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No more ECOMOG for Sierra Leone

  • Written by  Christian -Kamara-Cole
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When the  RUF attacked Bomaru in eastern Sierra Leone, everyone thought it was a joke and can be beaten back in no time. But alas it never was. The war lasted for almost eleven years leaving behind massive destruction of the nations infrastructure and the human spirit. The leader Coporal Foday Sankoh, from Northern Sierra Leone ( Tonkolili) was able to galvanise disillusioned youths to follow him. Reasons for the rebellion ranged from  bad governance, corruption, inefficient government, poverty, poor education and social services and chronic tribalism and GOD FATHERISM.

This was basically as a result of APC misrule when they took over a fairly organized society in 1968, and turned it into a filthily disorganized, disoriented, corrupt state. Despite its abundant natural resources and capable human capital, Sierra Leone thru chronic mismanagement, was dragged into the category of least developed countries.

By 1990,the APC had destroyed all the strong institutions that constituted  the  pillars of democracy. The economic basket began to dwindle as the APC regime savagely attacked  the European and other firms like PZ, UAC, AGENE, CHANRAI,TAYLORWOOD ROW, PHILLIP MORRISON, SCOA  SLST, Diamond Corporation Shebro Minerals, DELCO,BP etc etc. Even the famous JC SAMUELS AND MORGAN PHARMACIES IN WESTERN AREA DID NOT SURVIVE. Instaed, Jamil Sahid Mohamed a Sierra Leonean of Lebanese extraction became our economic Godfather. He later became the mentor of our current President Ernest Bai Koroma. That in itself has far reaching implications for our politics and the economy because Ernest had learnt all the tricks Shaki and Jamil were using to exploit our country. This is an aside. The Jamil and Ernest factor will be dealt with in a separate article.

European firms were not alone in the mist of the close up of economically potent institutions, The SLPMB, Rice Corporation, Cooperatives, Forest Industries, Railway, Degremond Water Supply, Electricity Corporation, Post and Telecommunication, District Councils, Sierra Leone Airways and many more suffered from APC political interference  and were totally wrecked thus plunging the country into chronic unemployment and total economic mess. Salaries were delayed from 3 -6 months rice and petrol were very scare commodities to come by, the nations currency , the leone disappeared in some places and was in short supply even in Freetown. Reputable educational institutions like Fourah Bay College, Milton Margai Teachers College, Njala University College, Women Teachers College, Port Loko were all trampled upon thus making them the abode of political cronies.

Qualifications did not matter any longer for the award of scholarships later changed to Grants –in-aid. The nominees of APC stalwarts who could not pass the public examinations were exported to Eastern Europe some of whom are now around  galavanting as PhD holders and are currently state actors. It was this state of  affairs coupled with incessant violence, corruption, nepotism and brutal poverty in the country that aggravated dissent from within. Villages like Krubola in Koinadugu were burnt, The Thaimu, Timbo  Turay battle in Sanda is  still fresh in the memory of our people, The truck load of thugs that were sent to Kailahun to kill our people is a tale of unmitigated disaster. So too was the  May 3rd  invasion of Bo by APC thugs prior to the 1977 Elections.The Harry Williams saga in Shenge in Moyamba district, the Victor Foh and Tom Smith violence in Bonthe in 1977, the Sinneh Conteh affair in which they tried to attack SLPP campaign vehicle of Jusu Sheriff and others in the north, the invasion of FBC campus  by APC thugs  incding youth wing leaders such as Kemoh Fadika, Jengo Stevens,Logus and the ISU police unit during the 1977 student riot. This is an unforgettable event against APC which was led by Hindolo Trye the current APC Minister of Labour, who at that time was  the  President of the National Union of Sierra Leone Students –NUSS.

It is instructive to note that election violence in places like Loko Masama, Tongofields, Masingbi, Matotoka, Pujehun, Kissi Tongi and Blama are all sad and criminal events that finally culminated  into Foday Sankoh being able to woo the disaffectioned youths and abandoned APC thugs to fend for themselves through the RUF War. And so, thousands of youths descended on the country and ravaged everything they could access including the hacking of arms and limbs of innocent citizens.  The people became defenceless as we had a very corrupt and incompetent military some of whom like the likes of the present body guard of the President Leather Booth who  abandoned the army to join the rebels. These were the SORBELS, soldiers who  abandoned  their state duty to join rebels to plunder,  maim citizens and try to run the country.

The merciless hacking of limbs and arms, the brutal killings and senseless destruction of properties gave rise to the creation of ECOMOG –The ECOWAS MONITORING GROUP which intervened to bring back calm into the country. This was unprecedented in the history of the sub-region. Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea were the key players but other forces from West Africa like Senegal, Gambia and Mali intervened albeit for a brief period. Nonetheless We as a people very much appreciate their selfless service to our country. Nigeria played a leadership role with tacit support of Ghana. A good number of their officers died in combat all in the bid to restore democracy to Sierra Leone.

I have spent time to recaputilate these events for the younger ones with no knowledge of what has happened before to understand where we are coming from and discern whether how we are being governed today will not take us back to square one. As a result of the silence I sense over the happenings in governance today, it seems to me that Sierra Leoneans did not learn the lessons that the war was meant to teach us. Imagine the police force in a pluralistic society, taking sides with the ruling party; imagine the head of what is supposed  to be a reformed army and  a former NPRC Minister taking sides in a row between two political parties, imagine thugs of one party attacking the offices and leaders of another party; imagine our current situation in which despite the DIFID sponsored justice reform , the Chief Justice has up to this time not been able to call up the case between SLPP and NEC; imagine the numerous scandals and shame this government has brought upon us as a once politically civilised country; imagine how much we have lost in the WANZA GATE, INCOME ELECTRIC, THE MINING CONTACT vs THE SO-CALLED STIMULUS PACKAGE, THE 12 MILLION DOLLARS  GST RECEIPT BOOKS, THE 20 MILLION DOLLARS LOSS IN INVESTMENT BY NASSIT, THE NASSIT GATE ITSELF, THE COCAIN PLANE, HELICOPTER AND CONTAINER, THE TIMBER SCANDAL, THE GUINEA RICE SAGA,THE ABC CORRUPTION GATE, 50TH ANNIVERSARY SAGA,THE THROWING OF HUMAN WASTE AND URINE AT SLPP LEADERS ON VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT AT STATE HOUSE , THE PNG SAGA OF THE UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO SIERRA LEONE, FAKING THE UDM PARTY LEADER AS PART OF A GOVERNMENT DELEGATION TO THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY,AND MANY MORE.

So if Sierra Leoneans are going to vote, they should do so  not only with their hands but also with their heads, and  they must think twice because there  will be no more ECOMOG in Sierra Leone. At 51, we must be seen to have grown enough to make rational decisions for our common good and to be able to depart from our old ways.

Christian Kamara –Jones

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