2012 Election: Character matters, but hardship matters more
I have read the articles and listened to the APC and its apologists’ recent campaign strategy: character assassination of the Presidential Hopeful, Maada Bio led by ‘stainless’ Vicky Foh, I thought APC were clinking champagne glasses for a landslide victory but in desperation they have launched a chaos-seeking claim of Maada Bio being a murderer and their search for previous official government documents and speeches which make any reference to the name Maada Bio. (Photo: Yusuf K. Sandi, author)
This low of our politics reminds me of the question once posed by Arianna Huffington: ‘Does the personal character of our political leaders really matter or is it irrelevant provided there is peace and prosperity in the land?
Whilst I acknowledge that our answers may vary depending on our political persuasions, I believe ordinary Sierra Leoneans who have been victims of hardship and the cataclysmic change since 2007 would prefer the peace and prosperity of our motherland. In pari passu, I recognise character matters in politics but this APC smear has confused good character with flawlessness. Good character involves discipline, incisiveness, integrity, restraint and sacrifice. It subordinates the lust for power below a higher conviction for democratic principles.
On the other hand ‘flawlessness’ involves a state of being without flaw, error or defect. On the latter most modern political leaders have always been found wanting of flawed decisions, statements or behaviour whether it was Tony Blair and George Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2002 on the pretext of WMDs or Obama’s ironclad campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay Prison within a year in office but which he has subsequently reversed for security reasons or HE Ernest Bai Koroma’s northernization policy which does not help social cohesion in our post conflict nation. These are instances of flawed decisions or error of judgement but these decisions do not make them a bad character to hold highest offices in their lands though their individual performances are debatable. As such, Maada Bio, like all politicians, is not flawless but surely he is of good character to be a president of Sierra Leone.
Now to the character of the Presidential Hopeful, Maada Bio. These character issues have focused largely on him being a murderer of the extra-judicial killings (of Bambay Kamara, Salami Coker, Kauta Dumbuya, to name but a few) and the now trumpeted 1997 speech by Former President Kabbah. On the murder claim, it is safe to say that well meaning Sierra Leoneans (exclusive of APC’s apologists and the ‘omnipotent’ publisher) have expressed their revulsion to see politicians shamefully digging up our painful history to erode the peace some people sacrificed their lives for whilst others continue to live with the scars.
However, on the specific claim at least the TRC Report paragraph 334 has stated otherwise and categorically named Capt Strasser, Col Kes Boyah, Lt SAJ Musa, Lt Karefa Kargbo to have coordinated the arrest, detention and murder of the alleged coup plotters. Better still, to satisfy the appetite of APC and to display his statesmanship the distinguished Presidential Hopeful, Maada Bio has publicly accepted collective responsibility for those acts of savagery by his former colleagues. But as if that is not enough, in her recent article titled ‘When a Killer wants to be a president of Sierra Leone’ the omnipotent publisher suggested that by accepting collective responsibility for the killings, Maada Bio accepted he is a killer. What a disingenuous inference! Worst still to substantiate her assertion, she made a shocking analogy among other things to former President Mubarak of Egypt and Sudanese President Bashir. She claimed that Mubarak did not raise the weapons used to kill Egyptians neither did he witness the killing but he is charged with their murder. What a shameful analogy!
Well to enlighten her, Mubarak is charged under the Egyptian Criminal Code with INCITING the killing of protesters by GIVING ORDERS to the police force to use live ammunition against them. Unlike Maada Bio, who did not INCITE or give ORDERS to his colleagues, Mubarak becomes individually culpable for his orders because according to Article 40 of the criminal code of Egypt by INCITING a felony made Mubarak a main culprit. For President Bashir, the ‘omnipotent’ publisher also made the simple claim that he has been charged with murder though he did not raise the weapon nor did he witness the killings of his people. Erroneously again, the ICC spokeswoman, Laurence Blairon had once stated in 2009 that Bashir was individually criminally responsible for murder, crimes against humanity etc as the head of state and commander of the Sudanese armed forces for the offences committed in the Darfur Region. Compared to the extra-judicial killings, Maada Bio was neither head of state nor commander of his colleagues rather he was Number 3 in the hierarchy. Well, I hope Maada Bio will continue to ignore her and concentrate on what matters more to the people: hardship! hardship! hardship!
Now on former President Kabbah’s speech. Let me start by saying that we expect APC to use the same zeal to publish President Kabbah’s never-read handing over speech in 2007 so Sierra Leoneans can make up their minds whether ‘yesterday betteh pass tidae’ (yesterday was better than today). On the specifics, thank goodness the same President Kabbah has in an interview with the respected Lans Gberie angrily reacted that APC is merely misusing a speech he made over a decade ago in a different context. In his words Maada Bio is a ‘very nice, decent and decisive man whose commitment to the transition in 1996 was crucial’. On the allegations, he stated ‘Look: nerves were all frayed at the time. There was that unrelenting war by Foday Sankoh and his rebels. Things were very muddled. One said many things, sometimes in exasperation – we were trying to find our way out of a great national tragedy”.
Praise God, President Kabbah is still alive to make these clarifications.
However, one spotlight I picked up from the interview by Lans Gberie is that we now know that the late SB Marrah had lobbied former President Kabbah in 1996 to give the then Ernest B. Koroma a cabinet position. Wonders never end! Well, at least most of our politicians are ‘watermelon’. Therefore, I hope Maada Bio and the SLPP will just ignore APC, its apologists and the ‘Omnipotent’ Publisher and concentrate on planning policies and programmes that will cure the prevailing illness which most ordinary people seem to be suffering from now: ‘HARDSHIP FEVER’.
As such, to borrow the words of ‘stainless’ Victor Foh in 2007 elections, ‘This election is about bread and butter economy.” Well, today this bread and butter economy is now chicken and burger because the prices of basic food stuffs and essential commodities have multiplied, tripled or in some cases quadrupled. So character matters but the hardship matters more…. LONTA!
Stay tuned for Part 2
By Yusuf K. Sandi, BA Hons, LLBHons (London)
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