Fourah Bay bye-elections: Sierra Leoneans may be poor but they are not fools
It was President Abraham Lincoln who once said that “You may fool ALL the people SOME of the time, you can even fool SOME of the people ALL the time, but you cannot fool ALL the people ALL the time”. Therefore, it was down to the brave people of the Fourah bay community in ward 369, who in the face of intimidation, to start telling President Koroma and his spin doctors that the garbage city, the poverty, the poor conditions of living, the social deprivation and the joblessness have been too much to bear for the past five years. Although, this bye-election has resulted into regrettable acts of political violence I will refuse the temptation not to deal with those issues now until my next article but to focus on those issues that APC and its spin doctors intend to divert Sierra Leoneans from as we approach the November 2012 elections.
We could all remember the political funfairs after the 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. For our APC friends, they told us President Koroma was like the Political Messiah to deliver our country out of the wilderness of poverty. In fact, I could still remember when Hon. Alpha Kanu used to famously liken the APC cabinet to the Brazilian Football Team (but thank God he never said the Spanish Football Team). As such, the APC made so many promises that fantasy almost took the place of expectations. But what were some of these promises? Young people who fought in polling stations and propagated hate songs against the then SLPP government were promised an avalanche of jobs. Civil servants were told that President Koroma will improve their conditions of service and pay them on time. Anxious families were promised that the prices of the basic food stuffs would be affordable and that their children would get quality education. Even the street traders who took days off from trading for the APC rallies and victory dances were promised that business would boom after 2007 elections. And the greatest amusement came from Victor Foh who famously promised us that President Koroma will provide a bread and butter economy (meaning the prices of basic food stuffs including rice will be very very very very low). Eventually, we all remember the famous slogan of President Koroma to turn Sierra Leone into a paradise within the first 36 months of his rule.
Yet, the APC political euphoria continued in 2008 after the local council elections when APC won landslide in Freetown and elected the great Freetown Mayor, Mr Herbert Williams (I later learnt he was on the substitute bench for the APC Brazilian team). The great Mayor in the usual APC style promised Freetonians that out great city will be the cleanest on earth; that our streets will regain their decency without street traders; that he will use our taxes wisely and the list goes on and on and on. But to be fair with him he never promised us that he will keep our “monies” safe…hahaha!!!. What about the Freetown APC councillors and Members of Parliament (MPs)? As usual, these councillors and MPs trained from the APC’s election-promise booklet promised ordinary people in their wards and constituencies that if elected they will provide all the basic social needs: pipe born water, community schools, community centres, health clinics and the usual APC list goes on and on and on. Therefore, our tolerant Sierra Leonean populace desperate for better lives like every other citizens of other nations thought they would give the President, the APC Brazilian team, the great Mayor of Freetown, the APC MPs and their councillors a chance in governance.
Well five years on the Sierra Leonean populace are recounting the APC remarkable success stories. To start with, President Koroma’s government has reportedly run out of money as they could not pay billions of Leones owed to contractors and supplies whilst they continue to accrue enormous debt of more than $800 million. Shockingly, over a quarter of the population of our young people who cried for change continue to wallow in joblessness but no doubts some had to vent out their frustrations in the Fourah Bay bye-elections. Every day, thousands of graduates roam the streets with brown envelops looking for jobs which President Koroma’s government do not create and maybe it was why out of desperation a friend told me on the phone that maybe he would have chosen the APC’s Bailor Barrie route than the Davidson Nicol. Millions of parents who thought their children could get quality education continue to cope with the appalling results of NPSE, BECE and WASCE since APC came to power as even the once ‘Athens of West Africa’ (FBC) had to cancel examinations due to lack of stationery. Did I hear someone whispers that President Koroma is an alumnus of FBC?….Wow!!! Struggling Civil Servants go on for months without their salaries. Perhaps the highlight of the APC’s success stories has been in the bread and butter economy Victor Foh (Goal Keeper of the Brazilian team) told us in 2007 that President Koroma will provide when he came to power. Well, according to research, since he came to office, the APC government had obtained around $200 million for the development of agriculture and the results: the cost of a bag of rice is now more than double and the prices of basic food stuffs like palm oil, cooking oil, meat or fish have either doubled or tripled. If a family of three (3) could spend around Le 7,000 in 2007 for a meal a day, in 2012 they have to spend above Le15,000. Surely, Sierra Leoneans know these facts and they are not fools.
Then came the great APC Mayor of Freetown, Mr Herbert Williams. He promised a cleaner Freetown but his own success story remains with the piles of garbage around the city plus their nauseating stinks fighting to overcome the fresh air for Freetown Residents. On the Street Trading, we know the APC government is at the political mercy of the Street Traders now for the Freetown votes as one Hawa Koroma puts it “If the APC government or City Council ventures to remove us from the streets we will not vote for them again in 2012”. Well, the majority of the people in Freetown who are fed up with the eyesores and inconveniences of the street trading are watching on and they would make up their minds. Nevertheless, the greatest achievement of the APC Mayor of Freetown was handed to him by the Anti-corruption Commission with the twenty-five counts indictment of various corruption offences to the tune of billions of leones. He promised to serve the ordinary suffering people but he is being alleged to have ripped the very suffering people whilst some workers of the city council were also issued bounced checks. Surely, Sierra Leoneans know these facts and they are not fools.
Equally, it is being similar success stories for the APC MPs and Councillors. Upon their election victories to date, some of the Freetown APC MPs and Councillors had organised not more than five constituency or ward meetings respectively with their own people not to talk of providing the community schools, the community health clinics or pipe borne water which they promised their people. But thank goodness November 2012 elections are around now, so they will start organising frequent meetings and dishing out lots of money. In fact, you should not be too surprise if you see some MPs and councillors eating with their people from the same bowls to show they understand the sufferings of the people. Surely, Sierra Leoneans know these facts and they are not fools.
So funnily, we all know what the APC campaign strategy has been to win the 2012 elections since Maada Bio was elected as SLPP Presidential candidate; it has been personal attacks and insults of our flag bearer. The apologists have called him “a human rights violator”, “a Liar”, “a Leader of Pa .O. Pa”, “a Murderer”, “a thief” and the list goes on and on and on. Unfortunately, no amount of these insults or names would create jobs for young people or reduce the price of a bag of rice from Le140,000 to Le60,000 or reduce the prices of basic food stuffs or provide the broke APC government with money to pay their contractors and supplies. In fact, the stakes are too high to engage in insults with those desperate APC apologists rather the SLPP would continue to engage with our suffering people to give them hope that the days of poverty, hardship, joblessness, social oppression will soon be gone after the November 2012 elections. Therefore, until then I want to heartily congratulate Councillor Mohammed Kanu Mansaray and I hope every Sierra Leonean will make it a moral and civic obligation to register to vote from 23 January – 25 March because the vote is our only instrument to reject this hardship APC government. Did I hear the spin doctors say the hardship is GLOBAL?….Hahahahha!
By: Yusuf Keketoma Sandi BA (Hons), LLB (Hons) London
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