Northern Bureau Chief
Politics is generally perceived to be a game of many tricks in which smart thinkers go to have a field day. It is also a common belief that Elections is a game of numbers. The usual pattern is that Partakers in the game should apply tricks that would help them win an election. Those who champion the Party that wins will have the advantage to determine the affairs of State. Their social status can suddenly change and they will continue to perform wonders. This could be the core reason why most people in Africa and the world at large, often go the extra mile to be in governance. Many a time they are at liberty to do things with impunity in their bid to retain power.
In the West African State of Sierra Leone, an election is scheduled to take place in a couple of month’s time. As is often the case, Members of Political Parties now have cause to restructure themselves before they could proceed into the elections. For instance, the All Peoples Congress [APC] is the Party in power. The Constitution of the Party debars a President from continuing in office after to 2 consecutive terms. Consequently, a lot of people have emerged with the hope to succeed the outgoing President. The official figure of Aspirants from the Party is now in the neighbourhood of 20. One can imagine how they are going to battle it out and how many will absorb the pain to continue their allegiance, after the actual flag bearer to take the Party to elections shall have been named.
The Party is therefore conducting its lower level Conventions to form the executive that will be mandated to determine who should go to succeed President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. But the Constitution further provides room for members to either elect or select the Executive who will form the Delegates to choose the Presidential candidate for the Party.
The APC Party therefore assigned an oversight committee in each District to conduct the process. It is this particular process that now seemed to have been marred with aspersions. Most could not tell whether the Constituency and District Conventions’ Executives were elected or selected. In the Northern District of Port Loko for instance, people say none of the above was applied. Lansana Zanto Kamara is a member of the Party. His initial desire was to serve as Chairman for Constituency 070 in Lunsar. He said some senior colleagues prevailed on him to give a chance to the incumbent- Paul Santigie Sesay with a promise that he will be enrolled into the District Executive.
The Port Loko District Oversight Committee was headed by the Party’s National Coordinator for Elections –Hon. Leonard Balogun Koroma. It comprised a legal adviser, and representatives of the National Youth League, Women’s Wing as well as Veterans. The Port Loko Team as in the case of all other Oversight Committees started with the Constituency Conventions some two weeks ago and completed the District Conventions last weekend. According to the Team Leader and as buttressed by the Legal Adviser, their mandate was to come up with executive members either by elections or selection.
They explained the requirements for one to be legible for any of the prescribed positions. Card owner, and an active member with not less than 5 years service in the Party. The Team said the process can either be in a form of elections or selection by consultations with Party Stakeholders. Some of the hotly contested positions in all of these were, the Chairman, Secretary, Chairlady and Youth Leader.
Even though the process is generally said to be successful, there were reports of unrests in a number of places. The tension was extremely high in places like Mange Burreh, Lokomasama, Kaffu Bullom and Lunsar. In spite the robust intervention of the Police, serious damages were inflicted. As confirmed by the Local Unit Commander at the Lunsar Police Station, his personnel were investigating a case of riotous conduct. It is between the supporters of the incumbent Member of Parliament –Hon. Osman Karankay Conteh and those of the Constituency Chairman- Paul Santigie Sesay. Chairman Paul Santigie Sesay said his residence was pelted with stones and that a rough estimate of the damages is over 600 Million Leones.
Perhaps one of the most baffling aspect in this process is the issue of ‘’Orders from the above’’. It turned out to be the yardstick of this particular Oversight Committee. There was hardly a Constituency the Members of the Committee have not had cause to either inform or remind the gatherings that they were operating on a special mandate from the above. This was the same method applied to get rid of the Members of Parliament from the District Executive. Unlike what is said to have transpired in Bo and a few other Districts where the due process was allowed to obtain after the Team Leaders refused to call President Koroma to confirm their claim, the MPs in Port Loko were just too submissive. Even Hon. Benneh Bangura- the outgoing District Chairman was not bold enough to challenge the claim that President Koroma gave special instructions to stop MPs from holding any Executive Positions.
The doubt is that the President made a general address to the various Teams before they dispersed to their respective Districts. Sources say, there was no mention of any version that ostracised MPs. from contesting for executive positions. One would there wonder when the aspect of eliminating them came in, and why was that particular instruction never said in the presence of the rest of the Team Members. It was also baffling in realising that the coordinators of the District Convention in Port Loko could not provide any form of electricity at the Hall. This is the newly rehabilitated Bai Burreh Memorial Hall. Although the Air conditioners were intact, the Party could not just secure a generator or buy a few gallons of fuel for such an important process. One would begin to envisage that all the money spent to upgrade this building is bound to go in vain as it will sooner than later return to its dilapidated form. Does that mean that the Party is so bankrupt that there is no politician – be it a Minister, Member of Parliament or an Aspirant who would have sacrificed that much for just a couple of hours? What a shame for a Ruling Party to have reduced this Hall to a hellishly hot Place with all sorts of stalwarts.
Allow me to zero down with the final observations of Lansana Zanto Kamara who contested both the Constituency 070 Chairmanship and District Secretary of the Party. He said in an interview with me that, the Port Loko Team did not go by the mandate given to it by the leadership of the Party. He said neither the proposed elections nor the proclaimed selections by consultations were conducted. He said the only prominent thing in the entire process was that –‘this is an order from the above’. He said the Team had a special agenda and it ended up co-opting people the bulk of which could not even boast of a Membership card. As observed by an onlooker, most of those that have been placed in the executive do not seem to have the desired weight or recognition to drum in support for the Party. It would therefore appear as if the Team was bent in eliminating certain persons by all means and at all cost. But how can this impact the Party in the March 2018 general elections, remains ‘a lets us wait and see thing’.
Have a glance at the Photos below for a better digest while I get set for the Regional Convention slated for this weekend in Port Loko and the very Bai Burreh Memorial Hall ………