By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop) :
Reading the writings of Dr Sama “Puawui” Banya just after reading the writings of Andrew Keili is like someone being asked to walk a tightrope that links doomsday and redemption over an ocean full of crocodiles. While Dr Banya always looks at current crises in their Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) from the telescope of a Maada Bioian biasness and plays Job’s comforter in trying to settle the crises, Mr Keili looks at the SLPPian crises from the standpoint of a middle-of-the-roader who tries his very best to be a straight-shooter.
Dr Sama Banya is a microcosm of extremism iced with tribal supremacist tendencies, while Andrew Keili is a moderate with liberal views on both national and party issues. The former believes that the current SLPPian crises could only be solved when stick-in-the-mud Constitutionalists within the SLPP acquiesce to the imposition of the SLPP 2012 failed presidential candidate Julius Maada Bio as the 2018 presidential candidate, while the latter believes that the ramming down of Mr Bio in the throats of party faithful complete with the last comic-tragic circus called the Bo Convention which brought the current SLPP National Executive into being is the cancer now eating deep into that party’s body.
And the comparison becomes more acute when both political writers (such an adjective is apt because both personalities had once contested for the SLPP’s leadership and disgracefully—or should I use a One Dropian phraseology that they ‘disgraceloadedly’?—failed) are magnified outside their SLPP. Dr Sama Banya, since the September of 2007 to date, has always been in a state of perpetual denial that their SLPP never lost those elections but was rigged out of power and re-rigged into re-staying in the political wilderness. Andrew Keili on the other hand believes that “the party is essentially divided in the middle and without unity; going into an election with one faction will lead to non collaboration by other factions and subsequent loss of elections”. The inference he is drawing here is that the SLPP lost 2007 because of the imposition of former Vice President Solomon Ekuma Berewa as presidential candidate which fractionized the party, while the SLPP lost 2012 because it was hyper-fractionized by the selection of Ngor Maada.
For Dr Banya, the SLPP might come back to State House in 2018 not by current political realities on the ground or the political demography of the country but by just wishful thinking from his phantasmagoric world. But for the pragmatic Mr Keili “the SLPP share of votes in presidential elections has dwindled progressively from a 70% figure in 2002 to 38% in 2012…The present spate of violence, intimidation, inflammatory statements over the media, court cases, discordant views on important national issues in parliament and other schisms have led to a lack of confidence in the party by middle of the roaders who do not consider us an effective opposition and certainly not capable of forming the type of government that will move Sierra Leone forward”.
And while Dr Sama Banya has always been engaged in willful personal dishonesty by believing or trying to make his readers believe that in 2018 his or their SLPP would be Barabbas-ed (those of you who are Christians might recall that the Jews scale-of-preferenced Barabbas over Jesus Christ for the cross) over the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) because of self-perceived 4-4-4ian hardship; Andrew Keili the realist believes that, “the recent by-elections reinforce the fact that if anything the party fortunes are dwindling further… The populace may not be convinced that we are a viable alternative to the government in moving the country on to a qualitatively higher development plane…With all of these facts, the SLPP have just dug their graves for another abysmal performance in the 2018 elections” (please note that all quotes from or of Mr Keili are taken from his last week’s “Ponder My Thoughts” article which was published by several local newspapers and also posted on his Facebook page).
From the above, it sounds like a tale in the true Dickensian sense of contradictions not of two powerful cities but of two powerful political personalities. The only thread that seems to be running through both political writers’ writings is the theme of how the current internal chasms and schisms in their SLPP are weakening the chances of their party becoming a viable opposition (please take note: not a Government but a viable opposition in the aftermath of the 2018 elections!). But Dr Sama “Puawui” (pronounced “Poo-wa-Wee”—no rudeness or insult intended please) Banya does so always with his tongue stuck in his cheek while Andrew Keili does so without mincing his words.
But looking closely at the writings of both men, one realizes that they might not have read Wole Soyinka’s book: “The Man Died”. Because if they had, they would have repeatedly quoted him, when writing about or on their intra-party palavers, that, “even in totalitarian states, the time comes when past ‘errors’ are admitted, high-placed criminals unmasked and victims rehabilitated…” (Preface, XI) That’s what the SLPP, as a party, should now embark on instead of always evoking laughter whenever it is inappropriate to do so!