APC North America Branch, are we entering another period of Darkness?
When the APC North America branch stood firmly and fought vigorously alongside the party leadership before and after the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections, it was with the best of intentions. These intentions were rooted in the common belief that our country needed a new direction. As a branch, we have always accomplished great things through our willingness and ability to work as a team from the very beginning. People have had to sacrifice time, energy and resources to get the ball rolling toward the direction we have always wanted to go.Â However, the last few months have not exemplified these unique qualities. Granted that even during our peaceful moments, we did have occasional disagreements within the branch but the truth remains that such disagreements have always been resolved right there and then. By all indications, the greatest blow to our peace and tranquillity as a branch may have been dealt by the honorable Ambassador Bockarie Stevens and the party Secretary General, Victor Foh, when they both teamed up in May 2009 to suspend the Branch Chairman, Mr. Osman T. Conteh, through very unconstitutional means.
What is perhaps the most important point in their actions is that both men claimed to have received the directives from higher authorities in Freetown to carry out the suspension. To this day, their remain questions about what authority they were referring. Was it the President, Dr. Earnest Bai Koroma; or the Vice President, Alhaji Samuel Sumana? Or was it from the Minister of Foreign Affairs since this is a Diaspora issue? In the midst of this confusion and in moments that could have crippled the branch, the honorable Vice President, Alhaji Samuel Sumana, on his visit to the United States in July this year, graciously and judiciously decided to look into the issues and came up with what we all believed was a very reasonable solution and resolution. He temporarily appointed an advisory committee to oversee the affairs of the branch until August 20, 2009 when Osman Conteh’s suspension is supposed to be lifted and be allowed to continue with his chairmanship thereafter. This decision was applauded by all Chapters, especially the ten that were on Chairman Conteh’s side, out of a total of twelve in North America.
But even after what seemed like a very thoughtful and thorough decision by the Vice President, tensions continued between the Ambassador and Chairman Conteh and all those who supported the Ambassador’s previous decisions against the Chairman. Now, to add insult to injury, the Honorable Ambassador has again suspended the entire APC North America branch and left only five Chapters with three officials to serve as a mere skeletal structure for what used to be one of the most vibrant sources of support for the APC party. This time again, the Ambassador is claiming to have received his directives from higher authorities but did not specify whether it was from the President or Vice President of our Republic. One of the three officials that the Ambassador appointed to oversee the affairs of the branch is the very Secretary General of the branch, comrade Abdul Berro Kamara, commonly known as “Chief”. It is important to note that Abdul B. Kamara, during the previous fracas in the North America branch, was on the opposing side against the Chairman, even though he was the Secretary General and was supposed to remain neutral. Of great importance would it also be for our readers and supporters of the APC to know that the same Abdul Berro Kamara has recently been suspended from his position as Secretary of the branch for failing to carry out his duties. In his response to the letter of suspension, he dubbed the APC as a party full of illiterates: “NAR NOW ARE NO WHY DEN SAY, NA SO SO ILLITERATE DEN PLENTY NA APC,” Abdul Berro Kamara stated.
These words translate to one of the most unfortunate statements ever made by someone who professes as the scribe of one of the most powerful political organizations in the Diaspora. Comrade Kamara could give us any interpretation he may want to give for this abrasive statement but what I, and many literate individuals, can deduce from his postulation is the insinuation by this comrade that every mistake someone or a group of people make is equivalent to illiteracy. This, by all accounts, is not only insulting but also goes to tell just how inadequate he may have been when it comes to his deductive reasoning capabilities. Nonetheless, the Ambassador still encourages this academic clown on his side and makes him part of his illegitimate team.
