Speculations and ruminations about the health of our political climate have been rife recently. This has been fuelled by the current shenanigans that have engulfed the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). The political infighting, back stabbing and bickering that is fast becoming the party’s DNA configuration is well documented. The next election might be “a million miles” away for some people, although a week in politics is a long time. But that has not stopped many political artisans to conclude that our country is running the risk of being a “one party” state, by default; thanks largely to the ongoing and apparently unending political gymnastics that seems to “under sweat” the SLPP.
Many months ago, it felt like a foregone conclusion that Rtd. Major Julius Maada Bio would lead his party into the next election; having successfully presided over the last failed one as the “father of democracy”. Many political purveyors, sympathisers and members alike, may have least expected the kind of atmosphere that has been stifling the SLPP since the last election. The party may have elected Somana Kapen for a makeover; but it seems like his honeymoon with some members is over even before it started. His detractors continue to swell by the day. As if that was not enough, Maada Bio, who seemed to be the “anointed” flag bearer to many, is suggestively facing a leadership contest; with Andrew Kelli’s name being bandied around as the next leader. True to form, the SLPP is known for allegedly “boycotting” parliamentary sessions; forgetting that one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
There are many surprises that come with politics, but the ability of the SLPP to press the self destruct button is not one of them. It is now apparent that the SLPP never ceases to amuse, but the kind of “school prefect” politics that is gnawing its very soul is indicative of a party that puts personal interest above national interest. One of their stalwarts who recently defected to the ruling APC suggestively indicated on the Monologue programme, that he did not get the kind of recognition and respect being accorded to him by the APC since his defection. He suggestively indicated that his foster party “rewarded” him with a good job. If this kind of atmosphere in the party is anything to go by, it is plausible to think that he may not be the last person to change his political plumage, come 2017. The number of political chameleons is set to rise by all accounts; for it takes less than a brain cell for a politician to switch hymn sheets. It is no wonder that some see Politics as strife of interests masquerading as a ontest of principles, when in reality; it is the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
Many are wondering where such an atmosphere would leave the APC party. Party optimists and dyed in the wool supporters would be forgiven if they conclude that the next election is for the APC to lose. Complacency and over confidence might just be the twin hubris that may derail the APC’s political train. Its lack of a formidable opposition may generate the risk of lulling the party into a political coma. Considering that the APC Party has its own fight on its hands in finding a saleable successor to “World Best”, watch out for an intriguing climax to the days running up to the elections.
I neither profess nor pretend to be a political soothsayer or an analyst, but it would be wise if the party allows every member wishing to succeed the throne, to throw their hats into the ring. By so doing, members would be allowed to go through the rigmarole and hard graft of political horse trading by virtue of elimination. Whoever comes on top would have proved that they have the mettle and endurance to take the country through good and bad times.
Popularity might just be the denominator that will separate the sheaf from the chaff. There is no suggestion here that the APC party may impose a successor, but if that perception is generated, there will be a risk of a rancid taste on the political palates of many followers. Politicians have a canny way of presenting candidates as “the chosen one”. Under circumstances where other aspiring candidates may be discouraged to test drive their suitability even before the race has begun, there is a latent risk of generating bad blood and disgruntlement within a party.
That is not to say that it is the case with the APC Party, but it more often than not leads to defections as history has shown. The last thing a party would need is defections in an election year; as these leave voters with more raised eyebrows than answers. We do know that most incumbents, especially during their last terms would like to see their successors having similar visions and drive. Some would go to the end of the earth to make sure that their successor is one of their own choosing; as insurance policy to fulfil their dreams while in for their retirement. There is no suggestion of that in the case of the APC, but you can bet your last penny that the guessing game has started in earnest. Now sit back and enjoy the political gymnastics; as each aspirant embarks on setting up their camps and cliques. With the SLPP apparently generating a sense of voter apathy, thanks to their political infighting, would it be considered criminal if you get the impression of a rudderless ship? No wonder some analysts have started expressing their fear of a one party state.
This article is not about support for any of the parties, because the writer is pathologically allergic to politics. The desire here is to see a genuinely sterilised atmosphere of healthy politics in the country. In a country where there is no viable opposition, there is the tendency for bad governance and despotisms. The general fact is that the most effective way of utilizing human energy is through an organized rivalry, which by specialization and social control is, at the same time, organized co-operation.
There is a flicker of hope that with the youths genuinely engaged in their political landscape, some dynamism is bound to fuse through the political life support machine that the country badly needs. SLPP needs to keep the APC on its toes, for the good of the country. Forget the school boy politics and put national interest first. The APC Party should not rest on its laurels but consolidate its “Agenda for Prosperity”. The drive through the infrastructural road map should continue; if for nothing else but legacy’s sake. Late Pa Sheki may not have a lot of plaudits today but he gave us Youyi Building, the National Stadium and eh…..ok. Dr. Ernest is clocking up loads of mileage on the road map, free health care for “well bodi, Banga Soka Hydro, etc. Did I hear you say that a 153- carat diamond was discovered recently? Now you believe when I told you about the “Agenda for Prosperity”.