Sunday, September 30, 2012

President Koroma Will Likely Keep Sam Sumana




President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma
Citizens of the small West African nation of Sierra Leone have been eagerly awaiting news about the president's decision on a running mate as speculation and rumors have been rife that President Ernest Bai Koroma would replace his scandal ridden Vice President Alhaji Sam Sumana who has been credibly accused of every conceivable fraudulent activity from obtaining the position by false representation, involvement in bribery and scamming of foreign investors.
Scandal Plagued Vice President Chief Alhaji  Sam Sumana
Most Sierra Leoneans are of the opinion that President Koroma has been left with very few options other than replacing the scandal plagued Vice President. Just a few weeks after he became Vice President, concerned Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora were alarmed when it was learnt that the Vice President was in America, shopping for a million dollar home. Pro-APC operatives were quick to pounce on the news as propaganda and a blatant attempt by the opposition parties, especially the Sierra Leone People's Party, to tarnish the name of the Vice President and undermine the credibility of the new government. Others who viewed documentary evidence were quick to state that the Vice President had been a rich diamond magnate even before he attained the position and it was therefore not a surprise if he could afford to pay cash for a mansion in the USA. The fact that at that time, there was still a blood diamond moratorium did not register to the latter defenders. During president Barack Obama's inauguration, there was again a scandal involving the Vice President claiming that he was in America to attend the inauguration, but he was reported to be thousands of miles in Florida meeting with some shady business characters.

Forward a few years, the Arab Satellite news channel implicated the Vice President in a bribery scandal in which his agents were caught on camera soliciting thousands of dollars in bribes from investigative journalists posing as foreign investors. The illegal logging scandal which followed a cocaine plane load scandal involving another minister was a major embarrassment for the Vice President and the country and even some fanatic APC supporters started to be more vocal about calling for the Vice President to go. 
Samoura Caught The VP's Hand in the Cookie Jar
As if that was not enough, earlier this year a group of businessmen in the American state of Minnesota who had put the Vice President in charge of their mining venture in Sierra Leone before his political days, accused the Vice President of fraud and embezzlement in a scathing letter to Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora after they had tried unsuccessfully to recoup hundreds of thousands they had entrusted in his hands. These investors led by Minnesota business magnate Dave Kloeber, had met the Vice President when he was a parking lot attendant in Minnesota, the coldest state in mainland USA, and had been convinced by him that with the end of the war in Sierra Leone, investment in Sierra Leone's minerals was a profitable venture with eleemosynary elements. The business men had swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker and had invested in him, even caring for his wife and family, while he was in Africa using their monies to buy a vice presidential ticket in the then opposition APC, which is currently in government.
Senator Clair Mccaskill Wants Sumana Investigated
Just a few weeks later, it was revealed that another set of business men from Missouri who had launched the Taakor company had made representations to their senators seeking to use the US legislative and legal system to seek redress in relation to the fraudulent  conduct of the Vice President who had scammed them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct in investment.

These allegations, most of them very highly credible had not only caused embarrassment for the Sierra Leone APC party, but by extension had created a very negative image of the investment climate in Sierra Leone, a country that has as an economic imperative the attraction of foreign investment as a primary vehicle for economic development. As a result most intelligent observers had been of the opinion that though the president had not replaced Sam Sumana during the current term, he would not run with him again to save the reputation of the party.

Those people who have been very closely following the pattern of leadership of President Koroma have however quietly been stating that given the president's extreme tendency to show loyalty to those that support or praise him, the Vice President will most likely not be replaced, as the president has demonstrated time and time again that loyalty to him was the primary driver of most of his decisions.

