By Bandabla Sam Mbomah……………………………….
Sierra Leone’s political history as recent as 1996 to date has proven that the perceived new comers to the two major political parties; the Sierra Leone People’s Party(SLPP) and the All People’s Congress(APC) always take them to State House for two consecutive terms.
In 1996 when constitutionality returned to Sierra Leone after the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) Junta rule, both the green and red parties encountered the problem of who should become their flagbearer. The dilemma then was not due to a dearth of Presidential materials within their parties but a kind of rebranding the images of perceived Mende hegemony in the SLPP and dictatorship and one party mentality within the APC. SLPP countered this negative perception by sacrificing its biological seeds like Charles F. Margai, Dr. Sama Banya et al for a “newcomer and stranger”, the Late Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
The reason for this fortunate trade off by the SLPP was to sway public opinion off tribalism and nepotism which was the hallmark of the greens and take over State governance after thirty years in the wilderness. The old guards in the party were definitely not happy but accepted Dr. Kabbah who served as an instrument to prevent the APC from coming back to power. Indeed Dr. Kabbah won two consecutive elections for the SLPP in 1996 and 2000 respectively.
The APC was revived under the old guards, namely; Hon. Edward Turay, Serry Kamal (Late), Osho Williams (Late), Chukuma Johnson (late), Sanie Sesay, Birch Conteh and others, but could not make a break through in any of these elections. Contrary to the SLPP scenario, some amongst the APC old guards rejected the young and charismatic Insurance Broker, Ernest Bai Koroma whom the majority believed would give the party a new look and rescue them from the political wilderness, where they had been consigned since 1992.
Ernest Koroma was persecuted and humiliated but due to his honesty and genuine intent to serve Sierra Leone, defeated his internal enemies and secured an emphatic victory in the 2007 polls. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is on record as being one of a handful of opposition leaders in Africa to remove a sitting Government from power.
In referencing these significant events in the political history of both the APC and the SLPP, the Party elders are to be reminded that “New” does not imply unelectability or inexperienced. The global vogue is the value a candidate can add to his Party rather than membership by inheritance.
This brings me to the issue of the Hon. Joseph F. Kamara, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who despite the clarion call by the general populace as the fittest replacement for Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is being referred to as a “Newcomer” by some of the APC old guards.
African electorate naturally believe in the transition plan of power changing hands to the opposition after every two terms regardless of the performance of the ruling Party. In the case of Sierra Leone, the global economic meltdown has seemingly affected but not destroyed the development strides of President Koroma. Ebola, a drop in world commodity prices plus Economic and legal reforms influenced by our Western partners have further triggered mass disenchantment among the populace as we move towards the 2018 Presidential and Parliamentary polls.
The people however see hope in only one candidate among the would -be aspirants in both the SLPP and the APC, that is, Hon. Joseph F. Kamara. JFK, as he is popularly called is the “new oil for Sierra Leone”. His unblemished career history and forthright nature makes him exceptional. The youths who constitute 60 percent of the voter population describe him as a unifier, a national character who judge people not by their tribe or region but what they can offer to take Sierra Leone to another level.
It is evident in JFK’s performance at the Justice Ministry since his appointment in January, 2016 that he has the capacity to protect and build on the Legacy of President Koroma. His passion for information, communications technology equates him with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. The Realization that information technology is the engine for economic growth is a sign that a JFK Presidency will transform Sierra Leone to the envy of Africa.
Political debates in popular opposition Pubs see APC’s JFK as their alternative Presidential candidate if all efforts to unite their party fails. “The gentleman is easy to market. He is a likeable character and has roots in all the regions. His father was born in Moyamba District from a Tonkolili parentage, his mother hails from Bombali district and happily married to a woman from the Western area” Thomas Lahai explained.
To the opposition supporters, a JFK candidature will see them stay in opposition for the next ten years as the gentleman is still in his early fifties. According to a strong party supporter, Musu Gbemeh, “JFK is handsome, hardworking, a grassroots person and entrepreneurial; such a man cannot be traded off in the name of old versus new political gimmick”.