Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sierra Leone People's Party Vice Presidential Pick: A Genuine Gem

SLPP Vice Presidential Candidate
Dr. Kadie sesay
In all honesty and sincerity, I was less than excited when I heard that Julius Maada Bio was elected as the flag bearer of the Sierra Leone people's party; the only party in Africa that that has twice lost democratic general elections, while still in power. The reason for my lack of enthusiasm was that I did not know what Maada Bio had done since he peacefully handed over power to Tejan Kabbah in the 90s. Another reason that I did not warm up to Maada Bio was that when he and I were in Bo school, he was a very quiet and nondramatic individual that was always too serious for my liking. His brother, the late Steven Bio of Tida's Atlantic fame, who was our senior prefect was the political one. I also knew some of the other candidates; Wurie, Timbo, Kadie sesay, from our days at Fourah Bay College and found them tantalizing and fascinating as presidential candidates. But when I learnt that after leaving the presidency, Maada Bio had gone back to the world of academia, I was genuinely impressed as not all ex-presidents get serious bookwise, a certain Strasser comes to mind.
Julius Maada Bio

The choice of Dr. Kadie Sesay as a running mate, more or less convinced me that Maada Bio was a person who was genuinely interested in the future of the country, regardless of what his detractors may say.
Flag-bearer Campaign heydays

A Great and Smart Choice
 Many people underestimate the power of the vice presidency. The vice president of a country is not only one of the senior advisers to the president, but in the unfortunate circumstance where the president becomes incapacitated and is no longer able to fulfill his/her constitutional role, the responsibility for stepping up and filling the shoes of the president and carrying out state functions falls squarely on the shoulders of the vice president. Therefore, any serious presidential candidate should give very careful consideration to who he or she selects to this all important position.

EBK with his liability Sumana
The position of vice president should not be a reward for monetary investment in the president's campaign. One of the problems Sierra Leone is facing today is that the current President, Ernest B. Koroma, selected a political novice and unknown quantity in the person of  Sam Sumana as running mate in the 2007 elections. Though the APC had very knowledgeable, charismatic and experirenced politicians and economists in the party, Ernest Koroma decided to go with Sam Sumana who was flush with cash from his diamond and logging operations in the east of the country. The unfortunate result is that Sam Sumana has been more intersted in going around thre world attending business seminars and engaging in dubious and nefarious business activities than paying attention to the genuine needs of the people.

Being the politically minded person that i am, I took time out to attend a meeting the vice president had in Minnesota some years ago with Sierra leoneans in the state,  when he came from Sierra Leone to attend his daughter's high school graduation. I was very disheartened when during the meeting all he could talk about was the discovery of oil, minerals and investment, but did not once address or even mention the  problems of massive poverty, high youth unemployment, failing educational systems, or other problems the country was experiencing and what the plans were to tackle them. He gave a rosy picture of Sierra Leone that was so unrealistic that one of the Americans I went with to hear the talk quietly whispered that it seems Sierra Leone was a better place than even America. I just whispered back that the vice president seemed to be in some sort of denial or he was talking about his own household, which did not represent the majority of households in Sierra Leone.

The choice of the eloquent and experienced politician and academic, Dr. Kadie Sesay was a wise choice in many respects. Many people wanted Maada Bio to go with the richer and more popular Usu Boie Kamara and Usu's supporters are deserting the SLPP in droves because he was not elected, but given that Dr. Kadie Sesay was a very serious academic who had political experience as an ex cabinet minister, I think Maada Bio made a very excellent choice. Usu Boie has the money and business experience, but given the performance of the current president who was also another ex-businessman, the case in his favor was not very solid.
Kadie or Boie-A tough Choice

It could be recalled that in 2007, the current president Ernest Koroma, who had spent decades in the insurance business, ran on the platform of running the country like a business. Though any first year economics student will tell you that you cannot run a country like a business, many people around the country bought his fancy talk and many promises. Fours year on, the experiment of running a country like a business has yielded results and the president has earned a failing grade. Not only has the value of the local currency depreciated by more than 50% during the past four years, but there are now massive shortages of fuel and other essential items, with drivers wasting hours waiting in long petrol lines for few gallons. Even the highly inflationary local currency, the Leone is in short supply. In Freetown today people who have money in banks are turned away from collecting their hard earned cash as the banks simply do not have money to meet the needs of their customers. This situation is reminiscent of the situation that prevailed during the last days of the Joseph Momoh regime, the last APC president that was chased out of the country with his shoes in his hands.

APC 's blessing to the people

CNN's Isha, Daughter of
Kadie Sesay
It runs in the family
I first knew Dr. Kadie Sesay at Fourah Bay College, a very smart, extremely beautiful educated and articulate Sierra Leone woman, a rare breed in those day. Most of us young college students had a crush on Dr. Sesay in those days, a crush many have transferred to her stunningly beautiful daughter, Isha Sesay of CNN, one of the reasons why I religiously watch Anderson Cooper 360. When I first heard Dr. sesay talk, I was proud just to be a Sierra Leonean. Given the high international status of Dr. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the nobel laureate who is president of Liberia, I yearn for the day a woman like Dr. Sesay, articulate, beautiful, charismatic and experienced, would also become president of Sierra Leone. Maada Bio made a wonderful choice.

No comments: