By Sorie Fofana.
A screaming headline in one of Freetown’s newspapers read, “Under the Leadership of Mohamed N’fah Alie Conteh…APC To Boycott Future Elections”. The newspaper was apparently quoting extensively from a Press Release issued by the main opposition APC Party threatening that “It will no longer participate in any future elections conducted by NEC under the leadership of Mr. Mohamed N’fah Alie Conteh”.
The APC Party Press Release came hot on the heels of the defeat the Party suffered in the bye-election held in Ward 196 in Tonko Limba Chiefdom, Kambia District. Tonko Limba, it has to be said, is a stronghold of the main opposition APC Party.
Many people view the defeat of the APC candidate in the Tonko Limba bye-election as a protest against the leadership of the Party. As President of the Republic, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma (Chairman and Leader of the APC Party) sacked many prominent sons of Tonko Limba from the Cabinet. Ambassador Dauda Kamara and Dr. Sam Sesay, two prominent sons of Tonko Limba, were given marching orders from the Cabinet by President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. The people of Tonko Limba felt humiliated and abandoned by the APC Party, after these two well-known Limba Politicians were sacked by President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.
The only way the people of Tonko Limba could punish the APC Party and by extension President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma was to embrace the SLPP in their Chiefdom and by voting for their (SLPP) candidate in the bye-election in Ward 196.
APC & Christiana Thorpe
Christiana Thorpe was appointed by the SLPP of President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to conduct the 2007 elections. Even though the SLPP was in power at the time, Christiana Thorpe invalidated votes cast in well-over one hundred polling stations mainly in the SLPP stronghold of Kailahun district. That singular decision led to the defeat of the SLPP Presidential candidate in the 2007 election, Solomon Berewa.
In the run-up to the 2012 election, the then firebrand SLPP Chairman and Leader, John Oponjo Benjamin insisted that his Party would not take part in the election if the APC Party went ahead to reappoint Christiana Thorpe as Electoral Commissioner.
Chairman Benjamin took his argument to the United Nations, by insisting that, his Party would not take part in the 2012 election if Christiana Thorpe was reappointed. During a breakfast meeting with the then Special Representative of the UN Secretary General at Country Lodge Hotel in Freetown, John Benjamin articulated his Party’s position to Michael Schnlenberg. He insisted on a change of leadership at NEC as a pre-condition for his party’s participation in the 2012 election.
As Mr. Benjamin was busy making his case against Christiana Thorpe, the APC went ahead with her reappointment without any recourse to the SLPP. A spokesman for the APC Party appeared on national television, calling on the international community not to interfere with the domestic affairs of Sierra Leone. The APC Party decision became a fait accompli. A done deal!
Christiana Thorpe stayed in her job and conducted the 2012 election. Even though re-counting of votes was going on at several polling stations in Kono and some parts of the Northern Province, Christiana Thorpe ignored that and declared the APC Presidential candidate, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma the winner of the Presidential election.
In her shameless arrogance, Christiana Thorpe called on anyone who disagreed with the outcome of the election to go to the Police.
The SLPP Presidential candidate, Julius Maada Bio took his case to the Supreme Court. The Court refused to listen to the merit of his case. It was dismissed on a legal technicality.
N’fah Alie Conteh & The APC
When Christiana Thorpe stood down from her NEC job after ten years, she was replaced by Mohamed N’fah Alie Conteh. Christiana Thorpe got a golden pension package from President Koroma after the 2012 election. She was appointed as Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology (1), a position which she held until her party was defeated in the Presidential run-off election in March 2018.
At a public function at Kona Lodge in 2016, Christiana Thorpe came out openly and said that all along she had been a member of the APC Party. That was when the coin dropped!
Mohamed N’fah Alie Conteh spent his entire life working for the elections body which is now called National Electoral Commission. He was destined to head NEC. And that was his life-long ambition.
After several high-level consultations within the APC Party, President Ernest Bai Koroma appointed N’fah Conteh as the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission. So many people in the APC party were opposed to the appointment of N’fah Conteh as head of NEC. The party was not sure of N’fah’s loyalty. Several attempts were made to replace N’fah in the middle of the election process. The APC tried to use the ACC to discredit N’fah Conteh, by conducting several layers of investigations into the activities of N’fah Conteh and NEC. Being a very cautious man, N’fah was never found wanton.
During the conduct of the 2018 general election, N’fah Conteh proved to be a man made of sterner stuff. He never got intimidated. The APC used all their ninety nine tactics to get him to resign from NEC but he refused to be pushed out. He knew he was doing a good job for this country.
After the APC frail-looking Presidential candidate, Samura Kamara was mauled in the first round of the Presidential election in 2018, the party went into action to discredit N’fah Conteh, by peddling all sorts of lies about him. Some newspapers were even paid huge sums of money to publish negative and concocted stories about N’fah Conteh just to scare the man out of his job.
During the run-off election, N’fah Conteh remained unruffled. He had seen the game plan of the APC to run him out of office. Some people alleged that an attempt was even made on N’fah Conteh’s life. The Police did not confirm this claim.
Bio Declared Winner
After a hotly-contested run-off Presidential election, Julius Maada Bio of the SLPP was declared winner. The well-composed N’fah Conteh appeared at a jam-packed conference room to announce the winner of the run-off election. He called on any one who felt aggrieved to go to the Supreme Court and challenge the outcome of the election.
After they were defeated in the bye-election in Tonko Limba, the APC party called on N’fah Conteh to resign. They made all sorts of unsubstantiated allegations against Nf’ah Conteh. Up until today, the APC party has not provided a single evidence of election malpractice that took place in Tonko Limba. It just shows how unserious the leadership of the APC party is. Instead of calling for Ernest Bai Koroma and his team to resign their positions in the party’s national executive, some idle people in the party are busy calling for N’fah Conteh to resign. This is very pathetic! Poor N’fah Conteh is now being used by Osman Foday Yansaneh as a scapegoat for his party’s poor showing in the Tonko Limba bye-election.
The proposed Southern Region NEC Commissioner, Sylvester Edmond Alpha has had his Parliamentary confirmation held in abeyance because the APC MPs have refused to cooperate with the SLPP to approve him. Poor Edmond Alpha! The SLPP leadership in Parliament should find a way to resolve this impasse.
The long and short of it all is that, the majority of the people of Sierra Leone have faith in the credibility of N’fah Conteh. They want him to stay in his current job until the 2023 elections are conducted. After all, the SLPP inherited N’fah Conteh from the APC.
Those who want Nf’ah Conteh to resign are nothing but unpatriotic people. Period!