A GULLIBLE MP?
September 19, 2018
BY SIA TIYAAMA
It is becoming increasingly evident that Maada Bio’s victory in the past elections has conjured up the worst in the average supporter of the defeated All People’s Congress (APC) Party. This is particularly the case with APC diaspora supporters who it seems are willing to stop at nothing to destabilise the governance of the nation by making up incredible stories to anyone willing to listen. One such willing and evidently gullible listener is a seemingly obscure member of the British House of Commons called Neil Coyle who claims to represent Sierra Leoneans living in his constituency of Southwark and Old Bermondsey. This MP’s existence first came to my attention when a video clip showing a session of question time in the British parliament was sent to me. This clip was a follow up to a question asked by the same MP on the 13th of April 2018 shortly after President Bio had won the presidential elections. The MP sent a written question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office asking; “what assessment he [the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) has made [of] the political situation in Sierra Leone since the presidential elections in April 2018; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure peace and stability in that country? Harriet Baldwin of the Office of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the 18th of April sent the following response: “Following the victory of President Maada Bio in the Presidential run-off in Sierra Leone on 4 April, there were sporadic outbreaks of violence, but the country remained largely calm. The President issued a statement condemning the violence and has initiated a cross-party committee to address incidents of political violence and intimidation across the country. The UK worked closely with Sierra Leone on election preparations and has done considerable work on policing and security sector reform to support stability in the country. We were pleased to see the Sierra Leone Police and security services respond well to the challenges of the election period. We will continue to work with the new administration to promote inclusive sustainable development in Sierra Leone.” Apparently, the response did not satisfy Neil Coyle and like a child fixated on hallucinated vision, he has again raised the issue in parliament claiming that there is continued political intimidation and restrictions on political activities as violence continues in Sierra Leone. What arrant nonsense!
MAN OF POOR JUDGMENT
The untrained and ignorant eye would look at Neil Coyle’s question as laudable and that he genuinely cares about Sierra Leone. That may well be true but a closer look at the way this MP has handled the whole thing has not only defeated whatever genuine purpose he may have had, it has also exposed his lack of judgment in dealing with issues of foreign affairs. In my view, Neil Coyle has in a spectacular and stupendously ignorant way, allowed himself to be used by opponents of the present government to do their dirty work – a serious indictment on his judgment or the lack thereof. A modestly intelligent person upon hearing such a story of political killings and intimidation would first ascertain whether the story is true before even taking it to the British House of Commons. Neil Coyle has behaved like the proverbial man who lives by a river but decides to wash his hands with spittle. As the good old book says in Proverbs 10:21; “The lips of the righteous feed many but fools die for lack of judgment”. All Neil Coyle had to do was call the Sierra Leone High Commission in the UK or the British High Commission in Sierra Leone to crosscheck the obviously false story that the Sierra Leone opposition has fed him. Another move MP Neil Coyle could have made was to make a fact-finding trip to Sierra Leone. The British MP did not only fail to do all that, he actually took part in a propaganda video where he in so many words threatened people who questioned his integrity. In that video, the opposition got him to wear a propaganda T-Shirt proclaiming that Salone Lives Matter, a reference to the false story that their relatives are being continuously killed by the present government. Adorning that T-Shirt has rendered any modicum of credibility he had gone. Neil Coyle in my view has no credibility left to even be taken seriously by the government of Sierra Leone because he has taken sides based on false information that he was too lazy to cross check. People like Neil Coyle are dangerous to the peace and stability of Sierra Leone as he has the potential to give credence to those who are determined to sow the seeds of discord and eventual conflict in the country. It will be in the interest of the Government of Sierra Leone to inform the British Government about the overtly unfriendly disposition of Neil Coyle.
SALONE LIVES MATTER: PLANK AND SPECK?
Taking liberty with the good old book once again, Neil Coyle needs a reminder about the bible verse of Matthew 7:5 which says: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” When Neil Coyle decided to wear the Salone Lives matter T-Shirt and effectively became a mascot of disgruntled opposition members living in his constituency, I decided to look up some data on the lives of his constituents. It turned out that Neil Coyle has a plank in his eye yet he decided to use a sovereign country as a scapegoat to promote his own agenda. From 2015-2018 Southwark recorded close to 12,700 incidents of violent crimes and sexual offenses against its citizens. Southwark has the third highest crime rate than other areas in London; his constituency also has the highest gun and knife crimes in London. In 2017, homicides increased by 50% in Southwark, with incidents of knife crimes increasing by 46% nearly doubling that of London.
Sir Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat from Neil Coyle’s constituency made this statement in 2017 about Neil Coyle’s constituency: “On the fifth of May 2017, two days after the formal start of this year’s general election campaign, I was at the vigil for 26-year-old local father Bilal Kargbo who had settled with his family in Southwark from Sierra Leone. Bilal had been stabbed to death just a few days before in Peckham Rye just yards from one of his best friends. He was the sixth person to die in London from knife crime in that week.” It says volumes about an area when homicide rates become election talking points.
What has Neil Coyle done to protect Sierra Leoneans like Bilal Kargbo in his constituency? Becoming a pretentious mascot declaring your concern about Salone Lives does not cut it. The Honorable MP should first take care of Sierra Leoneans in his constituency before allowing the rejected opposition in Sierra Leone to misuse him.