He could be the “World’s Best” to thousands of Sierra Leoneans for now. But President Ernest Bai Koroma should know that being a “World’s Best” is seasonal.
For there would come a time when the “World’s Best” would no longer have the strength to kick the round leather and have a place in the team; and that the time when he would need genuine people around him. And that also would be the time when he would know if he really has true friends.
But sadly for President Koroma, he seems to be surrounded by or is surrounding himself with people who innately believe that they were the ones who made him what he is today. Many of his coteries of Ministers and Personal Assistants do not believe that it is the President who made them what they are today. So, they are only in for the ride and will not hesitate to board another car if the current one they are in develops some faults. Behind his back, some of these his so-called trusted Ministers and Personal Assistants make inferences of him being a weak and indecisive leader albeit with a patriotic heart.
And President Koroma himself seems to be confirming that notion or giving it currency. By constantly recycling the recycled in his cabinet, he is personifying the Churchillian metaphoric man who constantly feeds an alligator with the hope that it will eat him last! Even those in Government Agencies and Departments (appointed by him, of course) who are horribly underperforming are still on their jobs.
As things now stand, President Koroma seems not to be looking beyond his current inner circle or he is giving the sickening impression that he might be sprinting out of innovative ideas. He also seems to be giving the impression that the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) doesn’t have competent people to hold positions of trust. For I could still not comprehend why it is so extremely difficult for him to fill the ambassadorial vacancies in China, Nigeria and Ghana. And even the Ambassadors and High Commissioners he appointed seem to have everlasting jobs as most have been on their posts for nearly six years now or more.
Even in advanced democracies like the United States of America and Great Britain, Ambassadors and High Commissioners are recalled after two or three years on their posts. But many of Sierra Leone’s Ambassadors and High Commissioners believe that President Koroma is so weak and indecisive that Edward Mohamed Turay, Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to Britain, could have the audacity to come to Sierra Leone and openly criticized and ridiculed a government’s policy on national TV and is still on his post after issuing a bland press release which served as an apology!
During the 2012 campaign period, there were allegations of some APCers stealing or siphoning campaign funds. But sadly, though, many of those very people are still cabinet or deputy ministers. Even when some ministers or deputy ministers have reportedly put up undiplomatic behaviours in the presence of President Koroma, they are still not disciplined and left on their posts.
Now, some of us (unrepentant Koromaists) are beginning to have the troubling feeling that President Koroma is recycling the recycled in his cabinet simply because they might have some incriminating things about or on him which they have threatened to blackmail him with if he sacks them. This might hold some weight because the manner in which the President seems to be doing things now is contrary to political logic!
Just after he was re-elected, he told the nation that in his second term he would have to part ways with some friends and family members. But alas, the more the President talks about change; the more things remain the same. And each time there is a cabinet reshuffle; the more the new cabinet looks like the old one! What I would like President Koroma to know is that no matter how beauticians try to do their very best on the face of a baboon it will always look like or be a baboon.
But President Koroma is holding both the yam and knife (to quote Chinua Achebe) today, so he could afford to play god. But Siaka Stevens once played god. Joseph Saidu Momoh also once-upon-a-time played god. And Ahmad Tejan Kabba too was once a demi-god. But even in their godlikeness; a time came when those gods were no longer gods and were not regarded as gods. And who could have thought that a time would come in the history of Sierra Leone when Dr Jengo Stevens or any son of Siaka Stevens would beg for a job?
Well history, at times, could be cyclical.
And that cyclical pattern of history is replete in African history. Less than a month after he lost the presidential election, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria complained of being abandoned by people he believed were his true friends.
Former President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia was abandoned and prosecuted by his own party after he left power. The great Osagyefo of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah with all the messianic attributes bestowed upon him by his compatriots, died as a lonely exile in Guinea even though he was made joint president of Guinea by Ahmed Sékou Touré. The point is: all these African leaders were surrounded by people who they trusted and who formed their inner circles.
I have brought all those examples, above, to yank President Ernest Bai Koroma from his sort of reverie and look beyond his current inner circle. This is because he either seems to be running out of new ideas or have already ran out of ideas. With my knowledge of and contacts in the corridors of power; I am writing this with certainty that the President is at present breakdancing in the den of hungry lions. They are only waiting for the music to stop before they start their feast of him.