Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 October 2017
The All Peoples Congress (APC) party’s method of selecting its presidential flag bearer has been likened by many to the Papal Conclave or College of Cardinals adopted by the Vatican when selecting a new Pope. And this normally happens either at the demise of a sitting Pope or when he resigns. The most recent example of the former was at the passing of Pope John Paul (2nd), and the latter was when Benedict XVI resigned.
In like manner, the APC National Advisory Committee (NAC) is the equivalent of the Papal Conclave. It is made up of senior party officials, and usually engages in series of consultations among its members in the process of selecting the party’s flag bearer.
Just Like the NAC consultation process, the Papal Conclave or College of Cardinals’ consultations last for days or sometimes even weeks, especially so when the contesting candidates possess competing credentials that makes the task of selection almost impossible.
The rising of a ‘black smoke’ from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel symbolizes that a new Pope is yet to be chosen by the College of Cardinals. Conversely, the rising of a white smoke signals the selection of a new Pope and the decision is often arrived at by a two-thirds majority vote.
In as much as the Papal Conclave draws very close parallels with the APC’s presidential flag bearer selection process, however a marked difference between the two systems is the fact that the College of Cardinals does not usually grapple with the herculean task of screening a multitude of would be Popes.
And this reminds me of how gutted I have been, after seeing pictures of blokes I would like to describe as attention grabbers or job seekers – posing as would be flag bearers. They are bogus and very dishonest to their conscience.
These blokes know they lack substance and what it takes to lead Sierra Leone, but President Koroma has accorded them the undeserved privilege of wining and dining with those that have substance and the fortitude to lead Sierra Leone.
I have restrained myself from naming names. But I am still cursing myself, as to how these blokes were even given the honour of attending a dinner at the prestigious presidential palace. This has left more questions on the lips of many compatriots than answers.
Perhaps President Koroma has done so out of magnanimity – a demonstration of his admirable character of being a unifier of the APC party. After all, President Koroma demonstrated a similar feat to his party colleagues that persecuted and prosecuted him prior to the 2007 election, by compensating them with senior appointments after his election victory.
On another note, most APCiers if I could borrow the coined description of APC supporters by Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop) – are of the view that these bogus ‘wannabe’ flag bearers are making a mockery of the highest office of the land. They should not be made to feel recognised or welcome in any shape or form, as it sends the wrong signals.
Back to the crux of the matter of this article regarding the APC NAC consultation process in its bid to select the party’s flag bearer. Since the beginning of the NAC consultation process, a lot of conspiracy theories have been presented.
The initial one doing the rounds was that John Sisay was presented to the NAC but was met with the strongest resentment from the majority of committee members. In fact, the rumour quickly disappeared into thin air, when alleged bribery scandals and a travelling ban to the UK was reported to be hanging over the head of John Sisay.
The next conspiracy theory as the NAC consultation process progressed was the selection of Victor Bockarie Foh. Again, that rumour was sent packing when news of his alleged hajj-gate scandal was hatched.
Then comes another rumour – revealing that following the first dinner hosted by President Koroma at his presidential Lodge, NAC shortlisted Victor Foh, John Sisay and Joseph Franklyn Kamara (JFK).
However, the latest and very strong rumour doing the rounds is that JFK and Dr Samura Kamara are the two names on the NAC’s shortlist; and that it is on the basis of this list that many APC supporters have reached a conclusions as to who they think has the popular appeal of the Sierra Leonean electorate.
Many Sierra Leoneans and APC supporters alike have sent a strong note of caution to the NAC, with regards their alleged selection of Dr Samura Kamara. The argument put forward by many, is the fact that Dr Samura Lacks popular appeal and has not been openly associated himself with the party.
In addition, many have also questioned the credibility of Dr Samura’s PHD qualification. And that besides, he lacks oratory skills. He is not a good public speaker, as he showed in his recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
Any attempt to select Dr Samura will be nothing other than a show of arrogance and disrespect by NAC for the members of the party and the people of Sierra Leone, in the coming 2018 presidential election.
Let me caution NAC here, that the presidential election would be very close to call and hence a candidate that has a popular appeal should be easily sold to Sierra Leoneans. Dr Samura Kamara lacks that quality. And not to mention the fact that he will be seen as a compromised candidate. Many believe that Dr Samura is a loner, lacks warmth and is disliked by many APC party faithful.
The only candidate that most Sierra Leoneans regard as a popular appeal and can easily win the 2018 presidential election is the Athoney General and Minister of Justice – Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara (Photo).
Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara’s statement during his declaration of intent at the party office to run for the presidency has demolished any myth about him being a new member of the party. JFK has been a supporter of the APC party since the 1980s.
During this time, he played the role of a polling agent and a party scribe by taking minutes for APC party elders like the late Abu Black, while having their meetings at Manfred Lane in Freetown. He has also contributed hugely in promoting the ideals of the APC while serving in various roles as deputy prosecutor of the then constituted Special Court of Sierra Leone, Anti-Corruption Commissioner and his current role as Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
In addition to his enviable attributes, he is a unifier. He is down to earth and respectful to the old as well as the young. He is also someone that acknowledges and shows gratitude for anything done for him.
His recent declaration of intent to lead the APC party in the 2018 presidential election witnessed for the very first time a paramount chief from Kailahun – an opposition stronghold, and two other paramount chiefs from Northern Sierra Leone – all backing his bid to become the APC flag bearer. Not to talk of other social groups – market women, Muslims, petty traders, and okada riders.
Another important fact Sierra Leoneans would like the NAC to know is that the criteria of selecting the flag bearer should not be based on the region the candidate hails from, but rather the candidate that has what it takes to win the 2018 election for the party.
When one compares the attributes possessed by JFK as against Dr Samura Kamara, then it is the expectation of many APCiers that the NAC will soon send out the ‘white smoke’ that will signal the selection of JFK as the APC presidential flag bearer.
About the author
Sullay Adekulay holds HTC (Milton Margai Teachers College, July 1995 – Economics and Government), BA Combined Honours – Education & Community Development with Sociology (University of East London, June 2006), MSc International Development & NGO Management, (University of East London, October 2007), MSc Social Work (London Metropolitan University, April, 2010) and postgraduate certificate (University of Bournemouth, March, 2015).