The Resurrection of NPRC
Abdul Hassan Fackie,
Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Julius Maada Bio, Samura Kamara and Kandeh Yumkella - there completely different men from three different backgrounds, three different tribes, three different districts and three different professions, brought together either by fate or accident some twenty five years ago, separated, and now set to fight for the ultimate position in their country, the Presidency.
Once upon a time, there was a coup de etat on April 29th, 1992, in the Republic of Sierra Leone which brought the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) into power of which the then young Lieutenant Julius Maada Bio was a major part of it. His boss was the affable Captain Valentine Strasser.
In their employ were two early middle aged professionals, namely, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and Dr. Samura Kamara as Secretary of State for Finance and Economic Development.
These two gentlemen served their offices to the best of the knowledge and ability, it was reported.
Sometime in 1995, Julius Maada Bio, now a Brigadier General became Chairman of the NPRC and Head of State of the Republic of Sierra Leone in a simple palace coup.
After the multi party elections of 1996, these three gentlemen virtually disappeared from the public limelight. Well, soon they started reappearing, Samura Kamara as Financial Secretary for some time during the SLPP era and then Minister of Finance and Economic Development in the APC Government and lately, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Information Cooperation. Kandeh Yumkella as a United Nations worker, rising to the position of Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), while Maada Bio returned from the United States of America in 2005 to run for the flag bearership of the then ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), but lost to the then sitting Vice President, Solomon Ekuma Berewa who went on to lose the Presidency to current President Ernest Bai Koroma of the All Peoples Congress (APC) in 2007.
Fast forward to 2017. Whether by design or accident these three men have now been chosen as Presidential candidates of their parties, Dr. Samura Kamara for the APC, Retired Brigadier General Julius Maada Bio for the SLPP and Dr. Kandeh Yumkella for the newly registered but fastly growing National Grand Coalition (NGC).
Now suddenly, majority of Sierra Leoneans are remembering the days of the NPRC when these three gentlemen were wielding the destiny of this nation. While some are arguing that it was the NPRC that set the stage for a return of the country to a multi party democracy, others are adamant that the NPRC was a very brutal junta that was engaged in the systematic abuse of the rights of innocent Sierra Leoneans, including extra judicial executions, looting of personal and public properties, abusers of hard drugs, institutors and runners of prostitution rings and wayward young men who have set the pace for the lawlessness and hardship that this country is presently going through.
This group of people maintain that these three gentlemen, because of their association with the NPRC, along side other senior officials, should have been investigated for their roles, and if found culpable, charged to court to face trial and possible sentence instead of being pampered to vie for the highest office in the land.
This group says they fear that these men are getting away with crimes against humanity, which they say is impunity. Their strong point of argument is that officials, employees and operatives of the defunct NPRC committed a lot of atrocities against innocent Sierra Leoneans for which those with the greatest responsibility must have been made to answer instead of essentially repaying them with plum jobs and now the Presidency.
Ironically, while Julius Maada Bio continues to strenuously maintain that he did the right thing by overthrowing his boss, Valentine Strasser who he charged wanted to derail the democratic process, and that he restored democracy to this country after twenty five years of APC one party rule; Samura Kamara and Kandeh Yumkella saaidthey were just employees doing their professional work.
As we race towards the March 7th, 2018 Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections, opinions are sharply divided on the eligibility of these former junta men, who are now, without doubt, the three leading contenders for the Presidency.