Whats happening to Sierra Leone’s Tokpoi party?

Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 January 2020:

The 2018 elections victory that trumpeted Julius Maada Bio as president into State House, was largely seen by many in Sierra Leone as a beacon of hope for a post-APC governance. But after almost two years in office, some Sierra Leoneans are now scratching their heads about their decision in choosing a former military strongman, whom they believed could turn the nation’s fortunes around within the shortest possible time.

Julius Maada Bio’s  party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is now mired in countless internal wranglings and infighting.

What is happening to the Tokpoi party?

The ordinary supporters of the SLPP party are disgruntled and disenchanted, while the elite continue to preach textbook principles about governance. Is it because he has employed far too many academics, dogged in classroom ideologies? What is wrong with the president’s mantra, the “New Direction”? Is there anything new in its approach?

Oh yes, some may say: It is new and novel for a First Lady to deliver an Independence Day Message to the nation and everyone seems content. There is a new direction where millions of Leones are missing in the finance ministry and there is no hue and cry about it….the list is endless.

In 1996, the world watched as the Sierra Leone Peoples Party swept into power with more than 50 percent of the votes. Led by the late Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the party was viewed as a uniting force for the country, which had for decades been divided by war and bad politics. From the onset, Kabbah preached nationalism, unity and patriotism; and many saw it from his actions, words and policies.

Kabbah never wavered when talking about national inclusion; to an extent that some of his party stalwarts accused him of being a sell-out. His revulsion to party politics made him an icon in the country’s politics, to an extent; he dined with the rebel leader who was on a mission to destroy the country. He dined with the devil to achieve peace.

Several years on, however, the Sierra Leone People’s Party bears little resemblance to Kabbah’s vision. The SLPP’s reputation has been significantly tarnished in recent years by simmering frequent infighting, with the First Lady – Fatima Bio joining the fray with her numerous speeches.

Speaking in Bonthe, lambasting traditional leaders whom she said are stabbing her in the back, followed by her speech in London where she caricaturized PHD holders as anathema to the country’s economic development. While many admire the First lady as an abled appendage to the president, others see her as an irritable inconvenience in Sierra Leone’s politics.

One does not need to be a scientist to know that there are cracks opening up fast in the SLPP party. It may be surreal, but there is consternation among the diehard supporters of the SLPP that President Bio is not living up to expectation as of now.

There is now an increasing spate of political violence and rioting by unemployed marauding youths; the economy is still on life support, whiles talk of tribalism rear its ugly head once again.

Many in the SLPP party now talk of Maada Bio centralizing power around his presidency and grabbing the leadership position of the party – the same mistake made by the former president. Whether this is true or not, Maada Bio is indeed taking on too much power unto himself.

And by allowing his wife to assume and perform key roles meant for ministers and senior government officials, many now see her as having her fingers in pies, thus exposing the president to criticisms.

So, should Tejan Kabbah be blamed for putting in place a legacy that is hard to replicate within the party by Maada Bio? Late Tejan Kabbah was criticized by some for not empowering the party stalwarts; rather he focused on building a nation. But Tejan Kabbah’s dream of an equal and just society played a role in creating a niche for himself in the annals of the country’s history.

So where do we go from here?

President Julius Maada Bio has the opportunity to carry out some major damage control within his SLPP party before the next elections in 2023. But he must rule the country in such a way that people can believe his presidency is for the entire nation and not for a particular tribe or region.

The majority of Sierra Leoneans welcomed his election victory to the country’s top office, with many hoping he will improve the economic situation in the country and create job opportunities.

Sierra Leoneans are always hopeful of a new beginning. With elections and new players on the field, many tend to wonder whether the beautiful ones are still unborn to lead the nation to compete with other African nations – Rwanda, Ghana and Ethiopia.

Maybe, just maybe, one day, God will answer our prayers and Sierra Leoneans will say, indeed the beautiful ones are here. May Allah help Sierra Leone and her people.

7 Comments

  1. It all started with former president Ernest. Thank God you acknowledge that former president Kabbah was a unifier, but we all saw what happened after Ernest money money koroma took over from him. The division started with him. He sacked a lot of South easterners – of course the rest of the story you know it. Am not justifying what is happening now, but honestly the people from the south-east are also Sierra Leoneans and deserve to work.

    • Frankly speaking, the tribalistic aspect started during the Kabbah era. Upon assuming office, the Kabbah government hired mainly South-Easterners while the Krios who were predominantly occupants of many of the civil service leadership were tightened in a corner. I remember vividly as a young man, rumors around town by then that, if you wanted to get most major tasks done at the time in many government offices, once you enter, you should greet the occupants in the mende language.

      It was a common occurrence to enter a government office and meet people speaking mende. President Kabbah fought very hard against such tribalistic attitudes but most of the hierarchy of the SLPP were against him. Whilst he couldn’t micromanage any MDA hiring, he opted to have a well balanced cabinet, somehow representative of all regions.