Some months ago I wrote on the President's dilemma as it relates to the Vice President. While in opposition, the Vice President was apparently the major fundraiser for the APC, even though the source of some of these funds re now being revealed to be shady. In a government that has been rife with intrigue and corruption involving every facet of government, the Vice President has been at the center of things and probably knows a lot. With every member of the presidents family a millionaire in just four years, Assam Sumana may too many things that would make him a dangerous weapon to just discard because of the opinion of people or the reputation of the country.
Karamoh of the Dubious Accident
The president in his early days, as with most leaders, promised and demonstrated some intolerance to corruption. But recently the president has been more tolerant of scandal plagued individuals being part of his cabal. Former Aviation Minister Kemoh Sesay who everyone knows was directly implicate in the cocaine plane scandal that so negatively impacted the image of the country has been quietly rehabilitated and is now a chief adviser to the President. Balogun Koroma who was accused of embezzling monies for the 50th Independence Day celebrations is now the campaign chair for the party. Even the Anti Corruption Commission has been gutted and is now filled with characters that owe their loyalty to the president. Karamoh Kabba who staged managed an accident in which the only problem that happened was the loss of millions of government Leones is now a director in the office of presidential affairs.  So the Vice President's corrupt reputation may not have the same impact that it would have had in 2008, as all people around the president are now increasingly brazen in their acquisition of quick wealth. 

President Koroma also has tremendous loyalty to APC Secretary General Victor Foh, who manipulated party rules to ensure that the president remained unchallenged as party leader up to the  2012 elections. Victor Foh it is reported, is very close to the Vice President and reports are that he will use his influence to ensure that Sam Sumana is not replaced. Others who may not have much affinity for the Vice President will still recognize that as long as he is VP, he has power and most people will not challenge him to his face, but will just mumble quietly and go with whatever the president will say. 

Finally President Koroma has always demonstrated greater affinity for party than country. If the Vice President's removal will result in deep fissures in the APC, the president will rather prevent this than have much regard for the country's reputation, given his very partisan nature. 

In conclusion the Segbwema Blog is of the opinion that President Koroma will keep his Vice President as he has nothing to lose, as even if he wins the election, this is his last term and the country is now so partisan that APC supporters will support whoever he names as running mate, even if it is a chimpanzee dressed in suit



Friday, September 28, 2012

Actually, the President of Sierra Leone Needed Only Two Hotel Floors, Not Three

Actually, the President of Sierra Leone Needed Only Two Hotel Floors, Not Three

A Serious World in the hands of Comedians


Iran's President Whose only Reason for Coming to New York Is to Threaten Israel 

Every year the world is treated to the serious comedic spectacle that is the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA.

In a world fraught with disaster, both human and natural, and a planet facing a climate change crisis that is accelerating the melting of the polar ice caps resulting in higher oceans levels and spelling potential imminent near future catastrophe for low lying countries, one would have thought that a gathering of contemporary world leaders in this day and age, would be a forum to place emphasis on finding solutions to global warming, increasing global food prices, rapid depletion of the earths fossil fuel reserves, the growing threat of international terrorism, the increased global income disparities both within and across nations, a rapidly increasing global population, the emergence of antibiotic resistant infections and many global problems that have the potential to accelerate the socioeconomic decline of the human race.
Netanyahu and His Bomb

Yet the UN General Assembly has over the years become the most expensive international talking shop in the history of the human race. These few days I have been on C-Span listening to speeches by the world's leaders and confronting the horrible reality that the world is increasingly becoming a sophisticated place with sophisticated peoples who are largely being represented and ruled by certified clowns.

