A popular local street slang is ‘Vexinama’ and it was coined from lyrics of a music wherein the singer is saying someone or some entity is just going about in vexatious pursuits that are not clear. The term ‘Vexinama’ is now being used by many bemused observers who have told this writer that the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) led Government of His Excellency the President Julius Maada Bio seems to be ‘Vexinama’ (i.e: vexed and confused) for reasons that are not clear. The Government is supposed to be running under a ‘new direction’ known as PAOPA which in local dialect means something that is enforced whether you like it or not. However, not liking to be linked to such a negative image of forcing people against their will, the President re-named ‘PAOPA’ to now mean Prompt Action On Poverty Allevation.
However, President Bio’s Government has lately through the actions and utterances of the Police and official government spokesmen, seem to be following a pattern of enforcement on citizens especially the Media and the Democratic Opposition. The PAOPA regime seems to be very angry and frustrated in a manner that has seen the regime go on a spree of intimidation against the media and members of the democratic opposition. The pattern of the vexation has left many dumbfounded as Sierra Leone is supposed to be a democratic State.
Indeed, under the former President and his All Peoples Congress (APC) government, Sierra Leone enjoyed so much tolerance and democratic freedoms that it was praised several times by American President Barack Obama as a bastion of democracy in Africa.
However, what is clear is that the land called Sierra Leone is no more as it used to be with respect to democratic freedoms. To make matters even worse, the irate Government is spending an inordinate amount of time making open threats against ordinary supporters of main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) living out in the Diaspora.
Whilst citizens living inside the country have been cowed into submission, there has been a high level of criticisms by Diaspora-based citizens against the SLPP PAOPA over many issues of national interest. These issues include growing number of Murders, disregard for the Rule of Law and Democratic best practices, Politically motivated violence, Violation of the Constitution and discarding due process.
The concerns are being re-echoed by senior observers around the world. Diaspora Sierra Leoneans on electronic media have added their voice in condemnation of the deteriorating state of freedoms by the government, politically motivated intimidation and harassment of democratic tenets by the SLPP PAOPA.
Few days ago, the Sierra Leone Police Spokesman actually took to the airwaves to express serious dissatisfaction of the SLPP-led regime against ordinary supporters of the main opposition APC living in the Diaspora. The Police and the SLPP are very upset with four particular Sierra Leoneans namely; Mr. Gibril Bangura in Ohio, United States of America, Mr. Emanuel Alieu Badamasie Kamara in Spain, Mr. Adebayo Will in the European Union and Mr. Septimus Kanu in Zurich, Switzerland. These men are not executive members of the APC but are mere sympathisers who say they are disgusted with what is unfolding in their country.
However, following the broadcast by the Sierra Leone Police and other social media posts and audios released by Government officials, these four gentlemen have been named as “Enemies of the State of Sierra Leone” by many supporters of the PAOPA SLPP Regime.
However, the gentlemen have reacted by saying they are exercising their democratic freedom of speech and if the Sierra Leone SLPP PAOPA Government is uncomfortable with what they are saying, the Government should do a rebuttal to the broadcasts of these citizens in the Diaspora rather than the Government Police going on the airwaves to threaten them.
One of them who describes himself as a Sierra Leone social media commentator is Emanuel Badamasie Kamara who currently stays in Greece. He wrote that not only has the Police openly threatened him with Interpol deportation to return back to face seditious libel charges but that supporters of the SLPP PAOPA have even threatened that they will locate him and kill him out there in Europe.
He said to make matters worse, death threats, motherly invectives and verbal attacks have been reported to have been sent at his relatives living inside the country.
Many other critics of the new regime are also reporting serious intimidation of their family members inside the country. Mr. Adebayo Will recently had to do a special audio to inform SLPP PAOPA supporters that his family no longer stays inside Sierra Leone.
As for Gibril Bangura, he says he is now accustomed to many kinds of insults, death threats and other threats of the use of tools like Interpol to deport him from America.
On the side of Septimus Kanu who resides in the Swiss city of Zurich, he is a known critic of the current government since opposition. He was the last amongst the four to have left Sierra Leone. Kanu has been a fearless critic to the extent that his family was also targeted immediately after the SLPP took governance.
Several of Kanu's family members have suffered intimidation to the extent that his aunt, who is living in Bo City, one of the strongholds of the ruling party, sadly became a victim.
