By A Concerned APCian
The state of discord in and around the All People’s Congress (APC) party is disgusting; it is frustrating, and nauseating to an extent that the putrid outcomes are about to contaminate the good images of many hardworking and disciplined people, who, by their personal making and selfless sacrifices, have added aura, credibility and popularity to the APC of Siaka Probyn Stevens, Sorie Ibrahim Koroma, Christian Alusine Kamara-Taylor and many others of blessed memory.
Today, as we are fast approaching the most critical elections in the history of our beloved Sierra Leone, this party, which most citizens consider as a beacon of hope for a prosperous future, is being held at bay by self-destructive elements in their desperation for power.
The life of a political party is dependent on its aggressive succession strategy that provides for the replacement of the old and the tired, with vibrant, determined and committed people with the tenacity, vibrancy and the rightful exuberance to rally new and old members to the party’s fold, in tandem with the existentialities of the times.
Perhaps that was the thinking of those APC members, including the Minkailu Mansaray, Alhaji Buya Kamara, Alie Fornah, and a host of others, to identify Ernest Bai Koroma to lead the APC in 2000 and thereafter. His youthfulness and charisma was appealing to the existentialities of the moment, and that brought in additional political advantage in a progressive manner, leading to the ultimate assumption of power by the APC in 2007 after fifteen years in political oblivion.
Ernest Bai Koroma applied similar approach during his tenure as President by identifying young positive minds to help him implement his Agenda for Change and Agenda for Prosperity. These sociopolitical programmes by all indications, set the pace for Sierra Leone’s strategic roadmap into achieving some targets of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and its attendant Sustainable Development Goals; if not for the apparent ninety degrees policy shift adopted by this current SLPP administration.
The vision of Ernest Bai Koroma was to build a cadre of young energetic, dedicated and committed leadership for the APC moving forward, and he backed his strategic choices with strategic appointments and placements of these young leaders both within government and the APC body structures.
Honourable Chernor Maju Ramadan Bah aka Chericoco, was one of those strategic choices of Ernest Bai Koroma. His intellect, his commitment to party ideals and policies and love for country; his sociable touch, philanthropy, generosity, and humility, all put together, attracted Ernest Bai Koroma and indeed the APC party. When he was awarded the party symbol therefore to run for Parliament in 2007, he outshined his doubters and out-performed his competitors and mesmerized his pessimist both at the polls, as well as in his performance in Parliament.
No doubt, he rose to the rank of Deputy Speaker and could have risen higher, had the party not been ripped of the 2018 elections. He was appointed Running-Mate to Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara for the 2018 Presidential Election, rightly so not because of his tribe, religion, and youthfulness, but because he had proven worthy of such a position, given the years of his selfless services and sacrifices to and for the APC and Sierra Leone.
His current position as Leader of the Opposition in the present Parliament, speaks a lot about who Hon. Chericoco is, someone the APC has had its teeth cut nicely in the politics of Sierra Leone and its attendant melodramas. No one can take that from him and no one can as well take from him his proven dedication and commitment to the APC and its leadership.
Most critics of the APC today hinge their criticisms of the party as being a dormant opposition from the perspective of its National Leadership, but Hon. Chericoco’s leadership in the House of Parliament speaks to counteract that postulation. The leadership he is providing and the actions of his colleagues in the APC caucus are direct reflections of the APC’s position on all issues challenged, opposed and criticized. Hon. Chernor Maju Ramadan Bah and his colleagues are not operating in Parliament in isolation; they are there under the aegis of the APC and are just doing so.
Chericoco has stood firm for the APC party. He has refused all forms of enticements in order to soften his stances, and has emboldened his colleagues to follow suit. He is renowned for saying things as they are. His mantra as the lead opposition in Parliament is, say the good things and condemn the bad things in the interest of Mother Sierra Leone. And in all these turbulent years since 2018, this charismatic young man has kept to what is expected of him. He has gained the trust and confidence of a wider spectrum of the APC membership, and indeed the people of Sierra Leone. He continues to win the hearts and minds of the top echelon of the APC. He has proved beyond all reasonable doubts his trustworthiness and his ability and capacity to serve in every aspect of the country’s leadership.
But some miscreants within the APC have started making moves to smother the good image of this fine personality, by gauging his suitability for Vice President, based on his ethnicity and religion. Nonsense! What these small minds are ignoring is the fact that Chericoco is not from Jupiter. He is full-blown Sierra Leonean by birth, and our National Constitution recognizes him as a citizen. Sierra Leone is a secular state with no known religion having dominance, and every citizen is free to belong and practice any religion of his choice. Chericoco is a Fullah and a Muslim, and so what? As a nation, we are respected around the world for our diversity and the peaceful coexistence it eschews; we are respected for our religious tolerance and respect for all religions. Our ethnic and religious differences have not, throughout our sixty-six years of nationhood, caused us any upheavals. In fact, they have made us stronger and have brought us even closer. This is manifested by our inter-marriages that have become our custom and the free movements and settlements of people across the country.
To quote him (Chericoco) directly in one of his famous speeches to the APC leadership, he stated:
“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”
He has not minced his words here. He was frank, astute, precise and factual with his perspective.
It is indeed a political inexactitude to define someone’s suitability for position in a political party and a country based on his race and faith; it is sheer chauvinism and thoroughly Marchevalian and destructive. No one applied to God Almighty to be born a Sierra Leonean, and it’s a matter of choice to belong to a political party of choice. As such, no one should or must be discriminated against for making a political party choice, and it is never a foregone acceptability that you must hail from a majority tribe to lead any political party in Sierra Leone or be a significant part of it. Ingrained systems in our political system indicates that such political recognition is mostly born out of an individual’s popularity, his contributions to the party and country and his proven efficiency, efficacy and competence to handle whatever position he seeks.
The Fullah tribe is officially recognized in the country as one of the twelve ethnic groups in the country, which makes it no crime for a Fullah indigene to even become President of Sierra Leone, if voted for by the people. This young man is not asking for more. In fact, he is being moderate and very humble in his expression of what he seeks for within the APC body politique. This is simply because he has the energy, the knowledge from his years of experience in Parliament, and this is backed solidly by his legal background.
To those ringing the bells of discrimination and sowing seeds of discord in the APC because of their parochial minds, you should give chance to common sense and refrain from those isms and schisms that appear to be shallowing your minds, to allow for right-thinking to prevail. When the APC was being formed, its founders, including Siaka Probyn Stevens, didn’t limit its membership to any particular tribe or region. At his death, Siaka Stevens did not bequeath the party to any particular ethnic group or set of individuals.
The APC is registered as a national political party, which makes it open to all Sierra Leoneans. For a set of people to now claim ownership of it to the extent of drawing discriminatory lines against other people is uncalled for, it is undemocratic and certainly, not politically correct. The love for a certain individual must not blind consciences to realities and facts. People should be using their energies to heal the wounds inflicted on colleagues due to reckless political utterances of proxies and to cement the fragmentations within the APC rather than widening them and deepening the wounds with senseless parochial politics, with hallmarks of disgusting diatribes on people’s sensitivities, and to those things that have held the APC together as a party and as a people since the creation of this land that we love and we call Sierra Leone.
The Chericoco that the APC grassroots know by all indications, deserves what he seeks for in the APC.