Here was President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, the leader of a country which has the potential to become the main player in the Middle East, talking about democracy and world freedom in a country that is one of the most repressed countries in the world. A country where the opinions of a few religious mullahs can overturn the aspirations of its multimillion inhabitants in the blink of an eye. He is a leader in a country renowned for gigantic earthquakes and sitting on a huge reserve of inflammable oil and gas, but is just hell bent on the acquisition of nuclear stockpiles just a year after the catastrophic tsunami in Japan has exposed how dangerous nuclear technology can be in the face of natural disasters. Here is the leader of an expressly civilized nation calling for the elimination of an entire race of people, whose main crime was that they were led by historic persecution to find a country to call their own, with their claim to the land being based on the teachings of the holiest religious books in the area.
Arab Puppet Mahmoud Abbass
Here was Benjamin Netanyahu the Israeli prime minister, who was just too willing to launch another war in an area that is still reeling from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and where the negative consequences of the Arab spring  has resulted in the insane proliferation of weapons in the area. Even the fact that the war this time around will be a blood bath of monumental proportions, given the insane arms build up in the area, does not seem to be registering to this political ideologue. He will meddle in American politics, to get another Republican leader who will once again waste taxpayers money on an adventure of death and whole scale destruction. The urgent need to prevent a disaster was the argument given for the Iraq intervention, and we all know how that turned out.
Africa Greatest Leader Fighting Cholera Bai Koroma
African leaders from countries steeped in poverty, misery, food deprivation and disease, use this forum to paint colorful pictures of situations back in their home countries that are far removed from any semblance of reality. While some of the cash strapped leaders will paint pictures of governments willing to tackle great challenges facing economic constraints, leaders from countries like Sierra Leone will paint pictures of economies on the verge of modernanization with impressive growth forecasts, while their citizens die from preventable diseases like cholera that are brought on by years of disregard for sanitation and allowing mountains of trash to build up in city streets, while allowing political cronies to cash monthly fat checks for waste disposal.
Sierra Leone's Monumental Development
Take the case of my country Sierra Leone and our president Professor Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. He makes these yearly UN visits with a huge delegation of folks whose main purpose is to go shopping in New York at government's expense while sleeping in the most luxurious hotels the Big Apple can provide. He presents a picture of a country reborn, where all the citizens are living in peaceful bliss, the economy is growing at annual rates exceeding 35%, the mines are now working at full capacity and adding millions of dollars to the national coffers, and yet he still needs help to fight the worst cholera epidemic Africa has faced for close to a century. I really do not know of a way to describe hell in paradise as the paradox of our yearly bluff and beg routine demonstrates.

And what is it about these national walkouts When Israel starts talking, Iran will walk out. When Iran starts talking America and Israel will walk out. When the Palestinians start talking the Israelis will work out. The whole exercise is an adult indulgence in ceremonial childish behavior whose irritation is only equal to its ridiculousness. Even in my poor town of Segbwema we sit down and listen to our adversaries talk and consider it improper etiquette to walk out on somebody who is talking to you, even if you do not want to hear what hey want to say. But the United Nations General Assembly considers it now a high point to walk out as soon as your adversary is heading for the podium.

And you should hear the Arab nations continually gripe about the misery of the Palestinian people while the only thing they do for them is supply the with arms, bombs and ammunition to shoot at Israel and have the Jewish nation come down their heads like a dust storm in the Sahel. Arab intransigence and radical ideologies have left virtually no room for any peaceful coexistence with the Israelis and any Palestinian leader wiling to genuinely talk peace with the Jewish state is viewed by Arab leaders as a sell out. The fact that in next hundred years nothing good will happen in Palestine in the absence of peaceful dialogue is lost on Arab leaders who see Palestine as the only issue they have in common with their largely repressed electorates.

I do not support the continued Israeli occupation of occupied Palestinian lands, but by the same token I have deeply studied the thousands of years of Jewish persecution in the Middle East and Europe and sincerely believe that they too deserve to have an ancestral home. This earth was created for one and all and no people should be treated on this earth as if they were strangers from another planet. The Arab populations usually disguise their racial intolerance under the cloak of Islam and try to sell their political agendas as if they were Islamic agendas. Sane people have to learn to know the distinction between the two. Palestine is an Arab agenda that has no place for the existence of the Jewish people and has little to do with a war on Islam.

Our world leaders need to waste all these huge amounts of state and world resources to just engage in ego inflating and national posturing. There are clear and present dangers threatening the existence of man kind. World leaders need to emulate the examples of presidents Mandela, Clinton and Obama who are visionaries for seeking global solutions to the problems facing the world, be they the spread of racial and tribal intolerance, terrorism, climate change and global food insecurity. World leaders would be advised to leave this unnecessary posturing to kids in school playgrounds.