Meanwhile, whilst many Sierra Leoneans back home have been intimidated by the arrests and questioning of members of the independent media and main opposition party, the likes of Gibril, Adebayo, Emanuel and Septimus are not afraid and through social media, they have been keeping democratic flames of freedom alive even before then.
However, a recent outburst of Gibril Bangura, whilst of no consequence in-country, was widely condemned as it seemed to have been calling on citizens to go and burn down one of the places where journalists and members of the democratic opposition are detained.
At least one journalist is presently in captivity inside the country at the hands of the vexed PAOPA regime. He was arrested for publishing a story that a relative of the President was giving a Diplomatic Passport and also alleging that 300 of such Diplomatic Passports have been issued out. Whilst the Government made no formal denial of the story or of the accompanying photo of the diplomatic passport alleged to have been issued to the President’s relative, the Police pounced in vexation at Emanuel Christian Thorli, Managing Editor of NightWatch and locked him up in a cell where he still remains.
Apart from journalists, another set of people suffering from the vexations and frustrations of the current regime are members of the main democratic opposition APC. Police say APC statements criticising unconstitutional steps of the SLPP PAOPA Government is suspected to be an act of incitement and seditious libel. The insistence by democratic APC opposition that SLPP is tribalistic and planning on targeting citizens from North-Westerners is also being “investigated”.
In a bizarre step that shows how badly vexed the current establishment is, the Sierra Leone Police has reportedly asked the former President of Sierra Leone to report to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for questioning over the democratic statement issued by his APC party of which he is Chairman and Leader.
About a month ago, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation, Honourable Dr. Alie Kabba had posted on his Facebook page that: “Our new diplomatic mission in Kenya, will serve as our gateway to East Africa. Pleased to note that the team is excited and ready to promote the core priorities of the New Direction. The Bio administration is strategically focused on increasing Sierra Leone's global footprint as we seek to attract foreign direct investment through robust economic diplomacy.”
Situated at 57 Gigiri Court off UN Crescent, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya, the new Sierra Leone High Commission in Kenya is now the first Kenya, as its mission was upgraded from a consulate to a full High Commission by the current government of President Maada Bio.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Leone diplomatic mission in Nairobi also serves as permanent representative to the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
Furthermore, according to research conducted by this writer, UNON, the UN headquarters in Africa, was established by the General Assembly in 1996. The office is headed by a Director-General, at the Under-Secretary-General level, serves as the representative office of the Secretary-General in Nairobi and performs representation and liaison functions with permanent missions, the host-country and other Governments, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in Nairobi, as well as other organizations of the United Nations system in Kenya; facilitates cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations; provides administrative and other support services to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); provides joint and common services to other organizations of the United Nations system in Kenya, as applicable; and manages and implements the programmes of administration, conference services and public information and provides security and safety services for United Nations staff and facilities in the United Nations Office at Nairobi.
Resident at 158 Mimosa Drive off Mimosa Road, Runda, Nairobi, His Excellency Peter Joseph Francis- Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Kenya and Permanent Representative to the UNON, UNEP and UN-Habitat, during an exclusive interview with this writer on the phone from Nairobi said it is obvious that taking up a new mission is fraught with several challenges.
The High Commissioner HE Francis confirmed that he arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on 13th October 2018, to start working as representative of Sierra Leone in Kenya and several UN Agencies. He said the upgrading of Sierra Leone Mission to Kenya from a consulate to a High Commission has now seen successes including getting a bigger office space in Nairobi with other four (4) offices now available for attaches.
HE Peter Joseph Francis also said that the mission was able to get the offices up and running by establishing relationships with Kenyan Foreign offices. He said by so doing, he paid courtesy calls to several missions in Nairobi.
On 5th December 2018, HE Peter Joseph Francis confirmed that he presented his letter of credence to the Kenyan President, HE Uhuru Kenyatta, and two (2) days after on 7th December 2018, he did a courtesy call on the UNON office in Nairobi. He said, he was further advised to do a formal letter to the Special Representative of the UN in Nairobi, because, according to him, “the UNON plays a very important role in Africa.” He said he also paid a courtesy call on the Kenyan Institute of Management.
