By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop) :
The only chance the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) had of being in government through the backdoor, in the form of a government of national unity, ebbed last Friday when the Chairperson of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Dr Christiana Thorpe, announced the Presidential result of the November polls.
Now the SLPP-leaning media and their Civil Society Organizations accomplices have started making coded inferences of a government of inclusion. By their definition of a “government of inclusion”, they mean bringing in some members of the SLPP and the Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) into government. I totally differ from that standpoint for certain reasons.
Firstly, it was the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) that won the elections, so it is President Ernest Bai Koroma’s call and prerogative to select who should be in his cabinet. And a government of inclusion doesn’t mean President Koroma is mandated to bring in members of the anti-Sierra Leone SLPP. What a government of inclusion mean, as I see it, is the fair representation of every region, tribe and religion of, and in, the country in the President’s cabinet. So, it is my submission that every would-be member of the President would-be cabinet should be an APC member or someone who has shown unquestionable commitment to President Koroma’s philosophy of development and national prosperity.
Secondly, it doesn’t matter whether the would-be cabinet of President Koroma will be Wusum Stars or Kakuwa Rangers or Kamboi Eagles or Parade Stars. What matters most is that members of his would-be cabinet will be Sierra Leoneans who are ready and committed to work with the President towards achieving his Agenda for Prosperity. The President cannot include people in his cabinet because some SLPP-aligned newspapers or radio stations or Civil Society Organizations are saying so or want him to do so. The President cannot even be stampeded by some Sierra Leoneans, who were demanding his head before and during the elections, into bringing people from the other side of the political divide.
Thirdly, it is my arrogant opinion (I always say I don’t make humble opinions) that any government of inclusion that will involve the insertion of SLPP members will be a recipe for failure. Because the SLPP, as a party, and its members are known to always play Fifth Columnists whenever it is an APC government that is in power. I can still remember in 2005 when the former Foreign Affairs Minister in the first term government of President Koroma, Joseph Bandabla Dauda, told listeners of FM 98.1, during a panel discussion programme of SLPP presidential aspirants at the time, that they went to the APC to sabotage it with the aim of bringing back to power their SLPP (he can’t deny this because it is on record. Except he can now justify it that he made that unfortunate statement while “still in Egypt”—in biblical speak, or, sorry, writing). Though I’m not making any inference for the present but with all the resources and empowerment given to J.B Dauda to deliver the east, his Kenema district voted the same way it did in 2002 and 2007—his people overwhelmingly rejected the APC!
The point I want to make here is that, I strongly believe in the “winner takes all” philosophy in the Sierra Leonean context because, most of the time, whenever hardcore members of other parties are included in an APC government they tend to play Fifth Columnists. Take the just concluded November polls as an example. How many PMDC Ministers in the first term government of President Ernest Bai Koroma were able to deliver their areas or regions with all the resources poured on them? Again, as I see it, the “winner takes all” philosophy embodies commitment to a party’s ideals and philosophies, while a government of inclusion, for the sake of inclusion, leaves room for scapegoatnizing (is there such a word in the English dictionary?).
A political scientist (I have eaten the name with potato leaves, so you can pardon me for that) once described a political party as “an organized group of individuals who hold certain political beliefs and who are all prepared to work towards elections victory”. This is exactly in line with my present thinking. Before and during the November polls, because APC members and sympathizers believed in the philosophy of the APC they worked towards elections victory. While members of the SLPP held different political belief and were working towards an SLPP victory. So, even if some members of the SLPP are brought into an APC government in the name of a ‘government of inclusion’ they have a different agenda from their APC counterparts. In a nutshell, a government of inclusion with hardcore SLPP members will produce the same effect like a child building a mansion on the sand. In Krio colloquialism they will say: e nor play at all!
And one of the cardinal reasons why I believe in the “winner takes all” philosophy is that it builds a vibrant opposition that always keeps a government on its heels. Let us say if the opposition is depleted by bringing its members into government, it might kill the opposition. A classical case of that point is the PMDC which did dismally in the November polls simply because its hardcore members were in a government which was not their party’s.
Whether one likes it or not, President Ernest Bai Koroma’s next cabinet will be reflective of an APC party which has in its fold members from all the 16 tribes in Sierra Leone. It is the APC that wins the elections and it should be the APC that should, or is expected, to run the government. There should be no circumvention of this fact! The New APC of President Koroma won the elections on the strong foundation of the “Agenda for Prosperity”, while the SLPP lost the elections on the weak and unrealistic “New Direction”. So, there is no way the practical Agenda for Prosperity can be synthesized with the unrealistic believers in the New Direction. For God cannot sit on the same table with Lucifer—in metaphorical terms!