John Sisay, the CEO of Sierra Rutile is a first cousin to President Koroma. Sisay’s father was the brother of the President’s mother. The two families are close. In 2007, John Sisay helped to secretly bankroll his cousin’s presidential bid as an opposition APC candidate against a sitting SLPP government. As a journalist back then, I am fully aware of one time that Sisay transferred millions of leones to enable APC campaign in Central Freetown; to be specific, around the Sweissy area. I am sure there must have been other occasions he financially helped also.
Months ago at a relaxed wedding party, John Sisay first told me of his intentions to contest under APC ticket for seat of President of Sierra Leone. I told him that I find him to be very intelligent, well groomed and patriotic in his writings but I did not see him as presidential material because his demeanour is at variance with African politics. I asked him if he can, for example, “loose body” with Abacha traders. He was quite goodhearted in response to my criticisms and assured that he would learn the ropes. I laughed and went my way. Time might prove me wrong but I do not take his presidential bid seriously.
Few weeks back, I asked President Koroma what he makes of his cousin’s presidential ambitions. As is usual with President Koroma in such matters, he did not respond at all but from his humorous facial features, I do not think the President takes his young cousin’s presidential ambitions seriously.
However, clearly many within APC are taking John Sisay very seriously – either in support of him or in vehement opposition to him. This has been markedly in the last 72 hours since news broke that he had formally declared last weekend to a large gathering at his Freetown residence, that he was going to contest for the APC presidential ticket. Prior to this, his intentions had only been stated informally.
By John Sisay openly declaring his presidential ambitions under the APC, he has openly challenged the laid down call of his cousin whom as APC Leader, had called on all APC partisans to stay away from such open declarations and rather focus on helping him as President, to achieve Agenda for Prosperity. Most party members have studiously obeyed the call.
I have not spoken to the President on the reported declaration but I think I can safely state upfront that for his own cousin to be the one to publicly defy the warning of the APC Leader will surely hit the Head of State as a betrayal from within the family. I even suspect President might be furious with his cousin’s antics; especially in midst of Ebola crisis.
However, in my view, the President and other APC chieftains should not see John Sisay’s open challenge as a problem. Instead, let them see his defiance as a symptom of a frustration running much deeper.
Those of us who excelled in clinical medicine studies know that the worst mistake any medical doctor can do is to treat a symptom and ignore the underlying disease. For example, when Ebola disease affects a human, the symptoms can include diarrhea. If a doctor treats only the diarrhea without realizing that it is Ebola disease ravaging the internal organs, then the patient might go into multiple organ failure and lose his kidney, respiratory, liver and other organ functions.
Then he will die even though the diarrhea symptom was stemmed with Imodium anti-diarrheal drug.
John Sisay’s insolent obduracy towards President Koroma is not the problem. Rather, his defiance is a symptom of something deeper; a disease within APC that needs urgent attention by the President and APC hierarchy. John Sisay is financially and politically independent enough to boldly manifest the disease’s symptoms that others are too timid to do. Yes, others are timid for now but as time goes on, who knows what other life-threatening symptoms, this disease will bring out in APC? If we want APC to stay in governance, it is a disease within that must be cured; not the symptom manifested by a brave John Sisay.
I stop here. [ Talk Half; Lef Half ]
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.