SLPP elects a pro-Maada Bio national executive council – has the party shot itself in the foot?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 September 2018

After a weekend of excitement and drama, wrapped up in political machinations and chicanery at the SLPP convention in Kenema, the party has in the very early hours of this morning, elected a new National Executive Council that will oversee the election of its presidential candidate for the 2018 national elections.

The list of elected executives clearly shows an overwhelming support for the former military brigadier – turned politician – Julius Maada Bio (Photo: Bio in uniform), by the majority of national delegates, who were qualified and bothered to turn up to vote at the convention in Kenema.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph understands that many delegates were either disqualified or declined to attend the convention to vote, in protest at what they described as naked aggression, intimidation and abuse hauled at them by ‘Paopa’ supporters of the former military brigadier.

As a result, it was looking pretty obvious, hours before the votes were cast, that the new look SLPP National Executive Council was going to be a cloned Maada Bio supporters club.

This outcome will have profound implications for the SLPP party in many ways. Firstly, not only are the majority of members of the elected NEC perceived as pro-Maada Bio, they are regarded as hard-lined ‘Yes-men’ from Bio’s Mende tribe.

Secondly, none of the presidential aspirants in the party can boast of having a strong power base in the norther half of the country and Freetown – the capital, where SLPP would need to poll at least 40% of its total required number of voters to win the 2018 general and presidential elections.

The ruling APC are fast working on building a political fortress in the Eastern district of Kono, where SLPP must also put on a massive fight to win control, if it is to govern Sierra Leone. Not a single seat was won by SLPP in Kono at the last general elections in 2012. And 2018 is going to prove even tougher.

Maada is poised to win the SLPP party’s presidential candidacy next week, but is clearly laying down the foundation for a resounding defeat at the national polls in 2018.

In 2012, his party could only manage to win about 37% of the total votes cast, with over 50% of its ballots polled in his southern political heartland. Why should this change in 2018?

Supporters of Maada Bio say that he has grown massively in popularity across the country, and has improved his image rating especially in the north of the country.

But far too many northerners are still reeling from the execution of dozens of people – mostly from the north, when Bio’s military junta toppled the northern tribal based APC government in 1992.

The problem for the opposition SLPP, come 2018, is also one of image. It has and more so now, regarded as a Mende man party, by large sections of the population of Sierra Leone. And looking at the list of their elected national executive council members, critics may be forgiven for believing that the SLPP is a Mende man party.

But Yousif Keketoma – one of Maada Bio’s media handlers, says that the list shows that “SLPP leads by example on regional balance, in its new national executive, showcasing a party of one country, one people”. He listed the names of the newly elected officials, also showing their respective regional origin:

1. Prince Alex Harding –  Chairman and Leader – from the South.

2. Umaru Dumbuya – Deputy Chairman and Leader – from the North.

3.Umaru Napoleon Koroma – National Secretary General – from the North.

4.Sheku Lexmond Koroma – Deputy National Secretary General – from the South.

5. Manso Dumbuya – Vice Chairman, Western Area – from the North.

6. Edward Suluku – Vice Chairman, Southern Region – from the South.

7. Philip Tondorneh – Vice Chairman, Eastern Region  – from the East.

8. Abu Abu Koroma – Vice Chairman, Northern Region  – from the North.

9. Lahai Lawrence Leema – National Publicity Secretary  – from the East.

10. Musa Moiguah – National Young Generation Leader  – from the South.

11. Emerson Kamara – National Young Generation Secretary General  – from the North.

12. Jimmy B Songa – National Organising Secretary – from the South.

13. Rex Bonapha – Deputy National Organising Secretary elect – from the East.

14. Fatmata Sawaneh – National Women’s Leader  – from the East.

15. Fatmata Bockarie – Deputy National Women’s Leader – from the East.

16. Lawyer Anthony Berewa – Legal Adviser 1 – from the South.

17. Lawyer Eke Halloway – Legal Adviser 2 – from the West.

18. Lawyer Hindolo M. Gevao – Legal Adviser  3 – from the East.

19. Dr J. D Rogers – National Financial Secretary – from the South.

20. Martha Kanagbo – National Treasurer – from the South.

21. Mohamed F. Sheriff- National Internal Auditor – from the South.

21. Rev. Dwight French -Chaplin – from the West.

22. Alhaji M. N. Koroma- Imam – from the North.

23. Alhaji M. B Fadika – Trustee West (Urban) – from the West.

24. Frederick A.S. Walker – Trustee West (Rural) – from the West.

25. Sidi B. Sowa – Trustee South 1 – from the South.

26.Luretia M.Sheriff -Trustee South 2 – from the South.

