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COCORIOKO » 2004 » January

Archive for January, 2004

APC-NA Chairman leaves for Freetown to help sensitize people for 2007 elections

Friday, January 9th, 2004
The Chairman of the All People’s Congress ( APC) North American Chapter, Mr. Alimamy G. Kargbo, leaves the United States next week for Freetown , to join the sensitization program of the APC , ahead of the July 28 General Elections in Sierra Leone. 
Speaking to COCORIOKO  in an exclusive interview , Mr. Kargbo told this newspaper that he was heading for Freetown to help sensitize the Sierra Leonean people about the election registration process slated for February 26, this year. Mr. Kargbo said it was necessary to sensitize the people on voters’ registration because they have to know that if they do not register, they cannot vote in the elections. The voters registration, he went on, was everybody’s project and those who want to exercise their franchise on July 28 have to vote.
Mr. Kargbo , who will also be contesting the Parliamentary Elections for Freetown East 111 ( Zone 4, encompassing Rokupar, Kuntolloh , Jalloh Terrace and Portee in the Wellington Area was asked by COCORIOKO  how the APC  stood for this much-awaited General Elections. In response, Mr. Kargbo said that from the reports the North American Branch has been receiving, the APC  was confident of victory in the elections. “The party is doing very well. It has great momentum When the leader returned toi Sierra Leone from the U.S,  he went to Bo,  Kenema , Makeni and Port Loko. The enthusiasm of the people was great and he was given a huge welcome .That has indicated to us that he has good standing with the people “, Mr Kargbo explained.
Mr. Kargbo disclosed that the APC has been able now to penetrate the South/East. For this, Mr. Kargbo commended the PMDC  which, he said, made it possible , by neutralizing the stranglehold the SLPP  once had in this region.” Because the PMDC  is able to go through the South/East and sensitize the people, we too are now able to do so”, he went on. Mr. Kargbo said the APC Leader’s next trip will be to Kailahun. He wants to sensitize the people in areas where because of the old system of proportional representation, the SLPP  used to go unopposed.
Asked whether the APC  was still in court, Mr. Kargbo answered in the affirmative but he quickly clarified that the APC  did not go to court;rather the party was taken to court by the Serry Kamal faction. Mr. Kargbo denied speculations that Dr. Abdulai Conteh had gone to Freetown to fight alongside the dissidents. He said Dr. Conteh was one of the peacemakers who had been working hard to keep the party together .He intimated that unless things change overnight, he did not believe that Dr. Conteh went to Sierra Leone specifically to join the Kamal group.
Mr. Kargbo expressed confidence in the Electoral Commissioner, Ms. Christiana Thorpe , who, he said, had been trying to demonstrate so far that she would pursue the objectives of the NEC.
Mr. Kargbo called on all Sierra Leoneans to take the electoral process seriously. He called on them to debunk tribalism and regionalism .He said that Sierra Leoneans had suffered too much and should work for change in the country.
Mr. Alimamy Kargbo lauded the good relations between him and other members of the chapter . He said he had good working relations with members of all the branches .Infact, I came to New Jersey to visit with the APC Branch here to motivate them to seek the way forward.
Mr. Kargbo said that the Washington Chapter of the APC  will be holding a fund-raising dance on January 27.

SLPP, Underrate Ernest Koroma at your own peril

Tuesday, January 6th, 2004

Whoever wrote him off  as another run-of-the-mill opposition figure should be revising his form books  right now. In so short a time, Ernest Koroma , who only yesterday was an anonymous character in Sierra Leone’s turbulent politics , has   not only jumped on board the wagon  but has come of age as a hard-hitting  opposition leader capable  of keeping the stubborn Tejan Kabbah government on its toes to deliver the goods  to  an  impoverished people at last.


Koroma’s New Year message to the nation hit a chord  at home and in the diaspora  and if Sierra Leoneans were looking forward to another disappointer masquerading as their spokesman , like  some of our other opposition leaders who fell on the wayside, they have been given new optimism that the  government will not be allowed to get away  with it.
     This in no way discredits the efforts of former opposition politicians like John Benjamin , who during his short spell as leader of the National Unity Party ( NUP) also contributed marvellously in keeping the government under check before he was undermined and forced to throw in the towel  by overambitious members of the party .However, the fact cannot be disputed that some who in the past have called themselves opposition leaders have only ended up harming the cause of the ordinary people by selling out to the government for filty lucre. 
     Our leaders in Sierra Leone are tortoises who need that periodic  fireburn on their behinds to speed them up. They are not the kinds of politicians one would trust to  deliver  the goods on their own volition. They need a firebrand on their backs to remind them about campaign promises and  empty rhetoric and to push them to perform. Left to themselves, our leaders would just crawl into their shells and just fatten themselves and their concubines and hangers-on with the precious resources of the people. They would not move a limb to lift burdens off the shoulders of the ordinary masses.
         If the Kabbah government were honest,  they  would have no quarrels with the criticisms  made by Ernest Koroma. They will accept the fact that all is not well in the nation. For all the changes of governments in Sierra Leone since 1992, the lot of the Sierra Leonean has not improved one bit. Infact, their woes have worsened.  with escalating prices of basic commodities, rent , transportation education,  and everything else that our people need to survive. 
 The SLPP sing-song is that the APC  destroyed Sierra Leone , but it is not the APC  that is in power now that  the majority of our people go to bed hungry. It is not the APC that is in power when our people cannot even enjoy clean, pipe-born water, electricity  and all other basic amenities. The SLPP must be honest to admit that things have spun out of control under their rule.  Playing the Blame-Game with other past governments  is just a worn-out ploy to shift responsibility . If the APC  ruined Sierra Leone , what has the SLPP done so far to rectify the situation ?
Yes. The SLPP is right. The APC  destroyed the Sierra Leone economy and all her essential social institutions .The APC  instututionalized corruption. But has the SLPP made any difference ? Have they tried to show better examples ? Is it not the “ogri “teasing the “kaindah” for its smell ?
However, the SLPP  comes out with some  commendation from all this free speech and expression of one’s true feelings, as Ernest Koroma has done. The SLPP may have mismanaged the economy like the APC  , but  truth to speak, they should enjoy some praise at least for  seeing a democratic atmosphere emerge under their rule. It is one area where the SLPP has beaten the APC  hands down. It was inconceivable in the Siaka Stevens APC  days for an opposition leader to criticise the government, let alone give a New Year’s Speech where he reduced the ruling government to calumny. All true Sierra Leone must lift their hands to God and thank him for this change that has happened in our country, courtesy of SLPP  rule. A country that was once about the most despotic , lawless and undemocratic in West Africa can now boast of a vibrant opposition that is free to pulverise the reigning government verbally. 
It is hoped that the government would accept Ernest Koroma ‘s chastisement as not the enemy action the undemocratic ones would take it to be , but  just an essential part of  responsive and responsible governance in Sierra Leone. Indded, the opposition and the ruling government hold the chips in the political governance of the country.  Rather than be enemies, they are symbiotic twins who efforts should complement the other in ensuring that the people get what they voted for.
   This is indeed a  good sign that our country is inching out of the darkness . Long live multi-party democracy.