As one can see, Sierra Leone is a small country in West Africa, bounded by neighboring Guinea, Liberia, and the Atlantic Ocean. Politically there is an uneasy prediction of behavior when it comes to elections among the two-main rival political parties of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), and the All People’s Congress (APC).
Experiences of turbulence arising around elections times and past civil upheavals of rebellious wars, and the recent natural calamities of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) of 2013-2014, and the Mudslides that engulfed the capital of Freetown in August 2017, would have serious repercussions and challenges to the nation’s impoverished situation for many years to come. This and many more would impact the forthcoming election of March 7, 2018 in many ways that puts Sierra Leone at the crossroads of whether to make or break “Mama Salone”.
The schism has further deepened by a third or fourth groups of political interests that are mostly coming from amalgamations of party elements dissatisfied by the activities of the two main political parties of the SLPP, and the APC that have alternately ruled sierra Leone for over five decades.
Where is the position of the small West African country that is filthy rich in minerals and have a wealthy human resource that are scattered around the world, but considered to be the poorest nation in the world? It is true that the incumbent APC party inherited past problems of the civil war, EVD, and recent Mudslides and had barely ten years to fix all the mentioned setbacks and their complications, including the psyche of the traumatized population of Sierra Leone, that could not wait to see a changed Sierra Leone for the better.
The present government against this backdrop did try in developing the country to some extent from the ruins of the war, with good road infrastructure, however the country’s healthcare system which is now showing signs of development, still requires complete revamping from the wreckages of the past calamities of the rebel war and the deadly blow by the EVD that completely exposed the unpreparedness awareness in terms of health matters, and the dilapidated health institutions of the country; Agriculture has started to improve recently with the ingenuity of professor Jones as agricultural minister; Education is still struggling on her feet but shows signs of little or no improvement with the Athens of West Africa Fourah Bay College the first University in West Africa south of the Sahara reduced to a slum; and many other sectors of government needs improvement too.
However, the greed, corruption, sycophancy of many politicians and citizens alike seem to wreck all positive efforts made by the APC government in moving the country forward fast enough as expected by many who believe the country’s wealth was enough to turn things around for the better. In these spectra the president Dr. Ernest Koroma was hesitant and paid a blind eye to pass corrective measures in reprimanding culprits of corruption, but nevertheless maintained a peaceful Sierra Leone that was necessary to make the changes that would move the country forward. The final moment of the APC government of president Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma came recently in choosing a flagbearer that was necessary to carry on with the Legacy of president Koroma. This was a crucial moment that will put to test president Koroma’s political life, the APC party and salvation of the nation’s progress. It was not an easy moment for president Koroma, and the many political aspirants vying for the highest office of the land, and the nation. The somber moments came when he finally pronounced the flagbearer to be Dr. Samura Kamara, and running mate as Mr. Chernoh Bah aka (Cherikoko).
This pronouncement sent mixed reactions as the quite soft-spoken politician Dr. Samura Kamara was claimed as not popularly known by the rank and file of the nation. However, Dr. Samura Kamara emerged as the most qualified among the flagbearers that have worked in president Koroma’s government according to the APC Method of Selection/Selection. He was graded to have a clean record and having a vast experience in handling national, and international matters in both previous and present governments. “The die is cast” now it seems the political race has begun, and the APC must face reality as a party and must now jump on the campaign trail and cannot afford to lose in the forthcoming elections. The elections of March 7, 2018 are just a stone throw away, and how it will turn out for the APC in retaining power? will depend on how appreciative the people are to president Koroma’s efforts in developing the country. He has been graded to be doing well minus corruption and perhaps his government might win again looking at the odds the other contesting parties carry. The most important outcome one must be worried about is to see a peaceful democratic process during and after the elections. This would mean president Koroma and the government of Sierra Leone must oversee a peaceful and fair transformation of political events.
What happens with the SLPP is another story to contend with. The party was formed in the northern province considered a stronghold of the APC, but ironically considered to be a southern party as the first prime minister Sir Dr. Milton Margai hailed from the southern province region of Sierra Leone. This regional politics has been going on for many years, in fact that was the crux of Sierra Leone’s political stalemate when President Dr. Siaka. P. Stevens of the APC won the elections of 1967 was deprived from taking office by the military commander Brigadier Lansana that hailed from the South and did not support Dr. Siaka Stevens and took power from him. Brigadier Lansana was then overthrown by a group of other young officers from the north led by Brigadier Bangura from the north and restored power to Dr. Siaka Stevens. This was the birth of coup d’états and counter coups in Sierra Leone that eventually culminated into the rebel war that wrecked Sierra Leone’s infrastructure, economy, and entire development.
The present flagbearer Maada Bio of the SLPP is a retired brigadier and a Coupist, that hails from the southern region he is a known violent personality that was thrown from the USA as persona non-grata. He continued to occupy as the front runner of the SLPP party, and would not allow others to overtake him no matter what the circumstances of party popularity. This behavior of Maada Bio, has caused many populists like Alahji Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (KKY), Lawyer Charles Margai and others to split from the SLPP party to form a National Grand Coalition (NGC). Maada Bio has recently threatened to close ties with the super power of the world the United States of America (USA) if he emerged victorious in the forthcoming elections. He has also been quoted by the social media that he would secede from Sierra Leone and break Sierra Leone into two if he lost the elections of 2017. Without much ado, if these threats are meant to be carried out this clearly explains his personality and the type of situation Sierra Leone would find herself in relationship with the rest of the world at large. Is Sierra Leone ready to be led by such a person? The fear now is with such grandiosity by Maada Bio is he ready to lose fairly, or would he plunge the country into anarchy?
The other political groups in the making like the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP); Coalition for Change (C4C); PMDC, FDP, etc., are posing a serious threat or challenge to the two main political parties of the APC and the SLPP. Either way the coming election will put Sierra Leone to the test of true democracy and a path of voting for conscious rather than tribal or regional lines.
LET THE BEST PARTY WINS FOR PROGRESS AND DEVELOPMENT OF MAMA SALONE. LONTA.
BY Dr. Augustine A. Kamara 1