Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Sierra Leone Inauguration and Much Ado about Nothing

President Julius Maada Bio 
The Sierra Leone Inauguration went on as planned, on Saturday May 12th 2018. Surrounded by regional leaders, visiting dignitaries and a stadium filled beyond capacity with the people of Sierra Leone, President Julius Maada Bio was inaugurated as the leader of Sierra Leone for the next five years. Though the President had organized the cheapest inauguration in the modern history of Sierra Leone, it was still an amazing spectacle.

However, the inauguration did not however proceed without some significant hiccups and some deliberate hanky panky.  On the day before the inauguration, fire mysteriously broke out at the Presidential Pavilion at Lungi International Airport where foreign leaders and dignitaries were to be received. It was blamed on a Plasma TV and faulty wiring, but many Sierra Leoneans saw it as a deliberate act of sabotage tactically intended to embarrass the new leader in front of his visiting dignitaries.

Tragically on the day of the inauguration, security lapses around the stadium led to a stampede by people to enter and witness the spectacle, leading to the loss of lives and some people sustaining serious and minor injuries. So it was a bitter sweet day.
Passing the Torch 

However, for opposition APC detractors of the new President, the main complaint now in the country and on social media is that the ex-president, Chairman and Leader for Life of the All Peoples Congress,  Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma was not given a chance to make a public handing over statement on the day of the inauguration.

APC members ,who have suddenly found their voices after ten years of obedient compliance, are now all over social media lamenting the travesty of not allowing EBK, their hero to speak at the inauguration of President Julius Maada Bio.
A New President 

Silvia Olayinka Blyden, the fired ex-Social Welfare Minister under President Koroma and the new "Pied Piper of APC," went on TV claiming that she had personally helped the ex-president draft a statement for the inauguration, editing it to reduce the number of pages, and helped him embellish his main achievements. She lamented that the Ex-President Koroma not being allowed to read his more than 20 page speech at the inauguration of President Julius Maada Bio was a travesty.

I think all the furore about EBK not being allowed to speak at Maada Bio's inauguration is simply misguided and much ado about nothing. It is simply making a mountain out of a molehill. Most of the complaints are misleading at best.

An inauguration is about the new President and his message to the People. It is his vision about the future, the problem he wants to tackle, the actions he intends to take to solve these problems and the outcomes he intends to see. During the inauguration, the new President basically lays out a roadmap for the next five years, as is the case of Sierra Leone.

If the ex-president has a speech he wants to make at the end of his presidency, he can print the speech for dissemination or arrange another program with the President to do so and not on the day of the inauguration.

I think Maada Bio and Ernest Koroma have always behaved to each other like gentlemen, in spite of the Al Qaeda mentality of some of their most ardent supporters. But imagine where two candidates have a very bad election and one wins and gives the other  the platform to talk at the inauguration. What if the defeated candidate uses the opportunity to further divide the country?

I listened to the first public interview of Ex-President Robert Mugabe and wondered what would have happened if he had been allowed to give a speech at the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

An inauguration is about the new President, the celebration of his victory and the future of the country. Ernest Bai Koroma had ten years to give speeches and the people of Sierra Leone had ten years to listen to his speeches and decide that this time they were following a new direction. If the Ex-President wants to tell the people of Sierra Leone about his many successes, he can write a book for the historical record. For now Sylvia Blyden and all other agitators need to find something to do or help make the country better. Sierra Leone is for all whether you are with "One People" or "Tolongbo."
They even complain about
Cleaning the City

Monday, May 14, 2018

NGC Strong Man Bayoh comes Back to SLPP in Dramatic Fashion

One of the more memorable social media spectacles of the past election in Sierra Leone was the public defection of Sierra Leone Peoples Party North America (SLPPNA) strongman S. K. Bayoh to the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Just a few months before the election. Mr. S. K. Bayoh, a strong supporter of Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella at the time felt so angered at Kandeh's inability to clinch the SLPP presidential candidacy that he decided to defect from SLPP in a very public and dramatic fashion.
New Jersey SLPP welcome
A repentant Bayoh

In a now infamous video clip he recorded specifically for the event, a video that could be a very Drserious contender for a dramatic award consideration, Mr Bayoh, in full SLPP regalia, gave his personal history in SLPP and the reasons why he thought the SLPP no longer had his support. He then painstakingly removed every bit of SLPP paraphernalia that he had on him and proceeded to don the ornaments and colors of Kandeh's  Yumbellas NGC party.

Unfortunately, it seems as if Mr. S. K. Bayoh's romance with the NGC was as unfulfilling as it was brief. In a new video he posted this past weekend on social media before heading out to a SLPP celebration event in New Jersey,  Mr. S. K. Bayoh, in full prodigal fashion, has announced resignation from NGC and his return to SLPP, the party he claims he has always belonged to. He promised to make an elaborate video this Monday detailing his reasons for leaving the NGC and coming back home to his beloved  SLPP.

