The path we must walk
Politics is a contact sport and our country’s latest contact sport that is an election is now behind us. We have fervently debated and disagreed on many issues prior to, during, and even after these elections. Our country is faced with many challenges. But when it came time to act on the challenges facing our nation, the majority of Sierra Leoneans heeded the ‘decision’ call; and on November 17th took their arguments and debates far from computer key boards, bar rooms and other gatherings, into the voting booth.
They became the referee in the contact sport of Salone. The whistle they blew on the 17th of November was not a team time out whistle. The whistle signaled the end of the game. The game is over fellas. It is time to move on.
On November 17th we decided on matters on who will be our mayor in our cities, who will represent us at our district levels, which paramount chief from our district will represent us in parliament, to the person representing our constituency in parliament, to who will sit in our state house to be called our Fountain of Honor.
If there was anything Sierra Leoneans learned from the November 17th elections, it was that the more things change the more they remain the same. The November 17th elections showed that we now more than ever dangerously remain a divided nation along tribal and regional lines
The elections hardly changed our politics. President Koroma was re-elected for a second term. Like the last parliament his party, the APC, won a majority seat in our legislature. The south east of the country remains a green dog SLPP while the Northwest continues to be a red dog APC. Many will argue and may be, rightly so, that our two party system has failed us and either party is in danger of being able to govern effectively when given the mandate to do so, like the nation gave such mandate to the APC.
The danger to effective governance comes about when robust argument becomes the end goal, rather than part of the process of getting things done as is now the case in our country especially from her citizens in the Diaspora. Our country has suffered too much. We cannot afford to suffer another five more years of partisan brawl, while our children die of malnutrition, our people living on less than a dollar a day and making the future bleak for the future generation. We cannot afford that. There is a lot to be done and the train to development is now boarding. We cannot afford to wait for everybody to board as time is not on our side. One of the beauties of democracy is that every person has the right to choose to fail. The business of the people and nation must go on unhindered. We can wait no more.
No one should fool him/herself that the political divide in our country is going to be bridged by a wave of the hand or pretend it does not exist. In reality, it has to take a lot more effort on the part of the president and his party and even the SLPP. Both sides had their preferred policies going into the elections on November 17th but the voters had their preferences and that lot fell on the APC and president Koroma.
Indeed we have argued and disagreed a lot; and that is good for our democracy. For it is only through such national debate that we can find our true selves. We must do that for ourselves, and our generation yet unborn. We can argue from sun rise to sun set. But as citizens of one nation and as Americans will say “under God”, we can compromise ourselves without compromising our principles. Even in hard edge intra-partisan days such as it was the case between our current president and his opponents in his party, we saw a pragmatic political leadership that took place. We saw President Koroma appointing his political opponents into cabinet and diplomatic positions, we saw compromise. That is why it is most disturbing to me that the likes of Edie Nyallay can call on his party to adopt the” Kenyan model” to redress what he and his party believe is a rouge election. The least said about the likes of Edie Nyallay under this circumstance the better.
There are some unrealistic Sierra Leoneans calling for our elections results to be overturned and new elections held. Elections are not cheap, and in our parts of the world it is a health hazard. My hats off to the security forces and NEC for coming out of this unscratched as far as human toll that is the hall mark of elections in our part of the globe is concerned.
Of course there is never a feast in the house of the loser of any contest. Fingers will always be pointed at someone other than the loser to take blame for the loss. In politics there are always many to point that finger at. Our elections have seen claims and counter claims of rigging so much so that the loser has refused to accept defeat. That is not uncommon. Mr. Bio has every right to disagree with the result of the elections. But as citizens of our though impoverished, but lawful and beloved country we will get the best overall deal by proactively working within the law of the land especially when we all know that the repeal and replace call of our elections is unrealistic and will never be.
Those now at the helm of our affairs must know that leadership is not just about ideas and policies. It is about the initiative to bring people together for a common goal. In our case, it is to make Sierra Leone better and nothing less. Government is a safety valve in our lives. It is demanded when our families, churches and mosques, and businesses fail. It is therefore necessary for every sector of our population to be involved in the workings of that government. This is one of the most urgent tasks of the government now in such a politically polarized society we find ourselves in today.
I am in no way asking for a national unity government based on partisan politics. The people have spoken, and they spoke loud and clear that it is the APC party they want to rule the country. The way I interpreted the elections results is that the people of Salone want to strengthen their multi-party democracy. So it will be against the will of the electorate as expressed to bring the opposition into the government. That will weaken the opposition and undermine our democracy
These past elections have once again shown that each side of the political divide knows too much about the other to idealize them but too little to do full justice to them.
Although results of our post war elections may not reflect it, there are true APC’ers in the South East. These people must be encouraged and become part of the governance machine. That way the APC will be able to debunk the idea that the party is only for North westerners. The SLPP will do the same when they take over the reins of power; whenever that time is. The SLPP will of course argue that such inclusion is not new to them. I agree with them. But it may also be true that the SLPP did that not initiate such inclusion in the name of national cohesion, but in the name of political pay back. After all they nearly carried their opponent’s strong hold which their opponent failed to do in theirs..
Mr. President, the people have spoken, they believe in you and you cannot afford to fail them. It is now time for creative policies combined with personal responsibility, civic engagement and public-private partnerships. Our country more than ever now requires leadership to resolve its challenges, not just management. If Sierra Leoneans expect better roads, employment, electricity, better schools and all the “betters” we can think of; we must demand more of our government; from our town chiefs to our president. But while doing so we must also expect more from ourselves.
We have come a long way. We can no longer afford to return to our recent past as some of our compatriots in the lands of Big Macs and Kentucky Fried Chickens are calling on their compatriots back home to do so for their own political gains. That is the most unpatriotic act of any citizen, calling for the destruction of the land he/she claims to love. And I thought Foday Sankoh died many moons ago.
It is true that every generation blames the one before it. No matter what we do today, future generations will find something to complain about. But for heaven’s sake let’s not knowingly give them something to complain about. No matter your tribe or region Sierra Leone is all we have and we must be untied to face and tackle our problems or else we are doomed. The New Testament offered us a comprehensive caution on division:
“Every Kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”
And so it is with our Mama Salone.
Congratulations Mr. President!
By: Cillaty “Wondemoi” Daboh
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