Sierra Leone Telegraph: 02 September 2021:
As 2023 presidential and general elections draw closer in Sierra Leone, there is little doubt the two main political parties – the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the opposition All Peoples Congress Party (APC) will lock horns fiercely once again, if current media vitriolic by both sides is to be taken seriously. (Photo above: Maada Bio and Samura Kamara peace embraced after controversial declaration of Bio as president in 2018).
SLPP won the 2018 presidential election by a very narrow 3% majority, which the incumbent APC government protested, accusing the SLPP of electoral fraud – aided by the international community’s regime change agenda. SLPP also lost the parliamentary election with 49 seats against the APC’s 68 seats, but later went on to use the Courts to nullify ten of the seats won by APC and took them over.
SLPP’s 2018 victory was also aided and made possible by the defection of several key players from the SLPP, including presidential aspirant – Dr Kandeh Yumkella who went on to establish his National Grand Coalition (NGC) party which won five seats at the 2018 polls, but more so at the expense of the APC party in their northern heartland of Kambia district.
The controversial sacking of Vice President Chief Sam Sumana by former president Ernest Bai Koroma and his APC party executives was a serious mistake that cost the ruling APC party its incumbency at the 2018 polls, as Chief Sam Sumana went on to establish his Coalition for Change (C4C) party which went on to win eight vital seats in the country’s parliament, also at the expense of the ruling APC.
With the Ernest Koroma APC government facing accusations of massive corruption after eleven years in office and presiding over a crumbling economy, political analysts believe that anyone leading the SLPP into the 2018 elections could have won the presidency against the lacklustre APC presidential candidate – Dr Samura Kamara who was handpicked by Koroma to contest the election.
President Julius Maada Bio’s popularity as an opposition leader of the SLPP in 2018, was based solely on what many in Sierra Leone – especially in his southern tribal heartland, believed at the time to have been his perceived leadership qualities as an ex-military brigadier who led a coup against the former APC government in 1992, in which dozens of people were executed.
The majority of those who voted for Julius Maada Bio in 2018 have been expecting good stewardship of the economy, good governance, strong leadership and an end to rampant corruption in high places as unemployment and poverty accelerate far beyond the levels, he inherited from Ernest Bai Koroma’s APC in 2018.
So, as 2023 approaches, the question in everyone’s mind is whether there is appetite for a return of the APC party to take over once again from the now failing SLPP; or whether the people of Sierra Leone and the international community believe that president Bio should be given the chance to govern for another five years, by which time critics say more damage would have been done to the economy and the lives of millions of Sierra Leoneans.
This is what two of the fiercest critics of the opposition APC and the ruling SLPP respectively think about the two competing political parties and their chances of winning in 2023, said in their respective articles published today:
“Why APC Should Never Return To Power” – By Sorie Fofana (Editor and publisher of Global Times):
In 2018, the electorate voted the APC Party out of office after eleven years in power. The electorate had become fed-up with the failed leadership of the APC Party.
The APC administration had become so unpopular that even the country’s bilateral and multi-lateral partners decided to stop dealing with the Government, by suspending their programmes and activities in the country.
President Dr. Julius Maada Bio came to power in April 2018 on an anti-corruption platform. He promised to tackle corruption root and branch. Three years after his election as President, corruption has drastically been curtailed, thanks to the tenacity of the uncompromising ACC boss, Francis Ben Kaifala.
In his 2018 election manifesto, President Bio promised to develop the country’s human capital through the introduction of a free quality education programme. Three years after his election, enrolment in primary schools has increased threefold.
With Bio as President, the international community have returned to the country and have resumed all programmes and projects that they had abandoned in the year leading to the 2018 elections. Sierra Leone’s credibility in the international community has been fully restored after President Bio came to power in 2018.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected Sierra Leone’s economic growth. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected even major economies across the globe. It has led to massive unemployment and the collapse of several financial institutions and major economies across the globe.
The Government of Sierra Leone, under the astute leadership of President Bio, has continued with the implementation of the free quality education programme in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic. 22 percent of the country’s budget is allocated to the education sector. This clearly shows the seriousness that the President attaches to education and human capital development.
As Presidential and Parliamentary elections draw closer, the electorate would have a clear opportunity to vote for continuity under the SLPP or vote for the return of monumental corruption, breakdown of law and order and economic mismanagement under the APC.
The APC’s eleven years in office (2007-2018) witnessed the near collapse of the country’s economy under the weight of massive corruption.
Voting for the APC in 2023 is a vote for the return of rampant corruption, indiscipline, underdevelopment, bad governance, the collapse of the free quality education programme, the return of nepotism and above all, the collapse of the economy and the breakdown of law and order. This is why the APC is not good for Sierra Leone!
A vote for President Julius Maada Bio and the SLPP in 2023 is a vote for good governance, free quality education, law and order, the promotion of human capital development and press freedom, increased access to electricity and water supply and above all, a transparent leadership and an effective and efficient management of the country’s economy.
The APC should NEVER return to power in Sierra Leone. They are not good for this country! (END).
“SLPP Is Not Good For Salone” – By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
Majority of Sierra Leoneans are, at present, angrily angry because they are hungrily hungry. And when you add the fact that the bulk of them are hopelessly hopeless in terms of putting a loaf of bread and a plate of rice on their tables daily; then you will realise why they are angrily angry because even the “masankay” palm oil they can no longer afford to pour on their “mileju gari”!
No doubt, Sierra Leone under the watchful watch of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is now facing the shoddiest economic policies since Independence in 1961. The country’s economy is currently being “characterized by double-digit inflation, low domestic revenue mobilization, high domestic debt burden, unsustainable external debt, and huge arrears to contractors” (to borrow President Julius Maada Bio’s words from his first address to Parliament on 10 May 2018). It’s like the President had had clairvoyance of what the economy would look like when he would have taken three years at the rudder of state. Those words have come full circle and might now be haunting him like an obstinate ghost from the past which is refusing to be exorcised.
