By Dr. Yahya Kalokoh, USA.
I love President Koroma. But I love our APC more, and most importantly I love Sierra Leone most
The post-APC Convention has revealed insurmountable challenges for our party going into the 2018 General Elections. Some of these challenges are self-made by our top leadership. Many of us in the lower rung of our party are also contributing to a status-quo that will not augur well for the future of our party. Consciously towing the line of our leadership, even when we see clearly there are forced human or leadership errors, in managing our party leadership and succession, is a disservice to our party. It is also a disservice to current and future generations of party leaders, and a betrayal of our beloved country’s ideals.
As we all know to err is human. One cannot say wholeheartedly that all the forced errors committed by our leaders are intentional. They are humans, just like all of us, who could be prone to make mistakes.In that vein, our party needs followers at various levels with the courage to CONSTRUCTIVELY and RESPECTFULLY highlight, discuss and resolve these forced errors whenever we see them. Rather than attacking the opposition with cheap shots, let us try first and foremost to look within ourselves courageously and openly discuss and resolve the very divisive issues seemingly tearing us apart as a party. We cannot continue to be praise-singing when deep down within our souls we feel neglected. We owe this responsibility to current and future generations of unborn leaders.
One important fact we must acknowledge and work towards is that the party as an entity, an ongoing organization, is structured to outlive generations of leaders and followers. There was Siaka Stevens, the party’s forefather; there was Joseph Momoh, and eventually our current President Koroma. After him and others, the party must continue to be an ongoing concern for generations to come, and rule forever. It is our duty, both leaders and followers to think beyond self, nurture the party’s posterity, and its unique contribution to national development and social cohesion. Many take solace from history that the worst APC government is better than the best SLPP government.
Among a series of problems our party currently faces moving into the 2018 elections and beyond are the following:
Surprise selection of untested flagbearer and running mate with no national acclaim.
Lack of momentum that usually follows the selection of flagbearer setting the stage for robust campaign into the elections. Compare KKY’s post-convention rally a few days ago at the national stadium to the ruling party’s post-convention rally last month in the same spot. Compare the energy exuberated by KKY’s youthful supporters to the ruling party. The realities are clear to us all.
Erroneous strategy concentrating mostly on local party leaders, paramount chiefs, and other party operatives to attract traction towards the party’s strength and attractability. This strategy is less effective in our current political climate. We must acknowledge that gone are the days when such authorities and entities have much sway over their communities. With a large swathe of unemployed youths, and a semblance of widespread greed within the political ruling elites, it is difficult to harness the energy of the disgruntled to back the party’s line. It is only humility and openness, not threats that may appeal to the disgruntled.
A semblance of big news or events happening only when the incumbent president is leading rallies. There is a semblance of energy deficit within the ruling party’s grassroots.
Limited time to turn the tide of dissatisfaction within the grassroots electorate
Cracks currently taking place even within some die-hard APC supporters, and the danger of “Watermelon Politics”.
It is with the above concerns that we must look deeply within the ethos of our party and work hard to ameliorate these challenges, some of which could be fatal to the future of our party and posterity. Even though our party’s main doctrine requires us to agree when the leadership speaks, however we sometimes need to respectfully question, not wholesomely disagree, but recommend areas where the leadership needs to listen, review and where necessary make changes.
As we are now in the post-convention phase, and heading to the elections in 2018, I personally feel as a true die-hard APC member, we have lots of challenges ahead of us, and let us not be illusioned that it is going to be easy. As I have observed in the past, there is a certain degree of misplaced complacency within our senior leadership and members even in a 21st Century era, where the exploitation of technology can sway elections. Imagine the current situation where one month after the convention, the flagbearer and running mate have not even made attempts to traverse not only the provinces, but many suburbs in the greater Freetown area.
One wonders what could be the reason for this impasse. It is apparent that the flagbearer team can only move when the incumbent president decides to campaign.
That being the case, the president must try to unleash his selected team to start moving and campaigning without him, especially when the president has a fully loaded schedule to handle.Moreover, the President must realize that emotions are still very high against him in some quarters because of the way he handled the flagbearer selection process. He can appear with them every now and then to campaign. But the two gentlemen must be seen leading this campaign, and must be subjected to scrutiny. They must prove their mettle as the next leaders of our party and country. Creating the perception that they are under the shadow of the sitting president and not competent to face the electorate without him, may not augur well for their ability to lead, and our party’s chances of winning the 2018 elections.
It is without exaggeration that about 99% of all APC members were not and still not happy with the selection, especially with the way and manner, e.g. the Convention speeches were carried out. We must be brave enough to let the leadership know that the President’s keynote speech made most people present and watching from afar very angry and frustrated. As our current leader, a current father and brother of our party, who has achieved great feats of accomplishments during his tenure, we must have the courage to let him know how most of the party faithful feel,, rather than gossip in nooks and corners. It is even worse when we pretend in public to adore him but condemn him in private.
Suspicions abound that the President is micro-managing events to suit his interests, as against the team he had selected, and the party’s interest. There is an inherent feeling that even the few campaign activities that have taken place, went ahead only when the president had time to take off from his busy presidential schedule to lead them, his image dwarfing the candidates. He is viewed by some to be manipulating events to make the headlines and not allowing candidates to shine.
Some see this reflective of attempts by the president to show he will still be in command even after he hands over power. Although this may not be entirely true, but it is worth pointing out perceptions matter greatly, and can be lethal, with a tendency to mortify or dampen energies and enthusiasm, which could lead to voter apathy.
Interestingly, the opposition is making greater headlines than the government of the day in this campaign season. We must have the courage to acknowledge that the Sierra Leonean electorate,this time around, has a very strong alternative in the person of KandehYumkellah, and must not be underestimated. KandehYumkella poses the greatest threat to an APC victory in 2018. I strongly foresee that the cheap shots against him are not going to dent his popularity. The party in power must do more to change the climate. The current dynamics reflect a yearning for change, not experience, not the status quo. While experience is vital in running a country, we must recognize we are at the anti-climax phase of experience, and only the mantle of change could appeal to the electorate. Otherwise, Hillary Clinton could not have lost to a political novice like Donald Trump.
PAY ATTENTION.LET US ASK OUR PRESIDENT TO START HANDING OVER MUCH OF THE CAMPAIGN PLANNING AND ACTIVITIES TO HIS SELECT PICK. LET THE FLAGBEARER AND RUNNING MATE START APPEARING IN PUBLIC RALLIES, SIDE BY SIDE, AS THE NEW FACES OF LEADERSHIP. MOST OF OUR MEMBERS ARE STILL NOT HAPPY WITH THE PROCESS, BUT ARE WILLING TO PUSH AHEAD TO VICTORY IF THEY CAN SEE CHANGES.
THE PARTY MUST CALL ON ALL THE FORMER ASPIRANTS TO COME TOGETHER TO PLAN AND EXECUTE THIS CAMPAIGN. THESE WERE THE ARCHITECTS OF THE PRIMARY CAMPAIGNS, AND STILL HAVE GRASSROOT INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE TO RUN ROBUST CAMPAIGNS. PRESIDENT KOROMA SHOULD BE FACILITATING THE CAMPAIGNS BEHIND THE SCENES, RATHER THAN TRYING TO LEAD THE CANDID