In addition, HE Peter Joseph Francis said he was able to do a follow-up on the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference that attracted over one hundred and sixty (160) countries and over seventeen thousand (17,000) participants including from Sierra Leone. The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, according to research done by this writer, was held on November 26th- 28th 2018, and was co-hosted by Kenya, Canada and Japan. The conference harnessed the potential of our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of all, particularly people in developing states, women, youths and Indigenous peoples. It also served as a platform to leverage the latest innovations, scientific advances and best practices to build prosperity while conserving our waters for future generations. The conference also captured concrete commitments and practical actions that can be taken today to help the world transition to the blue economy.
On his relationship with the Kenyan government thus far, HE Peter Joseph Francis said that the President of the Republic of Kenya, HE Uhuru Kenyatta had invited him on a special meeting and had introduced him to the Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, and key Kenyan cabinet ministers and other heads of key Kenyan government institutions to ensure that there is proper working relationship between Kenya and Sierra Leone. He said, he is also working on getting other diplomatic missions and UN agencies onboard so that they can support the Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL) and the programmes enshrined in the New Direction manifesto of President Julius Maada Bio.
Dilating on his relationship with the Sierra Leonean Community in Nairobi and other countries assigned to his diplomatic station, HE Peter Joseph Francis said he is working on bringing Sierra Leoneans together. As a result, he confirmed that the embassy has opened a database and is now doing registration of all Sierra Leoneans in Nairobi and Kenya at large.
In conclusion, the Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Nairobi said during this festive season, he ensured that Christmas cards and greetings were sent to all Sierra Leoneans in Nairobi, and particularly Sierra Leonean soldiers serving in Somalia. He said, this is why today Wednesday 26th December 2018, the embassy and staff are hosting Sierra Leonean community in Nairobi on a lunch to create room for dialogue and friendship between compatriots.
All Peoples Congress (APC) Honourable Member of Parliament representing Constituency 123 in the Western Area Urban electoral district has vowed to do more and continue to engage with the people of his constituency so as to ensure that they all move towards better service delivery in the constituency.
Honourable Lihadi Alhadi, whose Constituency 123 covers Ginger Hall, Mount Aureol and Foullah Town communities in the east end of the capital Freetown made this pledge in his first ever Christmas message, since his election as Member of Parliament in March this year.
Whilst delving on his strives so far in ensuring that adequate service delivery is catered for the people of Constituency 123, in his Christmas message, Hon. Alhadi said: “I have been engaging different stakeholders from different political parties in the constituency to map out ideas to bring about development in our locality. I had called two community meetings one at Ginger Hall and the other at Foullah Town. Major problems affecting the communities in the constituency were identified and discussed in those meetings. One main problem identified in the different communities was access to clean and safe drinking water.”
On his efforts so far in salvaging the concerns of water shortage in the mountainous communities that comprises Constituency 123, Honourable Alhadi in his Christmas message said: “As MP, I had engaged in the installation of taps in various locations in the Foullah Town community, and the next community to benefit from this taps installations will be the Ginger Hall and Mount Aureol communities.”
Meanwhile, below is a verbatim of the Christmas Message of Honourable Lihadi Alhadi; Member of Parliament Constituency 123- Ginger Hall, Mount Aureol & Foullah Town Communities
Christmas Message from Honourable Lihadi Alhadi; Member of Parliament Constituency 123- Ginger Hall, Mount Aureol & Foullah Town Communities
Good morning my respectable people, youths, boys and girls of Constituency 123, I greet you in the name of God. On behalf of me, my family and my campaign team, once more let me use this opportunity to thank you for your support on my Parliamentary victory. Since assuming office as Member of Parliament I have been calling for unity in this our beloved constituency, and one way we can move the constituency forward is when we are united as one people. Elections are over now, and now we must unite to move our constituency forward.
I have been engaging different stakeholders from different political parties in the constituency to map out ideas to bring about development in our locality. I had call two community meetings one at Ginger Hall and the other at Foullah Town. Major problems affecting the communities in the constituency were identified and discussed in these meetings. One main problem identified in the different communities was access to clean and safe drinking water and I believe that water is life.
As MP, I had engaged in the installation of taps in various locations in the Foullah Town community, and the next community to benefit from this taps installations will be the Ginger Hall and Mount Aureol communities.
I pledge to do more and continue to engage with the people to move our constituency towards better service delivery. This is the Christmas season; I want to use this opportunity to wish all the people of constituency 123, my family and friends home and abroad a Merry Christmas and a prosperous Happy New Year. And may God give us long life and good health to celebrate more New Years and Christmas. Once more I thank you all and may God bless you all and our beloved constituency.
Honourable Lihadi Alhadi.