Party politics, especially from the African perspective, goes beyond the framework of basking under the opulence of edifying achievements. Performance, ‘people-centered-mass-party’ ideology, with a commitment to meeting the needs of the ‘common-man’ or ‘savis-man’, as in our local context; make a greater deal of the art itself. Can the noisy neighbors in the opposition running their politics on social media know this?
See my argument! Sierra Leone, for the last five or so decades has been governed by either the governing All People’s Congress or the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party. The APC clearly is not just a mass Party, but one that knows the intricacies of present day traditional politics with specific reference to meeting people’s expectations. The Party’s record, in terms of country growth under an APC rule, saw it wining elections after years in opposition when it was removed from power by some young inexperienced military men.
Largely, one must state, the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma also helped in positioning the APC to its current state of affairs, winning elections not just twice, but defeating a ruling party and winning seats in perceived opposition strongholds.
The party’s belief in human resource development (value for education) has also seen it gaining more grounds and building on the foundation of party growth -performance. A party’s reelection often depends on how it performed during its first or second term(s) in governance. The first five year rule by the APC under the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma was worthy of note, to the point of it being reelected for another term of five years. Challenges that were met in sectors like infrastructure, agriculture, energy generation and distribution for national development, etc were addressed.
Take, for instance infrastructure. So much had been invested in infrastructure, by the government (APC led) when it listed infrastructural growth as a priority area in the change roadmap-the Agenda for Change. The largest construction programme ever in the history of the country was rolled-out by the President and his Government. Across the country, the government embarked on massive infrastructure drive, through road projects connecting cities, towns, and villages. Makeni – Matotoka Highway (35 Km); the Bo-Kenema Highway (65Km) with joint funding from the World Bank and GoSL, were completed in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
In energy and water resources, the government was convinced that “the multiplier effect of adequate and reliable energy will impact on all sectors of the country and revitalize the economy and improve the standard of living of our people.” [President Koroma, June 2009] Not only that, to power the country’s economic development without harming the environment, the President, in 2009 said, his government was “committed to harnessing the enormous hydro-electric potential in our rivers and waterways, as well as to developing biofuels and solar energy….” (President Koroma, Trade and Investment Forum, 2009) What then followed was Government paying greater attention to the sector, eventually seeing an increased national electricity generation capacity to over 90MW, with a target for 218MW by 2013, amongst others.
In fact, as for agriculture, it became the government’s vision of making the sector the country’s ‘engine’ for socio-economic growth and development, which was effectively captured through commercial agriculture and the promotion of the private sector. As a result, not only did we see an increased budgetary allocation to the sector from a trifling 1.6% in 2007 to 7.7% in 2009 and close to 10% by 2010, the Government also prioritized the Smallholder Commercialization Programme (SCP) as an investment plan to kick-start the National Sustainable Agricultural Development Programme (NSADP).
So, as much as the Government relied on other factors, it looked at performance and service delivery as paramount if it should be trusted, appreciated and be voted again by the masses. Governance is about meeting those promises made, and sorting out challenges inherited from past government(s). And a lot, the Koroma government inherited from the Kabba-SLPP led administration.
Politics goes beyond irrationally attacking government proposals and action especially when one is in opposition. There comes a time when one’s opulence in didactic merits makes little or no impact in an election outcome-and that time is the electioneering period! The vote of the ‘common man is not only vital, but equally plays a role in electing a government as that of the rich, educated and well to do in society. And this is where the APC has always made the difference- a mixture of all, thus becoming masters in the art of party politics.
The governing APC has been strategically positioned by its current leadership to the point of it having the potential of wining coming elections. President Koroma, as Chairman and Leader of the party has not only given the party hope, his legacies in governance will always be tied to the party, and used to determine it stay in governance ,and for which the party should be grateful. The recently concluded bye-elections in Freetown-Urban(won by APC),Western Area Rural District(won by APC),Kailahun (won by APC) but before now an opposition stronghold and Bonthe(won by SLPP with APC coming closely second) have given clear indications of what lies ahead. They are a testament to the fact that the party’s leadership could not have done more to bring it thus far.