September 28, 2022

By Yusif Moijuah

That the failure of the main opposition majority All People’s Congress Party to join the National Dialogue Forum, Bintumani III – B III, hosted by government, has brought mountain of criticisms against the APC for its non- contribution towards a national dialogue three day forum lasting from 23rd to the 25th of May 2019. The conference generated serious of public debates on our nature and practice of our democracy which is almost over two decades.

The platform brought together contributions from civil society professionals and political organizations with the exception of the APC, Coalition for Change and Alliance Democracy Parties. It was the view of many that these parties have failed to realize that they are governments in waiting. As a result they are accountable to the people.

Some Sierra Leoneans are of the view that the conference serves as another distractive ploy by government to divert public attention at home and in the Diasporas from the present socio-economic challenges of President Julius Maada Bio one year old government. It came under the political disguise of peace, democracy and development, leaving those who failed to participate in the discussions with their various rights, opinions and their justifiable reasons as to why they didn’t turn up for the national event.

My decisive postmortem of Bintumani III is not directed at praise singing of who does what, but to help our readers to better understand the issues on floor, firstly starting with the derogatory status of an ordinary ‘observer’ that was accorded the main opposition APC by the government, the ugly display of paid up banners with inscriptions; ‘ghetto youth’…by SLPP supporters dressed in red T-shirts, who throwing hate comments at the very absence of APC and other parties at the Binyumani III dialogue centre.

The boycotts on the one hand have been largely described as disgraceful slaps on the faces of the failed governing SLPP, the majority opposition APC and C4C for their ‘collective failures’ at reaching a common ground towards addressing serious national issues that have to do with peace, security and national stability.

This however precipitated critical but constructive debates among participants as well as the public as Mariama Samai of Children’s Forum Network asked; ‘Why can’t you come together’ just for the common good of the country. And the president of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Lawyer Basita Michael, who also came down heavily urging the government and President Bio to do away with bad political governance of regional and tribal discriminations against nonpartisan public and civil servants.

She further urged President Bio to preach peace and stand by it and do not act contrary to what he teaches in public statements, amidst the unpopular policy of divisions, exclusion, and marginalization of a certain group of people which is not good for business, describing the political tension and divisions as discouraging for business and that divisions on tribal lines do not consolidate peace.

“We cannot preach peace and impose the Speaker of Parliament on the majority party in Parliament. We cannot preach peace when appointments are being done by tribal lines. We cannot preach peace when we are depriving access to justice to the hearing of political cases by the opposition or otherwise or even by the Sierra Leone Bar Association…observed have continue to make things worse as they undermine the peace and stability of the country.

Bintumani III is actually a mere failed catch up reconciliatory talk show strategy after a year and months of divisive misrule, only for President Bio to unexpectedly wake up one morning with worriedly put together peace initiatives and urged the nation including opposition parties to embrace by all means, is not an admirable move.

President Bio to Bintumani III participants and the nation as a whole called for ‘peace,’ ‘develop’ and ‘democracy’ which are not new to discussants as they were well structurally operational under his predecessor, former President Ernest Bai Koroma.

But a moderate and rational APC member however observes that, taking into account the said ‘opportunities’ offered by the platform and the oppressions opposition parties especially the APC are going through in the hands of their oppressors – SLPP, APC members should have swallowed the bitter pills, seized the moment by attending the conference and present issues affecting democratic governance in Sierra Leone under the ruling SLPP to the world.

That didn’t happen at all in this case instead, the APC continue to cry of oppressions in hiding while their supporters perish in endless sufferings, which most people hold the leadership the APC accountable for such mistakes and gross deprivations of their democratic rights, to participate and be heard by the world via the Bintumani III forum. The opposition parties, C4C, ADP and APC, offered so many justifiable reasons as to why they didn’t participate in the national discussions.

Bearing in mind the magnitude of atrocities that have been perpetuated against democracy, democratic as well as peace consolidation institutions in the last 12 to 15 months hegemony of democratically elected revolutionary President Bio and his team of governors could not hold back but catch up and wooed political opponents to embrace what government called ‘peace’ develop’ and ‘democracy’.

The calls to some extent justify the political purpose of Bintumani III in that there are so many bend and broken rules that need to the corrected, despite another promise of setting up a peace commission by way of continuing to create and provide lucrative jobs for SLPP supporters at the detriment of nonpartisan citizens.

President Bio in his statement proper tried hard to shift Bintumani III from politics though the issues are derived from political problems, perpetuated by politicians. But the situations from root to fruit are cross cutting political issues, which is the basic truth. He instead blamed it on ‘bad politicians’, forgetting that had it not been the existence and operations of firm democratic foundations he met in place he wouldn’t have come so easily to reach where he is, and we are today as a nation.

Moreover there is no way President Bio can ignore that fact the malicious compilation of the infamous ‘witch hunt’ GTT report not as tools for political intimidations of opponents, the continuing setting up of the Commissions of Inquiry that is targeting past government officials, the so-called special technical audit report produced by Finance Minister Jacub Jusu Safa, indiscriminate sackings and dismissals of pro-APC northerners and opposition sympathizes not as political issues under his watchful eyes, when in fact all these are being undertaken through politically motivated actions carried out by politicians with orders from above.

In fact, it is because of the complex nature of these political issues that is why civic groups opted for a national unity and a peace consolidation discussion so President Bio should not divert our curious attentions from the real political aspects of the purpose of the Bintumani III discussion if only the government of President Bio wants to remain honest and sincere here in addressing national issues related to the peace and security of Sierra Leone.

Bintumani III was single handedly organized by a government that is largely characterized by blatant disrespect for the rule of law, constitutionality, political intimidations of majority opposition APC MPs; the list is long that are presently militating against democratic governance in Sierra Leone, making problems more political with continuing tensions between the ruling party, the main opposition APC, and off late C4C, over imposition of choices on the people of Kono. That is why President Bio can’t say the Bintumani III was not about political parties and politicians. The challenge facing his administration among other problems is how to return Sierra Leone once more to democratic rule as it was handed over to you by your predecessor, ex-President Koroma, with a well structured peace and democratic institutions, by allowing full participations of other democratic actors including opposition party especially the APC, as devoid of active participations especially in the house of parliament of any democratic country then forget about democracy.

So, Mr. President Sir to avoid future boycotts from APC, C4C and ADP in a national event of that nature, restore respectability for constitutionality and the rule of law, human rights, ensure free, fair transparent and violence free elections, among host of democratic values and for God’s sake allow true democracy to reign in Sierra Leone once more under your leadership before you can come up with another shameful, a failed catch up formulae that will be turned down by Sierra Leoneans if we continue with the growing threat to human security.  And as part of best practices, at end of any conference stakeholders always sign a joint communiqué, followed by a press release to inform the public the resolutions but so far the outcome of Bintumani III still remain uncertain.

Afterwards no matter what good or bad being done by either the opposition or the ruling party, people would always blame government particularly under your control for failing to do the right things because the populace wont charge oppositions APC, C4C and ADP, so ‘Gramps’ Bio up your game from all fronts in this 21st Century democratic state of affairs and move your government towards being very much responsible in leading Sierra Leoneans in the right direction as promised during your presidential campaign barely less than two years down memory lane.