By Elhaj Malik Shabbaz
THE political atmosphere in the country is becoming tough among high ranking members of the main opposition All People’s Congress party. This begs and eggs the question who will lead the party for the grassroots and also attract huge international respect to the promise land come 2023? As concerns hiking up from die hard supporters of the party, who is fit to take APC through the 2023 presidential race is still left unanswered. Taking into cognizance the supposed gains of the NRM and their positive ramifications – this will leave in its wake an avalanche of level playing field and seemingly a whole lot of presidential aspirant hopefuls to crawl out from the woodwork. The party has had a groundswell of grassroots activism by the National Reformation Movement transforming the All People’s Congress to a modern-day democracy. The party has finally agreed to adopt a democratic constitution that will allow a level playing field for all positions leading from constituent, district, regional and national levels: then who amongst this plethora of former standard bearer aspirants is best fit to certainly take us to state House?
This question is still left unanswered, though it could be determined by the ballot as opposed to the appointment/selection syndrome, it is high time the APC party upped its game to ride the crest waves of the looming 2023 elections. From the 28 flag bearers, there are a selective few we are certain have got no skeleton on their cupboards. Though it could be arguably opined that the COI was fraught with fraud handling and witch hunting – except one’s name is clearly exonerated, most of those allegedly implicated, will be summarily disqualified. From the list of flag bearers, almost every one of them is a potential leader that is capable of winning us an election, but do we just need a flag bearer for flag bearer sake like we did in 2018 that landed us in this continued regret narratives?
As the APC party and the National Reformation Movement are now having a period of truce to end the reformation struggle and adopt democratic principles in the party activities, it is but time we also start thinking of a better choice for the flag bearer race. Since every position now will be contested through election, this does not however presuppose that even those who know they have skeleton in their cupboards should disturbed the race because it is democracy. It is high time those with allegations of corruption step down peacefully if not peaceably, to allow a quality race that will be devoid of any naysaying by the ruling SLPP. It is no gainsaying that the All People’s Congress party can make a very unpopular candidate to become the most popular figure, Dr. Samura Kamara and former president Koroma are a crystal example of how the APC can make an unmake people. To say the APC needs a popular candidate to usher us into State House is unequivocally an axiom that sits well with logic. However, being popular is a necessary condition. Not a sufficient condition. And, the caveat here is, when we mean popular, do we perceive before the choice of flag bearer or after the act of being chosen? To say that the former flag bearer candidate is “popular” – and so the already logical choice, is a figment of imagination; superfluously specious and spurious. We must not be dragged by big names and forgetting the fact that they are only roaming the political corridors as traps ready to be used by the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party to destroy our chances for 2023 elections. As the political atmosphere intensifies, our slightest mistake will bring us an eternal doom. So, we must not only choose our candidate for the presidential race wisely, but cautiously.
Most importantly, we must not only be cautious about the flag bearer that will take us to State House 2023, but we must be firm that the very individual is a result oriented individual. The chosen elected flag bearer should be up for and to the task. A litany of conditionalities should be met. Aura, charisma, fluency in speech. Not loquacious. Just having the gift of the gab. So who will this fine gentleman be? Or should audaciously say – that fine lady? Cometh the time. Cometh the hour. Were will such a man – or woman step up from. But, again, just as recent as this year, we saw the coming back of former Vice President Sam Sumana to the APC; an action that creates a loads of vibes and impacts, some commentators say. Well, as gentle as Sam, it is arguably true that he can win us an election hands down, but this very individual is even worse than all those in the COI put together if we risk electing him as our next flag bearer. I know supporters of Sam may see this as a witch hunt against Sam or some will say I am anti-Sam, but it is just the simple truth.
Sam, for all i know is still on record that he has proof, a very strong evidentiary leverage against former President Koroma that he sold the lives of compatriots of this country in disguise of a disease called Ebola. With such self incriminatory statement coming from the former second gentleman is just enough for the SLPP to flag us with it on our faces. Well, let’s not look too far, any citizen of this country or even my grandma at Masimra Chiefdom can take Sam Sumana to court to prove his claim, for it is said that; he who asserts must prove such assertion. Even if there is a dearth of APC flag bearer candidates, Sam is not a viable option for APC 2023. Let us not be hypocrites or not be brutal with the inconvenient truth. Those candidates we are falling all over ourselves for are not what this country needs now. Though most of them have gullible die-hard supporters, but it is the responsibility for those of us with right thinking capacity to take these issues with the party hierarchy and let them know we are no longer ready to wait for another five years of SLPP’s misrule.
This country and the rest of the world need someone who is heaven sent. Someone who will not convert donor monies to his pocket money. Someone who is a game changer that is devoid of any incumbrance of corruption allegation. From the 28-flag bearer during 2017, we still have those with clean sheet, respect and dignity. We still have the Paul Kamara (Salone Mandela) a professional media guru; lawyer Kalokoh, a certified Legal Practitioner; and Engineer Chernor Koroma, a certified Civil Engineer and Businessman, why look any further afield?
As a party, our worries must now be how we mobilize support from all those candidates that were in the race but have been made redundant by the SLPP COIs’. We must be worried because we cannot afford making the same mistakes in 2018 when those who were neglected abandoned the campaign and went back to their comfort zones leaving the party to struggle in the hands of SLPP voters. From Lawyer Kalokoh, to Engineer Chernor, to Paul Kamara and few others who do not have COI like the fabled Sword of Domocles, hanging over their heads must be given the chance to take us through. I believe, from among them, we will have the Moses we have been looking for.
We have seemingly had (an NRM) internal revolution, with successfully reform strictures and structures. Now our next challenge is a revolution to having a candidate whose pep-talk will instill confidence in both the people of this country and our international partners. We need a candidate that is a workhorse not a show-horse. We need a political junkie, one with a clear view and knowledge of development. Our country needs a professional with unique characters and zest that can provide us with the holistic leadership that we desperately need. With the prescience that we have all what it takes to win the 2023 elections, we must also not lose grip of the fact that the individual that will lead us to this race must be a symbol of integrity. It is now time we start to practice politics of integrity in the APC, let’s not tread and trend on the path of those we castigate for their wrong paradigmatic governance template. Let us be that positive and welcoming change we all crave. That change is here. If we are ready to embrace it with wholesome alacrity. Let us seize that opportunity.
*The views are those of the author