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No one knows better than the students of the Njala campus in Bo town, how the SLPP party can coin words such as “Projects are in the pipeline” to evade suspicion over their ineptitude and inability to deliver upon their promises. I was fortunate to listen and get this first hand information from a cross section of the students at the Bo town Njala campus while accompanying the Resident Minister Southern region, Moijue Kaikai, on one of his “On the Spot” visits to some of the development project sites in the region. In our company was Mustapha Massaquoi, commonly known as “Staffay” – the man who has been dubbed as the “Personal Assistant” to Minister Kaikai simply because he is always on his toes and ready to go whenever he is called upon by the Minister. (Photo: Moijue Kaikai and students in front of the unfinished Covered Bus Stop at the Njala campus in Bo)
The students and staff of this great college have been complaining to the SLPP party for 11 years about the need to have a covered bus stop in this location because of the constraints they face, especially, during the rainy seasons. Some lamented that during the rainy season they would have to find shelter at the nearby buildings waiting for the bus; and sometimes by the time they knew the bus was around, it was gone and they would have to wait hours for the next bus to arrive. “This is very frustrating and depressing, said one of the students. We have supported and voted for the SLPP all our lives and would probably remain SLPP forever; but to imagine that they could not honour a simple request like building a covered bus stop for our convenience is very disappointing. More disappointing is the fact that it had to be under an APC administration that this bus stop project is actually coming to fruition”. The students further stated that each time they had asked their SLPP government representatives to help them with this covered bus stop, they would always be told that the project is “In the Pipeline”; and after 11 years of SLPP rule and only a little over 4 years into the Ernest Koroma APC administration, the projects have finally migrated from the “Pipelines into the Mainlines” under the stewardship of President Koroma and members of his team – notably, the Resident Minister Moijue Kaikai!” One of the Lecturers, name withheld to save him from reprisals, openly stated that he has been a supporter of the SLPP all his life and nothing can change him from that. He added that the inability of the SLPP administration to construct this covered bus stop for the students was one of the greatest embarrassments he has ever faced as a strong supporter of the SLPP. Now that this bus stop in on the works, he added, “I would say that if this is the only time that I am going to vote for an APC administration, so be it!” This is a clear example of how little things count for any regime in our politics today.
To further compound the SLPP’s ineptitude and shear disregard for simple requests, the students stated that they had been asking the SLPP administration for over five years, after their first five years in office, to help them with a TV and satellite service so that they could watch football matches in their campus but, according to the students, those requests fell on deaf ears. “We always have to run out of this campus to go to the nearest hall and secure a seat before the hall fills up so we would not miss some of the major football matches”, said one of the students. It was at this point that Minister Moijue Kaikai promised to get them a TV and a satellite pole so that they could watch future matches in their own campus instead of rush out of the campus anytime they had to watch a football match. This was greeted with thunderous applause by the students. “If you do not have the TV and Satellite pole installed within the next few days, it would not be because I don’t have them, it would be because you have not come up with a date and appropriate venue for the installation”, Minister Kaikai teased.
It is not always about formulating projects such as “Hunger eradication” and “Poverty Alleviation”, which consume a lot of dollars just to plan them and leave the people poorer than they were, before the projects were formulated, in the first place. This is about action, no matter how little. This is about attempting to meet the people’s needs. The people of Sierra Leone, especially the South-easterners, are not hard to please. They, like other Sierra Leoneans in other regions of the country, are very hard working people and do not demand a lot from any government. The fact that the very party (SLPP) that they revere and deify would not provide simple things like a court house (Court Barray); a mosque building; an inexpensive generator; simple feeder roads and a few other basic necessities, which the APC party is providing for them today, is the very reason why there has been so many defections lately. Who could have imagined that scores of people would wear red t-shirts and parade the streets in places like Bo, Kenema, Kailahun, Pujehun, Bonth, Zimmi, etc., in jubilation over a visit by a president under the APC party?
Such is the manner in which our politics has come to be defined. It is no longer going to be the politics of business as usual. President Ernest Koroma has set the pace and raised the bar very high for future presidents of this country. If you can’t reach and supersede the bar, forget it, because you would not be considered as Presidential material! The South-easterners have experienced a drastic political awakening under this current APC regime. They can no longer be fooled by those usual sermons of tribal loyalty and tribal hegemony. They are fed-up with this political crap! They are ready to show, once again, that this Sierra Leone belongs to all of us and not to the East or South, North or West; nor does it belong to any one political party – be it APC, SLPP, PMDC, UNPP, UDP, UDM, RUFP etc.
Brima Michael Turay (BMT), Arizona, USA
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