However, at the public SLPP event in New Jersey, S. K. Bayoh gave some hints as to why he thought his short personal sacrifice for NGC had been for nothing, focusing mainly on the ingratitude of Dr. Yumkella.  Mr. Bayoh lamented that from the time he lost the Presidency and became an MP,  Dr. Yumkella had not personally called him to thank him, Mr. Bayoh, for his enormous personal role in NGC campaign. He vowed he had more to say and of course we are eager to listen.

The members of SLPP New Jersey gave Mr. S. K. Bayoh a welcome befitting a repentant member who had lost his way in the midst of the NGC euphoria. 

Opinions within SLPPNA are however split about the rapidity with which S. K. Bayoh has abandoned the NGC ship. Some people state that if NGC had won, S. K. Bayoh may not have quickly abandoned the party even if he had not gotten a personal call from Kandeh, but would have stayed. Others are of the opinion that a lot of then SLPP and now NGC members captivated by the allure of Dr. Yumkella particularly in North America should be welcomed back to the SLPP fold. The party needs more hands on deck to ensure future electoral victories. 

As SLPP eases into the driver's seat in Sierra Leone, there are bound to be more defections from other parties and the return of some past defectors. It is just the Sierra Leone way, some people always want to be near the seat of power. SLPP should accept them, as our people say, "there is no bas forest forest to throw away a bad family member. You just have to accept them for the sake of family and continue sleeping with one eye open.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Sierra Leone Getting Ready for Presidential Inauguration

President Julius Maada Bio 
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is a very lucky man. Probably very few people give the thought to just how lucky one has to be to become the leader of an African country twice. African leaders typically do not have graceful exits. However, many of the African countries where individuals have become leaders at two different periods are in West Africa.

During the period in our continent's history when military dictatorships were common, Julius Maada Bio took over the reins of power in Sierra Leone and shortly hereafter handed the country over to civilian rule without any fussing or fighting. It was a very selfless decision.
APC Parliamentarian IB

Many of President Maada Bio's primary detractors love to say he had no option at the time he gave up power.  They state that at the time, it was the pressure and agitation of the civil population and the international community that forced him to give up power. In my opinion these statements can be attributed to the fact that in the midst of the hardship that has come to characterize our country  Sierra Leone, one of the attributes that has helped the people stay resilient is the possession of a relatively short memory span.

If the average Bio detractor did not have a very short memory, he/she would remember that Johnny Paul Koroma, a more recent military leader in a very similar position  refused to hand over to the country's elected civilian government, even when he had massive multinational forces arrayed against him, while facing substantial domestic civil and military resistance. Johnny Paul held on to power until he was practically chased out of the capital Freetown, later dying in obscurity and buried without pomp and pageantry. 
APC Inauguration Seat
Dumped in Backyard 

It is said that some people create their own luck. Maada Bio is one of those people. Leading up to the 2007 elections, Maada Bio tried his hand at being the presidential candidate of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party. He was defeated so comprehensively that many thought his foray into politics was over. However he came back for the 2012 elections and managed to clinch the party presidential candidacy, only to lose to the incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma.

After the 2012 loss, Maada Bio left to study for a doctoral degree in the United Kingdom.  While in the UK, he was simultaneously engaged in his studies while fighting challenges from all quarters within the SLPP to his candidacy as party flagbearer in 2018. Maada Bio's singular determination, the tenacity of the President's Paopa group within the party, his name appeal, the defection of some of his primary opponents to form the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and early support from some other aspirants put him in pole  position to win the leadership of SLPP the second time around.

In the general election the much hyped  support for the NGC and their candidate Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella did not materialize. Many people saw the NGC as a party of elitists and bourgeoisie supported by Sierra Leoneans living abroad. The APC party, while being plagued by poor economic performance in the country, also had a very lackluster candidate, Dr. Samura Kamara, whose credentials were more impressive on paper than in person. Samura had the unfortunate tendency of easily falling asleep during public appearances. APC's problems were compounded by the dismissal of the elected Vice President some years ago, which myopic action succeeded in  cannibalizing support for the APC in the highly populated Kono district from which the dismissed VP hailed. 

Having been marginalized by President Ernest Bai Koroma, many strong past APC campaigners showed little public enthusiasm to campaign for Samura. So Ex-President Koroma did most of the campaigning with the delusion that he was still massively popular in the country, in spite of his failed policies. The common  belief among the APC elite was that APC was too strong a party to lose and Maada too weak a candidate to win. This belief proved to be a catastrophic mistake, as was evidenced by APC’s shellacking.

