Alan Luke: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 January 2023:
Following the NEC Meeting of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party, held last Saturday, 28th January 2023, I have today formally notified the party Chairman – Dr Dennis Bright that I, Alan Luke (National Diaspora Co-ordinator for NGC), cannot with any good conscience continue to be associated with the NGC.
The NGC party that I joined and gave my time, commitment, and resources to support, promised the people of Sierra Leone, hope, opportunity and transformation. But what I witnessed at the meeting over the weekend, including the threatening and violent behaviour towards those with a different point of view about Kandeh Yumkella’s rapprochement with the ruling SLPP, is a party that sadly now appears to be focussed on hype, opportunism and trade-offs.
The ‘Sa Lone Fos’ mantra of the party, and the ideals of seeing thousands of our compatriots lifted out of poverty have been overtaken by ‘Self Fos’.
The thuggery, gangsterism and machismo politics which Kandeh Yumkella spoke vociferously against and condemned during the 2018 elections campaign, now seem to be part of the fabric of NGC.
As thuggery and gangsterism have intensified within the party in the past years, it is stunning how low one must sink, to be comfortable with it.
For me, becoming involved with the NGC and lending my support to the party chairman and Kandeh (Photo above), was primarily about the need to ensure that our fragile democracy in Sierra Leone is sustained, so that future conflicts are averted. The nation learnt a harsh lesson during the civil war, and we do not want to see that repeated.
Political pluralism is critical to the nation’s stability, and I cannot see how the NGC can go into an alliance with the current SLPP government, at a time when nearly all political parties in the country that competed in the 2018 elections, are now at serious risk of not contesting in the June 2023 elections because of the ruling SLPP party’s Machiavellian tactics.
NGC came into existence in 2017 because the climate of political pluralism existed. NGC has experienced the abuse of the Political Parties Act 2002 by the PPRC during its Lower-Level Election and National Delegates Conference process.
I therefore cannot reconcile myself with the idea that the NGC should be making common cause with the current government, which is leading the country down the path of a one-party state and hegemony.
NGC has missed a genuine opportunity to provide leadership, and work with other parties to coalesce and form a viable alternative, at a time when the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) is determined to shut down opposition political parties.
Ironically, it was Kandeh himself who coined the term “Alusine and Alhassan” to symbolise a nation in which every issue is divisible by APC and SLPP.
My belief was that the NGC was interested in elevating our national discourse above Alusine and Alhassan. But sadly, it appears that the party has chosen to mire itself with Alhassan.
It beggars belief that this comes on the back of a District Block Proportional Representation (PR) System upheld by the Supreme Court, and food price inflation reaching 45% in November 2022, leaving the masses suffering from extreme poverty; and following the brutal killings of unarmed citizens who went out to protest on 10 August 2022 (not forgetting that the bodies of those who were slain, where left to rot at mortuary for more than 40 days, and were dumped into mass graves).
What kind of desperation and naked political opportunism will cause any member of NGC to think that it is reasonable to associate themselves with Alhassan at this time.
Abraham Lincoln wrote that: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.’ Thankfully, I do not hail anyone who has not served 27 years in prison with hard labour or who has not put on crown of thorns and nailed to a cross, a Mandela or Messiah and I am capable of seeing beyond the hype, and to see arrogance for what it is.
With his dismissive remarks at the NGC NEC meeting last Saturday, 28th January 2023, directed at those diasporans that have kept the NGC going financially for the past five years, it is evident that Kandeh is not familiar with the story of the Widow’s mite.
NGC Members may not have occupied lofty positions at the UN, but their $100 which went towards supporting NGC, is $100 that could have been given to a poor relative in Sierra Leone. It could have kept a few children in school for a year. It could pay for much needed medicine and vaccination for an under-five child. It could feed a family of four in Sierra Leone for a week, and it may even stretch to two weeks.
Walking alongside the chairman of the party – Dr Dennis Bright, has been a privilege. It is good to know that in Sierra Leone today, there is someone standing as a true patriot; a man who is prepared to spend time in detention at CID, so that he can continue to give voice to the voiceless. I wish Dr Bright well in his endeavours as he tries to steer the NGC ship through choppy waters.
But sadly, I fear that Dr Bright is seen to be standing in the way of those in the NGC party who are desperate to join the SLPP gravy train. May God give you the strength and courage to continue to lead NGC at this difficult time, Dr Bright. However, I will not be continuing along this journey with you. I have resigned from the NGC party with immediate effect.
About Alan Luke
Alan Luke was elected National Diaspora Co-ordinator at the NGC National Delegates Conference on 14 December 2022. He is the former Chairman of NGC UK&I (2020 to 2022); former PRO, NGC UK&I (2017 to 2020), former PRO KKYM UK&I (2015 to 2017), former member of the NGC UK&I Council of Elders (2022).