Power is a very funny thing. It changes an average Joe into Superman; the average woman becomes Wonder Woman. In a country like Sierra Leone where our leaders are endowed with so many powers, especially the power to hire and fire appointed officials at will, the person in power becomes a demigod. Everybody runs helter-skelter, tail between their legs bending over to please the one in power. What is not surprising is that in Sierra Leone anyone close to power is almost accorded the same respect and fear as the power that be.
In the Christian Bible, it is said that for every power or authority, there is an authority above it, ultimately ending with God. So, who is the power behind the power that be? Who is it in Sierra Leone that wields unbridled influence over State House?
Two months ago the answer to the above questions would have been unanimous: the Chief Minister. But after his fall from grace, with the reasons for his fall still hanging over his head despite his reshuffling to being the face of Sierra Leone to the international community, David Francis is no longer that figure.
Shame! How the tables have turned. The once sacred cow has been reduced to a secular figure. Not too long ago, we were told that if you wanted access to the President or crave his attention or indulgence, the Chief Minister was the man to see. So powerful was he that it was alleged that even if the President had made up his mind about something, the man who left academia for politics had a way of convincing him to do otherwise. That is what one would expect from ones tutor.
Then it was alleged that the idea to hire and fire was not really the President’s. Starting from the GTT Report that was authored by Francis where he concluded that the former APC regime under President Bai Koroma was a criminal enterprise, it is believed that Francis was responsible for the decision on who to prosecute, hire or fire.
So close was Francis to the Prezo that some parliamentary reporters would often joke that he was the direct rival to the one that controls his heartstrings. Obviously that was not going to be for too long. Jealousy for a president’s attention and influencing his decisions is something wives are not unaccustomed to. After Francis’s wings were clipped, the way became clearer for the real power behind the power to take her rightful place.
Today, we have a situation in Sierra Leone where an unelected official is reportedly being courted by elected and appointed officials who wish to get the president’s attention. This very busy chief among women has become the unofficial power behind the power that be. It is not uncommon to hear of government officials, pension fund operators, even judges courting this very powerful woman. There was a recent court case where a judge said in open court that he would have to inform the Chief Lady of what transpired in that court matter. Embassies, religious groups and multinational companies it is said have all come to see the value of Chief Lady to the point of funding any scheme or plan that she concocts.
But this is Sierra Leone, where people talk. And the talk is that the Lady has no plans to leave State House anytime in the near future. Do we see a Grace Mugabe trajectory for our Head Lady? Can we say then that we should be expecting a President Xi Jinping or Paul Kagame style tenure for PAOPA? We all remember what happened to Grace, though Xi and Kagame are still in our sights.
It should not be a surprise to anyone if after New Direction exits the stage in 2023 for our very ambitious Lady Luck to make the shift from unelected government official to either appointed or elected official. One would have thought being a celebrity would be more attractive than being a politician. But we all know that power is like drugs; once you take a hit, you are hooked! Oh well, Hollywood would have to wait!