Could all of this have been a personal issue turned political? Did the Ambassador feel defeated and consequently demoralized by the Vice President’s decision in July to reinstate Chairman Conteh? Could the Ambassador be waging a war on Chairman Conteh as a way of asserting his authority over the branch’s administration? Could he have missed his primary role as Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the US? Does he really think and believe he has the moral authority to determine who should become chairman in the APC North America branch? Or is this merely punctuated by tribal sentiments? Does he even care about President Koroma and his new APC mantra? Is the Ambassador helping or breaking the President? We may not have the answers to all of these questions but one thing remains clear – that the Honorable Ambassador had the same struggle with the London branch of the APC when he was there as a member. Could this have been a glaring pattern in the political life of the Ambassador? What if the SLPP ask the Ambassador to serve as one of their advisers in their North America branch – He is Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the US appointed by the APC to do a job for all Sierra Leoneans in that country.
Why would President Koroma instruct the Ambassador to dismantle the APC North America branch, which by all accounts, is one of the strongest structures of the president’s political architectures? Does the Ambassador truly respect the legacy that President Koroma wants to leave behind? Does he even respect and support the nation-building and inclusive political philosophy that president Koroma embodies? Why would the Ambassador want to decide what happens in the APC North America branch if he is not a registered member of the branch? Why would ten out of twelve Chapters of the APC North America branch support the current Chairman? Why has the Ambassador refused to acknowledge the fact that he is a paid official of the APC and everyone else is merely volunteering? What happens if all the Chapters that he has deliberately knocked off decide not to morally and financially support the APC? Could he single-handedly propel the kind of support that we all lend to the APC during the 2007 elections?
It is very insulting to the other Chapters if the Ambassador is now referring to them as not being part of the North America branch when, as a matter of fact, all those Chapters had contributed time, energy and money to finance the very APC that is paying his salary today. It is also very insulting to all of us for the ambassador to come up with a lame excuse for dissolving the North America branch as a “decision that has no doubt been activated due to internecine rancour within the executive which if not stopped has the propensity to affect the party’s image at large”. Is he also honest to himself to say, “While we regret this action, we believe that it is in the best interest of the party”? Would this look like the kind of decisions that someone should make in “the best interest of the APC party”? What best interest would that be? The Ambassador’s best interest or the true interest of the APC, which would have allowed the Ambassador to conduct a thorough investigation into what he calls “internecine rancour within the executive” and find out who the real perpetrators would be? Well, it is now very clear that the real perpetrators are on the side of the Ambassador and therefore conducting an investigation would have been counter-productive to what the ambassador’s true intentions were.
While the opposition SLPP is busy creating Chapters and expanding its base, our Ambassador is busy dissolving our Chapters and he calls it “In the best interest of the APC”. Does he even know how hard it is to create a political Chapter in a country that is as busy as the word busy itself? This is not only ironical; it is also politically and strategically ridiculous. The Ambassador left the Arizona Chapter out; but I want him to ask, if he did not know, so that someone could tell him that the Arizona Chapter, among other things, championed one of the biggest fundraising efforts, collaborating with the Los Angeles Chapter, in Los Angeles during president Koroma’s last visit to the US before the elections in 2007.Â Â
The Honorable Ambassador need not grapple with these common sense facts if he truly intends to see the APC succeed in 2012. In as much as I respect Ambassador Stevens as a Sierra Leonean and as my country’s Ambassador in the US, his actions are not looking very pleasant and certainly not very helpful to the APC party. I would also hope that these actions are not the result of any directives from President Koroma because they are not representative of the President’s attitudinal change philosophy. The last thing we want to see in this branch is the negative effects of anyone’s personal vendetta. Granted that Chairman Conteh sometimes comes across as verbose in presenting issues but he is truly a patriot – one that loves the APC and wants to see that the party succeeds. He may have fallen short of the expectations of other people but he has made many sacrifices along the way. He is a mere volunteer – an unpaid servant of the APC party. The least we can all do is to let him finish his term of office in peace.
I am therefore calling upon all lovers and supporters of the APC North America branch to stand firm in the face of this uninvited nightmare and wait until we hear from the legitimate Chairman, Osman Conteh who would be airing a press release soon! Until we receive a letter from State House or from one of its officials, we will continue to operate as a branch under the leadership of Chairman Conteh. Let us remember that the voices of the majority must always be the true voices to which the government must listen because that would be democracy at its best!
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