A LOUD & CLEAR WARNING TO POLITRICIANS
STATEMENT BY JOHN LEIGH re 2004 LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS
The local government elections just concluded appear to many thoughtful observers to be a wake up call – a loud and clear warning to our tired and uninspiring political leaders that the vast majority of Sierra Leone voters are unhappy with the status quoand may be looking for an appropriate alternative to the badly tainted existing political parties. The midterm voting patterns do not paint a pretty picture of things to come for either the SLPP or the APC, nor the PLP or independent candidacies.
Without a national organization with credible leadership behind them, most independent candidates went down to defeat. This is the sad outcome even though a good number of them are quality individuals who can be expected to provide far better leadership for their communities than some of the candidates handpicked by narrow-minded, unscrupulous political bosses, probably on the basis of cronyism, favoritism and nepotism.
To many people, the PLP continues to be the outlet for grievances, deeply held, by mostly disgruntled military elements and those that benefited tremendously from the brutal, bloodthirsty AFRC/RUF junta during a period of great calamity for ordinary Sierra Leoneans. One would think that after two valuable years’ membership in parliament, the PLP would have by now come up with policies and programs to expand its narrow base, especially in light of the poor leadership record of the SLPP. If the PLP does not wake up, it faces a strong likelihood of loosing its parliamentary representation in 2007, leaving unhappy military elements with no political outlet. This is not right!
My congratulations go to the APC and its leader, Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma, and his team for APC’s stunning success in Freetown and in the Western Area. Its defeat of the SLPP in the capital was so complete as to leave the mouths of SLPP Members agape. The APC did well also in northern districts but not as well as in the 2002 parliamentary elections. And, of course, APC did very poorly in southern and eastern districts.
If it were indeed true that the current local government elections prove that APC is in the resurgence, as claimed by some APC supporters happy with the results in Freetown, then the APC should have won some seats in both of those provinces, especially in light of the obvious antipathy to the SLPP in those areas as evidenced by the proliferation of independent candidates and low voter turn out. Alas, tens of thousands of voters decided to sit out the elections or vote independent rather than support the APC! This is telling.
Thus the message to the APC from these local elections is to strive and widen its appeal beyond its usual base. But given the odious reputation the party acquired over a quarter century of malfeasant governance, such is not going to be an easy task. A lot depends on how the APC handles victory. Will it deliver good governance or will it be a mirror image of the corrupt, inept and tribal SLPP? Or, are we going to experience another Stevens/Momoh catastrophe? The APC’s victory in Freetown is an opportunity for Mr. Koroma to display leadership. I will be looking to see whether he measures up.
The heavy trouncing and thrashing of the SLPP in Freetown and environs is shameful but not unexpected at all. The large number of party members who chose to contest as independents against official party candidates, as well as the low voter turnout in SLPP’s strongholds demonstrate the low esteem of the membership for the party’s weak, tired corrupt and uninspiring leadership surrounded by some with odious reputations.
Nothing defines the arrogance, the selfishness and the blindness of the SLPP leadership more than its choice of Mrs. Banya as the SLPP candidate for the office of Mayor of Freetown. That unreasonable decision alone was enough to send tens of thousands of angered voters into the lap of the APC, even though the APC was not their first choice.
SLPP’s election disaster in the Western Electoral District and the decision of many party members to sit out the election in party strongholds amount to a wake up call; a loud and clear warning to those who control the party to move away from manifest malfeasant governance and to reverse their penchant for cronyism, favoritism, nepotism and tribalism. People clearly want a merit system that will put the public interest first.
The lack of proper leadership within the SLPP is amply demonstrated by its secretariat’s notoriety for avoiding transparency and promoting despotism. In the meantime, the Party has become and/or continues to be the despised depository for unsavory politicians with publicly known reputations as SLPMB looters, DIMINCO wreckers, political harlots, hijackers of Party apparatus, marginalizers of the membership, parasitic sycophants and assorted opportunists. Such people have no scruples dealing with lying, lowlife liars to unfairly attack conscientious citizens deeply concerned about our country’s future.
The contempt which sections of the public hold towards some of our government leaders can be gauged by such aliases ascribed to them as: Mr. Money Man, Ronko, the Gambler, Mr. 15%, Gabteh Karkah, Money Nyapu Nyapu, Mr. Whayo Man, etc. The US Embassy in Freetown recently announced that the United States government is issuing a visa ban against known corrupt public officials and their families thus prohibiting them from traveling to the United States. The British Government has sent three cabinet ministers to Freetown to plea with government leaders to stop their corruption – all to no avail.
Yet Banya’s statement released to the press on May 24 expresses satisfaction with the elections’ results and blames APC machinations and election management errors for SLPP’s stunted performance, barely two years after its huge sweep of the 2002 elections. Banya is sadly mistaken if he does not understand that it is SLPP’s malfeasant and malevolent party and government administration and its association with odious characters that are responsible for its relatively poor electoral showing.
Banya’s smug satisfaction with SLPP’s relatively poor election results and in the face of low public esteem for the Kabbah Administration, at home and abroad, if not corrected soon – together with the difficult task of remaking APC’s dreadful image – may very well combine to produce the catalyst that may give birth to a New Movement in national politics to wipe the slate clean, so as to press ahead with the social and economic development of a badly wounded people in a country wrecked by greed and ineptness.