Sierra Leone’s President, Ernest Bai Koroma is reportedly embroiled in the complex politics of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the extent that allegations of support for an opposition political party, APC trying to unseat President Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP have started emerging.
According to West Africa Diplomatic News Report magazine, President Goodluck Jonathan did not mince his word when he received the visiting Sierra Leonean President at the Aso Rock on June 6 where hescolded him for sanctioning the conferment of a Honorary Doctorate degree on Senator Bola Tinubu in a meeting at the Nigerian capital which lasted for over one hour. The Magazine also reported that although President Koroma who is Chancellor of the Njala University denied knowledge, his host was apparently not convinced with his explanation and told him afterwards to stop meddling in the politics of Nigeria
“ Goodluck reportedly told Koroma that he must not only stop meddling in the country’s politics- as evidenced by several online and intelligence reports, but that his colleague must demonstrate clearly and quickly that he is not the hidden cyanide in the poison politics”, the Magazines writes.
Senator Tinubu’s political ally is Kayode Fayemi, the Governor of the South-Western Nigeria state of Ekiti who attended the burial rites of President Koroma’s mother in 2012. There are reports that a powerful collaboration has been forged between the Nigeria All Progressive Congress (APC) and the All Peoples Congress (APC) of Sierra Leone and that the conferment on Senator Tinubu of a Honorary Doctorate Degree is a testament of such corroboration, the magazine claims.
The Magazine further claims that when President Koroma sensed that his host was completely dissatisfied with the development as regards his seeming open endorsement of Senator Tinubu, and knowing same to be an interference in the body politics of Nigeria, he hurriedly sacked his Chief of Staff, Dr. Richard Konteh in an apparent attempt to appease President Jonathan.
Tinubu and Dr. Konteh became friends when the latter was working in Abuja as ECOWAS civil society coordinator before the 2007 election which brought his cousin to power in Sierra Leone.That friendship yielded dividend for Koroma in the 2012 election when Senator Tinubu bankrolled his re-election campaign, the Magazine claims. As a reward, Tinubu was conferred an Honorary Doctorate degree in addition to a huge commercial interest.
“In recent months astute observers of political scene in West Africa have corroborated that there is a major commercial reason behind Tinubu’s interest in Sierra Leone’s political future. Ocean and Oil Company(Nigeria)Plc.; which is run by his younger brother Wale Tinubu is a major shareholder in Ocean and Oil Company(Sierra Leone) Ltd…. Analysts have suggested that the close links between the hierarchies of Nigeria APC and its Sierra Leonean namesake is largely driven as much by the search for economic advantage for the Tinubu family company as by political empathy among the leaders of the two APCs”.
As event unfolds on the political scene in Nigeria leading to the 2015 Presidential election, President Koroma may yet have to redesign his strategy for the complex and sometimes nasty Nigerian politics. As at now the big men of Nigerianpolitics appear to be watching him with scorn. And sooner rather than later, he would realize that not even the sacking of Dr. Konteh is enough to appease President Johnathan. Tinubu on the other hand will take exception to scapegoatising a man who brought the two APC leaders together.