Friday, June 29, 2007

Sierra Leone: If Colonel Gaddaffi, Why not Blaise Campaore?

Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya, arriving at Addis Ababa's Bole Airport ahead of the start of the Heads of State Summit at the African Union. Photo by Andrew Heavens

To the doubting Thomases who have been treating the visit of Col. Gaddaffi to Sierra Leone with the wave of the hand should now put all speculations and doubts aside and come to grasp the reality that the North African Leader who sponsored the killings, maiming, torture and massive rape of young and innocent girls including women during the eleven-year-old war in Sierra Leone is here to witness the naming ceremony of the SLPP running mate in the person of Alhaji Momodu Koroma and the official opening ceremony of the Mosque at Rokupr which he sponsored all in the name of Muslim solidarity.

The visit of the Libyan President should not only be viewed superficially, but also symbolically. If we are to examine it on the surface, it signifies African Unity among nation-states and their leaders which should rekindle our hope that in this contemporary political environment Africa is forging ahead, but unfortunately not with Col. Gaddaffi as leader and champion of this long awaited dream. Perhaps, it were another African leader, the initiative would have been meaningful; especially with a leader who is highly recognized by the international community with clean slate and not one who is moving with blood on his hands and the ghosts of those millions he has sent to their untimely deaths haunting here and there.

What is very clear about his visit, before proceeding to the symbolical reason is that he is here to promote his religious ideology using money as the key instrument. It is true that religion cannot succeed without money, but the love of it must flourish in the minds of the converts or believers. In this case; it is not the love of religion but money and wealth used to lure and get converts into the Col. Gaddaffi religious empire.

Perhaps what the people of this nation has not been fortunate to comprehend is the fact that from the sufferings and misfortune of the people during the eleven-year-old war gave birth to a religious and brotherly relationship between President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and Col. Maummar Gaddaffi to which the former has become the major beneficiary at the determent of the war wearied people of this nation. The argument among the down trodden and even the elite is that if President Kabbah sees Col. Gaddaffi as the saviour of Sierra Leone and champion of Africa Unity why did he not use the same spectacle to see Blaise Campoare of Burkina Faso as the messiah of the Muslims and Sierra Leoneans.

It may sound ridiculous, but logically these are the two backers of Foday Sankoh who provided logistics in the form of arms and ammunition, fighters and training grounds for Sankoh and his men. Blaise Campoare is also a Muslim if the yardstick for the relationship was centered on religion, but the fact is that Col. Gaddaffi has more wealth from oil that he can splash than the other Muslim brother, therefore he sees such relationship as beneficial and lucrative which even after his tenure he can still benefit from.

Symbolically, perhaps though subjective but can still serve the purpose of argument is that Col. Gaddaffi’s generosity is to get control of the political destiny of the nation. His intention together with his admirers is to install a puppet Government which he can wholly and solely control thus, transforming Sierra Leone into a province of Libya which the people of Sierra Leone should be able to reject.

This is a grand plan that if allowed to be implemented would affect the lives of the people and impede democracy. It is not the intention of Col. Gaddaffi to promote democracy in anyway but to control the destiny of a post war nation to which he played a major role in destroying the natural, human and infrastructural resources. From the pictures painted by the SLPP Government with banners and posters displayed in the city and programmes already packaged for this man who caused great suffering for this nation, the guess is obvious.

It is sad to note that all these flamboyant arrangements are geared towards preparing the future of the outgoing president and not anything that could benefit the people. The rice, fuel, vehicles and money Col. Gaddaffi may have contributed to this nation are not commensurate to the lives perished as a result of the war he sponsored. What the people are expecting from Col. Gaddaffi is adequate reparation that could be used to compensate families and the amputees who are currently languishing at the camps and not to sponsor a political party for self political reason.

One would recall the Lockerbie bombing that the Americans forced a two billion dollars out of Col. Gaddaffi coffer and also the French that he paid the sum of $1.2billion or more. The question is why should Sierra Leone be left out? Is it because our leaders are not genuine to the course of nation building or because they have been blindfolded with another man’s ill-gotten wealth?

This is the time America should demonstrate to the rest of the world that she is the promoter of democracy and human rights and not be selective in her fight against rogue states and their leaders. The cleaning exercise that Col. Gaddaffi is engaged in to give global impression that he has changed his political being is not appreciated by a cross-section of the global population for as the adage goes …a Leopard hardly changes its spot. For a man like Col. Gaddaffi to transform himself from a blood thirsty political leader to a God fearing mankind needs another decade for observation.

African Path