Is the SLPP Flagbearer Contest Degenerating Into a South-East Versus Northwest Match?

slppsymbolAs I already stated in my yesterday’s rejoinder to the tribally motivated “verification committee” led by no other a person but Edward Soloku who is a well-known pro-Paopa top gun in the South, the date of the illegal press release published against KKY marked yet another dark day for the rank and file of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), who unwittingly are being dragged down by some prominent party zealots, into the precipice of political oblivion.

KKY’s public declaration a few months ago to run for the presidential candidacy of the SLPP in forthcoming election – as a Northerner, has caused a lot of uneasiness among many senior members of the party – mostly, if not exclusively, from the south of the country. KKY’s aspiration seemed to be a real kick in the loins for many politically and tribally over-zealot people. And what started as a small number of disgruntled party zealots, covertly undermining his ambition, has now grown into a much larger and formalised group of campaigners who are determined to keep him out of the race. It is gradually becoming a North-West versus South-East challenge. Other aspirants such as Alpha Timbo, Umaru Wurie and Thorlu Bangura, who didn’t hail from the South or East, might now be tiptoeing among the Paopa folks knowing that even though there is no genuine reason to reject their own candidature, but they might be only walking on fruitless endeavour, hence the party will be voting on tribal line during the forthcoming convention.

Many tolerant and liberal South-easterners in the party have been quick to denounce what is now being perceived as naked tribalism and regionalism.

A group of senior party chiefs from the South of the country have formed themselves into an ‘extra-judicial’ committee, to investigate the legitimacy of KKY’s membership of the party. KKY’s legal advisers have gone into overdrive trying to convince those party zealots of the authenticity and legitimacy of the records and evidence, which show that he has been a member of the party since 2013, when he was registered in the Bo district party office in abstention. They are doing all this without KKY’s direct involvement.

But the extra-judicial committee has strongly discounted those evidence as fake. And two days ago they even went one step further, by publishing what they described as a report on their investigations into the membership status of KKY without consulting the party’s administrative figureheads. This clearly tells that the party Chairman, Chief Somano Kapen and the Secretary General, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie are no longer trusted by the South-Easterners and their loyalty to tribalism and the “Paopa religion” is clearly questioned, hence the publication of the character denting press release against KKY without their consent and endorsement.

The ubiquity of violence in the SLPP politics to knock down a promising leader, KKY, is a serious challenge to Sierra Leoneans looking forward for a swift change.  Thus many analysts began to predict that KKY would become another victim of SLPP as former presidential aspirant, Mr. Osman Wusu Boie Kamara.

The aggressive hostile nature of attacks by thugs on KKY appearance at the party Head Quarters in Freetown formulates a political theory of victimhood driven. Interestingly, the ruling party, the All People’s Congress APC party is just watching the stalemate among them and sees it as, “when a robber robs a robber, God will only see and laugh”.  One stunt politician in Berlin stated that SLPP will lose the 2017 elections when APC has not yet applied any of its 99 tactics. Certainly, just 3 out of the 99 tactics will easily defeat the Paopa movement. 

The Paopa chief expediency for promoting his desires to end the KKY movement was to apply a military junta tactics of foul play. It was like rocky movies when one boxer throws several punches in his opponent face before the referee declare the fight open.  He violated the rules of the game   to discourage the heavy weight champion from continuing the fight.  Amazingly, the KKY movement refused to buy that disgustingly loathsome offensive from the opponent, Paopa movement which is continuously putting a dogged behaviour to stop the man from running. 

Although there is some divergence of opinion over the registration of KKY in the SLPP, there is a considerable consensus about the values of KKY to so many people in the party and even the APC party in the four corners of the country and in the Diaspora. The Paopa movement is stretching its muscles to accelerate the fall of KKY earlier before the dooms day called national delegate conference.

Some media houses have also bent to join the rampage in a bid to put down an assuming fine leader and presidential material who many people saw to be a redeemer. What would be the role of the media in this issue? We understand that political success nowadays means, understanding and exploiting the possibilities that the local and international media offers to project one’s profile, reach and manipulate mass publics.  Weigh the profiles of the contenders and make a valid judgment on them.  The irony is that the one movement in the contest is trying to apply a vicious ruffian against the person who the international community is eying as an angel of political correctness in Sierra Leone. Elites and many patriotic Sierra Leoneans vying for change have stood firmly to ensure that the politics of partisans, sectionalism, and tribalism will end this time around.

The notion of South-East versus North in the political sphere of SLPP is heavily hindering the party by polarizing voters’ connection. To some people, KKY should have been fine for them had he hailed from South-East or belong to the Mende tribe. While failing to realize that the proliferation of regionalism and tribalism in both SLPP and APC since independence explains the backwardness of post-colonial, post-war and post-Ebola Sierra Leone.

Following the publication of the infamous press statement before yesterday, which is printed on the letter headed stationery of the SLPP party and using its logo, the party’s national secretary general – Mr, Sullaiman Banja Tejan-Sie, has denounced the extra-judicial committee, as unconstitutional and unrepresentative of the party’s voice.

He said that the report of the committee has no legitimacy and warned the public and members of the party to consider and treat it as such.

This open confrontation is now regarded by political observers as the first tide that could quickly sink SLPP’s 2018 election campaign boat, and may well lead to the breaking up of the party, possibly along regional lines.

About Othman Sheriff 49 Articles
Born and raised in Kenema district, eastern Sierra Leone, Othman Sheriff began practicing journalism during his school days as a youthhood hobby. With a bachelor degree in mass-media and communication, and Master’s degree in development and peacebuilding, Sheriff is the Editor in Chief and CEO of Critique Echo Newspaper. While tirelessly using journalism as a tool to place his country’s socioeconomic and political landscape under a magnifying glass, Sheriff is deeply involved in community development projects. Over the years, Sheriff has formulated and implemented billions of Leones worth of development projects with funds from Europe and USA. He is chiefly focused on community infrastructural development and economic resuscitation projects, fostering interethnic, interreligious and sociocultural cohesion among the young population in Kenema district. He is a member of many international peacebuilding initiatives including the United Religious Initiative (URI), International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), Intercultural Leaders Network and Youth Solidary Fund program of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC)

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