The scheduled elections for 2017 are a long way off and we know that a week in politics is a long time. But our current political landscape is flooded with serious issues that may require some serious soul searching. It is no secret that President Ernest Bai Koroma is serving his second and last term; so I heard. In the green corner, The SLPP has had a makeover of its leadership. Given this scenario, you would think that the stage is set for a bruising contest. But before you run for your crystal ball, let’s have a close look at how the parties are faring at the moment.
With the search for a presidential successor, it will be foolhardy to assume that the road to State House will be on Easy Street. A lot has been said about the alleged feud between the HE and the VP. There are those who feel that the VP has been seriously marginalised by the HE; to a point that a new media war frontier has opened up. Two of the big guns in media circles have already drawn the battle lines. Tam Mbayoh (monologue) and Sylvia Olayinka Blyden (once of awareness times) have been slugging it out in the media amphitheatre for weeks now. Looking from inside out, you may find it difficult to believe that these media buddies used to take turns to profess their professional relationship on the monologue programme. With the gloves off, it is interesting to see how these two have fallen out so quickly. The bedfellows politics makes are never strange. It only seems that way to those who have not watched the courtship.
That may sound like a side issue when you factor in the conspiracy theories that are fast emerging. The Awareness Times newspaper carried stories cataloguing the feud between TM and SOB; allegedly a microcosm of the bigger feud between the HE and his VP. It is difficult to ascertain that the VP has been marginalised by the HE, and thus his party. But VPs or Deputies are not your everyday discussion points in most political circles. When last did you hear about Joe Biden, the VP of USA? But if it is true that the VP is marginalised, is there a risk of him getting the sympathy vote from the public? Sometimes, it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.
What gives a different twist to the whole saga is how this has been played out for public consumption; especially in the social media face book. The kind of language that has been used is shameful, when you consider the kind of positions held by these political gladiators. The question many people may be asking is whether the HE is aware of this. If so, does he give tacit approval of such a running saga by the apparent silence? People are prone to interpret otherwise; and the longer this childish behaviour continues, the more “political own goals” the APC will be toting. The essence of a free government consists of an effectual control of rivalries." By allowing such tittles tattle to go on, does that mean that the APC is united in diversity? That is not for me to say; but suffice it to say that a picture of a disunited front is unconsciously being painted on the political canvas.
Some pundits would wonder whether there is a price tag for all these shenanigans. Sylvia Blyden is the SPECIAL Executive Assistant to the HE. In a recent article in Awareness Times, the VP was suggestively described as “mago-mago”. The acronym “ASS” was used with literary effect, as initials of the VP’s full name; Alhaji Sam Sumana. There is no excuse for any journalist, be it in the name of freedom of speech, press freedom, human rights, etc, to call the president a “rat”. That in itself is an insult to all Sierra Leoneans, be you APC, SLPP, Limba, Kono or transsexual. For if the president, the leader of the country is a “rat”, what does that logically make us, the people he is leading, including the same journalists? “RAT-ASS?
The irony is that the SEA, who supposedly has her ears to the HE, is publicly ridiculing the Vice President in the same vein. It is one thing for a journalist to drop his guard and debase him/herself, but it is an entirely different kettle of fish when a similar behaviour is readily churned out on a daily basis in both the mainstream and social media from someone as high up as in the HE’s office. What adds to the irony is the dignified silence from quarters that may or may not be aware of the rumblings in the social media. The exchanges in the social media are disgraceful, to say the least.
In the green corner, Chief Somanoh kapen, leader of the SLPP has just breezed in from his “getting- to know- you” sojourn in the UK. He is reported to have “admonished supporters and key members of the party to fight a just cause to achieve positive results but not to castigate people’s characters. He emphasized how supporters often shout the party’s slogan, “One people One country,” but according to him, deep down they do not behave that way” ( SEM on October 26, 2013.). There should be no surprises for the kind of charm offensive that the new leader is putting out; when you consider the bruising defeat the party suffered in the last elections. The party seemingly lost its way, which resulted in a lot of infighting, aspersions and castigations. It is obvious that after all that, the best prescription for the party is one of intravenous CONSOLIDATION.
Lest we forget, the APC will be choosing a successor to take over the reins from President Koroma. Meanwhile we are treated to a jamboree of apparent fractionalisation in the party. The APC party needs to remind itself that the honeymoon with the electorate is long gone; courtesy of some headline grabbing events like the bank fraud gate, the pothole saga, the tough times that seem to negate the whole agenda for prosperity, etc. Added to that is the ongoing divorce proceedings with the CSO’s, journalists, etc. One of the most popular party slogans during the last elections was “De Pa dae Woke”; not “APC dae woke”. We have to admit that President Koroma is a likeable person; irrespective of your political persuasion. It is plausible to conclude that a sizeable chunk of voters voted for the party because of his likeability factor.
Bill Clinton’s reign was bereft with any problem and every problem under the sun, but Americans still turned out to vote him in for a second term; plausibly because he was and is still loved by the American people. No wonder why he is still called upon to campaign for the Democrats during elections; even though he has been out of power for over a decade. The republicans couldn’t wait to distance themselves from George Bush jnr., just six months after he stepped out of office. If this notion is correct, does that mean that President Koroma, like Ronaldo, will take his fans with him when he leaves the Old Trafford of the APC party? Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody."
Judging from my armchair back seat position, it sounds like come 2017, the APC will have a two-round bout on his hands. The first round will be the internal bout to choose a successor. With in- house feuds and cliques being muted and peddled, you may be forgiven to conclude that choppy waters lie ahead. As if that is not enough, the SEA reveals from a supposedly private conversation that “the regime might eventually fail just like happened to regimes past because of “dangerous folks”. (Awareness times Nov.) Need further proof of the internal political gymnastics that is going on in the red corner? So with these in- house aspersions, suspicious minds, and to some extent paranoia in the party, how ready will the APC be for the second round bout with their opponent in the green corner? But again, some political artisans will tell you that the art of politics consists of knowing precisely when it is necessary to hit an opponent slightly below the belt.
Modern politics is, at bottom, a struggle not of men but of forces. The men become every year more and more creatures of force, massed about central powerhouses. The conflict is no longer between the men, but between the motors that drive the men and the men tend to succumb to their own motive forces. So now we know that, ''Being president is like running a cemetery: you've got a lot of people under you and nobody's listening.''