In a blind village, the man with one eye is, by default, the inaugurated chief. So no matter what happens, our next president is now awaiting. It’s a democratic principle that only one of those who contested an election would win it. Thus every objective thinker will agree with me that none of the main flagbearer aspirants in this elections can be entirely vindicated from the bad governance and perpetual poverty which we the young citizens are currently inheriting in post conflict Sierra Leone. As the countdown to the poll continues, most citizens have already resolved as to whom they will be casting their “very expensive” votes for. Every single vote is expensive not because the aspirants are paying for it in cash and kind against international electoral laws, but because it will be counted towards determining the future of our socially and politically battered society. Meanwhile, intelligent and objective voters are indecisive because they have mixed feelings about the frontrunners:
- Dr Samura Kamara who is bearing the incumbent flag had served in all the past governments in strategic positions that allowed him to contribute directly to retrack our derailed economy and reshape our future. Unfortunately the country is rapidly skipping downwards in the global Human Development Index with about 75% of the young population jobless. However, Samura Kamara shouldn’t be underestimated at this poll because whatever the case might be, he was handpicked by the president in a country where the incumbent has full access to state security and all the meagre resources which are very crucial determinants of election outcomes.
- Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio who is bearing the main opposition – SLPP’s flag served as first and second commander in chief of our armed forces and deputy/head of state between the years 1992 and 1996 respectively during which many unforgettable incidents occurred in our country’s history under his watchful eyes without doing anything to stop them. Bio later handed over the country to a democratically elected civilian upon heavy pressure and whopping rewards from the international community, but many believe that he could have done better . He is now promising to offer free education and better governance for young citizens in a broken economy that could not afford to pay school teachers and university lecturers for more than half a year.
In a recent televised debate, Bio also reiterated his determination to review existing mining contracts, an utterance that turned foreign investors against him during the last poll in the year 2012. Bio is well placed to sweep the board but what might impede his victory are the unfair manner in which symbols were recently awarded to parliamentary representatives in the opposition strongholds, and his jarring relationship with the rapidly growing NGC party led by the former UNIDO Director, Dr. Kande Yumkella.
- Before joining the United Nations, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella served as Minister of Trade and Industries in an infamous junta regime led by Julius Maada Bio. He was earlier denied the main opposition flag in a harshly conducted intraparty flagbearer race. Under the hastily created NGC symbol, Yumkella is promising to introduce good governance and equitable distribution of the country’s natural resources, and electricity for every citizen in one of the darkest countries in the world, if elected. Yumkella seemed to clearly master the subject of rural industrialization and socioeconomic development, most especially when linked to renewable energy which the country desperately need at the moment, but his theories are more abstract than practical which makes it difficult for the layman to understand. Yumkella belongs to an ethnic minority in the North and is struggling to turn the table among a highly divided voter population on tribal and regional lines. He is more popular among the diasporeans majority of whom are no eligible voters.
- Former VP Sam Suman (C4C), Musa Tarawallie (CDP), Kamaraimba Mansaray (ADP) are all unintended offshoots of the ruling APC. None of them is expecting to become the next president- not even by political accident. While Sam Sumana and Musa Tarawallie are fighting to pay APC back in its own coins, Kamaraimba maybe gathering enough vote to strengthen his bargaining power in a future coalition.
If Samura wins, we will be sailing the next 5 years onboard the same ship with a new captain handpicked by the old captain from his numerous trainees.
If Bio wins, we will be drinking the same old wine from a new bottle, because we have tried Bio once under NPRC and SLPP under the late president Kabba.
If Yumkella wins, we will be led by a group of rebels dressed in our army uniforms, because 80% of NGC supporters are defected members of SLPP and APC, each with a reason. But the billion dollar questions are: why did they leave APC and SLP? is patriotism one of the numerous reasons? Only Allah knows…
My dearest Sierra Leonean youth, the above doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be the vote malinger who would sit on the fence and invoke good governance from heaven. There are wise sayings that “half a loaf is better than none”; and “fart is better than faeces”. Please go out tomorrow in your numbers and cast your votes solidly for your favourite candidates. In one of his speeches in in 1965, the famous US black nationalist Malcolm X said “Nobody can give you freedom; nobody can give you equality, justice or anything. If you are a man, take it”. So you should see the elections as your chance to exercise your civic freedom to take your power from who you don’t like and give it to whoever you like and trust.
What I would strictly warn against however, is participating in violence of any kind because whether in the interest of the ruling party or one of the oppositions, you would be doing so at your own peril. Trust me, those aspirants have long since sent their own children into economic sanctuary abroad where they are attending sophisticated universities. So to shed your own invaluable blood for them would be a stupid act. And to save you from that, you have to go to the poll with little expectations from whoever you vote for. Remember, only those who expect much from others would feel the pain of disappointed.