July 28, 2015 By Gabriel Benjamin
“The U.S. hopes to partner with the African nation so that Nigeria ends up being not only an anchor of prosperity and stability in the eastern [sic] part of the continent, but can also be an outstanding role model for developing countries around the world,” President Barack Obama, July 20th, 2015.
Mohamed Bangura, the garrulous leader of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and former chairman of the All Political Parties Association (APPA), a few days ago on FM 98.1 was asked what he does for a living; whether he pays his taxes. Rather than answer the questions, Mohamed Bangura aimed a swipe at Nigerians and Ghanaians whom he claimed, without any proof, would go overseas, commit fraud (419), and return home to build houses. His words: “In Nigeria and Ghana…people even go and do 419 overseas and come back home with the money and build houses.”
By that statement, Bangura, you have heaped insults and opprobrium on 180 million Nigerians and on over 26.5 million Ghanaians. And since making that unfortunate, outlandish and misguided statement, you haven’t got the modicum of decency to apologize to Nigerians and Ghanaians. Well, Mohamed, you just spoke rubbish – utter rubbish! Your statement was ridiculous, an act of disrespect and a faux pas.
Let me refresh your memory, Mohamed, on what one of your so-called countries of fraudsters has done for the continent, including Sierra Leone. Nigeria was at the forefront in the struggle for the independence of Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Nigeria spearheaded the formation of ECOWAS in 1975. Nigerian peacekeepers shed blood in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, Sudan, etc. Over a thousand Nigerian soldiers who were part of the ECOMOG contingent died in this country.
Nigeria has been supportive of Sierra Leone in different sectors. For example, Nigeria provided technical aid support in the educational, health and electoral sectors of Sierra Leone. Over the last decade, at least six Nigerian banks (Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Skye Bank, Access Bank, First International Bank and United Bank for Africa) have launched businesses in Sierra Leone, contributing to commerce and job creation.
Nigeria, in November 2012, donated $1 million to registered political parties in this country, and 25 new Toyota Hilux pick-up vehicles and other logistical support to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to ensure the 2012 elections were held peacefully. Your party (UDM) benefited more than $35,000 from the $1 million donated by former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan. That money threatened to rip your party apart because you gluttonously kept everything to yourself without a cent going to the party’s other executive members, and then lying – after being dragged to the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) by your members – that you had spent all the money on party activities; knowing it to be false.
In the wake of the Ebola outbreak, in December 2014, Nigeria sent about 100 medics to help with the response. The medics returned to Nigeria just two months ago.
Mohamed, you wanted to score cheap political points and so, you must chide Nigerians and Ghanaians. Even more sickening was the failure of the presenters of the program, Michael Sambola and Khadija Bangura, to tell you to clam up, which was a bit of a surprise. Like many others who listened to the program (on radio and online), I am concerned that Radio Democracy, which is known to be a voice of the people, would allow you a pass. But you won’t get away with it.
Regarding you and your place in history, it is easy to trumpet that you are the youngest presidential candidate in the history of Sierra Leone; but we must also note that you have become the most controversial and, sometimes, utterly reckless politician the country has produced in recent history.
In 2010, you were suspended from the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) as chairman before you quit the party to form your own political party, the UDM. In 2012, when the National Electoral Commission started selling nomination forms for presidential candidates, you boasted: “As far as I am concerned, the Le100 million charged by NEC as nomination fee for presidential candidates was inconsequential. If the presidential nomination fee was upped to Le200 million, I will pay without batting an eye.” You are on record to have guffawed thus. But in a twist, you were the first aspirant to make a formal request to the former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, to subsidize the fees for young political parties.
Perhaps Mohamed Bangura needs to be reminded that his political future is disappearing with the winds. Increasingly, people’s mistrust of his intentions is being reinforced by the kind of statements he spews these days.
In sane clime, Mohamed Bangura would be treated as a political leper since his UDM party did not win any councillorship or parliamentary seat in the 2012 general elections, despite receiving thousands of U.S. dollars from foreign governments, as he had bluffed.
Nigeria and Ghana are not countries populated with saints but the difference is that, nationals of these countries are at peace with their Sierra Leonean brothers and sisters. Both governments have been great friends.
The belligerent Mohamed Bangura should be advised to exercise some restraints whenever he speaks in public, especially about other countries. That way, fabrications and mudslinging will no longer fly.
The good news is that while Mohamed Bangura’s vituperations may endear him to a few, the majority of Sierra Leoneans don’t share his opinions. I am not sure he knows about that. He needn’t be seen as a young man who is blindfolded by inordinate ambition to the point he is willing to say anything in order to gain some attention. It is not too late to change tactics.
I hope Mr. Bangura hears me loud and clear!