Cornelius Oguntola Melvin Deveaux: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 May 2022:
The ruling of Justice Adrian Fisher in the matter between Alfred Peter Conteh versus Ernest Bai Koroma, Osman Foday Yansaneh, All Peoples Congress, and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) is exciting, daunting, and flummoxed. It aroused overwhelming and intimidating but emotional responses from supporters of feuding factions within the party, the general membership of the party, and members of the public – since political parties are public institutions.
The ruling generates mixed feelings and leaves several right-thinking Sierra Leoneans in outbursts of gratification, despair, hate, doubt, and revenge. Mine is not the relativity of the ruling to jurisprudence neither to cry over spilled milk; nor about pointing fingers, casting blames and a pat on the back.
It is not about the highs and lows of the judgement. It is about the opportunities to bury the hatchet, shake off the dust and rubble and to rebuild the party and move forward.
Blaming the SLPP government or the Courts for our predicament is a deliberate attempt to continue to hide in the shadows of our iniquities. It is not to say a desperate SLPP will not do any and everything possible to undo the formidability of the APC.
I am also not saying the judge may not have satisfied the bid of his master. Both have been at their best, but we have ourselves to blame. A complex and complicated combination of complacency, arrogance, intolerance, hypocrisy, in-fighting, negligence, and ignorance within and among the rank and file are the reason for our current predicament.
It should not be a moment of self-gratification for anybody; nor a moment for mudslinging and browbeating. Posterity will blame this generation of members for bringing this calamity to the party; however, the disbanded executive carries more blame.
And all of us who served the party in various capacities based on the appointment or recommendation of the disbanded executive, knowing or unknowing of their illegitimacy, equally bear responsibility. Failing to do due diligence or complicity. Those who claim not to be oblivious of the ills but only spoke out when they felt aggrieved, or their interest threatened are as guilty as the disbanded executive.
In all of this, the party is the pawn in a game where individual interests trample the collective good. It brings to mind two Krio parables. The first is We Os Nכ SԐll yu, trit Nכ go aks ɔmɔs fɔ yu (meaning if you are not offered for sale by your household, nobody on the streets will ask at what price), and the second: Nכ luk whosai yu for dom, luk whosai yu bok yu fut (consider where you missed your step and not where you fall).
As the main opposition party, we have not been up to task holding the SLPP government accountable and have failed in our obligations to uphold democratic good governance. The rank and file of the party and the general public are not oblivious that the party is laden with internal strife.
Some members kowtow flag-bearer aspirants; others divided between the old guards and the reformers. Very senior comrades, hitherto well-meaning and dedicated, are engaged in an intense horse-trading with the ruling SLPP to protect their personal interests and wealth and to disadvantage their rivals.
Their actions jeopardize the safety and security of comrades and sabotaged the unity and effective functioning of the party as the main opposition in a democracy.
The disbanded executive, of which I was a member, could not have done better than they did. Many thought they were a compromised leadership lacking focus, as their legitimacy was legally questionable. Views about their lack of focus and inability to take the bull by the horn came rife when they failed to act appropriately in many instances.
The internecine social media warfare only deepened acrimony and widened the divide. What remains equally problematic and perhaps more repulsive than the court case is the high level of political ignorance, rivalry, and hypocrisy exhibited by comrades, particularly comrades from whom we expect much.
The ruling, therefore, provides an opportunity for a thorough introspection; to disentangle alliances and patronage and cement the bonds of comradeship. Consequently, this ruling should let us cast our indifferences and confront the common enemy.
Who is the common enemy?
The common enemy is getting Bio out of State House in the 2023 elections. It is, therefore, time to move forward; we need to move forward. But moving forward with the same mindset will take us nowhere. The same bickering continues as if we are locked up in our past. It should not de-escalate to a cold war in the Court sanctioned interim arrangement.
The court ruling puts the future of sanity and unity in the APC in the hands of two people: Alfred Peter Conteh and Chernoh Ramadan Bah. Both represent contending interests within the party; Alfred is a ‘reformer,’ and Chernoh belongs to the old guard. But the two have the responsibility to put the party above parochial interests. Above camps and segregation. They have the task of uniting the party at this crucial moment. They can do this by making sure the 21-man committee does not become a cold war battlefield.
According to the court ruling, Alfred Peter Conteh will appoint nine members, including the chairman, while Chernoh Ramadan Bah is to provide twelve in consultation with other Members of Parliament. Both Comrades should choose the 21 from amongst Comrades who have the leadership knack to unite the party. They should bring onboard well-meaning comrades from outside their immediate circles.
The neutrality of the 21 is the hope of the masses. They are the balancing act. They should not promote rival interests and should not include people who seek self-gratification and revenge.
