Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Sierra Leone Inauguration and Much Ado about Nothing

President Julius Maada Bio 
The Sierra Leone Inauguration went on as planned, on Saturday May 12th 2018. Surrounded by regional leaders, visiting dignitaries and a stadium filled beyond capacity with the people of Sierra Leone, President Julius Maada Bio was inaugurated as the leader of Sierra Leone for the next five years. Though the President had organized the cheapest inauguration in the modern history of Sierra Leone, it was still an amazing spectacle.

However, the inauguration did not however proceed without some significant hiccups and some deliberate hanky panky.  On the day before the inauguration, fire mysteriously broke out at the Presidential Pavilion at Lungi International Airport where foreign leaders and dignitaries were to be received. It was blamed on a Plasma TV and faulty wiring, but many Sierra Leoneans saw it as a deliberate act of sabotage tactically intended to embarrass the new leader in front of his visiting dignitaries.

Tragically on the day of the inauguration, security lapses around the stadium led to a stampede by people to enter and witness the spectacle, leading to the loss of lives and some people sustaining serious and minor injuries. So it was a bitter sweet day.
Passing the Torch 

However, for opposition APC detractors of the new President, the main complaint now in the country and on social media is that the ex-president, Chairman and Leader for Life of the All Peoples Congress,  Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma was not given a chance to make a public handing over statement on the day of the inauguration.

APC members ,who have suddenly found their voices after ten years of obedient compliance, are now all over social media lamenting the travesty of not allowing EBK, their hero to speak at the inauguration of President Julius Maada Bio.
A New President 

Silvia Olayinka Blyden, the fired ex-Social Welfare Minister under President Koroma and the new "Pied Piper of APC," went on TV claiming that she had personally helped the ex-president draft a statement for the inauguration, editing it to reduce the number of pages, and helped him embellish his main achievements. She lamented that the Ex-President Koroma not being allowed to read his more than 20 page speech at the inauguration of President Julius Maada Bio was a travesty.

I think all the furore about EBK not being allowed to speak at Maada Bio's inauguration is simply misguided and much ado about nothing. It is simply making a mountain out of a molehill. Most of the complaints are misleading at best.

An inauguration is about the new President and his message to the People. It is his vision about the future, the problem he wants to tackle, the actions he intends to take to solve these problems and the outcomes he intends to see. During the inauguration, the new President basically lays out a roadmap for the next five years, as is the case of Sierra Leone.

If the ex-president has a speech he wants to make at the end of his presidency, he can print the speech for dissemination or arrange another program with the President to do so and not on the day of the inauguration.

I think Maada Bio and Ernest Koroma have always behaved to each other like gentlemen, in spite of the Al Qaeda mentality of some of their most ardent supporters. But imagine where two candidates have a very bad election and one wins and gives the other  the platform to talk at the inauguration. What if the defeated candidate uses the opportunity to further divide the country?

I listened to the first public interview of Ex-President Robert Mugabe and wondered what would have happened if he had been allowed to give a speech at the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

An inauguration is about the new President, the celebration of his victory and the future of the country. Ernest Bai Koroma had ten years to give speeches and the people of Sierra Leone had ten years to listen to his speeches and decide that this time they were following a new direction. If the Ex-President wants to tell the people of Sierra Leone about his many successes, he can write a book for the historical record. For now Sylvia Blyden and all other agitators need to find something to do or help make the country better. Sierra Leone is for all whether you are with "One People" or "Tolongbo."
They even complain about
Cleaning the City

Monday, May 14, 2018

NGC Strong Man Bayoh comes Back to SLPP in Dramatic Fashion

One of the more memorable social media spectacles of the past election in Sierra Leone was the public defection of Sierra Leone Peoples Party North America (SLPPNA) strongman S. K. Bayoh to the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Just a few months before the election. Mr. S. K. Bayoh, a strong supporter of Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella at the time felt so angered at Kandeh's inability to clinch the SLPP presidential candidacy that he decided to defect from SLPP in a very public and dramatic fashion.
New Jersey SLPP welcome
A repentant Bayoh

In a now infamous video clip he recorded specifically for the event, a video that could be a very Drserious contender for a dramatic award consideration, Mr Bayoh, in full SLPP regalia, gave his personal history in SLPP and the reasons why he thought the SLPP no longer had his support. He then painstakingly removed every bit of SLPP paraphernalia that he had on him and proceeded to don the ornaments and colors of Kandeh's  Yumbellas NGC party.

Unfortunately, it seems as if Mr. S. K. Bayoh's romance with the NGC was as unfulfilling as it was brief. In a new video he posted this past weekend on social media before heading out to a SLPP celebration event in New Jersey,  Mr. S. K. Bayoh, in full prodigal fashion, has announced resignation from NGC and his return to SLPP, the party he claims he has always belonged to. He promised to make an elaborate video this Monday detailing his reasons for leaving the NGC and coming back home to his beloved  SLPP.

However, at the public SLPP event in New Jersey, S. K. Bayoh gave some hints as to why he thought his short personal sacrifice for NGC had been for nothing, focusing mainly on the ingratitude of Dr. Yumkella.  Mr. Bayoh lamented that from the time he lost the Presidency and became an MP,  Dr. Yumkella had not personally called him to thank him, Mr. Bayoh, for his enormous personal role in NGC campaign. He vowed he had more to say and of course we are eager to listen.