27. Alhaji M.L. Kallon -Trustee East 1 – from the East.

28. Agnes K.Sebba – Trustee East 2 – from the East.

29. Alusine Fofanah -Trustee North 1 – from the North.

30. Alie Badara Kamara-Trustee North 2 – from the North.

But in reaction to this list of newly elected SLPP executive council members, critics point out that the list does not provide the regional balance that is necessary for promoting national inclusion and cohesion in Sierra Leone.

The list shows the North has 8 executive members; East 8 executive members; South 10 executive members; and Western Area – Freetown has 4  executive members.

With a total of 60% of the executives originating from the south-eastern half of the country, critics say that the SLPP is showing its regional bias – not balance. But is the ruling APC any different? This remains to be seen when the ruling APC goes to its national convention. (Photo: Bio – left, sitting alongside  his strongest opponent for the presidential candidacy – Alie Kabba). 

Yousif Keketoma – a staunch supporter and member of the Maada Bio media team was asked by the Sierra Leone Telegraph: “How do you respond to those who say that this executive is designed in the image of Maada Bio? Is this not a pro Bio executive?”

“There is no legal restriction stating Bio’s supporters should not be elected.  If anything, it shows the overwhelming support Bio enjoys in the Party. We have a new executive and very proud of them,” he said.

And that response about sums up the confidence in the ‘Bio for President’ camp, as the SLPP heads into next week’s presidential candidacy election. But will its national delegates stop short of crowning Maada Bio as their presidential candidate for 2018?

11 Comments

  1. I will implore folks not to buy into the age old propaganda about the history and reputation of Maada Bio. Madda assumed the Presidency of Sierra Leone for less than a year, so to credit him with all that happened during the NPRC regime is disingenuous at best.

    And to blame him for the failures of our opposition leader in parliament, who is tasked with the responsibility of challenging and exposing the shenanigans of the APC shows the prejudice people have for him. As for those who continue to brand our party as a tribal entity, I want you to look at the composition of the APC National Executive Council, and judge for yourself the party that truly embodies the one country one people slogan:

    APC Chairman- (Northerner)
    Deputy Chairman- (Northerner)
    Secretary General- (Northerner)
    APC youth League- (Northerner)
    Women’s Leader (Northerner)
    Publicity Secretary (Northerner)

  2. I beg to differ from all the opinion expressed here and I take issue with the title of this article that the SLPP has shot itself in the foot.

    Why would anyone think that the SLPP has shot itself in the foot? The party has elected people who are committed to the values of the party and not people who only want to associate with the party for personal gain. Granted, the aim of every political party is to gain power. That is the aim of the SLPP as well, and I am sure if the next general election is conducted freely and fairly, the SLPP will emerge victoriously.

    Many of the people who have abandoned the party because they were not sure they will become the leader of the party to take State House have never been sincere to the party. It is even said that many like Andrew Kielli opted out because he does not want to pay the candidate fees since he has not been able to convince many of the would be candidate to support him.

    With the likes of John Benjamin, he is on record to have heavily campaigned against the SLPP in the 1996 General Elections. His Party then the NUP was a failure.

    JOB only pitched tent with the party after the Late President Kabba gave him a Ministerial position in 2005. Three years later, JOB was made the chairman of the party, a party that he became a member of in less than 5 years. Now he thinks he should be elected to take the party to general elections. Is that not asking for more than you are entitled to?

    The same goes for Dr. Yumkella, a man who had said he was noncommittal in Sierra Leone politics until when he realised that his final term at UNIDO was dawning on him in 2015. Hurriedly, he registered with the SLPP party in the same 2015. Two years later, he wants to take the party to state House. But how will you get your way when others have been there before you, especially when you have been absent during the difficult times for the party?

    Do these people examine their conscience?

    The SLPP has its political base. The party is not running against Angels in the forthcoming elections. If the SLPP can get all their grassroots supporters to rally behind whosoever is going to win the flag bearer race (of which there are only three candidates remaining), their chances are as strong as any other party contesting the election.

    For those who have left, they need the same people they have left behind them to vote for them in whatever party they find themselves. Voters are not manufactured. They are the same people we see every day who knows what joblessness is, who knows what it is when you are marginalised for certain jobs, scholarship, opportunities, because of your nomenclature. This is about us and them!

    The SLPP will be foolish if they do not educate the voters especially their core supporters damaged in the past about what these “I want It, I will get it or else” politicians have done to them. Thank God, the Charles Margai’s switch to the PMDC only to end up losing its members to the APC and the Wusu Bio change boat and many other defections that resulted in mire have taught our people that the leaders who run away are only doing so for their personal benefit. The SLPP will remain.

