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Don’t underestimate any candidate come 2012 election

Don’t underestimate any candidate come 2012 election

In the 2007 election, the voters made an overwhelming statement all around the country that: “Things need to be different within Sierra Leone’s Parliament and with the leader of our beloved country.” The people had chosen their leader and representatives at every level to bring about change. The election result was historic and far-reaching.  (Photo:  Adeyemi Paul, author)

In less than two years, Sierra Leone will face a very challenging election that hopefully will set our people free from bondage, and the last thing Sierra Leoneans want to face at this point in time is another “HuHa” that will lose confidence to the international community.

I guarantee to everyone that Sierra Leone’s State House is looking at the electoral map, assessing the initial damage that was caused to the opposition and trying to revitalize its strategy and planning its re-election campaign right now!

Equally important, in the very near future many members of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) will be starting (if they haven’t already) their planning process to begin seeking support in the early caucus and primaries in districts such as Moyamba, Bo, Kenema, and beyond. The northern districts, in preparation come 2012, and the SLPP, have it all to themselves this time. (I assume the president won’t be challenged on the All People Congress (APC) side). If these candidates want to succeed they must begin now.

Recent statistics have shown that many Sierra Leoneans are convinced that President Koroma can be beaten if he faces a stronger and much more outstanding opponent.  What a difference just three years can make!  The extraordinary candidate of 2007, who was once seen as the president of change, now looks very vulnerable.

People of different political presence have frequently asked me, “Who do you think can beat President Koroma?”  First and foremost, re-elections are about the incumbent. If the country sours on a president, the voters start looking for an alternative and someone will emerge.  I think we have some tremendous candidates with far more experience then our current president had when he was elected.

Each of these potential candidates should be encouraged by recent statistics and some of them may now look in the mirror and see him/herself as Mr/Mrs President.

The person who is securing the most media focus during this campaign at the moment is Usman Boie Kamara, the former National Diamond Mining Company (NDMC) managing director, and presidential aspirant of the SLPP… He is the most talked about candidate by the APC and the SLPP alike. Can the SLPP give him the chance? If so, can he win? These are some of the questions every one in the political community want answered.

Usu Boie’s advantages are that he has 100% name recognition among the public, an unlimited ability to raise money, and as of today, he is SLPP’s figurehead leader of aspirants. He is also the most exciting and polarizing figure at the moment – one whose substance and qualifications to be president are unquestionable.  To underestimate him would be a major mistake by the APC government.

The second candidate, who I am sure will create a positive impact, is former Minister of Education, Alpha Wurie. He is brilliant, articulate, and can raise money and he has in place a formidable political organization. He was the General who put a lot of energy into the education system in Sierra Leone.  To underestimate him is dangerous.

Maada Bio is also another potential candidate, but he is undisciplined, sometimes he has idiotic ideas and can often say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

These three candidates will grab most of the media attention over the next year – whether it be good or bad.

More recently, the candidate, who most people are giving a thumbs up for, is the one and only Umaru Dumbuya, another SLPP aspirant for the flagbearership. A man who has a wealth of experience in the Prisons and Corrections arena.  He will bring a huge amount of leadership experience into the fold, and he is an individual whom I trust if he sees reason, will go across party lines – to benefit the people of Sierra Leone.  To underestimate him will also be a big error for anyone.

As I mentioned earlier, amongst the 23 candidates for the SLPP leadership the most favorable as of now, is Usman Boie Kamara, as most people think he is an inspiring speaker and he has proven himself time and again to be a great debater. He has handled many professional media conferences and has proven to have control over his supporters’ behavior putting his leadership skills to good use.  He ranks in the top of the polls of potential SLPP flagbearer nominees. He will be the candidate of people rights, a powerful faction in the SLPP primaries.

Several other extremely capable candidates for the presidential chair are likely, but not limited to the new born Atlanta based Mohamed C. Bah of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) who has brought a breath of fresh air to the political dance floor.  His candidacy declaration speech delivered on the 15th December 2010 at the Mary Kingsley Hall, Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone, captivated the huge crowd in attendance…  As some referred to him as a ‘breath of fresh air,’ others say he is ‘in the right place at the right time.’ A lot of people have been falling for him from all walks of life as he seems like a God sent icon who is aware of the issues affecting our day to day lives in Sierra Leone… He is a political star in the making!

Lastly, do not underrate the unpredictable Sir Charles Francis Margai of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC).  He is a maker and a breaker at the same time… and will have a very important impact on this 2012 election.   Who reaches out first to the PMDC with dignity and respect may get his endorsement.

The cross over of the two SLPP strongmen, J B Dauda and Borbor Sawyer, and the early action of the SLPP to suspend them from the party will score some points to the Koroma lead government.   However, the recent cabinet reshuffle is already impacting the government as there is a lot of beefing going around, ‘why not me, why him, why her’ … this will also bring a small shake up in the APC too … however, only time will tell.

For those of you thinking of running against Usman Boie Kamara, here are the basics you have to put in place…

You have to put a very competitive campaign team together that will work nonstop around the clock.  You have to raise at least $10 million to play and be viable in the first four contests: South, Western Area, South East, and North or should I just conclude by saying the whole and every corner of Sierra Leone?

That candidate must learn how to read a map, because he or she will have to map and circle every little city, town and village in the entire country and you really have to be sure that you are going to be in every one of them.  I am saying all of this, not because I want to spit out some air but as a point of advice as you’ll get to meet people, but not just people, but wonderful people who will have to examine and cross examine you from your words and the way they sound…

Usman Boie Kamara is no lightweight at all in the SLPP fight for leadership and he will be no lightweight in the fight come 2012 either. He has physically worked throughout the whole of Sierra Leone and he has a tremendous amount of respect amongst millions of Sierra Leoneans at home and in the Diaspora.  He is well known around the globe, people take him very seriously and even President Koroma can testify this on my behalf.

If you are a candidate and can survive the above prerequisites I mentioned – and want to win really big from the provinces I marked above – you’ll have to raise millions more dollars and compete everywhere to get sufficient delegates to get the nomination. You will have to be prepared to debate at least 25 times or more – so improving those skills is all important. If you survive all that, you then get to go on and battle our current president and his political team who ran one of the better campaigns in history in 2007.

If you’re going to run, get on the ladder now. It will be an extraordinary experience and every day counts.

As a reminder, this election is not just about the number though, but more about who gains control and how it affects you.

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