Usman Boie Kamara + Kadie Sesay+ Party Unity = SLPP 2012 Victory!
Whenever you speak to an SLPP die-hard these days, the date March 5th 2011 brings mixed feelings of hope and fear to them. Hope on the one hand, that the upcoming Convention will see them elect a Presidential candidate they are likely to embrace and rally behind for the 2012 election. On the other hand, fear because some crucial decisions they may take on the day of the convention are capable to cause a huge discontent amongst some “big-guns” in the party.
Whatever the case maybe, all major stakeholders including the National Executive Committee and the 19 Aspirants for the flagbearship must endeavour to apply some deal of maturity in managing the post convention situations. If they fail, there is no doubt this could lead the party to disunity beyond repair. However, I am pretty sure most genuine SLPP supporters will not sit back and play naivety while the party destroys itself. So, whatever mixed feelings there maybe, SLPP supporters are eager to see March 5th come and go as soon as possible.
Less than a month to the Convention I can still sense major error in the strategic thinking of the great palm tree and particularly in their approach to elect their flag bearer. The major mistake many are making is to look at the March 5th convention as the highlight of the party’s political life. Because of this mistake majority party supporters either openly or in a discreet manner are throwing all their weight, passion, energies and finances behind their preferred flag bearer aspirant to lead the party at all cost. Whether, this passion will continue after one flag bearer is being elected is yet to be known.
Nevertheless, one can agree that there is no harm in passionately supporting a person or something you truly believe in. It is however imperative that supporters should not choose to play blind over the reality they are faced with as well. As a result, their support is useful only when it is done with some degree of objectivity and in this case with the end goal in sight- winning the 2012 election. Therefore, urgent strategic thinking and actions are needed if the SLPP are serious to reclaim State House sharp 12, 2012.
However, I am still unsure whether these energetic SLPP supporters are taking their time to sit back and self check their individual candidates and analyse their capability in becoming a flag bearer. In addition whether they have made the effort to identify the added value these aspirants may bring to the SLPP and their possible chances of winning them the election.
If delegates fail to critically assess aspirants’ chances to bring victory to the party poses a risk that they will end up seeing them electing a flag bearer that will condemn the party to the political wilderness for the next 30 years or more. Therefore, the first step for the party is to eliminate that risk. This can be achieved only if all stakeholders generally and delegates in particular try to rise above family, tribal and regional lines and elect a flag bearer that will put together a solid winning team.
However, for this to happen, individual SLPP supporters must put the general party interest above all else. As a people, they should endeavour to minimise or forget their selfish and personal agendas and brace up to make honest, tough and brave decisions that will give them the strategic advantage over the APC.
It is true that Sierra Leoneans are familiar with and mostly subscribe to the SLPP tradition of putting together a regionally balanced winning team. Although it is not stated in the party’s constitution, usually they elect a flag bearer from any of the country’s four regions who then in consultation with other stakeholders will select a running mate form the other three regions. An example; usually if they elect a flag bearer either from the South or East, they tend to select the running mate from either the North or Western Area or vice- versa. This is to ensure they promote regional diversity between the party hierarchies which in itself is considered a good political practice that promotes national unity.
Notwithstanding this approach, the SLPP is still branded a South Eastern party that mostly favours people from those regions. Whether this is a fear accusation or just a political propaganda, will be dependent on the individual you speak to. As such I strongly believe that, the burden of proof on this accusation is left with the SLPP. Therefore, every strategy the SLPP can use to improve voters’ confidence especially to those from Non-Traditional SLPP strongholds will influence positively on the election result of the party.
However, if on the other hand they choose to ignore or fail to strategise in dealing with this accusation of being regionally biased, particularly for the 2012 election against the APC, it will have a huge negative impact on their result as well.
In this case, it is my humble opinion that for the 2012 election the SLPP must try and shift away from their traditional approach used in electing their flag bearer and in selecting his/her running mate. By this I mean not insisting that a flag bearer has to come from the South and/or East at all cost. They should instead elect someone because he/she is capable to deliver against the APC. Also, to elect a person who has earned the trust of the national electorate including non SLPP supporters and those yet to decide which party to support.
At the end of the day what the party needs most is SLPP victory in 2012. Therefore, maintaining a tradition which will not win the party an election is a mere waste of time. As long as this decision can be justified within the rule books and will eventually promote and strengthen democracy in the country I see no reason kicking a force. But for any formula or strategy outside this traditional approach to work, the party and its supporters must be ready to stay united in deciding and implementing those difficult decisions as well.
