PRESIDENT ERNEST BAI KOROMA has said that whenever the All People’s Congress ( APC ) rules Sierra Leone, “We see signs of commitment and progress” .The President went on to state that “It is only when the APC is in power that the common man and woman can feel at home with presidents, ministers, MPs and the leadership of the country. ” President Koroma was delivering the keynote address at the National Delegates Conference of the party at the Brookfields National Stadium in Freetown today . READ THE WHOLE SPEECH BELOW :
Let me start, as Leader and Chairman of the APC, by welcoming you all to this very important National Delegates Conference of our glorious party. We have come a long way since we held our last convention in Makeni.
AN EXCITED PRESIDENT KOROMA IS GREETED BY PARTY FANATICS
We have continued to move forward, the rising sun has continued to rise, and the people of this country have continued to repose their trust, their hopes and aspirations in the only party in this nation that is dedicated to the cause of the ordinary man and woman; the only party capable of moving this nation forward; the only party capable of asserting the nation’s aspirations of Unity, Freedom and Justice.
PRESIDENT KOROMA WAVES TO JUBILANT SUPPORTERS OF THE APC
The APC is victorious again. We have been re-elected to power in the most internationally observed elections in the history of our country. We praise God Almighty for the great honour bestowed on our glorious party to provide leadership for this country. We swept the elections four for four. We won the presidential elections, we won the majority of seats in parliament, we won the majority of district council chairperson and mayoral positions, and we won the greatest number of seats for councilors in the country. I applaud the members of the National Advisory Council for this great four-for-four victory. We thank the party executive members, the National Secretariat, Members of the National Presidential Campaign Committee, and the National Elections Coordinating Office. We salute the APC Women’s Congress and the APC Youth League. We applaud our regional, district, and constituency executive for their leadership, resilience and mobilization of the people. We thank our party candidates for their commitment, and the unsuccessful aspirants for party symbols. Better luck next time; and our party agents for their watchfulness, and we congratulate the various taskforces for their vigilance. But most importantly, we thank the common man and woman and the entire citizenry of this great nation for bringing about this four-for-four victory for the All Peoples Congress.
It is now obvious that it is only when the APC rules this country that we see signs of commitment and progress; it is only when the APC is in power that the common man and woman can feel at home with presidents, ministers, MPs and the leadership of the country. That is what we are experiencing at this very moment.
We are a party that is powered by the hopes of the common man and woman. That was what inspired the founders of our party when they met at Terry Street, in the Magazine Cut Area of Eastern Freetown to found this most victorious party in the history of Sierra Leone. We are the party of victory; our struggles are always victorious. This is because we are a party of traders and farmers, we are the party of the youths and drivers, we are the party of trade unionists, we are a party of lawyers, court clerks, doctors and the nurses, the teachers and the students, we are the congress of all the people, we reach out to all the people, we respect the common man and woman.
It was this tradition of respect that led the common man and woman to make the APC win the large number of contested seats in the very first post independence elections of 1962. It was this respect for the ordinary man and woman that got the majority of the people of this country to vote in the APC into Government in 1967. It was this respect for the common man and woman that again got the APC to win the Presidential Elections of 2007 and 2012.
Comrades, we will make no apologies to anyone for being the party of the common man and woman. We will defend the common man and woman; we will sit with them, eat with them, talk with them and move this country forward with them. That was the tradition left us by Siaka Stevens; that was the tradition left us by SI Koroma; that was the tradition left us by CA Kamara Taylor; that was the tradition left us by Borbor Kamara and Ibrahim Otol; that was the tradition left us by Nancy Steele and Haja Dankay Kabia, and that is the tradition that has allowed us to win elections again and again and again.
We will continue to hold fast to this tradition; we will never lose sight of this inheritance; we will always be the party of the common man and woman, by the common man and woman and for the common man and woman. This is what holds us together as a party. All members, old and new, must subscribe to this tradition. It is this tradition that will get you up the ladders of leadership in our party; it is the badge of honour of our party; it is our ticket to being in government again and again and again.
Comrades, ladies and gentlemen, we have faced many challenges as a party, but we have always sailed through. Just after the founding of our party, Siaka Stevens and our other leaders were locked behind bars when the country was granted independence in 1961, but we persevered. When we won many seats to parliament in the very first elections we participated in 1962, the government of the day harassed our MPs and supporters, but we persevered; when we won the 1967 elections, those who think they were the party to rule this country urged the military to take over, but we persevered; when we ushered in the multi-party constitution of 1991, those who were afraid of elections and democratic governance conspired to overthrow our government, but we persevered; and the stage was set for the rebirth of the party.
