By Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray,
The past weekend in Philadelphia seemed like a long one for both members of the All People’s Congress and other political parties. The APC party stalwarts welcomed Dr Richard Conteh, a former Chief of Staff in the previous government of Ernest Koroma to the city of Philadelphia. At a makeshift meeting place behind the home of Mr Sheka Kamara, party loyalists of the APC party thronged in hundreds to listen to Dr Conteh who informed the meeting that he is on a tour of saying thanks to the Diasporans who contributed immensely towards the APC party in the last election. The smiles, confidence stricken face of APC party faithful brought back sweet reminisces of an election victory. Dr Conteh was quick to inform members that he was not on a political campaign announcement. Though Dr Conteh informed members that he is not on a political campaign, but rather, on a drive to acknowledge and appreciate people who sacrificed almost everything in support of the APC party.
Desperate for APC party to maintain their perch on power, senior party stalwarts are moving aggressively to defend their party against scandalous lies and allegations. At a popular Think-Tank store in Philadelphia called “King Jimmy”, Dr Conteh faced a battery of Sierra Leoneans who wanted to know from the causes of the party losing power to his arrest and subsequent detention of an allegation of forgery by his own party. In his defence, Dr Conteh was calm, soft spoken and articulated the gains of the APC party and some of the mistakes of the APC party. “We have a solid operational base,” said Dr. Richard Conteh. “We are investing in field operations already- we have never done that this early and we know how we are going to spend our resources on human capita and everything is front-loaded.” He further stated that he is not bitter against his former boss who accused him of forgery, rather, the party is bigger than his personal feelings. He further stated that he is not bitter against his former boss and others who conspired to tarnish his hard earned reputation and reiterated that the party is bigger than his personal feelings. He cited the court rulings exonerating him as the best defence of his reputation.
Is this the new philosophy of the party, to meet and greet everybody who is somebody? While much of the attention has been paid to the normal belief that the APC party is the grassroot party and less explanation is to be done to the people, it seems the political dynamics is now changing. The APC never believed in organizing town hall meetings, consultative meetings, rather it was like a divine dictation and spelling. In several of his utterances, Dr Conteh reiterated these words, “I am not doing this to be the APC party man from the North, I am doing this to be the representative of the APC party. Is this the way other party stalwarts are thinking?
The APC and the SLPP parties seems to be the same parties with similar ideologies… quite recently, I have seen some members including ministers who used to stand at rooftops praising the APC party are now abandoning the party that made them millionaires overnight. The crooked politicians are nowhere to stand and even thank members of the party that spent their time, blood and sweat to see the party win elections. It is interesting to note that after the APC lost elections, morale went down and few people came to defend the party. At a town hall meeting in Maryland, hundreds of APC supporters called for radical response from the APC to match the tit for tat response from the SLPP party.
So why is the APC adopting town hall meetings, consultation policy these days? Is this the new clean gas policy of the APC party? While I see some of the New Direction ministers committing the same mistakes of the APC by neglecting the grassroot issues of the day, I wonder whether our politicians really learn from mistakes.
The APC party may have its problems with their constitutional reviews, leadership problems and the slow pace of the court petitions, however, if the new trend of meeting and consulting with its members and implementing policies in tandem with the wishes of the people, then the party will be marching towards a new journey filled with hopes and determination.