As a party, we should be responsive to the urgent need for a united and focused APC if we are to hold this government accountable and win the 2023 elections. The 21-man committee should provide leadership in uniting the party. Their task is more delicate than that of the 25-man committee that will conduct conventions and elections of party officers from Ward to national, including the presidential candidate for 2023.
A united APC is the craving desire of the members and a nation desperate to vote the SLPP out in 2023. But we must come to terms with the fact that there can be no unity in the APC without a genuine reconciliation that seeks to put the party’s interest above all other considerations.
One of the other recommendations of the Nine-Man committee which recommended the new constitution is to reconcile the party. The 21-man committee now has the arduous task of reconciling the party.
My view is that the 21-man committee reconciles the party before convening conventions to elect new officers and the presidential candidate for the 2023 presidential election. It should be reconciliation before the conventions and not the other way round.
The 21-man committee can pursue reconciliation alongside addressing unresolved membership issues. It is that which the party needs to facilitate inclusiveness, a level playing field, and the acceptance of what both the 21-man and 25-man committees will be doing.
In conclusion, reconciling the APC is the most urgent task at hand. It is a sure precursor to ending indifferences and repositioning the party ahead of 2023. If we desire to reconcile the party after the conventions, it will be putting the cart before the horse.
While the party is in the process of reform, let me, however, urge our APC MPs to demand the resignation of the Clerk of Parliament and the Leader of Government Business for their complicity and lack of due diligence thereof in the scam involving the presentation of a fake academic degree to parliament by the Minister of Agriculture to gain an advantage during his approval process.
Reconcile for what purpose. This is not about reconciliation. Out of respect for the editor, I will say it’s time for these failures masquerading as saviours to go. It was the complete and abject failure of Ernest Koroma that has brought us to this debacle. 30 million USD given for colleges and not one was built. Instead a school in Makeni, which is called a university.
Ernest Koroma is a primitive, backwards fellow, whose only claim to fame was stealing Jamil Shahid Mohamed’s RITCORP. His lack of intelligence and lust for power caused the S.L.P.P to rise again. His cousins and nephews will come out to defend him but it’s time for a clean sweep.
What we face here is a full blown revolution, a revolution whose major cause goes back decades to Siaka Stevens. Succeeding leaders of APC since the demise of Sheki continued to see APC as their personal entity – their sole domain; everything should revolve around them like the planets revolve around the sun through centrifugal force. There was never a desire by the leadership to adjust to changing times as the make-up of the party changed as more aggressive, younger and fearless people started emerging on the fringes of the party, demanding democratic reforms. Even as the party splintered after the 2018 elections Earnest Koroma, Osman Yansaneh and the rest of the leadership did not see the need to act quickly to mitigate the effects of the implosion that was in the offing, and which could end their political career under the glare of publicity.
The ruling by Justice Adrien Fisher was in effect the coup de grace which officially ended the days of the APC leadership, a bloodless revolution shrouded in ignominy. I saw Osman Yansaneh in a video the other day, and he looked melancholic and subdued as if he was attending a funeral, his own political funeral. Earnest was not there, perhaps deciding to mourn alone at home. Alfred Peter Conteh, Sylvia Blyden and others are standing by to escort them to their respective political graves. The new leadership will now have to reconstruct APC to make it more reflective of the new generation that it’s made up of.
SLPP are next, They may be basking in the turmoil that has gripped APC. Bio must realise that his SLPP is not different from APC, the only thing that is keeping the lid tight on everything at the moment is that it is the party in power. If it loses in 2023, it may have trouble reconstituting itself for years. The real alternative to APC and SLPP is NGC and Dr Yomkella,
Arguably, the quotation ‘a week is a long time in politics’ is usually attributed to the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson; although other political figures in Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, can lay claim to it as well. It simply means: in politics, a lot of change can happen in a short space of time. Therefore, in retrospect, the APC should not be despondent in their quest to capture State House in 2023. The APC has overcome a lot of hurdles including: the unconstitutional loss of the Speakership in Parliament; the eventual loss of parliamentary majority as a result of the unprecedented forceful forfeiture of 10 seats to the ruling SLPP; the constant intimidation, harassment and killings of its members and supporters; the infiltration of the party by SLPP operatives in the guise of so-called APC party ‘reformers’; and the persistent court injunctions inhibiting the party from holding its National Convention in order to plot a roadmap to State House. And yet the APC is strongly alive, standing and kicking!
The recent ruling of Justice Adrian Fisher in the case between Alfred Peter Conteh against Former President Dr Earnest Bai Koroma (and others) was a carefully calculated political double trap for the APC. On the one hand, the ruling was designed to entice, coax and provoke the APC into appealing to the overtly skewed court discretion against the party, thereby continuing to delay the party from holding its National Convention. The Judiciary is quite aware of the fact that it is part and parcel of the present predicament of the APC – perhaps most probably influenced by the Executive Arm of government – but does not want to take blame for it. An appeal by the APC will with hindsight, cleverly exonerate the Judiciary from being the main catalyst in delaying the party to its National Convention.