And that’s not the end of the story. “In the 2020 Global Hunger Index, Sierra Leone ranks 101 out of the 107 countries with sufficient data to calculate 2020 GHI scores. With a score of 30.9, Sierra Leone has a level of hunger that is [seriously] serious.” And that’s not all. According to the 2019 Global Hunger Index, “about one out of every four people in the country is undernourished”. And when you add the fact that “more than 3 million Sierra Leoneans lack reliable access to adequate food”, then you will get the graphic picture of why majority of Sierra Leoneans are now hungrily hungry, which is making them angrily angry!
Yet, the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Professor Kelfala Kallon, has the audacity to even float the idea of slashing the three zeros from the local currency, the Leone, with the warped illogical argument that “citizens will have the psychological feeling that their currency is doing well.” Little wonder a business Fullah chieftain gave him a commonsensical lecture late last week on basic economics principles, telling him that while he was ensconced in his ivory tower at the Sam Bangura Building in Freetown, churning out impracticable economics theories, Sierra Leone’s economy “ladom nar tret” like an unclaimed corpse!
And to compound the economic woes further, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just said, “Sierra Leone’s capacity to repay [its] debt is constrained.” This is a euphemistic way of telling the SLPP government that, under its watchful watch, the country is now in an economic mess similar to that of Lebanon! Yet, the SLPP “Drunkardnomists” will have the Dutch courage to conjure sexed-up so-called facts and figures from phoney surveys by SLPP-leaning Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to fit into their propagandistic mumbo-jumbo that the economy is doing well. But as I noted in my One Dropian dropping of 24 August 2021, “No matter how one dresses a baboon in queenly frock and diamonds-studded crown; it is still a baboon.”
The SLPP government’s continuous failure to provide basic solutions to the bread and butter issues, coupled with the current cement and iron-rod problem, has become a sort of pop culture that even local comedians are now cracking jokes at President Bio’s expense. Even the SLPP’s flagship “Free Quality Education” programme is reminding me of the African proverb that says, “only a fool tests the depth of a river with both feet”. The President jumps into that programme without first giving it a thoughtful thought! Now the “free” has elbowed the “quality” from the “education”, which has made it look like a substandard product made by mad Chinese people.
And it is that seemingly thoughtlessness that has now made some “Concerned Teachers” in Kenema District, one of the bastions of SLPP-dom, to have become so angry that they have now planned to stage a peaceful demonstration on 5 September 2021. It is truly amazing that the Ministry of Finance will always find funds to fund President Bio’s overseas travels but has been unable to pay the salaries of pin-coded teachers for more than three years now.
Although I’m in sympathy with the “Concerned Teachers” of Kenema District, because as the holy Bible says in Genesis 31:9 that “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread”, but they are some of those who are the architects of the current mess which Sierra Leone finds itself today. In 2018, they took tribalism into consideration when they voted for the SLPP like programmed zombies. So, in disrobed language: the SLPP government is the Concerned Teachers’ Frankenstein monster!
And like Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the monster, in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, “Frankenstein”, the Concerned Teachers are now disgusted with their creation and are trying to flee from it in revolt. But just like how the monster threatens his creator; the SLPP government is now threatening the Concerned Teachers that they should be mindful of “…section 17 (1) of the Public Order Act of 1965, [which] condemns the organizing or holding a demonstration without prior notice to police…[and that] contravening the 1965 Public Order Act will meet a strong resistance from the police…”(according to a press release released on 27 August 2021 and signed by one Morie Mohamed Kamara of the Kenema Police Division). This is equivalent to the monster threatening to annihilate everything Victor Frankenstein holds dear if he fails to create a female companion for him.
And even the opinionated fools in the SLPP government know that their party is now a failure in summary. The SLPP government has failed to fix the economy, which is now being “characterized by double-digit inflation, low domestic revenue mobilization, high domestic debt burden, unsustainable external debt, and huge arrears to contractors” (to borrow President Bio’s words). The SLPP government has failed to provide solutions to the bread and butter issues, as “more than 3 million Sierra Leoneans lack reliable access to adequate food”. And the SLPP government has woefully failed because “Sierra Leone [now] has a level of hunger that is [seriously] serious.”
It is on that note that I will end today’s One Dropian dropping with a quote from Chinua Achebe that says, “When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool”. And that “suffering” is the SLPP government which has now left majority of Sierra Leoneans hungrily hungry! And their anger will be manifested in 2023! (END).
No matter which of the above commentaries one agrees with, there is no doubt that the 2023 presidential and general elections will be fiercely fought in Sierra Leone by the old adversaries – APC and SLPP.
There is growing call across the country and outside for Dr Kandeh Yumkella of the NGC party to either consider going into coalition with the APC or strengthen the emerging national coalition of about fifteen opposition parties including the APC, NGC and C4C to contest the elections in 2023 under one single presidential candidate, if they are to remove the SLPP from office.
It is worth noting once again that – in the first round of the 2018 presidential election, Bio polled – 1,097,482 votes = 43.26% against Samura’s 1,082,748 votes = 42.68%. But in the second round Bio won 1,319,406 votes – 51.81%, and Samura 1,227,171 votes – 48.19%. This was a very close result. Yet, in the parliamentary elections, SLPP were massively defeated with APC winning 68 seats and SLPP – 49 seats.
Will history repeat itself in 2023? Or will the opposition APC or the coalition of opposition parties swing the results against the incumbent SLPP, is anyone’s guess.