By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
In political investment (if I should use that phraseology), you must never leave your known sworn enemies half-dead. They should always be left confirmed dead so that they will not have the chances of political resurrection in your political lifespan. And to empower your political foes is like making an unconscious effort at announcing your own obituary!
That seems to be one of the reasons why the Serry-Kamal faction within the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) is, at present, stirring. When President Ernest Bai Koroma assumed leadership of the country after winning the 2007 elections, the first political sin he committed was trying to capitulate and pacify the Serry-Kamal faction. Mohamed Lamin Bangura, Serry-Kamal himself, Edward (Eddie) Turay et al were all allowed to enjoy the spoils of the war in which they were the vanquished!
By capitulating to the Serry-Kamal faction (or the Serry-Kamalists, for the purpose of this One Dropian dropping) in the form of fat appointments to its core members, the President sent the wrong message that he was a man who could be easily stampeded into subtle blackmail. But though he capitulated, President Koroma had many chances, between 2008 and 2010, to decapitate that faction by the wrongdoings of its known core members.
Let’s forget about the fact that Mohamed Lamin Bangura was a stooge. We could even pretend that other members of the Serry-Kamal faction were just clowns meant for a circus. But when Eddie Turay was Majority Leader in Parliament, the President should have facilitated his political demise when he was embroiled in that alleged land-grabbing scandal. But the Chairman and Leader of the APC recycled him into the new Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Britain.
And of lawyer Serry-Kamal himself? During his reign as Attorney General and Justice Minister, the intrigues and alleged shadow deals surrounding the “Cocaine Trial” presented President Koroma the opportunity to have put the final nail on Mr Serry-Kamal’s political coffin. But the President waited until that late lawyer’s “cup runth over”. And had Mr Serry-Kamal been alive today, he too would have been recycled!
What, as I see it, President Koroma has missed, and still missing, is the fact that those who intend sitting on God’s right hand (sorry to my Muslim readers for that biblical allusion) should not think of foraying into national politics. Because for one to be an effective and decisive leader means one has to be constantly brewing an intoxicant of Machiavellian and realist liquor. But with my President’s new trademarked trait of olive-branch extending; the Serry-Kamal faction within the APC is becoming more and more emboldened every day.
And the recent letter to the APC Secretary General, by Jengo Stevens, is the latest indication that the Serry-Kamalists are not only stirring but indicating that they intend putting up a win-or-the-party-dies fight when the issue of succession comes up late this year.
The antecedent to Stevens’s letter could be traced few months ago when Eddie Turay went to the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation( SLBC)’s TV and openly challenged and criticized government’s policy on the ban on Right Hand vehicles. There again President Koroma was presented the opportunity to slash the snake’s head (figuratively—writing, please, not in its literal sense). For it is common sense and simple logic that for a High Commissioner to openly criticize the policy of a government in which he is part and parcel of calls for either his resignation or sacking simply because he violates the important “principle of collective responsibility”. But the President showed another of his trademarked act of capitulation when Mr Turay was let off the hook with a bland Press Release in which he subtly confessed his sins and asked for forgiveness. And his sins were, as usual for the President, forgiven and forgotten.
And in hindsight, it may be that singular act of Eddie Turay going scot-free of his open rebelliousness that might have emboldened Jengo Stevens to go many steps further to call for the President’s resignation of his position within the APC. From the tone of Stevens’s original letter and counter-letter to Ibrahim Ben Kargbo’s, and the frequent reports of alleged dark activities carried out by Mr Turay at the Sierra Leone High Commission in Britain; it is now very clear on whose side and whose battle the Serry-Kamalists intend fighting when the issue of succession comes up.
And if President Ernest Bai Koroma thinks the issue of succession in the APC would be a kindergarten’s toy; then he is, sadly, mistaken and underrating the Serry-Kamalists. With my indepth inside knowledge of both the government and the APC; I am writing with the confidence and certainty of a sage that the succession issue in the ruling party would be thrice as messy, intense and expensive than the last Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) flagbearer contest. The reason being that: most of those who have already shown interest in flagging the APC in the next General Elections have amassed so much wealth and have sliceable constituencies and constituents within the party that trying to outfox them will be like that of a monkey trying to play games with a fox.
And as things now stand in the APC; the only predictable thing that could be conjectured, at this very moment, is the unpredictability of the Serry-Kamalists. And their thirst to spew sand in someone else’s “garri” has always been as clinical as a serial killer’s methodology!
But one lesson I would like President Koroma to learn is this: the process of killing a snake should not start with cutting off its tail; it should start with decapitation! Don’t accuse me of being very Machiavellian in this One Dropian dropping…