Pa Baimba Sesay-China :
President Ernest Bai Koroma has not only succeeded in impressing his supporters, party loyalists and the international community, but even those who were at some point his political opponents, have not only declared their support for him, but have today joined hands in advocating for the country’s development. We have witnessed a number of strategic defections from the opposition SLPP to the ruling All Peoples Congress Party. All of those coming have referred to President Koroma’s development effort as a major factor for their defection. One of those who have come to support the President is former Ambassador John Ernest Leigh, who was also; at one point a flag bearer candidate for the main opposition SLPP. Say what you may for the fact remains, John Ernest Leigh is an intelligent Sierra Leonean.
Ambassador John Leigh, seen here with Pa Baimba Sesay in November 2011
I came to meet and know him during the month of November, 2011, on my way to China, to take up my appointment as Information Attaché in our Embassy. John Leigh was also on his way to the United States of America. I was introduced to him by a colleague journalist; we had some interesting pleasantries, spoke on issues of national concern, and we looked at the political landscape in Sierra Leone. I was most interested in knowing from what his impression was, about the development pace in Sierra Leone, given the fact that he had been in governance for years. Our conversation lasted for not more than forty minutes and I admired at his sincerity in stating the mistakes of the recent past government. Having served as Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States of America, John Ernest Leigh has played a contributing role in fostering Sierra Leone’s diplomatic relations with the United States of America.
I have also kept admiring at his courage and determination to engage people on national issues on social networks like face book. He finds time to always respond to issues having some bearing to Sierra Leone’s present geopolitical make-up, especially with his recent apparent and unflinching support for President Ernest Bai Koroma.
During my brief discussion with him in November, I promised to ask him for an interview. This was fulfilled about week ago, when I requested to talk to him on few national issues, through exchange of emails. It was a political interview, I must hasten to state.
Born in Bo, brought up in Freetown, educated in economics, finance and law in the United States and gained professional experience in a number of countries, John Leigh told me there are two things he likes most about President Koroma; “…he has impressed me further as a conscientious nation-builder….” I asked what led him to have such great admiration and support for the ruling All Peoples Congress Party, and especially President Koroma who is also leader of the party. These were his reactions:
Ans: I knew the original SLPP since I was a schoolboy in Freetown. I had admired the party’s founding fathers for their leadership in gaining our Independence from the U.K. and laying the foundation for genuine nation building. The party appeared to change its focus following the passing away of Sir Milton. It then lost its existence as an independent party during the 24 years of the One-party state. I helped a lot to get the SLPP gain new life upon the advent of multi-party democracy in 1995.
I went for the SLPP leadership because despite all the talk and promises, the SLPP elite continued to direct the party on its wayward path different from its original mission of nation building. I thought that after all their sufferings the party’s rank and file would understand the need for systematic nation building. I was disappointed with the responses I got. I found out that the party activists were mostly interested not only in what they can get for their pockets today but also how they can use the party to elect their choice of flag bearer candidate but only from their tribe.
Ques: We have heard a lot about the use of tribe and region in the ruling of a major political party in Sierra Leone, to which you were a member, what was it like?
From the way delegates voted at the 2011 SLPP Convention, it became clear to me beyond every shadow of a doubt that the party was not really a genuine national party as its founders had intended and had tried to develop it. But over the years, SLPP had become a mere confederation of tribes, with each tribe or region angling to use the SLPP’s resources for its own tribal/regional hegemony. Hence, essentially, Mendes voted largely for Mende Flag bearer aspirants, likewise did the Temnes, Madingoes and Konos, plus the various tribal mixtures voted for their kind. In addition to this, there were some inter-tribal alliances founded on old friendships nurtured in the unholiness of years past.
Ques: Let us look at the presidential candidates that have come up thus far for the November elections, what is your take on each of them?
Of all the candidates, I have paid attention only to two: Ernest Bai Koroma and Bio.
Bio is a big joke starting with his fake, nonsensical, rubbish retired brigadier title to his recent disgusting, immature, foolish, schoolboy, no-visa, no-USA-visit dunce-like trick. In-between, Bio has sought to re-invent his horrible public service record by seeking to paint it with unconscionable lies into the opposite of what his true public service record of torture-killings, passport selling, kleptocratic conduct, human rights abuses, his deep-seated opposition to multi-party democracy and his notorious disloyalty to the SLPP, is truly is.
Bio and his crooked lieutenants have lined up a propaganda team consisting of a group of empty headed, cussing young people who were most probably under-aged at the time of his notorious junta mischiefs. This shallow group were then fed the lies of his twisted imaginary services to the nation. Group members really do not know what they are talking about and trying to talk to them is a waste of time because their only responses are either to repeat the campaign lies or throw a barrage of rude insults. They are not intelligent and are driven to extremes. His propaganda people are the civilian equivalent of the RUF’s over-enthusiastic child soldiers.
Bio is not fit to hold any public office of trust or power. He has a terrible record of abusing such trust and authority. The entire country is looking for a Father of our Nation who will serve as our country’s Fountain of Honor. A highly dishonorable personality as per his troubled history and current conduct of lies and false promises is absolutely not the right person entitled to this level of national respect.
I pray daily that President Koroma will send Bio packing to his remote fakai in the very first round in November by the Grace of God.
There are two things I like most about President Koroma: (i) He is peaceful, reflective, fair-minded and very moderate in approaching and resolving disputes, problems and controversies. (ii). He has impressed me further as a conscientious nation-builder. He has other admirable qualities but those two alone vitalized my decision to enroll in the APC and to support his re-election. The duplicitous
The duplicitous SLPP’s lazy elite has constantly fed repeated lies about EBK’s NEW APC to its disappointed rank and file and preaching the benefits of absolute tribal hegemony. SLPP operatives are warning me every day of how they expect APC to treat me. Today’s SLPP leaders have failed to understand the vast differences between the OLD ONE-PARTY APC regime of the trio of late President Momoh, Minister Dr. Abass Bundu and ex-APC Vice President, Dr. Sama Banya; and the brand NEW MULTI-PARTY APC Administration of President Koroma. The party’s elite is stubborn like hell but the rank and file is learning a lot as seen by the multiple crossovers to APC together with the constant murmurings of displeasure in the Southeast. And with God’s Benevolent Grace, many others will see the light soon.
Ques: What are you expectations from the coming elections, in terms of them being free, fair and peaceful given the spate of violence in recent months in Sierra Leone?
Ans: I am a fan of Dr. Christiana Thorpe. She is resolute to bring transparency, fairness and efficiency to the electorate. I expect yet another successful election.
Ques: If elections were to be conducted tomorrow, what would you say to voters from the perspective of what has been happening in Sierra Leone during the last four years rule of President Koroma?
Ans: I will simply say to my fellow Sierra Leoneans “Re-Elect President Ernest Bai Koroma in the very first round for five more years as our President.”
Note from Pa Baimba: I have an interest here, being I am an admirer of President Ernest Bai Koroma and his governance style. I am moved by the phenomenal transformation taking place in the country’s development strides, under the leadership of President Koroma, thus, my decision to conduct this political interview