By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop) – Experience has taught me that when the crowd is beating a horse to death, I should stay aback and observe the spectacle. It has also taught me that when the horse is doing its last kicks; I should still be uninvolved. And that it is only wise and safe to flog that horse when it would have been confirmed dead.
The reason why, in my opinion, it is good to flog a dead horse is because at the time when the horse is already confirmed dead its floggers would have put aside their prejudices, diatribes and all their fallacies and might be thinking with rational minds. That’s the time when they might be swayed by common sense and simple logic. And that also the time when the horse floggers might be ready to listen to logical arguments than their prejudices and diatribes on an issue.
In this case, I will not be flogging a dead horse but resurrecting a horse in the name of dialectics. The debate as to whether President Ernest Bai Koroma should be given a third term or two years extension should be as topical as the issue of post-Ebola Sierra Leone. This is because as soon as the country is confirmed Ebola-free; the issue that would take centre stage would be politics. And that political discussion would be centred on President Koroma’s successor and the date for the next General Elections.
If indeed it is a truism that politics is most of the time about following precedents, customs and traditions; then those who are clamouring for a third term bid for President Ernest Bai Koroma are not only out of sync with political reality in Africa, generally, but might be clamouring for chaos in the country. Former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Abdulai Wade, of Nigeria and Senegal respectively, tried third term bids but failed and left offices disgracefully. Blaise Compaoré toyed with it in Burkina Faso and was booed and bolted out by “people’s power” after nearly 27 years in power. President Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo and President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of Togo are now having a bitter lesson that a third term bid is no longer fashionable in Africa as the political wind blowing in the continent today is that of the two-term limit for sitting Presidents. So, why would President Koroma try a concept which has repeatedly been tested and proven to be not only a monumental failure but very unpopular in Africa? I don’t think so, for President Ernest Bai Koroma knows better!
And those who are now asking for a two-year extension for President Koroma are the most undemocratic people in Sierra Leone today. This is because nowhere in the 1991 Constitution can one find a provision for an extension of two-year after a sitting President’s second term in office. And besides, President Koroma’s democratic credentials since the September of 2007 to date have been impeccable and unblemished. And if the now advocated two-year extension is undemocratic and unconstitutional; then I don’t think the President wants to blight his democratic credentials with such an issue.
And between those who seem to be fermenting national disorder with their advocacy for a third term bid and those who are now advocating for a two-year extension; there is a common ground in the 1991 Constitution. Those who are wishing for an “extension” of the President’s second term should advocate for only one year “injury time” as stipulated in the current Constitution. This is the only practicable and realistic advocacy to do as a precedent had been set by the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) government in which former President Ahmad Tejan Kabba(h) was given two two-six-month extensions as mandated by the Constitution.
I am now advocating for an “injury time” to President Koroma’s current term on three factors. The first being that if Sierra Leone is declared Ebola-free in the speculated March of this year; it means ten months would have actually been slashed from the President’s five years as nothing was being done—politically—within those ten months. So, I think a year’s compensation will be in place for those lost months just as few minutes are always added to the mandated 90 minutes in every football match.
The second factor is that, if all things being equal and Sierra Leone indeed is declared Ebola-free in March this year, then it might take about a year for the country to complete its post-Ebola reconstruction and overhaul of the entire health systems. That might also be logical for an advocacy for a year’s extension to the President’s second term.
And realistically, the situation on the ground at present shows that it is not feasible for the National Housing and Population census to take place in April this year. Let’s for the sake of argument say the census takes place mid next year (never mind the fact that it has now been re-slated for December this year). And if it took two years for the SLPP-led government to present its census results after they conducted the last one; then if the census takes place mid next year and one adds two years to that; then the final counts might be out in early 2019. And when one adds the shoe-stringed financial woes of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) into the current potpourri of national hurdles, then one would realise that late 2019 would be realistic and conducive for the conduct of the next General Elections. And we all know that the next elections would be more successful based on the successes of the census and constitutional review processes.
So, from the reasons adduced above, it might have come out clearly that a third term bid is a recipe for anarchy and failure; a two-year extension will be undemocratic, but a year’s extension is in line with the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.