The members of SLPP New Jersey gave Mr. S. K. Bayoh a welcome befitting a repentant member who had lost his way in the midst of the NGC euphoria. 

Opinions within SLPPNA are however split about the rapidity with which S. K. Bayoh has abandoned the NGC ship. Some people state that if NGC had won, S. K. Bayoh may not have quickly abandoned the party even if he had not gotten a personal call from Kandeh, but would have stayed. Others are of the opinion that a lot of then SLPP and now NGC members captivated by the allure of Dr. Yumkella particularly in North America should be welcomed back to the SLPP fold. The party needs more hands on deck to ensure future electoral victories. 

As SLPP eases into the driver's seat in Sierra Leone, there are bound to be more defections from other parties and the return of some past defectors. It is just the Sierra Leone way, some people always want to be near the seat of power. SLPP should accept them, as our people say, "there is no bas forest forest to throw away a bad family member. You just have to accept them for the sake of family and continue sleeping with one eye open.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Sierra Leone Getting Ready for Presidential Inauguration

President Julius Maada Bio 
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is a very lucky man. Probably very few people give the thought to just how lucky one has to be to become the leader of an African country twice. African leaders typically do not have graceful exits. However, many of the African countries where individuals have become leaders at two different periods are in West Africa.

During the period in our continent's history when military dictatorships were common, Julius Maada Bio took over the reins of power in Sierra Leone and shortly hereafter handed the country over to civilian rule without any fussing or fighting. It was a very selfless decision.
APC Parliamentarian IB

Many of President Maada Bio's primary detractors love to say he had no option at the time he gave up power.  They state that at the time, it was the pressure and agitation of the civil population and the international community that forced him to give up power. In my opinion these statements can be attributed to the fact that in the midst of the hardship that has come to characterize our country  Sierra Leone, one of the attributes that has helped the people stay resilient is the possession of a relatively short memory span.

If the average Bio detractor did not have a very short memory, he/she would remember that Johnny Paul Koroma, a more recent military leader in a very similar position  refused to hand over to the country's elected civilian government, even when he had massive multinational forces arrayed against him, while facing substantial domestic civil and military resistance. Johnny Paul held on to power until he was practically chased out of the capital Freetown, later dying in obscurity and buried without pomp and pageantry. 
APC Inauguration Seat
Dumped in Backyard 

It is said that some people create their own luck. Maada Bio is one of those people. Leading up to the 2007 elections, Maada Bio tried his hand at being the presidential candidate of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party. He was defeated so comprehensively that many thought his foray into politics was over. However he came back for the 2012 elections and managed to clinch the party presidential candidacy, only to lose to the incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma.

After the 2012 loss, Maada Bio left to study for a doctoral degree in the United Kingdom.  While in the UK, he was simultaneously engaged in his studies while fighting challenges from all quarters within the SLPP to his candidacy as party flagbearer in 2018. Maada Bio's singular determination, the tenacity of the President's Paopa group within the party, his name appeal, the defection of some of his primary opponents to form the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and early support from some other aspirants put him in pole  position to win the leadership of SLPP the second time around.

In the general election the much hyped  support for the NGC and their candidate Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella did not materialize. Many people saw the NGC as a party of elitists and bourgeoisie supported by Sierra Leoneans living abroad. The APC party, while being plagued by poor economic performance in the country, also had a very lackluster candidate, Dr. Samura Kamara, whose credentials were more impressive on paper than in person. Samura had the unfortunate tendency of easily falling asleep during public appearances. APC's problems were compounded by the dismissal of the elected Vice President some years ago, which myopic action succeeded in  cannibalizing support for the APC in the highly populated Kono district from which the dismissed VP hailed. 

Having been marginalized by President Ernest Bai Koroma, many strong past APC campaigners showed little public enthusiasm to campaign for Samura. So Ex-President Koroma did most of the campaigning with the delusion that he was still massively popular in the country, in spite of his failed policies. The common  belief among the APC elite was that APC was too strong a party to lose and Maada too weak a candidate to win. This belief proved to be a catastrophic mistake, as was evidenced by APC’s shellacking.

So on Saturday May 12th, 2018, as world leaders descend on Freetown to celebrate the Presidency of a man who was vowed by many to never become President of Sierra Leone ever again, Maada Bio will be taking in all the sights and saying to himself, "never say never."
President Bio and Weah
Of Liberia.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

President Bio Makes Very Impressive Cabinet Appointments

Julius Maada Bio
President of Sierra Leone 
For those who have been advocating for excellent leadership in Sierra Leone, the list of complete cabinet appointments made by President Julius Maada Bio brings much needed relief.

Even though the attainment of regional balance, a key failure of the Koroma administration, seems to have played heavily in the president's consideration of his cabinet nomimees, President Julius Maada Bio has above all else, focused on the knowledge, expertise, and experience of those he has appointed to crucial political positions in order to help him chart the course of the nation.
Former President Koroma
A Victim of Sycophancy

From Vice President Juldeh Jalloh to the last named cabinet appointee, Sierra Leone's new cabinet is characterized by individuals with proven track records of excellence in their chosen academic and professional endeavors. Many of the cabinet members also have extensive experience working in reputable international developmental NGOS.

