The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans have been following, with keen attention, the debate on what is being called “Alfred Paolo Conteh’s unfortunate abuse of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) ethics and the deliberate misuse of tax payers’ money.”
Sierra Leone is not in any way under a decree and The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans are ready to publicly reject and oppose any uncivilized action(s) that will batter the democratic credentials of the country. We must be strongly reminded that Sierra Leoneans sacrificed their lives and the international community spent huge chuck of money for the country to have national peace and democratic good governance. Indeed any move by ill motivated politicians, to remind us of the ugly involvement of our military personnel into mainstream politics will be openly rejected because politics is not meant for the military.
The military in African Politics
The involvement of the military in African politics has most often been compelled by the lack of good governance, corruption, the suppression of opposition and to an extent the lack of a free and pluralistic press. When one take a panoramic look at the involvement of the army in politics, it is true that the reasons are always interrelated.
Politics from the viewpoint of the typical African politician is seen as a profession where one could enrich himself at the expense and disadvantage of the poor people and so when that happens, and the military is compelled to interfere in the body politics of a state, the people tend to give support to the military.
A clear example was when group of junior military officers overthrew the then All People's Congress government led by late Joseph Saidu Momoh in 1992. Generally, the Momoh regime then was one that could best be described as being corrupt, mal-administrative, and which has as a daily way of cronyism, much to the distaste of national unity and peaceful coexistence.
And so when it became apparent that the people were tired with the one party and dictatorial rule of the then All People's Congress party, they saw the intervention of the military in the political arrangement of the state as a rescue mission.
In The Gambia, since the military intervention of Yayah Jammeh, who later disengaged himself from the army for national politics, people have ever remained to live in fear. Today, The Gambia, despite claims of it moving along democratic credentials is being governed by the reign of terror as a weapon for success. There is nothing like press freedom in The Gambia and when that is lacking, then it becomes clear that democracy is under threat; media practitioners are arrested on a daily routine, opposition members not been allowed to express their political views for fear of being arrested among other undemocratic ills.
The military vehicle used for political rally
The constant interference of the military in the political administration of any country has always had a recoil effect on the economic, political and social aspect of other countries. This is because politics is not meant for the military; hence the worst form of civilian democracy is better than military decree. Evidently, military interferences are not the best in Africa and Sierra Leone in particular.
It is only with the practice of unhindered democracy that we stand a better chance to reach the apex of development.
It is therefore important to state here that, the recent use of the RSLAF vehicle for political campaign by Retired Major Paola Conteh is uncivilized, unethical and a deliberate attempt to water-down the hard-won reputation of the military under the distinguished leadership of the International Military and Technical Team (IMATT) that reformed the institution.
Bringing the military personnel on board political rally, especially wearing party T-shirts, will lure them into mainstream politics. Yes it will especially when they are currently living in a deplorable and appalling state.
Living in a Deplorable State
The current status of our RSLAF is frustrating and dehumanizing compared with other countries in the Sub Region. No wonder, many graduates serving RSLAF are quitting the force for a well paid job even though they got their education through the RSLAF grant in aid.
The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans are expecting Paolo Conteh and his military personnel to honestly and judiciously use all military equipment for the furtherance of the institution. Beside, the military including Paola is being paid by tax payers’ money. Very soon, posterity will judge and even Governor Clarkson’s prayer will one day hit them (unpatriotic Sierra Leoneans) and their families. It is no news that the Republic of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces is facing multitude of social challenges that boils down to decent accommodation, retirement package, and logistical support among others. This should be the focus of Paolo in lobbying for more funding to addressing the military state of squalor.
Pride, No Apology or Internal Investigation?
It is evidently clear that even though The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans are demanding public apology from Paolo and the military hierarchy, it is certain that because of pride and dictatorial tendencies, nobody will publicly apologize. If some of our leaders are uncivilized to tender an apology, The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans are calling for internal investigation(s) so that the violators of military ethics will be reprimanded. This is because President Ernest Bai Korom himself has severally warned the military to keep away from politics.
The unanswered questions are: Why military personnel wore full military “camouflage” to campaign for a political party? Why did the driver of the said military vehicle use red headband with his military “Khaki” to dance and rally in the streets of Freetown? Why did Paolo Conteh use military vehicle and allow APC supporters to board it in their campaign trail? Why is the military hierarchy afraid to mount an investigation? This is the Pen of The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans