By Sorie Fofana.
When Alhaji Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah was elected as the SLPP Presidential candidate on 4th November, 1995 at the Bintumani Conference Hall in Freetown, he had the difficult task of appointing a running mate. According to the SLPP Constitution, the flag bearer can appoint his running mate in consultation (not in agreement) with the Party’s National Officers.
Tejan Kabbah wanted his running mate to be an indigene from the Southern Region and a Christian. Kabbah was a Muslim from the North with a strong maternal background from the Eastern Region.
There were three prominent people for the post of running mate to Tejan Kabbah in 1996. They were the late Teacher R.E.S. Lagao, Madam Shirley Gbujama and Dr. Albert Joe Demby.
At the end of a marathon consultative process, Dr. Albert Joe Demby was chosen for the post of running mate to Tejan Kabbah in January 1996. The appointment of Dr. Albert Joe Demby as running mate did not go down well with several people in the party.
After his first term in office, President Kabbah decided to drop Dr. Albert Joe Demby and appointed his protégé, Solomon Berewa as his running mate in the 2002 elections.
As Vice President, Solomon Berewa was very loyal to his political mentor, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
Berewa’s Running Mate
In 2005, Berewa was elected as the SLPP Presidential candidate, after defeating three prominent Politicians. They were the late J.B. Dauda, Charles Francis Margai and Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio.
Berewa was confronted with the decision of appointing a running mate. It is rumored that, he had struck a deal with Kabbah to appoint Momodu Koroma as his running mate.
Momodu was Kabbah’s blue-eyed boy. As Minister in his office (between 1996 and 2002), Kabbah groomed Momodu for a future leadership role in both the country and in the party (SLPP).
As time went on, Berewa was not convinced that, Momodu would add value to his Presidential bid. He was determined to renege on whatever agreement there had been between him and Kabbah.
Unfortunately, Berewa was not man enough to tell Kabbah that, he did not want Momodu as his running mate. His choice was between Kanja Sesay and Dr. Kadi Sesay. At the end of the day, Berewa reluctantly appointed Momodu Koroma as his running mate for the 2007 Presidential elections.
During the campaign period, there was a strained relationship between Berewa and his running mate. In fact, they never campaigned together.
Maada Bio In 2012
After he was elected flag bearer in 2011, at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown, Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio wanted to demonstrate that he was his own man.
The party’s Chairman/Leader at the time, Mr. John Benjamin preferred Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara as Brig. Bio’s running mate. But Usu Boie kept playing “Mister Hard To Get”. Brig. Bio’s patience was running out.
He made several efforts, to get Usu Boie but he (Usu Boie) proved uncooperative. It is alleged that, Brig. Bio announced Dr. Kadi Sesay as his running mate even without informing the party’s National Chairman/Leader, John Benjamin.
Mr. Benjamin reportedly told a newspaper reporter that, he heard the news on the radio whilst being chauffeur-driven to his home town of Segbwema.
Maada Bio In 2017
Recently, Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio was overwhelmingly reelected as the SLPP Presidential candidate for the March 2018 Presidential elections. He is expected to name his running mate before the 10th January, 2018 which is the deadline set by NEC for the nomination of Presidential candidates.
There are two prominent names that have so far featured for the post of running mate to Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio. The two are: Dr. Alpha Wurie and Lawyer Alpha Timbo.
On a personal note, I have a very good relationship with both of them. But, the question is: between the two of them, who can add more value to Brig. Bio’s Presidential bid?
If Brig. Bio has still not made up his mind, I would advise him to look for someone that will add value to his ticket. Not necessarily outside this list. That is the most important consideration in appointing a running mate.
May God guide Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio in making a good decision in appointing his running mate!
May common sense prevail!