So on Saturday May 12th, 2018, as world leaders descend on Freetown to celebrate the Presidency of a man who was vowed by many to never become President of Sierra Leone ever again, Maada Bio will be taking in all the sights and saying to himself, "never say never."
President Bio and Weah
Of Liberia.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

President Bio Makes Very Impressive Cabinet Appointments

Julius Maada Bio
President of Sierra Leone 
For those who have been advocating for excellent leadership in Sierra Leone, the list of complete cabinet appointments made by President Julius Maada Bio brings much needed relief.

Even though the attainment of regional balance, a key failure of the Koroma administration, seems to have played heavily in the president's consideration of his cabinet nomimees, President Julius Maada Bio has above all else, focused on the knowledge, expertise, and experience of those he has appointed to crucial political positions in order to help him chart the course of the nation.
Former President Koroma
A Victim of Sycophancy

From Vice President Juldeh Jalloh to the last named cabinet appointee, Sierra Leone's new cabinet is characterized by individuals with proven track records of excellence in their chosen academic and professional endeavors. Many of the cabinet members also have extensive experience working in reputable international developmental NGOS.

Where former President Ernest Bai Koroma was more comfortable assembling a motley crew of personal loyalists, self professed apprentices, untamed sycophants, and the strongest advocates of his ill fated "more time" agenda, President Julius Bio has focused on the selection of individuals who will once more bring respect to ministerial positions in the country, while bringing their knowledge to bear on charting the course for national development. The finance minister is solid, the foreign minister is concrete, the chief minister is exceptional, and so on down the list. 

Sierra Leoneans can now be rest assured that the ship of state is once again in very able hands and one will just pray that the new cabinet does not fall prey to the curse of Sierra Leone; corruption, hedonism and hubris. 

One thing Ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma would be remembered for is his poor judge of personal character in his appointments to public positions. Ministers in the last administration became the public champions of immorality.  A government minister was accused of raping a student in broad daylight, got off free and even had the audacity to put his name forward as a presidential candidate for the APC party in the just concluded election, Instead of being banned from public appointments for life. Two ministers in the Ministry of Social Welfare welfare, Moijueh Kaikai and his visually impaired deputy Mustapha Bai Attila, were recorded quarreling in the ministry in front of their subordinates, using language so crude and foul that we cannot reproduced it verbatim on this blog. Even though the two ministers were hastily fired, their two female replacements decided to up theirs a notch,  taking to the country's airwaves and accusing  each other of corruption and embezzlement, to the astonishment of a mortified public. Even the President's own Chief of Staff was fired from his post, accused of forging the signature of the chief executive in order to facilitate clandestine illegal business. 

Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, one of the sacked APC ministers accused by her deputy of embezzling millions of Leones, and who over the years has positioned herself as one of the greatest political foes of the current President Julius Bio, has grudgingly admitted on social media that President Bio has made very excellent cabinet choices. 
Over the years, Silvia,  a sensational tabloid journalist turned politician, has made it her public mission to ensure that President Bio never again ruled Sierra Leone.

Sylvia Blyden currently has a quixotic case in court, seeking to overturn the electoral victory of Julius Maada Bio in favor of the APC's Samura Kamara, the lackluster personally handpicked candidate of Ernest Koroma, who failed to excite people even in his own political backyard. Samura's campaign speeches were as boring as they were forgetful and he was trounced by Bio in both the first election and the runoff. 

Many view Sylvia's praise of Bio's appointees as an indication that she is slowly starting to accept that her case will is going nowhere. Others believe that public is once again starting to see her chameleon style of political opportunism. Before and after the 2007 elections, Sylvia Blyden was one of the toughest critics of the former President Ernest Bai Koroma. But by the end of Koroma's first term, Blyden was one of his loudest praise singers, for which effort Koroma awarded her with two cabinet level political positions.

Maada Bio in winning the election and selecting a cabinet on the basis of excellence and inclusiveness has put to rest all the allegations made against him in the past that he would embark on a politics of divisiveness if he was ever elected.  The cabinet is not only regionally diverse, but is also composed of some individuals who have been strong political rivals of the President in the very recent past.

One former Presidential candidate, Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray whose running mate was appointed to the cabinet the past day became so incensed that he put out an audio clip promising to lecture the new President on the Constitution.

Kamaraimba briefly became a notable political opponent to former President Ernest Bai Koroma after he was kicked out of the APC party for not following party instructions. His party even posed some serious challenge to the APC in byelections and he believed he will be a serious challenger in the 2018 elections.  However, his ADM party was trounced so heavily in the past election that it's survival is now questionable. Kamaraimba has now been reduced to producing angry clips on WhatsApp attacking political opponents and stating that he is employing a long term strategy, as he is still very young.

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