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Foolish tricks to ditch Bio’s loyalists

Foolish tricks to ditch Bio’s loyalists

It is not an exageration for someone to infer that the present make up of the main opposition party is a crisis prone political organization. It as if internal divisions are part of its structural identity.

We do not want to recall the awful event of post-2006 national convention in Makeni which led to the party losing the 2007 elections when a losing candidate, Charles Margai broke ranks to form his own PMDC party, all due to disaffection among members of the party at the time.  It is a sad memory one should consciously avoid recalling.

But those painful memories would always return in the light of the prevailing atmosphere  that underwrites the relationship between the party’s National Chairman and it’s Presidential hopeful.

If one should recall, since the issue of electing a presidential aspirant came to the fore earlier this year, the SLPP as an opposition has been jumping from one internal squabble to another. These internal conflicts have always been ignited due largely to the attitude and behaviour of some senior members of the party.

It first started with one of the presidential aspirants taking the party to court for a supreme court ruling on the conduct of the party’s national delegate conference earlier billed for 25th March of this year. The bickering dragged on for a while, almost tearing the party apart.

The local media, at least some section of it, almost ensured that the tearing took place. The good Lord however prevailed over sound minds; the matter ended amicably to the delight of many, although it was a no-win battle.

The contest for the flag bearership was held among nineteen aspirants. The much favoured candidate, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio won the hotly contested election. Few members, at least within the top echelon of the party, did like the way it happened. Some had their hidden agenda, so to speak, and made sure Bio’s victory celebration did not last long. Cracks began to show, so early  that  the prospect of getting through an election victory in 2012 began to dampen the spirit of a much enthusiastic membership. From thence, Bio began to encounter the difficult task of mending fences.

I am not calling names here, but some of the 19 aspirants who earlier declared to support the winning candidate reneged in their promise and stated thrown spanners here and there just to ensure that Bio did enjoy a ‘sweet victory’. They could not allow him the peace of mind he most needed at the time.

Some people suspected the party’s national chairman to be the evil force casting its shadows over Bio’s victory; the evil hand behind the simmering tension within the party. With time, the ‘white teeth –black heart’ phenomenon began to reveal itself, much to the annoyance of party faithfuls.

Some relief barely returned to the hearts of members when in November Maada Bio cleverly nominated the most charismatic and erudite Kadi Sesay as his running mate, the first woman to ever enjoy that priviledge in the history of the party. It was a fantastic choice, at least in the opinion of majority of the members.  Bio brought back smile on the faces of his people. He rekindled hope as well as unity within the party.

Again, like I stated earlier, some people in the party did not like it that way. Their attitude and behaviour were quite revealing. The clever way of doing it was to hate or discriminate against any SLPP member so actively associated with Maada Bio. I will cite one, among many: they would play tricks around the apointment or replacement of members into positions earlier vacated by some executive members.

A clear case in point was the 17th November meeting of carefully selected party members in which a little known Brima Keita was chosen to replace Lansana Fadika as Western Area Regional Chairman.

The selection of Brima Keita was subsequently rejected by a cross section of members of the Western Region including one of the National Trustees, West, Mr. Christian Andrew Leigh. In a letter of protest, dated 21st November 2011, addressed to the National Secretary General, Mr. Leigh pointed out that the Western Region executive has no right or mandate to declare any person into the office of the Western Region Chairman. Referring to the party’s 1995 constitution (as amended), Mr. Leigh specifically cited Clause 4(5h) relating to the election of National Officers, stating that it is only the party’s governing body, the National Executive Council (NEC) that has the mandate to do so.

In this case, Mr. Leigh noted, it was the Regional Secretary General, Mahaj Tajudeen Koroma who convened what he referred to as Western Region Consultative Conference for the sole purpose of appointing regional chairman and others to fill the vacancies that were vacated by some executive members, thereby contravening the constitution.

“These are some of the actions of certain members that always cause the party embarrassment when other aggrieved members resort to legal action to redress a wrong doing,” observed an elderly party member. The names behind this scheme, according to source, include IJ Kabbah and the National Chairman, John Oponjo Benjamin.

“It was an orchestrated plot to ditch active supporters of the flag bearer who were interested in the post and have proven competence for the job,” a young generation member could not hide his disappointment when he spoke to our correspondent shortly after what the gentleman referred to as some of the dirtty tricks of some members to cause disaffection within the party.

In that meeting, said to have been stage managed by the National Chairman, some membesr abstained from voting because the said meeting was not properly constituted. Even list of attendance was doctored to appear as if the selection of Brima Kaita and others got the full endorsement of the Western Area membership, which was not the case.

Mr. Christian Leigh therefore called on NEC to intervene immediately and reverse the decision of a clique of people and give equal opportunity to all aspirants.

“These are some of the ‘atrocities’ some so-called heavy weights embark on that often lead to the undoing of the party,” a former member of parliament observed to this writer.

He said the party pride itself on the principle of ‘one country, one people’ and generally known to uphold the values  of democracy, but what currently obtains behind close doors is a shameful reminder of the inglorious past.

Amidst the in-fighting, the question may ask is why is it that the SLPP like thrown away a golden opportunity at the eleventh hour? Is it vaulting ambition? Is it greed?  Or is it like what Ex-President Kabbah used to describe as a ‘bad heart’?

Having oberved the current political intrigues within the party and having weighed the chances of winning the November 17, 2012, one elderly party member mused in these words, “We are so close to victory yet too far from it.” It is like we say in our local parlance: ‘ smell it but don’t touch it’.

Indeed, the paradox is deeply felt within the rank and fileof the party. It is the butterfly effect of a political party where the intrigues of a small minority are causing pain to the entire body of party loyalists. Too sad!

At a time when the members should be galvanising themselves for their much trumpted ’12:O’Clock Sharp’ victory, some party members are busy playing funny tricks aimed at undermining the electoral chances of Maada Bio and by extension the party itself?

SLPP, buck up! Get your acts together, so that come 2012 you don’t just smell it but you actually touched it. Take it or leave it!

SEM Political Correspondent

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