As I  write a large snake is reported to have killed 35 people in northern Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone government has turned to the Chairman of Traditional Witchdoctors Association Abdul Kamara to find an urgent solution to the problem. He has already said that it is witchcraft and the witch hunt is now on. The Witchdoctors are complaining that the president is the only one supporting their efforts and the health minister is not giving support of their majestic powers. If this were not true, it will be like writing about 1125 instead of 2012.

Tegloma Goboi Descends on Washington DC


The Goboi and The Ambassador
On Labor Day weekend Saturday 2012, Tegloma International federation unleashed the organization's " Goboi" on an adoring and unsuspecting crowd in Washington DC and white Americans were dancing to Kposowa as if there was no tomorrow.
The Floating Goboi led by Attendants in Jeans
Tegloma Washington's cultural ambassador, the uniquely talented Osman Panda earlier gave a taste of what was to come by engaging in some majestic drumming that made me conjure the image of lying down in a hammock in my little village of Nyandeyama, chewing on a leg of native organic Sierra Leone chicken cooked in a pot of succulent cassavas leaves floating in a sea of fresh palmoil and occasionally punctuated by broad eyed beans.
The Goboi Must Dance
Later after a long meeting which was chaired with great gusto by Tegloma's eternally energetic Alfred Moi Jamiru, the night was for dancing and partying, under the watchful eye of Ambassador Steven Bockarie and potential repeat First Lady in waiting Francess Bio, Sierra Leone's former First Lady, who will be the only Sierra Leone woman to be First Lady times in the West African state.
Goboi Don Baranta
The party started with the great Steady Bongo of Mama Sayla and Makondor fame and he worked the crowd to such a frenzy, that the people kept asking for more. When Steady Bongo was exhausted and could hardly dance any more, the Tegloma Washington folks unleashed the traditional Goboi under the direction of assistant social secretary Musa Kamara and the Goboi effectively turned the Martin Luther King Jr. Hall upside down.
Goboi Being Decorated With Dollars
Having been born and bred in the fertile agricultural southeastern Sierra Leone city of Segbwema, I have seen many Gobois in my life time. I have seen energetic and wonderful Gobois , but never have I seen a Goboi as majestically acrobatic and well rounded as the one that Tegloma,unleashed on the warm September morning in Washington DC, right under the nose of America's charismatic president Barack Hussein Obama. 
 
The People Cannot Get Enough
There was even a moment when I though the Goboi was floating and I had to clean my glasses to confirm that I was not seeing an optical illusion.
A Majestic Devil
For many years to come the people of Washington DC will remember the weekend that Tegloma landed in the city, with their floating and acrobatic Goboi.

Tegloma Meets In Obama's Backyard


Chief Victor Tarmoh Tegloma DC President
On Labor Day weekend 2012, Tegloma International Federation, the largest Sierra Leone organization in the diaspora held its annual convention in the United States Capital, Washington DC, and the Washington DC convention hosts set a new bar for organizational efficiency, for conveniently hosting approximately 400 delegates from all over USA, Canada and The Gambia, without as much as a technical glitch, largely thanks to the dynamic leadership and organizational ability of Chief Victor Tarmoh of Tegloma Washington and the active participation of the many members of his dynamic chapter.
Tegloma Board Chair Bhonapa and Vice Chair Kallon
Many people who have never hosted public participatin events are scarcely aware of the level of commitment it takes to host a sigle event, let alone a three day program that was meant to showcase Tegloma's philanthropy and Sierra Leone's cultural wealth. As the Secretary General of the board of Tegloma, my verdict on this years convention in Wahington DC is summed up in three words; excellent, magnificent and outstanding.
Federation Chairman Jamiru and California President Musa
The board meeting on Friday August 31st started late as some members were late at the Washington DC airports, but under the direction of the experienced and exemplary Board Chairman Abu Bhonapha, all agenda items were comprehensively discussed, the board was able to present a professional report to the membership and most board members left the meeting convinced that Tegloma continues to be a solid organization that has matured with age and is still able to exert maximum impact in the lives of its members in the diaspora and do much good back home in Sierra Leone. Chairman Bhonopha was able impress on the gathered board members the necessity of placing Tegloma on a sounder financial footing than it currently is, if only to enable it realize its enormous and full potential. For the first time board members spent over an hour exploring the merits and demerits of various mechanisms for raising finance, the goal being to develop the five acre Tegloma land in Bo in the very near future. The chairman also emphasized the need for all the chapter members to bring their federation accounts up to date.
Tegloma Gambia Delegate Andrew Macarthy
Friday night was a period of convergence as delegates continued to fly into Washington DC late into the night and the meeting hall soon became a Sierra Leone carnival.

