The Inside StoryAugust 8, 2011
By Philip Neville
“It is finished” were the words of Jesus Christ when he noticed that death was imminent on the cross and the fulfillment of the scripture must be accomplished, he therefore gave himself up for the benefit of mankind. One day, not too long from now the voters of this country would witness a declaration from a political candidate when he too would notice that political success has taken a marathon journey from him. He would say “It is finished”, meaning that all efforts he made to become the next president of Sierra Leone has landed him in a state of political disappointment.
The recently concluded SLPP convention should not be viewed by supporters of the party or the public with admiration, but to be viewed that a promise made was kept and honoured. This is the inside story Party, which a
number of party fanatics and well wishers don’t know or are not privilege to know because it was made behind closed doors involving only few and a few, and when that promise was not homoured at the time it should have been, there were lots of sentiments expressed by those who witnessed and took part in the negotiation between some SLPP big guns including ex-president Tejan Kabbah and the Maada Bio group.
In 1992, Julius Maada Bio and a group of politically inexperienced military officers took part in a coup that ousted the All Peoples Congress party, which was in governance of the state of Sierra Leone. It is a coup that was described as “BLOODLESS’ and considered popular. What yardstick was used to determine its popularity and its state of bloodlessness is left with those who propagated the theory to the International Community including the
former German Ambassador to Sierra Leone, named Karl Prince.
About two to three years of barbaric reign and torture of Sierra Leoneans, Maada Bio in a palace coup toppled his boss Capt. Valentine Strasser and announced to the general public that he wanted to transform himself to a civilian president. Since that day to date the political career of retired Capt. Valentine Strasser has remained “It is finished” walloping from one level of poverty and frustration to another. Bio was now on the seat, with Dr. James Jonah appointed as the country’s Interim Electoral Commissioner and charged with the responsibility of preparing the stage for transition from a disappointed military rule to that of a civilian. By then Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
and his group comprising Solomon Ekuma Berewa, Banda Thomas and others were working assiduously to put in place mechanism that would drive the military boys from State House, and cleverly they succeeded, disregarding all cases of Human Rights Abuse committed by them while in office with a tag of immunity placed on their backs as they quit State House.
The 1996 election that ushered in Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to power was a controversial one as the polls showed that it was the late Karefa Smart that won, but because the junta had perceived him as detrimental to their exit safety, Dr. Jonah decided to commit an electoral fraud in favour of his former United Nations colleague, whom the junta was comfortable doing business with.
The late John Karefa Smart was deprived of State House as he was perceived a hardliner who would not celebrate the exit of Bio and his military colleagues. Prior to the election, Maada Bio having tasted the sweetness of State House was reluctant to bid farewell to this powerful political building and galvanized support from youths and some sections of the media that jumped on the streets singing and preaching PEACE BEFORE ELECTIONS. This would have given him or extended his time at State House to another six or more months, but pressure from both the International Community and local NGOs including Campaign for Good Governance squashed his ambition. When that failed, he came up with another theory of having contacted the then rebel leader Foday Sankoh whom, he said he was in discussion with him to conclude the war and it was only him that would bring out Foday Sankoh from the bush, forgetting that some members of the public knew that Josephine Bio his sister was in love with the RUF Leader, his location, hide-out and several of his dubious diamond transactions with foreign partners who were benefiting from the war. Unfortunately, the bait was not swallowed hook, line and sinker by members of the public that have endured more than enough of the NPRC torture and mis-rule. Behind close doors, negotiation
took place and if Maada Bio would handover political power to the SLPP; the SLPP in turn would handover power to him when Ahmad Tejan Kabbah would have completed his two-term. In addition, the International Community with the United States of America, playing the leading role offered the sum of Forty Five Million Leones to each of them as compensation and the provision of a free passage to anyone to pursue higher education. Maada Bio and a handful of them opted to proceed to the United States of America to be intellectually armed in readiness for the top office in Sierra Leone(How he went on with things in America is another subject matter for another edition).
Filled with hope and desperate for political office, Maada Bio entered the ring on the basis of the promises made to him, but Solomon Ekuma Berewa did not allow him as he disregarded all assumed a second position in the Leadership contest and was pacified by elders to exercise maximum patience until when Solomon Ekuma Berewa too would have completed his second term. Things did not take place as predicted, when Ernest Bai Koroma stretched out his muscles and sent the SLPP into the political
wilderness till date.
It did not come as a surprise to many of us, hearing the news from afar that Julius Maada Bio has won the Leadership Contest and has now
been elected Presidential Candidate of the SLPP. It was only news and shock to
those other Candidates who sacrificed Le50 Million non-refundable fee for the
Leadership position. It was a deal seal and settled, a deal that no other
candidate is qualified for, except Julius Maada Bio.
The results speak clearly that he was the choice of theparty and not the free- money-spender Usu Boie Kamara who jumped into wagon without any knowledge of what had transpired some years back with members of
the SLPP caucus and the former military man.
By this time now, they all know ‘It is finished”. The nextstage is how they can cleverly milk some funds from them on the pretext of party solidarity. Mr. Usu Boie Kamara, who is described within the party as the free-money- spender is the target for substantial funding for the 2012 the election. His account in Zurich is the focus and if allowed, it will be plundered well to run the SLPP Campaign. Maada Bio took 1st position with 238 votes, scoring 40.3% defeating Usu Boie Kamara who scored 186 votes
and bagged 31.5%. Andrew Keili took third position with a score of 9.8% and
total votes of 58 and Alpha Osman Timbo took 4th and scored 7.4%,
Dr. Kadie Sesay, former English Lecturer of Fourah Bay College bagged 28 votes with a score of 0.2%. Many questions remain unanswered and if the losers could sit down quietly and ask themselves, are we blind to what obtains in the SLPP as a political party to part with Fifty Million Leones non refundable fee, just to crown Maada Bio as the Presidential Candidate? The question would send them thinking and cracking. The SLPP was not a political party of the Southeast, but a party of the West and North but cunningly and cleverly the Southeasterners have hijacked it and transformed it to their personal property and would not allow any Western or Northerner, with the exception of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to become a Chairman or Presidential Candidate.