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Exposing the Lie in ĎBio is Father of Democracyí Sierra Leone Tale
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden [ Officer of the Order of the Rokel ]
Nov 14, 2012, 17:17
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The main opposition SLPP presidential candidate Julius Maada Bio claims on his campaign posters that he is the ďFather of DemocracyĒ in Sierra Leone. His supporters are chanting out that mantra all over the place to the extent that Dr. Francis Kai-kai of the United Nations Mission in Liberia was confidently writing last weekend that Julius Maada Bio ďcould winĒ over 55% of the votes this Saturday beating President Koroma at first ballot with no run-off.

 

ďFather of DemocracyĒ, ďFather of DemocracyĒ is being chanted out to the unwitting youths. It is not clear how Maada Bio or his supporters came to such a conclusion because Bio was an insignificant and unknown 2nd/Lieutenant between 1989 and 1991 which is the period during which Ďfatheringí and Ďbirthingí of our current 1991 Multi-Party constitutional democratic culture occurred. That is the period when committed Sierra Leoneans like the late Franklyn Bunting Davies of NEW SHAFT NEWSPAPER worked so hard to ensure democracy returned to Sierra Leone.

 

The collapse of what was known as the Iron Curtain ensured there was no more ĎCold Warí in the world whereby savvy African leaders could maintain relations with both Communist and Liberal societies; playing one against the other to secure funding from both.

 

See an opportunity present itself, Western World governments and institutions took the chance to promote a wave of values of democratic culture in Africa and made democracy and freedoms as prerequisites for financial assistance.
 

All of the above internal and external pressures at the end of the 80s leading into 1990, resulted in the then APC Attorney-General (later Vice-President), Dr. Abdulai Conteh setting up first, a nation-wide consultative exercise to know whether the country should return to a multi-party democratic culture as used to be before One Party State was installed in 1978.

 

Indeed, there was widespread approval for such return to multi-party democracy and although certain politicians had said it would only happen over their dead bodies, the astute former Attorney General Abdulai Conteh convinced President Joseph Saidu Momoh to then set up a special committee to draw up a new multi-party constitution. Dr. Abdulai Conteh basically handpicked the members and they were all then approved by his boss, the former APC President Dr. Joseph Saidu Momoh.

 

That constitutional committee was headed by Dr. Peter Tucker and it included legal luminary Dr. Bu-Buakei Jabbi, both currently of the opposition SLPP and better placed to teach the SLPP about the process of Ďfatheringí of democracy in Sierra Leone. But will they teach the SLPP youths the truth? Will they? Sirs, will you? Or are you content to allow Maada Bio to continue to distort our History for selfish partisan purposes?

 

Deceitful billboards like this huge one, have been installed all over Sierra Leone.

 

Last week over MONOLOGUE radio programme, former Head of State Captain Valentine Strasser who, together with Maada Bio, overthrew a multi-party democratic State, was honest enough to praise the role of the APC of Joseph Saidu Momoh in restoring democracy to Sierra Leone.

 

Strasser acknowledged that his NPRC coup had scuttled the countryís multi-party democratic culture but cited that it was because they (NPRC) had wanted the war to end and ensure everyone could vote in safety. He refused to take the praise for the countryís democratic culture because he knew that in April 1992, he had overthrown a multi-party democratic State.

 

To cut a long story short, in July 1991, the House of Parliament approved the new Constitution and on the 20th birthday of this writer, (October 1st 1991), former President Joseph Saidu Momoh of the APC, assented to the new constitution and it became law. I am therefore well placed to know who is Ďfatherí of my birthday-mate as I witnessed the period leading to the birth. I share the same birthday (October 1st) as this countryís current democracy. Sierra Leone is still using the October 1st 1991 Constitution to this day. We are still using the Multi-Party Democratic Constitution of Joseph Saidu Momoh of the APC.

 

Since Julius Maada Bio was a complete NOBODY in our national polity on that date (October 1st 1991), it is a fallacy and outright dishonesty for anyone to say Bio is the ĎFather of Democracyí in Sierra Leone. If anyone should bear that title it should be President Momoh. The glory can be shared by Dr. Abdulai Conteh and so many others including college students who worked around the clock to ensure they inspired an overarching aura in the land for such a change to occur.

 

In those days, we had really patriotic college students like Pateh Bah (of the current NDA court case fame) who was back then a University Students Union President. Pateh Bah also contributed to the drafting of the constitution we are currently using. I humbly state that I played my own small part as a student activist back then especially as my father was easily one of the foremost civic activists of those times. Where was Maada Bio at those times of real struggles to restore democracy?

 

This is why it is so amusing to many of us when Maada Bio shamelessly claims such an ill-deserved title. The Bio fanatics are claiming such a title for Bio saying it is because he handed over power to the SLPPís Tejan Kabbah. First of all, NPRC interrupted a multi-party democracy, inserted their military interregnum upon us for four years and then we forced them to return us back to the multi-party democracy they had hijacked. Secondly, Maada Bio handed over power to Kabbah in 1996 but it was done amidst a series of vile tactics under Bioís watch for which little glory is due to Maada Bio.

 

When Julius Maada Bio reigned a short-lived tenure as Head of State from January 17th 1996 to March 29th 1996, this country saw its people, especially those of the Southern Province and some parts of the North, subjected to horrific terrorism. We will be quoting from several authoritative sources this week; not in the vain hope of trying to sway the fix-set minds of the Bio-supporting voters but to set the records straight.

 

In todayís edition, we are looking at the words of the man himself who Bio handed over power to. We are reproducing excerpts from a book entitled as COMING BACK FROM THE BRINK IN SIERRA LEONE. It is official memoir of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and was published by EPP Books Services of Accra, Ghana some two years ago in December, 2010. I consider myself to be highly privileged to have personally worked with the former President in proof-reading the book. I know for a fact that the old man paid carefully diligence to every single sentence in that book. He stands by what he wrote in there because he believes it is the truth.

