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THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN

“Ernest” at Dangerous Crossroad

October 8, 2020

The former President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma, is at a dangerous crossroad.  As the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) last week invited the former President to answer questions over allegations of corruption emanating from the White Paper of the Commissions of Inquiry (COI) set up in 2019 by the current President, Retired Brigadier Maada Bio, “Ernest” (as he is popularly called by his adoring supporters with that enthusiasm that borders on idolatry)  has to choose whether to return to the road he has just completed travelling as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Leader of the political party, the APC, that has governed Sierra Leone the longest; or, to continue travelling the new road he has chosen after handing over the reins of the presidency to Retired Brigadier Maada Bio in 2018: as a statesman whose experience, knowledge, and wisdom is sought by global leaders, and reputable international institutions. Ernest cannot travel both roads. 

ERNEST ON HOW TO WAGE PEACE

At  “the 2019 Horasis Leading Global Change” meeting in Portugal, former President Ernest Bai Koroma evocatively said

“… the name of my country Sierra Leone dates back to 1462, when a Portuguese explorer, Pedro Da Cintra, sailed down the coast of West Africa”. Ernest challenged his heavyweight audience on “…. ‘how we could work together to wage peace more effectively’…”.    How can Ernest talk about “waging peace” internationally when his name, his image, his festering role as Leader of the main opposition APC has been used (is being used)  to beat the drums of ethnic war in Sierra Leone; inciting his fanatical followers to violence, and challenge of the country’s security forces? With Ernest’s calculated SILENCE?

At Horasis, Ernest pointed out that “tomorrow’s conflicts”  are “already impacting us” – “From climate change to human trafficking, to disorderly migration, religious and political extremism, to the rogue application of information and communication technology…”. (SOURCE: http://www.exclusivenewspaper.com/ex-president-koroma-speaks/)

Though speaking to a global audience, as one reads between the lines of Ernest’s speech at Portugal on those variables that militate against peace, one can discern that he had Sierra Leone very much in mind in his diagnosis on what would jeopardize peace: “The problem however is that… obsession with self-preservation, bullying and the absence of consensus building; anxiety about protecting political power over and above addressing social and economic disparities; persecution of political opponents through manipulation of public opinion using unbridle propaganda and fake news are no doubt bringing the world closer to a new cold war – making the achievement of peace ever elusive”. Ernest did not mention “corruption”: for example, the stealing and  mismanagement of a country’s resources by about less than 1% of a governing elite with political power in his home country of Sierra Leone… as factors that nurture conflict, and even war.  What should the former President do? 

ERNEST SHOULD LEARN YOGIC “DETACHMENT”

Ernest is a man with uncanny Yogic emotional control – almost from his cradle, as I wrote in the 2011-published biography I wrote on the former President, titled “Natural Born Leader”.  But,  clearly, Ernest lacks another fundamental Yogic quality: DETACHMENT.  Ernest is too attached to his ethnic group; too attached to his friends and cronies  of Makeni; too attached to the Northern Province; too attached to being idolized by his partisans;  and, less so,  attached to the APC party, which he had used to win the presidency, and the APC that is now trying to ‘retaliate’ by using him too.  This is what I deduced has been happening to Ernest since the APC presidential candidate he ‘anointed’, Samura Kamara, lost the 2018 presidential election. 

Many of the educated elite among  youth leaders who had bought their own propaganda that the APC “will rule for fifty years”,  who had believed uncritically that “Maada Bio is a weak candidate that would be easiest to beat” because all Northerners hate him, and with the APC winning 95% of Northern Province votes, 75% of votes in the Western Area, at worst, 20% of votes in the Southeast… the APC would cruise to easy victory… were shocked that the APC lost the 2018 presidential election.  They blamed Ernest for this loss. In a public meeting with APC partisans with a video on this that went viral on social media, Ernest accepted this blame.  It was Ernest who allowed, and fooled, 27 aspirants for the APC candidacy that they had his personal support.  Ernest  has been struggling to redeem his image by implicitly or tacitly joining the extremists of the APC  to WAGE PROPAGANDA AND POLITICAL WARFARE relentlessly on the government of the SLPP Leader, Retired Brigadier Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone, elected in April, 2018

The APC strategy has been belligerently simplistic. The APC would  incite its partisans to challenge security officers.  When the security respond with robust measures, they would splatter blood-stained victims on social media, and stage demonstrations in Western capitals – smearing the SLPP government as one of a reckless and brutal government that evoke images of Idi Amin of Uganda and Samuel Doe of Liberia.  Thus, they have created a constant climate of instability, and vehemently and unrelentingly given the impression of imminent ethnic war in Sierra Leone.  With these tactics, they hope to drive away investors; crimp the economy; spike anger against the SLPP government as hardship would deepen, UNITE all Northerners… and get the APC voted into power in the 2023 presidential election.  The  most incendiary tactuc of some of these apparently pro-APC partisans is playing the Ethnic Card: smearing the Bio Administration as “Mendecrats” of the Southeast  who are out to wage ethnic war on “Northerners” and “Westerners”.  The former President has NEVER condemned such miasmic and dangerous words!! 

