Californians react to President Koroma’s cabinet reshuffle
The recent cabinet reshuffle in Sierra Leone by President Ernest Koroma has sparked a huge battle of words between staunch supporters of the ruling All Peoples Congress and the opposition, Sierra Leone People’s Party. One of the erudite and charismatic Sierra Leonean lawyers based in Oakland,California, Abdul Iscandri lambasted the president for appointing the former Vice President of Sierra Leone, J.B Dauda to the position of Foreign Affairs. In his tirade of objective criticism, he criticized President Koroma for appointing someone who had been a Vice President during the days of former President J.S.Momoh but hurriedly abandoned the politics when multi party ushered in. According to Lawyer Iscandri, there are hundreds of loyalist members of the All People’s Congress that are highly qualified to fill such positions. Lawyer Iscandri cited a former minister under the All People Congress, Dr Sama Banya who had attained the position of acting Vice President, Finance Minister and today appears to be a vociferous critic of the ruling government of the All People’s Congress. In other words, Lawyer Iscandri ’s point is basically not criticizing the power of inclusion but insisting that there are thousands of solid supporters of the APC in the south and eastern part of the country that should have been appointed. Quite a remarkable point. Whilst this point was clearly demonstrated in the article written in the Patriotic Vanguard of December 11, it has raised a Pandora’s box of mixed reactions from opponents of the government and as well as supporters of the government. (Photo: Ibrahim-Sourie-Mansaray, author)
The leader of Tegloma in Northern California, Joseph Musa vehemently opposed the inclusion of J.B.Dauda into the government. According to him, the president is trying to weaken the opposition so 2012 will be a foregone conclusion for the APC. He cited J.B.Dauda as someone who plundered the nation under the presidency of late J.S.Momoh, worked as a cabinet minister under the erstwhile leader of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party of Tejan Kabbah with no remarkable achievement and being appointed as a minister under the APC is the testament of the president’s belief in recycling old politicians. He outrightly questioned the potency of J.B.Dauda and his sphere of influence in Kenema township. He posited “As far as I am concerned, the President has clearly shown that he is not respecting the opposition”. The president should have consulted the opposition before appointing our members. In an earlier interview with the opposition leader, John Benjamin last year in Stockton, California, he said the opposition is ready to work with the president on the basis that the opposition is consulted before any appointment. We are all serving the country, so we will accept the gesture. However, ironically, two weeks ago, the opposition leader, John Benjamin said in one of the newspapers in Freetown that the “Sierra Leone People’s Party will not work and is not in government with the All People’s Congress”.
On the other hand, another Sierra Leonean,Tom Kelvin Junisa applauded the giant strides of the President. He considered the appointment as a nationalistic gesture as the President has demonstrated that he is above party politics and only working for the country. In espousing his points, Tom Junisa remarked that the appointment has two ramifications: firstly, the President has shown that the service and interest of the nation comes first and not party politics. Secondly, J.B.Dauda has shown that he thinks of the country more than the party’s concerns. According to Tom, this is the time the country should be thinking of marching forward and not indulge in party politics that has torn other countries apart. Tom remarked “Did you see what is going on in Ivory Coast?” People should learn to put the interest of the country, and not party, in front.
A former United Nations Diplomat, Dr. Mohamed Bereteh who hails from Kailahun outrightly condemned the appointment. Dr Bereteh says, “the President should have appointed any young and energetic Sierra Leonean from anywhere in the country to the position.” Dr. Bereteh lamented the awful days of J.S.Momoh and even the days of the SLPP where J.B.Dauda worked as a minister. “If the man can not produce when he was young, when do you expect him to produce good result for the country? As a former Diplomat, he still thinks, the country is still learning the ethics of politics.
Mr. Musa Mansary, a former Mayor of Makeni Town Council applauded the strides of the President. According to him, “we are showing the whole world that the politics of yester years is gone, this is the only time we should come together and develop the country”. He opined that, it is better to appoint any member from any party as long as it is in the interest of the country. Another Sierra Leonean, Emmanuel Saquee from Los Angeles applauded the appointment and even lambasted for the opposition in condemning the President’s move. “Does the opposition want the whole world to wait until 2012 before we have a good minister?” If J.B.Dauda is competent, let him serve in the capacity.
Was Sama Banya a member of the All People’s Congress? Was he a member of the APC when we had the OAU conference in Sierra Leone? Wow, that must have been years ago. However, my take is on political inclusion:
Lawyer Iscandri is a patriot and a staunch supporter of the All People’s Congress party. As a decent writer, he is entitled to his opinion.
Sierra Leoneans have showed their political maturity since the days of Siaka Stevens. The elected leaders have also shown political maturity by getting the best-qualified people to help govern the country. The elected leaders do make sure all tribes and people of different faiths are included in the government. In other words, Sierra Leoneans do practise the Politics of Inclusion. Sierra Leoneans do not fake their love for one another because of tribal or religious differences. No Sierra Leonean can claim to have friends from only his or her tribe.
Siaka Stevens, Sierra Leone’s first President and the other founding fathers including opposition leaders like, Sir Milton Margai, Albert Margai started the Politics of Inclusion. Siaka Stevens did not empower the Temne to dominate his government, neither did he appoint Sama Banya to make Kailahun a “small Dubai”. Siaka Stevens was not perfect. He appointed every son from every region in the country. To an extent , there were jokes about Siaka Stevens responding to outcries from people from any section of the country.” A supporter was asking the president why there was no light in his headquarter town, and Siaka Stevens replied, ask your son the question who is representing you in parliament or cabinet. Siaka Stevens was so shrewd that all the 12 districts had major players in his government, so when the blame game is being played, all will carry the blame.
J.S.Momoh also played the Politics of Inclusion. In his hey days, prominent politicians like Musa Gendemeh, J.B.Dauda, Michael Abdulai,Joe Amara Bangali, Korji and host of others from the south and east were represented in his cabinet while , D.T.Musa, SuluKu Tamba, Eya Mbayo, Alhaji S.H.O Gborie, Fill Faboe were from the east. The north had politicians like Abass Bundu, Thaimu Bangura, Abdulai Conteh,Lamin Sidique, Ben Kanu and the west had Chritie Green, Akibo Betts, and host of others. That was the politics of Inclusion.
Tejan Kabbah demonstrated the Politics of Inclusion. Before his political baptism by the AFRC, his government boasted of politicians from all the sections of the country. He included the late Thaimu Bangura from the People’s Democratic Party, and host of others.
So is it new that the present politics of inclusion is a curse ? The politics of Exclusion is catastrophic.
Politics of Exclusion leads to fragmentation of the society. Already heavy with tribal and ethnic affiliations, Politics of Exclusion will lead to the break-up of most Sierra Leonean societies.
Ghana is one of the few countries that has not had a civil war. The only disturbances Ghana has had are chieftancy disputes and land litigation. Ghana is not a fragmented nation with politicians and warlords having their own small domains and lording it over the people. Politics of Exclusion is not the Ghanaian thing. Ghana is not beset with religious extremism that can also tear a society apart. The country adheres to Politics of Inclusion. An elected government is in charge providing good leadership and creating the atmosphere conducive to foreign investment.
The Politics of Exclusion polarizes a nation . It alienates some sections of the society. If all of Africa truly practices the Politics of Inclusion, tribal and clan ties will weaken, and whatever is ailing the continent will come to light and be tackled and be conquered because human beings give their best when they know they are legitimate part of a great nation. Africa, not only Sierra Leone will be stable and there will be peace and progress, and as Thomas Sankara once said “Africa will cease having more aid workers than investors”.
Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray, now in Oakland, California
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