Titus Boye-Thompson, Communications Consultant
These are not normal times. As political tensions mount in the All Peoples Congress, the death knell of many a political pretender and usurper is being sounded. For one thing, the definitive conditions imposed on the preference for a successor to President Ernest Bai Koroma as leader of the APC Government opens up clear gaps between the contenders.
The recurring narrative is for a person with institutional knowledge to lead the succession and take the Party to victory in the next elections. Now many would ask what criteria would dictate the level of institutional knowledge that can be judged as requisite to pass the threshold that is required. To mention service to the government as institutional knowledge of the Party is like describing sleep and death. They may seem similar but one of them is not desirable as an option for the contender. Work for the government must be separated from work for the Party. That brings into light another key criteria that asks what people who are now aspiring for the APC flag have done for the Party.
The APC Chairman and Leader face a challenge with various strands. However, in his own way, the APC Chairman and Leader has stressed that he would be interested in a successor for whom he can be satisfied that he had made. At the start of these deliberations, many were eager to stress how close they are to the Chairman and Leader. and what strength of filial bond they enjoyed or shared with President Ernest Bai Koroma. This is now accepted to be the death of certain candidacies. The opposition to fambul property is a very strong one and its implications very much evident in other West African countries such as Senegal when President Sall attempted to impose his son in the electoral process to succeed him. Many here came after those who initially trumpeted their link and family ties to President Koroma as a dangerous precedent and in time, President Koroma was known to have dissuaded those of his family or close relationship ties to abandon such rhetoric.
The eventual choice will cause a stir but its ramifications are left to be determined by the reactions of others. It is clear that there are those withi9n the Party who have put in their own mettle to make this Party what it is today. They are now waiting to see if the Party would repay them or cast them aside. One thing that is becoming evident is that there would not be scope for any stalwart to jettison the Party at this time simply because they have not been given the flag. On the other hand, there are those who believe that the Party must rally round a compromise candidate from whom there can be an amalgamation of effort. Those who now vie for the flag have had several meetings and indications are that there seem to be emerging a consensus candidate from that engagement. The unknown is whether the Chairman and Leader would accept the Party’s choice or otherwise discard that choice for a candidate of his own. The safe path would be to allow the Party to be seen as united in purpose and therefrom be seen to have played their part in the choice of his successor. If that happens, President Koroma would not be held to ransom in the tenets of history as someone who played a game of chance with his political succession and trounced on the balance of probability should his candidate fail to win the elections outright. Those who hold such views have called for a winnable and easily sellable candidate.
The strength of the APC as a political party lies in its root and branch organizing abilities and its ability to call up its membership with very little hesitation. The experience of the recent elections at lower levels provide ample evidence of the reach that the Party commands. In these elections, stalwarts came from all sections of the political spectrum to determine their prospective executive lists and ascertain the effectiveness of the Party hierarchy in the process. As Anthony Smart, a civil servant noted, the sheer excitement that has been shown by those involved in the APClower evel elections tells of the love and attachment that they have for the Party. Mohamed Koroma at Abacha Street traders Union certified that his Union is fully behind their candidate for youth leadership and for that reason, they are themselves determined to see that this Party comes back to power, come what may.
Many political observers are refusing from being drawn on speculating about the APC flag bearer at this point. Some were hopeful that on the convening of a series of intimate engagements allowing for all to speak their minds, a consensus should have been reached by now. What most observe is that as the choice of a consensus candidate seem eminent, the prospect of that candidate being wholeheartedly accepted by the Chairman and Leader is slim even though the Party has signalled that a choice that detracts glaringly from the criterion of institutional knowledge and a demonstration of work done for the Party are not met. In the event, the contender that is favoured by the President may not necessarily be the aspirant accepted readily by his cohorts. What would result is a situation wherein the Party and the Chairman and Leader would have to knock heads and do some very serious horse trading. The indications are that the Party still has a clear admiration and respect for the Chairman and Leader and his charisma may be sufficient to get the rest to his side. Alternatively, it is in his nature to follow the popular line and appoint someone who clearly has the overwhelming support of the Party and the other aspirants put together. The final decision must be seen to have come from the Chairman and Leader, even of it is a decision forced upon him by dint of circumstance. In the event, many have pointed to the emergence of Momodu Kargbo as a stalking horse candidate to deflect opposition to the President’s choice and to offer the rest a choice of two professionals and technically minded officials for whom the status of politicians is being denied. In the event, there is less likelihood of a candidate who is openly strange to these proceedings but for a choice that reflect a bridge between the old and young elements of the Party. The Old guard should not be seen to be brushed aside or otherwise discarded to the bowels of history nor should the young ones be depicted as usurpers of the flag but as equal partners in the sustainable development of the All Peoples Congress Party.