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Rtd. Julius Maada Bio continues to woo Sierra Leoneans in the UK and on Monday he made this statement to hundreds of Sierra Leoneans in Reading as he was mobilising them for the November 2012 elections. In Reading, the Flag bearer launched two new SLPP chapters – Reading and Bristol – of the United Kingdom and Ireland branch. This latest political thriller by the potential next President was also graced by two SLPP bigwigs, Alhaji Kanja Sesay (Chairman, South Region) and Mr Andrew Keilie (Head, SLPP Policy committee).
In Reading, the flag bearer was greeted by what he is now accustomed to – the usual snapshots from the international press and hundreds of women as they danced with him to the hall. However, as the programme started, one could sense that the atmosphere was a bit different from the exuberance at the welcome dance on Saturday night. Whilst the jam- packed audience seemed all smiles and ecstatic in their greens, the flag bearer, Kanja Sesay and Andrew Keilie had this striking sense of purpose on their faces like a rescue team which must be thinking of millions of people back home stranded in the wilderness of APC’s hardship. This sense of purpose on their faces became clear as they started giving their speeches.
The first to address the audience was Kanja Sesay, a man who played a huge part in the social and infrastructural development of our post-war nation through NaCSA. He started with a joke about the APC when he said “When APC came to power in 2007 they said it was for 40yrs, in 2009 the APC reduced it to 20yrs, in 2011 the APC further reduced it to 10yrs and now in 2012 the APC is begging the SLPP for a second chance”. You could not help but laugh your sides out and so did the buoyant audience. Later, he was filled with empathy as he told the audience that “the jittery APC is now treating SLPP members as endangered species”. He went on, “everyday SLPP members face molestations, marginalisation, rampant intimidation and dreamt-up charges”. However, Kanja Sesay was quick to point out that such an APC policy has only continued to strengthen the SLPP as people are now resolved more than ever to kick out the APC government.
The next SLPP bigwig to make a statement was Andrew Keilie, a man highly respected across the political spectrum. As a policy guru, he started his statement by rubbishing the APC’s economic record with the slow economic growth, double-digit inflation and the highest youth unemployment since records began. With passion, he informed the audience that our mining industry has been operating without transparency and with piles of bad agreement signed by the APC. Well, we all know why APC signed all those bad agreements because the mining companies are now bank-rolling them during these elections. Although, he did not call names, he also took a swipe at few people who have been defecting to the APC saying that politicians should have VALUES and PRINCIPLES. But, by the time he finished his statement we all knew who he was talking about.
Then, it was the time of the man of the moment, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio. When he stood up, you could sense his growing impatience with this lacklustre APC government because of the plight of our suffering people. As he launched the two chapters, he assured the people that gone are the days when the SLPP used to be “Cry Babies” and that in the November elections “I will lead a Stronger SLPP that will do all it takes to defend the Peace, Democracy and Freedom which Sierra Leoneans so cherished”. This raised the audience on their feet with loud applause. But the most compelling moment of his speech was his appeal to every Sierra Leonean when he said that in these coming elections “Voting the APC out of power will be our National Service to save our Country”. As the audience went into a serious mood he painstakingly catalogued why Sierra Leoneans should perform this national service: the wanton hardship, the recession in democracy wherein opposition members are humiliated daily; the glaring regional and tribalistic APC policies; the crippling economy and the lack of life’s most precious needs: light, water and food. You could feel it was like a call of duty by a real Brigadier who is ready to lead his people.
Indeed, it is a call to national service which every mother whose household budget has tripled since 2007 will heed; a call to national service which graduates who have no jobs or worst still those who have been denied jobs because of their names and backgrounds will heed; a call to national service which every civil servant who works without salaries will heed; and a call to national service which jobless young people who go to bed either without proper food or the bleak prospect of no food the following morning will heed. As the International media and English press watched on, he also sent a message of warning for Christiana Thorpe (Chief Electoral commissioner, NEC) that unlike in 2007 when she invalidated hundreds of thousands of SLPP votes illegally, this time in 2012 “I want to assure you that if Christina Thorpe does anything like 2007, I will protect your votes”. Indeed, the type of warning which Christina Thorpe was never given so she had the audacity to deprive the people of their rights to make a political choice. But this time, “A word for a wise is quite sufficient”.
It must also be said that the biggest accolades for the successful launching ceremony of both SLPP chapters – Reading and Bristol – should go to the Jimmy Bartilo Songa’s led executive and the entire membership which comprises dynamic people who continue to widen the membership of the SLPP across the UK.
However, as I left the hall after the launching ceremony, I can hardly stop thinking of this national service which Maada Bio asked every Sierra Leonean to show on the 17 November 2012. I could still remember it was the same national service which the former opposition leader now President-elect of France, Francois Hollande asked the French people to show in the just concluded presidential election on Sunday. And the result: the French people voted out President Nicolas Sarkozy thereby making him ONLY a one-term President after a spell of economic hardship and joblessness. Therefore, I believe Sierra Leoneans will put their country first and perform this NATIONAL SERVICE to our country by voting out the APC as WE MUST NEVER REWARD A PRESIDENT WITH A SECOND TERM WHOSE ONLY LEGACY IS HARDSHIP. Yes we can!
By: Yusuf Keketoma Sandi, BA (Hons), LLB (Hons)
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