Kabs Kanu: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 03 October 2022:
Yes, I mean what I am saying. I will ever remain APC, whatever the state of the party. I will never abandon my All People’s Congress ( APC ) , once they continue fighting for the people and avoid wickedness and heartlessness, bloodshed and horrendous human rights abuses. Maada Bio, Fatima Bio and others do not have the money and privileges to buy me or lure me away from the APC, even if they tried. The reason is that I will always be loyal to the APC , in sadness or in joy, in victory or defeat .
Politics is not about “sweetness” , self- aggrandizement, or self – promotion . It is about fighting for the people. It is about speaking for the people. It is about putting the welfare of the people above yours.
Politics is not about THE SELF. The moment politics becomes all about you and THE SELF, you will become a watermelon ( red inside but green outside) or sugar ant. You will become subject to the whims and caprices of user- politicians, who will use you for their own narcissistic pleasure and dump you afterwards.
By the grace of God, we will bring APC back to power in Sierra Leone , whatever the tribulations the party is going through now, because despite all its foibles and failings, it has been proved that the APC are always better than the SLPP. It is only when APC are in power that you have sustainable socio- economic and political developments in Sierra Leone, to the extent that you cannot see any impressive development project that was completed in Sierra Leone that does not have the rubber stamp of the APC. This is why I will remain loyal to the APC and will never flip-flop.
And talking about political loyalty, today I want to eulogize two SLPP personalities I met in life, who I will always respect for their loyalty to their party:
He died one of the most respected veteran politicians in Sierra Leone . I shared cell with him at Pademba Road Prisons in 1977 when President Siaka Stevens arrested and detained us for separate offenses after the students’ demonstrations that almost toppled his government. While sharing dinner in our cell one evening, he told me that Pa Shaki tried a lot to woo him, but he always told him he did not have the money to buy him . He said Pa Shaki offered him many lucrative ministerial and ambassadorial positions, but he told Pa Shaki : “Look here , Siaka Stevens, you are President of Sierra Leone but you do not have the money to buy me. I am not for sale. I am SLPP and will always remain SLPP till I die .“ And he lived up to his word. Pa Mannah Kpaka remained loyal to the SLPP until he took his last breath.
As if God was teaching me something , when I escaped political persecution in Sierra Leone in 1978 and landed in Liberia , I lived with a nice man called Mr. Edward Kanneh, whose neighbour at Jamaica Road, Monrovia , was Pa Maigore Kallon. Maigore was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the SLPP Sir Albert Margai government and after the 1967 defeat sought refuge in Liberia . President William Tubman gave him asylum and a free house at Jamaica Road . I used to go sit down and talk with him and he shared a lot of experiences with me.
Pa Maigore KALLON said Pa Shaki had invited him many times to return home and even be his Foreign Minister but he told Shaki that he will never betray his party and work for APC , after what he said Siaka Stevens had done to the SLPP . President Tolbert retained his asylum status but for a man who was Foreign Minister, what was asylum money ? The Pa was suffering and lived on hand-to- mouth and the graces of his South-eastern people in Monrovia . You know they are very supportive to one another .
Pa Maigore was cut off from his children, family and party members and was missing home. He used to devour the Sierra Leone newspapers I used to carry him. He was not doing well but he did not think that betraying his ideals and values for KOKOEBEH was the solution . He valued and respected himself to the point that it was shameful for him to be a turn – coat for the sweetness of politics or self – perpetration .
You must give PRESIDENT SIAKA STEVENS praise and honour here from his political tolerance and inclusion and for trying to woo his opponents . He was a great politician and unifier . But despite his noble endeavor that rebukes and shames the likes of exclusionist President Maada Bio, Pa Shaki met people who had impeccable moral and political principles, who had self- respect and self – worth and would not return to their vomit like dogs for KOKOEBEH .They turned down his every overture and remained loyal to the SLPP until the party regained power in 1996. This is what you call loyalty.
Political opportunism , disloyalty, watermelon, and sugar ant politics are bad for democracy and Sierra Leone . They cheat, degrade, and weaken opposition parties and deny the polity the opportunity to hold the government to account. If everybody is on the winning side, who will hold the government’s feet to the fire ? Who will fight the cause of the people ? Besides, what will be the state of multi- party democracy ?
We need strong opposition political parties so that our nascent democracy would be nourished and strengthened . But when opposition politicians look for the quickest opportunity to jump ship as soon as their party loses power to seek sweetness and greener pastures with the party in power , it is pseudo politics that reigns to the detrimental of democracy .
Some politicians like my ambassador friend , JOHN ERNEST LEIGH, or Mohamed Sorie Forna or Ibrahim Taqi left their parties while they were still in power because they discriminated against them and treated them badly or betrayed the welfare of the people and reneged on campaign promises .
I am not talking about these principled politicians who leave while their parties are still holding and enjoying power. These men deserve nothing but praise for standing up to bad governance by their parties and leaving them while the gravy is still flowing . In this article, I am condemning watermelon and sugar ant politicians who abandon their parties after they lose power for their own self- aggrandizement and promotion.
No political party is perfect. They all make mistakes, but democracy must be sustained in our country by having a strong and vibrant opposition. What we see today is not people leaving a party while it was in power for reasons bordering on moral principles. They see nothing wrong with the party when it is in power and even glorify its mistakes and wicked acts , but as soon as the party loses power , they want to switch over to the winning party . Why such opportunism? Why not stay with your party and help rebuild it for the next elections?
Sierra Leoneans are now looking for all kinds of excuses to promote their new habit of abandoning their parties as soon as they lose power . The reason is that they want to join the enjoyment on the winning side . This is a very bad example of self – seeking opportunism and should be condemned. This was the lesson the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was trying to teach APC sugar ants in 2002 when they wanted to cross – carpet from the then struggling APC to join the SLPP , which was in power .
President Kabbah did not accept them in the SLPP and told them to stay with their APC party to help strengthen it and nourish Sierra Leone’s democracy . I hope other presidents will take a cue from President Kabbah and block sugar ant and watermelon politicians and stop giving them positions.
We need principled and honest politicians on both sides of the spectrum . our democracy must not suffer because of greedy individuals who think only about themselves.