From the Editor’s Keyboard

SLPP was the Lone Debate Dodger

28 June 2006 at 20:53 | 343 views

"The impression about the SLPP is, simply, that the party does not care what the nation thinks about it, so long as it is in charge. SLPP refuses to reckon with the fact that it is crucial for the people to know, so that they can get the best candidate to rule them. This is the epitome of arrogance and taking the people for granted."

By Karamoh Kabba

Debates bring candidates agenda to the people. In his recent article entitled Berewa Escapes from Debate, John L. Musa’s suggestion, “For PMDC’s interim leader to condition his appearance at a debate on Berewa’s attendance is irrational,” is equally irrational.

Evidently, Ernest Bai Koroma and Abdul Kadi Karim, leaders of the APC and UNPP respectively, did not represent their parties, which, apparently, led to the organizers to reduce the debate into a less than presidential debate.

Charles F. Margai’s resolve to debate only other presidential candidates in the Youth for Sierra Leone Improvement (YSLI)-organized debate was a well thought-out political position meant to equate the standings of the presidential candidates themselves rather than a presidential candidate sharing the podium with the representatives of other candidates.

He felt that this was specifically in tune with respecting the needs of the people to hear directly from the candidates themselves rather than their representatives. Just ask yourself, who will the people hold responsible for what a representative would say in the debate, would it be himself or the presidential candidate he is representing? The SLPP’s decision to dodge the debate was, apparently, not only in fear of defeat, but also a premeditated contempt in an effort to diminish the political significance of the value of the debate to the nation and the youths.

Being privy to the debate arrangements, I am knowledgeable about other commitments Charles F. Margai, the Interim Leader of the PMDC had in place, including a sensitization meeting that had been scheduled for Kono District a month before the youth national debate notice and press release were made available to the debaters and published as well. Yet, Charles Margai accommodated the youth national debate in full preparedness to debate Ernest Bai Koroma, Abdul Kadi Karim and SLPP’s Solomon Berewa. When he was told of the lower level representation, he decided to resume his normal hectic schedule.

Sensitizing the people of Kono District about the PMDC, for Charles F. Margai, is as equally important as educating the people through a national youth debate. Charles F. Margai, before reactivating his already postponed Kono District sensitization trip, ensured that the national Interim Secretary General of the PMDC, Ansu Lansana, stayed in Freetown to debate the secretary-generals of the other parties.

Unlike Charles F. Margai, Solomon Berewa assigned the SLPP Secretary General, JJ Saffa, to debate but, according to the YSLI chairman and founder, Dr. Michael Sho-Sawyer, “JJ Saffa called, at the last minute, to say that he will not debate” - he also dodged the debate in fear of another defeat. He had been defeated in a previous debate, in the state of Maryland, USA, about a little over a month earlier. In Freetown, “The organizers, YSLI told the gathering that they have been communicating with the Secretary General of SLPP, Jacob Jusu Saffa and no reason was advanced for his absenteeism,” Mohamed Massaquoi reported for the Concord Times newspaper.

The impression created by SLPP’s absence

To be the oldest, the seating and the ruling political party, and yet offer nothing to the people in terms of what SLPP intends to do for the nation in Berewa’s administration, is utter disregard for voters’ need to be informed. Too many questions can come to mind as to why SLPP was absent, the least of which is whether the SLPP just does not have a record to run on besides ending the war, or whether the SLPP want to prevent the people from making a sound objective decision about which party should rule the nation next.

The impression about the SLPP is, simply, that the party does not care what the nation thinks about it, so long as it is in charge. SLPP refuses to reckon with the fact that it is crucial for the people to know, so that they can get the best candidate to rule them. This is the epitome of arrogance and taking the people for granted.

As if it is not enough that they have very little to show for the past 8 years of dismal leadership, Berewa and the SLPP do not seem to feel that they are responsible or obligated to the nation enough to take part in the debate to enlighten the nation on their deeds.

The SLPP did not show up, it was not represented, and it did not care.

It will only be fair that if the nation cannot hear from the SLPP as to what Berewa intends to do for the people, then the people should not be obligated to vote for Berewa and the SLPP.

Foreign observers have the same concern that the conditions that caused the war still exist. According to the Concord Times newspaper;

“In his opening statement US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Thomas Hull said the reason for organizing the debate is to bring together youths and political parties in order to share common interests. He pointed out that the conditions responsible for the decade civil war still exist. Hull maintained the only way of addressing youths’ problems is by taking positive steps. He highlighted that one of the major problems in the country is access to justice. ‘Youths bring energy and new ideology to the democratic process,’ he said and maintained that even though there is improvement in formal education, more attention should be given to vocational education.”

If the nation cannot hear from the SLPP as to what it intends to do for the people in the next five years, it is only fair that the people vote for the PMDC whose political philosophy is a “Positive Change”.

Karamoh Kabba

Director of Media & Comm. - PMDC

Photo: Karamoh Kabba

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