Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 October 2018:
Former president of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma, has finally broken silence since his party lost the presidential and general elections held in March this year.
According to report by APC stalwart – Chernor Ojuku Sesay, the former president was yesterday, Friday 26 October 2018, responding to a report by a Nine-man Committee he had appointed in May this year to carry out an in-depth investigation into the reasons for the party’s defeat at the polls.
“As the Chairman and Leader of the party, the buck stops at my desk. Therefore, I should be man enough to accept all the blame and apologise for all that the APC members are going through as a result of the election loss. (Picture above: Courtesy of an unknown artist).
“I am a human being and liable to mistakes. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart,” said the former president, amidst applause and standing ovation from the audience for accepting the blame and saying. He then said: “I’m sorry”.
The former president then went on to say: “Yes, I have to accept the blame because I am the Leader. But you also have to remember where I took this party from.
“In 2002 when we contested the election and increased our Parliamentary seats from Five in 1996 to Twenty-seven, I was praised as the best Leader and Chairman.
“In 2007, we did not only increase our Parliamentary seats from 27 to 59, but we also won State House; I was hailed as the best Leader ever. We repeated the same again in 2012 and I received the same accolades.
“Now that we lost the Presidential elections, people are calling me all sorts of names like “Dictator surrounded by sycophants”, etc. If we had won, there would have been no need to form a Nine-man committee.
“I am appealing to all of you and every true loving APC members for bygones to be bygones and for us to think of the bigger picture come 2023.
“I want to assure all of you that even if I am no longer the Chairman and Leader of this great APC party, I will always remain APC and will do everything in my reach to return this party to power at the earliest possible time.
“I am ready to move from district to district and even to the Diaspora to tender my apologies and say I’m sorry to all APC members. We have to come together and forgive each other.
“We must extend the hand of comradeship to all those aggrieved and I’m prepared to lead that effort,” he concluded with deafening applause from party members, singing the APC Victory song.
The former president called on members of the party to forget about the many Movements that are emerging within the APC party, which he said described as distractions.
According to Chernor Ojuku Sesay’s report, there were speeches also by Diana Konomanyi who spoke on behalf of the Regional Chairpersons of the APC party; former High Commissioner to the UK – Mr. Eddie Turay; former Mayor of Freetown – Mr Franklyn Bode-Gibson; and Alimamy Petito Koroma who he said spoke on behalf of the 2018 presidential Aspirants.
Whether this bold statement of apology to members of the party is enough to assuage their grievances and heal the deep wounds that have opened up in the party, is yet to be seen.
What is clear is that the party has a long and painful task of reconciling differences among its ranks, and begin the process of reforming and restructuring itself, ahead of the next elections in 2023.
The so called nine-man investigation report submitted to the senior APC party officials by the committee, is now marred by serious controversy as allegations of underhandedness and chicanery haunts the committee.
Two key members of the nine-man committee – Dr. Sylvia Blyden and Mr Winstanley Bankole Johnson, have both disowned the report and distanced themselves from its content.
“If posterity is going to applaud the Report, let it not include me as a party deserving of such applause; and if posterity is going to condemn that Report, let it not include me as deserving of such condemnation,” Dr. Sylvia Blyden said.
Dr. Sylvia Blyden said that she cannot lend her credibility to any document of which she says, “the final version was not shown to me and I have not seen what is actually inside the final version.”
“All I have heard are rumours that a so-called 9-Man Report has been handed over to NAC (the party’s highest organ – sic) on Tuesday and will be formally presented to the party in the morning. I am trying to seek clarity on the rumours.
“I have a lot of respect for the other 8 members of the Committee but if the rumours are true, then it is better they call it as an 8-Man Report as I am not a signatory to whatever is in there. Sylvia Blyden is not a part of that Report,” she said.
Dr. Abdulai Conteh, Dr. Tom Obaleh, Dr. David Tam Baryoh, Captain Victor Spain, Lansana Dumbuya Esq., Sulaiman Kabba Koroma Esq. Winstanley Bankole-Johnson and Mariama Lowe Bangura, are the eight other members of the nine-man committee set up by former president Koroma to investigate the causes of the party’s defeat at the polls last March.