Continued in-fighting in the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is weakening the pillars of the party making a 2023-victory almost impossible
Investigation conducted by this press has discovered the existence of camps within the SLPP.
The emergence of these camps, according to a reliable SLPP insider, dates back in 2017, a period that preceded the 2018 elections.
The camps share one in common: each is determined to emerge as a reckonable force for flag of the party for elections that is bound to come in the not-too-distant future.
An SLPP stalwart has anonymously told this press that the existence of many political groups within the party has led to a new phenomenon.
The phenomenon, he says, is the existence of a mainstream and PAOPA SLPP.
According to the source, the PAOPA has got the semblance of a new political party under the camouflage of a mainstream SLPP.
“The New Direction’s leadership style, policies and programmes portray them as a new party that has emerged in Sierra Leone’s body politic,” he said
He also emphasised failure of the New Direction to visit party offices in Freetown and the provinces where grassroot members of the party could be met and mingled with.
To him, the New Direction is a new political order in the state of Sierra Leone in light of the discriminatory governance style it continues to showcase every passing day.
Although He could not show the exact number of camps within the SLPP, more than five of them exist with a potential for others to emerge when the last whistle is blown for the beginning of the flag-bearer contest.
“A large number of elders and other important personalities are not happy with the high level of exclusion and discriminatory treatment meted to them by the New Direction Dispensation,” he said.
Factions, he went on, were bound to occur in politics considering the prevailing nature of politics at that time.
But the victorious faction, he said, had to explore ways to bring together the losing parties under the same umbrella for a common purpose.
Although they are SLPP, he explained, many non-PAOPA members have been left out of the New Direction fold to participate in state governance.
Most in their humble ways, he said, contributed in the campaign period towards ensuring that the party comes back to power.
“The result of active involvement in politics is to secure a national space for service to the nation if one’s party takes over state governance,” the source said.
He also referred to the discriminatory tendencies of the New Direction as a big disappointment to the non-PAOPA members.
The 2018 elections, the source further stated, was one of hot contest in the political history of Sierra Leone.
Although several political parties participated, the most dominant were the SLPP and the main opposition, All People’s Congress.
Before the coming of a self-styled PAOPA Group, there were already factions within the SLPP that were vigorously canvassing their peers for the flag-bearership status.
These groups were home-based and comprise traditional politicians that have sojourned and successfully navigated the political terrain for years.
These politicians have held top posts in ministries, departments and agencies of government where they have put up top-notch performance.
The people of Sierra Leone are familiar with them, but the PAOPA Group came, saw and overran the already existing Groups in the SLPP.
PAOPA is a Krio parlance that denotes compulsion in everything one does especially where some contrary behaviour is manifest or about to be made manifest.
To the New Direction, the PAOPA ideology is about the betterment and prosperity of Sierra Leone simply put in Krio: ‘SALONE FOR BETTEH.’
For them, the nation must rise from the doldrums of corruption, underdevelopment and bad governance at all cost.
They firmly believe that it is corruption and bad governance that have relegated this nation to where it is today.
In the midst of several groups within the SLPPP, the PAOPA emerged as its slogan was taken far wide throughout Sierra Leone.
It came to pass in 2018 when the New Direction/PAOPA Group took over state governance to the amazement of a great many Sierra Leoneans.
The group was initially hailed as one that would surely blaze the trail of nation building in the midst of high and uncontrollable expectations.
Political analysts and commentators had also similarly expected the PAOPA to end a growing aura of divisive politics within the SLPP through ‘politics of positive compromise.’
It is however clear that the widely held expectations are now counter-productive as the groups were left to flourish.
The splinter groups blossom as the PAOPA Group continues to create a cult of personality around itself.
Giving up pride for the sake of continued strength and vigour of the party is extremely difficult and seems almost possible for the New Direction.
Instead of fostering peace, unity and cooperation among the top cream as well as the rank and file of the party, unhealthy competition becomes the norm.
Unity and cooperation would have been fostered by creating enabling platform for everybody with the requisite skills and competence for national development.
The New Direction has not followed the path of unity and cooperation within the SLPP as only those who subscribe to the PAOPA ideology taps the political largesse.
The time-honoured adage that says how a group treats its own people is a strong indication of how it treats people outside the group is highly revenant here.
The discriminatory behaviour exhibited by the New Direction within the SLPP is also manifested in the project of state governance.
The Bio Government is known to have recorded the highest rate of sackings of government officials since the political existence of the state of Sierra Leone.
Those who witnessed history first hand say the PAOPA sacking is a reminiscence of the Albert Margai Era of the Mid-1960’s.
History has taught that in the Albert Margai Era, countless number of civil servants of northern origin were kicked away from their offices and replaced with south-easterners.
It is that trend that the New Direction continued with in the governance of a 21st century Sierra Leone.
Various classes of workers in the civil or public servicewere asked to lay down tools by the New Direction Government in the early years of its existence.
Many say the justification provided by the New Direction officials for their indiscriminate sacking was untenable.
A huge number of public servants who worked tirelessly for the success of the former government were set aside and new ones were brought in.
It goes without saying that when highly experienced civil servants were laid off for the creation of jobs for a new cadre of recruits, it brings an irrecoverable cost to a nation that badly needs expertise for development.
It takes a lot of resources and time for the new recruits to get hands-on experience on the job.
The Commissions of Inquiry set up to investigate former government officials also played a significant role in getting rid of highly experienced civil servants from the public service.
The principle of divisive politics embarked on by the New Direction within and outside the SLPP engendered spontaneous spates of violence and resistance making it difficult to govern a nation of 7,000,000 people.
Government however took measures to get back its rightful image, but the measures are still-birth.
It was quite difficult to cure the wounds they have inflicted on people.
Those outside the party wail for the New Direction’s exclusion from state governance, but those in the party wail the worst since their dreams do not match with the political realities.
The New Direction, at the initial stage, was not remorseful, and showed no sign of bringing back the marginalised factions together.
The factions still continue in the face of a fastly approaching 2023 elections.
An attempt to bring insider breakaway groups together is a herculean task for the PAOPA Government for now.
Such effort would be interpreted by many SLPP insiders as one that is meant to curry favour for the 2023 elections.