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If you can’t stand the heat…don’t stay in the kitchen!

By J. Alusine Kamara E-mail: jalusinekamara@yahoo.com

The past several weeks have witnessed and provoked a progressive and intensive debate raging over Sierra Leone and the Diaspora with regards to the pros and cons of the choice of the self-styled Brigadier (rtd) Julius Maada Bio as the Presidential candidate of the official opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). The election and selection had taken place at their recently held and concluded National Convention in Freetown.

While it is the sovereign and constitutional right of any registered political party to determine who their leader(s) should be, it ought also to behove them well to ensure that creditable and marketable candidates are offered on the political altar to project a serious intent to govern. The failure of any political entity to do just that without credibly scrutinizing, investigating, and vetting past records of embryonic leaders has the potential to precipitate and ignite an explosive Pandora’s box with attendant negative consequences for the defaulting party.

 The  Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) was ‘blessed’ with a line-up of nineteen (19) candidates vying to be elected as the flag bearer for the pending 2012 Presidential elections. Although some of them were decent enough people, there was a sprinkling of some I would not be harebrained enough to trust with my great-grandmother’s dentures, let alone the nation’s purse strings. Be that as it could never be, I say bravo to the genius who promoted the eventually accepted idea that aspiring candidates should pay a non-refundable registration free of fifty million leones (Le. 50,000.000.00) each, which they all did.

As some of them were later to find out to their discomfiture and utter disbelief, there is no love lost in politics and war, and thus nothing remains impossible and permanent. However, their participation in the process and subsequent looses turned out to be a windfall of unprecedented boon to the coffers of the party from some who may have balked at making out a cheque for even a comparatively paltry sum of two million leoens (le 2,000,000.00) at a Party fund-raising event.

 

But of course, there were also those who really ventured into the race knowing full well they had no chance in hell to succeed and thus were primarily and ostensibly there to ‘make a statement’ and be identified rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers of the party. Others might have wished for name recognition and identification. What expensive ways to go about doing so, I dare say.

When therefore the delegates to the Conference decided, to the stunned disbelief of the generality of decent-minded leaders of thought and patriotic Sierra Leoneans, to elect from amongst a mostly illustrious crop of candidates Julius Maada Bio as the one who was best suited to challenge for the presidency, I heaved and signed in-breath, thinking, “Here goes the SLPP again, avidly displaying their favourite pastime and penchant to ‘shoot themselves in the foot’.(Pardon my pun, Julius Maada Bio).

Will these people ever learn, I intoned in soliloquy? This choice in no way seemed logical as although it was their mandatory right to choose who they thought would be a winner, there seemed to be no well-thought-out basis for the selection. Because, had they studiously researched the records of al the declared candidates I fail to see how the consensus would have gravitated towards the choice of Bio, whose character at best in my estimation and personal belief, smacks of chicanery.

It  is no hidden secret here in Sierra Leone and other parts of the world that the ‘sword of Damocles’ hovers   over Bio and other members of the infamous  and best-forgotten National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC)-not exclusive of the present Chairman of the same SLPP, John Oponjo Benjamin- over the alleged summary execution     of James Bambay Kamara and 28(?) others.

Contrary to what negative elements in the SLPP may be wont to propagate, the Ernest Korma-led All People’s Congress (APC) government will have no constitutional choice but to order an inquest into the deaths if, and when any family member request for such. This       especially so when this request is predicated upon their familial wish to discover the truth about circumstances leading   to, and inclusive of the death of their dearly-departed ones people must be reminded that there is no statute of limitation on murder/killings.

To the so-called international community whose stock-in-trade is double standards and who may be inclined to say let bygones be bygones, I must ask, “why don’t they preach that gospel in Argentina, Cambodia, and numerous other parts of the world where cases of human right violation are unearthed and prosecuted decades after such atrocities may have been committed? Are the lives of Bambay and other victims of the alleged savagery less valuable than theirs? The hypocritical concern is much ado about nothing! So, give me a break! And please, please, spare me the crocodile tears and fuss!

