Yankuba G. Kai-Samba
Former Secretary General – SLPP (UK and Ireland)
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 March 2014
Only those who want the SLPP to lose the elections in 2018, would call for the party to unite around a man who took them to the worst election defeat in history.
It was obvious to me from the very beginning, during the 2010 SLPP flag bearer election, that Julius Maada Bio (Photo) was not fit to lead the SLPP, nor was he the ideal person to win a competitive national election.
I wrote my reasons in the SLPP discussions forum, but decided against publishing them in local newspapers, as the unreasoned minds would have made me the scapegoat for the defeat.
Today, I have decided to reach out to the party and the general public at large, because the very existence of SLPP is under threat, due to Bio’s selfish and misplaced ambition. It is either him or no one else. Such arrogance is detrimental to the survival of the SLPP.
Under Julius Bio’s leadership, the SLPP lost all three parliamentary seats held in the north. We lost a seat in Kailahun District for the first time in a competitive multiparty election. In Kono, where we had all but one of the seats before his leadership, all but two went to the APC.
Whereas in 2007, the party pulled 48 percent of the votes even when Charles Margai (Photo: Margai – left, Koroma – right) left the party and took a chunk of SLPP voters with him, the party’s share of national votes was drastically reduced to 38 percent.
Furthermore, whereas President Ernest Koroma increased his votes in the south east from the 2007 elections, our votes in the north were significantly reduced.
Overall, these results represent the worst election defeat for my party under any leadership in the party’s history.
Is Bio not aware that in the entire history of the SLPP, no presidential candidate of this great party has made so much noise, and produced so little a result where it matters most: winning an election?
No other candidate could have done as dismally as Bio did, in an election that was held during severe economic hardship, afflicting the vast majority of our citizens; high inflation; lawlessness and corresponding high levels of crime – including armed robbery; inadequate health conditions and social services; decline in our education system; high unemployment among youths; high levels of corruption; and unjust deals for our natural resources – favouring foreign economic predators.
In spite of these government failings, Julius Bio woefully failed to convince the voters that he was a credible alternative, who would make their lives better.
The voters did not see the presidential candidate we presented them as credible and trustworthy, given his past records when he briefly became head of a military junta.
For the oldest party to have elected a presidential candidate with such serious unresolved questions hanging over him, regarding his fitness for office, and in connection with alleged crimes he had committed in other circumstances outside the party, is a disservice to the party.
The question now is, why should any rational person entertain the idea of keeping Julius Bio (Photo: Bio left – enjoying the support of Chairman Benjamin – right) as the party’s flag bearer again for the 2018 elections, when it is apparent, from these results that he would never win a national election?
The party should never have elected Bio as the flag bearer in the first instance. His campaign was notable for indiscipline, violence and disrespect towards other flagbearer aspirants in a manner never seen in SLPP’s leadership election.
Julius Bio was the least person among the entire candidates, capable of uniting the party in post-elections. He was the nosiest and weakest, as well as the least accomplished in both experience and institutional management.
Being a head of a former unconstitutional military dictatorship for two months, when he was forced to hold an election in 1996, does not qualify him to lead SLPP or civil governance.
Maada Bio has already caused enough embarrassment and problems for the SLPP, and seriously dented the respect people once had for this great party, even when they don’t support the party.
How can he continue to be oblivious to the obvious, and impervious to reason?
Our former presidential candidate is allegedly barred from entering the USA – the most powerful country in the democratic world. His campaign for the SLPP leadership was based on despicable lies, deception and misinformation.
Many of the delegates who voted for Bio did so, because his supporters had presented his air of masculinity and readiness to square up to the perceived APC violence.
(Photo: pre-election violence suffered by Bio and his supporters in Bo district).
He claims that he gave power to Tejan Kabba, as though the SLPP should reward him with the leadership.
What his supporters did not tell the people was that, Bio and others had formed the NUP party to replace the SLPP as the dominant political force in the south east. But that project failed when SLPP won, amid intimidation by the NPRC of which Bio was the head.
What if Bio’s NUP had won the 1996 election, would he still claim he gave power to the SLPP?
Besides, these were really not the relevant issues in voters mind. Voters were not going to elect him simply because he was the “father of democracy”, as his supporters led people to believe.
The issues that mattered most to people in the last elections, were; the poor state of our economy; lawlessness and escalating crimes – particularly armed robbery; the decline in our education system; poor health care and social services; debilitating high unemployment; poverty, corruption and the gross inequalities in wealth between those in power and the ordinary people.
Was Bio the right person from the opposition to articulate a frontal assault on the failings of the APC, and gain the trust of the people in addressing these difficult problems, when he himself was accused by our own former president Kabba of theft and corruption when he was leader of a military junta? (Photo: Kabba – left; Bio – right, handing power over to Kabba in 1996).
