As the West African state of Sierra Leone is poised to hold the much anticipated Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections slated for November 17 this year, the country has attracted much media attention with some expressing concerns that the polls might be marred by politically-motivated violence.
Indeed, these concerns are legitimate with evidence that zealots of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) unleashed unprecedented violence on supporters of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) Party almost a fortnight ago in a suburb in Kono district. The aftermath saw the home of the chairlady of the APC Haja Bintu Kabba vandalized in Korquima as hundreds of dollars were carted away whilst the home of another APC staunch supporter Ali Khalil aka Ali Baylaybaylay was besieged with threats of arson but for the timely intervention of the personnel of the Motema police.
It is within this apparent toxic political climate that one form of civil society or the other had tossed the idea of holding a presidential debate that would have particularly brought the flag bearer of the SLPP, Julius Maada Bio and the country’s popular incumbent President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. This article is therefore to fill the void in the form of a post-mortem analysis of the presidential debate that never was.
Ignoring any elaboration on the merits or demerits of such a debate, the public opinion though has been one of the organizations determined to organize the presidential debate was not credible by virtue of their overt opposition to the current government.
However, had the debate been held, Sierra Leoneans would have exploited the golden opportunity to scrutinize the two main contenders of the presidential elections in the persons of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma of the ruling APC and his main rival, Mr. Julius Maada Bio of the SLPP.
Since the debate did not hold, one would just imagine, from a simplistic social science perspective what would have been the thrust of the questions to have been directed at both Mr. Bio and President Koroma. Questions for President Koroma would have been what strategies he used for his development blueprint, “the agenda for change” to succeed with over 85 percent cases of malaria cut down?
How the free health care became a success to the point that one of the most prestigious health publications in the UK, Lancet recently referenced it as best practice?, How was he able to promote his nationwide infrastructural development to the amazement of even traditional leaders across the country?, How he felt for coveting this year’s “Abolitionist Award 2012” bestowed upon him by the Hands off Cain?
How come, Mr. President that you were made Chairman of the African Union Committee of Ten for the reformation of the United Nations?, Your Excellency, how did you do it to rebrand Sierra Leone by positioning it as the 7th peaceful country in Africa with the envious position of being 52nd in the world, according to the Global Peace Index Report 2012?, and last but not the least among many other questions would have been how the president felt for receiving global accolades for passing into law one of the toughest anti-corruption laws in the world?
Whilst the President would have been having a field day with his reassuring responses, one would have imagined the thunderous applauses he would have particularly received from the audience, particularly the youth who have honoured him nationwide with the title of World Best.
On the other hand, the imaginary questions for Mr. Julius Maada Bio would have undoubtedly be stodgy as they would have ranged from why he was still recalcitrant to identify where he and his notorious colleagues dumped the remains of twenty nine fellow Sierra Leoneans including the former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. James Bambay Kamara, Salami Koker, Kahouta Dumbuya, Yayah Kanu, who were extra-judicially butchered by the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) for which Maada Bio had claimed collective responsibility in a recent BBC Focus on Africa interview?
Mr. Bio, did you morally feel comfortable for former President Tejan Kabba to canvass votes for you in Karina in the northern part of the country after he indicted you of having siphoned thousands of United States dollars by causing the government to pay into your offshore account in the Channel Islands for contracts that were never performed?
How come, Mr. Bio that you failed to sue President Kabba for implicating you in the illegal sale of the country’s passports to foreigners and the proceeds paid into your fictitious Banga company?, Mr. flag bearer, what would be your reaction to your blatant condemnation by the Political Parties registration Commission (PPRC) for acts of lawlessness you perpetuated by interfering with the right of way of his Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma after twice defying police warning first at Up Gun and then at the East end Police in the East end of the city last October 12?
How come you were refused entry into the United States of America even though some of your opportunist supporters thought otherwise?, and last but not the least, Mr. Bio, how would you defend your credibility with your make-belief claims that you ushered in democracy even though you concocted the peace before election campaign after you deceitfully overthrew your boss Captain Valentine Strasser so that you would have prolonged your stay in power but for the people’s resistance to juntarism?
All said and done, whilst it was would have been better for President Koroma to have participated in any of the publicized presidential debates, some of which never had his prior consent, because it would have been a golden opportunity for him to further showcase the spick and span achievements of the globally acclaimed “Agenda for change” as he is currently criss-crossing the country marketing the “agenda for prosperity”.
On the other hand, it was no doubt that Maada Bio was reported to have celebrated and tossed a champagne after President Koroma excused himself from debating with him because only God would have saved him from the barrage of embarrassing questions then in store for him from the plain-speaking audience.
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