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Why Vilify NCRA Boss?

The Director General of National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA), Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi has been in the news of late though not for a good reason. He is not in the news as a result of the Authority’s recent biometric registration and verification of civil and public servants nationwide; not even about his experience or academic profile that earned him the ear-watering job, but his matrimonial issue and alleged surreptitious plan to soon “redundant over 350 workers and replace them with his cronies and supporters, mainly from the NGC party.”

Being that it is not uncommon for many local tabloids to throw away ethical practice and resort to blackmailing people and institutions when they are not awarded adverts for publication, I took it for granted that it was the same stuff about Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi in one of the local tabloids which alleged that during the Director General’s recent trip to the United States of America (USA), he took some dollars with him equivalent to Le600 million to settle his matrimonial problem with his wife. But having read the news story which the local tabloid published on Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi on Monday, it dawned on me that the crux of the matter was no blackmail but an identity politics. My interpretation of that news story, especially its lead, is that the local tabloid is at the Director General’s jugular because he is member of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) party. According to the lead of the news story: “Sources at the National Civic Registration Authority (NCRA) say the Director General, Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi, will soon redundant over 350 workers, and replace them with his cronies and supporters, mainly from his NGC party.”

I believe those using identity politics to deflate the political balloon of Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi may have their selfish reasons for doing so,but they should realize that President Julius Maada Bio who nominated him to head NCRA knows him better. The President would not have considered him for that all-important position if he had not reposed confidence in him for his kind of knowhow.

Though there are several good sidesof identity politics, it is about time Sierra Leone moved from this political system that has over the years fragmented our country along tribal and regional line. Our country needs politics of inclusion more than ever before because, as Ricardo Hausmann has argued, “the knowhow necessary to make a modern economy grow is embedded in people, not textbooks.  And if you drive those people away because they do not share your identity, economic prosperity is sure to suffer.” This is what Chavismo of Venezuela and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe accomplished and brought their economies crashing down with catastrophic consequences.

Politicians like Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama were rightly admired for practicing the politics of inclusion. Under the big political tents they erected, everyone -black or white, rich or poor - could find room.This should be our dream for Mama Salone: an open society that educates and attracts people with varied and valuable kinds of knowhow, and they prosper that way. This is what I expect the media and advocates of an open society should be highlighting instead of using identity politics to tarnish the reputation of someone whose service could be very vital to the economic development of the country.

Despite the All People’s Congress (APC) politically divisive propaganda against the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) during the 2007 national elections, the late President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah would ever be remembered for his politics of inclusiveness that almost annoyed most of his party members and supporters. Most of his presidential appointments, for instance, were not partisan-driven but purely based on merit and that was the magic behind the successfulness of his administration that built most of the democratic institutions we are now enjoying. If the late President Kabbah had chosen identity politics, many decent and credible Sierra Leoneans who worked for his administration wouldn’t have had the opportunity to serve their people, including Solomon Ekuma Berewa, the late Dr. Alfred Bobson Sesay, Dr. Kadi Sesay, Lawyer Alpha Osman Timbo, Dr. Julius Spenser, the late Lloyd During, amongst others. If only his predecessor had followed this trend, he would have done better in governance; instead; former President Ernest Bai Koroma followed the identity politics of his great mentor, the late President Siaka Probyn Stevens to the extent that there were so many square pegs in round holes.

Instead of deliberatelypainting someone in Governance black because they were not Pa-o-pa during the 2018 election campaign, let us believe in the common of citizens who have equal rights. Our challenge is not to build an identity politics but a shared identity around liberal values, and to show that we are proud of Mama Salone precisely because our democracy is waxing stronger and stronger. This is what we have to manage so well as a people.

If President Julius Maada Bio has appointed some people to political positions with varied and valuable kinds of knowhow without consideration to any political leaning, he should be highly commended for taking the footsteps of the late President Kabbah. This is liberal identity politics that accommodates people who have the knowhow to take the country forward irrespective of party colours. That is why the President should treat with a pinch of salt, the damning allegations leveled against Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi in a local tabloid owned by an SLPP stalwart and member of Government.This political sniping should not be encouraged by the Bio administration.