APC must reconcile now before holding lower level elections – Op-ed – Welcome to the Sierra Leone Telegraph
Cornelius Oguntola Melvin Deveaux: Sierra Leone Telegraph: May 7, 2022:
Judge Adrian Fisher’s decision in the case between Alfred Peter Conteh v Ernest Bai Koroma, Osman Foday Yansaneh, All Peoples Congress and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) is thrilling, daunting and disconcerting. This has drawn overwhelming and intimidating yet emotional reactions from supporters of rival factions within the party, the general party membership and members of the public – since political parties are public institutions.
The decision generates mixed feelings and leaves many right-thinking Sierra Leoneans in outbursts of satisfaction, despair, hatred, doubt and revenge. Mine is not the relativity of judgment to jurisprudence or crying over spilled milk; nor pointing fingers, scolding and patting on the back.
It’s not about the ups and downs of judgment. It’s about the opportunities to bury the hatchet, shake off the dust and rubble, and rebuild the party and move forward.
Blaming the SLPP government or the courts for our predicament is a deliberate attempt to continue to hide in the shadows of our inequities. That’s not to say a desperate SLPP won’t do anything and everything to undo the APC’s formidable ability.
Nor am I saying that the judge may not have complied with his master’s offer. Both were at their best, but we have ourselves to blame. A complex and convoluted combination of complacency, arrogance, intolerance, hypocrisy, infighting, neglect and ignorance within and among the base is the reason for our current situation.
This shouldn’t be a moment of complacency for anyone; nor a moment to denigrate and intimidate. Posterity will blame this generation of members for bringing this calamity to the party; however, the disbanded executive bears more blame.
And all of us who have served the party in various capacities based on the appointment or recommendation of the dissolved executive, knowing or not knowing their illegitimacy, also bear the responsibility. Failing to exercise due diligence or complicity. Those who claim not to be oblivious to the evils but only speak out when they feel wronged or their interests are threatened are as guilty as the disbanded executive.
In all of this, the party is the pawn in a game where individual interests trample the collective good. It is reminiscent of two Krio parables. The first is We Os Nכ S▪ll yu, trit Nכ go aks ɔmɔs fɔ yu (which means that if you are not put up for sale by your household, no one on the street will ask you for what price), and the second: Nכ luk whosai yu for dom, luk whosai yu bok yu fut (consider where you missed your step and not where you fall).
As the main opposition party, we have failed to hold the SLPP government to account and have failed in our obligations to uphold good democratic governance. The party base and the general public are well aware that the party is plagued by internal conflicts.
Some members salute the flag carrier candidates; others were divided between the old guard and the Reformers. Highly experienced, hitherto well-meaning and dedicated comrades engage in intense bargaining with the ruling SLPP to protect their personal interests and wealth and disadvantage their rivals.
Their actions compromise the safety and security of comrades and sabotage the unity and effective functioning of the party as the main opposition in a democracy.
The disbanded executive, of which I was a member, could not have done better than them. Many thought they were compromised leadership lacking focus, as their legitimacy was legally questionable. Opinions about their lack of focus and inability to take the bull by the horns have spread when they failed to act appropriately in many cases.
The social media sibling war has only deepened the acrimony and widened the divide. What remains just as problematic and perhaps more repugnant than the trial is the high level of political ignorance, rivalry and hypocrisy exhibited by comrades, especially comrades from whom we have high expectations.
The judgment therefore offers an opportunity for in-depth introspection; to unravel alliances and patronage and cement bonds of camaraderie. Therefore, this decision should allow us to throw away our indifferences and face the common enemy.
Who is the common enemy?
The common enemy is to knock Bio out of State House in the 2023 election. So it’s time to move on; we have to move forward. But moving forward with the same mindset will get us nowhere. The same bickering continues as if we were locked in our past. It should not escalate into a Cold War under the interim arrangement sanctioned by the Court.
The court ruling puts the future of sanity and unity within the APC in the hands of two people: Alfred Peter Conteh and Chernoh Ramadan Bah. The two represent opposing interests within the party; Alfred is a “reformer”, and Chernoh belongs to the old guard. But both have a responsibility to put the party above parochial interests. Above the camps and segregation. Their task is to unite the party at this crucial moment. They can do this by ensuring that the 21-man committee does not become a Cold War battleground.
According to the court ruling, Alfred Peter Conteh will appoint nine members, including the president, while Chernoh Ramadan Bah will appoint twelve in consultation with other MPs. The two comrades must choose the 21 among the comrades who have the gift of leadership to unite the party. They should bring on board well-meaning comrades from outside their immediate circles.
The neutrality of the 21 is the hope of the masses. They are the balancing act. They should not promote competing interests and should not include people who seek complacency and revenge.
As a party, we must address the urgent need for a united and focused APC if we are to hold this government to account and win the 2023 election. The 21-man committee is expected to provide leadership in uniting the party. Their task is more delicate than that of the 25-man committee that will conduct the conventions and elections of the Ward’s party officials nationally, including the 2023 presidential candidate.
A united APC is the yearning of members and a desperate nation to vote for the SLPP in 2023. But we must accept the fact that there can be no unity within the APC without a true reconciliation that seeks to put the party of the interest above any other consideration.
One of the other recommendations of the Nine-Man committee that recommended the new constitution is to reconcile the party. The 21-man committee now has the daunting task of reconciling the party.
My view is that the 21-man committee reconciles the party before calling conventions to elect new leaders and the presidential candidate for the 2023 presidential election. It should be the reconciliation before the conventions and not the reverse.
The 21-man committee can pursue reconciliation while dealing with unresolved membership issues. This is what the party needs to facilitate inclusiveness, a level playing field, and acceptance of what the 21- and 25-man committees will do.
In conclusion, reconciling the APC is the most urgent task to be accomplished. It is a sure precursor to getting out of indifference and repositioning the party before 2023. If we want to reconcile the party after the conventions, it will be putting the cart before the horse.
As the party is being reformed, however, allow me to urge our CPA MPs to demand the resignation of the Clerk of Parliament and the Leader of Government Business for their complicity and lack of due diligence in the scam involving the presentation of a fake university degree to parliament by the Minister of Agriculture to gain an advantage during his approval process.