By KIS Myers
An apology is first of all in place here as readers were promised a weekly comparison between Julius Maada Bio and Ernest Bai Koroma so that readers can sift the grain from the chaff. Circumstances held me at bay and after thinking about what I promised to compare a couple of weeks ago, I have decided to discuss Trust or Trustworthiness. This decision was based on the fact that I bumped into an article written by one Jarrah Kawusu-Konteh (who according to sources, is a Columnist who works at State House), titled, “Between (sic) Maada Bio and Ernest Koroma, who do you trust?” The subject head was very inviting and a reader should not be blamed for rushing to whet his/her reading appetite.
Mr. Jarrah Kawusu-Konteh opened his opinion piece by declaring for All peoples Congress (APC) in so many words: “There is no way we can lose this election if people know the truth about Maada Bio and President Ernest Koroma, who they are, what they stand for, and their different plans for the way forward for Sierra Leone.” The statement suggests that Mr. Kawusu-Konteh was going to focus on three main things to judge the trust worthiness of these two gentlemen. Unfortunately, he did not tell us who these two gentlemen are. All he did was to tell us Ernest Koroma’s plans. I say he only told us about Ernest Koroma’s plans because what Mr. Kawusu-Konteh claimed to be Maada Bio’s plans turned out to be false. Mr. Kawusu-Konteh made some serious allegations about Maada Bio’s plans for the future such as: “Maada would end the free health care for our women and children. He would end the ongoing massive infrastructural development in the country.” These accusations turn out to be criminally false as Maada Bio named health care as one of his main priorities during his speech in London. Another misleading statement made by Mr. Kawusu-Konteh was that Bio would end infrastructural development and stop the much trumpeted but disappointing delivery of electricity to homes. In addition, Mr. Kawusu-Konteh rehashed age old accusations of human rights violations and coup d’état in 1992 to make his point. This article intends to test the trust worthiness particularly of President Ernest Bai Koroma since Mr. Kawusu Konteh did not do so and I believe the reading and voting public must be made aware of this.
Trust and trustworthy is defined among other things as “being able to be relied upon, dependable or truthful.” One of the sure ways this attribute can be ascertained by an individual is to look at his history of past promises he made to people and whether those promises were kept. I intend to do just that.
Let’s take Bio, for starters, when he led a palace coup d’état against Valentine Strasser, he declared to the nation that he was going to return the country to a multi-party democracy. Whatever the case or process, indeed Maada Bio allowed elections to be conducted and ushered in a democratically elected President. He also promised that he would not interfere in the process of democratization. He indeed left the country, stayed away from both the country and politics until nine years later when he decided to get involved as a civilian. Now the definition of trust and trustworthy suggests that we can trust Bio for whatever he says he’s going to do. If this is anything to go by, then it is very strange that anyone can call that person untrustworthy.
Let us use the same parameters to test the trustworthiness of Ernest Bai Koroma and see whether he measures up. President Ernest Bai Koroma made a series of pronouncements when he was in the opposition. Let us just look at a few and see whether he has lived up to his promises as that measures trustworthiness. President Ernest Bai Koroma campaigned on the platform that “…executive interference, coupled with the pursuit of political party interests have clearly undercut the constitutional role of the legislature……our immediate and general concern for our people will be to provide the basic social services which many other countries take for granted, but which our people continue to be deprived of. Necessities such as affordable staple food, rice, electricity, water, basic health care, an expanded education system, and jobs for the bulging numbers of unemployed youth.”
The question that we should ask is whether Ernest Koroma has delivered on this promise. If he has delivered, then we can say he is trustworthy because he made a promise and kept his word. I will leave the reader to determine whether the people of Sierra Leone are no longer deprived of basic social services that other countries take for granted. Has President Koroma delivered on his promise of expanding the education system especially now that our students are consistently taking last place in the West African region compared to the period before 2007 when they consistently excelled? Has president Koroma made our staple food more affordable as he promised? If not can we then trust the new promises he is making? Has he reduced youth unemployment as he promised? These are very important questions we need to ask while determining the trust worthiness of President Koroma.
Another past promise President Koroma made to the people of Sierra Leone was that he will unite the country and do away with what he called the tribal politics of the Sierra Leone People’s Party. Most people were hopeful that we will no longer witness what was perceived then as SLPP tribalism but can we truly say the country is more united than it were before 2007? The SLPP Government was described by President Koroma as divisive but according to empirical evidence, the past SLPP Government had the most inclusive government since the days of Sir Milton Margai. If we compare that to President Koroma’s government it will be easy to see that his government is not inclusive at all. In fact the International Crisis Group has called President Koroma’s government as the most divisive in the history of the country. If all these things are true, how trustworthy then is President Koroma? He promised to unite the country yet he has produced the most divisive country since independence. How trustworthy then is President Koroma compared to Maada Bio. We need to make these comparisons. Who has kept his words and who has not? That is how I determine who is trustworthy but I leave the conclusion to my readers.