By Thomas Dixon
Last week the Parliament of Sierra Leone was discussing a motion that would have put the democracy of this country at stake, if not take Sierra Leone to where it has come from. As God could have it, members of Parliament decided to allow the ongoing registration process to continue while at the same withdrawing the boundary delimitation and de-amalgamation instruments for it to be proper laid before the house.
Journalists and social commentators have a duty to monitor trends and to critically analyze them so that the public will understand them. Therefore, there were several trends that President Koroma wanted an extended a time and if not for Civil Society and the media, he would have gotten away with it, this past week.
After the 2012 elections, the National Campaign Coordinator of the ruling party, Leonard Balogun Koroma said on MONOLOGUE programme that in his estimation because President Koroma has worked so assiduously to develop the country, it would be good for him to be given an extended time.
Well meaning Sierra Leoneans were expecting the President to come out with a very solid statement to dissociate himself from such autocratic ranting of his campaign coordinator rather the President elevated him and made him Minister of Transport and Aviation.
The “more time” talk was conceptualized in Bombali District when some group of young people of the ruling party led by Bai Mamud Bangura said that they are calling for the President to be given more time.
Their arguments were very shallow as the reason to why they were calling for ‘more time’ was because the Ebola has affected the President’s works, so he should be given additional term to complete his projects and that he (President Koroma) did not enjoy his presidency.
Sheepishly, Bai Mamud and his boys failed to understand that in democracy, government is continuity and that governance is not for enjoyment but to serve the people.
As a result of this, Bai Mamud was made Presidential Youth Aide and the President also failed to caution him.
Knowing that the easy way to get position was to ramp up the more time gimmick, Robin Fallay followed same and was made the Chair of the board of Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO).
In all of these occasion, the President failed to dissociate himself from the undemocratic rhetoric of his comrades but was even taking photos with people who put on “more time’ T-shirt.
Even in the last state opening of Parliament when member of Parliament of his party were chanting “more time,” the President was beaming with smile and did not stop them.
Another Trend that President Koroma was behind the more time gimmick was his party position to the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC). President Koroma is the Chairman and Leader of his party and one of the positions they submitted to the CRC was for Sierra Leone to be like Russia where they will have “intervening terms” so that President Koroma will go and after some time come back and contest.
The party of President Koroma even delayed the final draft report of the CRC because of some petty things so that they could have reason for an extension of time.
For President Koroma to finally consult the National Electoral Commission to come out with a date was another sign.
The President slowed down the whole process, despite two letters written to him by the Chair of the Electoral Commission proposing February 2018 as the date for the elections but when he finally announced the date we saw that even the constitution was violated as the President extended his time by 15 days.
Another trend was when the President called the development partners, claiming that his government does not want the election date to be deferred but that the government does not have the huge amount of money to do the elections.
In 2012, the government said that from then, they will be given 60% financial support to the National Electoral Commission to do elections but Sierra Leoneans are surprised the reason for the sudden change.
A president that does not want to succeed himself would have urged his party to come up with a candidate that all of them will rally around but what we have been seeing is intimidation of some of the wannabe Presidents like the former Majority Leader Ibrahim Bundu and the former Ambassador to China, Alimamy P Koroma.
One may want to say that in all of this, the President has always said that he does not want any more time but those statements that he made were not strong enough compared to the actions that have been seen in recent times.
The last time he made a statement about the more time was in December in Kabala when he said that had he wanted the more time, nobody would have stopped him but that was just a mere rhetoric.
The De-amalgamation and the insistence to hold the referendum on the constitution are all signs that the Government of President Koroma does not want to conduct elections but as the Deputy Speaker said parliamentarians will not allow the executive to muzzle them.