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“Show Me Your Friends”
By Professor Kelfala M. Kallon
Sep 12, 2008, 18:17
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The never-ending scurrilous attacks on the people of Kailahun – that they are so politically intolerant that the district is “sitting on a time bomb” – has reminded me of the saying “Show me your friends and I‘ll tell you who you are.”

Kelfala M. Kallon

The story began when a so-called APC delegation from Kailahun District visited President Koroma and informed him that SLPP partisans in their district are violating their constitutional rights to be APC. Based on the newspaper reports of that meeting, President Koroma promised to “isolate” the few trouble-makers in that district. This caused Dr. Sylvia Blyden to publish an article in which she claimed to be fearful of President Koroma’s alleged reaction to the report of the APC delegation. In a recent issue of Standard Times, Joe Sawan (who Dr. Blyden now claims is a pseudonym for “yellow-bellied cowards” who manufacture anti-SLPP venom in Standard Times) raked Dr. Blyden over the proverbial coals for this article.

Like Dr. Blyden, I am astonished at President Koroma’s reaction to the APC Kailahun delegation’s report. Firstly, I think that for a man who claimed extensive executive experience in the business world before becoming president, President Koroma obviously knows (or should know) that good executives listen to all sides and use their knowledge of the reputation and credibility of the purveyors of information to make informed decisions in the interest of the organization that they lead.

President Koroma knows that the leader of the APC delegation, Mr. Solomon Musa, is a man who once betrayed the trust of the people of Sierra Leone when, as Principal Immigration Officer, he was convicted of attempting to sell Sierra Leonean passports to Hong Kong businessmen. I was therefore quite surprised that President Koroma chose to unconditionally believe a known convicted felon. Perhaps even more astonishing is the fact that the APC could not find anyone in Kailahun District, except this convicted felon, to be their standard bearer in the recently-concluded local elections. Was this a case of birds of a feather flocking together?

With regard to the issue of political intimidation in Kailahun District, President Koroma certainly remembers that it was Vice President Sam Sumana’s delegation (which included the Resident Minister, Eastern Province – William Smith, the Deputy Education Minister – Lansana Nyalley, and the APC Election Task Force) that first stormed Kailahun District bellicosely chanting “Fire de Cam” in order to intimidate the people of that district into voting for the APC in the local elections.

The President also obviously remembers that Lansana Nyalley reportedly promised the people of Kailahun District that President Koroma’s government will starve their district of development funds if they did not vote for the APC in those elections. If President Koroma is genuinely interested diffusing the time bomb that Kailahun District is allegedly sitting on, why did he not lift a finger to rebuke his Vice President, ministers and their thugs for engaging in their “Fire de Cam”, and “development de go” political intimidation?

Mr. Solomon Musa, the leader of the APC delegation to State House, is a former senior member of the Sierra Leone Police, albeit a crooked one. He, therefore, knows that the presidency is not the “route of early resort” for dealing with the sort of complaint that his delegation made to the President. Hence, his decision to make it to the President anyway, and not the Kailahun Police, speaks more about his motive than the veracity of his charges.

President Koroma is also very obviously aware of the proper procedure for handling the serious allegations that Mr. Musa’s delegation made. Hence, I wonder why he did not advice the Musa delegation to report the matter to the relevant law-enforcement agencies. More importantly, it behooves any unbiased fact finder to heavily discount the testimony of a convicted felon. That President Koroma chose to uncritically accept the testimony of a known felon without any corroborating evidence leads me to conclude that he was more interested in “isolating” those he considered as trouble makers than in getting an unbiased account of what is really happening in Kailahun District.

Understandably, President Koroma might be disappointed that the people of Kailahun District overwhelmingly rejected his APC in the local government elections. After all, the President had bragged in an interview on the BBC’s Hardtalk that he had considerable support all over Sierra Leone. Hence, his political ego might have been understandably deflated by the results of the local government elections in the Eastern and Southern Provinces. But only he and his party bear the blame for this because they chose dishonest bogey men and political lightweights from these areas (such as Solomon Musa and Musa Tarawallie) to lead their cause. Consequently, the outcome was as reliable as the electrical generating ability of the US$32 million Koroma generators that are rapidly becoming expensive museum pieces in our mostly dark Freetown.

Finally, I am thoroughly amazed that some journalists are now sanctimoniously warming our part of the globe with hot air about Kailahun District allegedly sitting on a time bomb. I wonder why they remained silent when the Vice President’s delegation blazed into that district with their “Fire de Cam” intimidation. Why didn’t they warn President Koroma then that the district was being precariously perched on a time bomb his ministers?

Similarly, why didn’t these situational moralists cry out when the APC intimidated SLPP and PMDC candidates in the Northern Province during the local government elections? Were they oblivious of the fact that people were being threatened with rape and even death if they contested those elections against the APC’s candidates, not even as independents, let alone as SLPP? And what about the violence that Kemoh Sesay’s thugs allegedly inflicted on opposition candidates in the bye-election for his erstwhile seat in Port Loko? Why wasn’t the entire Northern Province reported by these poor excuses for journalists to be sitting on a “time bomb” because of these incidences of APC violence?

It is apparent that the APC rank and file anoints their leaders with messianic attributes. As such, as far as they are concerned, their leaders can do no wrong. Thus, when those of us who have not been converted to the APC “religion” point to the inconsistencies between President Koroma’s words and his actions, they are quick to remind us that the President is a nice person who is being sadly being manipulated by the charlatans, rascals, and scoundrels with whom he has surrounded himself.

However, when we complained about the northern-hegemonic nature of President Koroma’s appointments, these same people were quick to remind us that he needed a team that he can trust and work with. Are they now telling us that President Koroma trusts (or that he can work with) only rascals, charlatans, and scoundrels? Perhaps, in this case, it is appropriate to remember the saying “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.”

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

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