Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 October 2017
It is now beginning to look like a three-horse race for the opposition SLPP presidential candidacy election, which is taking place this weekend in the capital Freetown. And as hundreds of party delegates from across Sierra Leone make their way to the convention hall, they are being reminded by the candidates to make the right choice.
But who are the main candidates for the SLPP 2018 presidential candidacy election? The three most popular candidates are Alie Kabba, John Oponjo Benjamin and the former military junta leader who leads the ‘Paopa’ faction of the party – Julius Maada Bio.
Alie Kabba is believed by many to be the leading contender for the race, after spending the last six months, bringing the warring factions of the party together to find a peaceful solution to the bitter struggle for power, which almost destroyed the party.
Appealing to the delegates attending the convention for their support and votes this weekend, this is what Alie Kabba said:
“As we prepare for our convention, I want us to take a meaningful pause and give all the prayers to almighty God for his protective arm that has kept us together strong and solid. I must also, on behalf of my hardworking campaign team, thank every single member of our great Party for working round the clock not just to keep our Green Ship afloat but to keep it sailing straight in spite of the stormy political seas that sometimes slap our sides to test our collective strength and insoluble resolve.
“Together, we have indeed come a very long way to get here. Alas, the race is not yet over. In fact, as we move towards wrapping up our Flagbearer competition, our eyes should be glaringly riveted on an even more challenging contest — the national elections that will perhaps be the most defining in our country’s history.
“We, as a Party, are about to enter into the most tricky phase from where the real battle is set to start. As we move to that crucial point, I would like to use this opportunity to kindly remind us all of the enormity and complexity of the multiple challenges we face together, first as a party and then as a country.
“From the hope-starved benches of King Jimmy market to the crumbling custom posts in Jendema, everything is in a state of utter disrepair under the APC. In our country today, everywhere you look, there is a free-flow crashing of our revered institutions and the sinking of the very system that should keep our country working well for its people.
“But beyond the palpable gloom, here is the good news: Sparkling high above the sad shadows of the titanic challenges rests the solidity of a truly glorious tomorrow with the brightest opportunities for all.
“It is very sad to acknowledge that in the struggle to redeem our people from endless years of failed politics, failed governance, failed development and failed justice, many have died or being killed; all have suffered; a lot have been kicked into prison, sometimes repeatedly, simply for daring to oppose a political system that is as corrupt and corrupting as death itself.
“In our continuing bid to indefinitely retire a crudely crafty APC outfit from State House, it is crystal clear that delegates participating in the Flagbearer convention have a very sacred role to perform — choosing the right Flagbearer for our party.
“It would be awkwardly self-serving for me to venture any prescription of a presumed set of criteria that may be used by individual delegates in casting their votes, but I think it is safe to assume that every single delegate understands that the value of his/her vote weighs far heavier than our personal preferences.
“This is not just about what we may want for ourselves today, but what we need to leave for our children for their tomorrow.
“This is not just about who can dance with us now, but who is prepared to stand with us when our tomorrow is threatened by the same unpatriotic behaviours that have nailed us to the floor of deprivation and callous indifference while other countries walk or fly.
“This convention is not simply about who will succeed in grabbing our Party flag but who has the fortitude to lift our country out of the gaping hole of mass poverty and misery. Throughout this journey, I have constantly assured you that I am not a career politician who says many pleasing things to everyone but means none.
“I am a passionate patriot who strongly believes that our country needs to work for all of us, not just for a politically anointed few. I am a radical progressive nationalist who believes that we must undertake far reaching changes to better the lives of the suffering 99% of our people.
“I have a bold and integrated vision that can lift our country out of poverty and save our people from the harrowing hammer blows of hopelessness, disease and untimely death. My faith in our people and my confidence in working with you to positively turn things round for the good of all of us are boundless!
“If you give me the opportunity to serve our Party as Flagbearer, I can assure you that we will not just win the presidency for everyone, but we will never lose our country again to kleptocrats of the greedy and corrupt political class.
“My vision will make Sierra Leone a shining light on the hilltop of Africa. Members of the great SLPP, fellow countrywomen and men, what we need is a passionate and committed leader who clearly understands what is required to fundamentally change things for the better and whose life history proves that he will remain forever true to the cause of the suffering people.
“I call on all SLPP members to embrace whoever emerges as Flagbearer at the convention. While I pray and plead to be that leader, let me once more emphasise here that our collective show of support as well as unwavering commitment to peace and unity will ensure victory for our Party on 7th March 2018.
“May God hear our prayers and bless our efforts. One Country, One People. Everyone in, No One Out. Everyone up, No one Down.”