Where former President Ernest Bai Koroma was more comfortable assembling a motley crew of personal loyalists, self professed apprentices, untamed sycophants, and the strongest advocates of his ill fated "more time" agenda, President Julius Bio has focused on the selection of individuals who will once more bring respect to ministerial positions in the country, while bringing their knowledge to bear on charting the course for national development. The finance minister is solid, the foreign minister is concrete, the chief minister is exceptional, and so on down the list. 

Sierra Leoneans can now be rest assured that the ship of state is once again in very able hands and one will just pray that the new cabinet does not fall prey to the curse of Sierra Leone; corruption, hedonism and hubris. 

One thing Ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma would be remembered for is his poor judge of personal character in his appointments to public positions. Ministers in the last administration became the public champions of immorality.  A government minister was accused of raping a student in broad daylight, got off free and even had the audacity to put his name forward as a presidential candidate for the APC party in the just concluded election, Instead of being banned from public appointments for life. Two ministers in the Ministry of Social Welfare welfare, Moijueh Kaikai and his visually impaired deputy Mustapha Bai Attila, were recorded quarreling in the ministry in front of their subordinates, using language so crude and foul that we cannot reproduced it verbatim on this blog. Even though the two ministers were hastily fired, their two female replacements decided to up theirs a notch,  taking to the country's airwaves and accusing  each other of corruption and embezzlement, to the astonishment of a mortified public. Even the President's own Chief of Staff was fired from his post, accused of forging the signature of the chief executive in order to facilitate clandestine illegal business. 

Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, one of the sacked APC ministers accused by her deputy of embezzling millions of Leones, and who over the years has positioned herself as one of the greatest political foes of the current President Julius Bio, has grudgingly admitted on social media that President Bio has made very excellent cabinet choices. 
Over the years, Silvia,  a sensational tabloid journalist turned politician, has made it her public mission to ensure that President Bio never again ruled Sierra Leone.

Sylvia Blyden currently has a quixotic case in court, seeking to overturn the electoral victory of Julius Maada Bio in favor of the APC's Samura Kamara, the lackluster personally handpicked candidate of Ernest Koroma, who failed to excite people even in his own political backyard. Samura's campaign speeches were as boring as they were forgetful and he was trounced by Bio in both the first election and the runoff. 

Many view Sylvia's praise of Bio's appointees as an indication that she is slowly starting to accept that her case will is going nowhere. Others believe that public is once again starting to see her chameleon style of political opportunism. Before and after the 2007 elections, Sylvia Blyden was one of the toughest critics of the former President Ernest Bai Koroma. But by the end of Koroma's first term, Blyden was one of his loudest praise singers, for which effort Koroma awarded her with two cabinet level political positions.

Maada Bio in winning the election and selecting a cabinet on the basis of excellence and inclusiveness has put to rest all the allegations made against him in the past that he would embark on a politics of divisiveness if he was ever elected.  The cabinet is not only regionally diverse, but is also composed of some individuals who have been strong political rivals of the President in the very recent past.

One former Presidential candidate, Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray whose running mate was appointed to the cabinet the past day became so incensed that he put out an audio clip promising to lecture the new President on the Constitution.

Kamaraimba briefly became a notable political opponent to former President Ernest Bai Koroma after he was kicked out of the APC party for not following party instructions. His party even posed some serious challenge to the APC in byelections and he believed he will be a serious challenger in the 2018 elections.  However, his ADM party was trounced so heavily in the past election that it's survival is now questionable. Kamaraimba has now been reduced to producing angry clips on WhatsApp attacking political opponents and stating that he is employing a long term strategy, as he is still very young.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Happy 57th Independence Anniversary to all Sierra Leoneans

We here at the Segbwema Blog would like to wish every Sierra Leonean at home and abroad a happy 57th Independence Anniversary. We pray that the next few years will bring positive and lasting changes in the country.

This 57th year, our celebration of Freedom coincides with the election of a new leader and the promise of a new direction. Just a month ago, the people of our country looked at the many candidates before them vying for national leadership and decided to settle for a familiar face.

Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, who had briefly led Sierra Leone during the bitter years of the war and initiated the first dialogue with the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) that ultimately led to the attainment of peace was chosen among the lot to help steer the country in a different direction for the next five years.

We wish the new President success. Unless the people of Sierra Leone have decided to embrace suffering and misery as their destiny among the countries of the earth, we are of the fervent belief that with politics aside, Sierra Leoneans of all stripes should pray for the success of this new government. We are not just saying this because we believe in the Presidency of Julius Maada Bio, but because we believe that after 57 years of suffering, after decades of blood, sweat and tears, the people of Sierra Leone need to see some improvement in their daily lives and in their standards of living. The people simply need a break.

A small country like Rwanda, even more densely populated than Sierra Leone, went through years of tense political strife that culminated in the death of over half a million of its citizens.  Much like Sierra Leone there was also destruction on a large scale.

Rwandan society was more fragmented, with tribal divisions deeper than they will ever be in Sierra Leone. Because were the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda largely avoided each other socially, in Sierra Leone all tribes coexist together, we marry each other, go to the same schools and have the same religiond. Political divisions in Sierra Leone are largely the machinations of failed politicians who try to incite ethnic and regional tensions and hatred with the sole desire of getting votes, as most of the time they  have no tangible record to show after spending years in power. However, the people of Sierra Leone have decided and for the next five years we implore the politicians who have failed the country to join the new leaders in working for a peaceful and prosperous country. It is the only we we can put Sierra Leone first.

