By Sorie Fofana.
It is now crystal clear that, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has given up on his ambition to extend his stay in office beyond March 2018.
The fact that, the President has given the go ahead to his Party (the APC) to publish a timetable for the conduct of executive and flag bearer election/selection is a clear pointer to the fact that, the man is going to leave office after a new President is elected in March 2018.
With the benefit of hindsight, President Koroma will not want to continue to stay in office without a clear mandate from the people.
At least, he has finally abandoned the idea of a referendum on a new constitution which would have seen him continue in office by contesting in the March 2018 elections as the APC flag bearer.
The current 1991 Constitution does not give the President the opportunity to run for the Presidency again. But his party’s constitution allows him to keep his job as Chairman/Leader even after the party elects/selects a standard bearer on September 6, 2017.
The President is now surrounded or has surrounded himself with new comers in the APC. Most of those vying to lead the APC Party now, have either been in other political parties or have never been in frontline politics before.
The issue of succession in the APC Party is a make or break affair for the party, depending on who emerges as the party’s standard bearer in September 2017.
The fact of the matter is that, President Koroma has a pivotal role to play in the election or selection of the party’s flag bearer. It is a defining moment for the legacy of President Koroma.
Whether one likes it or not, President Koroma, in his heart of hearts wants a new breed of APC Politician to succeed him. After all, he is the architect of the New APC.
Old Versus New
In the run-up to the 2007 elections, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma portrayed himself as a new breed APC Politician. He brought a lot of young people around him. His current Cabinet is reflective of his thinking about the future of the APC Party.
President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has been the driving force behind the transformation of the APC Party. He has won two consecutive elections for the APC Party (2007 and 2012).
Whether one likes it or not, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has enjoyed the confidence of our bilateral and multilateral partners. He is seen as a man with a good vision for his country.
Had it not been for the Ebola outbreak in May 2014, Sierra Leone would have been a shining example of modernization in the Mano River Union.
Replacing Ernest Koroma
The SLPP should be happy that, they would no longer have to face President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in the ballot box in 2018. It would have been another uphill task for the Party.
Now that, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s face will no longer be on the ballot box in March 2018, who will replace him in the APC Party? It is difficult to replace a charming man with a natural charisma and big heart.
Some of us have had the opportunity of interacting with a good number of those running for the post of flag bearer in the APC. It is easy to spot the difference between them and the man they want to desperately succeed.
Some of them have never made a single impressive public appearance by the way they talk or even by the way they dress. Some of them dress as if they are going to attend a Gay wedding party at Piccadilly Circus in Central London.
It is difficult to replace President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in the APC Party. How many of those fighting to replace him really have the tiger heart that he has? How many of them really have his kind heart, charisma, demeanour and temperament? The APC Party and the country will, to a large extent miss the Koroma Presidency.
Some of us have had disagreements with some of his policies and the choice of some of his appointees. But, that does not in any way affect our admiration for his style of leadership. He is a man who believes in doing big things. He has a clear vision of where he wants to take the country. But, unfortunately his hands are tied behind his back (figuratively speaking).
The Mamamah Airport would have been one of Koroma’s greatest legacies. But the project is now dead in the water.
The good thing is that, President Koroma’s works can be seen in every district of the country. With less than seven months to go, what difference will Koroma make again?
Rocky Road Ahead
Koroma is a skillful negotiator and deal maker. He might get the whole party behind his choice of a successor in the APC Party. The fact of the matter is that, the man has succeeded in subduing everybody in the party. The usual dissenting voices are no longer loud in the party.
The President should be very careful the way he goes about selecting his successor in the Party. If he fails to get everyone (especially those who matter in the Party) to support his chosen candidate, that will as well mean the end of the road for the APC Party. The Party will implode beyond redemption!
Will President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma turn his back on the old guard in the Party and go for a young, charismatic but politically inexperienced candidate to succeed him as flag bearer of the APC Party? Only time will tell!