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If I were Musa Tarawallie

On Monday evening there was a groundswell of rumour in Freetown and on some chat forums around the world that Minister of Internal Affairs Musa Tarawallie had been sacked. Wishful thinking, obviously, but the fact is that all those I spoke to in my bid to authenticate the story hardly had any sympathy with the minister at all. It turned out, ostensibly, not to be true. But it reminded me of a fable handed down to me by the grandma about a man who pretended that he was dead just so he would hear people’s impression about him. If that was what happened in Tarawallie’s case then he’d better pay heed.

Probably one of the things that have made the minister seem so popularly unpopular is the fact he has not been minding his words and actions dating back to those days when he was close pals with then Vice President Solomon Berewa. And this reminds me of an interesting book I have been reading lately. I bought it at the Jomo Kenyatta Airport last week. Published by Joost Elffers Book, it is written by Robert Greene. And the title is sure to leave you yearning to read it if you have any interest in leadership. 48 LAWS OF POWER, it is called. It is well researched and like any good book would do to you, I feel hard to drop it. And have read it through twice.

Law 3 of the 48 LAWS advises one to conceal their intentions. “Keep people off balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defence. Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelop them in enough smoke, and by the time they realise your intentions, it will be too late.”

Don’t tell this to Musa Tarawallie. He has not been able to conceal his vaulting Macbethan ambitions. First to become a minister apparently by any means necessary. And then to become Vice President. He has been bragging about it everywhere. He beats his chest about it in the most unnecessary and inconsequential of places. And in doing so, he has become a bit too arrogant and lacking contrition even when he has stepped on toes. Now he no longer needs to fight to achieve his vice presidential ambition – that seems dead in water! His fight now is for his political survival at any level, if at all.

By his actions and utterances, minister Tarawallie has made the incumbent Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana look so nice, despite the everlasting albatross around his neck emanating from the Aljazeera documentary in which he appears to be aiding and abetting malfeasance.

While I was away recently I understand that Tarawallie staged a damp squib of a presser in which he appeared with two former members of the opposition SLPP party ready to do a yeoman’s job for him. The two reportedly told journalists that they had lied against the minister to the Emmanuel Sheares-Moses Commission of enquiry set up to investigate the political violence of 2009 in the southeast and west of the country. Tarawallie is alleged to have been involved in some of those violent incidents. The commission therefore recommended that he be banned from holding public office.

If the latest revelations by the two former opposition members are true – that they did lie to a commission of enquiry, which has functions and powers of a high court – then the two former opposition members did not probably know the severity of what they have done. Either way – the lie-telling to the commission or / and saying so in public – is grave. Worse still, they were being led by a government minister, who should know better. If on the other hand the lies are being told only now, then they had better watch out. Whatever the truth, or the lie, it makes minister Tarawallie more of a loser.

Back to the commission report that he should be banned from holding public office… It is interesting that just days after the government White Paper, Tarawallie is still in charge of the ministry that controls the police. And two police officers have been referred by the same Government White Paper to the Police Council and the Police Management Board to take action against the two officers who the commission found wanting in the political disturbances. A convict cannot try another convict, figuratively speaking, that is.

But come to think of it, it is still a puzzlement that Tarawallie still occupies a ministerial seat and he seems determined to keep holding on despite such blatant indictment of him. Unless his reward comes from political violence he should not be in seat beyond the coming weekend. I note with some satisfaction a portion in the White Paper, which says that action in that regard – i.e. to sack him – will be taken in due course. That “due course” should actually be now as a way of sending a powerful message that no one is too powerful to be tamed.

But talking about the Sheares-Moses report, should government not have released the full report so as to guide people as which areas were acted upon and those that were not. If the leaked report doing the rounds is the correct version then one presupposes that Lansana Fadika stands banned from holding public office. As an executive of the SLPP in 2009 he was deemed to have been involved in the violent incidents at the party’s headquarters hence the recommendation that he be banned from holding public office. It probably puts off, perhaps indefinitely, his self-admitted reason for joining politics. He has repeatedly propagated the TRIPLE R Philosophy – Risk, Recognition and Reward. He once said in a radio interview that God does not reward one for being a politician. He added that the reward is here on earth. If that means being appointed to public office and perhaps all the ill-gotten largesse that comes with that, the Shears-Moses report has done him no favours.

All of this takes me back to my newfound treasure and pleasure book, 40 LAWS OF POWER. Law 5 says that so much depends on reputation. Guard it with your life. The judgement reads thus: “Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once it slips, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable…”

In all we do, we must not focus only on today – politicians or journalists or anyone else at that. There is a tomorrow as much as there was a yesterday. When we compromise because we want to get to the top or ahead, our fall or reversal will be far more dramatic than our rise was meteoric. In the best interest of President Ernest Bai Koroma, his government and our nation, Musa Tarawallie must leave office now. Or we never use taxpayers’ money again on any more commissions of enquiry. So if I were Musa Tarawallie I would save the president who he has so incessantly spoken of as someone he likes and will protect dearly. And to so do, I would get him out of the quandary he seems to be in at present as to whether or not he should sack me. I would therefore resign.