Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nyuma's Big Welcome to the Empty Streets of Kailahun

People waiting to  Welcome Nyuma
A few weeks ago, a high level delegation of the ruling  All peoples Congress Party (APC) of Sierra Leone, made their way through the torturous eastern terrain and horrible Kenema-Kailahun road, one of the most neglected and dangerous roads on the face of the earth; sometimes called "hell's highway, to present Sierra Leone Peoples Party ( SLPP) turncoat and now APC strongman Tom Nyuma to the people of the town of Kailahun, where he is the current SLPP district chairman. Tom Nyuma is one of the newest entrants into the SLPP wing of the APC, currently populated by such high profile SLPP defectors like Dr. Lansana Nyallay of Tegloma fame, Joseph Bandabla Dauda, Tom Nyuma himself and most recently,  the garrulous ex-Ambassador John Leigh.
APC supporters being bused into Kailahun

Tom Nyuma it can be recalled, was a major player in the 1992-1996 National Provisional Revolutionary Council (NPRC) regime that chased the then APC leader, Rtd. Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh out of power and the country, on the unusually cold and cloudy morning of 29th April 1992.

The NPRC coup, which  then president Momoh dismissed as a minor event by a group of disgruntled officers and men in the Sierra Leone military and other malcontents, was welcomed with jubilation and enthusiasm after years of APC misrule characterized by corruption, nepotism, runaway inflation, blackouts, national insecurity, low military morale, high unemployment, insane income inequalities, leading the United Nations to classify Sierra Leone as the poorest and most miserable place to live on the face of the earth.
Main APC Delegation arrives

Captain Valentine Esegrabo Melvin Strasser, who was hastily installed as the coup leader was showered with tremendous adulation. He became a local  folk hero and his portrait and that of his other fellow revolutionaries was ubiquitously painted across the streets of Freetown. Prominent amongst the 1992 military coup leaders in terms of sheer force of character, courage and physical presence were Solomon Anthony J. Musa, Tom Nyuma, Karefa Kargbo, Komba Kambo, Julius Maada Bio, Charles Mbayoh, and of course the leader Valentine Strasser. Other less notable military figures included Idriss Kamara, Abdul Karim Kamara, Fallah sewa, Mani, and others.

After the war, Tom Nyuma left military duty and found his way to America, where he generally maintained a low profile, until he was sent back to his homeland in dubious circumstances. Nyuma went back to Sierra Leone, destitute but with name recognition was resuscitated by the opposition SLPP who did not want a popular son from the party's eastern base to be moving around town in dire straits like his former boss Valentine Esegrabo Melvin Strassser. In 2008 SLPP gave tom the party symbol to contest for the District council chairmanship of Kailahun district, an election he won by a landslide.
Kailahun APC supporters waiting for Nyuma

Since Tom Nyuma became district council chairman though, things have not been smooth. As opposed to the days when they were ministers and had permanent and administrative secretaries do most of the work while they moved around in new cars attending ceremonial functions, the work of District Chairman was an administrative job for which Tom Nyuma who was more a fighter than a thinker was supremely unqualified. News from Kailahun was that he was way over his head and did not know what he was doing most of the time. Tom Nyuma was never the brightest bulb in the room, but the post of district chairman was not one that appealed much to him. He still yearned for the glory days and started to hang out more with APC folks, though these same people had flogged him so severely in 2007.  Leatherboot, a former subordinate of Tom Nyuma's who later joined the infamous murderous West Side boys, led the team that flog Tom Nyuma in a hotel in Bo so badly that it was a miracle he survived at all.
Tom Being Given State Ride to the event

Tom Nyuma's head was swollen after the beating and many people believe he must have received some traumatic brain injury that was not properly treated, as he started to behave more erratically after the incident. Tom Nyuma started to have major problems with the SLPP when he started to cavort with APC power players, including president Koroma. The problem came to a head when he was presented with a brand new Rover truck that SLPP members thought was a sort of bribe by the APC to Tom. The opposition SLPP vocally derided Tom for his close alliance with APC folks. Tom Nyuma grew increasingly disillusioned and distanced himself more and more from the SLPP leadership and became chummier with the APC leadership.
Tom's head swollen from gun butts and boots
was his brain injured?

So Tom's announcement that he was leaving the opposition for the ruling party came as little surprise to political watchers and commentators. The loquacious and rude editor of the Awareness Times opinion rag, Sylvia Blyden, had even predicted Tom's move.

Tom Nyuma flanked by APC supporters bused into town.
So the APC delegation sent in truck loads of supporters and expected to make a major show in welcoming Tom Nyuma to Kailahun as APC! Alas, most of the people of Kailahun may have never gotten the memo or did not even care. The only people present to welcome Tom Nyuma in his new capacity were some young fellows who thought APC had brought food and money to share and those who knew that not being there would cost them their government jobs. Most of the people just kept away from the spectacle. The Segbwema blog correspondent stated that though the delegates managed to put a brave face on, Tom Nyuma became ill and was unable to speak at the event. Later loads of APC guys brought to the event managed to create a semblance of a crowd around the area.

Tom was later given a vote of no confidence by the other district councillors, but he is still hanging on to his post, as the ruling party which he now supports will not let him be kicked out of office.

Interior Minister Tarawally
Vowing to shed opposition blood in November
Many human rights watchers are watching Tom Nyuma and documenting his every move as the ruling All Peoples Congress has brought in millions of dollars of arms and ammunition into the country in preparation for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, and the interior minister has publicly claimed over BBC focus on Africa that the arms were brought into the country to target the opposition. Tom Nyuma has a gross propensity and reputation for violence and it is feared that APC will use him to carry create mayhem in the Eastern Region this year.


Jasmine said...

This article is very bias,people who fight for our nation in the time of distress should be honored and treated as heroes.
It's shame people writing and emphasizing bad stuff about people who sacrificed their lives for others..
That the difference with United State and US.. They honor their military men here especially the well severed , which i believe Tom well severed our nation.
So please in the name of Sierra Leone please put your SlPP and APC aside and Honor Him his last respect he deserves it.

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