By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) again! First it was an issue of “show me your degree certificate” (or probably, an adaptation of the Nigerian music: “show me your particulars”) between the Minority Leader in parliament Dr Bernadette Lahai and Dr Prince A Harding. Now, it is a duel on who is a true democrat between current Chairman and Leader, ex-Chief Sebora Somano Kapen, and former Trade Minister and Ambassador to Ghana Alie Essa Bangura.
To start the duel, the abdicated Chief Sebora Somano Kapen says Ambassador Alie Essa Bangura has “completely lost his democratic values” because he has filed an interlocutory injunction at the Supreme Court to restrain the SLPP from organising and conducting any election of would-be national delegates. And that because of this decent manner of behaviour within democratic tenets; Ambassador Bangura “is holding the SLPP to ransom” and trying “to render the SLPP impotent” because his lawsuit is preventing them from taking any administrative actions such as suspension, expulsion, or any other disciplinary measures against elected officials of the party at all levels.
Wow. Some members in, and of, the SLPP have the knack for turning things on their heads. For in a democracy, whether nascent or advanced, whenever a true democrat feels aggrieved about an issue with either an institution s/he belongs to or thinks s/he has been wronged by his/her fellow citizen(s); the right and decent thing to do is to seek redress through the organs of the law. So, if Ambassador Bangura feels that his party is not doing the right things and he seeks redress in the court of law; does that make him to lose his democratic credentials? Or does that make him a respecter of the law as all true democrats are?
At times the utterances of some senior members of the SLPP make me think whether senility has not permeated their brains. For after the Bo Convention, if Ambassador Bangura is not the true democrat he is he would have hired thugs to prevent the current embattled “de facto national executive” (in the Ambassador’s own words) from even going to the party’s Wallace-Johnson Street headquarters. But instead of applying the laws of the jungle he is seeking redress at the Supreme Court. This is what is expected of a decent democrat not thuggery and violence as the de facto Somano Kapen administration has made the norm at their Wallace-Johnson Street headquarters.
And it is ironic for Somano Kapen to even insinuate that Ambassador Bangura “has damaged his democratic credentials” for seeking redress at the Supreme Court simply because the meeting of that party’s National Executive Council (NEC), which he chaired that expelled the former Ambassador from that Grand Old Party (GOP), was not only undemocratic and suspicious but circumvented all the traditional norms on which meetings are normally called. Even the SLPP National Secretary General, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie, was so appalled by the undemocratic manner in which Alie Bangura was expelled that he decided to break ranks by publicly stating that, “the processes used by the meeting of the NEC to expel the former Ambassador from the party do not confirm with the due process of the law and natural justice” (according to the Awoko newspaper of Friday May 1, 2015).
Now, who has actually damaged his democratic credentials? Is it ex-Chief Somano Kapen who is aiding and abating undemocratic means to prepare delegates’ lists for the next party’s convention to favour a particular candidate or Ambassador Bangura who is insisting that the party must go back to its democratic ways of doing things? Between the two, who is a pseudo-democrat? Is it Ambassador Bangura who risked his life and property to bring back the SLPP to power in the late 1990s or ex-Chief Somano Kapen who is allowing himself to be used as a pawn by undemocratic elements within the SLPP?
Again, who is actually trying to render the SLPP impotent? Is it ex-Chief Somano Kapen who is presiding over an administration that has turned the SLPP headquarters into a den for “abuse of illegal substances, alcoholism, use of invectives, intimidation and harassment” (in the words of John Oponjo Benjamin) or Ambassador Bangura who has “decided on a democratic means to correct the anomalies” (to quote Mr Benjamin again) which have now beset the SLPP?
I know many may now be wondering what concerns M ohamed ‘One Drop’ Sankoh with an SLPP issue. The reason is: if you are unable to remove the wool in your eyes don’t try to do that to another person. The fact is: Ambassador Alie Essa Bangura did not take the SLPP to court but ex-Chief Sebora Somano Kapen and 27 others. When Dr Abass Chernor Bundu, the current SLPP Northern Vice Chairman, took the SLPP as a party to the Supreme Court; was he expelled or was he accused of “holding the SLPP to ransom” and trying “to render the SLPP impotent”? I think what is good for the cow should also be good for the heifer!