Sheriff Mahmud Ismail
I was one of the rapporteurs at the conference of the All People’s Congress (APC) National Youth League. Throughout the two day conference there was no call for President Koroma to continue for a third term (as president). NOT AT ALL. Granted, in one of the resolutions, the Youth League did state that considering his popularity and his astute leadership, they wanted President Koroma to continue as Chair and Leader of the APC for the purpose of keeping the party united especially ahead of the 2018 elections.
This is clearly in response to the growing competition among party hopefuls to succeed the President. Already, there are several individuals positioning themselves to lead the APC in the next elections. Their activities though peaceful so far have started, as you would expect, to create camps within the party especially among the party’s youth. While campaigning for their favored candidates, supporters have begun making demeaning statements about other aspirants on social media and other fora.
”The Youth League therefore thought it was urgent to bring all its members together to discuss this important and growing issue and what role we (the APC youth) could play to keep our darling party in power. That was the objective for convening the conference and was the bane of its deliberations”, said Alie Conteh, the Secretary General of the Youth League. But it appears that some sections of the media and political opponents of the APC are reading too much into the ‘More Time’ campaign.
Alie went on to say that he has followed the argument in amazement and ”I am still wondering how and why the decision of just one organ of our political party could generate such animated debate for several days”.
Some claim that in his interview with Radio Democracy on theMonday October 26, 2015, the explanation of the President of the Youth League, Bai Mahmuod Bangura about the ‘More Time’ campaign tended to point to a third term bid. Even if this was true, Alie said, ”Bai Mahoud is also on record and in that same radio interview that the Youth League would respect President Koroma’s decision not to run for a third term”.
Dauda Bangura, the Publicity Secretary of the Youth League, say ”it’s intriguing that too many unsubstantiated allegations have been unfairly levelled against the President who happens to be the Chairman and Leader of the APC party. Some have gone as far as accusing the entire APC party of pushing a third term bid”. Dauda avers that “this is a classic case of an outsider assuming expertise over the internal affairs of an organisation and arrogating to themselves the authority to interpret its actions and decision”.
By ALL accounts, there is some amount of overzealousness among some youths, but also among some sections of the media and the opposition because President Koroma has never asked for a third term nor has he countenanced any calls of a third term from any quarter.
Following his re-election in 2012, at the State Opening of Parliament, President Koroma thanked the people of Sierra Leone for electing him ”for the second and final term”.
When some youth came up with ”After U Na U’ campaign during the commissioning of the Regent/Jui Road, he eventually reiterated that he is running his final term. At the youth conference in Makeni, President Koroma extensively used the football metaphor to drive home the point that he is now the ‘Team Manager’ not the ‘Political Messi’ that twice led his team to victory over the SLPP.
”I see a lot of players warming up…We have no problems with that but they must recognise that there is a Manager”, the Chairman and Leader said.
In my view and I am sure for all those many football fans, it is absolutely clear that football managers don’t field themselves in. It therefore stands to reason that President Koroma who now regards himself as the ‘Manager’ of the APC team would certainly not field himself in for the next ‘Champions League’. To reiterate this point, he went further to state that ”however great a player may be, if he does not recognise and operate within the (party) structures, we would put them on the reserve bench”. So the president’s interest is not to ‘play in the next tournament’ rather; he is keen on managing the team and fielding in the best and most disciplined players to ensure victory for the APC (in the next elections).
For Bai Mahmud who is the source of this debate, ”It is bizarre that some opposition activists have, as always, chosen to occupy themselves by attacking our party and its leaders. Instead of spending time sorting their apparently intractable conflict some of them have gone as far as threatening war over what can only be described as their warped interpretations of our benign internal political dynamics”.
A staunch APC Youth League activist was even more direct; ”once again, let it be known that the ‘More Time’ campaign is not asking for a third term for President Koroma, it is a genuine request by the APC Youth League for Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to continue as the Chairman and Leader of the APC because we believe in his leadership to keep the party together at such a crucial moment. The APC have learned lessons from the past and given the current state of affairs, cannot afford the mistakes of other parties”. The young party activist asserted.
Ambassador Osman Foday Yansaneh, the National Secretary General of the APC rounds it all up: ”The APC, the party of Action, Progress and Commitment remains committed to its democratic credentials and will continue to take actions that maintain the progress, peace and stability of both party and country”. Indeed, by all accounts, ‘More Time’ is not a third term campaign.