      So the notion that tribalism started during EBK’s tenure is a big fallacy. Having witnessed what was going on during the Kabbah tenure, EBK came in and tried to have a regionally representative civil service. This led to some of the vocal SLPP supporters loosing their jobs. Throughout EBK’s tenure and to date, the south-easterners carry the biggest majority of employees in the civil service. There was this fallacious belief that south-easterners are the most highly educated of every region, hence they should only be considered in higher positions. Most SLPP die-hard supporters still subscribe to such archaic tribalistic belief.

  2. Good to finally know,that there was someone levelheaded,pragmatic,and sensible,that helped groom,nurture and raise you with the kindness,empathy and wisdom,that only comes from the diligent,productive,and thoughtful hands of the legendary APC. Seriously, no one really cares about your revengeful sob stories,Mr Coleman (lol) Sob Stories, broken-hearted love stories,stories of regret,desperation,and trivialities,coming from the SLPP are of no importance to me. Get your ramshackle,dilapidated house burning,and being consumed furiously by the raging fires of indifference, negligence and incompetence in order first,then come back when you are sober,and talk to me. (lol)….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  3. It always make me laugh so hard,that tears will begin to come from my eyes,whenever I hear some gullible,and naive SLPP leader trying to put a spin on their continuous failures that perfectly resembles an unfixable,fragmented, mess of damaged goods on a rapidly moving assembly line.(lol)

    Yup,who would have thought,or guessed,that this notorious SLPP government now in power,in just two brief years,would have become totally hopeless, useless;completely overshadowed by inconspicuous thefts,and robberies,drowning in corruption;disgracefully incapacitated by ineptitude,while at the same time being ruthlessly chained,shackled,and strangled by quagmires,and perplexing conundrums,that keep on steadily amplifying themselves,by the minute.(lmao)

    Good for nothing men,lacking in humility,courage,honesty,and discernment that’s who they really are…unproductive,and tribalistic to the innermost core of their shady,clumsy beings.(lol)Their house is not in order,and it is also on fire,so I ask you,how will these people be able to govern our nation peacefully,and effectively? They are fighting among themselves for a bigger chunk of political pie,and for opportunities to rob our nation of all its admirable qualities that make it an attractive,authentic,and progressive democracy.To hell with them first! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Hahahaha. How does the shoe feel when it is on the other foot? I lost my government job in 2008 because of my last name – Coleman. Northernization was in progress as the country’s state workforce was purged of last names that were not archetypically northern.

      Interestingly, my sacking in APC’s Salone was a blessing in disguise as I left the country soon afterwards and got involved in bigger and better things. Are the oppressors of yore complaining now? Et tu Saidu Conteh? Hahaha.

      My beloved mother hails from Bombali. But like my father, I was born and raised in Freetown’s Eastend. Growing up, Alhaji Sanusi Mustapha, the SLPP veteran, was my hero.

      Ironically, I have an uncle that I love dearly who is a supporter of Tolongbo. And despite suffering years of vicious tribalism from the Northern hegemononists, my uncle still supports a good for nothing political apparatus. Hopefully, this man of exemplary character will one day realize that APC is a devil incarnate and that he belongs in the SLPP.

      Tolongbo is dead. Sleep well. May the red sun never rise again.

  4. Indeed, late president Kabbah was a unifier and a patriotic leader. He is far from being perfect, however, in the area of nationalism, his record is way ahead of the game compared to former EBK and our current man at State House. Most of his policies were geared towards long-term prospects. Knowing that the foundations to develop a nation rest on effective institutions, he spared no time in creating institutions like the NRA, NASSIT, ACC, etc. For him, Sierra Leone is for all Sierra Leoneans, not a single tribe or region. With such patriotism, members of his party who subscribed to tribalism quickly labelled him as a sell out. So they spared no time in creating mischief within his administration.

    Millions of dollars poured in by international partners were siphoned by these greedy, tribalistic,unpatriotic Sierra Leoneans. One of my best friend, a South easterner who worked in the ministry of finance during the Kabbah tenure once confided in me that many of the SLPP leadership loathed Kabbah because he was keen on making sure our meager resources were not being misused by politicians. He was very conservative when it came to spending and budgetary issues; another reason why the corrupt and greedy politicians regarded him as a sell out.

    In the years leading to the end of his presidency, corruption and other unpatriotic events were so rampant within his administration that the old man unwillingly gave up in fighting back against his party members. Most of the SLPP leadership castigated him. The old man was mainly lonely without any political comrades within his own party. As history will reveal, the president died almost penniless, surviving only on his presidential retirement benefits and pension. He accrued no wealth or mansions compared to his successors. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.

  5. To answer to your question , what is happening to Sierra Leone”s Tokpoi party? The truth of the matter is that, you can never run away from the truth; and I believe right thinking Sierra Leoneans will agree with me that the Tokpoi party has done so many good things which have never happened before throughout the history of Sierra Leone.

    When president Bio promised Sierra Leoneans that he can provide them free quality education, his critics were quick to say it will never happen but today Sierra Leoneans are enjoying free quality education.

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