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Is Maada Bio already losing the plot?

Austin Thomas

5 October 2011

  Election they say is a game of numbers, as every vote counts at the end of the day for victory. In Sierra Leone's politics, every president - past or present, has won the Western Area of the country.

Any candidate who fails to win in this hot spot, loses the election, and to win - the candidate must have a powerful media team to work with.

Maada Bio wants to emulate Michael Sata of Zambia, who kicked out Dr. Banda after one term. That can be done if Maada Bio can understand what he is up against. In reality, Sierra Leoneans are suffering and will want change.

But is Maada Bio ready for Sierra Leoneans to trust him, as it seems the SLPP is more divided now than before with the spate of resignations taking place in the party, especially in the Western Area, coupled with the constant bombardment from the pro-APC newspapers and websites?

It seems that Maada Bio has started losing out even before the game starts, because he has allowed himself and his advisers to create unwarranted divisions within the party, as well as failing to organize a powerful media team to work with.

What ever the differences that may have occurred, Maada Bio - you should embrace every one of the failed candidates and their election team, for you to form a broad-based campaign team.

Abass Bundu may not have all the ideas you need to win, but working with the other candidates very closely, will enable you to meet with their campaign teams and start positioning them for an all out offensive, when the whistle blows or even now, by planning and preparing for that all important campaign offensive.

I am pretty sure that if you had maintained a close contact with the Western Area executives - who I guess where supporting Usman Boie, the spate of resignation would not have taken place. But just concentrating in the South and East will never take you to State House.

You should correct the mistakes Berewa made and not to continue with them, if you want to win and most especially to improve our lives after 2012.

Election as I have said in my opening paragraph is about numbers, and these resignations do not auger well for you and for us. If I were you, I would definitely try to get all of those that have resigned and talk with them - face to face - so we can iron out all differences.

  If you want to be the next president, this is the right time to make amends in the Western Area. Think of all the presidents that we have had and see which one got to State House after losing the Western Area.

Please Maada, I am appealing to you to retract your steps and push for all former executive members in the Western Area, to reconsider their position and come back onboard to help you win Western Area.

Time is of the essence. You have been dealt a serious blow by the police as they have banned all public political meetings and rallies. In the meantime, you do need to consolidate and put your house in very good order, so when the game starts, it will be an explosion in a positive manner that will propel you to the throne.

I know you have lots of advisers, but remember that you yourself should be able to think squarely and positively for your own good. I repeat: push very hard to reconcile with all the aggrieved members from the Western Area.

Do not listen to advisers who think the opposite, nor get someone else - an SLPP executive to do this work. You must meet and work with them yourself, in order to find a solution to the impasse at the earliest opportunity. And the same goes for the candidate - Dr. Soyie. You must also open dialogue with him - one on one, and make amends before it’s too late.

Whether the APC is behind those resignations or not, it doesn’t matter. Let the world see how you have tried to get them to return to the fold for success - come 2012.

It is obvious that there will be rumours of the ruling party fighting to jeopardize your success. But that should not hinder you in any way to get the western area executives back. The south and east for you - are assured. But the final key to victory is Western Area. More effort is needed by you and your team to create a positive impact in this region and to get it done.

Having delved into the numbers game, I want to again implore you to take the media very seriously, as no candidate can win an election without the media. The media has been very instrumental in every election all over the world, and Ernest’s victory in 2007 was down to the media. He had a very good propaganda machine that sold him locally as well as internationally.

The number of negative articles published daily against you is alarming, and you need to rethink your media strategy. Many candidates across the world have employed or contracted Public Relations Company to help market them. They do so because they know how important it is for them to succeed.

Reading ‘Letter from Freetown’ written by my big brother in the profession - Winston Ojukutu Macauley, I totally agree with him that you failed in putting together a media team that would have recorded every event that took place in Bo. By now the world would have seen how you were stoned and those responsible for burning down the APC office.

Maada Bio – please, your advisers are really not working or giving you proper advice. This is the time for you to sit up and organize your media team, which will be very effective in disseminating information from your camp on a daily basis through the newspaper, the radio, the internet and television.

Every move you make should be recorded, because you need to replay the day’s event and see where you went wrong or where to improve or the kinds of questions that were asked, by whom and how you will be able to prepare for the next day. This is the reason why you need a consultant to package you successfully for the throne come 2012.

Many newspapers at home, I am sure are still opposed to you and the SLPP, and you need to strengthen the pro-SLPP newspapers, and make sure you have regular paid columns in the independent papers as well as on radio and TV.

Your propaganda machine is not up to the task, and it seems you have started to lose the plot already by sidelining the media, hoping that the few pro-SLPP newspapers and reporters can give you victory.

Ernest Koroma won in 2007 because of what the media did for him. This is why he has repaid most of them with positions of foreign embassy press attaches, and appointing others as ministers.

You’ve got to look beyond your nose to see what’s there and this is the right time to do it and set your strategy for 2012 success.

Obama became the first black president of USA, not only because he is the first social media president, but because of the rigorous online campaign by his media team, using blogs, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, MSN, Yahoo etc., sending out the message of change, the message of hope. This indeed, created a massive impact on the voters.

You and your team should be planning on how to attack the voters through SMS, social media, newspapers, radio, TV etc. You can achieve this by assembling a powerful and strong media team from   all sections of the profession.

The citizens of Sierra Leone should see your face, listen to your message and read about you, listen to your messages everyday in many different news organs for them to understand your desire and determination to change their lives.

The fact that the economy is in shambles and that a mockery has been made of us by the president visiting NASDAQ, at a time when his government keeps lying to the teachers instead of meeting their demands - for example, will certainly help you to send out strong messages about the kind of leader we have.

You will win on the merits of this platform, your ability to lead and inspire confidence in Sierra Leoneans, who desperately need to have trust in someone after five years of Ernest Koroma - the same Sierra Leoneans who once believed in his vision for our country. The media will help to communicate these issues to the people where ever they are at anytime of the day.

Ernest Koroma might be the favourite, but if you are serious in using the media to its fullest - then you are bound to succeed and cause an upset. He did it against Berewa and you too can repeat the same, especially as he has increased our suffering.

I will delve more into the strategies you need to win the election next week, but as I close this piece I once again would like to remind you that you will never get to State House if you fail to win the Western Area.

Also, if you continue to fail to put together a formidable media team that will disseminate information on a regular basis as well as keeping records of every move you make to help you improve, then you are wasting your time; and most of us Sierra Leoneans yearning for change - will not forgive you.

Remember you can be second time lucky if you take my advice.

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