By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop) :
Since the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) was kicked out of power, by majority of Sierra Leoneans in 2007, its members and press hacks have always been itching for either political disturbances or the annihilation of Sierra Leone.
But President Ernest Bai Koroma, in his clairvoyance, has always been skipping the SLPP dynamites with human compassion and common sense. When some time ago the SLPP presidential candidate, Julius Madder Bio, issued a seditious statement claiming that the government was rearming ex-combatants; it was a deliberate attempt for him to be arrested and charged to court with the aim of SLPP supporters taking to the streets in protest. And then make the country ungovernable. But the President saw Madder’s gambit and regarded his seditious statement as a Shakespearean idiot’s tale. So, he shrugged off Madder’s statement just the same way a wise man would do a sensible statement from an insane idiot!
Then they, the SLPP, reverted to an escapist strategy. They know that they are going to lose the November polls and want to save face through boycotting the elections on the pretext that the nomination fees, which the National Electoral Commission (NEC) prescribed and which the current Parliament has already approved, were too heavenly-high. So, they threatened boycott and an “Arab Spring”-like civil disobedience.
The disruption of the November elections is so ingrained in the SLPP psyche that, at a meeting with a visiting ECOWAS delegation, early last week in Freetown, SLPP’s Hon. Elizabeth Alpha Lavalie made a Freudian slip by stating that they (the SLPP) would resist the increased NEC fees by calling on their supporters to take to the streets and “let them kills us like they are doing in Syria” (The Politico newspaper, Thursday September 13-17, 2012, Vol.1 No.50). Such a statement shows that the SLPP plans series of disruptions so that in the end a government of national unity will be in place in post-November 17 Sierra Leone. The question now is, why should members of the SLPP always evoke images of war, human slaughter and the annihilation of Sierra Leone as methods of solving the country’s political problems?
The SLPP had wanted to use the NEC nomination fees as possible alibis for its grand plan of discrediting the November polls and thereof initiating an “Arab Spring”-like political disturbance in the country. But President Ernest Bai Koroma has a way of always making comedians out of the SLPP stalwarts and their press hacks, and exposing them for what they truly are.
And the State House press release of 13th September 2012 shows that the SLPP has long been hiding in a fog. With the Koroma-led All People’s Congress (APC) government’s determination to “absorb the difference between the old and new fees of candidates representing political parties as a way of promoting democratic elections in Sierra Leone” (according to the State House press release of 13th September 2012); opposition parties which had wanted to hide their would-be disgraceful defeat under the guise of an election boycott will be denied that escapist ploy. So, Hon. Elizabeth Alpha Lavalie will no longer be given the opportunity of asking that other people’s children should take to the streets and be killed like Christmas hogs and chickens while her own children are enjoying the comforts of Europe and America.
By making the present government subsidizing the current NEC nomination fees, President Koroma has literally narrowed down the SLPP, including its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) surrogate, options. Now they can no longer engaged in escapist tactic by boycotting the elections; they can no longer have cause to disrupt the elections by calling on their supporters to bulwark NEC’s timeline by taking to the streets in senseless protests, and they can no longer have cause to discredit the elections by stating that they were unable to field candidates in APC strongholds because they did not have the money to pay nomination fees. Now, the only option left for the SLPP and its baby-sitting NDA is for them to face November 17th and take the bullets in the chest or temple like men—figuratively speaking, oh, sorry, writing!
And most importantly, by making the government of Sierra Leone to “absorb the difference between the old and new fees of candidates representing political parties as a way of promoting democratic elections in Sierra Leone”; President Koroma is sending a message to the entire world that Sierra Leone is beginning to be man enough to take care of some of its core responsibilities. It is also a pointer that the country has come off age from its donor driven-ness (my coinage pleased) to selfhood and self-pride. Few years ago, in fact from 1996 to 2007, it was unthinkable that Sierra Leone could be able to finance its road infrastructure by 70% not to talk of her able to provide the bulk of the finance to oil quadruple elections like the would-be November polls. This is just a confirmation of what President Koroma has been saying that in twenty years’ time, Sierra Leone would be an alms-giving country.
Despite the Unity newspaper of last Friday proclaimed that the SLPP and its MPs scored a six-nil victory over NEC and the APC after the current government agreed to subsidize nomination fess for all political parties contesting the November polls; the fact is, it is President Ernest Bai Koroma who has scored a hat-trick by showing that he is determined to make the elections this year go on smoothly as planned by NEC. And also that he wants to create a level playing field by making the cash-strapped SLPP and its shoe-stringed budgeted NDA be able to pay those chicken feed nomination fees.