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The APC Convention: A political façade, if not a joke! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, Senior Lecturer, Media and Politics, Northumbria University, UK   
Friday, 20 October 2017 12:33

Thanks to AYV partnered by AFCOM, I was able to followthe live coverage of the APC and SLPP conventions on my mobile phone from my base in the UK.It was good that both conventions took place simultaneously last week end (October 15-16, 2017) because, at the very least, it provided the opportunity to those keenly following the two historic events to compare and contrast them, not least in terms of democratic processes and procedures. Let me start by talking about how I saw the APC convention held in Makeni, then compare,and contrast it with what I saw at the SLPP convention held in Freetown.

The APC Convention

I must say that I was concerned about the very flawed process of selecting, rather than electing, the APC presidential flagbearer, Dr Samura Kamara and his running mate, Chernor Maju Bah, as well as the national executive committee of the party, for the March 7 2018 elections. By singlehandedly sanctifying and implementing such a very problematic process, President Ernest Koroma blatantly defied basic democratic protocol and denied all the hundreds of APC delegates who braved all odds to be at the conference the right to vote for the candidates of their choice. This is not only a bad precedent in our fledgling democracy butperhaps more disturbing; it is a recipe for chaos with ramifications not just for the ruling APC party but also for the peace of Sierra Leone as a whole. Social media platforms are already awash with images and videos of protests and burning of APC posters in Port Loko, Kono reaction to the selection of the APC ticket.

Moreover, most APC delegates abandoned the convention hall in Makeni as soon as the names of the selected national executive members (largely dominated by the same people), the flagbearer and his running mate were announced. It did not come as a surprise, therefore, to see proceedings at the convention coming to an abrupt end no sooner the selected flagbearer and his running mate came to the podium following invitation by President Koroma with no time for victory speeches.It really made a mockery of the APC convention and I honestly wonder why all the 28 candidates who declared their intentions to run for the APC ticket wasted their time crisis-crossing the country to campaign for votes when they knew that there was in fact not going to be any opportunity for anyone to vote for them. The whole thing smacks of a political façade, if not a joke!

Some commentators have likened this autocratic process to that of electing a new pope. However, I honestly find this parallel to be problematic since a Pope, who is also a Bishop of Rome, is elected (not selected) by a two-thirds supermajority of the College of Cardinals. Perhaps the nearest thing to what happened at the APC convention one can think of is the election, or rather selection, of the Chinese president every ten years.However, even here there could be a problem since the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s highest state body, which also has power to remove the president and other state officials, elects the Chinese president. The election or removal of a president or state official is decided by a simple majority vote. On the contrary, no such thing as a simple majority vote by the convention delegatesor the members of APC’s NEC, took place at the APC convention.What happened was that President Koroma and other members of the APC NEC emerged from a short meeting where they claimed to have held consultations, not election, and the next thing we saw was somebody announcing the list of the supposed selected new NEC members; delegates were then asked to endorse the list by a show of hands. The television cameras of AYV unfortunately did not show the delegates raising their hands in endorsement, if at all they did.Even if they did endorse the list in that way this would have hardly made any difference since it was highly likely that any dissenting voice would have been quickly silenced, or bundled out of the hall. President Koroma, who doubles as chairman and leader of the party for life, was then given the honour of the last word, which he used to announce his selected flagbearer and running mate without referring to the APC NEC. What was even more discouraging for democracy was the similar simple endorsement of President Koroma’s imposition of himself as ‘leader for life’ of the APC party without a single dissenting voice in the convention hall. This can perhaps only be compared to what we often see in communist North Korea. But I am sure it will not be long for us to start seeing how unsustainable all these internal political machinations of the APC would turn out to be!

