Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Planned Demonstrations against President Bio are Pointless

While in government, the All Peoples Congress (APC) party in Sierra Leone brought the country disastrously close to the brink of economic collapse. Now in opposition, the antics of some members is starting to make the party look almost ridiculous.
Kholifa Koroma
Escaped Ex-Immigration

Members of the APC party in USA, instigated by the former Minister Plenipotentiary to the Uniter Nations, Rev. Leeroy Kabs Kanu and some ex government officials fleeing justice in the country, are planning to organize demonstrations against Sierra Leone's new President Julius Maada Bio during his trip to the United States to attend this year's UN General Assembly. 

Rev. Kabbs Kanu, is a notorious sycophant and schoolmate of former president Ernest Bai Koroma who before the elections in 2007 that elected Koroma, set up an online "Cocorioko" forum that was devoted to a campaign of misinformation then President Ahmed Tejan Kabba, while promoting the candidacy of his friend Ernest Bai Koroma.  While an opposition candidate at the time, Koroma leveled unproven charges of incompetence and corruption against President Kabba, condemned his economic and reform programs and promised to use his business skills to make Sierra Leone a paradise in West Africa. He even promised to make Sierra Leone a donor country before the end of his tenure. 
Ex-President Koroma

Koroma raised the people's hope with his smooth talk and would go on to win the 2007 elections. Kabs Kanu, for his effort, was rewarded the position of Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Nations for Sierra Leone, a role he used purely for propaganda purposes.

In seeking to define his ambiguous role, Kabbs Kanu embarked on what he termed a rebranding effort, with the purported aim of changing the negative image that Sierra Leone had in the international community, into a more favorable image of the country. But the whole sham exercise was just an effort to promote the image of Ernest Bai Koroma, portraying him as a formidable leader, while vilifying the country's political opposition and painting them as unpatriotic. 

Rebranding simply came to mean denying the insane levels of corruption and other atrocities perpetrated by the Koroma government, while labeling the opposition members as malcontents and enemies of progress. Ernest Bai Koroma was portrayed as the "World's Best" president, even as millions of hardworking people in Sierra Leone saw no escape from poverty; with mismanagement, a lack of direction and poor governance pushing the educational and healthcare sectors into a precipitous decline. 

The country's main opposition politician at the time, Julius Maada Bio, became the main target of the rebranding vilification. Over the last ten years, Kabs Kanu used his propaganda outlet to paint Maada Bio as clueless, unpatriotic, power hungry and desperate. Even the decision by Maada Bio as a military leader in 1996 to handed over power to a democratically elected civilian government after just three months in office, was painted as bowing to pressure and inevitable. 
RT. Brigadier Julius
Maada Bio
President of Sierra Leone 

However, in spite of the effort of Kabs Kanu and the negative propaganda against Maada Bio by many Koroma appointed press attaches in diplomatic missions abroad, many of whom were mere APC partisan hacks masquerading as journalists,  Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio was elected President of Sierra Leone in March, much to the consternation and chagrin of these political operatives and some APC members in the diaspora, who had been misled 0that there was no way Maada Bio would ever win an election in Sierra Leone.

All the years of paid propaganda by APC does not hide the fact that the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma would go down in history as one of the most corrupt governments in the history of West Africa. 

In just ten years, the value of the local currency, the Leone fell by over 200%, as central bank reserves were raised to fund the opulent lifestyles of the APC political class. Revenues collected by government agencies were diverted from state coffers into the pockets of Koroma, his cronies and family members. Millions of dollars were spent on overinflated third rate road projects that are already being eroded. Millions more were spent on bogus electricity schemes that never materialized. President Koroma's own brother was recorded during a drunken tirade stating that the only essence of life under APC was personal enjoyment. They did not care that millions didn't have the same privilege of living only for enjoyment. 

During the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, millions of dollars in domestic and foreign aid went unaccounted for, while hundreds of workers at the forefront of the crisis were not being paid their entitled wages. Up to this day many nurses and other Ebola workers have not recieved the monies they were promised, despite the deaths of hundreds of their colleagues during the epidemic. Funds meant for Ebola survivors were also squandered. Many renowned doctors in the country died for lack of proper equipment to fight the virus, even as politicians siphoned resources meant to acquire such equipments. 

It was also during the Ebola crisis that a group of President Koroma's cronies who were advocating for him to rule beyond his two term limit,  made bogus charges of anti-party activities against the elected Vice President Sam Sumana. They then claimed to have stripped him of his party membership, paving the way for the president to illegally remove him from office without any due process.  He claimed that as the Vice President did not belong to any political party,  he was disqualified from holding office under the constitution of Sierra Leone.  Unfortunately, the country's Supreme Court, filled with the President's allies, sided with him against the Vice President.  In a judgments that will go down as one of the worst in the judicial history of Sierra Leone, they ruled that the President could remove the Vice President even though the constitution granted him no such powers.

As the excesses of President Koroma's syndicate became even more outrageous the cult of personality around him continued to grow. Many Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora became alarmed at the path towards which the the country was heading. Many saw parallels between Koroma tactics and the same practices that led to the civil war in Sierra Leone in the 90s. Many also saw the squandering of Ebola funds and the illegal removal of the elected Vice President as particularly egregious acts that needed to be strongly condemned. 

