One country, One people – Alhaji Bai Sebora Summanoh III vies for SLPP leadership in Sierra Leone
One Country, One People – address on the need for unity and stability of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) by Alhaji Bai Sebora Summanoh III “Karpen” Or.
Mr. Chairman, members of the Diplomatic Corps, members of the Fourth Estate, the Elders and General Membership of the party, Ladies and Gentlemen
I accept with humility the honour my three colleagues have reposed on me and ask that you share with me the majesty of this defining moment. By their act, we have jointly and severally set courses for the SLPP that shape decades.
The purpose of this press conference is symbolic. It stands out as a moment of beginning to rekindle not only a sense of hope in the future direction of the party but the rebirth or re-incarnation of a party founded on the most of sound foundation there is for a nation, namely: – “one country, one people.” If and when I sail through to reach the finish line, my success can be deemed the “arch of history.”
Your different statements seem to underline that the party (SLPP) is in a spiral of seeming complex problems: internal political bickering, intrigues, violence an incompetent and non-transparent management. More importantly an enervating mood of despair has become fashionable among our grassroots supporters with a potential to undermine the resilience of our membership.
Mr. Chairman, there is therefore the need to bring the party back on track to give meaning to the values of freedom, human dignity and equal opportunity.
Let me state here, Mr. Chairman, that whilst I deem the claim that the party (SLPP) is divided right in the middle as an overstatement, I accept as the truth:- there are two opposing mind-sets. In short, the problems are many, varied and complex. There is clearly “no one size fits all model” to solve them. A solution will depend on the application of different political perspectives through the eye lens of good governance.
The task is not beyond reach but calls for concerted efforts and team spirit. The Chairman/Leader in the scheme must have the forcefulness of personality, honesty and experience or whatever it takes to lead in the process- i.e., to heal the wounds and build the bridges that ensure unity and stability.
I see myself, Mr. Chairman, because of my “double consciences,” i.e. combining modernity with tradition, to undertake that sacred responsibility.
The ultimate objective, Mr. Chairman, of any political party is to win and be able to form a government. Among the many ingredients that help to achieve that objective are the two fundamentals: Unity/Stability and running the party as a professional organization with a clear strategic orientation consistent with the provisions of the National Constitution.
UNITY AND STABILITY OF THE PARTY
In the last three years, the party (SLPP) has witnessed a cyclical syndrome of violence, confrontation and lawlessness. In short, unity has been elusive whilst suspicion triumphed over truth. This became manifest during the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. Beneath the seeming unison and decisiveness ran the tremors of doubt and apprehension. Since then the problem has exacerbated to the extent that it s on the verge of a split in the middle.
To march the magnitude of the tasks, we need not only a consensus builder but the energies of all our membership to help build the cathedral of the spirit.
Let me state that, in any political activity, it is extremely important to have clear concepts and ideas to support any desired action. As Chairman and Leader, I will dedicate my tenure to undertake the following:
a). to unite our common efforts for the common good. Consultation and dialogue will be the touch stone. National Officers will have the responsibility to engage the members on matters of their own concerns.
b). encourage members at all levels to pursue acts that will win the hearts and minds of voters by reaching out to our neighbours, helping, caring, doing and sharing. The youths, as foot soldiers of the party will be encouraged to participate in decision making processes thereby equipping them for such duties. Networking will replace the Robin Crusoe principle.
c). to restore social intercourse though which harmony and affection will triumph over confrontation.
These ideals can only be realized if we labour, work and work harder to inculcate into the minds of our membership the spirit of brotherhood, tolerance and assimilating the will of others. Yes we can under my leadership.
RESTRUCTURE THE PARTY (SLPP)
The strength of any political party like that of a state depends on its ability to learn to conduct its affairs within the remit of the law i.e. within the provisions of its constitutional text. The norms of democracy, transparency and accountability should be considered as paramount.
The question we ask ourselves is: to what extent has the party lived up to the above ideas? In answering the question we will grasp why we see confusion, violence and lawlessness rather than a clear sense of purpose, peace and respect/affection for one another. The party has been allowed to drift from its strategic orientation as provided by Section 35 (1) and (2) of the 1991 Sierra Leone Constitution.
I have carefully given consideration to the challenges facing the party and propose the following if elected as Chairman/Leader:
1). to review the party’s constitutional text that will reflect the aspirations and perseverance of our members. There will be checks and balances to reduce the incidents of arbitrariness and ensure compliance with the principles of transparency and accountability.
2). to ensure that ownership is vested in 112 constituencies. The constituency executives have to be in the driving seat. The responsibility of the National Secretariat is to strengthen their capacities to plan activities, to implement them based on transparent and accountable procedures.
3). to build for the future-this synergy is the most critical as it serves as a bedrock in ensuring sustainability. My administration’s efforts will be directed to erecting major building blocks required to support the party’s institutional development: strategies, administrative and financial manuals, and management and M&E systems. Instituting these blocks will strengthen the party as a professional organization, increasing its effectiveness and sustainability.
4). the establishment of a membership data base. A political party without such an institutional organ cannot seriously cater for its membership and even undermines its strength in terms of capacity to mobilize domestic resources. My administration will consider this as a major priority as it will serve as a barometer for better planning and implementation of programmers.
5). to align the party to the tenets of good governance i.e. best practices: should elected national executives be involved in the day-to-day running/management of the party’s secretariat or should that responsibility be vested to full time staff especially in areas of administration, accounting and financial management? To ensure transparency and accountability the latter option conforms to best practices.
Let me state here that the compartments/thematic areas are not closed. For example, the next administration under my Chairmanship will pursue a sound gender policy to ensure that gender balance becomes a cross-cutting issue. The new administration will also embark on enunciating a communication strategy that will be robust to undertake the dissemination of information as outlined in Section 35(1) of the 1991 Constitution.
Finally, my appeal is for all delegates to see this forthcoming Party Conference as a watershed. The survival of the party (SLPP) as a united organization with the capacity to win the next elections (2017-2018) is on your choice of National Officers that are imaginative and resourceful.
I thank you.Alhaji Bai Sebora Summanoh III
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