I t has been difficult for me to juggle between the high demands of my job as a statutory social worker in the United Kingdom and journalism. However, as the build up to the 2018 general elections intensifies, I thought it will be a remiss of my civic duty as a Sierra Leonean, if I fail to join the bandwagon of political commentators in the process of screening the next leader of Sierra Leone. And for the purpose of this piece, I will limit my discussion and analysis to the APC would be flag bearers.
And with regards to commenting on the herculean task of selecting not electing the would be flag bearer of the All Peoples Congress (APC) party. The former has become the popular approach of the APC party in choosing its parliamentarians, councilors as well as presidential candidates. The party has also entrusted the responsibility of discharging the responsibility of selecting its leaders to its National Advisory Council (NAC). This approach has be decried by many party faithful as undemocratic and nature and not representative of the wishes of the bulk of party supporters. But for the party high hierarchy, they believe that the approach is the most effective tool that could be used in identifying it leaders, councilors and members of parliament, as it has the ability to mend fences between contesting candidates, as unflavored contestant are often compensated with consolatory positions or roles in the party.
This brings me to what I will describe as the unprecedented declaration of wonna be party flag bearers for the 2018 presidential election. Many political pundits have attributed the main cause of the mass declarations by a desire by some of them to bring much needed social and economic change to the country. Others see it as an opportunity to amass more ill-gotten wealth at the expense of the always down trodden Sierra Leoneans. And a colleague of mine described it as declarations of relevance as most of them do not have what it takes to lead Sierra Leone, but are rather seeking attention so that they would be compensated with jobs by whoever that might emerge as the party flag bearer and the eventual president of Sierra Leone.
Like what many had already pointed out, I had nurtured the belief that the process has been poorly handled and seriously flawed. And I am deeply concerned that it has the potential of fermenting discontent and thereby creating huge cracks in the party that if care is not taken such cracks cannot be patched so easily. I believe President Koroma and NAC would have handled this better by grooming a successor, may be and just may be a competent and corruption free Vice President that would have made succession to the party leadership a relatively easy one.
I know many would disagree with me and many knives will be out to get me before even the ink of my pen dry up. And this is probably due to what many believe the questionable pedigree of both the former elected Vice President, Alhaji Sam Sumana and the current appointed Vice President, Victor Bockarie Foh.
Let’s just quickly have a glimpse of those wannabe flag bearer aspirants of the APC party and the list include: Alimamy Peptito Koroma, who is reported to have strong backing within the party high command. However, his mysterious sacking as Minister of Works has dented his prospect of bagging the flag bearer for the party. Dr Kaifala Marah is perceived by many as a new entrant to the party and had performed the roles of Chief of Staff, Minister of Finance and Bank Governor of Sierra Leone. However, rumors have it that his dismal performance at the Ministry of Finance led to what others consider as his demotion to the role of Bank Governor of Sierra Leone. And he is reported to have defied President Koroma’s advice not to resign as Bank Governor and many consider his chances of getting the flag bearer as very slim.
The next on the list is Victor Bockarie Foh, who as of the time of typing this piece has not made a formal declaration of his intension to lead the party as its flag bearer in the 2018 general elections. You can call him all names, but one thing you cannot take from him, is his unquestionable loyalty to the party during thick and thin periods. But many Sierra Leoneans believe his name is very synonymous to corruption especially in the past.
Next in line that wants to succeed president Koroma is Minkailu Mansaray, who is the current Minister of Mines. Honestly, I don’t know much about Minkailu Manasaray, as he is a very strange character who persistently shies away from the press and hardly make any public speeches.
Another wonna be flag bearer is John Sisay who is a cousin of President Koroma. John Sisay spent most part of his childhood and considerable part of his adulthood in the United Kingdom. This is evidenced by his poor grasp of the krio and if recent bribery allegations against him, coupled with travel ban is anything to go by, then he is one of those that have naturally been eliminated in the party flag bearer contest to succeed President Koroma.
Another contestant is Alpha Kanu, commonly known as Alpha Khan. He is known to be President Koroma’s close pal and they both know the inside and outside of each other. Alhpa Khan is endowed with extra-ordinary oratory qualities that helped bolster the party ratings when he was Information Minister cum government spokesman. Anyway I will leave that for now as it will be the subject of discussion of another piece.
Back to Alpha Khan, he looks presidential, but his records have been tainted with his alleged involvement in a previous hajjgate scandal, which he has always vigorously defended. Added to this, there are also alleged question marks on the certain mining contracts that were signed under his watch at his brief spell as Minister of Mines. Another has to do with his alleged poor handling of the Fibre Optic Cable project when he was Minister of Information. And these unsubstantiated allegations might just stand in his way to clinching the APC flag bearer.
Another in the race to succeed President Ernest Koroma is Lawyer Abubakarr Siddique Kalokoh, who born was born in Port Loko District but raised in Makneni. Lawyer Kaloko started his legal profession in Sierra Leone, but reports have it that he was forced to migrate to the United States of America when the SLPP Tejan Kabbah led government was baying his blood for defending his APC party colleagues. He currently co-owns a law firm in Virginia, USA and Sierra Leone. He has not been ever associated with corrupt activities. Whether clean records will is placed him in good stead for the party flag bearer it stands to be seen.
Another that has been viewed by many as the most popular ,corruption free and has all the hallmarks of a Presidential material is Joseph Fitzegerald Kamara commonly known by his credentials as JFK. He has worked as prosecuting lawyer upon qualifying as lawyer in Sierra Leone. He pursued a postgraduate his legal legal discipline in America and was invited home to service at then constituted Special Court of Sierra Leone as one of the prosecutors and the only black.
Due to his outstanding performance he was elevated to the position of deputy prosecutor a position he held until President Koroma appointed him as Sierra Leone anti-corruption Czar. His performance in this role improves the ratings of Sierra Leone in its anti-corruption fight. He has been the recipient of several awards from reputable international organizations for his excellent performance while serving as anti-corruption commissioner of Sierra Leone. As a result of his outstanding performance as anti-corruption Czar, President Koroma in his wisdom appointed as the current Attorney General and Minister of Justice. As the current Attorney General and Minster of Justice, he has availed every Sierra Leone the opportunity to access justice free of cost with the introduction of the Legal Aid Board. it is also during his tenure that has seen the appointment of a good number of Judges and establishment of a Magistrate Courts countrywide so that justice can be dispense without much delay. He is corruption free, very eloquent and full of knowledge. He has been tipped by many neutral political pundits as the most appropriate person to succeed President Koroma and win the 2018 elections. Even the opposition have been discussing the threat JFK will be a tough presidential candidate to match in the 2018 election if the APC put him forward as their flag bearer.
It could be seen from the aforementioned analysis that the task of selecting a flag bearer for the APC party has naturally narrowed down. This is due to the fact that recent scandals such as flood/hajj gates, money laundering and bribery scandals have edged out many wannabe flag bearers for the party.
However, many party supporters are very concern about rumors doing the round that NAC might want to select a candidate that has not gone public about wanting to being the party’s flag bearer. And a name that has been seriously linked to being selected by NAC is the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Samura M. Kamara from Kmalo in the Bombali district.
If these rumours are anything to go by, then most people think it is a sheer display of arrogance by the APC. How on earth will they select someone like Dr. Samura Kamara who is a loner and just cannot even win the recently concluded Africa development Bank presidential elections, but they believe he can win presidential elections in Sierra Leone. What the party needs now is a new face that has not been associated with corruption and that can appeal to the youth and old. And I believe JFK is the only one that has those attributes.