In accordance with the strict doctrine of my objective blue mentality, the views expressed in this piece are honestly a justifiable and concise reflection of my perception of the mentality of Sierra Leone’s political parties; especially the two colonial giants: APC & SLPP! The aim therefore is to present who, I believe, the various parties will ultimately elect as flagbearer for 2018 presidential elections, the reason(s) for the specific choices and the inextricable link between flagbearer choice & political mentality.
It must be indisputably obvious to intelligent analysts of our politics that, like most of their african counterparts, the APC and SLPP have proven to be totally bereft of distinct or any meaningful political ideology. I mean the totality of their mindset/vision & practical policies in governance & opposition, are not actually focused on achieving a discernible, concrete or fundamental ideological outcome like demonstrable independence, productive nationalism, a sustainable economic system or any national empowerment philosophy.
The Establishment & cohorts of these 2 major political parties simply exist to fight for & retain political power by any means neccessary MAINLY to selfishly & greedily expedite self-enrichment; period ! Consequently they’re profusely and inherently riddled with corrupt, tribalistic, static, autocratic, dependent and therefore backward mentality. Therefore, the final outcome of the flagbearer race, especially in these two parties, will NOT be based on the ethical & ideological principles that are pertinent to the fundamental needs of the nation; it will be predominantly dictated by the negative aforementioned values of greed, selfishness & cartel mentality. With this in mind, I hereby make my flagbearer predictions!
To effectively enhance the explanation of the selection or ‘election’ process of the flagbearer aspirants, I categorise them as the predictables, the opaque and the Veiled.
The Predictable are the contestants whose selection is already a foregone conclusion. Their victory is set in stone. Almost everyone knows that, barring any unforeseen or divine calamity, they WILL lead their respective parties in 2018 elections. They are ADP’s Kamaraimba, NPD’s Jesmed Suma, PMDC’s Charles Margai and leaders of other smaller or new parties excluding C4C and NGC – our new prospective political parties. The Predictables are basically and currently the personification or embodiment; founders and therefore automatic & undisputed choices of their respective parties !
The Opaque refers to the flagbearer aspirants that are obviously sure to be selected or elected but have not yet been officially confirmed. So any internal electoral flagbearer process is a mere formality. I refer to SLPP’s Maada Bio, Yumkella of soon-to-be- officialised NGC and if C4C also officially becomes a separate political party, Mr Samsumana could become a dominant choice. The Opaque might or might not be founders of their respective parties but they possess distinct, potent, expedient or unrivalled clout within such organisations.
For instance, Yumkella’s formidable intellectual, international /national pedigree and ability to transform the NGC into an actual alternative party of governance, make him by far the most suitable candidate to rival the APC/SLPP cartel. Samsumana’s national exposure, solid eastern base and financial clout also propel him to highly competitive & notable considerations in C4C. Ex- soldier Maada Bio’s blatantly tribalistic PAOPA brigade have unilaterally taken control of the SLPP.
With potent & effective military precision, they’ve usurped power within & have forcefully overtaken the vital administrative instruments of the party! With their choice, Maada Bio, in unrivalled & unscalable ascendancy, they now invite other SLPP flagbearer aspirants to endorse and legitimise Paopa’s internal military regime by taking part in the electoral pantomime of SLPP flagbearer ‘election’!!!
The Veiled refers to the hidden or covert choice of the APC . The reason for this ultra -meticulous flagbearer SELECTION process in the APC has nothing to do with democracy ; the APC hardly understands the concept itself; let alone practise it ! Infact APC & DEMOCRACY are irreconcilable antonyms! So, the predominant criterium that will be crucial in selecting the next APC flagbearer is what I call the malleability factor.
In other words the ability of APC’s communist God-Father, President Koroma, to control the chosen flagbearer from his new powerful position of life chairman of APC. Despite all the rampant throes of high falluting propaganda, the APC knows that it’s failures in government overwhelmingly supercede it’s achievements. Besides, the APC members somehow believe that no APC candidate currently commands a national status comparable to the President’s. So with the onset of Yumkellah and the formidable threat of NGC, the APC suddenly has a major problem!
