No to His Excellency

November 12, 2019

By Sulaiman Momodu


Some days ago President Julius Maada Bio made some changes to his cabinet otherwise known as a cabinet reshuffle. Naturally, many people have diverse thoughts on it vis-à-vis who should have been removed or not.

To Vamboi, Obai or Ya Mabinty, what is most important to them is to have bread, or if you like, rice on their table. Many people in Sierra Leone, and by extension in Africa, have no idea how a government is run let alone know the road to the seat of power where the Honourables and Excellences conduct business.

Like Vamboi, Obai or Ya Mabinty, some of us have no vested interest in who is in power. If you are not competent to do the job – LEAVE ! Give chance to others. With my humble position on things and my strong belief that people in public offices should be servants of the people and not kleptomaniacs, I share the sentiments of many that former President Ernest Bai Koroma and his anointed successor Samura Kamara merited defeat at the last presidential elections.

With the All People’s Congress (APC) deservingly going out of power for misusing a golden opportunity to bring about positive changes in the country, do I really think the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) deserve to be in power? We must understand that the APC back to power campaign was empowered by the SLPP in more ways than one. Although the SLPP ended an APC-created civil war, during the second term in office, the SLPP indirectly campaigned for the APC to return to power by failing to provide even the most basic of services such as electricity. To add insult to injury, civil war, if you will, broke out in the SLPP. The SLPP was in disarray. A major battlefront commander Charles Margai, a presidential candidate who took third place in the first round in 2012, teamed up with APC’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Solomon Berewa was left utterly devastated. “I am devastated,” Berewa told the BBC in an interview.

Like Berewa, who over campaigned instead of providing much-need services, Koroma spent most of his term in office listening to vibes that he was “world best”, a catastrophic deception by sycophants who surrounded him. Koroma apparently spent invaluable time listening to “Kotor, after U na U” as sycophants competed with each other in what was an unofficial competition of sycophants.

With Julius Maada Bio assuming power in a narrow round-two contest with Samura Kamara in 2018, is the SLPP making any progress to be different from the APC? In a recent article, I applauded the efforts of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in dealing with the tsunami of corrupt practices that had returned to the country with members of the APC themselves rather confirming that “monkey nor dae lef e black hand”. The ACC records are replete with the massive looting that was going on in a country that could easily become a paradise.

In 2010, during my assignment in Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf asked all but one of her cabinet ministers to stand down with immediate effect when it was becoming obvious that most of her ministers were not living up to expectations. The president said she wanted the cabinet to resign because the administration was entering into a critical stretch and would afford her the opportunity to start with a fresh slate going forward.

Tiawan Gongloe, who was a minister of labour and Liberia’s former solicitor general was called back to office but declined the offer. He argued that people who were corrupt should have been sacked. Cllr. Gongloe, who I have interviewed before, lives in a modest house in Monrovia and is clearly content and not in any hurry to get rich.

Today, Liberia is contending with economic challenges under President George Weah. During my last visit to Liberia a few months ago, some Liberians told me that they are going through a learning process as they wait to see how the football legend will dribble his way out of the country’s current economic predicament.

Having served for decades before they were kicked out of power in 1992 by young military officers, the question is – did APC’s Victor Foh and his allies learn anything at all? It should be noted that even when it comes to the things of God, people are ready to rob. In this regard, well-known corrupt Foh and his gang of robbers did not disappoint some of us that stealing comes naturally to them. Remember the Hajj scandal? Having looted big time, I understand Foh had long deserted his former allies. Not surprisingly, Foh has now become a true foe of the APC for “betraying” his fellow rogues and allegedly telling the ACC some of APC’s looting tactics and secrets.

You see, when people are appointed into office by the president, it is usually all smiles amidst congratulatory messages, including from old enemies who will now call to declare their love and loyalty to the appointed individual.

Perhaps, the first person to receive the axe in Bio’s administration is Charles Margai. I grew up partly in Bo, where Margai is revered by many. I was also privileged to conduct a one-on-one interview with him in Freetown many years ago. Over the years, I have been appalled by “ngor” Margai’s consistently inconsistent political maneuvering. My understanding is that Margai was sacked because he was heading in the same old direction and would quarrel with anything and everything, including an empty room.

Both the APC and SLPP have now served ten years each in power since 1996. Who “sacked” these political parties? The people. Like Vamboi, Obai or Ya Mabinty, people should realize that political appointment is a contract. If you can’t deliver, it is only prudent that you are sacked and you can’t say no to His Excellency.

About the author: Sulaiman Momodu is a Sierra Leonean journalist currently based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia