What is so wrong with sticking to the truth?
Well, I was the guest on David Tam-Baryoh’s weekend radio programme which carries the misnomer of “Monologue.” As a matter of fact having previously listened to a couple of the programmes in the past, I say this not because I was a guest but that’s how they all were. David has usually had a guest and the programme has never on any occasion been one of continuous rumbling along as his detractors had made out. He certainly was an easy host and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I told him that he must not take responsibility for any hostile or aggressive reaction of some listeners to the views by some of his guests; after all those are some of the ingredients of democracy, although it must not be a license for personal insult or vulgarity.
On my part I received a large number of congratulatory calls immediately I returned home and also after the repeat programme on Sunday evening. By golly! That was quite an experience.
Due to an earlier misunderstanding I had to ride on an OKADA bike from my Sumaila town residence to the Star Radio studio on Siaka Stevens Street. I clung firmly to the back of the bike rider pleading with him all the way not to speed or worse still attempt to weave his way in and out of the Pademba Road traffic. As I stated on the programme I arrived at the studio literarily with “my heart in my mouth.” I must admire those people, especially women who appear so very relaxed at the back of speeding and often reckless motor cyclists.
Today’s Puawui comments have to do with someone, most probably a great admirer of the PMDC leader Charles Margai. I have no problem with any amount of superlatives he may use to describe his political hero, but when he gets outside of that by telling blatant untruths, imputing ill motives on other peoples’ actions then it becomes a different matter altogether. He asserts that in Makeni in 2005 during the election of the next party leader and flag bearer for the SLPP, former President Tejan-Kabbah “who had forced Solomon Berewa on the people, cheated Charles Margai by rigging the election.” It is obvious from that statement that the author was either not present during the election process or he is being deliberately dishonest and mischievous.
In the first place, the election took place in the open hall and in the presence of everyone, including all the candidates. There was only ONE ballot box which was transparent on all sides. Each candidate nominated two agents who sat by the ballot box as delegates cast their votes. The same agents accompanied the box up the stairs to the back of the high table and witnessed the vote counting. Some even secretly communicated with their candidates even as the results were being handed over to the chief electoral commissioner. Where did the rigging take place about which Charles Margai’s propagandist writes? (Photo: Dr. Sama Banya)
For the benefit of readers, the election result could have been predicted two years earlier at the meeting of the National Executive Council in the Bank of Sierra Leone complex. Former President Tejan-Kabbah had declared his decision to step down as party leader at the forthcoming convention, a decision that Charles Margai and his friends opposed, citing constitutional and practical reasons. These were challenged by the then Vice President Solomon Berewa; efforts at striking a balance failed and I as the party’s national chairman took the contestants to a separate lunch. After almost two hours no compromise was reached. I then told them that the council would have to take a decision on the matter. When a vote was taken Charles Margai and his friends secured 16 votes as against the position supported by Berewa which secured 90 votes.
It is gross disservice to all concerned that in the face of all those facts, anyone could speak of election rigging. It is a very honourable practice to report things as they were rather than people taking it upon themselves to fabricate.
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