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From Pa Baimba to Dr Banya

From Pa Baimba to Dr Banya

May I start by expressing that I shall always continue to give my full respect for Dr. Sama Banya, a regular columnist and politician, who believes in his political thoughts, irrespective of what others may want to say of him.  From a realistic perspective, typical African setting teaches us that, the elders, just like the husband with his wife, is always correct when dispute occurs between them. Although this may not be the case currently between yours truly and Dr Banya, but the fact that Dr Banya is an elderly person in our society, and that gives me more reasons to always respect him. (Photo: Pa John Baimba Sesay)

He is a fine politician in the political history book of Sierra Leone. I always admire at his writing skills, his ability to always respond to issues he thinks are not adequately addressed. He is also always ready to take on the current political class, especially on matters of national concern.  How I wished we had a good number of Sama Banyas in the political landscape of Sierra Leone. Like yours truly, Sama Banya may not be a perfect person, but he is that fine writer, and we must accept that.

Last week, I attempted to contribute to a debate that was ignited by one Idrissa Conteh, aka Atomic Pen on the differences that the current political administration has made so far in governance, as compared to the erstwhile government of the SLPP. In response, Dr. Banya came out with some salient points, which in my view were and are still in place.  But it would appear, I have disappointed my dear compatriot, Dr. Banya, from my writings on that debate. May I assure you, Dr. Banya, that I will never go the path of others, in my profession.  You had wished I don’t go that path, and I will do my best not to. As you stated I have my style of writing and will try my best to stick to that style.  So, please don’t be disappointed in as far as that aspect could go.

I appreciate that you have always read my column “with an open mind combined with some admiration.’  I implore on you to please continue with that. That is what will make me continue to write on issues of national concern, just as you have been doing in the last couple of years. I will not hesitate to inform you that I have always read your writing with serious attention, expecting to learn more, especially as a small ‘Pa’ coming up. And I shall continue to do that.  

But for the sake of a true and honest debate Sir, can we move this issue further?

Now in the first place, I have never taken my pen, to write anything aimed at ridiculing anybody; never in my practice as a journalist, have I done such a thing. So, my rejoinder was in no way, aimed at ridiculing the SLPP government of our ex-Present. Not at all!! In fact I have always given credit to our ex-president for taking Sierra Leone to the level he left the country.  Our ex-president will go down in history as having contributed greatly to rebuilding this nation. I don’t know how to tarnish somebody, and I was never taught how to do that at the Mass Communication School at Fourah Bay College. And this I will never do.

Now, reading my rejoinder on ‘Where the APC has made a difference’, I did state that the then SLPP government succeeded in establishing institutional reforms, to which I gave the SLPP a credit.  I am fully aware of the fact that the current Ernest Koroma led political administration  shall only succeed only when they are able to make use of the structures that were left by the then President, Pa Kabba(h). So, inasmuch as I argued that there are areas where, in my opinion, the then President did not perform, I also made reference to the institutional reforms which he left behind.

Prior to me, reading your view yesterday Sir, I got a telephone call  on Sunday evening from a strong SLPP member, appreciating my rejoinder, but, like you did, he also highlighted some concerns, which are almost similar to yours. The caller made reference to the end of our civil war that was spearheaded by the ex-government.

Dr, I stated that the then President could not provide us with electricity as he had promised; he could not finish the Lungi bridge also as he promised. Am I wrong in all of these? Definitely, I am right. I can understand the point that the then President gave his attention to brining an end to our decade long civil war. And indeed, as a result of the collective efforts of us all as Sierra Leoneans, coupled with the leadership role taken by the then President, the civil war came to an end. That is a credit to the then President. But let us for a minute think of this….

Dr Sama Banya

Sama Banya, an old but fine writer

If  the then President had promised us electricity, and he could not do that because he was trying to end the civil war, should that be used as an excuse for not giving us with light? I think, Dr, you will agree with me that, in politics, a promise not fulfilled could cost a political figure seriously. A father should ensure, his daughter gets educated, but failure to let that child go to school because, the father has to feed the house is no excuse. This is similar to our then President not providing us with electricity just because he wanted to end the civil war.

I always would say the good things that were done by the SLPP, but they had a lot of problems, and mistakes that accounted for their political demise.  The SLPP were sacked from governance because some of the promises they made were not met, and also most importantly, because a candidate was imposed on them. In my view, Charles Margai was the best choice for the SLPP leadership.  The APC will be treated likewise, if they don’t perform. Now, I have told, the APC  over and again that we are no longer practicing the 1960 politics where people would follow a party just  like that; performance is now the prerequisite for staying in power. The erstwhile government did perform but not to the admiration of all and sundry.  So, Dr, I humbly submit that paying attention to ending the war was not enough justification for not giving us electricity at the time.

Dr, you also questioned why, in your opinion, I have been silent on other recent aspects of APC rule. And you made reference to the ongoing chieftaincy  elections. No, Dr, I have not remained silent on most issues, in fact, I am of the view that you have not been fair with me Sir. Some few weeks back, you wrote that I, John Pa Baimba Sesay, have been writing on a variety of issues. This is enough justification to show that I have not been silent on issues, may be, there are issues you want me to give an opinion on, but which I am not aware of.

When I realized recently that John Benjamin, the outspoken opposition chairman had some matters he would want to convey to the general public, I saw it as my duty to reach and talk with him on a range of issues. I wrote an opinion on that, highlighting some of the issues he raised. Referring to the ongoing chieftaincy elections, I think, it is but true that this is a matter that has been handled and continued to be looked at by colleagues; if I don’t give my comment on it should not mean I am silent on it. But just as I stated earlier, I am a human being that is not perfect.  There are times that I would disappoint people, not least you Sir. This is my humble submission Dr.

That said, may I wish you a happy X-Mass in advance   and may you have a prosperous 2010.   

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