Furthermore, the acceptance of the ruling will necessitate the gradual transformation of the executive power of the party from a strong and formidable standpoint to a novice and hence relatively weak executive; and which by extension, is consciously protected by deterring the ‘old guard’ from competing for positions in the new set up. In effect, the second stage of this double-ended trap is devised to favour the ruling (SLPP) to win a second term in office. And in considering a worse case scenario, it is also meant to destabilise the party (APC) for quite some time. The SLPP is not oblivious of the resilience and indomitability of the APC – especially bearing in mind of their abysmal performance in the economy and the socio-political front. Therefore, all in all, there is still time for the APC to play their cards right and win this brutal political game of brinkmanship.
This unexpected ruling by Justice Adrain Fisher will likely send the lifetime leader of the APC into deep depression based on the fact that his dream was to follow the footsteps of late President Siaka Stevens aka “Pass ar die”.
In the age of social media as compared to the past, the Lies of the APC can be easily exposed. They continue sending lots of mixed and toxic messages which is tearing them apart. Everyone is now a political analyst and even their former publicity Secretary who was supposed to be in charge of delivering positive messages is now a fugitive due to his incitements. The only hope they have at the moment is, Mr. Alfred Peter Conteh (Mr. APC) who has promised to transform the party by weeding out the “Sweh and Alakie” members within the new executive.
Let’s hope and pray that Mr. APC won’t be the next target of the lifetime leader who has sponsored the “Mammy Cuss” machine and also used our youths as collateral to perpetuate VIOLENCE against the New Direction government in order to tarnish the good image of our nation and hoping of scaring potential investors.
No one is saying that the consortium of political parties has a done and dusted programme of governance, and that it is waiting to take over the reins of power from Bio and his administration. The consortium is a new phenomenon, a fledgling political formation whose credibility and potential as a government in waiting remain to be seen. However, given the internal turmoil in which the most powerful of the opposition parties finds itself at the moment, what else is out there capable of taking on and defeating Bio and his clueless administration in the next nation-wide elections, which are just twelve short months away? Are the two most prominent minor parties – C4C and NGC – not so numerically limited that they do not possess an electoral base that makes them singly or collectively a viable alternative to the ruling Bio-PAOPA brand of that other great party – the SLPP?
Unsurprisingly, some of us see the consortium as a possible way forward for a new ‘political turn’; a turn that has the potential to develop a culture of governance predicated on party-political broadmindedness and inclusivity. Many of us here have been crying for genuinely wider participatory party politics, at variance with the APC-SLPP duopoly; which duopoly has held our country back for so long. The emergence of the consortium of political parties seems to point towards the possibility of coming into being of an electoral culture that is opposed to what has been the breeding ground of our woes over the sixty years or so of our existence as an independent and sovereign nation – a culture of winner (APC or SLPP) takes all and then governs as it so pleases.
I would have thought that the very difficult circumstances we have found ourselves in since achieving political independence should teach us that we do not have to settle for a political culture where it is either the APC or the SLPP that must govern our country. We must embrace every opportunity that presents itself to us as an avenue of much needed political change. Not counting the consortium of political parties chicks before they are hatched might seem a wise and reasonable thing to do. Yet it does amount to indulging in negativity, leaving us as before to choose between a rock and a hard place. Which is not what we need right now.
If you underrate the APC, you will do so at your own peril. History tells us that the APC has always bounced back from political wrangle to present a more formidable force and capture the state house. In 1967, no one expected the APC to defeat the Albert Margai led SLPP. Even Margai was surprised when he had a tie with Steven’s led APC and he had two runaway Independent candidates that had vowed not to work with the SLPP if he did not relinquish the leadership of the party.
Recent history revealed that until early 2006, the APC was in court fighting for its leadership. It took the late Tejan Kabba to talk sense into the diehard Serry Kamal and Edie Turay to take the case out of court for sanity to prevail in the APC. Yet they presented such a formidable force to reckon with that even Tejan Kabba hand-picked Berewa did not see it coming. The APC went on to win the 2007 elections and they went on to rule for another 11 uninterrupted years between. So my advice to the SLPP is that ” do not take the infighting within the APC as a weaken” The APC does not need the Consortium to take on the current PaOpa government that has not been able to address the bread and butter issues facing the country since the came to power in 2018.