  3. I have noticed that anytime a “Mende Man” tries to archive anything political in Sierra Leone people equate it with tribalism. In my opinion I think it’s unfair to the Mendes who seem to be always on a guilty trip so they always have to go an extra mile to always prove that they are not tribalistic.

    The British (who always believed that God is an English man) saw some leadership qualities in the Mende tribe during colonialism that’s the reason they preferred the Mende to govern after independence.

    It’s always obvious that the majority of the Mende are law abiding people and always believed that “learning is better than silver and gold” and that’s the primary reason why they occupy most of the major institutions in Sierra Leone which has nothing to do with tribalism.

    The only assignment that the Mendes should now embark on is to form an alliance with the creoles, which was destroyed by the late president Siaka Stevens who succeeded to divide and rule them by replacing the creoles that used to dominate and headed the Judiciary with Chief Justice Sheku M.F Kutubu, the Treasury with Joe Amara Bengali and Fourah Bay college with Cyril P. Foray.

    I will even suggest that the Mende should choose a creole as a running mate because they have lots in common as was evidenced during the revolution (Respect the rule of law and order and cleanliness) because choosing a northerner, if you are extremely fortunate will get you only six percent of the votes during the election.

    For the northerners mostly Temnes and Limbas will justify the reason they always vote for APC has nothing to do with tribalism but loyalty, which will be determined in the upcoming election because now they have to share those votes with Mohamed Mansaray of the ADP and Kandeh Yumkella who happens to be northerners.

  4. I want you to note very well that a level plain field was created before and during the electioneering process. It was the most free and fair elections ever conducted by any political party in this country. It was transparent and corrupt free from intimidation more than all our national elections ever conducted in this country.

  5. It is unfortunate that bad politics is making some people not to be honest enough in their comments. It seems as if SLPP and supporters always want to be in governance. As soon as the party is out of office, supporters will start saying bad things about the governing party, in this case the APC.

    By all indications, the APC rule is far better than that of the SLPP under Kabbah and Berewa. All comments above have indicated that the present government has failed miserably and one or two comments even stating that the government is no longer getting help financially from the international community due to bad governance.

    Why this cheap politics? Was it not recently IMF approved of millions of dollars for the government to continue with development programmes?

    Can any of the guys who made those comments show me/us any landmark left by the SLPP of Kabbah and Berewa. All what supporters keep on telling us is that Kabbah ended the war. But many of us know very well the history of the war. Or there are others saying all these programmes the APC are implementing have been drafted by Pa Kabbah. What a foolish thinking!

    All these guys running up and down the country promising to end APC corruption are with empty pockets. Nothing to offer when they are elected into office but to pile more misery on the people. Corruption is everywhere, not just in our country. Some form of praise the government deserve from you guys when you honestly compare it to the past ten year rule of the SLPP.

    Our country should have been in sound foundation with the DDR programme after the war. Ask yourselves what happened to all that money before even thinking of Ebola money, which by the way was under the watchful eyes of the international community.

    Let us as a nation start doing politics in the right way and not to pile blames on a party because it is not ours or its stronghold not from our region. Until this is done, even an Angel will find it difficult to turn our nation into a place comfortable for human existence.

    Just as stated by Prof. Lumumba, “it is just the forest that has changed but the monkeys are the same”. Until the monkeys themselves change their attitudes, changing the forest is a waste of time. Relate this saying to our country.

    • “By all indications, the APC rule is far better than that of the SLPP under Kabbah and Berewa.”-Robert Benjamin Kargbo

      Robert Benjamin Kargbo, opinion is an individual entitlement and sometimes when it does not come from the heart, it makes the person making the opinion looks like the naive person that the Bible book of Proverb (14:15) refers to as someone who believes every word, unlike the shrewd one who ponders each step.

      If you think Tejan Kabba’s only achievement was ending the war (which it seems is infinitesimal to you), then I would say you have not pondered over happenings in Sierra Leone. I will just tell you about one thing besides ending of the war for which Kabba’s legacy will live forever. The creation of the Security Trust (NASSIT), which unfortunately has been under serious threat as the current government sees it as their Groundnut farm, is something unique in Sierra Leone and which when it gets its proper management will forever live to benefit ordinary workers now and in time to come. Do you have a dissenting view about NASSIT?

      Kabba did not construct many roads. In fact, I know only two roads that he constructed; that is, the Masaika-Makeni Road and the Bo- Masiaka Road. These two were constructed after he finished the war in 2002. However, he did not leave the country in debt in excess of over 2 billion dollars just because he wants to build roads. Do you agree or not that Kabba did not leave the country in debt despite the fact his government had limited sources of income?

