By John Momoh
If one considers the role played by Ex-brigadier Julius Maada Bio in bringing Ex-President
Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Regime to power in 1996, there may be a tendency to believe that it bears a correlation with the one played by the leader of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) lawyer Charles Margai to propel the All People’s Congress (APC) party of President Ernest Bai Koroma to State House. The question then that is going the rounds is why should Ex-President Kabbah be so bold nowadays to accuse Maada Bio of having squandered about $400,000 of State fund to his personal use?
In a similar vein the relationship between Charles Margai and the ruling APC has so deteriorated that in a speech that Margai delivered at the end of the SLPP National Delegates Conference that saw the election of Maada Bio as SLPP Flag bearer and party leader, Charles Margai boldly indicated that the APC Government has failed the nation, a very surprising statement in the ears of many who had hardly expected that Margai would break-away from the APC-PMDC coalition, a coalition that was formed in the wake of the 8th September, 2007 Presidential Run-up elections between the Flag bearer of the APC Ernest Bai Koroma and that of the ruling SLPP at the time Vice President Solomon E. Berewa in which the PMDC members were mobilized to cast their ballots for the APC party.
When the results were ready and the APC leader Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma was declared winner, many people had the impression that Margai may be one those destined to reap the fruits of the coalition’s victory by being appointed to a senior cabinet position or may be posted somewhere greasy such as the the enviable position of Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission, who earns one of the most lucrative salaries to enable him reap back the expenses of his loyalty to the APC including the damage done to his reputation in defecting from the SLPP where his chances for leadership are brighter once he bears patience. Unfortunately however, the only profit that Margai got from the APC-PMDC alliance was that his party got ten Parliamentary seats mainly from the Southern Region which the SLPP considers as stronghold.
His PMDC party was also granted the privilege to nominate some dedicated party stalwarts from their ranks who were appointed Ministers in the news APC Government, among whom were the Minister of Lands and Housing Dr. Denis sandy and the Minister of Social Welfare in the person of Dr. Soko Kabia. It is often estimated that the PMDC leader may have received more than what was visible to the general public. There may perhaps have been heavy financial rewards from the APC leader! The PMDC all along demonstrated marked loyalty to the APC especially in Parliament where the few who got the privilege PMDC Parliamentarians were often supporting parliamentary bills originating from the majority APC party’s Parliamentarians. Another ample evidence of the APC’s appreciation of the role played by Margai to catapult them to power was the large number of official body-guards that were assigned to Margai and the anticipation that apart from the financial rewards even an official car from government was made available to the PMDC leader.
As the founding father of the APC President Siaka Stevens was fond of saying, in politics nothing is impossible and only God and fools do not change. Today with Margai making his position clear that he himself wants to contest for the Presidency, the break-down of the PMDC-APC marriage of convenience is manifested everywhere especially in the media and in the Southern Region. During a last visit that this writer made to Bo who has a large PMDC Southern regional head-quarter building on Mahei Boima Road, two PMDC workers interviewed told indicated their desire to defect to the APC because they are not getting enough stipends from the PMDC leader. The 2 PMDC stalwarts also expressed pessimism over whether this time around, the people of Bo would listen to anything that they can tell them. He said Bo city is normally regarded as SLPP stronghold but because of the sympathy that many residents generated for Margai as a result of the personal conflict between Margai and Berewa sparked off on Christ the King College founder’s day, an institution to which both Berewa and Margai are products of, they cast their ballots for the PMDC. He added that it is a common phenomenon that when there is a conflict between the strong and the weak there can be more people supporting the weaker side than the stronger.
Unfortunately in the coming 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections it would be difficult for many Bo and Kenema city residents to vote for the PMDC or open their ears to hear anything from the PMDC, giving that the PMDC was an architect for the manipulations that brought the APC to power. Instead of working for the PMDC which in turn works for the interests of the APC it would be logical enough to work directly in the interests of either the APC or the SLPP!
Certainly one of the root causes of the widespread frustration among PMDC supporters is that in their estimation Margai reaped more financial rewards out of the APC-PMDC coalition that was ever shared among the top-brass of the party. The party executives are divided over whether Margai took the lion’s share of all of the financial benefits from their coalition with the APC party to the extent that even PMDC Ministers within the APC coalition were heavily taxed by the party. Thus the indecision to either stay with the PMDC or defect to another party is also heightened by the fact that after its formation the PMDC wasted all their energy on gaining the South-Eastern Region to the extent that they are less popular in the Northern and Western Regions where the influence of the ruling APC is very high. The APC has gone a step further by strengthening its position in the South-and Eastern region through the construction of roads and highways and the rehabilitation of some major streets and roads in Freetown, Bo, Kenema and Makeni. According to SLRA sources the city road rehabilitation is an ongoing project staring with ten streets in Freetown and the provincial headquarter cities and at least 5 streets in the district headquarter towns such as Moyamba and Port Loko.
All said and done there is no permanent interests in politics. It may be quite true that Maada Bio’s role in prevailing upon the senior members of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) junta to hand-over power to a democratically elected civilian government, an arrangement that led to the holding of elections in which Kabbah’s SLPP clinched power as the Northern and Western area vote was divided between the United National Democratic Party (UNDP) of the late Dr. Karefa-Smart and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP-Sorbeh) of the late Thaimu Bangura does not in any way mean that ex-President Kabbah can not air out his views on the records of Maada Bio in the alleged misappropriation of about $400,000 as reported in the local media.
What is leaving serious doubts in the minds of many is why should the Ex-President keep the Maada Bio’s misapplication of such a large tax payers’ money a secret, until letting the cat out of the bag at this point in time when the accused has been elected Presidential aspirant and leader of the SLPP, a party he led for about eleven years?