In 2012 I bought a plane ticket and flew to Sierra Leone to stand in line early one November morning to vote for Ernest Bai Koroma and the All People’s Congress. I was the first person to vote at my polling station. I spoke publicly of my support for Ernest Bai Koroma and my intention to vote for him. Those of you calling my family to threaten them in an attempt to censure me please stop wasting your time. You were not there when I voted for the APC government so you can not now tell me that I should not and can not hold the government accountable.
If you live in a country where the law has no value it means no one is safe. If we allow this unconstitutional act to continue it means that none of us will be safe in Sierra Leone because the law that guarantees you and I rights can cease to be at the stroke of a pen.
Imagine living in a country where your house can be taken from you at any time without due process, a person can be arrested without due process, any and everything you take for granted can be taken from you without due process. You have no protection under the law. If we allow the government to violate the constitution as it has done, we begin a slippery slope towards anarchy, and dictatorship without any protection under the law.
There is no amount of money you can offer me, or opportunity you can threaten to take from my family that will make me bite my tongue. Please stop calling my mother to ask her to pressure me into silence. If today so many of my generation can not live and thrive in Sierra Leone it is because our parents and those that came before us said nothing, and did nothing. I do not want to live in another man’s land for the rest of my life. I do not want my children to only visit their homeland for weeks at a time every couple years. I do not want to continue to be from a country that is a development punch line in West Africa. The question I have to ask myself and that you should ask yourself is how will this unconstitutional act make an already lawless people better off. It can not and it will not.
My father has been a member of the All People’s Congress for over 50 years. He has a bullet in his thigh to show for it. He loves his party and to him and many like him the party can do no wrong. He will tell you that everything he has today is because of the APC. My father and those like him are happy with the status quo and anything the party does because it benefits them. I believe it was John Stuart Mills who said that, “a man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature.” And what a misery Sierra Leone will be in indeed if those of you in the middle class bite your tongue to save your own.
We can not continue like this, silent collaborators as a small group of people thinking only for the right now and the welfare of their families destroy what little progress we have made as a nation towards building a democracy. The international community spent too much money to help us rebuild our communities, civil society, and the like for us to sit by and let the powers that be desecrate our constitution.
We have to frame the conversation properly and let the masses know that this is NOT about the VICE PRESIDENT. However, this is about Sierra Leone, our country, and our people (even those who don’t understand how crucial this is). What makes a country are its laws and its people. The Constitution is to the nation state of Sierra Leone what the Bible and the Quran are to people of faith. The Constitution is the Supreme Authority of the land and anyone who says that power is vested in them is wrongly mistaken. The Constitution is bigger than all of us, because it is our collective identity as Sierra Leoneans. It is what makes us citizens. If you love your country then you must be compelled to speak truth to power and say E DO SO! IT IS ENOUGH!
They will call us the “Opposition”. They will say we should leave the question of constitutionality to the Supreme Court. However if you are Sierra Leonean and you are honest with yourself you know that there is no justice to be found in our courts. You know that the Judiciary and the Legislature are but different fingers on the hands of Office of the President and that those institutions will collude with whoever is in State House at the drop of a dime with no regard for the law.
If there was justice in our Judiciary should we not right now be seeing prosecutions lined up for those government officials who stole ebola funds. Instead what did we get? Threats from parliament that we are not allowed to even discuss the Auditor General’s Report or risk imprisonment. Has anyone been charged to court? No.
I am writing this to say that Sierra Leone at this moment has an incredible opportunity to tell the world that we are a nation of upright men and women. To tell the world that we value the lessons learned after thousands of our people were slaughtered and displaced over a decade of fighting for nothing and letting politicians pull our strings. We can not sit in our homes biting out tongues with the false perception that silence will protect us. The only thing that can protect you as a citizen is the law, the only thing that guarantees you anything as a citizen of Sierra Leone is the constitution. Without it you have nothing. Without the constitution you are not safe. Without the constitution your property is not safe, and your children are not safe. Without the constitution as the only Supreme Authority in the land none of us are safe.
If we let the precedence of constitutional abuse stand then Sierra Leone will soon become but a figment of our imagination ruled by red bandits who can rob any of us in the light of day. No person is above the Constitution of Sierra Leone and certainly neither is any political party. You have heard the first statements of the illegally appointed number 2. Victor Foh says his job as Vice President “is to serve the President and the All People’s Congress”, never once did he state any allegiance to the citizens of this nation or recognize that he is a servant of the people. He said and I quote, “I serve the President”. These are the words of a man who has illegitimately assumed the Office of the Vice President. Father forbid it but if any harm were to befall the President, Victor Foh will be the President of Sierra Leone. Is this the Sierra Leone where you will be safe? I don’t think so.
A host of civil society groups have put out a press release calling for due process with regards to the removal of Samuel Sam Sumana. They asked the president to reverse the decision to remove him from office because he doesn’t have to right to do so under the constitution. Abdulai Conteh, a former Vice President of Sierra Leone and a High Court Judge in the Bahamas, has written that the President does not have the power to remove the Vice President under the constitution. People who know better than me, freeborn, lawyers and right minded professionals have said that this act is unconstitutional so let no one tell you that it is.
What are we going to do with this opportunity that we have been presented to test our democracy? Are you going to stay home and be quiet because of fear? How long can you live like that?
The only way to bring about change in a situation where the leaders won’t listen, and the parliament is in bed with executive is for people to unite for peaceful mass demonstration across the nation. What we have seen from the Arab Spring, to the Burkina Uprising just months ago, and the Y’EN A MARRE movement of Senegal is that only the people united can bring about change. In Senegal youths and activists took to the street to protest Abdoulaye Wade’s attempt to manipulate the constitution and he lost woefully in the polls. In Burkina an attempt to change the constitution to allow Blaise Comproare to have another term ended instead with him leaving office.
If you want to save Sierra Leone and preserve the sanctity of the constitution then people have to come together and say this is intolerable. If you want freedom and democracy you have to be willing to hold your government accountable when it doesn’t do that which is right. You may not like the Vice President but this is not about him.
We choose due process over anarchy even if that means the reinstatement of Sam Sumana because the constitution is the only Supreme Authority in Sierra Leone and no man has the right to assume powers that the 1991 Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone has not granted him.