Saturday was the main convention chaired by the Federation adminstration chief Alfred Moi Jamiru who ensured that the culture of Sierra Leone was widely displayed to the experienced and deft drumsmanship of the great Mr. Osman Panda, a veteran sports teacher and cultural ambassador. The convention focused on health care in Sierra Leone, Tegloma's past contribution to the country's health care sector and tthe potential to assist the people in the future. The keynote speaker Dr. Marke a health practitioner in Sierra Leone enlightened the assembled delegates about the sad state of health care and health infrastructure in Sierra Leone and what needed to be done to improve the situation and compliment the effort of the present and successive governments.
Tegloma Chiefs Entering the Convention Hall
The convention delegates were then divided into working groups to focus on several important issues confronting Tegloma, after a passionate appeal for funds from chapters by  Board Chairman Bhonapha. The board secretariat was also given the floor to outline the achievements of the current board and their plans for the immediate future.
Tegloma DC members setting up Breakfast
While all this was going on, the members of Tegloma DC kept ensuring that the delegates stayed well fed throughout. There was enough food provided to feed a small kingdom and delegates had enough energy to talk way into the late evening. The high points of Saturday's meeting were the address by Dr. Marke and the formidable presentation by Andrew Macarthy of Tegloma Gambia, who had flown from the small West African country of The Gambia, to represent the newest chapter in the 24 chapter Tegloma federation. This year, there were no delegates from Tegloma London.
Tegloma Gambia Delegate Addressing the Convention
On Saturday night Tegloma had a formidable ball in Washington under the grand patronage of the Sierra Leone Ambassador Bockarie Stevens, who made sure he brought his entire embassy staff. The ambassador was praised for his effort to reach out to all Sierra Leoneans by the Tegloma Washington president Victor Tarmoh. The wife of the current SLP  opposition leader Francess Bio was also given due recognition at the ball.
Ambassador Stevens and Tegloma Vice Chair Johnson

As usual the great Steady Bongo who attends every annual Tegloma convention was at hand to entertain the delegates and guests. He was in his element, gyrating to his latest and old music and he was awarded and recognized for his love for and devotion to Tegloma and his for mandible role in bringing contemporary Sierra Leone music to a wider audience. 
Steady Bongo in his element

After Steady Bongo, the Tegloma Goboi invaded Washington DC and the rest of the pictures will better tell the story.


Robin Fallay Jumps on the APC Gravy Train



MP Robin Fallay
The latest high profile defection from The Sierra Leone People's Party to the All Peoples Congress Party in Sierra Leone has come from the home of the Segbwema Blogger himself, Njaluahun Chiefdom. The member of Parliament for Segbwema and its satellite localities, the highly unpredictable and frequently erratic MP Robin Fallay, who was on the verge of losing the SLPP symbol mainly due to poor performance and chronic character flaws, has decided to become the latest member of the SLPP faction of the APC. In short, Fallay has joined the list of SLPP politicians who have decided to latch their immediate future political onto the coat tails of another Ernest Bai Koroma presidency.

On the platonic or superficial level, APC, by landing Robin Fallay, who was being pursued by the same APC for election registration malpractices seem to have scored a success against the SLPP just close to the elections in November.

