Letter to editor

The PMDC Running Mate Imbroglio: Making the Best of A Bad Situation

17 April 2007 at 11:37 | 415 views

April 16, 2007

Dear Editor,

It’s often not what is said that is important, but rather what is left unsaid. That would certainly be true with the press release recently issued by PMDC-USA, in which it praises the selection of Dr. Ibrahim I. Tejan-Jalloh as the running mate of Charles Margai, the PMDC presidential nominee for the July 2007 elections.

In its very first paragraph, the press release congratulates Mr. Margai on his choice, declaring that his decision reflects “insightful leadership.” With such an endorsement, one would hardly imagine that Dr. Tejan-Jalloh won the running mate sweepstakes in a process which may have contravened the basic requirement allegedly established by Mr. Margai himself. According to details publicly disclosed by certain PMDC officials, Mr. Margai had requested a shortlist of potential candidates from whom he would name his running mate; if indeed that is true, then I don’t see how his decision can be construed as “insightful leadership.” If anything, it would reflect, at the very least, an egregious example of betrayal, if not hubris, since Dr. Tejan-Jalloh’s name was not even on the list made available to the public by a number of PMDC officials — and not disputed by anyone.

In the next paragraph, the press release trumpets Dr. Tejan-Jalloh’s “wealth of experience in public health systems and general health delivery systems”, experience it describes as “the most challenging aspects of governance ... which have contributed immensely to the low life span of the average Sierra Leonean”. This, of course, is valuable information and speaks well of Dr. Tejan-Jalloh. What is curious, however, is the failure to provide what would unquestionably be equally useful details on Dr. Tejan-Jalloh’s career path. As some of us obviously know, Dr. Tejan-Jalloh, among other things, served, his country as Minister of Health at a critical period during the RUF incursion. Surely this is something to point out, even if that stint was as a member of a Government led by the rival Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

Additionally, in this same paragraph, the press release asserts that the PMDC has selected a running mate whose “political timbre” will “bridge the widely publicized propaganda against the PMDC has [sic] a minority hater organization”. I am not quite sure what precisely that means, but the communiqué does go on to claim that, “[t]his appointment is certainly a fulfillment of our desire in consolidating our wealth of human resources as peoples of one society regardless of ethnicity or measure of population in relation to the whole within that society of peoples-this is just the tip of the iceberg that the PMDC will look beyond parochial reasons for political appointments”. I would not be able to find a more succinct phrase to describe the opposite of what the PMDC has in fact accomplished, even if I tried to. After all, isn’t this the party that publicly declared (with must gusto, I might add) that only Northern Muslims need apply for the vice presidential spot on its 2007 ticket? Of course, it is the PMDC’s prerogative to choose its ticket as it sees fit; but to suggest, as it does in the above quote, that the selection of its vice presidential candidate was done for other than “parochial reasons” is not only absurd, but rings awfully hollow. As we all know, the quest for a Northern Muslim running mate was not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end: pandering to the North and to Muslims in a calculated bid that said strategy will catapault the PMDC to victory in July.

In the next paragraph of the press release, PMDC-USA again cites Dr. Tejan-Jalloh’s multi-faceted experience, calling his appointment “the right choice”: an addition to the ticket that will inevitably lead to victory in 2007. While I entirely understand (and expect) such an upbeat claim, PMDC-USA is obviously refusing to acknowledge the potential damage of the fissure that has now resulted from Charles Margai’s apparent decision to jettison the originally prescribed selection process: very vocal expressions of dissent from various PMDC quarters and reports of a significant number of PMDC defections to the SLPP. While we cannot say the party is on its death bed (yet), it would not surprise me if one were to take a pulse, to find the patient not responding too well.
As press releases go, I suppose the one issued by PMDC-USA gives about as much as we can expect; however, they are merely deluding themselves if they think we cannot see through the fog and discern the things they have conveniently left out.

Ishmael Taylor-Kamara, Secretary General, Concerned Sierra Leoneans in North America, New York New York