Unlike before when the SLPP, our electorally suicidal or so-called ‘Official Opposition’ was off the political radar, an emerging threat or danger to APC’s tenure in power is now real. So I strongly suspect one of the fabled 99.9 tricks in motion: confirm President Koroma as life chairman, empower him to hand-pick a successor that he knows he can control remotely, heavily bribe major national stakeholders to win next elections but if all these tactics fail and the APC loses next election, the life chairman could, if required, grab the reins of APC leadership or directly influence it. So if one applies the law of constructive elimination, the candidate who is ethnically or dogmatically acceptable, easily marketable AND, most importantly, malleable amongst current APC contenders, wins! Who exactly fits this criteria? Read on!
Victor Foh is a staunch APC loyalist, easily malleable, highly experienced in national politics and can neutralise the factional infighting in APC. But his historical and current connections to notorious shady dabblings have frightened many of APC high command and beyond. Above all his southern heritage is anathema to the very powerful & stringently tribalist faction of the APC . So his success in this race is not on the cards.
Alpha Khan, the articulate ‘apprentice’, started well but his alleged association with shady scandals have given the President cold feet as this could jeopardise the Party’s re-election. I believe his receding chances are the reason he has been recently attacking other APC aspirants.
John Bono Sesay’s impressive grasp of economic policy proven in his 4BettehSalone campaign and business acumen are potent positives but again his family ties with the President in addition to the threat or possibility of international indictment if current allegations of bribery and impropriety are valid, make him a highly risky choice. Minkailu Mansaray commands internal respect & popularity but recent hajjgate scandals , uncharismatic aptitude & national obscurity outside APC make him electorally unpalatable.
Kelfallah Marrah’s eastern connection is electorally valuable but his non-themneh heritage, poor performance of the economy during his tenure at finance ministry and uncertainty over his malleability will fatally dent his prospects. Mr Sam Sesay is not a flamboyant or distabling figure but his timid outlook and strong allegations of shady conduct during his presidency at the Agriculture Ministry hamper his candidacy.
Poor man’s lawyer Kalokoh & Zainab Bangura have respectable professions and, comparatively speaking, are hitherto detached from the deluge of scandals that follow other aspirants! But they are not seen as national operators that can command election winning aura. Besides, lawyer Kalokoh and Zainab could be potential loose canons likely to buck the dogmatic trend of some unpopular but salient aspects of APC philosophy! So they’ll struggle to pass the APC’s malleability test! It’s important to add , however, that were it not for Mr Kalokoh’ s feared exposure to western principles and therefore possible capacity to slay the old guard mentality in APC, he could have won the race!
JFK is a brilliant legal performer; made some positive strides in the enhancement of the Legal Aid Board. His appointments as former ACC Chief & as Justice Minister underline the President’s confidence of safety in him but as a notorious political criss-crosser, the wider APC membership & management lack sufficient trust in his partisan loyalty. It’s this image of political opportunism in wider APC that will dampen the President’s desire of conferring flagbearer crown on JFK. Otherwise, he would have stood a formidable chance!
This leaves me with ALMAMY ‘PETITO’ KOROMA , who, in my opinion, is the man most likely to be crowned as APC flagbearer! He’s NOT the best qualified intellectually or administratively but he ticks the most boxes based on APC standards & mentality. He was previously sacked from Works ministry and yes, his active involvement in July ’17 Samu bye-elections in Kambia could not prevent the APC’s humiliating defeat to a Yumkella candidate.
But all these pale into insignificance compared to his easier marketability: he’s not notably or terminally tainted, a supreme loyalist, a themneh- affiliated northerner, reasonably popular within APC, typically APC and above all is instinctively malleable. All other deficiencies of the man can be handled through the incessant flow of brown envelopes!