As can be gleaned from pro-APC publications like Cocorioko and the Awarenesstimes, APC operatives are giddy with joy at landing Robin Fallay who they had recently been branding a criminal and political nonentity and in the early part of the year had him thrown into the dirty cells of a Kenema jail for several days, depriving him of his respect as a member of parliament and generally treating him like a lowly thug. He was also threatened with criminal prosecution for alleged direct involvement in the registration of under aged school children to vote in his Segbwema constituency.
APC's Newest Convert
Fallay's rapidly declining personal popularity in Segbwema combined with an imminent loss of his party symbol and the threat of legal intimidation by the APC seemed to have left the MP with very few future political options in the SLPP and for months it has been rumored that he was about to jump aboard Ernest Bai Koroma's APC gravy train which is currently willing to accept anybody in their quest to hold on to power in Sierra Leone by all means.

In a merely symbolic gesture and with all the fanfare of a craftily staged managed carnival,  APC operatives openly welcomed the alleged criminal now turned party saint Robin Fallay into their ranks in Segbwema and has already promised him the party symbol in the absence of any formality or vetting. At this stage in the APC mindset, all that matters is winning and if it involves awarding symbols to chimpanzees wearing red lipsticks, then they are willing to do so, no questions asked.

Robin Fallay's award of the SLPP symbol in 2007 was not based on any past personal achievement or history in the constituency, but largely as a symbol of respect to his dad Teacher Fallay who was one of the pioneers of education in the area and the near mythical heroic status of his late brother Captain Wallace Fallay, " Unbreakable", who had died defending the town during the peak of the civil war. Robin himself had spent some pretty unremarkable years in the United Kingdom, had come back and was helping veteran SLPP politician and current party Chairman John Benjamin run his night club business in Freetown. When the need arose for someone to be given the party symbol for the area after the death of Honorable I. K. Foday who had always won the constituency, Fallay seemed like a good choice, given his family legacy and the Segbwema tendency to honor the memory of their heros and his youthfulness.

Fallay, a vocal critic of the APC was a bone in the throat of the Ernest Koroma administration in parliament, frequently winning arguments in parliament against APC's bunch of largely mediocre MPs, many of whom had little clue about parliamentary procedures or even their roles in the august institution. Fallay was therefore both admired and at the same time resented by the APC.
Fallay in his SLPP days
At the constituency level however, Robin Fallay's political capital rapidly diminished. The people of Segbwema soon realized that he lack the fortitude of his father and the charisma and positive character traits of his late brother. He lost respect amongst the youths who saw him as having no interest in bringing projects to the area, but was beholden to the vices of drinking and smoking, and putting primacy on these things, he thought that youths will be happy as  long as he supplied them with alcohols and stuff to smoke whenever he visited the area. It was largely lost on Robin Fallay that Segbwema with a strong legacy of excellent schools had a higher per capita youth education ratio than most of the towns in Sierra Leone with 1 out of every 7 young person either being a college graduate or a graduate of the nursing school in Segbwema. Segbwema also has an inordinately large amount of educated intellectuals in the diaspora who were not too enamored at the prospect of being continually led by an individual who was almost a certified alcoholic.

Fallay's public drunkenness in a largely conservative and mostly Islamic area also meant that he was viewed as a nonconformist in spite of his position as a member of Parliament. In short, Robin's personal failures and character flaws were the catalysts for his declining political fortune in his constituency and the claim that SLPP elders were interested in seeing his downfall was just a product of his fertile imagination. The truth of the matter was that the shoes that Robin had been given to wear we're just too big for him, causing him both torment and frustration. He knew he had lost the people and he therefore has taken the politically easy route, that is go where the power is currently is.

Though APC seems to have scored a major coup, Fallay is largely old news as far as the people of Segbwema are concerned. The large crowd at the ceremony is just that. Nothing much happens in Segbwema, so even a fight between a man and his wife is usually a spectacle that will bring out a large crowd. Combine that with the news that APC is bringing money to distribute in the area and every old man too old to walk will have his sons carry him in a hammock to share on the national loot. Robin Fallay's support in Segbwema has mostly been restricted to his immediate family members and his defection as fearful as it may seem to the opposition, is just the noise of a pebble falling into an empty drum.

The Segbwema blog has been on an intellectual sabbath and is ready to resume blogging with immediate effect.
Segbwema Blogger