This means, those “big-guns” and stakeholders who hail from traditional SLPP areas have to live above regional and tribal lines and rally their supporters to see reasons in embracing a winning strategy. While at the same time they have to bear in mind that, cross carpeting to any other political party as some have done already or forming a new party as in the case of Charles Margai in 2005 is not the answer to their problem. Disunity in the party will only succeed in endorsing the APC agenda of returning the country to a one party state. As a result, all hands should be on deck if the SLPP is to Bounce Back to Power in 2012.
Thus, looking at the political climate in Sierra Leone today, SLPP stand a better chance of winning the 2012 election. But only if they forget the “play cookism” and elect a winnable candidate that is an easy sell to the Sierra Leonean electorate. A Flag bearer who will cause the APC master planners months of sleepless nights. A Flag Bearer whom the grassroots voters can access and relate to quickly. Also, a flag bearer who the people of Sierra Leone can trust and is capable to convince them that the SLPP way is a better alternative to the cosmetic development of the APC. And above all, a flag bearer who has got a strong support base not only in the South and East, but in other parts of the country as well.
In this case, it is a fair argument to suggest that all 19 Aspirants in their own right are capable not only to lead the SLPP but to rule Sierra Leon as well. However, in Sierra Leone capability alone will not win any political party or their aspirant an election simply because the Sierra Leone electorate are very difficult to satisfy. The party or person has to have that extra to make them stand out amongst the rest. It is also a fact that they are against an incumbent who is tough and ready to do any thing to stay in power.
Therefore, the SLPP with unity as there watch word should be more than ready to elect a presidential candidate that will put the APC on the back foot. Otherwise they need not waste their precious time and money for this election.
As a result, the best chance for an SLPP 2012 victory is to elect Usman Boie Kamara as their presidential candidate. Hopefully, with the consultation of all stakeholders he will eventually select Dr. Kadie Sesay as his running mate while “big-guns” in the South and East will genuinely rally behind them to reach out to all Sierra Leoneans for their votes.
In my eyes, Usu Boie the flag bearer and Kadie Sesay his running mate is a complete package and an easy sell to Sierra Leoneans. They are matured, qualified, posses the necessary skills and experiences, trustworthy and are well respected. Most importantly, they both have an untainted public record which is difficult to contest other than the usual unfounded allegations and/or speculation.
In addition, Usu Boie has a strong political base throughout the country; with the Western Area as his main base, a good link in the North where his parent hails from. In addition, he is very popular in the South and East where he served as a public servant for over ten years. As was demonstrated during his December 18th, 2010 declaration in Freetown, his support clearly suggests that he is the SLPP presidential candidate capable to give Earnest Bai Koroma and his corrupt government a run for their money.
It is a fact that, for SLPP to win the 2012 election they need the Western Area at all cost and must endeavour to make inroads in the North which happens to be the APC strong hold. This is so because politics is about numbers. Therefore, if we can use past results to determine the outcome of the 2012 election, means SLPP concentration in the South East alone, will gain them not more than 46% of the total vote count in the country. Clearly, this figure is not enough to win an election.
Further speculation states that, even this 46% will be difficult to come by in the South and East as the APC are busy recruiting key SLPP people including; Paramount Chiefs who are helping them make serious inroads in these SLPP strongholds. In addition, the Charles Margai factor should not be ignored as well. These factors I think should not be neglected. Therefore, it is for the SLPP to turn the table round quickly and play the game of reverse psychology on the APC.
As a result, the Usu Boie, Kadie Sesay and party unity formula will give SLPP the added advantage to solidify their strong hold in the South and East, regain the Western Area and make inroads in the North. Additionally, Kadi Seasy’s presence will be instrumental in bagging a large proportion of the Women’s vote throughout the country. While at the same time, Usu Boie’s personal touch with all walks of life will attract the grassroots and youth population votes.
Whether SLPP supporters will drop the ego and see any reason to adopt this approach remains the big question. I am sure well meaning SLPP supporters will take the time to analyse this strategy for the good of their party. The bitter truth is the SLPP will only become stronger when they are in government. So they have to listen to the cry of the majority, stay united and start thinking strategically in the interest of the party and the people of Sierra Leone.
However, will tribal, regional, personal interest blind the SLPP delegates to see the reality and understand that they only have a better chance in 2012 with Usman Boie Kamara as their presidential candidate? The wise people say “you will not value what you have until the day you loose it.” They also, have to remember there is not time for errors and as such they have to get it right the first time. Therefore, delegates have to put on their thinking caps to face reality and vote for Usman Boie Kamara.
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Please send me Usman Boi’s biograpy and general profile.2nd March 2011