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Re-echoing Mr. President: ...”APC is a Family” PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sayoh Kamara   
Thursday, 30 March 2017 22:09

When a Chairman and Leader of a grass root political party or any organisation has his or her wits about him or her, it helps that political party or organisation to blossom and continue to bury its roots deep down; for it is people who form and make these parties and organisations.

This was exactly what President Ernest Bai Koroma, Chairman and Leader of the All People’s Congress (APC) Party, the Fountain of Honour and Grand Commander of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone, exemplified in his keynote and opening statement at the just concluded conference of the APC National Youth League in Port Loko Town. If there is any moment I would have to remember Mr. President, it would be what he said and how he said what he said at this all important assemblage of the party’s youths. He positioned himself as a unifier and one who upholds in very strong terms, the tradition of one of Africa’s oldest political parties.

Among several sensitive and very crucial statements made on several thematic issues that day, was his clarification on rumours, bickering and rhetoric about how old one should be in the APC to qualify to contest for any elected position within the party. He said the APC is a “a family” and as long as one is registered and is fully paid up, that individual has the right to contest for any position in the party regardless of whether the individual was registered yesterday or last year. This certainly has cleared what seemed to be an orchestration by certain people or group of people to eliminate some of their own by making them appear too new and too young in the party to contest for any elective/selective position in the party, least, the position of flag bearer.

But President Koroma showed his magnanimity once again, by stating that all are equal in the party of their fathers to run for or express interest for any position, for as long as one is a bonafide member and he or she is fully paid up. This proved him once again as a democrat and a liberal politician who believes in performance rather than sheer rhetoric and political manoeuvring and that in any case, the will of the people should prevail to determine what is right in the interest of the party.

The definitive description of the APC party as “a family” bares the hallmark of the Chairman and Leader’s inclusivity and attachment to the ideal of inclusiveness rather than the so-called exclusivity preached by certain segments of the party’s old school. By that description, Chairman Koroma has opened the gates widely for people from all over the country, regardless of their tribe, regardless of earlier political association, regardless of their place of origin, to come to the APC. I must state in categorical terms that the APC before this historical declaration, like its main opponent, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) was considered especially by minority tribal groups as too ethnocentric; with one or two ethnic groups claiming total ownership of them. Chairman Ernest Bai Koroma has therefore demystified that myth and it is now left with party members, who have love and belief in the Chairman, to practicalize this declaration. My belief and the belief of many Sierra Leoneans from minority ethnic groups before now was that they have not been given space within the party’s national structure or opportunities in the top echelon of the party.

People have argued and debated in ghettos, ‘poyo’ bars, night clubs, restaurants, and in ‘poda-poda’ transports, about whether the APC is a Temne or Limba party. Many have argued against that notion and many have equally supported the notion. Before the advent of President Ernest Bai Koroma and his ideology of the ‘New APC’ which gave it clout to woo local and international support enough to grab power from the incumbent SLPP government, the APC was undoubtedly a Temne and Limba party.

Even though it still remains a mystery as to which tribe the late President Siaka Stevens truly belonged, the presence of the late Sorie Ibrahim Koroma (S.I. Koroma) and the late Christian Alusine Kamara-Taylor, who were longstanding First and Second Vice Presidents respectively since the country was turned into a one party state in 1977, the Temnes and the Limbas took claim of the party and asserted their political authority over it. National Executive positions at all levels were virtually shared amongst peoples of these two tribes. That is how the ‘Orgeh’ and ‘Mathorma’ societies became tools of identity to the APC. Between 1980 and 1985, almost every single individual in the APC was either a member of the ‘Orgeh’ or ‘Mathorma’ society and you are either associated with the Temne or the Limba ethnic group. This became the case because over time, it was an accepted norm that only peoples of these two ethnic groups were true-blooded and loyalists of the APC. It was against this background that the late Serry Kamal in about 2002, when Yours Truly had elicited from President Ernest Bai Koroma his desire to run for the flag bearer in the APC had reacted, “Only true-blooded APC will lead the APC”.

Chairman Koroma’s declaration therefore is no mistake. It is a deliberate move to open up the APC party as a national entity and not a secret society that is open only to a selected few. This example, I believe, should be applied by all political parties in this country, be it the SLPP, the PMDC, the PDP, the NDA, ADP, etc. This is also important to those political parties that are formed around individuals and or with tribal inclinations.

The APC National Youth League by all indications appears to understand the direction in which their leader is looking and they resoundingly reaffirmed their support for him by endorsing his continuity as Chairman and Leader of the party for life. The APC in this 21st  Century needs a leadership that collectively believes in inclusiveness and tolerance. That leadership must be equally firm in ensuring that inclusiveness is not cosmetic but a reality where every citizen, irrespective of ethnicity or region, can just become a member of the APC and he or she is not condemned to being an underdog just because he or she comes from a minority tribe or comes from a region that has been branded otherwise.

A political party historically based on marginalizing other ethnic groups or a political party in which sections of its members think that they own the party, as was true for the APC some decades ago, when one or two ethnic groups exerted dominance and ownership of the party, is doomed to die out. It will just be a matter of time. At least in the last nine years, we have seen a dramatic shift in that awful political paradigm. We now see members of minority groups like the Kissis, Konos, Krios, Kurankos, Sherbros, etc registering as members of the APC and are considered for very important positions in its government. This trend also needs to be replicated in the National Executive and the various organs of the party including the NAC, the Women’s Congress and the Youth League. This can be one of President Ernest Bai Koroma’s notable legacies. But if anyone finds it hard to accept that fact, then you are not Sierra Leonean at all because it shows you don’t know your country.

Mr. President actually needs to live on to entrench his philosophy of inclusiveness and to certainly make the APC, in the eyes of Sierra Leoneans, a family. In a family, all are bound to be equal-even the baby that is just born to the parents automatically becomes a bonafide member. To literarily paraphrase what Mr. President told his trusted, competent, proactive and vigilant youths at their recently concluded National Conference: The APC is a family.

Whether someone registers as a member today, or yesterday or last year, he or she is a member and as long as he or she is qualified according to the party’s constitution, that individual has the right to contest for any position within the party. Indeed Mr. President you are not mistaken. You are on the right trajectory of political inclusiveness. A political party, a national institution, should not be seen as under the stranglehold of any individual, or group of individuals whose interests might not be in the collective national interest. Members should feel they are part of the party at all levels. The APC is a family and that is what President Ernest Bai Koroma wants to be ingrained by all and sundry.

 

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