By John Baimba
Sierra Leone has made tremendous progress over the years, especially in sustaining the gains she had made in the areas of peace, socio-economic growth and with resounding democratic credentials. Politically, the country continues to enjoy an enabling environment, with multiparty democracy becoming core of our democratic tenets. There have been no political prisoners in the last ten years of governance. The press has been open, free and pluralistic.
In the areas of social infrastructure and economic growth, we also have come a long way. But for the twin effects of ebola and a drop in price of raw materials, we were also making huge and tremendous progress in our growth sectors. Infrastructure became central to our growth roadmap. There has been greater success in this area of growth, with villages, towns and cities having been connected. With this, we were also able to see an improvement in agriculture productivity.
Private sector involvement in our development roadmap was also core. Government ensured its active participation in the process of transformation. President Koroma actually ensured a successful ‘Agenda for Change’ implementation during his first term in office, through a strong partnership with the country’s private sector.
Collectively, we have done all of this because we have been able to maintain the peace and stability we all fought for over a decade ago. What is over and above needed from us now is to work towards strengthening the foundation on which our growth processes have been built; peace, stability and a tranquil political environment is all we need, especially as we travel to the March 7th elections.
Elections are meant to win votes and eventually be able to form the next government. What is however crucial is the extent to which political players go in seeking votes. Political violence should have no place in modern day democratic dispensation. The manner through which political parties engage the electorate especially in seeking their votes is vital if we are to enjoy a tranquil political environment before, during and after elections.
A Party stands the chance of being elected based on its policies. There is nothing like ‘this is our time’ in politics. There is no political calendar that apportions a given period to a Party to govern or manage state affairs. The All People’s Congress was able to remove, through the ballot box, a ruling party, from governance because of the policies it had at the times. This is what those wishing to use violence in seeking political power should learn.
Dr. Samura Kamara remains an extremely well-mannered person. His years in governance, coupled with his rich global role in institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have been good tools to shape his relationship with people and his dealings, politically. He has been running an exceptionally decent, violent free campaign in his presidency bid. He has successfully won the hearts of even those who may not be supporting his political base. His recent handling of the presidential debate was touching. Despite the provocative moves by others during the debate, he stood the test of time.
Reports of political violence in Kamalo, the hometown of Dr. Samura Kamara during a visit by the flagbearer of the SLPP are nothing but well orchestrated moves by the Opposition so as to undermine the decent and impeccable character of Dr. Samura Kamara. Such acts should also be viewed as efforts to undermine the credibility of the entire electioneering process ahead of the general elections, and elections management bodies like NEC, the Police and PPRC must take note of this.
There is no way the main opposition could win political power by violent means. Hopefully, we have not quickly forgotten how, just after the 2012 elections, a group of Opposition Operatives, some of them actually out of the country at the time, called on their supporters to utilize the Kenya and Ivory Coast models in rejecting the elections outcome. Their actions in the last couple of weeks speak volume of their desire to undermine the process. If this is not the case, why was there an attack on two vehicles of the convoy of Dr. Samura Kamara, during a visit to Kenema from Bo, on Thursday, 8th February, 2018? Why is it also, that the night, prior to the visit of the SLPP flag-bearer to Kamakwei, Sella Limba Chiefdom, on 9th February, 2018, posters of the APC and its presidential aspirant were destroyed?
If for anything, the APC will never work on destroying the gains it has conscientiously made over the years. The APC has ably managed the country’s affairs in the last ten years with outstanding accomplishments. Not only has the Party remained law abiding, it has always encouraged its supporters to remain peaceful and tolerant in the midst of numerous provocative moves by the Opposition. As I end, let me also state that an institution like the Sierra Leone Police do have A CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY to enforce law and order. They cannot sit by and see the security of the state been undermined. They should be allowed to perform their duties. They may not be appreciated by all but with a majority appreciating their work, they should not relent.