I woke up to the thunderous jubilating chants of “Obama wins, Ernest Koroma wins”; from a sizeable number of very excited APC supporters somewhere around Musa Street where I spent the night in the Southern City of Bo. This excitement sets the tone for the joyous moment that was to come on our journey to the Southern City of Pujehun where the President was going to have a rally after his visit to the Southern town of Sahn Malen. As usual, and in every village that we drove through, people, young and old, would greet us with waving of hands and chanting of “Orsai, Orwai”; which, in my opinion, has become a slogan that is so very common in the Southeastern region than in any other place that I have visited in this elections campaign. We arrived at the coronation field and in a few minutes, the President’s convoy arrived:
The crowd was jubilant and the excitement could not be contained as the crowd continued to chant “Five More Years; No Run Off”! This can be described as magical, considering the fact that in 2002, Mr. Ernest Koroma had only 1 (one) vote in this township and that vote came from the only resident who stood under the APC ticket; and once it was discovered that he voted for Ernest Koroma, he was given the beating of his life. In 2007, President Koroma, then Leader Ernest Koroma, upon the orders of John Oponjo Benjamin and his fellow SLPP top guns, was prevented from campaigning freely in the Southeast; and he almost lost his life to vicious attacks on his convoy at one point. Today it is completely different; and from the look of things, this crowd is ready to lay its life for President Koroma.
This did not happen by accident! It came out of the realization by the people that President Koroma means well for them. This was reiterated by Imam Suliaman Rogers, commonly known as Manna, who is the Chief Imam for Pujehun District, when he lauded the President for the 149 scholarships that were given to Imams in the country to study abroad. The Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon Musa Tarawally, the Resident Minister Southern region Hon Moijue Kaikai; the Elections Coordinator for Pujehun District Mr. Amadu Sesay; all lauded the President’s efforts in the areas of Water Supply, which would start running soon, Electricity, which was tested the day before and will soon be generated, Education, as evident in the number of schools that have been erected and some refurbished by the APC; Roads, as evident in the current drainage construction exercise that is going on in the entire Pujehun township, Health, as evident in the hospital building and presence of drugs and free healthcare for pregnant and lactating mothers and healthcare for children under 5. They also drew the people’s attention to the number of government officials appointed by President Koroma to serve in his administration. In appreciation of the President’s efforts in promoting women in the country and particularly in Pujehun District, a group of women called the “Women of Wanjama” was introduced by Ms. Nansu Fofanah as they danced spectacularly alongside the local “Bondo” society masquerades. But perhaps what was most touching to the President and the crowd of people during this event was the speech by one of the youths, Charles Collier, who had defected from the SLPP and who, alongside his friends, was introduced to the President by the Chairman for the APC Pujehun District, Mr. Patrick Ansu Kaikai.
This young man stated that at one time, one of their friends was killed in a road accident and President Koroma happened to come by the scene and the young man asked the President to help them covey the dead body to the family; and the President honoured their request and he did exactly what they asked him to do. Charles Collier described the dress that President Koroma was wearing at the time and also read the licenses plate number of the vehicle that the president was driving at the time; all to the amazement of the President and the entire crowd of people. Charles compared this incident to an incident involving former Vice President Solomon Berewa in which Berewa’s vehicle hit one Native Administration Police man and did not stop at the scene but went several miles away before he instructed some of his men to go back and check what had happened to the man that was hit. “Because of this and other promises that Ernest Koroma has fulfilled, I will support and give my life for this President”, Charles emphatically stated.
In his address to the people of Pujehun in the jam-packed field, the President thanked everyone for turning Pujehun “RED”!This shows that the people of Pujehun appreciate what my government has done for the District over the last 5 years, President Koroma stated.
“As a politician, my “Strongholds” would be the places where I take care of the people who decided to put their lives in my hands”, President Koroma joked. Pujehun can therefore no longer be a stronghold for any other political party but the APC party because we are going to continue to invest in the people of Pujehun, the President reiterated. President Koroma also encouraged the people to come out and affiliate with any political party of their choice and promised to hold responsible anyone who perpetrates acts of intimidation and violence against supporters of any political party. “I did not force or coerce anyone into supporting me. I want people to support me based on my record of the past 5 years because I know that no government in the history of our country since independence has done, in 5 years, what my administration has done so far”, President Koroma humbly boasted, amidst thunderous applause from the mammoth crowd. The event was opened by Mr. Alieu Sesay, a native of Marampa Chiefdom; and the Master of Ceremonies (MC) was Mr. Sylvester Swaray, a native of Pujehun, both of whom carried the event successfully to its closure with dancing and singing as the President headed for Potoru.
Brima Michael Turay – PRO; APC North America
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