The Devil is in the detail, not the dance off – Part 1

The Devil is in the detail, not the dance off – Part 1

Point 12 of the Alliance Agreement between the SLPP and NGC is very interesting. It states that ‘when the Alliance wins the Presidential elections, the NGC will be included in an inclusive government.’

It also states in point 2, that ‘Julius Maada Bio shall be the sole Presidential candidate for the Alliance.’

To me these two statements are problematic and would render the Agreement meaningless. The ballot paper for the Presidential election, will not show Julius Maada Bio as the flagbearer of the Alliance of Political Parties candidate. It will show him as the candidate of SLPP.

There are no set of circumstances where an incumbent President will contest elections as the flagbearer of an alliance. It will be political suicide, which will be exploited by the opposition. This is why Point 1 makes it clear that both parties will maintain their own identities. Despite the NGC spin, Point 1 allows the SLPP to wriggle out of any obligation in Points 2 and 12, because it would be an SLPP Presidential Candidate who would contest the election, not an Alliance Presidential Candidate.

Therefore, assuming Bio wins the Presidency, it will be SLPP, not the Alliance winning the Presidential elections. In effect, this agreement is not binding on SLPP, as Points 2 and 12 do not refer to SLPP in anyway.

For all intents and purposes, the Alliance of Political Parties does not exist as a legal, corporate or political entity. It is merely a figment of Kandeh’s imagination. Other than this agreement, there are no other documents describing the form, composition or rules governing the Alliance of Political Parties. For example, if the SLPP reneges, there is no mechanism within the Alliance, for the parties to resolve matters internally, before resorting to PPRC or the court.

The significance of this is recognised in Point 3 and 13 of the Agreement. Point 3 recognises the need for structures to be put in place and Point 13 recognises the need for a mediation committee to deal with disputes. The problem here is that the cart has been put before the horse. The Agreement has been signed, before structures and the mediation process are agreed. These should have been agreed and incorporated into the Agreement signed by the Parties.

Having secured an Agreement with no teeth, why would shrewd political operators like President Bio and Prince Harding have any interest to put in place the required structures, when election campaign ought to be their priority. With two months to the election, they will be doing the SLPP a disservice, if they were to prioritise administrative arrangements over securing votes. In the absence of these internal arrangements, a near bankrupt NGC will have to resort to the courts, to seek redress.

Point 12 is also so vague, that it is practically meaningless. The first issue is that there is no specific commitment to a certain quota of jobs to be offered to NGC. My understanding of the discussions that took place was that NGC leaders were also told that the number of jobs they are given, will also be performance related, i.e. dependent on how well they campaign for President Bio. The problem with this is that NGC will have no way to evidence their performance, especially as, it is now more unlikely that they would field candidates for any election.

Even where NGC may field a sprinkling of candidates, they are not going to secure the required 12 percent of votes required to meet the minimum threshold for seats under the District Block PR System. Voters are not going to chose an NGC Candidate in preference to an SLPP Candidate, where both are standing on the same manifesto and campaigning for a Bio second term. The reality is that NGC faces a well deserved electoral wipeout, and as such, will struggle to demonstrate how it would have contributed to the success of a Bio second term, if that were the outcome.

The second issue, is that Point 12 envisages that NGC will be included in an ‘inclusive government.’ Why NGC believes that they are the only love interest of SLPP is beyond comprehension, especially as other parties within the All Political Parties Association (APPA) and the C4C political leadership, have been more overt and unflinching in their support for SLPP.

The third issue, which NGC leaders should play close attention to, especially as they disparage the APC and CoPPP, is that Presidential appointments are subject to ratification in Parliament, and politics makes for strange bedfellows, as I have discovered during the last four months. I can foresee an alliance between MPs, who are nourishing Juldeh Jalloh’s 2028 Presidential ambitions and APC MPs who might just be inclined to screw the ambition the NGC upstart. If these circumstances were to arise, would an SLPP government want to delay its programme of government by insisting on the approval of NGC collaborators? I think not.

The Agreement does not appear to be dated, does not state its duration, does not spell out the circumstances in which it may be amended or terminated. It does not state the laws which govern it. It just appears to be a complete shambles, which an undergraduate law student will not make.

The Agreement exposes the desperation of NGC negotiators for jobs. They have not paid attention to the detail, but have been singularly focussed on jobs. One political observer, activist and NGC supporter reminded me, that I should understand that ‘these people have been locked out for 10.5 years under Koroma, and 5 years under Bio.’ They cannot do another five, without jobs. It was always about jobs. It was never about ‘saving Sierra Leone.’

My message to voters is to ignore collaborators like Yumkella, who is seeking to prop up a failed government, with a track record of extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses, and which has presided over economic stagflation, with food price inflation at 45% and unprecedented and continuous depreciation of the Leone.

Despite the tremendous poverty and hunger, the nation witnessed Yumkella dancing with the Bio’s with money been thrown at them while the masses suffer. Yumkella needed a moment of grandstanding, to disguise what is essentially carpetbagging. At least Alpha Khan’s cross carpeting was not done at huge public expense.

I urge voters to vote out the Bio government and its collaborators in the forthcoming elections.

Alan Luke

25 April 2023


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