By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden OOR
In last 24 hours, we have seen a flurry of correspondence whose contents indicate very clear signs of retrogression of Sierra Leone’s peace and stability since the former President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma handed over to H.E. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio in April this year. In just six months, not only has the economy depressed but security and stability is threatened in a manner most unprecedented since the end of our civil war. Police Headquarters yesterday October 1st 2018 have issued a Public Notice which is scary, intimidating and has given rise to concerns it may be an advance warning of instituting a semblance of a Police and Military State instead of a Democratic State.
Meanwhile, due to kind of leadership now in Sierra Leone, there are growing numbers of sad incidents across Sierra Leone which remind older citizens, like myself, of the unpleasantness of the war years. However, the younger generation, especially the first time voters in the last elections, don’t have such memories and may not have grasped the implications of the alerts, concerns and warnings raised around credentials of some of those who contested to be President in the March 2018 elections.
Some of us are fully aware of the dangerous habits and sinister mentality of some of the actors who played a role during the darkest hours of our country. Our fears that such habits cannot be discarded, are slowly coming to reality.
Last month, I did a joint news article in consonance with the editorial team of this newspaper in which we recalled the terrible tragedy of what unfolded in Tonko Limba some 22 years ago. I was raising the red flags based on my experience as one of only a tiny handful who have been documenting Politics and History in this country for the last three decades and more.
I welcome Statement of condemnation for Tonko elections violence issued October 1st 2018 by International Community corps (including U.S. Ambassador Maria Brewer) but I am concerned the diplomats may have already let us down prior to now.
Hardworking taxpayers in UK and USA have had their taxes deployed into reforming our security sector because of our credentials.
Transnational Organised Crimes Unit (TOCU) under the Office of the President has benefitted from millions of dollars of American taxpayers monies in developing TOCU to conduct itself within the tenets of democracy and human rights. Therefore, one wonders why the silence from International Community in the wake of the TOCU-led egregious raids on innocent Temne villagers last month. The dubiously motivated raids at 4am in the dark morning hours, have left women and children severely traumatised.
Similarly, the British Government, through IMATT and ISAT have spent millions of pounds sterling to reform the Sierra Leone armed forces and have also spent millions of pounds to reform our Police. For British High Commissioner Guy Warrington, without gainsaying, a significant percentage of Sierra Leoneans look on him with so much intense suspicion of his motives. It did not help for Warrington to thoughtlessly drag three British parliamentarians to President Bio’s Office where they were reported as distastefully hurling insults at their fellow British MP, Hon. Neil Coyle for raising credible concerns. That was so unfortunate of Warrington.
Perhaps my sternest dismay is for American Ambassador Maria Brewer. I am disappointed. Twenty years ago in 1998, Madam Brewer was U.S. Embassy’s Political Affairs Officer in Freetown. This was during the height of a political madness that was violently unfurled by some now cloaked in disguised clothing of civility and gentility. Ambassador Brewer knows more than all the other diplomats, what this country has gone through and where we never will want to return. H.E. Maria Brewer is an American but she is our Sierra Leone ‘daughter’ our ‘sister’ and our ‘mother’ who needs to find quiet time to reflect, introspect and ask herself questions about her service in this current post-APC era.
The International Community in-country has done well to issue October 1 2018 concerns which partially mentions some of ongoing security and human rights concerns but they need to do deeper introspection and engage more robustly on the deteriorating peace and stability inside Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone has retrogressed since Ernest Koroma handed over to Maada Bio. We need honest introspection by those who mid-wifed this current regime into existence. British and American taxpayers monies have been spent to consolidate our peace and stability as well as to guarantee the professional deployment of those bearing arms.
The representatives of Britain and America in Freetown may now need to reassure all, that their taxpayers are not being betrayed through tacit consents of egregious human rights abuses, killings and denigration of all civilised tenets of democratic governance.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author is a well noted politician who is also Founding Publisher of this newspaper. She served in high positions in former APC-led government of President Ernest Koroma including as a Cabinet Minister for Social Welfare.