They thought they had killed the party of the common man and woman, but we bounced back. From five seats in 1996, we got 27 seats in 2002, we increased it to 59 in 2007, we further increased it to 68 and counting in 2012, and we shall further increase it in the next elections. We are the party of increase, we are the party of abundance, and we are the party of numbers. We have increased our representatives everywhere. We will continue to increase our supporters and parliamentarians. We have started our program of increase in Kailahun. We will implement our Agenda for Change and Agenda for Prosperity and Increase in Pujehun, Kenema, Bo, and Bonthe; we will implement it everywhere. We will go everywhere, for we consider everywhere our stronghold. That is why we are constructing roads and hospitals everywhere, that is why we have ministers from every district in the country. And we shall be victorious everywhere in Sierra Leone, for in the struggles of the APC, there is victory for us all and everywhere in Sierra Leone.
The APC is a party with a firm commitment to democracy. Our leadership consists of people with no history of undemocratic attempts to get power and run governments. We knew how to behave as an opposition party. We went to the common man and woman with our programs; we asked for their votes. Our party began as an elections movement, the Elections Before Independence Movement. We never attempt to come to power through the back door. Rather we go respectfully to the ordinary man and woman. This is why we will always tell our friends on the other side, if you want to rule this country, respect ordinary people like the APC does, speak in ways that the people understand, come up with achievements that the people can see and build a coalition of people from all over the country that can deliver the votes to win elections. If you cannot, and we know you cannot, then behave yourself and allow the elect of the people to run the country.
The APC is a party that gathers strength in a democracy. When we were in opposition we knew how to convince the majority of the people to vote us into governance; when we are in government we act with progress and commitment and bring about achievements that make people re-elect our party again and again and again. That is why we will continue to uphold democracy; that is why we will continue to protect and promote human rights. But let it be known to all, no body is above the law of this country. The power of the state surpasses the power of any single individual or a political party. And we will utilize these powers entrusted unto our hands to promote the peace, secure the country’s development and implement our policies.
Comrades, ladies and gentlemen, no weapon fashioned against the APC shall succeed. This is because we are a resilient party; this is because we are the most grateful party in the history of this country; this is because we are a hard working party; we go to the people where ever they are; from the farms to the offices, from the market tables to the Okada parks and motor vehicles garages. When I was opposition leader I went everywhere, with stalwarts like the late Comrade Foday Kalokoh, Comrade Abu Kargbo of Bo, Pa Simmah of Kabala, Pa Babadi, Alhaji Sorsoh Conteh and many more who are still with us, some of who are here in this convention hall. We went to remote villages, crossed dangerous streams, and climbed mountains to meet with the people. The APC is a brave party; the APC is a very determined party. We will defeat again and again those who think they know more than the international monitors who observed the 2012 elections. This is my vow to you, anti-democratic forces will never again rule this country; we will be vigilant against the perpetrators of the constitutional violence of 1967 and 1992. We will defeat again and again those who want to take us back to the era of violence and human rights abuse. Vigilance is the price we have to pay to move forward.
The moment, comrades, calls for vigilance, it calls for closing of ranks, it calls for that show of strength, achievements, commitment and progress that has always stood our glorious party well.
Let me therefore use this moment to warn those who are focusing their energies on forming cliques within the party for the next presidential elections rather than doing the job for which we have been mandated by the electorate in the just concluded elections. They will not be tolerated in my government; I will consider them irrelevant to the work of my government and cast them out.
Let me also warn those who are making themselves small by mobilizing regional, district or tribal sentiments to support whatever cliques they belong. Those who rely on regional, district, or tribal interests in party politics will not be winners in national elections; they compromise their claims to national leadership, they promote disunity in the party, and weaken the patriotism of the people. The glorious APC will stand firm against this; I, as President of all the people of this country will not allow this; desist from this habit if you want to be part of my government; desist from this if you want to be relevant to our transformation of the country.
The job at hand is huge, and we must focus on it. Let us continue to act within the law; the work at hand requires greater unity, greater discipline and eternal vigilance. This is definitely not yet the time to fight to succeed Ernest Bai Koroma. We have a whole term of five years ahead of us. This is the time to fight to ensure that the APC succeeds in its programmes, that the APC implements its agenda for prosperity, and that the APC continues to gather strength in all corners of the land. This is the time, comrades, to ensure that those whose hearts are still strong against the APC know that we are a party of success, that this is a party made for victory, that we shall win every free and fair election in this land again and again and again.
We are a party of achievements that all can see. Look around the country today: every mighty infrastructure was built by the APC. Almost all the modern structures in the country, from bridges to the airport, from stadiums to hydroelectric dams were built when the APC is in government. We are not only architects of theory, we are masters of action; we are not only engineers who only have intentions and drawings to show, we are technicians in the field, with the common man and woman, building roads, hospitals, airports and many more. We do not just draw plans in offices; we implement them in the field.; we implemented the completion of Bumbuna Phase One, we implemented the construction of Wilkinson road, and roads in Bo, Kenema and Makeni, the Freetown/Conakry international highway; the construction of the New Foreign Ministry at Tower Hill and many more. We are implementing the rehabilitation of the Lungi Airport. We are implementing the construction of more roads in Freetown, Port Loko, Kailahun, Kono and many more. And we are commencing the building of a New Airport at Mamamah, the construction of a new industrial city in Lungi, the rehabilitation and building of new structures at Fourah Bay College, the construction of the Matotoka/Kono Highway, the Kamakwie Highway. We have liberated Yenga and many more. I will do more, we will do more, the government will do more. The Party will do more.
