Sierra Leone Political Updates: Koroma's Third Term Agenda (The Politics of Bread and Butter)
According to Reverend Kabs Kanu's simplistic view of Sierra Leone democracy, a country he has not stepped foot in for over 30 years, there is a constitutional review process in place in the country, and since President Koroma has done such a very good job of beautifying the country, the focus of the review should be to remove the two-term limit from the constitution, allowing his friend and international employer Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma another third term and ensuring that while he Kabs Kanu continues to stay in America, he is able to get some more years away from the classroom, living in USA as a diplomat and getting fatter at the Sierra Leone taxpayers expense.
Reverend Kabs Kanu, who came to the attention of Sierra Leoneans when he set up the Cocorioko forum that was to later become the All Peoples Congress (APC) online propaganda outlet Cocorioko dedicated to glorifying Ernest Koroma and his appointees, has a very simple argument. If the people of Sierra Leone think that President koroma deserves a third term, then so let it be. In the opinion of the international diplomat Kabs Kanu, President Ernest Bai Koroma had brought so much socioeconomic and political development and he has so much to offer to the nation. By the reverend's logic, a democratic government is a government of the people, for the people and by the people and if it is the will of the people of the All Peoples Congress for the President to go for a third term, the go ahead, change the constitution. "After all," the political reverend argues, "President Koroma has delivered and the nation stands to gain much more benefits with him at the rein.
What the Reverend Kabs Kanu does not say is that if President Koroma is given a third term, such a blatant display of sycophancy assures him again of a steady paycheck from Sierra Leone, enabling him to live a comfortable lifestyle in the USA for 5 more years, while the Sierra Leone people continue to wallow in their current state of misery and destitution.
While the people of Sierra Leone are waiting for an agenda for prosperity that has only delivered prosperity to those who are close to President Ernest Bai Koroma, he deserves a third term, so that Kabs Kanu will continue to eat prime stake.
To be fair to the ailing Reverend, Kabs Kanu is not the first person to call for a third term for President Koroma. After the election of last year, Leonard Balogun Koroma, who was earlier dismissed as Minister in the Vice President's office and was later brought back to lead the 2012 campaign after convincing the President of his continued personal loyalty, flouted the idea of a possible third term in a radio interview. The Sierra Leone people, many of who sacrificed their lives to reject political tyranny and reestablish the current democratic system of governance the country is benefiting from today were quick to take to the media to voice their rejection of letting anybody serve as President again for more than two terms, fearing a return to the one party APC kleptocracy of Siaka Stevens and Joseph Saidu Momoh that transformed Sierra Leone from a middle class African country into the poorest country on the face of the earth, in the presence of enormous mineral and agricultural wealth. Though State House at the time released a press statement rejecting the idea of a third term, emphatically stating that the President was a democrat and was committed to the country's current constitutional term limits, in a sinister move, Balogun Koroma was promoted to the aviation and transportation ministry and put in charge of future national APC campaigns. This was very significant, as Sierra Leone is a country in which action speaks way louder than words.
Forward to the present. Just a few weeks ago, Robin Fallay, a former ardent critic of President Koroma who defected to APC on the verge of losing the SLPP symbol for constituency 7 which covers Njaluahun chiefdom in the Kailahun district in 2012, also publicly called for a third term for President Koroma. In 2012 Robin Fallay was arrested in Segbwema and locked in jail in Kenema, accused of trying to register underage students in his constituency. His public humiliation raised tempers in the opposition SLPP, but he was on the verge of losing his constituency as the youths had turned against him. Facing determined prosecution from the APC which made his case a high profile one, he defected to APC to save his skin and was immediately given an APC symbol to contest in the same constituency, a manifestation of the craziness of Sierra Leone politics and the reversal in democratic gains that were made under the era of Late President Ahmed Tejan Kabba. Fallay was trounced on the APC ticket by his former campaign person.
It is quietly rumored that Robin Fallay badly wants to replace William Juana Smith as the Resident Minister of the eastern region and taking from Balogun Koroma's play book, he is currently making these public pronouncements to convince the President of his loyalty and continue to protect his current position as a rising star in the current APC. Currently on social media, which is the hub of Sierra Leone political discourse involving those in the country and the diaspora, there are all sort of strange names popping up, all calling for an extension of President Koroma's tenure.