A group of concerned Sierra Leones thus coordinated and planned massive demonstrations during the President's visit to the UN General Assembly in USA at the time. Demonstrations against the president also took place in Europe. 

The demonstrations against President Koroma at the time were genuine, had a purpose and represented a concerted response to the real problems of bad governance, corruption and mismanagement in the country.  They were not just an act by political opponents to embarrass him on a foreign trip. Previously, President Koroma had made many trips to America before the Ebola and VP crisis and he was warmly received by a considerable section of the Sierra Leone diaspora. 

Unfortunately, the demonstrations being planned against President Maada Bio by Kabbs Kanu with backing of some of the politicians and political appointees who have left the country to escape corruption charges are purely politically motivated. 

These planned demonstrations have no other purpose but to further the campaign of misinformation that has become the main tool of a shell shocked political party that was ill prepared to leave office when it did in March of this year. 

The negative picture of current situations in Sierra Leone that APC operatives in the USA are trying to paint, simply do not exist. Ordinary Sierra Leoneans are going about their business, opposition Newspapers are continuing to print their attacks on government and independent radio and TV stations continue to give APC a platform to defend their decade long corrupt practices under the Koroma administration. 

When President Bio assumed office after the elections in March,  it soon became clear to all why President Ernest Koroma had insisted to have his own handpicked President and Vice President succeed him. In just ten short years, Koroma and his cronies had practically robbed the country blind. Samura Kamara was to be the willing coverup agent. 

Under Koroma, many political allies and family members had been awarded lucrative government contracts on which they did not deliver.  The government commercial banks were used as personal lines of credited from which unlimited loans were obtained for private use without much in the way of collateral security. Family members and political escorts were given diplomatic passports even when they didn't have any public status. Funds given as Grant's to the government for pilgrimage to Mecca were swindled with intending pilgrims left hanging high and dry. The corruption was unending. 

Corruption, has always been the main impediment to development in Sierra Leone. Under President Koroma corruption was finally blessed and legitimized.  Facing mounting criticism, Koroma famously remarked that his opponents were "flies and he would swat them without even turning his head," to the cheers of many of his gullible supporters. 

Even when the the international corruption watchdog Transparency International had for many years labeled Sierra Leone as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, President Koroma's brigade of propaganda journalists, many from his part of the country, continued to attack those raising the alarm, instead of investigating corruption in the country. 

Earlier in Koroma's Presidency, Sorious Samura, an internationally acclaimed journalist had investigated corruption among the top brass in the country, including the Vice President. Instead of doing follow up investigations, the government encouraged Sylvia Blyden a notorious tabloid journalist, to discredit the investigation and attack the character of the journalists who led the investigation. For the  successful hatchet job, Sylvia Blyden suddenly became one of President Koroma's favorites and was made an assistant to the President and later a minister, until she was fired during the President's President last year on accusations of massive embezzlement by her deputy minister.

President Julius Maada Bio has after the receipt of a government transition report detailing absurd levels of corruption under the past regime decided to set up a judicial commission to investigate and prosecute these acts. He has revitalized an APC compromised Anti Corruption Commission and given it fresh mandate to tackle the country's entrenched corruption. 

Unfortunately, some of the main players in the Koroma criminal exercise have fled the country and are now working with APC operatives to embarrass the President during his visit to New York. After peddling false rumors that the President was unable to come and would be represented by his Chief Minister, APC members are now claiming harassment and political opposition in a country that is largely peaceful. Many desperate claims are being made. 

Earlier in the month APC social media activists came out with news last month that the president was very sick during a trip abroad. A few days later, he landed in Freetown, as vibrant as a brand new penny. Some of the more uncultured APC supporters use social media daily to insult the President and his family.  They continue peddling the same lies about him that they did when he was in opposition. Just a few days ago, someone ordered an old Rolls Royce into Freetown and that suddenly was described as his. 

The APC party, not really sure what to oppose seem to be in complete breakdown on message. Losing an election you are 100% sure of winning is mentality devastating. It is starting to show.

Demonstrations are integral to public expression in a democracy. But the planned demonstrations by Kabbs Kanu's followers can only be described as rabble rousing at its worst. It is like " the boy that cried wolf." 

Maada Bio has consistently stated that everybody should go about their normal activities in Sierra Leone without fear of intimidation. Opposition politicians have just this month held two very large rallies in the country without incident. So the only purpose of these demonstrations is to paint the investigation into corruption in the country as a witchhunt. The question is if acts of corruption at this magnitude are not investigated and prosecuted, then why even have an Anti Corruption Commission?

All well meaning Sierra Leoneans should reject the antics of the APC-NA, Kabbs Kanu and their financiers. If these people are truly patriotic they should be helping locate some of their APC top brass who have fled the country with millions of dollars in stolen public loot. Kabbs Kanu and his cohorts are just poor losers who are not ready to accept the fact that a new direction of true progress is in the air and is not just a mere agenda on paper.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

APC, a real frustrated gang of marauders

COVID-19 Preparedness in Sierra Leone

As the saying goes, once bitten, twice shy. In Sierra Leone, the Julius Maada Bio led government has been very eager to prevent a repeat ...