By John Baimba Sesay
Elections are here again and it is all about winning and forming a government. Removing a performing Party from power can be very challenging and not feasible in the coming elections.
As we continue to see, some have chosen to use mendacious political propaganda in a bid to get their way through. The sad reality remains, political mendacity has no place today in the country. This is based on the reality of growth especially the extent to which we have gone with infrastructure, socio-economic and political growth, allowing space for free, open and pluralistic press, ensuring open space for political pluralism, with democratic institutions performing independently. The government still remains popular with the governing Party enjoying populist support across the country.
The recent turnout of people across the country for the nomination process of the APC’s Presidential Candidate, Dr. Samura Kamara, his running mate, the young and energetic Hon. Chernor M. Bah and the party’s Parliamentary Aspirants frankly gave an impressive picture of what awaits us after March 7th from the perspective of the Party winning and forming the next government, eventually ensuring continuity of the legacies of this government.
As a country, we all should work towards a peaceful conduct and all players to the process especially Political Parties should be ready to accept the process. The NEC continues to enjoy an independent platform so far as its Operations could be discussed. That they even ruled against the APC in a petition case against a candidate of another Party in Kambia shows how the government has ensured an independent NEC.
It is, therefore, not surprising that our development efforts continue to enjoy global support, especially that of global economic players like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and even players like the African Development Bank. This is true, given that with just a month to elections, they have renewed their full support to the country and have NOT SUSPENDED or STOPPED ANY FUNDING to our growth processes. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank must be impressed with the progress we are making, acceptably though, there still remain challenges. About six months to the general elections in 2007, donor funding to the country was STOPPED/SUSPENDED. After the then Opposition Party (APC) had won the elections, it had to, for a period, manage state affairs based on what the revenue mobilizing institution- NRA was collecting in the form of taxes.
Therefore, recent reports by Africa Confidential (AC) that donors have SUSPENDED funding to the country are not only false and misleading, as clarified by the country’s finance minister, they also, in my view, are aimed at undermining government’s efforts and bringing into disrupts the sound ties of cooperation between the country and their donor partners. An objective reporting would have sought the reaction of government before publication. The AC failed to do so and based their report purely on anonymous sources. The news release by the IMF and even the prompt response by the country’s finance minister were all helpful in correcting the erroneous report by AC.
But of strategic and apt attention, is the way some opposition outlets have taken the issue, though not too much of a surprise knowing the events ahead- elections. For some, suspension of donor support makes a great deal of Political usefulness if they should defeat the ruling Party. That even an increase in the price of commodities like fuel and rice may sound politically expedient. But they should at least go beyond their want of Political votes, self-satisfaction, and take into account the interest of the masses. A Party that cares for the masses will view an issue like price increase on fuel and rice from a rational perspective. That the SLPP had problems with donor funding six months to the 2007 elections when they were a ruling Party should not see them wish same for the country now. Just no!
Partisan interest on one side, there should also be the bigger picture- the country and people. The Opposition should not ignore that crucial aspect. In a recent piece, I made the case that the country would need, as a leader, after President Ernest Koroma, someone that knows her challenges and one that has contributed practically and immensely in every shape or form, to her growth process. The ruling Party still enjoys popular support and Dr. Samura Kamara has been a strategic player locally and in institutions like the World Bank and IMF. His years of experience in International Economic Cooperation are grounds for him to make a huge impact after his election as president. His involvement in formulating growth policies for the country has also given him a better standing amongst other candidates. We would agree, the aspirations of all candidates is for a better country but the package for such to be achieved is what makes a huge difference. Dr. Samura Kamara has got better plans and better policies.
These elections should be beyond political/partisan falsehood. Rather, they should be about the real issues at hand, like plans for a better country, plans for the youthful population, women and the vulnerable groups in society. They should be about the economy, education, water and about other social services, about governance, the health sector, energy and about our security sector.
Dr. Samura Kamara’s (APC’s) commitments to the above issues are what make him stand out from others. He is committed to expanding access to health facilities, sustaining the country’s free health care for pregnant women, suckling mums and children under the age of five. He has spoken of the need to promote private sector investment in housing, Afro-processing and in tourism, in a bid to grow the economy. We are a proud people today given our achievements and more, we shall get when the APC is returned to governance.