The SLPP Convention

What happened at the SLPP convention in Freetown turned out to be in sharp contrast to what happened at the APC convention in Makeni. It was a clear culmination of the first SLPP convention, which took place about three weeks earlier in Kenema between September 15 and 17. According to manydelegates and independent observers, who attended the convention in Kenema, the National Executive Committee members of the main opposition party were elected in free, fair and transparent elections organised by an independent electoral commission set up by the former SLPP NEC.According to press reports, candidates for NEC positions openly and peacefully campaigned for the votes of the delegates who in turn cast their votes for the candidates of their choice in secret ballots.The same electoral commission organised the election of the SLPP presidential flagbearer at the SLPP convention, which I watched live on the screen of my mobile phone thanks to AYV powered by AFCOM.The processes and procedures were very similar to what happened at the SLPP convention in Kenema as all five flagbearer candidates were given the platform to make the case for their candidacy.The supporters of the candidates wereallowed to move around to campaign for the votes of the party delegates, who were later called one by one to cast their vote after verification of their identity.From the way I saw it on AYV TV, the whole process wasnot only peaceful but also largely free, fair and transparent, thus meeting all the ingredients of a truly democratic process. Moreover, here unlike what we saw at the APC convention, Maada Bio, who emerged as the clear winner of the SLPP flagbearer election with 475 votes had the opportunity to deliver his victory speech amidst thunderous applause. (John Benjamin, who polled 116 votes, came second; followed by Dr Alie Kabba-11; Munda Rogers-10; and Bond Wurie-6). I was therefore not sure why panellists who took part in the discussion of the AYV Sunday programme anchored by Angela Ngweni, which I also followed, struggled to accept and say the hard but honest truth about the reality of the marked difference between what happened at the APC and SLPP conventions when asked. Almost all three contributors to the programme sang from the same hymn sheet in comparing the two conventions as being manipulated and yet still mustered the courage to openly admit that the APC convention was based on selection while the SLPP one was based on election. But of course, the devil is in the detail because the question is raised if, as they admitted, the APC convention was based on selection, and the SLPP one on election, then where the hell is the parallel they were talking about? I was particularly appalled to hear one of the panellists, Dr Abu Bakar Kargo, who, by the way, taught me International Relations at FBC, University of Sierra Leone, praising President Ernest Koroma for imposing his candidates on the APC delegates, because, according to him, political leaders are supposed to tell their people what is good for them, and not the other way round. However, with all due respect to my former professor, I beg to defer; while I agree that political leaders are supposed to provide leadership and direction for their people, this must be done in consultation with them in a true democratic spirit. Unfortunately, as things turned out this was not what happened at the APC party convention.

I want to end this piece by strongly recommending that the Political Parties Registration Commission consider the possibility of introducing some guidelines, perhaps in the future, which would ensure that all political parties follow democratic procedures and processes of electing party executives and presidential flagbearers.




26th IPRA Conference in Sierra Leone Ends on a High Note

The International Peace Research Association (IPRA) successfully held its 26th General Conference on ‘Agenda for Peace and Development: Conflict Prevention, Post-Conflict Transformation, and the Conflict, Disaster Risk and Sustainable Development Debate’ in collaboration with the 10TH Dealing With Disasters Series, Northumbria University (UK)and Sakarya University (Turkey) and  the University of  Sierra Leone at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone from November 27 to 1st December 2016.


Business News


The Parliament of Sierra Leone on Monday 04th December 2017 debated and ratified two additional agreements aimed at improving and expanding Ports facilities in Sierra Leone to be at par with international best practices.

Presenting both Agreements prior to ratification, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Balogun Koroma said that the additional Agreements are geared towards addressing some of the concerns raised by MPs, in respect of expanding our Ports facilities to accommodate larger vessels, and the issuance of license with the view of combating money laundering, contra-band goods, and attracting more funds for Government.

Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Minority Leader of the House, also supported the ratification of the two Agreements, saying if our Ports are not developed, we would not be able to attract huge vessels; thus the need for the continuous improvement of our Ports facilities.


Media News

"President Koroma is a big disappointment to press freedom" - SLAJ

Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, has said that President Ernest Bai Koroma has disappointed the media on press freedom in the country. 

“Successive governments have given us false hopes on the repeal of the criminal libel law. The politicians have lied to us. They have taken us to be big fools. President Koroma is our biggest disappointment. We had high hopes in him but he failed us woefully. So we will not trust any politician again, because when they get into office they forget about their promises,” said Nasralla.
Nasralla was speaking last Friday while formally launching a report on criminal defamation laws in Africa by PEN Sierra Leone at the SLAJ Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall, Campbell Street, Freetown. 
He recalled that before he was first elected President of the Republic in 2007, President Koroma was a staunch campaigner against criminal libel law in Sierra Leone, but when he became President he suddenly had a different view.


Reasons why Sierra Leoneans Must Think beyond Tribal and Regional Lines Before Casting their Ballots This Time

As the national or general elections loom in Sierra Leone and, as a true citizen, I solemnly pray and hope with all hopes that Sierra Leoneans of the voting age will consider carefully who they would vote for, come March 2018. The divisive and immature nature of politics as it exists in Sierra Leone has, to a greater extent, contributed to the country lagging behind nearly all other countries in terms of progressive development. My readers should be mindful of the fact that certain countries in Africa would rather develop retrogressively than progressively, a situation wherein governments embark on ego-boosting programs that aren’t beneficial to the average citizen.

A government which expends its energy for the benefit of the people is a progressive government and that is what Sierra Leoneans want at this time after being in the doldrums for ages. It is therefore absolutely necessary for fellow citizens to refrain from casting their valued votes in favor of candidates because of tribal or regional affiliations but on how genuine and capable that candidate is, otherwise stagnation in progress is bound to follow.


