The election that trumpeted president Maada Bio to the 2018 election was seen a beacon of hope in post-APC government. But more than a year in office, some Sierra Leoneans are now scratching their heads about their decisions in choosing a former military strongman who many think will turn around fortunes within the shortest possible time. Maada’s party, Sierra Leone Peoples Party is mired in countless internal wrangling and infighting. What is going on with the Tokpoi party that is assumed to be full of elites? The ordinary supporters of the party are disgruntled and disenchanted, while the elite continue to preach textbook principles about governance. Is it because president Maada employed many technocrats who are privy to classroom ideologies? What is wrong with the new mantra, “New Direction”? Is anything NEW? Oh yes, some may say. There are some new policies where the new First Lady gives Independence Day Message to the country and everybody seems content. There is a new direction where millions of Leones are missing in the finance ministry and there is no hue and cry about it….the list is endless.
It was in 1996, as the world watched as the Sierra Leone Peoples Party swept into power with more than 50 percent of the vote. Led by late Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the party was viewed as a uniting force for the country, which had for decades been divided by war and bad politics. From the onset, Kabbah preached nationalism, unity and patriotism; and many saw it from his actions, words and policies. Kabbah never wavered when talking about national inclusion; to an extent that some of his party stalwarts accused him of being a sell-out. His revulsion to party politics made him an icon in the country’s politics, to an extent; he wined and dined with the rebel leader who was on a mission to destroy the country. He dined with the devil to achieve peace.
More than several years on, however, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party bears little resemblance to Kabbah’s vision. The SLPP’s reputation has been significantly tarnished in recent years by simmering frequent infighting with numerous speeches delivered by the First Lady. From her speeches in Bonthe lambasting traditional leaders who are stabbing her in her back, to another speech in London where she caricaturizes PHD holders as non starters in economic development. While many admire her as an abled appendage to the president, others see her as an irritable inconvenience in politics.
One does not need to be a scientist to know that there are cracks in the SLPP party. It may be surreal, but there is consternation among the die hard supporters of the SLPP that President Maada is not living up to the expectation as of now… lawlessness has started gripping the youth populace, the economy is still on life support and the rumor of tribalism has started rearing its ugly head again.
In recent times, people within the party are talking of Maada centralizing power around the presidency, clinching the leadership position of the party; the same mistake made by the outgone APC party. Whether this is true or not, Maada is taking too much power for himself. He is allowing his wife to assume and perform some roles meant for ministerial functionaries. Many see her as putting her fingers in pies that expose the president to criticisms.
So should we blame Tejan Kabbah for maintaining a legacy that is hard to replicate within the party by Maada Bio? To some, late Tejan Kabbah was criticized for not empowering the party stalwarts; rather he focused on building a nation. Tejan Kabbah’s dream of an equal and just society has played a role in creating a niche for himself in the annals of the country’s history.
So where do we go from here? Maada has the opportunity to do some major damage control within the SLPP party before the next election. Maada should rule the country for people to believe that his presidency is for the entire nation and not for a particular tribe or region. The majority of Sierra Leoneans have welcomed his election to the country’s top office, with many hoping the new president will create better job opportunities.
Sierra Leoneans are always hopeful for a new beginning. With elections and new players in the field, many tend to wonder whether the beautiful ones are still unborn to lead the nation to other levels like Rwanda, Ghana and Ethiopia. Maybe, just maybe, one day, God will answer our prayers and Sierra Leoneans will say, indeed the beautiful ones are here.
May Allah help Sierra Leone and her people!