Let me address fault-finders and pessimists who may be prone to demand, why now? The answer is very simple if your inclination does not tilt towards conspiracy theories. Had these surviving relatives ventured to constitutionally demand an inquest into the alleged extra-judicial killings during the Kabbah-led SLPP political leadership, your bet is as good as mine that the outcome would have been, “Heads, you lose, tails, they win’! That SLPP government would never have had the guts to empanel an inquest. Pure and simple!

So what would you, being a level-headed relative do, other than to wait for the dawn of an era of accountability, probity and transparency? Were these not the very doctrines the NPRC initially proclaimed when they took over the reins of governments? Well, ‘chicken have now come home to roost’. And… it is payback time!

There is a specious scare-mongering school of thought which mindlessly propagates the puerile and hoi polloi belief that visiting and resurrecting the circumstances surrounding those brutal killings would destabilize the body politic. I emphatically say that is blatant balderdash and arrant rubbish that every right thinking person should dust-bin at any of the Bomeh dump sites because it just does not hold water. And I will succinctly further reasons without much ado.

Sierra Leoneans are savvy enough morally and politically to discern whether such inquest would be predicated on witch-hunting, or search for the truth and need for equitable justice and fair play. The lives of Bambay and others are as valuable as the next man’s and I know their souls would find peace when once the truth surrounding their demise is unearthed and those found culpable are at least seen to make their unreserved apologies public. There will be no need for retributive justice since such will not bring them back, while any who may been soiled by their blood may eventually find peace of mind and solace through their confessions and the ensuing ultimate forgiveness from relatives and loved ones of the dearly departed souls.

 What is definite however is that there will be no rebellion sparked from within the forces as the rank and file will not more allow themselves to be used as fodder to ignite the gluttonous appetite of a few.

The majority of those in the forces during the NPRC junta’s reign never directly benefitted fro the ill-gotten largesse that was gulped down ravenous throats of a select bunch of rogues and cut-throats. And besides, the forces are so disciplined, committed and professional these days it would be hard-put for anyone to believe they would be enticed and dragged into any foolhardiness.

Should those not be enough deterrents then, there is one factor which towers over other calculations ….the patriotic people of Sierra Leone…! Who, against     seemingly insurmountable odds stoically stood firm and gave a resounding NO! to the Johnny Paul-led Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), and its forerunner, the Julius Maada Bio-led NPRC’s failed machinations enacted during the Bintumani 11 conference.

 Bio and the other members of the rogue junta, civilians or otherwise, who have nothing to hide should have nothing to fear but fear itself! I therefore see no reason why Bo defenders are crying foul while the John Benjamins, et al, who were part and parcel of the rogue clique, show no discernible worry about the potential outcome of any inquest. I do not want to be discourteous enough to believe they may be hiding under the smokescreen the uproar over the personification of the killings by Bio apologists offer them. But who am I to conjecture? Only time will tell!

The delegates to that SLPP convention in my personal view were moved by selfish considerations at loggerheads with patriotic intent and must have had a hidden agenda not in consonance with love for a party which some for our parents fought and suffered for. Those long-departed patriots were definitely altruistic in their resolve to better the loot of the average man in stark contrast to the rag tag band masquerading as the present leaders. The ethos of the SLPP now seemingly revolves around personal aggrandizement and the pervasive’ are chap u chap mentality’!

My advice to the cry-babies in the SLPP camp who see the bogeyman apparition in everything the Koroma-led APC would be constitutionally-bound to do should family members of the deceased demand, is predicated on this truism, which emanated from less a person than the late President Theodore Roosevelt of the United States of America, who was quoted as saying during is presidential term in office. If you can’t stand the heat, don’t stay IN the kitchen!”

Sierra Leoneans are wont to say, however “If U wan No how u mama born u, put u han’ pan politics!”    (“If you want to know who your true parents are, especially your father, then get involved in politics!”)

Posted by on 5:33 am. Filed under COMMENTARIES, OPINION, OTHER NEWS, Plein Tok, VIEWPOINT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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