|APC: STILL GRAPPLING WITH THE SHOCK OF MAADA BIO'S UK VISIT
By Yusufu Keketoma Sandi, Thursday, May 17, 2012
As I write this piece, the Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is in France and after, he heads to Holland as he continues his official tour of Europe in engaging Western diplomats, Strategic European Governments, International Investors, Business Community and his beloved SLPP members across Europe. Therefore, you would have expected the APC and their spin doctors to have been bowing their heads in a pool of shame as they see Maada Bio on the world stage – the “human man rights abuser” the APC once claimed would never travel to overseas. But, maybe I am wrong to expect an APC government, which presides over an economy where a bag of rice is around Le 200,000 and still look our hungry people in the eyes to tell them “di pa dae wok”, to show any sign of shame. Hence, in this article, I will attempt to respond to some of the responses from the APC spin doctors after Maada Bio’s Historic visit to London last week.
Just for the records and probably the APC government deputy minister of Information, Sheka Tarawalie, will tell you again that the Director of Chatham House, Dr. Robin Niblett is an HOMOSEXUAL, the Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is the first high profile opposition Presidential Candidate in Africa to have made a speech which received a standing ovation in the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House. As such, in the past week when the APC government and their spin doctors must have been dazzled not only by pictures of Rt. Hon Simon Hughes officially welcoming Maada Bio to the UK but also those thousands of Sierra Leoneans who joined the welcome party, the APC government deputy minister and their spin doctors, in frustrations, broke all forms of diplomatic etiquette by ATTACKING the SEXUALITY of Rt. Hon Simon Hughes, a UK government adviser. Well, Rt. Hon Simon Hughes, welcome to the politics of our country where our government and their spin doctors are renowned for ripping people’s reputation apart but could not provide for their own people water, light, fuel and affordable food. And for the other nonsense that Maada Bio will legalise homosexuals in Sierra Leone, well if you believe that then you have to believe that the APC government is supplying 24 hours electricity in Freetown.
Then came the BBC focus on Africa interview and I know the APC spin doctors must have gone into political coma when they heard Maada Bio’s voice from inside BBC’s Bush House in London. During the interview, you could tell Maada Bio’s command of the English grammar and its pronunciation will make him a better President. Sadly, for the APC spin doctors to have inferred that overthrowing a 23-year APC misrule was a crime by the NPRC then they must be insulting the collective intelligence of all Sierra Leoneans who danced in tears of joy, whether in the streets or house verandas, to welcome the NPRC to state house.. Similarly, it must have been unsurprising as APC spin doctors jumped at the opportunity when Maada Bio graciously accepted the collective responsibility for the death of Bambay Kamara and 28 others by the NPRC regime. As he showed statesmanship to the world in order to heal the wounds of the past the usual suspects started the old ranting of “murderer”. Maybe, they need an International Law lecture to differentiate between Individual Responsibility and Collective Responsibility.
The most depressing moment for the APC spin doctors came when Maada Bio delivered his maiden International Speech at the Chatham House. You would have expected the APC government and their spin doctors to challenge Maada Bio on his policy objectives on a range of issues and sectors like mining, the economy, private investment, youth employment and the list goes on and on. But, maybe I expect too much of a government which only campaign policy is the name “Maada Bio”. So the first attack came from an alleged London-based Lawyer in an unknown chamber. I was expecting the alleged lawyer to have commented on the policy issues raised in the speech but he turned his missiles on the British Government questioning why they gave visa to Maada Bio. Well, any true London-based Lawyer should know that granting of visa is the discretion of the British Government through the Home Office and to question the process after the visa has been granted is irrelevant. Perhaps, the funniest part came when this alleged London-based lawyer described the speech as a “disgrace” “with so many mumbling and jumbling and grammatical displacement in the speech”. Well, a friend joked the other day about this alleged London-based lawyer that “Maybe the guy was suffering from ear infection when he went to listen to the speech”. I may not go as far as that but let me just give the APC a comment made by a British diplomat (I have withheld his name so they may not claim he is homosexual) after the speech “The guy spoke like a real former head of state with confidence, good body language and his policies were broadly engaging”.
The next attack came from the government deputy minister of information, Sheka Tarawalie. When I finished reading his piece titled “Maada Bio’s Priorities are redundant – President Koroma has already dealt with the youth and the economy”, a friend who drew my attention to the piece said “It is either the deputy minister is incompetent to understand the difference between reality and fiction or he is just out of touch to understand the sufferings of young people and families who are the victims of this APC government”. The funny aspect in the piece is how the deputy minister sought to excuse his government from the economic hardship by referring to European countries like Spain, and France where economic hardship bites. Unfortunately, what Sheka Tarawlie did not mention deliberately was that in Spain, the then ruling government led by Jose Zapatero (like the ruling APC of President Ernest Koroma) which brought the economic hardship on its people, was swept out of power in November 2011 by the suffering Spanish people. In france, the then ruling government of Nicholas Sarkozy (like the ruling APC of President Koroma) which presided over public debt, record inflation and high unemployment was swept out of power by ordinary suffering French people just last sunday. In the Sierra Leone context, those elections should have reminded his government that the suffering people are no longer interested in the excuses, “cuss-cuss” politics or the bumbuna black out.
The most striking part of his piece is the claim that President Koroma has already dealt with the youth and the economy. Mr Deputy Minister, you seem too posh to understand that there are hundreds of young graduates who have been jobless for the past years; there are thousands of young people who have been transformed into either hard criminals or petty thieves under your government’s watch because there are no jobs; families have to battle on a daily basis with the price of a cup of rice at Le 1,000 and civil servants are braving through one of the poorest conditions of service in the world. As a government minister, you don’t have to queue for fuel; you don’t have to use kerosene lamps or candles through the nights because you have a heavy duty generator in your house; you don’t have to go through the pain of not washing for days because of lack of water or the pain of families which have to pray overnight so that the tap can open the following morning because there is no drinking water in the house; you don’t have to go to the markets like most women do and half way through the shopping you run out of money because you just cannot cope with the high prices.
As a minister you just don’t understand the frustrations and trauma young people go through because of lack of jobs. So, when you wrote that President Koroma has dealt with the youth and the economy plus your “Agenda for Prosperity” it shows how incompetent and callous this APC government is. Even the Campaign For Good Goverance has finally waking up from its slumber as they put out their overdue press release last week stating (very diplomatically not to hurt their former boss, minister of health and sanitation Zainab Bagura) “It has become quite challenging in recent months to have access to basic water supply let alone having safe drinking water. Electricity supply is EXTREMELY irregular and purchasing fuel has almost become a PRIVILEGE as it has become an entire day’s activity with some citizens unable to purchase fuel without having an affiliation with fuel station owners”. Therefore, if the APC minister and their spin doctors think this quotation from the press release describes a country with an “Agenda for Prosperity” or the November 17th Presidential election is about HOMOSEXUALITY then they are living in an illusionary world.