Will President Koroma Emulate Kabbah’s Example?
The issue of ‘After yu na me’ or ‘more time’ for His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, to continue with his development strides in governance has sparked serious debate among Sierra Leoneans many of whom are viewing the issue from political points of view.
Some political stalwarts in the governing All People’s Congress (APC) have repeated advocated for the extension of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s stay in power beyond the mandated two terms as stipulated by the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. The Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma, and the National Deputy National Publicity Secretary II, Hon. Robin Faley, were the front-runners of the campaign.
No sooner the debate on President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s ‘after yu na me’ was about to die down, there emerged another formidable force that propagated the prolongation of the President’s stay in power beyond its constitutional mandate. That force was the APC National Youth League, which passed a resolution in its National Conference, held in Makeni last year that “President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma should be given ‘more time’ to continue with his remarkable development strides in the entire country. Their campaign to push forward the President’s ambition to extend his time in office has never relented and rumours were that some grovelling organizations pandering to political favours, including organizations representing the grassroots across the country, have been planning demonstrations in favour of ‘more time’ for the President. Reports abound such rumours though there is no smoke without fire.
In the midst of all these advocacies and rumours of the President’s determination to stay in power beyond his constitutional mandate, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has for the umpteenth time told Sierra Leoneans and the entire world that as democrat, he respects the rule of law and the will of the people on whose mandate he is President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Even in his meeting with leaders and representatives of other political parties during the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic, he made it emphatically clear that as democrat and leader of the people, he would never go through the backdoor.
You may hate him if you like, but President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma may be carving himself into a national icon of a visionary leader that always puts his country and people first before self.
In spite of all the temptations to prevail on him to use his executive powers to extend his stay beyond his constitutional mandate, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has made it crystal clear to the international community that both the presidential and parliamentary elections would be conducted in 2018 based on development in the 2015 Population and Housing Census, though he was not clear on whether or not he has an intention to contest the presidential election for a third time..
According to confirmed reports, a high powered delegation of the European Union (EU) on Monday 15th February, 2016 paid a courtesy call on the President at State House. The aim of the meeting was to update and review Sierra Leone’s development programmes since their last political dialogue in May 2004.
President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma made it known to the EU delegation that Statistics Sierra Leone has concluded the 2015 Population and Housing Census and its preliminary results which will be out next month will be used by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in the boundary delimitation and in preparing the electoral calendar for the conduct of 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The President may have proved his worthiness as true democrat, patriot and tolerant politician, but what he has woefully failed to tell Sierra Leoneans is whether or not he is actually interested in a third term. Many citizens have blamed the President for allowing the APC National Youth League to promote his third term ambition without dissociating himself from the position they took at their national convention in Makeni held late last year.
Though State House hastily came out with news releases when Mr. Leonard Balogun and Hon. Robin Faley were desperately promoting the President’s stay in power beyond the two-term constitutional mandate, the President confronted the issue with a loose-end approach thereby encouraging more psychopathic groups to sprout up overnight in the name of ‘more time’, including some selfish Sierra Leonean artistes, business organizations, politically supported groups and many others praying for the President and the APC party to stay in power until thy kingdom come.
Now that President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has told the EU that both the presidential and parliamentary elections will be conducted in 2016, it is incumbent upon him to end the protracted speculation about his intention to stay in power beyond his second term of office. Let him prove himself as real democrat, patriot and tolerant politician that he has no intention to run for the presidency beyond his second term which he dedicated to the youths of this country.
President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma should be bold enough as a democrat to pronounce his stepping down at the end of his second term in 2018 before the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) comes out with its first draft of the reviewed 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone which many critics believe has already been manipulated by the governing All People’s Congress (APC) to extend the term of the presidency. Is the President waiting for this to happen before Sierra Leoneans will realize his intention to continue in power?
In my humble opinion, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has made a niche in the development strides of this country as compared to previous leaders since the post-independence era. Sierra Leoneans will always remain holding him in high esteem for his exemplary performance that has gained him recognition in the international community, but I believe his credibility will be questioned from both within and without in case he expresses interest in a third term given the peaceful and democratic manner in which his predecessor relaxed power in the hands of his Vice President prior to the 2007 elections to herald his retirement after his re-election in 2002. The late former President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah did not go beyond his second term as stipulated by the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone; he spent some comfortable time in retirement before his death a few years ago.
By and large, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma should follow the democratic spirit his predecessor exhibited to win the hearts and minds of Sierra Leoneans when he peacefully and democratically retired as stipulated by the constitution. He may have got his way if he had insisted on tailoring our constitution to suit his size, but he didn’t; instead, he allowed the will of the constitution to prevail and so it happened.
Will President Koroma borrow a leaf from the genuine example of leadership his predecessor exhibited till the end of his second?
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