Who is leading NGC into elections in June? Op ed

Alan Luke: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 April 2023:

Last weekend, a motley crew assembled outside the office of the comatose National Grand Coalition Party, to confer symbols to aspirants for Councillors and MPs, but with no statement on whether the party will put forward a presidential flagbearer.

I understand that an aspirant for a seat in Western Area asked the (Acting) National Chairman and Leader, Jesmed Suma about the party’s flagbearer process, to which he reportedly said that APC betrayed Kandeh Yumkella in CoPPP so they are now working with President Bio who is willing to work with KKY. It is reported that he went on to say that they (NGC) are waiting for SLPP to find ways to legally bind the alliance agreement on job opportunities.

On the NGC Global Forum, Jesmed Suma was also reminded on Sunday 9th April 2023, by a member of NGC UK&I, that he had assured NGC members in the diaspora that he would resolve the flagbearer question by 25th March 2023.

To this Mr Suma (Photo) responded that as (Acting) National Chairman and Leader, he has no power to conduct the flagbearer process and that was the job of the Independent Elections Committee, appointed by Dennis Bright. He stressed that National Officers had contacted the IEC Chairman (Sam Itam) on three occasions but had failed to receive a response from him.

Now let me breakdown these issues, so that NGC members would stop accepting half-baked, half-asked response from Jesmed Suma.

First, the response of Mr Suma, is not relevant to the question from the aspirant, as reported. What APC did or did not do to Kandeh Yumkella in CoPPP has no bearing on the NGC flagbearer process, which Mr Suma assured NGC members in the diaspora that he would bring to a successful conclusion.

Second, Jesmed Suma is on record on 31 March 2023, when he described NGC as the only neutralising force in the politics of Sierra Leone.

In his address to party members, Mr Suma informed them that the reason NGC would not continue with CoPPP, is because APC refused to guarantee that they will not go after any Mende person and any SLPP member, if they won the election. He accused the APC of not being serious during the discussions at CoPPP. He went on to state that the alliance with SLPP was to ensure that there was peace and stability in Sierra Leone. He said that the first condition NGC would impose on any alliance agreement with SLPP, was that the SLPP would not touch any APC member.

Mr Suma is not and was not a regular attendee at CoPPP meetings. The party’s Secretary General, Amadu Sheriff was also the Secretary General of CoPPP. Therefore, NGC members ought to ask him to substantiate whether Mr Suma’s assertions are correct, i.e., that APC did not agree to NGC’s condition of not going after any Mende person or SLPP member.

In this charged political atmosphere, it is the responsibility of all politicians, especially national party Chairpersons, not to inflame or exploit ethnic divisions in the manner in which Mr Suma has sought to blame the APC, for the lack of progress within CoPPP. It is also disingenuous.

In response to the question posed by an NGC UK&I member on NGC Global, Mr Suma said that as (Acting) National Chairman and Leader, he has no power over the IEC appointed by Dr Dennis Bright (Photo).

NGC members will recall that following the resignation of Dr Dennis Bright, Mr Suma toured radio stations in Sierra Leone to assure his party and country that the party’s structures were intact and that there was no vacuum. It beggars belief that he now finds it convenient to blame the Dennis Bright appointed IEC for the failure to progress with the party’s flagbearer process.

Questions that NGC members may want to ask Mr Suma are:

  • In what capacity did Dr Bright make the IEC appointments?
  • Having assumed the role of (Acting) National Chairman and Leader, what stops you appointing a new IEC, if the current one is non-responsive?
  • Is the Secretary General, Amadu Sheriff, not also the Secretary of the IEC? If so, why has he not ensured that National Officers (of which he is a member), receive a response from the IEC, of which he is Secretary?

Let us turn to the issue of NGC waiting to hear from SLPP about ensuring that a legally binding coalition agreement is put in place.

As far back as 3rd January 2023, it was brought to my attention by another national officer, that Jesmed Suma was drafting the coalition agreement with SLPP and was trying to make it legally binding. It was this discussion and the fact that some National Officers were privy to discussions, which others, including Dennis Bright, were not privy to, which caused me to raise the question about the NGC flagbearer process and the coalition discussions with SLPP at the National Officers Meeting of 10th January 2023. It was during those discussions which the date of 28 January 2023 was agreed for the now fateful NEC Meeting.

If Mr Suma has been trying to make the coalition agreement binding since January 2023 and three months on, NGC has not succeeded, why should any NGC member believe that the SLPP would be inclined to agree to this, when it can see NGC drain in members, public trust and confidence.

How can any sober-minded person believe that this is possible, in a country where the judiciary bends to the will of the President?

Which court will NGC leaders bring a case if they were not offered jobs. Do NGC leaders reasonably believe that Ngeba or Fisher or Babatunde Edwards will consider any complaint, if SLPP fails to hold their end of the agreement?

Mohamed Bangura has shown throughout the preparations for the 2023 elections, that PPRC has no interest in political pluralism, so do NGC leaders really expect that the PPRC will come to their aid?

Mr Suma must come clean and be honest with NGC members, especially those in the diaspora, whose US$100 paid for his travel and his expenses. These diaspora members have been told before how meaningless their US$100 contributions are, by the sole proprietor. Mr Suma should not add further insult to their injuries.

If Mr Suma is going to lie to his members, at least make an effort to lie consistently.

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