NRM and APC: who was victorious at the Convention in Port Loko?
With reference to the recent social media audios about the National Reform Movement (NRM), it is reasonable to suggest that the group is falling apart. In the light of that, is APC putting its acts together to face an already predictable violent election in 2023?
I left London on the 31/12/2019 to witness the APC convention scheduled for the 10/01/2020 to the 12/01/2020 at Port Loko. As a party member, I was looking forward to the event. The purpose of the convention was to adopt the newly composed party constitution and most importantly for the party to continue to show unity and strength in the face of ongoing political intimidations from the ruling government and the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP). My presence at the event was not so significant. I am not in the inner circle of the party elites (Executives) therefore I cannot influence any changes except by voting, but my determination to attend the event was based on the desire to stand side-by-side with party members and most importantly with the Diaspora colleagues to show unity and strength.
A day leading to the event rumours started circulating that the convention will not take place due to an ongoing court matter. I was in kabala when I heard the first rumour. I left late to return to Freetown and on my way, I read on social media (What Sapp) that there is a Diaspora meeting at the party office at 4pm on the 09/01/2020. I drove straight to the party office and arrived at about 8pm. As I walked along the corridor of the building going towards the meeting room, I saw old comrades and witnessed the most important part of the meeting (financial donation of about Le.36,000,000) to the party Secretary General and the Financial Treasurer. There were other key party elite members present in the handing over of the money process. During the ceremony, we were assured of the event going ahead and we were advised to collect our event ‘passes’ on the Friday 10/01/2020. I went to the party office on the Friday morning with the expectation to collect my ‘pass’ and travel the following day to Port Loko. Unfortunately, the person responsible to give members the passes was not at the office that morning failed promised.
I left and went about my business in town and as the day passes by the rumours intensified that, the convention has been cancelled due to an injunction put forward at the High Court by the National Reform Movements (NMR). This is a small group of party dissidents whose ultimate aim is to reform the party. My understanding is, following the controversial loss of the election in March 2018 this group emerged to seek reform of the party and they called for leadership change (Dr. Ernest Bai koroma must resign) and second, they called for a fix term of office for each position in the party. I have listened to some of their audios from social media and paid attention to some of the other issues they stand for. I respect their position and I sincerely believed that they are acting in the interest of the party. The problem though is as I was made to understand only one member of the NRM is a fully paid up party member at the time of the injunction matter hearing at court. I wonder therefore how a judge of that experience would permit a case of a political party to be heard without proper cross-examinations of the membership of those who petition the convention or the party activities. It could have been anyone who dont like the party claiming to be a member.
Anyway, very late in the day Friday 09/01/2020, I got intel as far away from the USA (reliable source) that the convention will go ahead as planned following a press release from the Political Party Registration Commission (PPRC). The intervention was timely.
On the Saturday 10/02/2020, myself and few family members left for Port Loko and arrived safely. On arrival, I heard from the crowd and other reliable sources that the programme is finished and that the party elites have decided to readopt the 1995 party constitution. I was shocked and puzzled when I heard the news. As I probed the matter, further I was told that the party acted in the interest of peace and do not want to prolong a pending court case battle. I was left to digest this action and as I continued to ponder my thoughts around the decision, the following concerns came up:
First of all, whether we like it or not we lost the 2018 election because the party guide book of 1995 failed us by following the process enshrined in it. The party leader carefully treaded on the constitution to make unilateral decisions that turned out to be unpopular and there was no one to challenge him because he is the boss. He single-handedly appointed the flag bearer and allocated symbols to candidate standing for Member of Parliament. These decisions were made within the context of the 1995 constitution, which turned out to be detrimental to the party.
Second, he masterminded the 2018 campaigning in a way that gave no opportunity to the flag bearer and his running mate to put their political philosophy, ideas and manifesto across to the electorates. It was all about Dr Ernest Bai koroma saying good-bye to the nation. This could have been done after the election.
My third, concerns are about financial waste, lack of respect for the diasporas, human time and the kneejerk reaction to NRM court matter without proper consultations. Money had been spent to organise the event, some members have travelled from everywhere across the globe and we have all patiently waited for this day, only to be told on attendance that we are readopting the 1995 constitution. This to me shows a complete disrespect to members and an indication of lack of discipline and organisation. (APC is my political party and I believe in its political philosophy, but my biggest worry is the emerging dictatorial political culture, lack of discipline and organisation. The moment one walks into any APC party office anywhere in the country, one starts to wonder, Who do I approach.
So between NRM and the party who won? In my assessment NRM won, but would this do them any good, my answer is no. Does the Party shows any strong leadership in the face of internal struggles, no. The re-adoption of the 1995 Constitution further indicates that we are in for another stormy political period.
I saw on social media that members of the NRM are falling apart what went wrong?
I end this article with the hope that the party elites and leadership begin to see reality and allow young, capable members of the party to be involved in critical decision-making. This is the time for the party to show unity and to demonstrate strength in the face of hostile political atmosphere, which is control and managed by the current regime. This government has consistently breached international law, international treaty law and international customary law and its municipality law on human rights.
I dedicate this article to the victims of Lahai Lawrence Leema (justice shall prevail one day).
God bless Sierra Leone, the APC Party and God bless us all.
Momodu Mansaray, London, UK
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