Political futures wane when there is a setback of sorts, a loss suffered by a sitting government sends its own message and therefore it is up to the political hierarchy to demonstrate maturity and fortitude to handle such setbacks whenever they occur. In these times, the All Peoples Congress must not encourage the politics of personal destruction to eat into its fabric like a cankerworm. It will destroy the Party and leave open wounds that would take much too long a time to heal.
For those who may not be familiar with the term, let me elucidate on its significance.
The politics of personal destruction is when attention is wrongfully or in a manner unwarranted, is brought to bear on a single individual for an occurrence or activity that may have a more collective responsibility or obligation. In the recently concluded bye elections in Kambia District for example, this phenomenon was easily discerned when some in their folly, raised issue with the likes of Hon. Ambasador Alimamy Koroma as if it was his personal fault for the Party to have lost by a narrow margin, in an area that was in fact alleged to be a stronghold for the SLPP or more specifically for Kandeh Yumkella. The attention brought to bear on Hon. Ambassador Koroma was disproportionate to his influence or bearing in Party administration as he has only recently ben relieved of his responsibilities as District Chairman. In such an instance when he no longer had a direct responsibility for Party affairs in the area, The Hon. Ambassador Alimamy Koroma was seen drumming up APC support in the area and delivered one of the wards where he was based for the most part of the campaign with a resounding victory for the APC. Blaming him or casting aspersions on his good name after such an event would be pure folly and would tantamount to the act of aiming to destroy the political career of man who commands so much love and respect across the country. This act of casting aspersions on the good name of someone who had taken his time and resources to forestall a much larger defeat for the Party is what is referred to as the “politics of personal destruction.”
There are those who cited that it was an unfair act in itself pointing to the manner in which the Party had announced the withdrawal of the Party whip from Hon. Alimamy Koroma as District Chairman. In the event, the eventual defeat of the Party by the KKY supported and sponsored candidate is now slowly being turned into a test of the former District Chairman’s effectiveness in keeping the Party faithful together and his vigour in returning the whole District as an APC win in the last elections in 2012. In the final event, some observers attest to the fact that this defeat in Kambia must be regarded as a trial for common sense and to imply that it is a test of Hon. Alimamy Koroma’s popularity in that area would be wholly unfair.
Putting the facts to the test as it is being played out on the ground all across the country, there is an underlying unrest gradually building against the APC, mostly unfairly and partly because the Party and Government has been thus far laid back in the way their achievements are being relayed to the people. The people are beginning to show open defiance and resentment because they are not being too well apprised of the significance of the developments that are being delivered on their behalf. The roads in Kambia for example have ben that much improved that travelling to Guinea to trade or heading for Freetown and other parts of the country has opened up opportunities for commerce and leisure that was very difficult to secure when the roads were in a much poorer state. There are issues around developments in agriculture and the availability of farm inputs that are benefitting the people of Kambia but this is not being done in a manner that convinces the people that it is a public service provided by this government to raise their earnings capacity from agriculture or otherwise to improve their livelihoods and welfare.
These imbalances in communications exist but most of our top officials bury their heads in the sand like Ostriches hoping that the passing wind would blow over their bodies and subside. What they are failing to understand is that the Party is becoming the target for blame and resentment and that a festering of such sentiments would be harmful to our overall electoral chances. These issues cannot be the duty of a single individual to tackle but must be made to concern all those in high offices.
Returning to the results of the bye elections, Ambassador Osman Yansanneh, National Secretary General of the All Peoples Congress Party was clear when he retorted in a radio interview that it would be unfair to focus on the Kambia bye elections where the Party lost y a very narrow margin of ten votes when at the same time, the Party was winning Tonkolili by 76 %. What he inferred was that the result in Kambia was a clear confirmation that the area was not to be considered a stronghold of neither the SLPP or Kandeh Yumkella. The National Secretary General also confirmed that he was present at a local mosque where the Imam told the people that as Kandeh Yumkella was his son, any one who did not cast a vote for him was risking the wrath of God in their lives. In such situations where the membership composition is of such a narrow definition with most of the people being of the same tribe, sharing similar or the same thought trend, heritage etc, it would be very difficult to penetrate or neutralize a particular position because of the homogeneity of their characteristics. Thus the Imam would have provided an unfair and biased influence for the people to follow and in the narrow mindedness of their environment, such a position from a highly respected local religious or traditional leader would always be problematic. It is for this reason why the LPP wins easily in a ward in Bo or Kenema and the APC in Port Loko and Bombali but given a national election where the plurality of thoughts and opinions are raised up from the local levels, traditions are easily broken and barriers are crossed much more easier.
In the Kambia elections, observers have pointed out that Samu is dominated by the Susus, a tribe that is much like the Mendes as being die hard SLPP supporters and it is the home of the Yumkellas. A very big and influential clan. In fact, given these observations, this was an area where the Yumkellas should win by a landslide but in this case, they were taken to the wire and they struggled to win by only 10 votes. The focus therefore must be on the tide that the APC was able to hold still as the seas got very rough in the final days of the voting. The local sentiments and traditional belief systems were against the Party and the desire to hold up a Yumkella ticket too easy to follow. Yet, the presence of people like Hon. Alimamy Koroma, Ambassador Yansanneh and others reduced any defeat to the narrowest of margins. It has been stated that the Yumkella supported and sponsored candidate failed to win big because of the spirited fight pout up by the APC, so the credit for fortitude and valour in the face of the enemy should go to the APC.
The lessons that must be taken from this is clear. The APC must not allow itself as a political party to judge individuals by the outcomes of bye elections where it is clear that local conditions are against the Party in their entirety. To have come out with such a narrow margin showed the amount of effort that had gone into that battle. In the event, the Party has confirmed that it would learn from this experience and move on. The loss of Ward 139 cannot be made to seem as if it is the fault of any single individual in the same way as no individual has taken credit for the win in Tonkolili. Elections are fought to win the most seats and to gain the most votes. Now is the time for the Party to consolidate its support in this area and move on to rebuild its structures to face the coming elections in March 2018