April 13, 2021

Sierra Leone: Is 2018 the same as 2007 election?

5 min read
I see the 2018 presidential election in pretty much the same light, albeit in a grander scale, as the 2007 one. The diaspora constituency which was APC’s bread basket in 2007 has dropped the APC from grace to grass.

By Brian Davies

In 2007, when Sierra Leone went to the polls to choose late President Ahmed Tejan Kabba’s successor, the entire country and its people were in a state of unease. The incumbent SLPP thought it was impossible for it to lose power to the ‘hard up’ APC party, which prior to the election, was in disarray.

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Anti-government songs chanted corruption lyrics and other social justice ills which were aired in the few private radio stations across the country. And Emmerson Bockari was the man of the musical season.

Desperate men in ‘suit’ at State House and those who benefitted from government contracts and largesse made frantic efforts to portray the SLPP as the best thing that happened to this nation and without it in power, Sierra Leone will perish.

Groups of young men and women, civil and public servants, politicians, sympathizers, beneficiaries and party ‘pekin dem’ mobilized campaign paraphernalia of all sorts and dished them out to whosoever is willing to collect them for rallies. It reached the point where large crowd was always gathered at Solomon Berewa’s Spur Road residence waiting to collect their SLPP polo and ten thousand leones and other logistics for rallies.

To all SLPP supporters and sympathizers it was an election that Berewa will win first round.  This the SLPP was cock sure about.

But even before the election began to take shape, some pre-election activities had put the SLPP on the back foot. The party Convention where a Flag bearer was to be chosen ended with disenchantment. Firebrand lawyer, Charles Margai broke away to form the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), a move that was going to cost Berewa that election.

Also the international community had ceased putting money into government coffers or projects to the extent that SLPP technocrats believed that donor partners had a ‘regime change’ agenda.

The vast majority of the media sided with the APC, making the SLPP look like it did nothing while in power. Articles, editorials, and news of all varieties were floating in the newspapers and airwaves.

Added to all this, that sleeping photo of Solomon Berewa which was first released by late Olu Gordon did not help the SLPP campaign machine. It shows how uninspiring Solomon Berewa was when compared to the then energetic, good looking even though less experienced Ernest Bai Koroma.

To crown it all, the Sierra Leone diaspora warmed up to Ernest Bai Koroma and his ‘New’ APC like magnet to metal…providing not only moral support but also huge financial donations to support the campaign.

I see the 2018 presidential election in pretty much the same light, albeit in a grander scale, as the 2007 one. The diaspora constituency which was APC’s bread basket in 2007 has dropped the APC from grace to grass.

The selection of Samura Kamara as Flag bearer against the two and half dozen others who campaigned and spent money for that seat caused serious bad blood within party stakeholders. Though none openly left the party but their lukewarm nature was reflected in the first round voting results.

Disgraced Vice President Sam Sumana of the APC party had formed the C4C party which not only disgraced the APC in Kono but makes Sam Sumana and Kono a vital factor in the run-off which the APC needs like oxygen.

Similarly, Kandeh Yumkella with his NGC has weakened the APC traditional northern base, taking almost the entire Kambia district

Also, Samura Kamara compared to Maada Bio is like Ernest Bai Koroma and Solomon Berewa in 2007. Not quite “Beauty and the Beast” but it is also not surprising that the tired and aged Samura Kamara cannot match Maada Bio’s exuberance, dynamism and gravitas, not even with his vast work experience. Samura Kamara pales in charisma.

As in 2007 when SLPP has the power of incumbency, this time around APC’s campaign spending could well be Sierra Leone government’s budget for five years if not more. Look around you and quantify the value of campaign materials and other paraphernalia. And don’t forget there are those hidden costs, the cost of that grandiose APC office in Makeni and the custom made furniture, the incentives to chairladies across the country, the money for food, booze, fuel and hotel accommodation. All of these monies can really provide furniture and books for our school children, drugs and medical supplies for our hospitals and provide business expansion fund for the very Abacha traders who are more into reveling than paying attention to their business development.

The APC now, like the SLPP in 2007 believed they’d win the election… “no run-off” but by the time 75% of the results were announced, they prayed fervently for a run-off.

Like the SLPP in 2007, the APC now has all types of spurious conspiracy theories against it…from “Regime Change Agenda” to problems with NEC and the Chief Electoral Commissioner, to ballot stuffing, to manual counting and anything else they can think of.

I recall how some SLPP members so badly wanted an injunction to stop Christiana Thorpe from announcing the final run-off results and how two NEC Commissioners walked out of British Council Hall instead of witnessing Christiana Thorpe announcing results that they were opposed to.

It all looked like yesterday now that I am recollecting those sad moments for the SLPP. It is really close to eleven years and it seems nothing had changed and we, as a people had learned nothing.

This elections will bring out the results God wants and us humans will have nothing to do about it. It will hurt some of us as it will please some others.

When Christiana Thorpe cancelled those 450 something polling stations across the country, she had no such power to do so…but she did and nothing came out of it. She announced the result and Ernest Bai Koroma came to be the President of Sierra Leone. Did anybody lift a finger against that decision? No! God works in a mysterious way…His wonders to perform.

This run-off will happen, the votes will be counted, tallied and announced. Sierra Leone will have a new president. And the rest will be history to recount in 2023.


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