Salone News

Run-off: Fula votes are not for sale

30 August 2007 at 18:05 | 663 views


By Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, EXPO TIMES, Bristol,UK.

As we fast-track to the presidential run-off billed for September 8, some very ugly sound bites making the rounds in Sierra Leone are insinuating, albeit erroneously, that fulas are going to vote massively for the SLPP candidate Solomon Berewa because one of their sons, Alhaji Amadu Jalloh of the National Democratic Alliance that failed to win a single Parliamentary seat has declared support for him. This is really an unfortunate and somewhat misplaced piece of information that has got the potential to send the wrong message that Berewa would win a block fula vote.

In the first place, the fulas never massively voted for Jalloh in the first round: in fact he failed to win the seat in his constituency in Kabala where fulas make up about 80 per cent of the population, not to talk of the presidency where he performed woefully with about 17,000 votes. With this poor showing in the first round of the vote, it is therefore very unlikely that Jalloh’s endorsement of Berewa’s bid would have any impact in the run-off. This is indeed an indication that the tribal card never featured prominently in the voting pattern of the fulas.

Secondly, although some fula tribal heads have for some obvious political reasons, informed more by the need to survive than sincere loyalty, decided to back the incumbent candidate, it is obvious that the fula votes cut across ethnic or party loyalty as leading fula politicians as well as grass roots activists can be found in almost all the main political parties. Charles Margai’s running mate Alhaji Dr Ibrahim Tejan-Jalloh and Abu Bakarr Jalloh of the APC are for example two heavy-weight politicians who have got what it takes to polarise the fula votes. And since these two leading opposition parties that epitomise change have merged for the grand run-off, one would expect an increase rather than a decrease in the fula vote for the APC front runner Ernest Koroma. After all the fulas are no better than majority of other Sierra Leoneans who have made their opinion known for change by massively voting for the APC in the parliamentary vote. They are equally suffering as a result of the general socio-economic malaise in our beloved Sierra Leone. And so I see no reason why the fulas should be allowed to be manipulated to stand against the wind of change that is blowing across the country.

Finally, the massive fula votes that the SLPP under the Kabbah presidency enjoyed in the 1996 and 2002 elections should not be taken to mean that this would influence their voting pattern in this year’s elections. The scenario is entirely different this time; the fulas being predominantly Muslim voted massively for Tejan Kabbah the last time largely because he was show-cased as a Muslim candidate but this time majority are voting for change with a much clearer conscience devoid of any sentiment, perhaps because all the leading three front runners are Christians, and moreover because this time it is the issues and not sentiments that count.

And so for the fulas, like all other Sierra Leoneans, the two key issues are those of change and continuity, and going by the media interviews granted by some young fulas in Freetown, it would appear that most of them are opting for the former. The fula votes are therefore not up for sale as a block to any political party to satisfy the selfish ends of any frustrated politician. Against this background, I would like to urge my fula brothers and sisters to vote between change and continuity, and if they think that they, like all other Sierra Leoneans are worse off under this present regime, then I would encourage them not to hesitate to vote massively for Ernest Koroma who stands for change. Similarly if they think that they are better off under the incumbent Berewa, then they should equally be bold enough to toe the line, although the latter is very unlikely given the massive vote of no confidence in the government in the first round of parliamentary and presidential elections.