It was not all pleasantries however, as President Koroma used the opportunity to sow some fear in the minds of the gathered hopefuls and send a message to the nation at large that his second term would not be like his first term. He said that during his first term he had somehow been more lax and had allowed some element of lawlessness to remain unaddressed. He stated that during his second and last term he wanted to protect and solidify his legacy and may therefore soon be parting with some old friends as it was not goint to be business as usual. He further stated that during his second term he had not jailed any politicians or journalists, but this time round he would not hesitate to do so if they got out of line.
In my communications with a source close to the seat of power, I expressed some scepticism at the President's statements, as in his first term he had pledged to a policy of zero tolerance to corruption, but had not made any concerted effort to stamp out the rampant corruption that still bedeviled the small West African country. In fact some notorious corruption scandals had been unearthed and the perpetrators has mostly gotten off scot free. My source stated that this time round, the president was very serious and that all of Sierra Leone should watch what he does as he is very conscious of his historical legacy, given his long period of involvement in Sierra Leone politics.
As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The president and some people close to him may want to bring the country closer after a particularly divisive campaign and may want to ensure that the nation view him as a transformative leader. However, if statements on social media by Ernest Koroma's new publicity secretary Sylvia Blyden and others claiming to be APC mouthpieces represent the president's intent, then the future points to five more years of the same or worse. Sylvia Blyden continues to accuse those who did not support the president of tribalism and rain insults on Julius Maada Bio the SLPP candidate. If these are the new APC breed that Ernest Koroma is intending to make the new face of his administration and if they continue to view politics as a vehicle to create enmity and settle vendettas, then Sierra Leone by any measure has some very dark days ahead.
President Koroma has his set of able advisers and may not need to hear from those of us who did not support his second term effort in the first place. However, as a citizen I would ask him to use caution with his set of 'new APC' friends, many of whom are disgruntled malcontents who are never happy unless there is conflict. As all of these people mill around the president, spreading their hate and malice in return for government appointments, President Koroma should realize that there are many upright, educated and credible members of APC he can choose from and does not need to reward these political chameleons who always want to be where there is honey.
It is time for Sierra Leone to close the door on these old recycled political Methuselahs and pretentious tabloid journalists and embark on an era of developing young, educated, credible leaders who believe in national unity, disavow tribalism and are only interested in moving the nation forward. This statement should hold for both the ruling APC, the opposition SLPP and other less well known parties.
|President Ernest Bai Koroma|