My Government is continuing the APC tradition of visible achievements. That is why we are continuing to improve the electricity situation; that is why we are continuing to attract investors that are creating thousands of jobs everywhere, and that is why we are amongst the fastest growing economies in the world.
But there are people who are still in denial. They are making themselves deliberately blind to the achievements of the APC. They have been in denial since we started winning seats to parliament in 1962. But that is the beauty of democracy: you can deliberately decide to prevent yourself from seeing. You can decide to cover your eyes and say I see nothing. That is what we call freedom of expression.
But the indicators are all around in the reports of the big economic organizations of the world. Our government is being lauded all over the world for the great progress we are making; we are being invited and honored by the most powerful leaders in the world; we are winning awards worth hundreds of millions of dollars for our commitment to democracy and for investing in our people; we are praised for being a brave country that is bringing peace to troubled regions in the world. This country is moving forward under our leadership.
Comrades, with your permission, we are firming up our party’s aspirations for this country in the next five years into the Agenda for Prosperity. The work with which the APC has entrusted our government must continue. We must continue to attract foreign direct investment, we must continue to fight corruption, we must continue to transform the energy sector, we must continue with our farm for business programme, our road construction projects, our free health care program and we must continue to get more resources into the education sector.
This is where our greatest emphasis will be in our Agenda for Prosperity. We will act to develop the skills of our youths for active participation in our growing economy; we will provide support to our local businesses through our local content policy and create thousands of millionaires amongst Sierra Leonean business men and women; and we will continue to provide billions of leones to district and city councils to enable them to bring home the fruits of the Agenda for prosperity.
Comrades, ladies and gentlemen, Sierra Leone under the leadership of the APC is being blessed more and more by God. Under our leadership we have started exporting iron ore after 30 years and the prospect for oil is encouraging; under our leadership our country is being honoured again in the most powerful country in the world; under our leadership our country is leading reforms at the United Nations; under our leadership this country is once again respected for our democracy, our economic growth, our human rights record, and our contribution to peace and security all over Africa.
We must continue to work hard to be worthy vessels of these blessings; we must work harder to make the party stronger. That is why I am proposing a Party Conference in the near future that will be solely dedicated to re-organizing and making the structures of the party stronger to meet the challenges of politics and governance in a global society.
We must also restructure our country. Sierra Leone is the only country in West Africa whose provincial and district administrative units are as they were at independence. This must be addressed. We must redraw regional and district administrative units to meet the socio-economic and political realities of our times.
We must also revisit the constitution. The APC is the only party capable of leading a constitution making process where the shots are called by Sierra Leoneans themselves. The present 1991 constitution of the country is a creation of the APC; we must also be the leaders of the re-enactment of a constitution that is informed by the best principles of governance in the modern era. I seek your approval for these initiatives; I seek for continued support for the transformation; I seek your eternal vigilance.
Comrades, ladies and gentlemen, we are a party of human beings, not angels; and challenges are part and parcel of the human condition. But we have learned from the challenges of the past, we shall never again allow violent anti-democratic forces to swerve our focus on developing this country. That has always been their strategy; to distract us from the effort of developing this country. But we will focus on our better strategy of transforming this country. Let them have their say, we will have our way, we will implement our Agenda for Prosperity
Comrades, ladies and Gentlemen, this country is better today than we were five years ago and I have you to thank for that. We still have challenges; but the APC is not afraid of challenges. Our party was formed to face challenges. Siaka Stevens faced challenges, but he led the party to victory again and again and again; Ibrahim Otol and Alhaji Muctarr Kallay faced challenges, but they successfully mobilized the people for success again and again and again, Nancy Steele faced challenges, but she mobilized women to march on with the APC again and again and again; T S M’briwa and Fannia faced banishment and intimidation but remained committed to the APC and our supporters faced the challenges of oppression in the 1960s but they struggled on to achieve victory again and again and again; our members faced mayhem in the 1990s, but they did not waiver; SAT Koroma, Chukuma Johnson faced challenges, but they were resolute; D F Shears, Harold Hanciles, James Leverse, Philipson Kamara, Kawusu-Konteh, Chief Sumaila Sesay faced challenges but they did not back down; William Smith and Tamba Juana faced challenges, but they struggled on; Victor Foh faced challenges, but that only strengthened his resolve. Our party is a congress of resolute people; our party is a congress of brave men and women; our party is the congress of committed and progressive citizens of Sierra Leone. This is because we all believe that in the struggles of the APC, there is a victory for us, there is victory for us, there is victory for us.