Bio Must Act! Salone Is Divided

No doubt, much is expected by the citizenry from His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, who promised to take the country in a ‘New Direction’ in the March, 2018 presidential campaign with regards bringing the much-needed development dividends to Sierra Leone weighed down by protracted poverty, mass unemployment and low national esteem.

But most importantly, given the fact that Sierra Leone because of the nature of her post-colonial political history, having remained sharply divided between the two main political parties – the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party – and their strongholds in the Southeast Region and the Northwest Region of the country, President Julius Maada Bio as Fountain of Honour, who has promised a turn to a new page, has the extra duty of trying by all means possible to bring the nation together in furtherance of national development that involves stakeholders from the nook and cranny of the country.

It is no gainsaying Sierra Leone is deeply politically divided and the President himself acknowledged during this year’s 90th Anniversary of the Old Bo Boys Association (OBBA) in Bo city, when he stated emphatically in his speech that we cannot continue to be a divided nation if we want to go far with our development, and called on Paramount Chiefs to send their children to Bo School in the spirit of its founding fathers as an incubator of national unity among the country’s educated elite.

As the adage goes, ‘United we stand, divided we fall,’ we saw how Sierra Leoneans as a nation catastrophically fell apart and destroyed themselves during the eleven-year-long civil war from 1991 to 2002. In that light, a lot that happened during the Independence Day celebrations is food for thought and pondering over. What we saw during the celebrations told a lot about the hate and malice that we have for ourselves as Sierra Leoneans. Whilst the ruling party and its supporters were celebrating, another section of the populace went about with malice which we believe you do not see in progressive African countries that have since independence put behind them tribal, regional and political differences to embrace each other as a nation, in spite of their political differences.

Independence Day celebrations should be the time to express our patriotism. We believe that when we say Independence Day celebrations, it is not something that one political party should monopolize; it should be an anniversary that celebrates all what we are as a nation that should make us all happy and bring us all together in celebrations, exhibiting solidarity and oneness.

President Bio should know that as Father of the Nation, every Sierra Leone, whether they belong to his political party or not, whether they belong to his tribe or not, whether they belong to the region he comes from or not, the same religion or not look up to him to take the bull by the horns and unite the nation. In thoughts, words and deeds, the President should at all times make good on the promise that he made to the electorate on his inauguration as Head of State on 4th April, 2019 that he would be a leader of the nation.

Sierra Leone since its Independence on 27th April, 1961 has had many leaders and would continue to have leaders. The greatest test of their leadership is how well they can work to bring the people together, keep them united and pull them in the same direction.

Needless to say that President Bio would not succeed in the implementation of his plans for the development of the country if we do not have national unity or cohesion, which the Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) and other concerned Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have expressed, as there would be many behind the scenes working to sabotage him and his government to the detriment of the people’s welfare and wellbeing.

As it is now, while the President and his government are pulling in one direction, a signification proportion of the populace is pulling in another direction. Certainly, that is not good for the country’s development.

What the President must not forget is that it takes every segment of the country to bring a leader and a political party to power. As such, any leader or party in power should not forget that its responsibility shifts from the provincial to the national.

When the President and SLPP were in opposition, as shown by the results of the presidential elections from across the country, it was Sierra Leoneans who generally, regardless of tribe, party, region or religion that voted to bring him and the SLPP to power.

Given the divisiveness that continues to characterize the country since the results of the presidential elections were announced, and the refusal of APC and NGC to participate in future elections, it becomes the responsibility of the President to build bridges to his political compatriots because if he does not, the country’s development will not only stall but will continue to go backwards.

The President took a very good initiative when he invited the leadership of all the country’s registered political parties to a dialogue session at State House. In the spirit of national unity, national cohesion and consensus, the president and the ruling SLPP should make such political interactions with the opposition political parties an integral part of the country’s good governance landscape.

Unite we stand, divided we fall; this consciousness should not for one moment be lost in the minds of the President and our politicians. Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, DR Congo have all suffered immeasurably because the leaderships at one time or the other failed woefully to know that the ultimate consequence of being politically divided is civil war.

As such, we call on President Bio as Father of the Nation to do all he can to stop the further deterioration of unity, peace, love and harmony among Sierra Leoneans by ensuring that the ideals of the founding Fathers of the Nation, Unity, Freedom and Justice obtain at all times in the country.