I Rest My Case – Steve Gaojia’s appointment … A strategic one indeed!
When I first heard about the appointment of Steve Gaojia to the position of Minister of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, replacing the sacked Dr. Dennis Sandy, I wasted no time coming to the conclusion that President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has made yet another strategic appointment, insofar as putting together a formidable team is concerned.
The question is, ‘Why Steve Gaojia? Another question would be, ‘Why from the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC)’?
As far as I am concerned, the PMDC has severed its relationship with the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) long ago, and currently, a very bad blood exists between the two onetime bed fellows, to an extent that the latter is no longer under any obligation to include members of the former in its cabinet.
When Dr. Dennis Sandy, former Minister of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs was axed from the cabinet, I referred to the move as being well placed, given the implications attached to the minus zero per cent rating of the performance of President Ernest Bai Koroma since assuming office by no less a person than PMDC’s Charles Francis Margai, his on etime strongest ally, and also given that Dr. Sandy did not join other PMDC appointed ministers serving in government and PMDC parliamentarians to dissociate themselves from what in my honest view was an ill-thought statement all together.
The appointment therefore of another PMDC man, be it Steve Gaojia or whoever to fill in the vacant position, makes clear the reason for the earlier decision to sack Dr. Dennis Sandy, whose crime was because he failed to distant himself from Margai’s unfortunate outburst, and not as a result of incompetence.
Given the foregoing, one can simply state that Steve Gaojia’s appointment is nothing short of a suspicious move aimed at deepening the current infighting in the ranks of the PMDC.
The simple point I am trying to make is that while Dr. Sandy was sacked because he was deemed to have endorsed Charles Margai’s utterance at the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) national convention in Freetown, Steve Gaojia was appointment in his replacement because he is currently the sole arch rival of Charles Margai.
The appointment of Steve Gaojia comes at a time when the PMDC is effectively split into two factions, one headed by Charles Margai and the other headed by Steve Gaojia himself. Both factions are currently battling in court over the suspension of certain prominent executive members of the party.
As a matter of fact, President Ernest Koroma worked directly with the suspended Acting Chairman of the PMDC, Bai Sama Sankoh and his gang including William Tucker, the suspended Secretary General, Miniru Koroma, the suspended Public Relations Officer and Kenie Fomolu, the suspended Financial Secretary, to seek some semblance of legitimacy for Steve Gaojia’s appointment.
Little wonder why when Steve Gaojia in a press interview stated that his appointment was sanctioned or endorsed by the PMDC leadership, the Charles Margai-led faction responded in the contrary, arguing that Steve Gaojia will be representing himself as a Sierra Leonean in the cabinet, and not the PMDC as an autonomous political party.
President Koroma’s appointment of Steve Gaojia, could therefore be likened to the United States of America (USA), France, United Kingdom and the United Nations (UN) backing of rebels against the former Libyan Leader Colonel Ghaddafi, who was subsequently murdered in a fashion the foreign backers had designed.
President Koroma wouldn’t have thought of appointing Steve Gaojia to that sensitive position, without first weighing in and out the impact such an appointment will have on the current impasse in the PMDC and of course on his much desired re-election bid.
Because Steve Gaojia is the sole challenger of Charles Margai for the leadership of the party that has clearly lost its unprecedented 2007 momentum, all those rightfully rebelling against Margai have thrown their weights behind him.
With this, President Koroma no doubt has a lot to gain from the appointment of Steve Gaojia. The emphasis therefore is not in any way on performance, but on making a political gain.
Steve Gaojia, in my humble estimation, is a promising upcoming politician; not a shrewd one at this point. Call him a space finder, if you like. If he is anything on the contrary, then I see no reason why he should accept what I will dismiss as a distractive appointment, when he has a big fight at hand.
Three weeks before his surprised appointment, I had an engagement with him for a couple of hours, here in Freetown. During our discussion, he told me his vision is to revolutionalize the PMDC so as to regain its lost momentum and subsequently make a good showing in the 2012 general elections.
I wonder whether with this short-cut and thought provoking appointment, Steve will stay focused, now that he clearly has a divided attention. I pumped into him a couple of hours ago, and I said congratulation to him, rather disingenuously. His response was, “Oh thank you Theo, and God bless you”. That tells it all.
Steve Gaojia first came into the political lime line when in 2008 he vested interest in becoming the leader and presidential candidate of the PMDC. Although he wasn’t properly placed at the time to clinch victory, he was however considered a force to reckon with.
Much to the surprise of many observers, Steve Gaojia stepped out of the race, after having vowed against doing such, and as a result making it easier for Charles Margai to steal the show.
Accordingly, it was President Koroma himself who prevailed on Steve Gaojia to step down, and his stepping down is directly linked to the problems the party is facing today.
Now again, Steve Gaojia has accepted an inducing ministerial offer, which by all indications is skewed towards protracting the problems affecting the PMDC. You can call it a move aimed at further weakening the PMDC, in outright retaliation for the minus zero per cent rating earlier mentioned.
It might also be that President Koroma’s choice of Steve Gaojia is a way of rendering a hand of support to the legitimate rebels so as to enable them triumph over Margai, in appreciation to the party for his 2007 presidential victory.
While the Margai faction sees the appointment in question as a move aimed at adding salt to an injury, the legitimate rebels see it as a major boost to their unrelenting bid of subjecting the former to an irresistible humiliation.
To this note, the legitimate rebels no doubt will use the occasion of the parliamentary approval of Steve Gaojia as an opportunity to demonstrate their strength, by ensuring that they come out in their numbers, and of course in their PMDC party colours.
Steve Gaojia has a chance of clinching the PMDC leadership from Charles Margai. This is so because Margai has lost grips of the party, and his current dealing with the SLPP seen as an indication that he cannot be relied upon or underestimated insofar as the politics of Sierra Leone is concerned.
For Margai to have given a minus zero rating to President Koroma and at the same time practically selling out to the SLPP, the party he helped defeat, only means that his move to join forces with the APC has landed him in deep regret.
Concerned that allowing Margai to take away all his PMDC followers to the SLPP in an event of a run-off in the 2012 elections will be a major political risk, was the reason why President Koroma thought it more than fit to hook up with the rebel faction, by appointing its kingpin, Steve Gaojia, into his cabinet.
Meanwhile, the PMDC is clearly in a difficult situation, having lost most of its prominent members including the likes of Honourable Dauda Tombo Bangura, Femi Hebron, Chief Mohamed Benson Suwu, Chief Lamin Vonjo, Emmanuel Grant, Ansu Lansana, Pa Momo-Fofana, Moijue Kai-Kai, Arrow Bockarie, Teddy Foday Musa, Sidi Yayah Tunis, Sylvester Swarray, Dr. Baimba Kamara to name a few.
There is also the United Democratic Movement (UDM) of the expelled former chairman of the PMDC, Mohamed Bangura, who has so far succeeded in emptying the party of a substantial number of its youth membership in particular.
It is however hoped that with the exit of Margai, the outright dictator, certain members of the party who have left, will see reason to return so as to keep the party’s dream of positive change alive.
I rest my case!
by Theophilus Sahr Gbenda
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