To the outgoing All Peoples Congress Party (APC), you employed many shenanigans to perpetuate your rule, even after years of failed promises. You promised cheap food, and saw the increase in food prices by more than free fold. You promised to improve education and presided over the greatest decline in the status of our premier educational institutions since independence. Late President Tejan Kabba implemented an ambitious plan to professionalize the country’s police force and you succeeded in a few years to make it a tool for the suppression of the masses. Our foreign ambassadors, instead of representing all the citizens of their countries abroad became party agents, interested in spending time with only people who belonged to diaspora chapters of the APC party. In spite of all these you paid journalists to write glowing reviews about Koroma calling him the world's great, you harassed members of the opposition and gave crucial out appointments to unqualified people.

As the Accountant General reports of the past few years and the current transition team is discovering, APC robbed Sierra Leone blind, while giving pittances to their supporters and sycophants.

Just recently, a sacked Minister of Sicial Welfare Sylvia Blyden, was on private TV accusing her colleagues around the President Ernest Bai Koroma of being a corrupt lot. Sylvia’s deputy minister publicly accused her of massive embezzlement, nothing was ever investigated. The same drama had played out in the same ministry during the ill fated period of ministers Moijueh and Atilla.

During the deadly Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, while the whole world was rushing to save Sierra Leone from the ravages of the virus, members of the APC government were busy squandering resources meant for the fight against the terrible scourge and stealing funds that were to be used in alleviating the plight of the victims. Positions awarded for pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Mecca were routinely sold not to the righteous among the Muslims in the country, but to those who saw the titles of Alhaji and Haja as status symbols devoid of any religious piety.

In a country that depends on loans for public administration, new districts were created for political purposes, even though the cost of administering these districts would become a huge burden on the very limited resources of the country.

So it is but a shame to hear these same group of politicians vow to make the country ungovernable again because of reasons they can seek solutions to in court if they so desire.

We pray that whatever residual evil political machinations the APC lot have up their sleeves for Sierra Leone shall not come to pass. For most of our history in Sierra Leone, APC has been in leadership. In all those years they have only succeeded in giving us mediocre leadership and institutionalizing a legacy of corruption, declining living standards and decline of public institutions.

Under years of failed APC leadership, Sierra Leone now looks like the failed prodigal brother of almost every country in West Africa. We we hope that members of the historic APC party do not continue to be the barriers to the progress that this country so badly needs. If only for the sake of the welfare of their supporters, APC members should say yes to progress and no to stagnation and backwardness.

Our prayers and good wishes are with the great and resilient men, women and children of Sierra Leone. Happy 57th Anniversary!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mohamed Bangura and the Sierra Leone Constitution

I listened to Mohamed Bangura, the SLPP turned PMDC, turned UDM, turned APC spokesman and truly, he sounded like a born joker trying to be serious. This very bloke who just a year ago was threatening to block social media in Sierra Leone is now preaching the virtues of the Constitution to others.

Honestly, APC members shouting about respecting the constitution of Sierra Leone is like a pickpocket preaching the Ten Commandments in church and skipping the line about, "Thou shalt not steal."

When APC was in power, they deprived lawfully elected politicians from their seats in parliament, stating they were paid from the consolidated fund. APC members created a legal loophole to get rid of the Parliamentary speaker, removed the Vice President by trickery, appointed the same Mohamed Bangura with bogus educational certificates, even though they had  allegedly removed Sam Sumana for doing the same.

APC even arrested our SLPP member of Parliament for Kailahun Constitution 007, Robin Faley, on a trumped up charge of false voter registration, locked him up and forced him to switch to the APC party, dropped the case, awarded him the APC symbol to contest in the same constituency and the made him deputy National Campaign Manager.

In the last election members of the APC could not even vote for their own presidential candidate in a democracy, but had that choice made for them in communist fashion by the then President Koroma, who also appointed himself chairman and leader of the party for life.

APC calling on others to respect the Constitution leaves on to ask the question; did APC even know that Sierra Leone had a Constitution? Were they not crying "more time" even when the Sierra Leone Constitution imposed term limits? Did President Koroma not say if he wanted more time he would do so and nobody would stop him, in blatant disrespect of the constitution?

Was this not the same APC that locked up respected opposition and political activist Allie Kabba, a Muslim, on charges of bigamy?

Mr. Bangura we know you are a born opportunist and a charlatan. But please stop talking about the Sierra Leone Constitution. It's a joke to you.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Two Tegloma International Inc. members Bag Impressive Awards in the USA

Mrs. Alice Karpeh
Mrs. Alice Karpeh, a Nurse Midwife,  pioneer and founding member of the Sierra Leone based- Minnesota, USA health care nonprofit Rural health Care Initiative (RHCI) will receive a Distinguished Humanitarian Award from the National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America (NOSLINA) on Saturday May 5th, 2018.  

The very competitive Distinguished Humanitarian Award is given by NOSLINA in recognition of outstanding contribution to poverty reduction, national reconstruction and rehabilitation, and supply of educational and health resources in ways that improve access and service to groups of needy, impoverished Sierra Leoneans at home. Mrs. Alice Karpeh was also the Vice President of  Tegloma Minnesota chapter.

