By Yusif Moigua
The prevailing political wrangling within the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and President Julius Maada Bio regarding who succeeds him as president when his term of office shall have come to an end, is rapidly stifling progress and governance effort. The system going by their records proposed to do all it could for Sierra Leoneans though the SLPP has so far not been able to produce any tangible result for the last two years it has served.
President Bio appears to have been surrounded by some form of a vicious circle desperately busy turning against him and are bent on bringing him down by the hours for reasons finest known to satisfy their egos.
The situations factor key forces, ranging from that of the very second principal assistance to the president the ‘shadow vice president’ who leads the ruling party’s diaspora chapters, against president Bio on the grounds that they made him what he is today. Next are the grassroots supporters who now feel left out of for jobs, rewards, acknowledgements despite all their risks in trying to elect Julius Maada Bio the president he is today.
The circle is rather dangerously venomous to the point of largely deceiving the president as it entangled with internal squabbling amongst top members of the ruling SLPP. From within the party, anti-Bio SLPP fighting forces are forgetting that they are doing no good to the government and the people of Sierra Leone, especially for failing to deliver for jobs they are being paid for from tax payers’ moneys.
Nevertheless President Bio hardly attempts to sack any of the incompetent SLPP diaspora party chapter members holding public onto big public offices, whether they are delivering on their terms of references or not is not an issue to the president. All the government cares about is that its people from the ruling party overseas chapters have lucrative jobs as rewards, for what they always say: “we made President Bio what he is now.”
For the grassroots and home-based influences within the SLPP, in as much as the godfather of the grassroots, Dr. Alex Prince Harding is regularly being subjected to humiliations from his last post as a chairman at NATCOM, where he received countless confrontations from his former boss, a junior party member, Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rado Swarray, the personality of Dr. Harding has never been regarded with respect by some party members as he rightly deserved. A situation that had shifted SLPP grassroots including Dr Harding himself far away from the president they elected.
It could be recalled that the grassroots stood firmly by President Bio during his struggle for the presidency onto point of bringing him to power, but are now left without jobs and no sustainable means of livelihoods support. That is also another battlefront from which President Bio is seemingly facing confrontations at the detriment of his administration and the ruling SLPP. That if anybody can be dumped not chairman Dr Harding.
Dr. Harding, the man behind the ‘paopa’ by-all-means political ideology continues to be unstable in his desperate search for job, not to talk of his boys at the various party secretariats across the country. He was disgracefully sacked from NATCOM for reasons best known to President Bio and his former ICT personal assistance now bossy minister Swarray. His present hope for placement is anchored on the job of a chairman at the National Commission for Privatization, for which approval he was recently snubbed by members of parliament of the ruling and opposition parties of the Appointment Committee.
This is an unimaginable betrayal against a whole ruling party leader and chairman, the risk taker to bring his party and President Bio to power, yet he couldn’t get his dream of cabinet post, certainly because of his ‘past records.’ He can’t be entrusted with any high profile position within the government except empty chairmanship positions after the other. What a greed leadership and presidency Sierra Leone has ever produced in history?
These have rendered the grassroots’ impatient to the peak of blaming Bio and chairman Dr. Harding for deceiving them all, against their hopes and aspirations in favour of the party’s diaspora chapter members, who think they are the true king makers, and as such the SLPP government and President Bio are very much obliged to them than home-based grassroots supporters. This is one of the embattling plights of President Bio from within his party. In fact, for the diaspora members, he cannot exert full control over them nor act tough against them at any given space as if he still receive remittances from them for party campaign activities.
Whereas the SLPP local grassroots believe that they brought back the party to power but are being neglected by the president and his government, as they are not considered for job offers, which also formed parts of another layer of internal skirmishes surrounding President Bio and his failed government.
However in such a state of being between the devil and the deep blue sea, amid gross manifestations of incompetence from top level at the presidency to the least SLPP diaspora member, president has never attempted to neither query nor fire anyone of the McDonald and Peckham boys from their thousand United States Dollars jobs.
Instead, he encourages them like he always pampers one of his quack media handlers. Is it because they/SLPP diaspora members claimed to be financiers of the Bio’s presidential campaigns? Or are we led to believe that President Bio because of the financial and material support he continue to receive from party members and friends from overseas is why he is offering jobs as a payback compensation packages to them based on sentiments rather than on merits. No wonder the present dispensation is called a ‘JC’ government. An SLPP system of full of foreign based workers serving against the wishes and aspirations of its chairmen, chairladies and supporters nationwide.
Gauging views at the SLPP national secretariat on Wallace Johnson Street in Freetown, this writer met with a group of young men whose spokesperson refused to mention his name for personal security reasons said: “We have been here for a while now prior, during and even after the elections with hopes of getting jobs to sustain our livelihoods, but job offers are not forthcoming. We are equally highly educated as most of our diaspora compatriots, who now hold lucrative and well-paid jobs in the government.”
So we expect President Bio to do an immediate cabinet reshuffle now than later since most of them from overseas cannot deliver on their mandates, so that other people can be as well hired by the government.
These, they collectively say is frustrating for them as young people who sacrificed their energies to return the party to power only to be left languishing in the cold. They therefore collectively opined that if the entire government and President Bio mean well for them they must consider bringing on board more grassroots and home-based party members and supporters, this time around than retaining capacity-deficient diaspora members who can’t perform.
Similar sentiments spread across as in Northern Makeni, where Santos SLPP said: “We are not motivated as expected is the reason the party is so deserted as you can see yourself. All the goodies are left and serve to diaspora members. What about us?”
In SLPP heartland-Kenema where COVID19 is rapidly threatening lives, views and concerns are directed towards questions of who exactly brought in the virus that is now killing Sierra Leoneans. At the SLPP party office on Hanga Road, Samai, a young writer met at the basement of the party office said: ‘Our major is concern is unemployment even though most of us are worry about the pandemic. For us, it is a problem’ as he has not been able to secure job since his party won the 2018 elections two years ago. Asked for his full name, he replied; that is not the issue. “My full name has nothing to do with my present joblessness situation; all we need now as young people who gave all our resources and energies to the party, is employment nothing less than that now’. He said our contemporaries from the diaspora are now in big offices enjoying while we are still suffering. That is not fair. President Bio must therefore need to treat us all fairly, not just his overseas friends and relatives. We too deserve better lives under the current SLPP rule.’
The SLPP diaspora factor cascading from top level public servants down to the president’s least overseas friends and party members remained untouchable as sacred cows in the Bio led SLPP regime. They are hardly removed nor sacked from their positions even when they could not perform well on their jobs. That is not going down well with good number of home-based members and supporters.
And if one is not that connected to them even if you are a loyal party member, you won’t get job, among host of critical issues presently fighting President Bio that has the tendencies of undoing him and his party before the next elections, as he finds it difficult to make strong decisions and against such close allies.
Meanwhile, with the vicious circle situations President Bio surrounds himself with are militating against effective public service delivery across governance structures under his watchful eyes are the ineptitudes of the president diaspora friends and allies that continue to undermine the present work force in civil and public and civil service.
So, it is therefore worthy to humbly suggest to President Bio to reshuffle now and change people who are no up to their tasks, if we are to succeed in the implementing the country’s national development plan and win the war on COVID19. And don’t just focus on the pandemic while your SLPP party home-based and diaspora surrogates keep undermining governance effort for their selfish political interests. A word for the wise is sufficient! Stay at home, protect yourself, stay safe, save lives, and stop the spread of coronavirus and the COVID19 disease.