Investigation mounted by this press has shown that members and supporters of the ruling SLPP (Sierra Leone People’s Party) are calling for a new flag-bearer for the 2023 elections. They say the new flag-bearer would fly the party’s flag in the 2023 elections. Most of those interviewed said they had been disappointed by President Julius Maada Bio. One of the SLPP supporters, Baby Conteh, a resident in Freetown suggested: “The driver must be changed if SLPP is to get back its glory.”
Madam Conteh also told this press that she sacrificed greatly for the New Direction Government to come to power.
She was neglected after the party has been ushered into governance.
“SLPP is very much ungrateful,” she cried foul. Since SLPP came into power, she went on, there have been a lot of cries about economic hardship in the country.
Those who laboured, she said, had not got the fruits of their labour. Another ardent SLPP supporter in Bo, Mariama Sesay told this press that the New Direction Government is a new form of SLPP.
She said Bo town had not seen much since SLPP came to power adding that government had monopolised everything.
She made reference to the SLPP of late President Tejan Kabba on whom she heavily showered praises.
In the days of President Kabba, she went on, the party was open to all and sundry. People from different regions and cultural backgrounds had a stake. They were allowed to come in and participate adding that such structures made the party one of the strongest in Sierra Leone.
Madam Sesay’s responses portrayed her as one that has almost taken an exit in the party. She too called on the party leadership to get a new flag-bearer. “President Julius Maada Bio should not be allowed to run again. He does not enjoy the love, support and admiration of the party,” she said.
The party was functioning very well, but it started to disintegrate when the affairs of the party was entrusted into the hands of PAOPA team.
“When they come this time round, they said it is a new Direction. Let them try, but the ballot box would speak in the near future,” she said.
Apart from Baby Conteh and Mariama Sesay, other members are also calling for a new flag-bearer in the SLPP. SLPP youths in Freetown have also expressed similar concerns. They are calling on the party leadership to have another flag-bearer in the party if SLPP is to win the elections. They believe that SLPP would not win any other elections in this country with President Bio as flag-bearer.
The youths complained that they had been seriously disappointed by the Bio administration. One of them, Joseph Simbo complained that after he had spent much of his time and energy in the elections, but now he and his colleagues had been neglected.
Simbo says what he is seeing now is a complete opposite to what he has been expecting.
“We are really disappointed and disgusted,” he said.
Quite recently, ardent SLPP youths were told to leave the party headquaters in Freetown owing to allegations of violence and other anti-social activities. The youths resisted the order saying they had nowhere to go.
“It is a big disadvantage on our side,” one of the youths complained. In a previous interview with youths at the SLPP premises on Wallace Johnson Street in Freetown revealed an interesting story.
It was clear that the youths who are now being asked to leave the party headquaters were brought to Freetown from the provinces.
The 2018 Elections was tough and thorny and winning it calls for concerted effort and great commitment. The tough and tense situation compelled the SLPP to move youths from the villages to Freetown to help them in the campaign.
The youths greatly devoted their energies and time to ensure that SLPP bounces back to power.
Indeed, SLPP was brought back to governance owing to the deep commitment of the grassroot. The youths who helped the party to stand on its feet are now neglected and marginalised.
The terrible and hopeless situation compelled them for a new leadership within the party. The youths were not alone in the spree of marginalisation and neglect by the SLPP.
Most important and notable party stalwarts are today marginalised after President Bio came to power.
The likes of John Oponjoe Benjamin, Chief Somano Kapen and others are today abandoned in the snow after years of committed service to the party.
They are not given room to participate after what appears a “colossus” has held the party to ransom and petty men walk under his huge legs.
A party stalwart who anonymously spoke to this press also indicated that in the campaign period, he used a good chunk of his finances to fund the SLPP campaign, but was left out after PAOPA took over.
He too has joined those who are now calling for another flag-bearer in the party.
He condemned any move by the SLPP to allow the current President to run for the flag-bearership again.
The source said President Bio had exhausted his chances of running for any other post in the party after the 2012 elections let alone 2023 elections.
He emphasised that President Bio had even exhausted his chance of running for the flag-bearership in 2012.
Relying on the then SLPP Constitution, the source said a presidential candidate within the SLPP who ran once and lost was no longer qualified to go for a second time.
By the old constitution, he went on; President Bio was not even fit to contest for the flag-bearership in 2017.
“It was a just a disrespect for the party’s constitution,” he said.
The source’s stance seemed to have got support by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) which regulates political parties in Sierra Leone.
PPRC which investigated the spiralling violence in the SLPP made it clear that the retention by President Bio of the Presidential candidacy after 2012 elections was the main cause of violence in the party.
The call for Maada Bio not to run for flag-bearer owing to deterioration conditions in the party and the country seems to have resonated with the views of many Sierra Leoneans.
But, will he heed to the call considering his powers as leader of the party.