 

In an interview with journalist Lansana Gberie last year, Kabbah had appealed for journalists to read his book if they wanted to know what he felt about Julius Maada Bio, the main opposition presidential candidate.ďIf they want to quote me, they should talk to me, or read my memoir,Ē Kabbah had told Gberie.

 

Well, we have decided to quote from his memoir. Here it is. Tejan Kabbah in his own words about Maada Bioís NPRC which handed over power to him:

 

IN THE WORDS OF PA KABBAH

 

National Elections.

 

The NPRC junta having enjoyed the fruits of power for four years clearly demonstrated that it was not interested in holding any elections at that particular time. It mounted and orchestrated a campaign with the slogan Ďpeace before electionsí. Through this campaign, the NPRC even attempted to ingratiate itself with the RUF by demonstrating to the latter that it was prepared to delay the holding of elections and would forge a power-sharing arrangement with the RUF. However, the problem, according to the NPRC, was with the political parties. They were pressing for the holding of elections in order to permanently exclude the RUF from participating in governance of the country.

 

In order to convince the population that peace before elections was a viable proposition, and in order to demonstrate to the RUF that the junta was sincere about its desire to bring the RUF into government, the NPRC organized a meeting with the RUF in Cote díIvoire. United Nations, OAU and Commonwealth envoys had facilitated the talks. Very little was achieved, due, in part, to the obstinacy of the RUF delegation. Later RUF spokesman Fayia Musa said they would observe a two-month ceasefire but would continue fighting if a civilian administration was restored in Sierra Leone.

 

Again, in order to prove its point that elections would not be held successfully before peace was achieved, the junta orchestrated acts of terror and intimidation of the electorate in several parts of the country just before and during the elections.

 

Of course, the prospect held out to the RUF by the military junta that the RUF had better chances participating in government if the junta remained in office and elections postponed further heightened the expectations of the rebels of actually taking over the entire government. This was related to their successes over the military and the internal weakness in the military itself.

 

In spite of the on-going rebel war, and notwithstanding the defiance of those who wanted to prolong military rule by vehemently advocating peace-before-elections, Sierra Leoneans following two national consultative conferences (Bintumani I and Bintumani II) took the courageous decision to go to the polls February 1996 to choose a President and Members of Parliament.

 

There were a number of disturbances initiated by the anti-democratic elements aimed at disrupting the elections. The RUF rebels not only turned down the invitation to participate in the elections, they gave notice that they would not accept the outcome. They even threatened to disrupt the process. Worse, the rebels amputated the hands of hundreds of innocent civilians because they voted in the 1996 elections.

Pages 29/30

 

The Army and Civil Militia units

Not long after the rebel war had started, many civilians in the war affected areas soon realized to their chagrin that elements of their own national army were turning against them. Some were colluding with the rebels. Those disloyal soldiers who collaborated with the rebels were nicknamed SOBELS, that is, soldiers-cum-rebels.

In those circumstances, some communities decided to organize their own defence mechanism by forming militia units.
Page 57.


His Excellency the President

¬†On 29 March 1996, I was sworn in as President of Sierra Leone... As I mentioned in my testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2003, the NPRC regime grudgingly yielded to the holding of elections only after persistent outcry from civil society and others. Incidentally, as I also told the Commission, it was common knowledge that the previous civilian administration of the APC had also devised strategies to prolong its stay in power. One such strategy was to use the rebel war as a pretext for postponing the multi-party elections that were slated for 1992. The APCís plans were aborted by the military coup of 29 April 1992.

It was ironic that the attempt by the NPRC military regime to use the same pretext to postpone the 1996 elections did not also succeed. Actually, it was the people of Sierra Leone who in 1996 initiated and implemented the return to democracy. This was why in my inaugural address, I paid glowing tribute to them and expressed deepest appreciation to ďSierra Leoneans from all lifestyles, who in the face of daunting odds, came out to vote decisively in the elections, thereby affirming their belief in our country, its future and democracyĒ.

Pages 34/35

END OF EXCERPTS FROM KABBAH

 

So, with all the foregoing, can any honest person claim that Julius Maada Bio is the ĎFather of Democracyí in our beautiful country? Of course not!

 Oh judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts and men have lost their reason.

 

Certain citizens who know the History of this country are keeping silent as the SLPP, Julius Maada Bio and his unscrupulous media handlers twist our countryís History for the strangers amongst us. The repercussions of such twisting of History are not known to many but to few far-sighted ones. Diplomats and Friends of Sierra Leone who are steeped deep in gross ignorance they have been whirled and embedded into, might not be blamed for any sad repercussion which might occur if the nefarious ones amongst us get their way.

 

However, one fine day, the books of History will reflect that when it was time to teach the young voters the truths about our recent past, certain actors looked the other way because they had an agenda to fulfil. The far-sighted ones can only hope our written alarm bells are ringing loud enough.

 

Captain Valentine Strasser spoke eloquently last weekend about the ploy by Julius Maada Bio to remove him from office under the pretence which we had all been fed that Strasser was the ambitious one and Bio was the one who ensured elections were held. Strasser eloquently debunked the allegation as he mocked Maada Bioís current mission to go back to State House. This paper will handle that subsequently. Until then, let me end this long treatise with a quote from Act 3, Scene 2 of Shakespeareís Julius Caesar:


Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?

When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept.

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,

And Brutus is an honorable man.

You all did see that on the Lupercal

I thrice presented him a kingly crown,

Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,

And, sure, he is an honourable man.

I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,

But here I am to speak what I do know.

You all did love him once, not without cause.

What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?

O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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