Clearly, in my view, he was not. Here, I suggest that in any analysis of why the SLPP lost the 2012 elections, Bio’s marketability and the allegations of criminality must be put at the centre of discussions, in the light of the party’s inability to sell him across the country.
The electoral dichotomy, based on the November 2012 results, suggests that no one can now win the presidency, unless such candidate has the capacity to win some sizable support of the floating voters, especially in the swing regions.
Thus, it stands to reason, that Julius Bio should not even contemplate leading the SLPP again in 2018, because he attained the worst election results in the overall score of national votes, and did extremely poorly in those swing regions which the party must win in order to form a government. (Photo: Support for Bio in Freetown in 2012).
Bio’s leadership, if he is indeed leading at all, is factional and a complete farce.
He cannot continue to stay as a refugee in the SLPP, but should extricate himself from the serious allegations levelled against him – including extra judicial killings on one hand and the theft of state funds and other alleged criminality during his NPRC days.
These are allegations that blighted his campaign, and no self-respecting SLPP should support or protect him.
The SLPP must drop Bio soon, and not allow the tough job ahead of reorganising the party and improve its future elections prospect, be shackled and haunted by his past conducts and actions, committed in a different set of circumstances, for which the party is not responsible – but was forced to defend, fruitlessly.
Bio has to accept that he has failed to deliver and do the decent thing – leave the scene.
In the history of warfare, a “general” who led his troop to such a humiliating defeat would resign or be replaced.
Bio cannot use the election petition in court to prolong his hold on the leadership, which will be in breach of the party’s constitution as the national chair has made it clear.
This is the time for the party supporters to rally and support our former national chairman – John Benjamin (Photo), who was both the political and administrative head of the SLPP.
Someone had suggested that whichever presidential candidate the SLPP had elected for the 2012 elections, the APC could still have rigged those elections.
But this was not what Bio’s supporters told the party. We were told, mostly by people who tried to conceal Bio’s inadequacies, that any of the 19 candidates would defeat Ernest Koroma.
I rejected that argument in a forum discussion. The fact remains that the party elected a candidate with old baggage, serious enough that had it been in a developed and sophisticated society, he would never have passed through the vetting process.
If as SLPP we accused the APC leadership of corruption and mismanagement of our country’s resources, then it was imperative, that we presented to this country, a credible alternative that would have gained the trust of the people.
Clearly, we failed to do that, as the election of Bio left the voters with no better alternative. We elected a candidate for the SLPP constituents only, and not with the national voters in mind.
The election petition does not vitiate the fact that, we as a party have to accept that we did not do justice to our hard working supporters, by electing a presidential candidate we cannot sell, and whose acclaimed popularity does not go beyond his vocal pa-o-pa factions within the party.
These pa-o-pa fanatics are a new, but dangerous menace in the party. They do not represent the vast majority of SLPP, nor do they have respect for our ethos, tradition and vision of our forefathers.
Many are indiscipline, violent and rude, however educated they may be. As long as they display these menacing characteristic within the SLPP, they will continue to repel voters from the SLPP.
The SLPP has to move on from the blame game and learn how to win an election.
When next the party elect its presidential flagbearer, it should take into account the mood of the national voters and not just sections of the party.
The results of the 2012 elections have demonstrated beyond doubt, that whilst it is possible for certain interest groups to manipulate the leadership election to their advantage, it could turn into a national electoral disaster, once such candidate is outside the closet of the party, facing the electorate.
Bio was like a lost child, who has no idea of how to handle or pre-empt the APC tactics and strategic plan of winning, without a single shot being fired.
When are we going to stop the blame game and do the right thing, by electing the right people, so that the voters can trust us again?
What is wrong with us as a party that even our own appointed chief electoral commissioner can turn against us, and “rigged elections” twice, in favour of the APC: First, when we were in power and conducted the elections; and second, when in opposition?
It is time the party accept that we are not doing certain things right, and it is time to put this right.
The SLPP cannot afford to keep Bio in refuge from the series of allegations of criminality, which he is said to have committed outside the party, because we have already seen how these allegations overshadowed the campaign and lost us the 2012 elections.
Those who seek the support of others to build unity, must never have resorted to campaign of violence, abuse and intimidation of rival party supporters. This is what characterised Bio’s campaign methods.
Thanks Mr Kai Samba for your ill motivated article. I don,t know the Rtd Brigadier personally but he appears to be a perfect gentleman , a patriot and God fearing person. He was the one who handed power to President Tejan Kabba and exited peacefully What happened in Ivory Coast and what is about to happen in Gambia are glaring examples of what could have happened in Sierra Leone had Maada Bio behaved the way Gbagbo and Jammeh is now behaving.