Rural health Care Initiative works with the people of Tikonko chiefdom in Sierra Leone to provide culturally appropriate health care and improve quality of life by increasing access to family focused care. 

The organization recently inaugurated the Mbao-Mi Birth Waiting Home, the first such service in Sierra Leone,  where pregnant women in the chiefdom can receive crucial health care monitoring in the last few weeks of pregnancy, thereby reducing the incidence of infant and maternal mortality in a country ranked among those with the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. 

RHCI also provides support to the government run Community Health Clinic in Tikonko, has organized professional training for Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), operates a weekly Outreach Motorbike Clinic to bring health care to remote villages, and is involved in farm based agriculture to supplement the nutritional needs of patients and the local population.

Mr. Moses Baryoh, the former President of Tegloma Indiana Chapter has also been named recipient of the distinguished Paul Harris Award from the Rotary Club of Naperville. 
Mr. Moses Baryoh
The first Rotary Club was established in 1905 by Paul Harris with the aim of providing an opportunity for professionals and business men to engage in fellowship and friendship. Today the Rotary Club is a world wide organization that promotes friendship as an opportunity for service, promotes high ethical standards in business and professional life, promote personal development,international understanding, goodwill and peace.

Mr. Moses Baryoh is deemed by the Rotary Club of Naperville to have met all the standards set by Rotary Club founder Paul Harris. Members of Mr. Baryoh's organization bring modern health care technology and training to many areas of the world.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ex-Vice President Retires from Politics in Sierra Leone

Former VP
Victor Foh 

Sierra Leone's outgoing Vice President, Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh, has in a letter written to his All Peoples Congress (APC) party, tendered his resignation from active party politics in the country.

Victor Bockarie Foh who was the former Secretary General of the All Peoples Congress party and also very instrumental in that party regaining its former glory, was the Sierra Leone Ambassador to China prior to being given the Vice President portfolio following the scandalous removal from office of the then Vice President Alhaji Chief Sam Sumana.
Vice President
Chief Sam Sumana

The role that Victor Foh played around the removal of his immediate predecessor still remains murky and shrouded in mystery, as he was initially seen as being very close to Chief Sam Sumana. However, many Sierra Leone political pundits agree that the decision to remove the then vice president  may have cost the the APC party the presidency, as many of the people from Sumana's Kono district defected from APC in droves during the past elections. Sumana was a presidential candidate in the last election, but his party only gained traction in his home district.

In a country where shifting political affiliations are very common, Victor Foh holds the distinction of being among the few politicians in the country who never changed political parties. Even at the time when his APC party was buried in the political mud after the military coup of 1992, he was one of the few who did not abandon APC.
APC Candidate
Dr. Samura Kamara 

Last year, Victor Foh's decision to contest as a presidential candidate of the the All Peoples Congress party in the hope that the party will have the very first candidate who was not from the north of the country led to what he has publicly described his public  humiliation at the Makeni convention. On the even of the selection the then President Ernest Bai Koroma stated publicly that he had no regional consideration of whom he wanted to replace him, but then went about to select both  presidential and vice presidential candidates from the north of the country.

After the decision Victor Foh felt very humiliated,  as rumors had been afloat that the president had assured him not to worry and that many of the party top brass had thrown their weight behind him, praising his loyalty to the party. After the convention,  VP Foh largely disappeared from public view.

In recent days, VP Foh had publicly endorsed the current President, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, a man who he had known for more than forty years. He praised the president's character and removed himseld from all court cases brought against him by members of the opposition APC party. Victor Foh also urged members of his APC party to drop all frivolous lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of Brigadier Bio, reminding them that, "power comes from God" and "the voice of the people is the voice of God."

Victor Foh, in a shortly worded letter to the leadership of the APC, wrote that he was retiring from active party politics, but would always be available to help in the national interest.

There are currently court cases brought by the defeated presidential candidate of the APC Dr. Samura Kamara and the journalist turned APC political hack, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, both seeking to nullify the votes of the recent elections and probably find a legal loophole to instal Samura Kamara as president, even though all foreign and domestic election observers have described the results of the elections as reflecting the will of the people and APC had won the majority of the parliamentary seats.

APC's removal of Sam Sumana with the support of the Supreme Court has emboldened members of the party to think that the courts of Sierra Leone will rule in their favor against the will of the people of Sierra Leone.

Vice President Foh is seen by many as a man with many political lives and many are waiting to see whether he will just hibernate or go into political retirement for good.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Democracy Can be Beautiful When it Works

Sierra Leone President
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio 
When it works, democracy can be truly  beautiful. For many years in West Africa, the only way you could get leaders out of  power was through military coups, natural deaths or violent and sometimes bloody political insurrection.
Vice President
Dr. Juldeh Jalloh 

Most post-independent West African leaders only left power dead or exiled. Those that stayed in power for long left legacies of political disappearances and the graves of their political adversaries. Up til now, Gambians are still coming to grasp with the legacy of their last President Yahya Jammeh, even as mass graves are discovered on a regular basis.

In the past few years there have been democratic transfers of power with the defeat of ruling parties in polls in Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia and now Sierra Leone. In West Africa of the 60s, 70s and 80s,  this was mostly unheard of.  But these days, it is becoming the norm, and West Africans are liking it.

