Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara delivers speech at Attouga Stadium, Freetown
Mr Chairman, Compatriots, Ladies, and Gentlemen: I am happy to see you all and express my sincerest appreciation to all of you, who in diverse ways have made this event a successful one by it even taking place. I am particularly gratified by the efforts of all in organising this event and the interest shown by you all in attending and supporting this event. I know there are people who have travelled from all parts of the country just to be here today and would like to welcome you all. And to those of you listening from a far, I would also like to welcome you and thank you for your time. (Photo: Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara)
Let me begin by thanking you all once again from the bottom of my heart for your unstinted support throughout my campaign right on to the elections. I appreciate the trust and confidence you placed on me. There were great expectations among my numerous supporters at home and abroad that I will be elected the flag bearer. And no doubt you all would have been delighted to see me emerge the flag bearer. Naturally there were lots of disappointments. But being rational people, high as our expectations were, we were also aware that there were eighteen other aspirants, anyone of whom could emerge the winner. Also being strong believers in God, and therefore in his will, we were also aware that nothing happens without his will. As the saying goes, “Man proposes; God disposes.” So I say to you all, let’s take heart and accept the will of God.
Today I am speaking to you as a Sierra Leonean and urge you to join me in putting country before self. In April 1959 the SLPP was formed with a nationalistic motto of ‘’ONE COUNTRY, ONE PEOPLE’’. This means that we all are one in the Party whether you are a Mende, Temne, Fullah, Limba, Madingo, Creole, Loko, Shebro or Yalunka or any of the other ethnic groups in the country. This is what has held the Party together for a long time. This slogan has stood the test of time but has been severely tested during the just concluded National Conference. This is one of the fundamental questions the Party needs to answer and to answer in such a way for the Party to be in Governance or in permanent opposition. This assignment must be addressed rationally and without rancour and led by the Chairman and Leader of the Party.
The main reason I got into politics is to make the life of poor and disadvantaged Sierra Leoneans better. That has not changed and that will never change till the day I die. For far too long we have allowed ourselves to be ruled by the majority of people that are interested in themselves, selfish, myopic and do not think further than the next election. That is why after 50 years of Independence the majority of our people still wallow in poverty. We must change that mindset of our politicians so that those that seek office have a developmental and long term focus for the betterment of all. We must move away from the confines of party politics to bring development and prosperity to our people, especially the youths; that is why I have always emphasized the importance of developing the human resources of our people. The women of this country who form the majority of the population need to be put in a special category to ensure the wholesome development of our nation.
One of the mischievous questions that kept recurring during my campaign for the flag bearer position was what contribution had I made to the party. Opponents even claimed that I was a new comer in the party. In numerous statements both spoken and written, I asserted my membership of the party (my father was treasurer and my entire family were members) and my numerous contributions over the years (against the limitations of being a civil servant). After my retirement, I was approached independently by a number of people at home and abroad to take a more active role in the party and in politics. The coincidence of the same request or suggestion by different people independently of each other, struck me as significant enough to be give serious thought to their request or suggestion. The more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me. At my age and state of health at retirement, I thought I had both the time and resources to take the centre stage in our party politics. What finally moved me was the need to ensure that I contribute in a meaningful way to eliminate poverty amongst our people and give the next generation hope and a means to build on for a prosperous Sierra Leone. The enthusiastic support and encouragement I received from many quarters at home and abroad convinced me that I had taken the right decision and spurred me on to August 31st and the elections. But it was the delegates who had the final say. As we all know Retired Brig Julius Maada Bio emerged as the Flag Bearer. The delegates have spoken and as a democrat I wholeheartedly accept their verdict. The onus is now on the Flag Bearer to initiate and lead the healing process and to ensure that some of his overzealous supporters are reigned in for the interest of the party. Special effort should be made to unite party members who supported different flag bearers, as was their democratic right. Only by uniting all party members would victory be assured in 2012.
You may be tempted to ask, why I chose the SLPP platform. The answer is simple. The symbol of the SLPP, the Palm Tree represents Honour, Truth, Value, Vitality, Warmth, Expansion, Protection, Aspiration, Attainment, Unification, Resurrection, Singleness of Purpose. The SLPP has been the party that has championed peace and democracy even to its own detriment on occasions. It was the SLPP that brought peace to the nation after the senseless rebel war, and during the period of 1996 -2007, the SLPP administration encouraged national unity by setting up broad based Governments, encouraged freedom of association and expression, even to its own detriment, and initiated numerous developmental projects which we our benefiting from today. But along the way the party has lost some its values. During the recent Flag Bearer elections, negative traits of the party have come to the forefront and pushed some people away which, is not good for us Sierra Leoneans.
For me the whole question of politics, governance and development is about people, their commitment and capacity to deliver. It is about managing people to bring out the best in them. These are the reasons I got in to politics and this is the journey that I want all of us to undertake for the glory of our country.
Despite various reports and the emerging negative traits in the Party, I still am a member of the SLPP and I urge all of you who supported my candidacy to continue to be loyal to the Party and to address these negative traits for the healthy development of the Party. We cannot allow a few selfish and misguided people to derail the noble tenets of the Party and in the process allow our country to slide deeper and deeper into poverty and hopelessness. We have to swallow our pride and work in the interest of the downtrodden masses of our people. Let us all address the things which happened during the convention internally without recourse to the public media. If we don’t then the Party would be in permanent opposition.
I call on all SLPP supporters to unite, mend all its internal rifts and differences. Nothing can be gained from conflict and friction amongst ourselves. I will help the party find its common ground and work towards leaving a strong party for the next generation to build on. And Sierra Leoneans to be proud of the SLPP.
We Sierra Leoneans cannot afford for our country to slide back into war and chaos that would take us back another fifty years. I urge you all to think, Sierra Leone first and encourage others to nurture the budding democracy that would enable the necessary peace and tranquility to allow development to take place.
The coming year will be filled with challenges and severe obstacles, but I know that the progress of each and every Sierra Leonean is just around the corner, the progress of our country is just around the corner.
One Country; One People! One people; One country.I THANK YOU ALL. ALHAJI USMAN BOIE KAMARA FREETOWN 4 SEPTEMBER 2011
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