Did you watch the last National Democratic Convention before the last term of Barack Obama’s re-election? It was pulsating, electrifying and magnetic. To most political pundits and commentators, the message of ‘CHANGE’ and ‘HOPE’ of President Barack Obama was in the winds with less enthusiastic supporters holding their breath for a miracle to occur. The once eloquent, charismatic and ever captivating Barack Obama was even fighting hard to convey his own message. The convention which was almost on the edge of comedy movie was revived by the efferent and most lovable president in the person of Bill Clinton. Say what you may about this past president including the Monica Lewinsky affair, he is still regarded as the most admired former president. Clinton shook the convention to its feet by explicitly explaining the controversial health care of Barack Obama. So the question is why is Clinton so popular in the American political landscape? The answer lies in his legacy. I need not elaborate about his aid to Africa and the introduction of the visa lottery opportunities for thousands of less-opportune people in Africa and elsewhere; not forgetting his economic boom.
Watching the breakthrough of the bi-partisan economic shutdown bill last night in Congress, Brian Keillar of the CNN said: “poll numbers do not equal a legacy”; meaning it is not the popularity of a sitting president that matters but the legacy left behind. Well one may say that he was economical with the consequences and ramifications of leaving a bad legacy. Well check this one: I was blessed to attend the Clinton Global Initiative in New York as a representative of my former university. My invitation was as a result of being an active member of a Clinton Chapter in my previous university. Sitting by an Indian Professor was another invitee from Singapore whose knowledge about Africa was extensive. Having listened to Clinton’s speech with rapt attention about his influence in the world, this Indian professor asked me about my country, Sierra Leone. As I started narrating about the challenges facing the post-conflict country, the professor interjected and acknowledged the role played by the former president of Sierra Leone, Tejan kabbah in bringing peace to the country. Well the essence of the conversation centered on a legacy left by Tejan Kabbah. It is a legacy that will ever resonate with generations yet unborn in the country’s landscape.
Legacies are always associated with leadership whether good or bad. The legacy of the former president of Uganda, Idi Amin is nothing to emulate and any mention of his reign is characteristic of an autocratic regime. Nelson Mandela, Thomas Sankara, Samora Michel, Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere, to name but a few are always mentioned in public places when good governance and liberation struggles are deliberated on.
As I look on the legacy of President Koroma, some may attribute praises on him as a result of his infrastructural developmental strides introduced in the country. True to be said, he has brought some changes in certain government institutions and paved the way for any successive governments to continue. But wait, what will be the legacy of President Koroma if he leaves his party in turmoil and tatters? Are the tantrums about the animosity between him and his vice a silent elephant in the room?
For quite some time now, the rumor mill has been in top gear about a frosty relationship between the president and his vice. According to a senior aide in the Office of the President, the vice president has lost the confidence of his boss. If it is in the west where communication is hundred per cent consumed by the weary and critically minded people, this revelation will be addressed as the president speaking. But in a situation like Sierra Leone where most people are gullible and rumor mills seem to be the vehicle of communicating to the farthest person in Jaiama Sewafe, this will definitely be a major issue of concern for national cohesion. The questions raging are immediate; why has the Office of the President failed to issue a press release about this issue? Considering the various spokespersons (be it Government Spokesman, Minister of Information, Director of State House Communication, Face book Communication Minister or otherwise), will it be a national service for any of these outlets to issue an official press release on this issue? Is this healthy politics for the APC party or the country? For the president to issue a press release on the ultimatum of civil society organizations sends a message of apt response to issues affecting the peace of the country. Is this issue not capable of dividing the party?
History can be a bad teacher says my primary school teacher. Can you recall the acrimonious relationship that existed between President Rawlings of Ghana and his vice, Nkensen Arkaah? NkensenArkaah was literally bullied by Rawlings and subsequently banned from chairing cabinet meetings. According to the Facebook rumor machine, the vice president has not attended two cabinet meetings. Whether it is true or false, it is bad politics and the president should come out clean and clear the air.
On the other side, the vice president has been extremely quiet and subdued on even his own life. What is the Office of the Vice President meant to be? Of all the rumors circulating and the nasty campaign of calumny launched in the press against his personality, why can’t he come out and clear the air where his boss has failed to do so. Has he forgotten that repeated lies can become truth? Has he forgotten about George Bush informing the world of Saddam Hussein’s possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)? The whole world knew it was a lie but the repeated press conferences convinced skeptics and cynics into believing the threat of the weapons. Is the vice president aware of these lies as a detriment to his own families? When a man is painted in dark colors just because of political gains, it has the tendency to affect generations of that individual. Have we not seen politicians being accused of political gimmicks in Sierra Leone, just because they are threats to the leadership? Have we forgotten in 1975 when Samuel Bangura, Ibrahim Bash Taqi, Brigadier Lansana and others were portrayed as coupists and subsequently killed by the Stevens regime?
This article does not in any way insinuate that the vice president is a target of bad propaganda but as the second gentleman in the country, he needs to clear the air about his relationship with his boss.
In three or four years to come, President Koroma will be judged on his legacy and not on his popularity. No matter the heaps of praises he gets today, that would not suffice for his name to be remembered, rather, it is his legacy that will be carved in the history books of this great nation. It is rather pathetic that the National Executive Committee of the APC is quiet about this simmering and unholy alliance erupting in the media. People in offices should know that, the party is bigger than individuals and that, politicians may come and go, but the party stays for generations to come.
In politics, there are no best friends. Friends today may become enemies tomorrow but legacies will ever be remembered.
May God bless Sierra Leone?