At the aforementioned Horasis meeting in Portugal, Ernest said that “there should be increased emphasis on early mediation of budding political conflicts to avoid an escalation”. Ernest is a Christian from a Christian home where as a child he would be made to pray morning and evening, and pray before  every meal with his middle class family.  Ernest ought to know that the Bible records Jesus preaching interminable forgiveness; but, one vice that even Jesus never forgave when he lived in Palestine some 2000 years ago was HYPOCRISY.  In preaching peace internationally while intrinsically pouring fuel to the fires of ethnic hate and  threatened-ethnic war at home, Ernest is guilty of that unforgivable vice of HYPOCRISY.  O, I wished Ernest’s mother, late Mama Alice, would be alive today!!  She would be one person certain to ‘draw di yace’ of his famous and charismatic son.  We can invoke Mama Alice’s spirit.  We can invite all reputable religious leaders to intervene in a brewing tragedy in Sierra Leone.

The religious leaders of Sierra Leone should facilitate a meeting between former President Ernest Bai Koroma and current President Maada Bio – WITHOUT the likes of APC Secretary General Yansanneh who are desperate to USE Ernest to build on their own ambition of the APC returning to power in 2023.  Former presidents like Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo, and Goodluck Jonathan;  Ghana’s former president, John Kuffour; Liberia’s former president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf should also be invited to such a meeting.  Of course, there is the knotty LEGAL problem of corruption allegation against the former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, that needs to be unravelled; but,  wise leaders should put legality and peace/security on the  scale of Justice – where I am sure the scale will weigh in favour of peace/security. Former President Ernest Bai Koroma  should be encouraged to use his growing international clout to work with President Maada Bio  to wage war on corruption; to ‘wage peace’ by helping with the positive marketing of Sierra Leone to attract international aid and Foreign Direct Investment to ginger up the economy which the former President knew was sickly when he had declared a “State of Austerity” in 2016; whilst President Maada Bio will be urged to bridle his egotism and egoism, and set a precedence whereas the Office of Former Presidents of Sierra Leone would be made SACROSANCT. Like it is in Nigeria – where as the Vanguard newspaper of 2017 reports, former presidents, and chief of defence staffs, were made to live in presidential comfort with 14.5 billion Naira Federal Government of Nigeria appropriation over a 12 years period. “The former presidents and heads of state are General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, General Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, General Olusegun Obasanjo, and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. The former vice presidents and chiefs of general staff are Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, General Oladipupo Diya, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku and Alhaji Namadi Sambo. Deceased ex-presidents, whose families are constitutionally expected to reap from the largesse   are Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (prime minister), General Aguiyi-Ironsi, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (ceremonial president), General Murtala Muhammed and General Sani Abacha”. (SOURCE: VANGUARD ON JANUARY 3, 20179:37 AMIN HEADLINES, NEWS  https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/01/fg-spends-n14-35bn-on-ex-presidents-vps-in-12-yrs/)

“ERNEST” SHOULD TRAVEL NEW ROAD TO GLOBAL LUMINESCENCE


Former Ernest President Ernest Bai Koroma  has to demonstrate to Sierra Leone, and the world, that he prefers to take the new route of a globally-recognized statesman, and a  national unifying leader; and not  the former route – a tribal-minded political leader who hypocritically would hide behind his people to catalyze the reverse of  the lofty values of peace and unity he has been preaching to the world in his post-presidency. The ACC invitation to him to make a statement on serious allegations of corruption against him is one such test. Intrinsically inciting his supporters to threaten violence if the ACC follows the Rule of Law by inviting him to answer questions like all other citizens in an ACC office smacks of blackmail of a state institution;  that will confirm that the former President  prefers to be on the former road – where he would have to have a faceoff with the battle-tested Retired Brigadier who is today President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.  Reconciliation, peace, stability or agitation, conflict, and even ethnic war?: “Ernest”  is at a  dangerous crossroad; and the road he choose to take will let the world see what lies beneath  the well-crafted emotionally-controlled  veil of Ernest Bai Koroma.