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Bio’s one more step!

Bio’s one more step!

Did you listen to the speech of President Bio at the opening of the ultra-modern party office in Kailahun? If you did, you would ask the question: for whom did the President speak? President Bio said that changes are occurring in the dynamics of the party – a wind of change that is realistic.

He qualified what he called dynamics of change by asserting that people are clamouring for a youthful flavor in the run of the affairs of the party. There has never been a time in the history of the Sierra Leone People’s Party wherein the old generation had dominated. When people like John Kerefa Smart, D.L. Sumner, Sanusi Mustapha and Albert Margai were ministers in the cabinet of Sir Milton Margai, they were very young people.

Peter Tucker and John Kallon were young people when they became Secretary to the Prime Minister and Establishment Secretary respectively. Maigore Kallon became Minister of External Affairs under Sir Albert Margai when he was a very young man. That did not mean that elders do not have a role to play in the party.

Were it not for the intervention of Elders, Albert Margai, nor Milton would have been our country’s first Prime Ministers. The reason for appointing young people into positions is for them to be groomed for leadership, it is not for them to be cast out with all their experiences when it comes to the time when they should assume leadership. It was because of his experience that the Americans voted in Joe Biden as President.

In the SLPP, age and experience count in the election of a chairman is concerned. Rev. Paul Dumber, the first national chairman of the SLPP under the multi-party dispensation had once been in cabinet and Member of Parliament during the reign of Sir Milton Margai. After his death, he was replaced by Maigore Kallon who had also been a Cabinet Minister under Sir Albert Margai. Maigore Kallon was succeeded by Dr Sama S Banya, a former Foreign Minister under Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabba and after Dr Banya was Alhaji UNS Jah who had also served Kabba as Social Welfare Minister. Alhaji UNS Jah was succeeded by John Oponjo Benjamin, a former District Council Chairman and later a Finance Minister under Kabba.

Succeeding Benjamin was Chief Sumana Kapen who had been a veteran civil servant (Permanent Secretary) and Paramount Chief Member of Parliament. The current Chairman, Dr Prince Alex Hardin had not only been Secretary General of the party, but also Minister of Mines and later Transport Minister. Under Kabba, youth empowerment is everybody’s concern but for certain positions in an old party like SLPP, experience counts.

The framers of the 1991 constitution were aware of the dangers of youth in leadership that was why they made the age limit of the presidential candidate to 40years.

By the time we get to the next elections in 2023, Bio would be almost sixty (60); what would he say to a forty year old man who will tell him to step down as the party needs a young man at the helm? We must be reminded that it was because of the excesses of youth in power under the NPRC that the citizens of this country called for a democratically elected government. And the two front runners of the post of President in the 1996 elections, Tejan Kabba and John Karefa Smart, were old and experienced people.

There is a tussle over who will be the next party chairman and the focus is on Dr Prince Alex Harding and Batilo Songa, representing a young and old generational clash. So it is hoped that the president’s emphasis on youth was not an innuendo for the old candidate.

Indeed, President Bio wants to be sure that he is fully in charge contrary to what a news Magazine opined. He has brought down professor David Francis from the position of Chief Minister to indicate that the professor is not untouchable, and brought in Jacob Jusu Saffa who does not seem to be interested in that post.

The president is now leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party, but there are rumours that he is not comfortable with Chairman Dr Prince Alex Harding (bullet)

Therefore, by the look of things, one more step for the President to be fully in charge of both the party and the nation is to throw his weight behind a person in his good books for election as party chairman. The tussle between the traditional SLPP and the New Direction Paopa rages on.

By Amadi Abadi;

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