Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sierra Leone Political Updates: President Koroma's One Man Band

His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma
The past weekend in Sierra Leone, the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC)  party had their delegates conference to elect new party executives. In typical APC fashion the list of people who were favored by the party leadership was already on social media before the elections and guess what, not only were they all elected, they all went unopposed! Who will oppose the Pa's choice?

The election was essentially an endorsement ceremony to see who will have the guts to challenge what State House wants. At the end, all those who had gone with the intention of challenging the favored candidates quietly wrapped their tails and quickly announced that they were withdrawing their names from contention. The risk of walking around Freetown looking for a primary school teacher job instead of being driven  in comfort in a government vehicle was just too great for the contenders. So they decided to go back home with their ambitions comfortably wrapped in their pockets. As they say in Freetown, "a dog's dream remains in its stomach."
The Dog's Dream

To crown the political comedy, the Chairman and Leader of the party, His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma warned the delegates not to start campaigning for his position and warned those who will do so that he will not tolerate them in his government. 

In order to avoid he said or she said, let me quote directly from the horse's mouth. President Koroma,"Let me use this moment to warn those who are focusing energies on forming cliques within the party for the next Presidential election rather than doing the job for which we have been mandates by the electorate in the just concluded elections. They will not be tolerated in my government. I will consider them irrelevant to the work of my government and cast them out. This is definitely not yet the time to fight to succeed Ernest Bai Koroma. We have a whole term of five years ahead of us. This is the time to fight to ensure that the APC succeeds in its programs, that the APC implements its Agenda for Prosperity, and that the APC continues to gather strength in all corners of the land."(EBK, 2013)

After the threat of kicking them out of government, all those who had gone to the Miatta Conference Center with the hope of beginning to contact delegates about the 2017 APC flag-bearer race kept their mouths as tight as a child caught stealing powdered milk and clapped like there was no tomorrow. Even though President Koroma had just taken away their rights as free citizens to campaign for a presidency which was not his property, they had no other option but to clap, as President Koroma was the world's best president and they were the world's best subjects, and whatever Koroma says, Koroma is always right.
Give Us our Daily Bread

One of the terms that I sometimes find painful which people use to label African countries is the "third world," as if we were living on another planet. But listening to Ernest Koroma on Radio Democracy and hearing the vigorous clapping like a school of first graders who have been just promised pancakes. I suddenly realized that maybe the term "third world" does Africa some justice after all. Here was a mere a human being telling other human beings not to exercise their constitutional rights as citizens, and the full grown adults were clapping. Could you imagine a scenario where President Barack Obama will tell members of the Democratic Party that he will kick them out of government if they start campaigning for his position, he could end up being impeached for such a statement, as the statement would not only be incongruous, but it would also be unconstitutional. But in Sierra Leone, even when somebody is trampling on your constitutional right, all you do is clap. 

The tragedy with the third world is that a political party will propel a man to prominence and with time, sycophancy and opportunism will gradually cause that man to become bigger than the party.In Sierra Leone one of the advantages the APC party has over the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) is that while SLPP members always challenge their leaders for the top spot, APC has over the years developed a culture in which the leader is supreme, nobody challenges him, not Siaka Steven, not Joseph Momoh and now not Ernest Bai Koroma. The party has become like sheep, obediently following the shepherd, unless you want to lose that luxurious vehicle, you better toe the line.
Puppet Master

The succession plan to Ernest Bai Koroma is simple and is going to be taken directly out of he pages of Siaka Probyn Bandalay Stevens, the man who perfected political manipulation in Sierra Leone and President Koroma's self professed role model. When the time comes, if Ernest Koroma decides not to finger the Sierra Leone constitution to run for a third term, he is going to manipulate the succession and probably have one of his stooges or lackeys installed as head of the party. Whoever decides to challenge this will be cast into the political wilderness and he has the army of sycophantic journalists to support whatever the fountain of honor does.

What is also sometimes sad about Africa is our attention span. This is a country that has just emerged from an unnecessary and brutal civil war that was partially brought about by these same political tactics by former presidents. The war extensively destroyed the country, essentially sending some areas back to the Stone Age. So for the citizens to once again watch one individual playing with the political destiny of the country like a football is chilling to watch. 

But who can say anything. Most journalists in the country are sold, bought and paid for, just waiting to be delivered. The government has no respect for the Independent Media Commission or the Sierra Leone Association of journalists, because the only few journalists that  they have not bought over are in these institutions. The Vice President Sam Sumana is already spoilt goods, an individual whose monumental greed has made him spend so much time chasing deals for cash that he forgot to build a base within the party. Today he is a lone forlorn figure neglected by his boss and largely shunned by the President's shine eyed boys. 
Wants A Third Term
Balogun Gold Chain

Some are reporting that Vice President Sam Sumana may defect if he is passed over for the presidency. The question is where will he defect to? His ministerial colleagues from Kono show him no respect and he had not tried to cultivate much affection in his own area. The core of the APC do not care for him. Even if he is to go to another political party, all he can bring is money. The man has more garbage than the streets of Freetown. Instead of being an asset to any party, he will just be a major liability.

As APC supporters continue to dance to President Koroma's One Man Band, only God knows what the next day will bring.

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