By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
Are they shadow-boxing or entertaining the crowds long before delegates of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) will eventually select their candidate for the next Presidential election? Or are all those who have shown interest in becoming President Ernest Bai Koroma’s successor within the APC not playing the Achebe-ian fabled dancer who dances herself out long before the actual dancing competition?
Or are most—if not all—of those who are now travelling the length and breadth of the country philanthropically projecting their APC-ness only warming up the stage for the eventual APC presidential candidate? Can I digress here a little? Yes? Ok. Those of you who are socialites will agree with me (or know as a fact) that during musical album launchings at the Siaka Stevens Stadium, in Freetown, there are always artists who will be warming the stage for the main artist who will actually do the launching. Is that what those who have been travelling the length and breadth of the country philanthropically projecting their APC-ness doing at the moment?
May be. May be not. But with more and more people showing their intensions to replace President Koroma, as Leader and Chairman of the ruling APC, the ring is becoming a little bit crowded every day. And common sense dictates that African crowds are normally associated with rowdiness. And when one adds “politics” to “rowdiness” the end result is normally chaos.
And it is that anticipated, or would-be, chaos within the ruling APC in relation to the succession issue that has now made some local newspaper columnists to begin to speculate that the APC is currently toying with the trigger of an atomic bomb. For Sorie Fofana of the Global Times newspaper, “President Koroma’s decision to drag the issue of succession in the APC, without identifying a possible successor, will eventually lead to civil war”. For apocalyptic effect, Mr Fofana adds that “Very soon, President Koroma will find it very difficult to control the ambition of many of his party’s big beasts. They will not even listen to him when the fight for leadership in the party intensifies” (page 3 of the Global Times newspaper of Friday 1 July 2016) I will address these issues in a short while.
But let me first ask some rhetorical questions. Are those who have already declared for the APC presidential slot actually qualified to mascot the APC, given their backgrounds and former activities in relation to the APC as a party? Have they passed through the crucibles of the APC philosophy? Before they showed their intensions to lead the APC in the next Presidential election, were they showing their now presumed APC-ness by identifying with the party openly? I am asking those questions on the premise that even in a primary school a newly admitted pupil cannot be made Head Boy even if his father is the Head Teacher of that school! Or have you ever heard of any university in the world where a First Year Student is elected Students’ Union President? Now you can make the inference yourself.
And the last time I checked the Dow, NASDAQ and FTSE; I didn’t see the APC being listed as a business venture on any. That means the APC is not a party which can be bought by the highest spender. So those who think their money will buy them the APC presidential ticket need to go for audition for a role on the local comedy show (Wan Pot). Of course, the grassroots of the APC will always go to where the money drops aplenty; but they will always follow and listen to President Koroma’s.
In my opinion, the next Presidential candidate of the APC should, first of all, have the open blessing of President Koroma. After all, this is Africa. And in Africa, it is leaders who choose their successors or influence party delegates to choose their anointed successors. And with the APC, President Koroma is the be-all-and-end-all simply because he, at present, holds both the yam and knife (to quote the late Chinua Achebe). And being a great political strategist and pragmatist, President Koroma will never make the Tejan Kabbah mistake because he is not aspiring to retire in an SLPP government. Or he will never play the Fredrick Chuluba fool by anointing someone who would later hunt him and members of his family.
So those who are, at present, accusing President Koroma of dragging his feet on the succession issue are underestimating his political timeliness and shrewdness. He needs to take his time to ferret amongst the lot the person who will embody and carry on his “Agendas”; the grassroots-ness of the APC philosophy; a sellable charismatic character, and someone who will still give him his ears long after he would have ceased to be President of Sierra Leone. As I stated earlier, President Koroma holds both the yam and knife in the APC. If he could dismantle the Eddie Turay-Serry Kamal barricade; disarrayed a whole ruling SLPP, and knocked-out Sam Sumana in just one fell swoop; then the issue of who he wants to succeed him within the APC will not be a big deal for him. He is only waiting for the right time!
As an unapologetic Koromaist I’m religiously sure of one thing: When President Koroma will eventually speak or make his anointment on the succession issue; the matter will be finally settled without a cough! Not even a finger would be raised in protest.
And whosoever would have passed the President’s test of loyalty will not split the APC and provoke a civil war. This is because the thought of the SLPP coming back to power is sure to frighten into unity all those who are now shadow-boxing.
So, for the moment, the APC needs stage-warmers and shadow-boxers before the real show. But when it will be show time, many of those who are now showing their APC-ness will realise that they were only playing the Achebe-ian fabled dancer who dances herself out long before the actual dancing competition!