Is the consortium of political parties ready to rule Sierra Leone? They have not yet signed any contract on how the power sharing will look like. Till that happens, it’s all big talk and noises for the birds. Believe me, the power sharing issue is where they will fight and destroy the hopes of the consortium if they are not careful. Most people are not even thinking about that. Can you imagine? Concerning the present situation in the APC, they should stop blaming justice Fisher or the SLPP government. Tolerance and loving each other is the only way out in my view. The different factions/clans must work with one another to unify the party and gain the political momentum if they want to take over the presidency. We are heading for a situation where the SLPP will win parliament and the other parties if they work together, the Presidency. The reason for this analysis is because of the way the past year till now has been negative for President Bio. But things could change to an advantage for President Bio if the consortium fails to unite for whatever reason before the Presidential elections. Did they hear that? God bless Sierra Leone.
Burying your head like an ostrich in the sand and pretending all the ills and back stabbings with egos flying all around the place , is not only doing a great deservice to the APC party ,but the country as a whole .Our democracy needs a strong opposition party .As one of the two major political parties in the country, one has to be in government and the other in opposition to oppose and points out the flaws of the ruling party.The APC party needs some adults in the room that are ready to cobbled heads together and encourage the leadership , and rank and file members and the grassroots supporters to look at the big picture .The defeat of Bio in the 2023 presidential election should be the main menu in their bucket list.Rightnow the APC party is behaving like a students union .The biggest challenges facing all opposition groups in Sierra Leone is how to convince a tired and frustrated population that they have an alternative agenda on how to run the affairs of the state than the present lot .S
o far what the opposition parties have displayed is lack of self will and commitment for the common good for the country and it’s people , rather we are treated to gladiators fights that stands to benefit who ever comes out ontop in that blood letting fight to death , with the acronym either my way or the highway .Which is bad for our young democracy .If this headless chickens of so-called leadership within the APC party can’t unite a political party and it’s members what hope have they in uniting a fractured society like ours that lives and breathe man made tribalism and regionalism for the benefit of corrupt politicians.popular appeal for the APC party or any other party that is engaged In fighting will damage its credibility that they can be trusted to bring communities up and down the country that are desperately crying out for change under this one directionless government of Bio .Rightnow the followers or ardent supporters of Bio who are clinging on the vain hope their man will deliver even if the rest of the population are busy looking at the dashboard that is flashing red and saying Bio’s government is running low on ideas , is difficult to see him come back from this mess he helped to create for our country without the help of a disgruntled and infighting opposition that only cares about who is up and who is down in the APC party .Is time to bury the hatch and come up with credible solutions to our country’s economic problems.Otherwise Bio’s second term is a predictable out come.Which in itself is an unforgivable sin.
I still remember when the APC first came to power in 1968, they first introduced “Mammy Cuss” against late Andrew Juxson- Smith by singing openly. The also chanted “ APC we nor dey LIE we nor dey TIFF”. Within few years, they not only mastered those two professions ( LIE and STEALING) but they introduced one party dictatorship and political assassinations by killing Brigadier Bangura (who handed over power to then Prime Minister Siaka Stevens) , Mohamed Sorie Fornah and 14 others and late Vice President Minah and some South Eastern.
That was the shaky foundation that the APC party was built on, unless they repent or atone and demolish that foundation , “Mama Salone “ will continue to suffer based on the fact that they are almost half of our population.
This article emphasizes and perhaps rightly so, the need for reconciliation within the APC going forward. Justice Fisher has spoken. His verdict is law. The damage is done. No point crying over spilled milk. Rather, cool heads must now prevail and undo the damage. The reality though is that a house so sharply divided against itself as the APC has been cannot stand. It cannot heal its largely self-inflicted wounds overnight, that is, in good time to recapture State House all by itself, particularly when the next contest for the Parliamentary and Presidential crowns is just a year or so away.
The court’s decision to send the party back to the drawing board to rebuild its internal structures does seem a great opportunity for it to build those structures back better – in theory at least. The political ramifications of the decision are, nevertheless, huge and cannot be easily wished away. Judge Fisher’s verdict practically leaves the door wide open for a second five-year term of governance a la Bio and his PAOPA regime. The key issue is, can the principal opposition party in our country find the time, energy, discipline and will needed to mount a strong, not to say, brutal campaign it will take to take out Bio and his Paopa’s regime’s well-oiled and unforgiving electoral machine while undergoing at the same time a therapy relating to divisions and animosities within its ranks?
Justice Fisher’s decision may be politically motivated and choreographed to facilitate Bio’ re-election bid. Or it may be purely coincidental in terms of its timing – it just happens that the next general and presidential elections are around the corner. Who knows? Either way, the fact remains that it will be a Herculean task for the APC to rise from the Justice’s hammer blow and recapture State House on its own. Time then for a coalition of opposition parties – including an APC party that is undergoing self-therapy – to rise to the challenge? Time then for the newly created consortium of political parties to spring into action and evict Bio from the citadel of executive power atop Tower Hill?