On a Friday afternoon at the Trade Centre Field, a couple of fans of Sierra Leone’s oldest football club, East End lions hauled a billboard of Mohamed Gento Kamara to the centre of the pitch at halftime of the match between Lions and Bo Rangers. The large billboard has a picture of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of construction conglomerate, Gento Group with the inscription ‘Gento For Mayor’.

The decision by the business magnate to run for the city’s top job has been greeted with mixed feelings. Some support the business tycoon while others are of the notion that the man should have focused on what he’s good at -business or some will sarcastically say constructing roads.

In fact, one East End Lions fan close to this writer on Friday evening opined that the man has made a mistake to enter into politics…but has he?

Perhaps one would think that this writer is presumptuous by focusing on Gento when the Sierra Leone People’s Party is yet to even choose an official candidate for their mayoral flagbearer position. Again you, the reader, might be right. But again, who would the party choose other than Gento? He is irrefutably the most popular. Isn’t that obvious with the barrage of billboards of the man placed on almost every main junction in the peninsular city?

In reality, the man has already started his campaign with sponsorship of football competitions from his childhood Kissy Community to the infamous Parade Grounds League organised by the Central One Football Association (COFA). That trajectory taken by the man is not unorthodox. Freetonians like Sierra Leoneans love football especially the youths. Guess what? Almost all of the city’s population is made up of young people that are quite enthusiastic about football. Had you been at the Lions versus Bo Rangers match recently, you could have acquiesced to the writer’s acquiescence.

At the other end of the pendulum, there is the incumbent Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). She’s the first female Freetown Mayor in 38 years. She is schooled at the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science and the Sierra Leone’s citadel of learning, Fourah Bay College.

The 55-year-old lady has made known that she wants a second-term; it is no secret. She wants to complete her Transform Freetown Project. So, she needs another chance.

To be candid enough, her election to the Mayor of Freetown was a breath of fresh air given the fact of how her predecessors fail to actually do the needful needed to be done for this city at the foot of the Atlantic Ocean.

However, her term has been fraught with investigation for corruption and summon by Tower Hill about her projects and initiatives. In fact, quite recently, fingers pointed at her when some locals took to the streets on August 10 last year to protest the poor living standards in the country. To make matters worse than what the writer has listed above, she has been at loggerheads with the central government. In a nutshell, running a city might not have been as she envisaged.

The lucid reality is that she might not even been contesting the next election. The reason being is that not because there is anyone, perhaps, more suitable than her for the All People’s Congress (APC) to win the city, but simply because she has a court case that might be on well into the June 2023 elections. What this means is that the mayor might have already been blackballed.

Now, any of the two candidates might be at City Hall after June 24 elections -manning the affairs of this historic city for the next five years.

The problems of the city are glaring -they are everywhere. From poor infrastructure especially shanty towns and some mountain communities, to transportation issues and street trading. Mayors since the decade of the nation’s interregnum have failed to address these issues. It seems little or no progress has been made. The little here actually means that most solutions proffer to these malaises has been tentative -nothing definite.

Another issue that has surfaced over the years is the city’s waste management. The largest dumpsite in Kissy called Bomeh is now a menace. The location, at current, is an eye sore to indigenes and visitors alike. From afar one could see smoke bellowing like a combination of several medieval steam trains.

The environmental hazards of that dumpsite are many. During the dry season locals in parts of Kissy community especially Dock Yard and Kissy Brook have to cope with smog that bellows from the dumpsite. During the wet season, the stench from the dumpsite is just indescribable. Added to this, there is also a possibility of flooding for some Kissy Brook residents as plastic waste usually clog the waterway that passes under Bai Bureh Road Bridge that leads to Culvert Community.

Well, these are just some of the issues that the next mayor would have to deal with when they take office. Whoever you vote for, is actually a manifestation of your confidence in them to ameliorate the problems facing the city.

Whatever your choice; Yvonne or Gento -your choice will be at the helm for the next five years to run your city.