What is however credible about the current call for extension is that Reverend Kabs Kanu is very close to President Koroma and being a very strategic and occasionally devious person, there is no way he will make such a call if the rumors of political manipulations by the APC to pressurize the constitutional review committee to modify the term limit provision in the constitution is not true. Just a month or so ago, a prominent member of the constitutional review committee under Justice Cowan, a close friend of the President, resigned, citing too much government interference in the process.
What is however notable about these calls for a mandate or term limit extension is that there are deep worries among APC members, especially those close to the president that if he leaves power, their political future is uncertain. In a country where politics is about bread and butter and economic sustenance, many friends, cronies and associates of a President Koroma are genuinely worried that were he to hand over power to another APC person, that individual may also have his own trusted circle different from the president's current inner circle. In a country in which politics is about survival, people like Balogun Koroma, Kabs Kanu, Robin Fallay and many others are not currently willing to risk this uncertainty, hence the clamor for another term.
Just last week I was talking to a very close APC friend of mine and asked him why there were these growing calls for Ernest Koroma to stay. After all, I said, there were people in the APC who were far more intelligent and educated than Ernest Bai Koroma, many of whom had a better understanding of economics than the president, so why the call for him to stay? Why don't people want to bring in a new person, a well vetted person who will at least forego this golden age of sycophancy and stop putting the type of square pegs in round holes that are disgracing the country by violently raping school girls and fighting for men in public. My friend's answer was simple, "The devil you know is better than the angel you don't know"
So let us be very clear. All this talk about the extension of the term limit of the president because he has made roads, is bringing in investors to exploit the country's minerals and Sierra Leone is now even starting to produce 5 gallon plastic containers, is just a lot of hogwash, mere whitewash. The main reason why all these people are clamoring for President Koroma to get a third term is not because they care for the people of Sierra Leone, it is all about self preservation. Kabs Kanu, after years of unhealthy living and growing fat is not very well, he needs his position to afford his expensive medications. The people of Sierra Leone be damned, how many times has Kabs gone to Sierra Leone in the last 37 years?
The current crop of APC politicians are getting scared of news names like Mohamed Mansaray, Anti-Corruption boss Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Almamy Petito Koroma, and Dr. Kelfala Marah, as they don't know if these fellows will be amenable to the type of shameless sycophancy that has almost derailed President Koroma's second term agenda. Even if some of these new names were to emerge as potential leaders, there is no guarantee that their future appointments will be based on the sycophancy and nepotism that has been the hallmark of Koroma's presidency.
So most of the President's blue eyed boys are not only scared of an opposition takeover with people like Maada Bio, John Benjamin, Kandeh Yumkella, Alpha Timbo or Andrew Keili ruling Sierra Leone, they are afraid of what some of their own APC colleagues will do if they get power. At least in Ernest Koroma they have a pliable leader who they know is easily swayed by gossip, rumor and self serving praise. The prospect of a Sam Sumana Presidency is almost diarrhea inducing for people like Sylvia Blyden and Balogun, hence the calls for an EBK second term.
But what these monofocal individuals are failing to realize is that it was this same type of self serving politics that brought about the last civil war in Sierra Leone. I know that people like Kabs Kanu never witnessed the war in Sierra Leone, and so he may be forgiven for caring only about the affordability of his medications. However, some of these morons were in Sierra Leone throughout the war and saw what devastation and backwardness the same tactics that are now being advocated brought upon the country. Many people who are not close to the Koroma power machine now feel alienated, marginalized and reduced to the status of second class citizens in their own land and to think that they will just sit idly by and while allowing the architects of the country's ruin to continue to tighten their control over everything is a fool's agenda.
President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah could have used the excuse of ending the war and restoring economic and social order to try and extend his presidency. But democrat that he was, he saw that it would be a reversal of all that he had fought so arduously for. To now have a situation in which the country goes back to the past, extend the presidential term and manipulate a referendum to ensure that it is constitutionally provided, for will only be a recipe for chaos. As the President and his men continue to fund ways to bastardize the political process in Sierra Leone, the eyes of the world will be in them, like a laser beam. The opposition parties are also being watched to see how they will react to this gross national demonstration of sycophancy.