• By V. I. Lansana Esq. (Lawyer and a Socio-Political Commentator)

The Sierra Leone People’s Party (hereinafter called the SLPP) is the oldest political party in Sierra Leone. The party from origin was established on democratic principles.

It was the party for the provincials but it soon gained a national character after its formation, hence the motto – “one country one people”.

It has since produced and it continues to produce fine minds within and without SLeone.

Like most political parties its major aim is to gain power and provide leadership in the country.

Its main challenger has been the ruling All Peoples Congress (hereinafter called the APC) and its main challenge has been leadership – who should be the top notch of the party in national elections!

Since the death of the first gentleman of this Republic, Sir Milton Margai, the APC continues to lick its elbows at the expense of the SLPP for the lack of good choice by the former in respect to leadership except arguably in 1996 with the choice of the late esteemed Dr Ahmed Tejan Kabbah!

The leadership struggle within the SLPP in this new Republic started in 2005 (almost 12 years counting) when Charles Francis Margai was infamously denied the standard bearer ticket in the party. Although people generally were falling out with the SLPP for what many described as “slow pace in development particularly in road & electricity infrastructure”, the writing was clearly written on the walls showing that Charles Margai was going to win the 2007 presidential election and get the SLPP continue in power had he won the party’s convention – a convention which many agreed was stage managed in favour of the one who won it.

When the wrong candidate was presented and although the SLPP was in power, the party unsurprisingly lost to the APC since Margai’s PMDC had pitched tent with the APC!

In 2012, an unassuming retired military man was duly elected by the party’s delegates to fly the flag of the party in the national
elections!

The convention featured 19 candidates! The SLPP misleadingly thought they were exercising democracy even more than the biggest example of democracy itself, America! Clearly that was a big joke!

I kept asking myself the rhetorical question: can’t these people just come together and put forth just two candidates or at most three to contest the flag bearer election?

I knew from the word, go, that they were being ‘over-democratic’ and that they were unconsciously planning their own defeat! At the end of the convention, some of the candidates had to defect to the APC – whether it was out of gluttony or not I can’t tell! But I knew that the retired brigadier who won the flag was destined to lose at the national level! He was contesting against a very popular incumbent president by then.

And his party’s hierarchy was that disunited like never before! And still, he had all those allegations crossed across his neck like an albatross – whether they were false or not his strategy by himself to keep quiet over them until the last minutes of the elections was elegantly catastrophic!

A little over a year to the country’s national elections, the SLPP is still grappling with leadership! Who should be the next standard bearer of the party?

Many hands have risen up but the hands of a certain Julius Maada Bio (JMB), Kandeh Kulleh Yumkella (KKY) & John Oponjoe Benjamin (JOB) remain arguably noticeably identifiable.

But another mistake is about to be made! If all the names I’ve heard of come out to contest the flag bearer election another tsunamic divide is bound in recurrence.

I heard that there is already a coalition of flag bearers – how is it so difficult to have just one or at most two people contest from and represent the coalition? Or is it another pointer for egoism and greed?

One of my friends once told me that if I want to see ‘educated fools’ I should just look at the people at the helm of affairs at the SLPP!

It took me years to really appreciate what my friend really meant when he said those words. He actually meant that the party has very good leadership materials yet they themselves come in the open and abuse, criticize and damage the reputation of one another all in the name of being critical, transparent and objective!

So my friend calls them educated fools! Now I agree with him! Today if it’s not one flag bearer aspirant maligning another on the media, it will be the chairman of the party or the secretary general or the PRO or plenary supporters against others!

Two very good friends of mine told me the other day that they can never publicly lash their APC party or a senior member of their party in full view of the public!

Why would anyone in the party really attempt to discredit JMB or KKY or JOB? Look, these are very fine gentlemen. If any one of them were in the APC he would be idolized! Why should they themselves discredit the other.

Why don’t they embrace one another and run a peaceful contest so that anyone of them who wins will have the full public & logistical support of the other in order to attract any chance of winning the national elections! My question at this juncture is, what does it profit a candidate to gain the flag bearer ticket and lose the presidential election? Nothing! But aaayyaahh!!!

My friend was really correct in his description!

Take a look at JMB. This is a young man who had the opportunity to transform himself into a dictator and enjoy the honey of power like Yayah Jameh and many of his colleagues in the days did when he had power but he spare headed the first national elections after many many years and gently handed over the staff without any blood shed. His regime as a head of state saw Sierra Leone/Leone Stars win the Zone Two and qualify to the Nations Cup which no civilian government as democratic as they profess to be has never done for this nation! It was his regime that brought about discipline within the civil service.

This same man has conducted himself in an admirable manner in a way that he has properly educated himself and enjoys a good family life.
Why can’t the SLPP sell out all these virtues possessed by JMB to the public?
Look at KKY! An intelligent hardworking man. A man who has got enviable experience at the international front! A man whose dexterity & expertise in energy and energy related issues is rare in the country!

A man who has the ability to transform this nation for the better! He can be easily marketed!

Not to talk of JOB! Like his counterparts, he is not new in the field. He is one of the best if not the best finance ministers in the history of our nation. There has never been a time (well, not to my knowledge) that a minister of finance of our country has left behind a very good financial record like the one John left with the collaboration of another flag bearer aspirant in the person of JD Rogers, the former Bank Governor! The man has worked in many capacities within the governance structure and there has not been a cause to complain. So why not propagate all of these successes of JOB?

If u people within the party create bad image against one another what do you genuinely expect the public to do when the party end up presenting a flag bearer to the public?

Look at the other lackluster move – convention before peace? Really? This is ridiculous! Hey, honestly tell me: who would really want to support another who has already either directly or indirectly through other people, publicly abused and dented his/her image?

Twww! Educated fools! Ask Donald Trump to share his experience with you!

So why do you people really continue to create unnecessary rancor within the party? Why do you continue to dent the image of a very good party which was created by fine minds – north-southeasterns!

You were never even there when your forefathers made the sacrifice to form the party to provide good leadership for this sovereign state and unite all and sundry!

Sir Milton Margai and Bai Farma Tas and others have been crying for too long now over your actions and inactions in the party they sacrificed to build!

This takes me to my encounter with some youths I met couple of months ago. I met a group of young SLPP technocrats about 3 months ago or thereabout.

They were very bold to tell me that if the SLPP loses the 2018 elections they will go after the elders at the helm of the party!

They vouched to burn down their houses, bring harm on their persons and harass their families!

They told me that they are the ones who are being denied various opportunities in the ‘system’ because of their political identities.

They exclaimed that all those fighting to lead the party have all enjoyed their lives and have catered for their families already.

They even claim that there are some big folks within the party who are even collecting sidekicks from the Paa for enhancing disunity within the party hierarchy!

I was like what!!! But this is the level of pent up anger that is stemming within the hearts & minds of some SLPP youths!

But I categorically advised them not to ever venture to unnecessarily take the law into their hands.

I hope they listened!

SLPP, time to put on the thinking cap and move on as a unit; win as a unit; lose as a unit!
Good Luck!