In the past, West Africa's intellectual elite who advocated for changes in leadership or the conditions of the people such as Ken Saro Wiwa in Nigeria and Jim Fornah in Sierra Leone, paid with their lives, for trying to upend the status quo. Many others  either fled, dropped out of politics for the sake of their families, or gave up and joined those in power.

In many of these countries the leaders just formed one party states. After the 1977 national election in Sierra Leone, President Siaka Stevens declared the country a one party state and made all political opposition illegal. His All Peoples Congress party was in power unchallenged, until it was forced out of leadership by a military coup in 1992.

People all over the world have aspirations for a better life, and Africa is no exception. With increased globalization and a revolution in communication, media outlets and platforms, the people in West Africa are seeing the living conditions of people in other areas of the world and asking themselves why their own societies are stagnating or regressing, while there was progress in so many  other areas of Africa.

In this day of Facebook and WhatsApp, the young people are acutely aware of the  possibilities that their societies can achieve through better governance,  especially now that migration to the West is becoming much more difficult than in the past.  Young  Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora frequently travel to the country and educate their folks about the fact that Sierra Leone has too much resource potential for the people to remain mired on poverty.

Past African governments had tight controls over both the source and the distribution of information in the country. In the past, national radio stations, television stations and many newspaper outlets were controlled by either the governments or the agents of those in power. Those days, the governments fed the population a steady dose of propaganda and public corruptiom scandals were few and far between.

Unfortunately for African leaders the emergence of social media has made the control of information practically impossible. Even when ex-president Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone sent many good journalists in the country as press attaches to overseas embassies where they effectively became propaganda agents,  most of them only succeeded in becoming  subjects of ridicule, as ordinary citizens with cellphones became the most trusted reporters in the country. Cellphone recordings of a fight between the former Social Welfare and his visually impaired deputy where they used some pretty unsavory language led to the dismissal of both of them.


A massive corruption scheme around last year's pilgrimage to the Muslim holy land of Mecca made many people lose faith in the present government, as people just did not believe that public servants would descend to the level of corruption that would involve selling places for pilgrimage to such a religiously revered place.

When Mohamed Bangura, the intellectually challenged information minister of the outgoing government boasted that he would ban social media in the country, he became the butt of many jokes, as he had no idea the challenges that would entail and was a man known for talking before thinking.

Against all odds the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP over the past weekend won the election in Sierra Leone. After pouring massive public resources into a campaign in which the President personally hand picked both his successor and the running mate, the ruling party lost, even though they had embarked on a campaign that they were very confident of winning and describing the opposition party of being penniless and broke. They were buoyed by the defection of the last chairman of the SLPP Chief Somano Kapen,  a man seemingly cursed to die in opposition.
SLPP Turncoat
Chief Somano Kapen 

The reading of the country's election  results had to be variously delayed, as the outgoing government wanted to engage in every known political shenanigan in order to ensure that Dr. Samura Kamara, the president's own choice was elected by hook or crook.

However the electoral commissioners held firm. Many people became increasingly aware that the tides were turning when government agents ridiculously started accusing election observers and foreign agents of trying to rig elections. It was an act that smirked of desperation.

When the election results were announced and Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio the opposition candidate was declared the winner,  the losing Dr. Samura went on TV to say he will challenge the outcome. However,  nobody in the country paid him much attention. It was like someone cooking soup and then blaming others for its poor taste. Samura lost a historic opportunity to behave like a gentleman. However he seem to be accepting reality and went to church with the President where he acknowledged him as the President.

The new President, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio has many challenges. He is inheriting a country that is now more corrupt than at any time in its history, with an economy that is in the doldrums. The saving grace is that Maada Bio is no political novice and there are people around him with serious experience who can proffer good advice.  His main challenge will be how to distribute leadership positions among his many supporters without alienating many at this crucial time.  One only hopes he has been planning for this outcome.
Proud Defector

Regardless of what happens, democracy in West Africa is maturing.  Probably in our lifetime the people all over that area of Africa will be able to choose their leadership unhindered and hold them accountable to their promises.

In spite of the fact that it occasionally leads to tyranny of the majority, democracy is beautiful when it works.

Sheku Sheriff.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Maada Bio Becomes President of Sierra Leone

His Excellency
Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio
President of the Republic of Sierra Leone 
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is once again the leader of the Republic of Sierra Leone! As they say, you can never put a good man down. He may stumble, but he will always rise up again.

Yesterday, His Excellency, our President, the Fountain of Honor,  Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Wonnie Bio was sworn into office by Sierra Leone's Chief Justice immediately after the results of the runoff elections were announced and he was declared victorious.

Many of Maada's political adversaries never truly believed that he would lead the country again. Many had long ago written his political obituary. But like a bad dream, he is back. Ready to lead.

With singular determination and tenacity, Maada has weathered all the storms of doubt and has given a new meaning to the adage "who God blesses no man can curse."
In these days of WhatsApp and Facebook, Sierra Leone like many other countries, has seen an unparalleled  introduction of nastiness into the country's politics. Maada Bio became a prime target.

Those who claim to have know Maada's private and personal life were all over social media with their stories, smears and allegations. Tonight many Sierra Leoneans will quietly delete many of the intensely personal things they either wrote or spoke about the Brigadier. Thankfully, he will have the last laugh.

What many naysayers and Maada's critics failed to grasp was that APC had nothing more to offer to the people of Sierra Leone, nothing, but the same broken promises and lies.

