The Open Government Initiative (OGI) has completed a Citizens Report Card (CRC) of His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s stewardship of the last eight years. The CRC measured progress in the Strategic Priority Sectors in the Agenda for Change in all the 149 chiefdoms and the Western Area. The President was adjudged successful in all areas. The remarkable thing about the Report Card is that this is the first time in the history of our nation that Government has subjected itself to scrutiny from the citizens.
It is now time to subject Julius Maada Bio to an examination of his public record. We shall draw on the record of the NPRC, the statements and philosophy of Julius Maada Bio to ascertain his fitness to serve as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. We shall call on President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, Vice President Solomon Ekuma Berewa and Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu, a principal advisor to assess whether hs claim that he is the father of democracy in Sierra Leone or whether he is even fit to be President after serving for 73 days as unlawful head of state designed by a military coup.
In the following Report Card, the various aspects of Julius Maada Bio’s political career and character become evident. This political character took the form of betraying his oath of office as soldier and committing treason, engaging in power struggles leading to another coup, having a role in extra-judicial killings, selling passports, instigating violence, getting caught up in corruption, delaying the handing over of power to civilians and falsely claiming he is the father of Sierra Leonean democracy.
SLPP CANDIDATE – THE WHITE ELEPHANT
It was once believed that an earthly king who possessed a white elephant would have the godlike powers to bring power, harmony, wealth and well-being to the kingdom. The Sierra Leone Peoples Party chose Julius Maada Bio with the implicit motive that his NPRC experience as plotter of coups makes him the White Elephant Candidate who would bring them to power.
But Julius Maada Bio may also be too expensive to keep in politics because he is freighted with excess baggage from his NPRC years. Between the milestones April 29, 1992 to March 29, 1996, the political character of Julius Maada Bio was formed. Based on this character, Julius Maada Bio would unlikely be qualified to be in public affairs.
While Julius Maada Bio is a liability in politics, his choice by the SLPP was deliberate. A man who is not afraid to overthrow Government or betray his colleagues is likely to be in the image of a white elephant candidate for an opposition political party yearning to return to power by bringing back a coup plotter, a seeming strongman as a reedeemer of the forlorn hopes of the SLPP to return to power. In doing so, the SLPP has lionized a man who once overthrew Government and disregarded the Constitution. It is curious that such a man can claim the mantle of father of democracy.
In our age when democracy is the coin of realm, the image of strongmen who commit treason is disconcerting and contrary to fundamental freedoms and human rights. President Barrack Obama warned us in his address in Ghana, that we should
“Make no mistake: history is on the side of these brave Africans, and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.”
The SLPP did not heed that call when it selected as presidential candidate, a coupmaker above men and women of discerning devotion to democratic practice from amongst its leaders. The voters of Sierra Leone will confound Julius Maada Bio on November 17, 2012. That date looms large for democracy and the entombment of military dictatorship.
The following are the subjects of Julius Maada Bio’s Report Card.
1. FATHER OF DEMOCRACY OR WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING?
In his wayward journey to democracy, Julius Maada proudly wears coupmaking on his sleeve like a Scarlet Letter, rather than express remorse for committing Treason. He is akin to Chester, a character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel, The Scarlet Letter, who was publicly shamed for having committed adultery. She stitched a large scarlet A onto her dress with gold thread, giving the letter an air of elegance and worn with pride.
A veteran of military dictatorship is not the quintessence of a democratic way of life. Now in Murfti, Julius Maada Bio has been volubly subscribing to democracy and pluralism while occasionally boasting that he is proud of having committed Treason. This epiphany – the sudden conversion from military dictatorship to the suchness of delighting in democracy is akin to the Biblical injunction that we beware of wolf in sheep’s clothing: – the figurative for a dangerous person pretending to be harmless. As Jesus our Lord himself said it,
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves ” (Matthew 7:15).
The glib tongued addresses of Julius Maada Bio, at home and abroad, that he is a democrat, further reminds us about another reference to Maada Bio’s current deception that he subscribes to democracy. For we have heard it said that
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” —2nd Corinthians 11:13-15
Julius Maada Bio has seemingly transformed himself into a democrat or is it a demagogue? It is clear, that he is a garden-variety wolf in disguise as he regales his fawning followers that there is “deficit in Democracy” in Sierra Leone under President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. The character of a Democrat, Maada Bio has none.
So, Julius Maada Bio has been regaling Sierra Leoneans too many times that he is the father of democracy on the tenuous grounds of grudgingly handing power to a democratically elected civilian government after been goaded by public sentiment for the military to return to the barracks.
In a restrospective of the NPRC regime among other West African military regimes, Professor Jimmy D. Kandeh at Richmond University has prepared us for a review of the NPRC record of failures and the denuded claim that Julius Maada Bio is the father of democracy in Sierra Leone because he handed power to civilians. Prof Kandeh has written in a widely read journal article stating that:
“Many reasons can be adduced for the NPRC’s decision to hold multi-party elections and retreat from the political scene. In a very real sense, the NPRC’s exit from power was a case of reluctant or induced abdication.”
Prof. Kandeh makes the point clear when he recalls from the (New Citizen, 15 January 1996:2), that the International Community goaded the NPRC to leave power or suffer sanctions:
“The stick wielded by the international community, and pledges of assistance to NPRC members if they delivered on their commitment to hand over power, persuaded it to relinquish power, especially after a EU official threatened that if the elections are not conducted and civilian rule is not put in place … we will use all the instruments available to the European Union to isolate Sierra Leone.”
Apart from the goading from the international community to leave power, Prof. Kandeh tells us that the NPRC also left because the strong forces of civil society pushed them out:
“A resurgent civil society was also a major factor in the NPRC’s decision to transfer power to an elected civilian government. The NPRC’s inability to end the rebel insurgency and the breakdown of law and order throughout much of the country, increased the public’s sense of frustration, alienation and anger. Many saw democratic elections as the least costly way to get rid of the NPRC.”
Prof. Kandeh elaborated:
“The most vocal and powerful new civic organisation to emerge during this period of democratic ferment was ’Women For a Morally Engaged Nation’ (WOMEN). Led by Zainab Bangura, this organisation . [By Ranger, Freetown, Sierra Leone.]