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The Game Changer – VP Foh’s Reconciliatory Moves

The Game Changer – VP Foh’s Reconciliatory Moves

In any given state, there is no military academy that gives training on how to run the affairs of state. Rather, the training a military officer gets from his academy is how to protect the territorial integrity of his country, and protect lives and property. In essence, the military has no role in a country’s political affairs. This should be the acceptable norm where all things are equal.

It was in 1992 in Sierra Leone, the month was April, the day Wednesday, April 29, that a group of young military men overthrew the legitimate APC Government of Joseph Saidu Momoh. The government of Momoh, I must admit had a number of existing challenges at the time, notwithstanding the fact that, the worst civilian government is much more acceptable in a state than the best of military regimes.

Reasons advanced for the removal of the then APC led government ranged from mismanagement of state resources, to suppression of the press. The leader of the young military men was to be known later as 25 year old Capt. Valentine E. M. Strasser. At his youthful age, there came the promise of improving the lives of the people, and bringing an end to the civil war. Alas! With the months that followed, those ills which had form major reasons for the removal of the APC were to be seen to form part of the day to day operations of the military regime. The worst to occur was the execution of a number of reputable states men, with the incarceration of some and the forced self-exile of many.

Four years into his rule guided by an advisory body, Valentine Strasser was to be removed by his Number 2. The rest as you know it. The APC Party that Valentine Strasser and team had deposed was to be voted into power again by the people in 2007, differing from the death call of the young Valentine Strasser in his first statement to the nation. While the APC is come back and now thriving in wellness, Valentine Strasser is now said to be in a state of his former self. One only needed to have listened to his BBC interview recently to know his state of affairs.

The manner in which Sierra Leone has handled the Valentine Strasser Case especially in the shadows of the lengthy processes of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee and the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone has left the world wondering about the moral reputation of this country. Every nation has a path so dark that it would never desire to revert to. What hold that path in the time line of the life of every nation are principles of leadership and policy. Has Sierra Leone exhausted the means of bringing the Strasser Case to rest? I don’t think so. Did the reign of Strasser as Head of State bring goodness with it? The response would depend on the school of thought. What is important is Sierra Leone must take a decision on this matter. The international press has continuously referred to the Strasser Case in derogatory ways for Sierra Leone; the World Press.Org calls it “Harvest of Shame: Former Sierra Leone Ruler Valentine Strasser”; the New Statesman called it “The Vagabond King”. How many more name calling do we have to wait for?

Therefore, with the magnanimous and humanitarian nature of the All People’s Congress, a people-centered Party, it has come as no surprise to read of how the current Vice President, Hon Victor Bockarie Foh, is extending what I would refer to as the political olive branch,   bringing Strasser out of the shadows of his past to the glories of today, with resounding assurance of government’s commitment to not only restore his dignity, but also calling for the need to forgive and reconcile. I should make the point that, if there is any institution that should be bitter, angry and never be prepared to forgive Strasser, it should be the governing APC. Not only was it taken to the political wilderness for decades by the deeds of the NPRC, we also saw how, merely calling the name APC was made to appear as a taboo in our political history. Not only were people like Comrades Ernest Bai Koroma, Victor Bockarie Foh, late JS Momoh, Edie Turay, Osman Yansaneh, etc politically harassed, the NPRC made life difficult for them.

Today, this is the Party (APC) that has opened its arms to Strasser. Difficult as this may appear, we cannot overemphasize the fact that we all are humans, and we are all sinners and as long as one accepts that he is a sinner and he confesses his sins, the Lord will forgive him. The move by the Vice President, with the blessing of the President, should be acceptable to all Party Comrades. This is what makes APC a great institution. This is time to move on as a country. The decision by Comrade Foh to embrace his party’s foes must have been chosen smartly and with caution and in the national interest. Peace and Reconciliation should be the way forward for Sierra Leone. This can change our political dynamics as a country. A bitter pill to swallow but which heals. My view!

Pa Baimba Sesay

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