SLPPs aspirants and the 2012 political landscape
For the SLPP, the preamble to the 2012 presidential elections is the contest among the current twenty-three aspirants. By March of 2011, the aspirant with the highest number of delegates will undoubtedly emerge as the party’s flag bearer to contest against APC’s Ernest Koroma for the presidency of Sierra Leone.
However, will the winner from amongst these twenty-three men and women ultimately defeat President Ernest Koroma in 2012? Meticulously choosing the candidate with the ‘right stuff’ in 2011 will make the re-taking of State House very possible in 2012. Short of that, the elections will be practically over even before the first ballot is cast
To re-take the State House in 2012, the party has to review the political demographics of the 2007 elections.
SLPP’s success to regain the presidency is not going to be predicated on the most qualified aspirant with the majority of delegates in March 2011, but rather it will depend on the aspirant that will give president Koroma a stiff competition in the western area in the presidential elections of 2012. It may sound odd to say that the aspirant with the majority of delegates will not be the best candidate to defeat president Koroma in 2012. This may be an apparent ‘off- the-wall’ assertion, but it has a lot of merit. Here are the facts:
Without question, APC will carry the north and SLPP will carry the South/East as they respectively did in 2007. With minor aberrations, this is going to hold true in 2012. The western area is going to be the battle ground. Looking at the twenty-three aspirants, there are candidates from all regions of the country. In launching their candidacies, each aspirant threw their hats into the ring from the geographical region they hail from.
By natural tendency, it is safe to assert that for a majority of the aspirants, the delegates from their region will naturally gravitate towards and vote for the sons/daughters from their region of birth, nurture, or where they practiced their profession. This means that aspirants with the means and more name recognition will get the lion’s share of those delegates. This fact is given credence about recent speculations that some of these aspirants with the means and largess are surreptitiously buying some delegates over and encouraging delegates from their regions to ‘shield’ them from other visiting aspirants. A case in point is the recent scenarios in which both Mr. John Benjamin, current Chairman and Alhaji U.N.S.Jah, former Chairman of the party implored delegates for fair level playing field for all the aspirants.
The delegates need to ask themselves “which aspirant can give the party the best chance to recapture the presidency in 2012?” If answered objectively and conscientiously, and executed by their vote accordingly in 2011, then they will have a chance in 2012. Since 2007, the mantra of the SLPP has been “Sharp 12:00 o’clock, 2012”, they will retake the presidency. This theme has been a ubiquitous slogan among party loyalists and sympathizers. It was even popularized by Sierra Leone’s most famous musical maestro, Emerson in his block buster title song: ‘Yesterday betteh pass tiday’ in which he ended by emphatically saying: “12o’clock sharp, we go wap”
In the twenty-three aspirants, the party has a very formidable group of men and women all of whom are exquisitely qualified. Compositely, the group is gender-unbiased, tribally and regionally un-biased, status un-biased, not to mention possessing an array of backgrounds, disciplines and professional diversity second to none and historically unprecedented not only in Sierra Leone but in Africa as a whole. The Party ought to be commended for opening up the political process albeit criticism about the prohibitive fee to become a contender from even more aspiring candidates who couldn’t come up with the fee.
So far, the candidates have been very cordial to each other, and steadfast in their determination to maintain their unity going forward no matter what. They have all pledged to support the eventual winner. This is where the real test will begin. If they continue to maintain unity and convince all delegates to whop up support for the winner with the same zest they did for their own candidates, then the party stands a chance. Otherwise, it’s going to be a very arduous task to re-capture State House. The twenty-three men and women should all “keep their eyes on the prize” because this is what they, party loyalists and sympathizers have all been working hard to achieve.
For eventual flag bearer winner, and ultimate presidential winner, provided all the heavenly stars and zodiac signs are “properly aligned”, please remember what Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian Philosopher, internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest, when he said a ‘President means chief servant”. Also remember what Abraham Lincoln said when someone asked him after he was elected president, what he was going to do about his enemies, he replied, “I am going to destroy them. I am going to make them my friends”
Good luck to all the aspirants!
Note: The writer has many close colleagues, friends, relatives, and former classmates among the aspirants, but has deliberately refrained from mentioning or endorsing any aspirant so that delegates are not biased.
Tejan Macauley, College Park, MD, USA.
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