In the art of blame-shifting, the blamed tries to reclaim some semblance of respectability by pointing out the perceived flaws of others that in effect clearly highlights his/hers.
Since this government took power, no one in the opposition has been as outspoken about the excesses of the purported New Direction Government as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Hon. Chernor Maju Bah, whose projection onto the national stage was a matter of time due to his effective handling of his constituency, which keeps giving him the mandate time and time again to represent them in the august House of Parliament.
Therefore, rumours circulating that there is a warrant of arrest for Hon. Bah should be a cause for concern for our old but immature democracy. As a friend of the people of Sierra Leone, any attempt to arrest Hon. Bah could end up far outside the SWOT analysis as envisioned by PAOPA strategists. Apart from his several stances against the PAOPA way the New Direction Government of President Bio has been trying to force issues, irrespective of laid down rules and procedures, there should be no reason for a warrant for his arrest.
True to definition in the governance space of any country, the opposition is there to support government on what it does or is planning to do in the interest of the people, and act as a conscience of the government on matters the opposition is against. Chances are, should the government listen to the opposition on matters they diverge on by making the necessary changes in the interest of the people, it will always have its way. But when there is genuine concern that what the sitting government plans to do goes against the wishes and benefits of the people, then any opposition and other leaders, including New Direction partisans, are obligated to stand up in the people’s interest.
Looking at the instances where Maju stood up in defence of the truth since 2018, we can see that all he has been and is still being driven by is respect for the rule of law, the Constitution of Sierra Leone, the country’s Supreme Law, and the procedures before and after a certain incident.
In his role as Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Maju Bah has spoken against government’s handling of the removal of 10 duly elected Members of Parliament that were replaced by SLPP candidates who had lost the elections, hence the people’s mandate.
Hon. Maju Bah would be the first to tell anyone that the role of the opposition is not to oppose government. Rather its role is complementary, but only to a certain extent. That point is where there is a difference in the intended purpose and its actual consequences. When consequences far outweigh benefits that mostly affect the very people governments are supposed to be working for, then the opposition steps in to bring sanity to the process.
When the unperturbed New Direction Government wanted to pass the Covid-19 induced State of Emergency (SOE), the opposition, due to lobbying by Hon. Maju Bah, saw reason to vote with the government as the measures were meant for the safety of the people of Sierra Leone, including our leaders. That was despite the fact that the instrument was tabled without the regulations. That trust that the leadership would use the tremendous powers conferred on the President due to such an SOE in the interest of the people, was instead used in the interest of the New Direction Government.
We all remember the detentions, the shootings, the intimidations, the Pa Demba Road prison massacre, an unsuspecting former Minister of Internal Affairs and Defence Paolo Conteh railroaded through the courts on trumped up charges of treason, the unceremonious way in which former Minister of Social Welfare, Special Adviser to President Bai Koroma and newspaper owner Dr Sylvia Blyden was treated as a woman while locked up and on trial, the debilitating National Covid19 Emergency Response Centre (NaCOVERC) lock down, curfews and other decisions meant to curb the pandemic that continue to have a bearing on the prices of goods and services at present, the allegations of graft by ministries, departments and agencies that are yet to be investigated by the ACC, calls to remove the Auditor General and Mayor of Freetown, the SLPP intraparty and other violence, and the fact that no one related to the SLPP has been brought to book on the above and other issues – were all used not in the interest of the people, but the Sierra Leone People’s Party.
Using his vast negotiations skills, Hon. Maju Bah was and still is very central to getting the opposition to see eye to eye with the leaders of the New Direction. During the approval of men and women for key government posts the Leader of the Opposition was an encouraging voice for certain individuals that would be a benefit to our governance structure like Drs Demby and Senesie, the new Ambassadors to Kenya and Morocco, and a harbinger of something untoward as in the suggestion and approval of the new NEC boss, who was an avowed SLPP member during their time at Fourah Bay College.
Having given the New Direction government opportunities time and time again to do things in a procedural manner, the very stubborn planners at PAOPA have once again decided to do things the way they think it should be done. By calling an emergency sitting of parliament, according to Standing Order 4, the opposition was supposed to be given a 21 day notice and consulted on the need for the special sitting.
But in a move reminiscent of how the 10 duly elected MPs/lawmakers were removed by parliament by law enforcers, when Hon. Bah and others refused to honour the sitting citing procedures, they were once again manhandled by law enforcement officers at the behest of the Clerk and Speaker of Parliament, something that has now only happened twice in the history of Sierra Leone, including the warring years.
This now begs the question: what is the emergency nature of tabling the Midterm Census? Nothing! The Midterm Census is not an emergency. As a matter of fact the Midterm Census is against the Constitution of Sierra Leone, where it is not even mentioned. The only reason New Direction wants to force this legislation through is to PAOPA get their hands on the World Bank approved $6 million meant for the exercise Statistics Sierra Leone is incapable of executing. The prediction here is that that $6 million will go the way of other monies suspected of being mismanaged and unaccounted for in the past three years.
The census, the notoriously draconian Cybercrime Bills are all against the interest of the Government and People of Sierra Leone, for whose cause Honourable Chernor Maju Bah is a champion. Lonta!