By Titus Boye-Thompson, Guest Writer.
It behoves a commonsensical analysis to decipher the direction of party politics in Sierra Leone and how the issues under discussion are changing the scope of political affiliations.
Julius Maada Bio, the erstwhile flag-bearer of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is now no longer a relevant player or indeed a subject of concern for his party supporters. Since his election as the flag-bearer,JMB as he is now referred to by SLPP supporters has retained a stony silence as accusations of theft of state funds, diversion of said funds to his personal bank accounts and also to bank accounts controlled by him, involvement in an internal coup to overthrow the erstwhile Military Junta that brought him and his cohorts to power and more damagingly, complicity in extra judicial killings of prominent Sierra Leoneans during his previous stint in power under a military regime. That the regime was illegal and only in existence as a defacto government is also a matter that is no longer the subject in present political considerations and discourse by his supporters. In essence, Maada Bio has ceased to be the subject of scrutiny by his Party.
That party politics as practised in Sierra Leone does not depend on the type of bread and butter issues experienced in the West is not lost on SLPP strategists who are cleverly tryingto remove their weakest link away from public glare and rather hoping to blind national consciousness on the basis of tribal or ethnic sympathies. Maada Bio,on his name and record, is not capable to win an election but the hope is that a reversion to tribal hegemony might just do it. Strategists are looking to make a play for the numbers, they are currently analysing the recently concluded biometric registration to ascertain where their strengths lie and to group alongside natural alliances such as population proximity and dispersal in order to decry the electoral process to a stalemate.
Strategists turn a blind eye to the suitability of their candidate, his non-acceptability in a civilised democracy and his ability to conduct his personal life above reproach. Here is a man who has decried democratic procedures and norms by seizing power by the force of arms, has been complicit in the killing of innocent civilians, had denied these people their inalienable right to live without the privilege of a trial or judicial process, has been exposed to have stolen money from the Treasury of this country at a time when the country was in the throes of a civil war - yet still his supporters are hanging on the hope that Sierra Leoneans will forget his misdeeds with the passing of time and that subsequently, he would be a fitting candidate for leadership of this Country. That principled people within his own party are leaving in droves, abandoning their support for him and moving over to other political parties have not seemed to have bothered his party mechanism one iota. They still continue on as if nothing has happened and that such occurrences are done on the basis of greed or surrogacy on the part of the dissenters. That this man is tainted with such bad habits and very distasteful personal behaviour should be enough to disqualify him from such high office. This is a man who was under threat of deportation from the USA for allegedly beating up his wife and that he opted for voluntary removal from that country is neither here nor there as he now faces an uphill task to go back to that country. His only hope may be for him to go as a Head of State and Government, at least to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
That he still holds on to the position of flag bearer and potential leader of this Country begs the question. And the answer to that is simple. He is no longer relevant to the political calculations of his party and/or their strategy for winning the next election. For all intents and purposes, even if it was a goat who was put on a plinth as flag-bearer, the SLPP hierarchy will support and subsequently vote for that goat. One wonders then if the strategy is to play for a losing hand this time and then get rid of the extant goat or otherwise depend on their preponderance and dispersal within the Country to carry them through?
Otherwise, do they have alternative ways to gain power other than by the will of the people? Will they disturb the entire elections so that a unity government may be on the cards? Will they cause confusion and make polling day unbearable for peace loving Sierra Leoneans to be afraid to come out and vote? Will they threaten violence, knowing that they are capable of it, only to recede at the last minute, intending there-from that only their supporters will be so bold as to venture out to vote? In all of these, they have made a fatal error otherwise it is inconceivable why they would allow such ridicule to be so unleashed on their party. It has been observed elsewhere that for some supporters, the flag bearer is no longer relevant but that the inherited loyalty to their party, the party of their fore-fathers is their primary concern. “Me nar born SLPP” is their mantra , especially from people originating from the South and South East of the country.
In the event, Julius Maada Bio is no longer the problem for the APC as the sitting party in power still vying for leadership and continuity in the interests and future direction of this country. His crimes against humanity and the State of Sierra Leone are not relevant tothe forthcoming elections because whatever is said or done, he will remain theleader of his political party and his supporters will vote for him. It all comes down to the numbers! Do they have them to win?