The APC Presidential Campaign Media Team
*Makeni – December 25th, 2017*
Over the past several months, opposition parties have been criss-crossing the country in an obvious campaign whirlwind. But it would seem that although the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) of Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio (JMB) and its splintering National Grand Coalition of Kande Kolleh Yumkella (KKY) have been politically estranged, their philosophy remains pitifully the same. While KKY has been trolling around preaching change, JMB is still stuck to the unheeded call for a ‘New Direction’. Each have also showed a lack of creativity by claiming that political power is on rotation, that the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) has exhausted its two terms, and that it’s their (SLPP/NGC) turn to take up the reins of government. Political analysts believe that such messages are meaningless, have no basis, and will disintegrate under the slightest political countering. They are right, just in the last few days, all the gains the SLPP and NGC thought they have made have simply evaporated under the weight of President Koroma’s nationwide tour.
As the nation comes to the end of his second five year term, and as it prepares to elect its next leaders, the Chairman and Leader of the APC, in magnanimity, has embarked on a nationawide tour to thank the people of this Sierra Leone.
“Thank you for the opportunity to serve you as president for two terms”, said President Koroma to the thousands of electorates who poured out to welcome him at every stop. In Port Loko, Kambia, Kamakwie, Lunsar, and all the way to Makeni, the evidence was stark that the APC and President Koroma’s popularity remain ever strong. But it is in the South and Eastern parts of the country, where especially the main opposition SLPP claim to be their stronghold that the APC proved to have strengthened its political grip. In Kailahun, as in Pendembu, Daru, Segbwema, the turnout of ordinary citizens surprised even the President.
“Given what we have seen, the people of Kailahun now understand our commitment to transforming this country…,” President Koroma said. He went on to assert that since independence, it is the APC government that has gone beyond Pendembu to extended development to Kailahun and that from the huge turn out in Kailahun, no one should claim that disttict as their stronghold.
Yet the turn out in Kailahun and its environs pales out in comparison with what obtained in Kenema and Bo. Those two cities practically erupted and politically caved in under the weight of the APC support. Scores of SLPP supports damned the Grand Old Party and declared for the APC because they considered the ruling party to be more organised and formidable. As Kadi, the former SLPP Women’s Leader in Kenema, aptly put it: “I have been SLPP all my life, but what I saw during the APC National Convention in Makeni convinced me that the APC has a central command and the Chairman and Leader has full authority in the party”.
In the last five years, the SLPP has been engulfed in an intractable internal wrangling which resulted in stabbings, exchange of invectives, court injunctions, expulsions and counter expulsions of their national officers, including their Chairman and Leader. Their standard bearer contest in particular, was as infamous for its lack of decorum as it was damaging to its unity. This ultimately culminated into the formation of the NGC by renegades who felt that the SLPP had been hijacked by violence, intolerance and indiscipline. The NGC’s awkward experience is what informs and propels their campaign of change; forgetting that the change they apparently sought in the SLPP is not necessarily adaptable to the wider Sierra Leonean context.
And one by one, at every stop, President Koroma has taken time to dismantle each of the campaign messages being propagated by JMB and KKY.
“When the people of Sierra Leone needed change back in 2007, it was the APC that answered that call…change should be positive, not retrogressive… don’t fall for every message of change”, President Koroma entreated the multitudes in the Kenema Townfield.
This admonition comes on the back of his powerful ‘Valedictory Address to Parliament’ earlier in November this year.
“…Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, while we were doing all the heavy lifting to bring change to our beloved country, others were either inattentive or too far away to see our vision of a better Sierra Leone. And now that our country has gained visibility and some respectability, they have arrived from their comfort zones with the false promise of change and a new direction. But in the final analysis, I trust in the wisdom of the people of this great nation to distinguish between the workers from the talkers”
Since he became president, Ernest Bai Koroma’s APC has rolled out two national development agendas – the Agenda for Change and the Agenda for Prosperity, both of which have been widely acclaimed as a strong foundation for Sierra Leone’s socio-economic take-off.
President Koroma is aware of this and believes that to sustain this change and to build on what the APC has achieved, Sierra Leone needs leaders with the requisite expertise.
“Sierra Leone needs a competent and experienced person like Dr Samura Kamara who has no match in the race… and the only person able to hit the ground running and to continue with the nation’s development programmes”, he said. And in an apparent reference to Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, the President stated with uncharacteristic directness:
“Running a military junta is not the same as running a democratic country”.
President Koroma’s concern for his great development legacy is well founded. By November 2007, Sierra Leone was still reeling from the devastation of the war. Democratic governance, which was being restored, was threatened by insecurity and a battered economy. Access to basic social services was almost non-existent – whilst the nation depended on unsafe alternative sources for clean water; total national power generation was less than 10 megawatts and Freetown, the nation’s capital, was the darkest city on earth. This discomfiture is apart from the unbridle lack of access to justice, the country’s dilapidated roads, education, health, and agriculture infrastructure.
Today, virtually everywhere across the country, there is palpable evidence of the great transformation the APC has brought to bear on Sierra Leone. In Blama, Small Bo Chiefdom, in the Southern Province, pipe borne water is returning for the first time in over thirty years. This is also the case in Kailahun and several other towns. In the east, Segbwema, enjoys 24 hours electricity from a Solar Plant. The Nixon Hospital in the township, which had gone moribund has also been rehabilitated, restoring health services to the people. And from the subhuman huts left behind by the unimaginative SLPP ‘Operation Pebble’, to the construction of modern billets at the Gondama Barrack, the APC’s transformation has also touched and raised the dignity of our military.
Clearly, to sustain and to build on this massive all-out development trajectory, Sierra Leones needs more than a mere three months military government headmanship and lofty promises of change.
“For win election nor to by turn, na by how you woke”, the president said in krio. (Loosely translated it means: Winning elections is not on a rotational basis; it’s based on your performance record).
Undoubtedly, and going forward, this country requires the rare combination of economic/financial and diplomatic experience. Many observers agree that in this race, it is only the APC’s Dr Samura Kamara who fits the bill and form what has emerged from President Koroma’s ‘Thank You Tour’ it’s no surprise that the people have made up their minds. In the words of the former SLPP women’s Leader in Kenema: “these elections are over- No Run Off!