Despite the embarrassment which was flashed on the face of the President by the single largest party in parliament, All People Congress (APC), President Bio delivered what many people described as a ‘detailed speech.’
The conventional state opening of parliament address by the President lasted for almost four hours and the President talked about issues of the economy, education, health and many more.
In his address, President Bio like always put the blame of the current division and hatred which has permeated Sierra Leone on the former government for which his administration for the past one year has done little or nothing about.
His administration has further entrenched the tribal and regional divide; he claimed to have inherited which is not good for the development of Sierra Leone.
To tackle this problem, the President proposed a national dialogue which he dubbed the Bintuamani 3 for a true discussion on peace and national cohesion.
“Mr Speaker… Together with the Green Paper on Democratic Consolidation and National Cohesion, we shall host a National Dialogue Conference to be called Bintumani III on Democratic Consolidation for Peace and National Cohesion scheduled for 23-25 May 2019,” President Bio reiterated.
But do we really need a national conference on peace and national cohesion? For what and at what cost in this current economic miasma? These are just the few questions in the minds of many progressive Sierra Leoneans.
Sierra Leone has seen legions of conferences from the pre-independence era when Sir Milton formed a bipartisan front to the recent constitutional review committee that was set by the recent past President Koroma, little or nothing has been implemented. For this reason, Dixon Pen will focus on some of the post war national conferences whose recommendations have not been implemented at all.
TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Sierra Leone was formed to look into the reasons that led to the eleven years rebel war in Sierra Leone that ravaged the country, killed millions of people and put many people in poverty. So much was spent on the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with the hope that it recommendations will serve as a blueprint for the development of the nascent democracy of Sierra Leone.
“In this way, the Commission hopes the Report will serve as a roadmap towards the building of a new society in which all Sierra Leoneans can walk unafraid with pride and dignity,” Bishop Humper chairman of the commission like many other Sierra Leoneans hoped.
These hopes over the years have been turned into hopelessness as many of the TRC’s recommendations have been left in dusty and cobwebs infested shelves and cupboards.
SIERRA LEONE CONFERENCE ON DEVELOPMENT AND TRANSFORMATION
In 2012, a national conference on transformation and development was launched by former President Koroma. The principles of accountability, equity and inclusion, framework of exploitation and management of natural resources and framework of allocation of state resources were the reasons for setting up the conference on transformation and development.
The outcome of the conference intends to lift the people out of poverty, create wealth and transform the country into a middle income country within the next 25 years.
Despite the arduous work that was done by some of the finest brains of Sierra Leone, led by Herbet M’cleod, the recommendations are still in the cupboard being enjoyed by bedbugs and cockroaches.
CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
The review of Sierra Leone’s 1991 constitutions was one of the recommendations of the TRC. Several efforts to review the constitution have been thwarted by the politicians. The recent one which was led by Justice Cowan saw almost all its recommendations rejected by the Koroma led government and we still don’t know what this government wants to do with them.
With all of the past conferences and dialogue on matters of serious political importance, one will want to believe the similar fate awaits the peace and cohesion conference called by President Bio.
For many Sierra Leoneans, it is another talk shop with little or no action to follow. To them, the President should begin to show leadership and stop the anxiety and begin to believe that he is the President of Sierra Leone.
That the President should be magnanimous in power and for some moment go and look at the election results and see how his votes increased in all regions in 2018 compared to the last time he was defeated in 2012.
Sierra Leoneans all over the country devoid of tribes and regions voted for President Bio and as such, true peace and cohesion can only be achieved when he (Bio) begins to treat all Sierra Leoneans equally without consideration to tribe, region and any other cleavages.