Our weekend dramatist president has done it again!
I still remember the ugly way Siaka Stevens fired his ministers. How can I forget the day Lands Minister, F.B. Turay was fired? The guy was still working in his office when his sacking announcement was made at the neighboring SLBS building. He only knew about his sacking in two ways. His official car was taken while he was still at his desk, and I had the announcement to show him. The poor guy had to take a taxi home. The sacking of Frank Anthony as Resident Minister-East was even more wired. But that was Shaki’s way of telling his ministers that he was in charge. (Photo: Cillaty Daboh, author)
Frank Anthony had accompanied Shaki to Pujehun from his base in Kenema. While Pa Shaki helicoptered back to Freetown, Frank Anthony stopped in one of the villages on his way to Kenema. The villagers had heard the announcement but Frank Anthony had not and was surprised that they were sympathizing with him. He could not believe it when one of the villagers summoned the courage to tell him that he had been sacked as minister. Frank Anthony stayed in that village to listen to the announcement from the SLBS which came about an hour later. It must have been an uneasy ride for him from that village to Kenema. I can only imagine the feelings of his driver while driving him back. When he got to Kenema the I.S.U was waiting for him to take his official car. That was the way things happened under Shaki.
I have observed that President Koroma has always made major policy announcements over the weekends. It had long been rumored that a cabinet reshuffle was in the wings and it finally came over the weekend.
My phone is normally silenced before going to bed. But for some reason I forgot to do so last Saturday. At exactly 7:30 am Sunday morning I got a call from Sierra Leone and the caller asked: “You don Yeri?” (Have you heard?) “Yeri watin” (Heard what?). There had been a cabinet reshuffle. I took my pen to write down the list. I made another call immediately to confirm the names and ministries. There was a shocker. I’ll come to that later. So no one can be wrong if he/she describes our president as a weekend dramatist. I hope his reason is for people to digest his actions over beer parties on weekends and not waste productive hours at work during the week.
The Sierra Leone discussion internet forums have been abuzz with all kinds of assessment of this cabinet. Most have called it a “well balanced cabinet” while to others it is nothing but a political gimmick. Writing in the Cocorioko newspaper online, professor Septimus Kaikai, a one time cabinet minister in the erstwhile SLPP government had this to say:
President Koroma’s new Cabinet is the work of a real political maestro. The new Cabinet reflects the national character of our country.
I totally disagree with the learned professor with this assessment. The national character of our country is not about region and tribe but those who have been marginalized from time immemorial. A national character would have given more women and at least a representative of people with disability in the cabinet. But in this new cabinet and with all the talk of women’s’ empowerment, this government like it’s predecessors has shown once again that our women only matter if they are walking behind us and not by our sides. And that is wrong. There are qualified women in every tribe in Sierra Leone; and if a national character is what the president wanted to show there should have been more women in the cabinet than we do have now.
I recently read a news article about people with disability been manhandled by the police for attempting to speak with their president. One of the manhandled people with disability was quoted as saying that, Government has not provided anything for them so their only resource is begging. That should not be the case. Some people are born with disability but in today’s disability population in Salon 90% of the disability was acquired during our brutal war. There are very intelligent people among that population who can equally handle the responsibilities of a minister, thus showing that population that government does not only care about their welfare, but that the sky is the limit for them if they don’t allow themselves to be identified by their disability. A government of national character MUST include this population.
The shocker nomination that has hit so many nerves and generated a lot of discussion is that of the Hon. J.B. Dauda. Professor Kaikai commenting on this appointment in Cocorioko wrote;
“…….the nomination of the versatile J.B. Dauda as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is the personification of an insurance political strategy. “
While the leraned professor may believe that JBD’s appointment as a minister is “an insurance political strategy.” For the president, I am sorry to say that it is an insurance policy that is not worth the paper it is written on.
JBD has been in government for nearly half of the life of independent Sierra Leone. If we complain about governance, poverty and all the ills that have befallen our beloved Sierra Leone, JBD’s DNA is all over it. JBD was the # 2 man in a government that apologized to Sierra Leoneans for failing them. Why does the president expect us to believe that JBD can reform himself? If a silver lining can be found in this JBD’s mess and the ministry he is designated to lead, and if his nomination is approved by parliament; it is the deputy designate of that ministry, Ebun Jusu. An unassuming, fair, honest and above all a very patriotic and classy lady.
I believe in forgiveness and second chance, but JBD has had many second chances in his political life and the result has always been dismal performance. Why, Why now Mr. President?
The notion that JBD is popular in Kenema and will produce the needed votes for the president in that SLPP stronghold is as true as my popularity is in the Antarctica.
It beats me that that president would like his forward agenda for the country to be taken backward by the likes of JBD.
The SLPP reaction to this appointment, I’ll leave that for another day.
By Cillaty Daboh
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