After ten years of mismanagement and corruption, even the man in the village wanted change. With nothing to offer many ardent APC supporters turned to tribalism and sectionalism. It was a failed strategy,  as every tribe in Sierra Leone had suffered under the failed promises of the outgoing government. People wanted change and preferred a familiar face.

The Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) can learn a lot  from the mistakes of APC. People everywhere in the world want a better future and not just some token act of goodwill when you need them. APC operatives thought that a few bags of rice, some small money,  alcohol and preaching tribalism was all it took for the people to forget the suffering of the last ten years.

After the Ebola mess, mudslide mess, cholera mess, bus-gate, hajj-gate and the corruption, cronyism and negativity of the last 10 years, the people had had enough and said no to the outgoing President's hand chosen successor Samura Kamara who has said he is going to court.

All we can say is this; it will rain once more in Sierra Leone as the people take shelter from the sun and enter the green shade of the palm tree. Let us turn over a new leaf.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Ghanaian Ex-President John Dramani Mahama Addresses Bogus Allegations of Election Interference

Ghanaian Expressed
John Dramani Mahama 
I arrived in Accra this evening to a flurry of social media stories and other worrying reports attributed to officials of the Sierra Leonean Government, that I had cut short my mission and left Freetown because of my support for one of the Candidates and Political Parties in the just ended Presidential Run-off election.

As Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group to the Sierra Leone Election, I was officially due to complete my Mission and leave Sierra Leone on Monday April 02, 2018, via Kenya Airways as per the ticket bought and issued to me by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.
Following multiple issues that arose just when the tallying of the result from the run-off began, I was requested through a call from the Secretary General of The Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland, to stay one more day to work with my colleague Heads of International Observer Missions to resolve issues that had stalled the tallying process.
My departure was therefore delayed until Tuesday April 03, 2018.

With this extension in mind, I joined my colleagues in multiple meetings with the political stakeholders on April 01, 2018 until well after midnight to achieve consensus in order to have the tallying process proceed. All these meetings were chaired by Professor Amos Sawyerr, Head of the ECOWAS Observation Mission.

In the afternoon, just before my departure from Freetown, I joined my colleague former Presidents, Amos Sawyer of Liberia, Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas at the Presidential Lodge to brief President Ernest Bai Koroma on our efforts in reaching an agreement between the political parties and the National Electoral Commission in order that the tallying process could proceed.
I bid farewell to President Koroma before I drove to the sea coach to leave for Lungi Airport.

My departure from Freetown was not sudden and when I bid farewell to President Koroma I did not get any indication in word or deed that I was not wanted anymore in his country.

I was leaving because by my agreement with The Commonwealth my mandate as Head of Mission had ended. The Commonwealth technical team were also due to leave Freetown on April 03, 2018 but a cancellation of their Air France flight is keeping them there till Wednesday April 04, 2018.

International Observers have no capacity to change the will of the people, in any election. I, John Dramani Mahama, have no interest in who governs the people of Sierra Leone. The long nights, early mornings, long meetings, diplomatic shuttles were all aimed at helping Sierra Leone choose their leader freely, maintain the peace and consolidate their democracy.

As President of the Republic of Ghana and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in 2014, I visited Sierra Leone when all others abandoned the country and foreigners were leaving. I offered my country as the staging post for the fight against Ebola.

I have expressed openly to anyone who would listen the progress Sierra Leone has made since I last visited when the country was at its most vulnerable, at the height of the Ebola crisis. I have absolutely no interest in who becomes President of Sierra Leone at the end of this elections. I just believe that a credible election would consolidate not only Sierra Leone's democracy but also its peace, bearing in mind it's past gruesome civil war.

If my presence, in the midst of a volatile and violent situation, at Goderich during the first round of voting to prevent what would have clearly marred a beautiful day of election, or my actions in conducting my mandate as head of my mission has so angered some people so much, as to throw such accusations at me, I can only respond that, I wish Sierra Leone well and that on this exhausting mission, I put my best experience at the service of that nation's democracy and I pray that the in the end, whoever emerges as leader will continue to consolidate this process and continue to build on the good works of his predecessors.
Let us all continue to join the good people of Sierra Leone in prayer.

John Dramani Mahama

Bubu King Ahmed Janka Nabay Passes Away in Sierra Leone

Ahmed Janka Nabay
"King of Bubu Music" 
Ahmed Janka Nabay, who popularized the uniquely Sierra Leone  "Bubu Music" has sadly passed away in his country of birth Sierra Leone at the age of 54.

Bubu is traditional music of the Temne ethnic group of Northern Sierra Leone, but it's infectious horns and captivating beats always made it a popular form of music in all corners of the country.

For those of us who grew up around the Sierra Leone capital Freetown, Bubu was the staple music of the popular lantern parades that were part of  the Muslim festivities associated with the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Bubu added a unique Sierra Leonean flair to the Muslim festivities.
Many people occasionally associate Bubu as being somehow affiliated with Islam, but Bubu Music predates Islam in Sierra Leone and is part of the indigenous musical landscape of the country.

