Monday, March 12, 2012

Tom Nyuma Bails Ship

Tom Nyuma Bails on SLPP
Another day, another defection. News started trickling into the blogosphere yesterday that Tom Nyuma, aka Ranger; SLPP Eastern Province chairman has skipped the uncertainty of SLPP opposition politics for the ruling APC.

Tom Nyuma needs no introduction to Sierra Leoneans. His name is known in most households in the country and his exploits during the NPRC interregnum are also well known. Tom  was among the group of young army officers, led by Valentine Esegrabo M. Strasser that chased then APC president,  Joseph Saidu Momoh from Freetown one cold morning, in bedroom slippers, barely giving him chance to wear his pants.

Sankoh and Nyuma
Tom Nyuma became a major face of the NPRC government of Valentine Strasser. Initially he was Eastern Region Secretary of State and eventually rose to Undersecretary for defense. Tom Nyuma made a name for himself during those days as he was one of those ministers that would don military fatigues and head to the war front to engage RUF rebels. To this day a lot of people from the north of Sierra Leone believe that Tom Nyuma was in cahoots with the RUF rebels. To the people of the east however, Tom Nyuma was a genuine war hero who defended that area against the vicious onslaught of the RUF and even Foday Sankoh had a grudging respect for him.

During the early days of the SLPP government Tom Nyuma, was retired from the Republic of Sierra Leone military forces with the rank of Lieutenant colonel. Tom eventually found his way into the United States of America. In America, APC operatives and those who thought Tom Nyuma was a human rights violator made his life hell. He stayed briefly in Minnesota, but the Sierra Leone population in Minnesota was particularly hostile to him and he bailed for Ohio where he lived for years in relative obscurity, working as a security guard and going to school. Tom Nyuma's foes did not let him rest, even when he was in Ohio, and eventually he was deported from the USA back to the shore of Sierra Leone.

Strasser Today, destitute and broke
When Tom left USA for the shores of Sierra Leone, he faced a future of uncertainty and a fate similar to his old boss Valentine Strasser who is living today in one of the suburbs of Freetown, a highly diminished human being that bears no semblance to the once proud and fearful figure that he once was. Tom arrived in Freetown in 2007, destitute and broke.

After coming home in 2007, Tom joined the presidential and parliamentary elections campaign that was going on that year on the side of the then ruling SLPP government. During that period, an unfortunate incident happened that almost cost Tom Nyuma his life when had a run in with the campaign team of the now president Ernest Bai Koroma who was then the main opposition leader. According to reports at the time, Tom Nyuma had arrived at the Country Inn Hotel in Bo at about 3 a.m with a group of people. Approximately one hour after Nyuma arrived at the hotel, the campaign squad of APC leader Ernest Bai Koroma arrived at the same hotel. Some of the then opposition leader's bodyguard soon learnt that Tom Nyuma was also in the hotel and concluded that this was no coincidence. They reportedly thought that Tom, given his reputation was there to make an attempt on the life of their leader.

Tom, After Severe APC beating
Ernest koroma's men located Tom's room, forced open the door and proceeded to beat him to within an inch of his life and tie him up like rebel. Ernest Koroma's version which he gave to the United Nation's Integrated Office for Sierra Leone , UNIOSIL,  was that at around 4.00am, he had heard some commotion outside his room, but deemed it unsafe and did not come out. He proceeded to call the inspector general of police who then called the local unit command in Bo. Police were sent to the hotel. He stated that his bodyguards told him it was safe to come out. He then came out and saw Tom and one Philip Jimmy tied up like spring chickens.

Ernest told UNIOSIL that police had told him they found 50 rounds of ammunition for a  9mm firearm in Tom's vehicle. Of course Tom totally refuted Ernest Koroma's version, but at the end,  he was deliberately, systematically and severely beaten and spent some time recuperating in the hospital from his wounds and body pain. Of course the SLPP rose to his defense and  helped him during this period of physical and emotional crisis.

Nyuma wins Kailahun for SLPP
In 2008, Members of the SLPP, who were grateful for Tom's exploits during the war and seeing his sorry state, decided that their hero  was not going to suffer a fate similar to that of ex leader Valentine Strasser. They gave him  the SLPP  symbol and he ran against Solomon Musa of the APC for the Kalahun District Chairmanship, which he won by a landslide, winning 52,371 votes  against his APC opponent Solomon Musa who scored 14,252 votes, a whopping 73 percent of the votes. When the results were announced, hundreds of Kailahun residents cut palm fronds, the symbol of the SLPP and jumped on the streets, in ecstatic jubilation. This is the same man that has after four years, decided to defect and pledge his loyalty to those who flogged him within an inch of his life, who would have surely killed him, had it not been for the blessings of God's great majesty.

Most  SLPP strongmen though terribly disappointed with Tom's party disloyalty are not even a bit surprised, as it is alleged and had been variously reported in the past that he had switched allegiances a very long time ago and the Buedu announce was just a confirmation of what many political pundits had suspected all along.

Of course the blogosphere is currently hot with opposition disappointment and anger, but most people are of the opinion that the situation will just help galvanize opposition support in the east as Tom's popularity had been on the wane, given his poor managerial skills and his cozy relationship with the APC top brass. It could be recalled that in the not too distant past, APC operatives had bought a very expensive SUV for Tom that had caused much consternation and alarm in opposition circles.

Those who know Tom Nyuma also note that of all things,  he loves being near the center of power and was never comfortable in the opposition, even when he was chairman of an entire district. Tom,  it is said, yearns for those days when he was minister of defense and district chairman was a title that he felt belittled his once mighty status.

It will be a social scientist's dream to see how Tom will fit into the APC, a party full of people who  in the past so hated his guts that they would rather see him dead than eat with him. Most strong APC guys I have talked to in the past consider Tom a war criminal and a rebel. It will be interesting to see how they will now welcome him and the adjectives they will now use to describe him. In the meantime the Segbwema blogger will be here, giving you updates as they come in.

Sheku Sheriff
Segbwema Blogger
www.segbwema.blogspot.com


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well articulated. The end of this defection shall justify it means. It is inconceivable to imagine this happening.

Anonymous said...

The end justifies the means. Greed and Misery walk and in hand.

Anonymous said...

It is a blessing for SLPP to be flushed from all evil people and have people with the love of the country in their blood. LONG LIVE SIERRA LEONE LONG LIVE SLPP

JJMuray said...

Nice review but it takes only the heart of a public servant to deflect when the need arise. Kudos to Tom

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May peace and unity may always flourish in that country.

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