Dr. Sama Banya
21 September 2012
Like the mafia – like the APC; no one double crosses them. It is too frighteningly crude to be true and yet under the APC government, it is too crude not to be true. Here is the incredible story of the APC at their ugliest.
The background to the story has previously appeared in the Puawui column, but here is a brief summary of recent events.
In 2005, after the national convention of the then ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in Makeni, Charles Francis Margai one of the unsuccessful contestants for the leadership of the party, felt that he had been cheated of victory – although how, I could not fathom to this day.
As a result, he quit the SLPP and formed his Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) party, where he told them that he was “a benevolent dictator.”
No candidate got an absolute majority in the first round of Presidential election in 2007; accordingly there was a run off on September 17, in which Charles Margai who had come third in the first round – after Ernest Bai Koroma and Solomon Berewa respectively, threw his and his party’s weight behind the APC’s Ernest Bai Koroma.
Charles said at the time, that he did so in order to close the regional and ethnic divide in the country, although it was well known that he did so to spite the SLPP.
The PMDC took a good chunk of votes from what would have been an almost SLPP block vote in the south.
However, neither that nor the invalidation of the votes from 477 polling stations in the mostly SLPP strongholds of Kailahun, Kenema and Pujehun districts, nor the fiddling with the results, gave Ernest Koroma victory over Solomon Berewa.
In actual fact, Solomon Berewa beat Ernest Koroma by 125,000 votes.
Christiana Thorpe may bring out the figures, if she disagrees with me. But I know that she won’t because she had destroyed them from the NEC website in order to cover her tracks.
The APC / PMDC alliance began to show signs of strain after the PMDC convention in 2009, which according to Charles’ announcement – Ernest had bankrolled with US$ 145,000 – together with the latter’s presence at the convention.
Charles had begun to openly criticize the President and his APC administration.
By July of this year, matters had deteriorated to such a degree, that he went on a special tour of the south east during which he denounced his partners as being nepotic, tribalistic, corrupt and inefficient.
His address to the SLPP convention was so critical of the APC that its chairman Birch Conteh – who had himself addressed the convention, walked out in protest.
The APC in return accused Charles of blackmail and extortion, and that he was a spent force, which their party did not need anymore.
In their attempt to weaken the opposition parties – even before the polls, the ruling APC leadership and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) conspired and raised the nomination fees for all categories in the November elections – to unprecedented heights, both regionally and internationally.
Opposition was fierce from all – but one of the opposition parties, and from civil society and individuals.
But, by the time the proposals were laid before Parliament for debate, the APC propaganda machine, suddenly stopped any criticism of Charles Margai and began to pile praises on his statesmanship and other sterling qualities.
When the NEC took the proposals to Parliament, the APC leadership instructed their Members of Parliament not to allow any debate on them.
And so it turned out, the PMDC Members in the House, voted with the APC in order to stop the Parliamentary debate and thus usurp the powers of Parliament.
Charles immediately grew tall within APC circles.
The stalled PMDC convention was suddenly convened, after the dissidents had been ‘persuaded’ to drop their High Court proceedings against Charles. In return, he too lifted the suspension on them.
Again, the APC leadership smoothed matters over, with a donation of US$300,000 – some say a higher amount.
In the meantime, opposition to the proposals continued with the seven parties, this time surprisingly – including the PMDC, threatening to suspend participation in the nomination process: UNLESS THE FEES WERE REDUCED TO THE 2007 FIGURES.
The ugly situation became an embarrassment for President Ernest Bai Koroma, and as I stated this week, he had no choice but to back down.
His action as well as the constitutional jargon, has continued to be explained to us – the ignorant, by self proclaimed experts, although charlatans would be a more appropriate description.
The APC are like the mafia or the cartels; anyone who double-crosses them hardly survives. They would ALWAYS HIT BACK. And that is what has just happened with the apparent complicity of the Judiciary.
The High court has now nullified the PMDC convention that was hastily convened last week.
The APC’s BOSS or cartel’s CAPOS, has hit back at Charles for double-crossing them. His leadership is again in the balance and the prospect of the PMDC participating in the electoral process is again in doubt.
Siaka Stevens never forgot and Ernest may likewise never forget those, who in their view “double crossed” them. Ask Abdulai Conteh or Sama Banya, they will tell you.
When it comes to attempts to gain or hold on to power, the APC has no limits; it is absolutely ruthless. For them it is power by all means possible, if not by any means possible.
One is either for them or against them. It broods no neutrality and frowns on opposition.
Charles has betrayed Ernest and accordingly he has paid a price.
Fellow countrymen, this is our only opportunity to kick them out; otherwise, if they retain power, they will bring in all kinds of legislations to stifle future democracy.
I wouldn’t be surprised if their next move before Parliament is prorogued would not be to ask for an extension of the life of the present Parliament – under some pretext. And with their overwhelming majority in Parliament, anything is possible.
We must be on the alert and stand firm.
A wounded leopard could be ferocious, and the President and his team are not happy over the humiliation they have just suffered over the nomination fees
Let every man or woman tell every other man or woman to vote SLPP on September 17.
To my friends at the For-Di- People newspaper, I can detect Paul’s hand in the long response to Puawui. But believe me, Puawui does not hate Paul Kamara – the Sports Minister, nor does he bear any grudge towards him; why should he?
And I say this with all sincerity; what I detest is his obsession or confrontation with the Judiciary or Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA).
The SLFA stakeholders, including the clubs, do have power to oppose or veto any legislation or unconstitutional practices of the organization. But IT MUST NOT BE FOR THE GOVERNMENT OR MINISTER.
This applies to all FIFA member countries and Paul is aware of this. He had withdrawn suspension letters, not because of the pending elections – and you all know it.
I will say this to Paul’s face any time we meet, which unfortunately is very rare these days, because typical of Salone, I don’t get invited to official functions.
Once out of office – one is labelled: “ABANDONED AND FORGOTTEN.”