      Secondly, Kabba left some money in the kitty which the current government inherited. Many of the democratic institutions currently in the country were created by Kabba as the former APC government had nailed them to the dustbin. Have you ever heard of the ACC, the IMC and others? I am not certain whether you would agree that Kabba created the ACC, IMC and the National Commission for democratization, NATCOM etc,

      President Koroma will be remembered as the president who made Sierra Leoneans pay the Chinese for a Road that has not been built. Is that the legacy? What a nice one. This will be added to his legacy as the President who denied the presence of Ebola until the disease had perished half of the country’s medical force before coming to terms with it. The Mudslide in 2017 and the deadly Cholera outbreak in 2012 are part of his legacy. Do you have a dissenting view that these are not part of the legacy of President Koroma?

      I will credit President Koroma for constructing several roads in the country. Whether he inherited the plan or money for such roads he is the one who presided over their construction. That is a legacy he will leave behind. How I wish he had not accumulated so much debt (over 2 billion dollars) in his bid to construct these roads.

      Now he is leaving the herculean task to his successor to find money to repair these roads when they would deteriorate. We are in the tropics with torrential rains so do not expect these poorly constructed roads to last more than five years without needing serious repairs. Is this not something that we saw with Pa Siaka who constructed so many roads but put no mechanism in place to refurbish them because he left the country in huge debt just as president Koroma has done?

  6. It seems the SLPP has come to its senses. I think Dr. Bio can do much for Sierra Leone, than now. What worries me is the name you have given the party “Mende man party”. This is not what everyone wants. May God help them to overcome the difficult situation the population is suffering. Amen. “ONE PEOPLE ONE COUNTRY”

  7. I support During’s comment if we are to see light at the end of despicable, ruthless and merciless looting, mismanagement, hurstlering and dealership endeavors in place of good goevernance, accountability and transparency of the current APC government.

    The delegates care less about the current plight and misery inflected by the APC party to the people of Sierra Leone and all we can get from Julius Maada Bio in 5 years as opposition leader is to pursue further studies out of the country and in returning back home went to State House with his team to congratulate the failed Ernest Bai Koroma government for job well done

    Thank God almighty that some patriotic and well meaning Sierra Leoneans are in the move to a Grand Coalition as a formidable force to counter the excesses of the two main parties.

    And I pray to God that they will learn from the France experience as one writter previosly said to counteract the excess baggage of the two main parties in Sierra Leone.

    I will remind the SLPP that there is no power without people as we saw in the 1996 General and Presidential Elections that end up in power sharing/coalition between the various parties.

    And I foresee this happening next year but in a more patriotic, outcome oriented in favour of the coalition as the two main parties are running out of ideas of good governance and account abilities which the coalition will champion to the fullest.

    The populace have suffered and are currently suffering due to the bad leadership of the current government that even some external donors cant give the government of the day any emergency aid needed for the current disaster in the Freetown Peninsula

  8. This SLPP executive is regionally balanced. Since the SLPP has its stronghold/base in the Southeast, it is natural that more Southeasterners would be elected to the executive committee than Northerners or Westerners. Besides, what is more important is party loyalty and dedication. It does not make any sense for the party to go out of its way to bring on board folks whose loyalties lie with other political parties.

    The delegates and not the party executive members elect the party’s flag bearer. So we all should cool down and wait for the delegates to do their job. They are going to elect the candidate that best represents the party and not the candidate that the APC likes. Let’s exercise some patience.

  9. We wait and see! For the sanity and desire to move our country forward these elected officials are given the task of elevating our country from the dungeons of poverty and degradation. We expect them to elect our flag bearer outside of sentiments.

    We need someone who can galvanise all the members for us to win the elections of 2018. It will be a grotesque imitation of what we stand for as a people if the right thing is not done. We also have to be very careful not to let the opportunity of State House elude us; especially at a time when the current government has failed us in every facet of our political and social culture.

    These delegates should bear in mind that they have children and other relatives whom they should build foundations for, solid foundations and structures that will be not only the hallmark of our party but the country as a whole.

  10. Mr Maada Bio – with his history/reputation – and SLPP have shot themselves in both feet.

    APC had eight years to have introduced exemplary nationally beneficial changes but had failed, and, is still failing to such an extent that The UK Government have recently not entrusted it with distributing its £5 Million Emergency Aid to surviving victims of the recent landslide in Regent – preferring to bypass the APC Government.

    Sierra Leone needs a new party to be established and functioning immediately!

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