16 April 2012
In 2007 Ernest Bai Koroma – leader of the opposition APC party caught the imagination of the electorate with his ‘Agenda for Change’ election campaign and manifesto title, and went on to win the elections.
What was remarkably significant and odd about the 2007 elections, was that the incumbent SLPP government appeared to have had no campaign agenda and strategy, and hence lost those elections.
It is not yet clear what president Koroma will offer the people of Sierra Leone this time around, after five years in power trying to implement his Agenda for Change – with mixed results.
But what is certain is that the opposition SLPP presidential candidate – Julius Maada Bio is wasting no time waiting for the Electoral commission to blow the whistle – marking the start of campaigning.
Last week, Bio unveiled his party’s 2012 election campaign slogan. It is:
“THE NEW DIRECTION”
When the SLPP Secretary General – Banja Tejan-Sie first mooted the “New Direction” philosophy early this year, few believed it would be followed through. Speaking at the party’s office in Freetown, Tejan-Sie said that:
“The ‘New Direction’ imposes on the political leadership the responsibility to provide for our people the basic amenities of a life at affordable cost and guarantees employment to those who are willing and able to work, particularly our youth.
“It seeks to give to future generations a strong foundation in community responsibility, through strengthening and expanding each one’s contribution to the various entities of governance and institutions that dispense social justice, ensures fair play and guarantees that each citizen benefits from his or her labour – whether he or she is a cleaner, doctor, petty trader, nurse, miner or an engineer.
“This notion of social equity must infiltrate into the various organs of state, especially those charged with dispensing justice to every person. It will seek to guarantee the security of every citizen – whether it is in a one room apartment in the slums of Kroo Bay or in a mansion on the hills overlooking Freetown.
“The ‘New Direction’ will be the foundation stone of the programmes for the nation when the SLPP assume office in December 2012 by the grace of GOD.”
A week ago, speaking in Bo to reporters, Maada Bio said that he intends to run a well co-ordinated campaign for the coming elections, despite the relentless negative campaign waged against him by the governing APC.
“The APC does not want to publicly discuss the big issues: the economy, youth unemployment, the high cost of living, and the rise in the prices of essential commodities. These are the issues that matter to the ordinary voters” – says Bio
He also said that; “the voters have a clear choice to make in November. They have to choose between change and continuity. Some prominent people in this country have been telling me that there is no way the APC can win the forthcoming elections because they have nothing new to offer”.
That statement is sure to send shivers down the spine of president Koroma, who is confident of his chances of winning another term in office. Koroma says that the majority of Sierra Leoneans are happy with his performance in office.
Speaking to journalists in Bo, Maada Bio said; “I want to win this election for the people of Sierra Leone and my campaign slogan is going to be ‘Vote for a New Direction’. If we fail to remove the APC from power through the ballot box, I’m afraid, our people will continue to suffer greatly and the families of prominent APC Politicians will continue to enjoy the fruits of our labour.”
He told the people of Sierra Leone that; “this election is not about me. This election is not about the SLPP. This election is about the future of our country. We have to come together and get rid of the APC in November – under my ‘New Direction’ as President.”
He assured the people of Sierra Leone that; “no matter where they hail from, no matter what political party they belong to, no matter their tribe – they would be given equal opportunity to make their own contributions to national development.”
“I am going to be the President for all, and not the President for one particular region or one particular tribe. People have to understand that no one tribe or no one region can get someone elected as President of our country. That is why I want to give a new meaning to politics in Sierra Leone.”
“I want people to understand that this country belongs to all of us. No one person, or one tribe or one region can claim ownership of this country. I am making a solemn promise today, that I will be the People’s President after November 17. I am not going to be like a regional or tribal head; I am going to be the President for All” – says a confident and buoyant Bio.