Siaka Stevens retired as head of state in 1985. Three years later, he passed away peacefully in Freetown. Stevens suffered a lot of indignities in the hands of his hand-picked successor, Joseph Saidu Momoh.
When Momoh became head of state, he surrounded himself with some of his powerful tribesmen. It became crystal clear that, Momoh was merely in power but not in authority. He allowed the country to be governed on his behalf by people like James Bambay Kamara, Chief Alimamy Dura, Ben Kanu etc.
Momoh did not allow his predecessor to have a say in the way the country was governed. Stevens’ attempt to remote-control the running of the state, met with a stiff resistance from Momoh’s henchmen. On several occasions, Stevens complained bitterly of being marginalized and abandoned by his successor.
Stevens decided to stay quietly at home, leaving Momoh and his new found advisers to govern the country. Momoh treated Stevens in a very bizarre way. At some stage, the water and electricity supply at Stevens’ house was cut. And Stevens complained openly of such inhuman treatment.
Stevens died a heart-broken man. He felt abandoned by his hand- picked successor.
Momoh was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 1992. He fled into exile in Guinea, Conakry. His overthrow severely impoverished him.
His attempt to return to the country, after a civilian government was installed in power, met with national outcry. Students at FBC protested against any attempt by the civilian administration of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to accord him a dignified retirement in Sierra Leone.
Momoh was later to be charged with Treason, for his role in keeping the AFRC military junta in power. He was tried and found guilty. His sentence was rescinded by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Momoh died a broken man. His trial in open court was very humiliating to him.
Momoh’s decision to hang on to power, after multi-party democracy was introduced in 1991 was a fatal mistake. He could have retired peacefully and allow a new leader to emerge from within his own APC party to succeed him.
Ahmad Tejan Kabbah retired peacefully in 2007, after almost eleven years as President. It is rumored that, Kabbah struck a deal with Ernest Bai Koroma to allow him a peaceful retirement in exchange for a painless transition of power. Kabbah stayed peacefully in the country and never openly criticized his successor. When he passed away in March 2014, he was accorded a state funeral.
His successor, Ernest Bai Koroma gave him a fitting funeral by attending every major event leading to his interment at the Kissy Road Cemetery in Freetown.
Ernest Bai Koroma
President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is expected to leave office in 2018, after ten years in the Presidency. His choice of successor in the APC party is still not known, at least publicly. A lot of flag bearer aspirants have emerged in the APC party.
It has to be pointed out that, what matters (or should matter) to President Koroma is his personal security and the security of his family members and investments in the country.
It is strange that, his Vice President, Victor Foh is nursing ambition to succeed him. But, Victor Foh represents the Old APC.
Unlike Ernest Bai Koroma, Victor Foh is tainted by the ugly past of the APC. It will be difficult for him to dissociate himself from that ignominious past. He is one of the remnants of the Old APC.
It is understood that, Dr. Jengo Stevens (the son of the late Siaka Stevens) recently led a delegation to State House, to inform the President that, Victor Foh is the party’s favored Presidential candidate in 2018. That cannot be independently confirmed.
As if it is by coincidence, Victor Foh has assembled the remnants of the Old APC in his office, and, has given them official roles to perform.
Some of those around him served under Momoh. And we saw how Momoh was ill-advised until he fell from grace.
All I can say to President Koroma is: Be careful how you leave office! Never trust the old guard in your party. Remember how they fought you for the leadership of the APC?
Look before you leap!