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Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai: SLPPís Very Worthy Choice!
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Dec 10, 2012, 12:06
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Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai (Mrs) has now been destined to lead the Opposition in Parliament at this period of our emerging matured democracy in a UNITED Sierra Leone. She has all what it takes to make women proud of her!
Our recent elections results show that currently in Sierra Leone, just like in America with their irrepressible blue and red States, we have distinctly coloured districts. Sierra Leone has green & red districts.¬† Also Sierra Leoneís past 10 years of electioneering indicates that just as in America, we have swing areas whose residents can change their voting patterns according to the leadership of the day.


No problem there! That is the beauty of democracy. The knowledge, that certain areas can swing to and fro, makes incumbents work harder to ensure those areas do not swing away from them. In Sierra Leone, for now, the distinct swing areas are Freetown, Kono district and the Kissi Kingdom of Kailahun district.There is also a possibility for Northern districts of Kambia and Koinadugu as well as small sections of Southern Moyamba and Pujehun to reverse back to being swing areas.


Now, although we have distinctly coloured districts, I insist that the UNITY of our Nation is not in question.Only opposition politicians desperate to feed off the crumbs of the ruling party table, are making such a song and dance about the country being badly divided. I disagree. Infact, I disagree most strongly that this country is divided! Just like no one can accuse America of being a badly divided country because it has blue States and red States so also will I proudly say that Sierra Leone is NOT a divided country and we will never be one. We have far more in common than our few differences.


To agree with me, one only needs to watch the Parliamentary session of last Friday December 7th 2012 as Rado Yoki of Bo and Bernadette Lahai of Kenema joined SBB Dumbuya of Freetown and Ibrahim Bundu of Port Loko to unanimously endorse the Speaker and Deputy Speaker for election.


Some might say SLPP MPs had no choice but to accept the choice of the APC given the overwhelming majority which APC now commands in Parliament. This now brings me to the next point. Even though SLPP has a noticeable minority, they could have still, for the sake of divisiveness, put forward their own proposed suitable persons for the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker. They would have lost but they would have made the point that they were not in unity with the APC. However, like Hon. Rado Yoki stood up to say, the whole world will now see that the country is united. SLPP chose the path of unity in purpose and given the obvious suitability of the two candidates, one can only say: Bravo!


Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai (Mrs) has now been destined to lead the Opposition in Parliament at this period of our emerging matured democracy in a UNITED Sierra Leone. She has all what it takes to make women proud of her!


So, will SLPP continue like this? Given their obvious minority in Parliament, will they be unanimously rubber-stamping all decisions of the ruling APC? This question now brings me to my main point for today. I will preface the point with a quotation from no less a person than the popularly re-elected President of Sierra Leone whilst he was addressing traditional Paramount Chiefs last week Thursday.


ďWe have graduated from what used to be described as a fragile democracy to a matured oneĒ



Indeed President Koroma is quite right that this beautiful country has now graduated from a fragile democracy to a matured one akin to even the greatest Western powers. We all should be extremely proud of how, under the leadership of one of our greatest Heads of State ever, Ernest Bai Koroma, we just conducted the most peaceful, free and fair elections ever held in this country.


Time there was when this country was run by djamba-smoking tinpot dictators who in their craziness, actually turned military Lieutenants into ďBrigadiersĒ within less than four years. Time there was when large swathes of this country was a no-go area under the control and leadership of persons like Agnes Bio whilst the rest of the country was under the control of her younger brother Juliusí leadership of a ragtag, poorly-dressed and poorly equipped army that used children as soldiers. Those were the days when their other sibling, Steven Cathys Bio, would supply arms to his sister, Agnes Bioís RUF faction and his brother, Julius Bioís NPRC faction. Itís necessary to recount where we used to be so when we are going forwards, the youths amongst us can understand what our President means when he speaks of our ďMaturedĒ Democracy. We have truly come a long way and we should NEVER go backwards.


Let me now state that the election of Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai to position of SLPP Leader in the House of Parliament is a forward-looking act which I salute as it has raised our democratic credentials to the next level. I am particularly happy not just because she is a woman but also because she is a Woman of Extraordinary Substance!


Dr. Bernadette Lahai or ďAunty BernieĒ as many of the young ones call her, is Role Model per excellence in this country. She is a woman of high integrity and someone whom is nothing but an asset to SLPP.


I speak with authority when I say that Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai is a formidable member of the opposition who can only add strength to SLPP at this point in time when the SLPP is so badly in need of respectable leadership in Parliament. Shortly after SLPP lost elections in 2007, as a media practitioner who was desperate to see real democracy take root in the country, I lost count of the number of times I would phone SLPP stalwarts and parliamentarians to interview them on issues concerning the promotion of their SLPP only for them to express trepidation and fear to be named. They would freely comment for me to write against the Government in favour of their SLPP; only to end by saying in the local parlance, ďbut nor put me name dey oh!Ē meaning, please do not quote me by name! If there was one person whom I could be sure of granting me interviews which not only made intelligent sense but who did not fear to be quoted, it was Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai.


She is loyal to SLPP and she is also very intelligent, self-assured and I foresee that under her leadership, she will give the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) a run for its money. This can only be most welcomed. As President Koroma has said, the countryís democracy has now matured. We need matured and civilized politicians and Hon. Lahai perfectly fits the bill for such at this time.


I lived in America when power changed hands from Democrats to the Republicans as the century turned. One of my mentors (now deceased) used to be a powerful Republican. He remarked to me then that many of those appointed by Democrats over the 8 years of Bill Clinton, will be handing in resignation letters to the Bush administration without waiting to be sacked. He said it was a mark of democracy because they knew they had to leave to allow the new administration to run the country according to how Republicans wanted it to be run. He however also remarked that the opposition democrats in U.S. House of Representatives would be gearing up to be even more critical of the decisions of the White House and subject everything to thorough scrutiny which they, the Republicans were preparing for.

I am sure President Koroma, as President of a matured democracy, will be expecting those who were moles and fifth columnists to honourably resign from his Government whilst he will be expecting the SLPP opposition to subject him to rigorous scrutiny especially the ones in Parliament. We do need a strong and vibrant opposition in Parliament.


And for such a purpose, I can think of no better committed SLPP member than Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai. Congratulations Madam Minority Leader! Knowing what you stand for, most patriotic women of Sierra Leone are very proud of you right now. Personally, I am elated at your election.


Iím sure all patriots appreciate having someone like you lead the opposition to our popular President in Parliament. Now, go out my sister and give the APC a run for its money. Afterall, that is what we expect in a matured democracy like ours. Good luck!

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

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