View Point

Youth Unemployment Is A Killer Virus In Sierra Leone

“I studied Sociology at NjalaUniversity and graduated in 2015 but still unemployed despite several interviews being attended. I am currently awaiting my MSc at Njala University which is to be awarded early next year,” said 29 year old MabintyKamara.

“I graduated in 2012 with Honours from the Department of Accounting, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. I have sent several job applications; the only long job I got was with the International Medical Corps during the deadly Ebola virus and since then no job. I was also a volunteer teacher but the Minister of Education, Science and Technology did not approve me and others after almost a year of voluntary service so I quit,” said 31 year old Mohamed LaminKanneh.

In Sierra Leone, despite the numerous promises made by President Ernest BaiKoroma to figuratively ‘lay his life for the youth,’ unemployment among youth is one of the highest with no end in sight to reduce the spate of this social menace. According to the United Nations Development Program, approximately 70% of youth are underemployed or unemployed and an estimated 800,000 youth today are actively searching for employment.


News - Press Release

Sierra Leone receives US$10 Million Supplemental Financing from World Bank as support to Landslide and Flooding

FREETOWN, December 13, 2017 —The World Bank Group has approved aSupplemental Financing (SF) in the amount of US$10 million to help the Government of Sierra Leone meet immediate needs associated with the landslide and flooding disaster that struck Freetown on August 14, 2017.The SF is a grant, provided as a supplemental budget support operation that will flow directly into the Government’s budget.

The funding, under the First Productivity and Transparency Support Credit (PTSC-I), will ensure that the reforms supported under thisoperation remain on track and are implemented without the risk of delays due to competing capacity or budgetary priorities arising from the post-disaster recovery. It will also help with the rebuilding of critical infrastructuredestroyed during the landslide and flooding.

Since the end of the Ebola epidemic, the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) has initiated substantive reforms to boost productivity, restore fiscal stability, and gradually rebuild buffers. The Government initiated substantive reforms, focusing on agriculture, fisheries and energy, supported by the First Productivity and Transparency Support Credit (PTSC-I), to boost productivity and start rebuilding the country's buffers.


Society -Local News

Fatmata Binta Jalloh Annie Walsh Memorial Secondary School has won this years’ Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone Inter-Secondary School debate on the topic ‘respect for human rights as a pre-requisite for a politically tolerant and peaceful 2018 elections’.  
The debate which was held at the Sierra Leone Library Board with five Secondary Schools participating is part of series of activities undertaken by HRCSL in commemorating the International Human Rights Day Celebration on December 10th, 2017. Fatmata Binta Jalloh of the Annie Walsh Memorial School came first by defeating Amos Claudius Gordon from the Prince of Wales who came second, Abubakar Marrah from Saint Edwards Secondary School came third and Kelfala Kamara of the Government Model Secondary School came fourth and Evelyn T. Ahorney from the Saint Joseph’s Secondary School coming fifth.


World Bank Group Boosts Financing for West African Power Pool Regional Power Transmission Project

FREETOWN, December13, 2017 —The World Bank Group on November 17, 2017 approved Additional Financing in the amount of US$59.57 million to West African Power Pool (WAPP) - Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea (CLSG) PowerInterconnection Project, which aims to increase electricity supply in the four participating countries.

The project will interconnect the four participating countries into the 225 kV (kilo volt) regional energy market in West Africa, and will also enable the connection to the WAPP of the planned hydropower plants in Bumbuna Extension, Yiben and Bekongor in Sierra Leone and Mount Coffee in Liberia and other future generation projects.

The Project will provide residents of Greater Monrovia Area in Liberia; Bo, Kenema and the Western Areas in Sierra Leone; and the Forest Region of Guinea, with improvements in power supplies in the short-term. It also pursues a regional infrastructure developmental approach that will provide over the medium- to long-term adequate electricity to the people of the four countries in a more efficient and cost effective way, boosting economic and social development.



It will not be Business as Usual…Bio assures Diaspora

He was passionate, confident and assuring as he addressed hundreds of Sierra Leoneans at the prestigious Royal Regency Hall in London on Saturday 9th December 2017 with a very simple message that as the next President it will not be business as usual. For a man who has a solid track record as a disciplinarian, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio continues to attract many voters who feel the country needs a strong and disciplined leadership.

Cataloguing the current state of the country, Bio spoke about a divided country, the poor drowning in poverty, rich swimming in affluence, poor governance, battered economy, high public debt, third hungriest country, high inflation among others . He also reminded his audience that many of the things which necessitated the war such as bad governance, mismanagement of the economy, injustice have been the features of the current APC Government.

However, Bio's message was not just about the doom and gloom but also making a case why he is the right choice that the country needs. He spoke about his track record, experience and how he has always put his country first. "Some have come with slogan, country first, but I served my country first at a very tender age. I did not go around the world to work and come back old to say country first. When I was young I gave my life to our country," a passionate Bio said.

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