Sunday, September 30, 2012

President Koroma Will Likely Keep Sam Sumana

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma
Citizens of the small West African nation of Sierra Leone have been eagerly awaiting news about the president's decision on a running mate as speculation and rumors have been rife that President Ernest Bai Koroma would replace his scandal ridden Vice President Alhaji Sam Sumana who has been credibly accused of every conceivable fraudulent activity from obtaining the position by false representation, involvement in bribery and scamming of foreign investors.
Scandal Plagued Vice President Chief Alhaji  Sam Sumana
Most Sierra Leoneans are of the opinion that President Koroma has been left with very few options other than replacing the scandal plagued Vice President. Just a few weeks after he became Vice President, concerned Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora were alarmed when it was learnt that the Vice President was in America, shopping for a million dollar home. Pro-APC operatives were quick to pounce on the news as propaganda and a blatant attempt by the opposition parties, especially the Sierra Leone People's Party, to tarnish the name of the Vice President and undermine the credibility of the new government. Others who viewed documentary evidence were quick to state that the Vice President had been a rich diamond magnate even before he attained the position and it was therefore not a surprise if he could afford to pay cash for a mansion in the USA. The fact that at that time, there was still a blood diamond moratorium did not register to the latter defenders. During president Barack Obama's inauguration, there was again a scandal involving the Vice President claiming that he was in America to attend the inauguration, but he was reported to be thousands of miles in Florida meeting with some shady business characters.

Forward a few years, the Arab Satellite news channel implicated the Vice President in a bribery scandal in which his agents were caught on camera soliciting thousands of dollars in bribes from investigative journalists posing as foreign investors. The illegal logging scandal which followed a cocaine plane load scandal involving another minister was a major embarrassment for the Vice President and the country and even some fanatic APC supporters started to be more vocal about calling for the Vice President to go. 
Samoura Caught The VP's Hand in the Cookie Jar
As if that was not enough, earlier this year a group of businessmen in the American state of Minnesota who had put the Vice President in charge of their mining venture in Sierra Leone before his political days, accused the Vice President of fraud and embezzlement in a scathing letter to Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora after they had tried unsuccessfully to recoup hundreds of thousands they had entrusted in his hands. These investors led by Minnesota business magnate Dave Kloeber, had met the Vice President when he was a parking lot attendant in Minnesota, the coldest state in mainland USA, and had been convinced by him that with the end of the war in Sierra Leone, investment in Sierra Leone's minerals was a profitable venture with eleemosynary elements. The business men had swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker and had invested in him, even caring for his wife and family, while he was in Africa using their monies to buy a vice presidential ticket in the then opposition APC, which is currently in government.
Senator Clair Mccaskill Wants Sumana Investigated
Just a few weeks later, it was revealed that another set of business men from Missouri who had launched the Taakor company had made representations to their senators seeking to use the US legislative and legal system to seek redress in relation to the fraudulent  conduct of the Vice President who had scammed them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct in investment.

These allegations, most of them very highly credible had not only caused embarrassment for the Sierra Leone APC party, but by extension had created a very negative image of the investment climate in Sierra Leone, a country that has as an economic imperative the attraction of foreign investment as a primary vehicle for economic development. As a result most intelligent observers had been of the opinion that though the president had not replaced Sam Sumana during the current term, he would not run with him again to save the reputation of the party.

Those people who have been very closely following the pattern of leadership of President Koroma have however quietly been stating that given the president's extreme tendency to show loyalty to those that support or praise him, the Vice President will most likely not be replaced, as the president has demonstrated time and time again that loyalty to him was the primary driver of most of his decisions.

Some months ago I wrote on the President's dilemma as it relates to the Vice President. While in opposition, the Vice President was apparently the major fundraiser for the APC, even though the source of some of these funds re now being revealed to be shady. In a government that has been rife with intrigue and corruption involving every facet of government, the Vice President has been at the center of things and probably knows a lot. With every member of the presidents family a millionaire in just four years, Assam Sumana may too many things that would make him a dangerous weapon to just discard because of the opinion of people or the reputation of the country.
Karamoh of the Dubious Accident
The president in his early days, as with most leaders, promised and demonstrated some intolerance to corruption. But recently the president has been more tolerant of scandal plagued individuals being part of his cabal. Former Aviation Minister Kemoh Sesay who everyone knows was directly implicate in the cocaine plane scandal that so negatively impacted the image of the country has been quietly rehabilitated and is now a chief adviser to the President. Balogun Koroma who was accused of embezzling monies for the 50th Independence Day celebrations is now the campaign chair for the party. Even the Anti Corruption Commission has been gutted and is now filled with characters that owe their loyalty to the president. Karamoh Kabba who staged managed an accident in which the only problem that happened was the loss of millions of government Leones is now a director in the office of presidential affairs.  So the Vice President's corrupt reputation may not have the same impact that it would have had in 2008, as all people around the president are now increasingly brazen in their acquisition of quick wealth. 

President Koroma also has tremendous loyalty to APC Secretary General Victor Foh, who manipulated party rules to ensure that the president remained unchallenged as party leader up to the  2012 elections. Victor Foh it is reported, is very close to the Vice President and reports are that he will use his influence to ensure that Sam Sumana is not replaced. Others who may not have much affinity for the Vice President will still recognize that as long as he is VP, he has power and most people will not challenge him to his face, but will just mumble quietly and go with whatever the president will say. 

Finally President Koroma has always demonstrated greater affinity for party than country. If the Vice President's removal will result in deep fissures in the APC, the president will rather prevent this than have much regard for the country's reputation, given his very partisan nature. 

In conclusion the Segbwema Blog is of the opinion that President Koroma will keep his Vice President as he has nothing to lose, as even if he wins the election, this is his last term and the country is now so partisan that APC supporters will support whoever he names as running mate, even if it is a chimpanzee dressed in suit

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