Ahmed Janka Nabay rose to prominence in Sierra Leone during the tough years of the civil war when he released a popular hit "Somebody" that infused the traditional horns and drums of Bubu music with western instruments,  giving Bubu Music a modern feel

Bubu is not for the slow, it both fast paced and groovy, requiring arduous quick dust raising movements. Bubu combined with the local brews of Sierra Leone was a potent mixed that had people gyrating from dusk to dawn.
Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang 

Ahmed Janka Nabay moved to the USA around 2003. Between odd jobs here and there, he joined with some local musicians on the US scene to form a band called Janka Nabay and the Bubu gang that recorded several songs and was very popular in the indie music performance circuit.

Last year Janka Nabay went back to Sierra Leone and died last night after some stomach illness. He will be buried tomorrow April 4th in Freetown as his label reports.

Because of his pioneering work in pioneering Bubu Music, Ahmed Janka Nabay will always be remembered as the King of Bubu Music. He joins a revered list of Sierra Leone musicians such as Dr. Oloh, Ebenezer Calendar, Salia Koroma, and S.E. Rogie, to name but a few, who introduced the world to the tapestry of music that is at the heart 
of the cultural heritage of Sierra Leone. We will miss him.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Gambian Coalition: A Coalition Against What?

President Adama Barrow
The brouhaha surrounding the election of the current Gambian President Adama Barrow over long-term dictator Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh Babili Mansa and Jammeh's inital acceptance and later rejection of the election results and the determination of ECOWAS  to ensure that Jammeh had to go by love or by force, hid a major problem with the victorious Gambian Coalition; it's inherent instability.

The Gambian Coalition that trounced Yahya Jammeh in December 2016 was a loose collection of eight political parties, bonding together by necessity, in spite of their personal and ideological differences, to ensure that their common enemy, Yahya Jammeh, was defeated in the Presidential elections of that December. 
Halifah Sallah

The Coalition Presidential candidate Adama Barrow, in a grand compromise,  had to resign from his own party, the United Democratic Party, and contest as an independent candidate, so that no one party could lay a legal claim to the coalition presidency.

However, the coalition agreement could not negate the fact that these were individuals, many of whom had been political rivals for decades, each with different economic and political ideologies.       As is usually the case with African politics, many of these parties also had different ethnic loyalties. It was a chaotic mix of parties, personalities and opinions, managing to temporarily coexist in an unstable equilibrium.
Ousainou Darboe

In fighting against a common enemy,  the Gambian Coalition had managed to present a united front throughout the pandemonium that followed Jammeh's defeat, followed by his intransigence and refusal to step down from office and his ultimate exile deep into the interior of the relatively unknown Central African country of Equatorial Guinea, where it is reported, he is contemplating going into farming.

Unfortunately, now that the coalition has gotten rid of their common enemy, Jammeh, the common bond that held them together has been severed. In the clamor for positions and influence in the Barrow regime, there were already signs of strains in the coalition's cohesiveness. With legislative elections in the country coming up, the coming days and weeks will be the first major trial of the coalition and already the cracks have appeared and are only destined to widen.

 A lot of ordinary Gambians around the country and in the diaspora failed to see the coalition as nothing more than a marriage of convenience. They truly wanted the Gambian coalition to have some permanence, to be a symbol of ethnic and national unity. In their minds, the coalition would demonstrate to the world that somehow, Gambians were unique and could work together, in harmony for the future of their country. Of course this was always  nothing but a sweet illusion.

Given the competitive nature of the human being and the innate competitiveness of multiparty politics, the notion of a coalition of eight parties working together in harmony, in the absence of their common enemy, was never going to truly work as expected. With their common enemy, Yahya Jammeh gone into political oblivion, at least for the near future, the founding purpose of the coalition no longer exists.  
Mai Fatty

The Gambian coalition was an ad hoc arrangement that worked, and will always remain an example to other African opposition groups. However, any view that it could be a permanent institution symbolizes a deep lack of understanding of human nature in general and  politics in particular.  Any expectation that eight African political parties can continue working together, when the glue that held them together no longer exists, is simply political naivete. At the end of the day, Gambians are just as humans as the rest of mankind and multiparty politics will always be a battle of different interests and different world views, and the two will always be uneasy bedfellows. 

With Gambian Coalition spokesman Halifa Sallah deciding not to take part in the country's executive and erudite lawyer Ousainou Darboe freed from incarceration and now in power, these are two political and intellectual heavyweights with political ideologies so diametrically opposed, that I just do not see a way that they can continue reading from the same playbook. Throw into that mix all the other political and ideological heavyweights both within the country and abroad, with different views of the future and different ideas on good governance, it would be a miracle if the cohesiveness of the coalition survives more than a year. 
Vice President Fatou Tambajang

The coalition worked when it needed to and is still in a strong position to do a lot of good before the cracks become permanent. They can set the stage for what happens in the Gambia of the future and can ensure that the human right violations that occurred under Jammeh will never happen again. The coalition's common purpose now will be to rewrite the rules of the country, guaranteeing the citizens real political freedom. They can also ensure the establishment of a thriving democracy with real checks and balances. They can guarantee the respect for human rights and the rights of minorities, and can ensure that the mistakes of the past 22 years will never be repeated again. 

Together, the coalition can determine the the rules for future political engagement in the country, ensuring a level playing field for all and probably become a model for good governance in the sub-region. The coalition can also ensure education for most and set up institutions that will encourage youths to develop skills for formal and self employment. With all the parties currently working together, the future of Gambia looks bright. However,  power and politics has a way of clouding good dreams, and I hope the coalition stays the course and continue the good fight, at least for now.