Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali actually believed he had succeeded in emasculating all opposition within the country he had ruled for over twenty years. His security forces were well equipped, well-fed and in a number of cases were given free license to take whatever action against his perceived opponents. Many were forced to flee his police state where, like in Siaka Stevens's Sierra Leone "careless talk" became a crime punishable by any measure warped brains could conjure up. And so when the people could stomach it no longer and rose as one to voice their opposition in street protests, it was the security forces who opened fire on their own people using guns, bullets and other repressive paraphernalia bought with the people's money, with the people's sweat. Faced with the massive popular revolt Ben Ali made concession after concession, promise after promise. The protesters were unimpressed. He saw the signs and fled with tail firmly stuck between wretched legs.
What is been played out in Tunisia is a warning to governments who believe that the use of brute force, special secret police units, intimidation and death threats and torture can hold a people in serfdom for as long as they please. That there's a limit to such repression has been shown in many political theatres of the world and in Sierra Leone members of the now ruling APC party who were around in the closing days of April and opening of May 1992 can still recall the massive support given by the people to the young military officers who took upon themselves to get rid of the uncaring, reckless, corrupt, despotic and rights abusing APC after 24 (twenty four) years in power - 1968 - April 29,1992.
Indeed recent events in Tunisia show that when a people get pushed beyond the limits of human endurance, something has to give way and in this case it was the corrupt President Ben Ali who had to flee, leaving his main armed backers, the police to carry on the dirty work of killing all perceived opponents and organisers of the demonstrations which forced him to flee.
Pictures of the security forces, mainly the police firing into crowds of unarmed and defenceless civilians bear testimony to allegations that Tunisians in their own God-given land were subjected to all manner of repression ranging from "careless talk" as practised by the Siaka Stevens awful horror, to the press becoming subjected to massive restrictions in their freedom to state things as they were happening. Many civil society groups advocating for the basic rights of the ordinary Tunisian were either forced to go underground or had their members jailed or forced to flee into exile.
And while the ordinary Tunisian was forced to bear and grin as the level of repression mounted members of the ruling party and the President's relations and family members were having a field day acquiring land, property and wealth that were beyond the wildest dreams of the ordinary Tunisian.
One report from the Scotland-based Daily Record states that President Ben Ali's wife Leila Trabelsi known as the Imelda Marcos of the Arab world fled Tunisia with gold worth thirty eight million pounds sterling (£38,000,000) to the Saudi capital Jeddah from where they had planned to go to France to live with their children.
France refused to allow them in, though that country will now have to convince sceptics why it allowed the corrupt President and his wife to store in French banks billions of dollars of stolen money.
Good to remember what brought out in the open the pent-up rage of the average Tunisian.
The riots started one day in mid-December 2010 after an educated but jobless 26-year old committed suicide. He did this awful act after police confiscated the fruits and vegetables he was selling to make a living, to put body and soul together. The police say he was selling without a permit. Mr Inspector-General of Police Francis Munu are you reading and listening?
It would be recalled that President Ali's picture was shown on TV as he visited the man in hospital. Only he knew why he visited.
The death of the young man sparked off the revolt which eventually drove the President from power and this thanks to an uncaring government with a large educated but unemployed young population that had been stretched to the limit of its patience.
The President made all manner of promises - jobs, jobs and more jobs would be created. He sacked his top ministers. He pleaded. He even promised that after some 23 years in power, he would not put up his name for re-election come 2014. He said any and everything that came to mind just to please the angry demonstrators. All failed and in the end he was forced to abandon ship.
In Sierra Leone smoke and mirrors President Ernest Bai Koroma is on the same track as the ousted President Ben Ali. He has begun to see the signs but relies on his security forces as well as elements of the AFRC/RUF who slaughtered people in Freetown during the January 6, 1999 pogrom, to intimidate people he believes are critical of his government.
Like Ben Ali he has carefully placed his favoured ones in lucrative positions, has got family members enjoying any manner and make of contract using any and all dishonest means while many youths still languish in poverty, their energies waiting to be deployed come elections 2012.
The opposition led by John Benjamin keeps reminding him of how he has been acting unconstitutionally and like a man bent on the slippery path to destruction, he would not listen but hears only himself and the praise singers he loves for company.
One source in the capital Freetown told the Sierra Herald that though some nerves were jangling within the inner ruling caucus on watching the events that were unfolding in Tunisia took comfort from the fact that the unemployed and educated in Tunisia were in a greater number and sophisticated than is to be found among the unemployed youth of Sierra Leone.
"All what these youths need would be a few million leones, enough local gin/brew backed by locally-grown marijuana and they would be ready to forget about their misery and are ready to fight for politicians they do not even know about".
Ernest Bai Koroma is well advised to take heed from the Tunisia events where members and associates of the Ben Ali corruption ogre still living within the borders of the country have had properties ransacked and arrested.
They are to face justice for crimes against the people of Tunisia.
Ernest Bai Koroma should take note more so as reports suggest - and brought to his attention by gthe main opposition SLPP, that his family members, brothers, sisters and others are now millionaires raking millions of dollars off the backs of the poor and the economy while the majority languish in poverty and squalor.
Ernest Bai Koroma should go back to those days after his party was overthrown and read carefully just what led to those young army officers taking that risk.
Ernest Bai Koroma should ask Ben Kanu an arch operative in the APC mafia of corruption what the people did to his "property and home" in Tengbe Town where he had constructed a massive walled mansion with satellite receiving dishes and a generator to provide his part of Tengbe Town with electricity while the rest of the area lay in darkness.