I am of the firm conviction that nobody was born a dictator and that they should not allow an individual to be more powerful than the party’s structure. Former President Koroma was seen like a demi-god and he took advantage of that to select a candidate against the will of not only the general populace, but also those within the APC.
Many would argue that the party had a wrong choice for the 2018 elections hence they lost. But some would defer because there were several factors that led to the party’s failure to clinch the presidency. Samura Kamara is a fine gentleman with a clean record but the actions of former President Koroma prevented him from being president. To me, I would squarely blame the APC party stalwarts for allowing former President Koroma to do things with reckless abandoned. I was in the hall in Makeni during the delegate’s conference where he talked down on people like children learning koranic lesson in an Islamic school.
In his quiet moment at his Goderich residence, President Koroma must be regretting his actions that led to the failure of the party to win the 2018 elections. In his quiet moment, he must be pondering over his outright disregard for the country’s constitution, which he took an oath to uphold, but fumbled along the way. He must be pondering over the numerous toes he stepped on running up to the 2018 elections and should bow his head in utter shame. Like my learned mentor told me earlier, he should have retired as a statesman but could not because he did a lot of odds that would prevent him from being so.