Ivory Coast got engulfed in a bloody conflict which claimed the lives of innocent and defenseless civilians.Your views are polarizing and have no basis in a peace loving country like Sierra Leone.
Similarly, I respectfully entreat you to show me who is more popular in that whole lot than the Rtd Brigadier.I really don’t want to take these candidates one after the other and measure their popularity, but some of them are only known in their home districts.
Others are so far removed or detached from grassroots politics in Sierra Leone that electing them will drag us back to where we were some 15 years ago.
A lot of SLPP supporters do not like swallowing the bitter pill because of their affiliation. But we really need to give a second thought to the article above.
we need to judge things fairly. Except we want to be comfortable with the second position, then we can continue with the way we are doing things.
People are tired and fed up with your negative remarks about The honorable gentleman, Brig. Maada Bio.
Please don’t speak for me. And I know the masses can speak for themselves. The way forward for me is Maada Bio. One people, one country and Bio for 2017.
Mr. kai-samba, i can’t personally thank you enough for such an article. Mrs or Ms Agnes i’m sorry to say you are the narrow minded person here.
How damaging could this article be for the SLPP? Only people like you who are blind to see that the ship is sinking and almost at the very bottom of the ocean will take off their life jacket.
This article is a road map every member should follow to bring back the SLPP to a winning political party.
I will not debate you on such a topic because you seem like a very smart woman who has a passion for the SLPP party.
But I love and have a passion for my country Sierra Leone. First of all, with your percentage of votes you mentioned, we all know Bio had those votes on tribal grounds.
Any SLPP candidate could have done that or even better.
Do you know that salone survive on donor funds? How can Bio lure investors to come to salone and invest under his leadership.
This man is Killing the SLPP and if he run again for the SLPP it will be another sweep for the APC.
I am not SLPP but love my country and I think a change of power is due in 2018 depending on the candidates running.
Any candidate will stand a better chance to win rather than Bio.
I advice SLPP to give Kandeh Yumkellah a chance. He will be a good PRESIDENT.
LET US THINK BETTERMENT FOR SALONE AND NOT PARTY POLITICS!!
Mr Kaisamba is narrow minded to think that he can succeed with his solo smear campaign against Bio because he strongly believes that Bio will win the flagbearer contest.
Yankuba Kai-Samba has himself portrayed beyond all reasonable doubts that he is not a democrat. Why not let the party decide by voting for their next preferred flagbearer; and why not campaign like most of us are doing for our preferred candidate with a reminder that all SLPP should support ANY ONE that is chosen/elected to lead us into the Presidential election in 2017?
Only a non-democratic mind set would condemn a very popular member of his party who has polled 37% of votes amid vote rigging, and other mishaps leading to polling day in the 2012 elections.
Only a party member without hindsight would decide to alienate majority of his party members and others by putting out such a hateful campaign against a popular member of his party.
Nonetheless, even though Yankuba got his article well edited for him, he failed to see beyond the hate and the damage his article could do to the very party he professes to love by antagonising a well respected and Loved party member.
Are we not our own best enemies in the SLPP – with people like Yankuba, SLPP does not need outside enemies.
Yankuba – genuine SLPP members will remember this, because articles like these don’t just attempt to dent one man, but can be used by the opponent to dent the whole party.
But what is new, the country is already used to hearing the ‘BIOMANIA’ positives and negatives and even a non-voting child knows that Bio is the most popular choice and that By God’s Grace, he will become the Next President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Just remember that you still have the privilege to join the positive campaign group for Bio, and that One man cannot fight a dozen.
Agnes, you are not getting the message Yankuba is trying to put out there.
It is simple, Bio, is not the right man to lead the SLPP in 2017/18. The reasons are glaring in your face but you refused to see them.
One thing that you guys should stop doing is to label anyone that speaks against Bio, as a SLPP hater.
The SLPP is greater than Bio, so stop personalizing this great party to one only man.
You better get to used to it, more members of the silent majority are ready to speak up.
I think it should be left with the entire Sierra Leoneans to decide who to rule them, and not based on personal or individual’s perceptions. May the good Lord continue to bless our beloved nation.
What Mr. Kai-samba needs to understand is that the Bio attitude he is complaining about is typical of the attitudes of a plurality, even of the majority of SLPP activists and their admirers.
This attitude is of course, unacceptable to normal people across the nation. But Bio, together with his ex-combatants and ex-sobels, and supporters, could care less.
Hence, Bio himself represents merely the tip of the iceberg of the SLPP problem. SLPP’s predicament is, therefore, truly deep-seated and irreconcilable in the near-term. Merely rejecting Bio, without more, cannot ever be the solution.