A deadly blow has been dealt with the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) by the reconciliation of the main opposition, All People’s Congress (APC) and the National Reformation Movement (NRM), a recent breakaway group of the APC.
The reconciliation between the two entities means they are one and ready to pursue a common goal as they share common ties and destiny.
The NRM consists of educated young men who are determined to see brilliant reforms in the party so that its operations can befit a democratic order.
APC and NRM hitherto could not see eye to eye with each other over perceived manipulation of the party’s constitution.
The 1995 APC Constitution was said to have been tampered with by the APC leadership when it injected several clauses seen as undemocratic by NRM members.
One of the most contested constitutional manipulations is the presence of the selection clause which says a flag-bearer of the party must be selected and not elected.
The arrangement, some party stalwarts said was one of the principal factors that led to the defeat of APC in 2018.
The constitution was going to be adopted in 2019 in a national convention in the north-western headquarters of Portloko, one of the strongest APC strongholds.
But, the NRM members stopped the convention by means of litigation.
An injunction was slammed on the party to restrain it from moving ahead with the convention. APC had no alternative, but to comply with the order.
The services of a veteran legal practitioner, counsel H.M. Ngevao was sought by NRM members to represent them in court.
Lawyer Ngevao, a prominent SLPP member was the happiest in respect of the NRM litigation and flexed his muscles to present the case of the plaintiffs in court.
Signs were clear at the height of the litigation that the legal luminary would not like to see unity in the APC and planned to champion the case to its logical conclusion.
Unity in the APC represents a deadly blow to the SLPP.
Sierra Leone judiciary which has gained notoriety, over the years, for dancing to the tune called by the executive arm could not be relied upon.
The court hardly upholds the interest of an opposition party at the detriment of the ruling party’s.
Most of the rulings handed down at the initial stage of the hearings went against the respondent, the APC.
Counsel Wara Serry Kamal, one of the erudite APC lawyers found it difficult at that time to convince the court to uphold her submissions though brilliant.
The bad blood that prevailed between the two entities symbolised a red line which none dared to cross.
The NRM seemed determined to pursue justice in the court at all cost as long as the constitution remained as it was.
The prevalence of the disunity in the APC fold plunged the ruling SLPP into an ecstatic and jubilant mood.
SLPP had hoped and prayed for the case to linger in the courts for years so that APC would remain in opposition after 2023.
However, a fundamental turning point came after NRM reconciled with its parent body, the APC, a move that represents an atomic missile for the SLPP.
The unity is more dangerous for the SLPP especially when APC has taken over Kono and Kambia districts by the home-coming of Chief Samuel Sam Sumana to APC and the unpopularity of Dr Kandeh Yumkellah in Kambia.
The two districts, no doubt, played a significant part in ushering SLPP to power with hopes of seeing the country’s problems solved.
But, the country’s development trajectory has portrayed President Bio’s ‘New Direction’ Government as the weakest since independence.
Government’s weakness to champion the cause of development of a nation with high expectations adds to its devastation.
The 2018 SLPP Manifesto is replete with fine, but bogus and frivolous promises.
Free Quality Education (FQE), campaign against corruption, economic diversification, fighting inflation, investment in agriculture, improvement in health, National cohesion and unity and maintenance of security are few of the promises of the ‘New Direction.’
However, current governance indicators show that SLPP has failed Sierra Leone.
SLPP Government has not carried on well with the FQE since its pronouncement in 2018.
Government laid a solid foundation for its failure in education when it dismantled the celebrated 6-3-4-4 model recommended by the Professor Gbamanja Commission of Inquiry.
The Gbamanja’s Model was a suitable replacement of the 6-3-3-4 system which permitted pupils to face WASCCE prematurely.
The system, at that time, caused heavy failures among WASSCE candidates.
SLPP government started to fail with its FQE project when pupils in various secondary schools massively failed the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in 2018.
The failure dubbed the worst since the inception of WASSCE in the four West African countries was directly linked to poor motivation of teachers who are FQE’s key players.
Throughout the years that followed FQE, no pupil in Sierra Leone has made impressive performance like their colleagues in Nigeria, Ghana and the Gambia which practise similar education system.
On the corruption front, government has also performed less in that sector as the fight is directed only against members of the opposition who constitute the past of government.
The ACC is known to have flexed its muscles in prosecuting former government officials for weak allegations of corruption, but dragged its feet when it comes to theirs.
The corruption case against Minister of Labour and social security, Alpha Timbo has been unjustifiably dropped out of court by the ACC.
Mr Timbo with other officials was accused to have misappropriated thousands of bags of rice when he was presiding over the Ministry of Basic and Senior School Education.
The rice in question was donated by the Republic of China as part of its contribution to the FQE project in Sierra Leone.
The accused persons were discharged by the court owing to ACC’s failure to offer sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.
It linked to its incapacity to offer evidence to interference from Attorney-General’s office which ordered trial of the accused persons by Judge and jury.
Now, the ricegate Minister and his officials have returned to work. They now walk as free men, a move that compels the public to raise critical questions about ACC’s credibility.
A bribe of US$1.5M allegedly received by the Chief Minister, Professor David Francis was never properly investigated by the ACC.
The journalist, Sallieu Tejan Jalloh who ventured to investigate the bribe was unlawfully arrested and detained on the Chief Minister’s order.
Facts are clear that the ACC Commissioner, Francis Ben kaifallah and the Chief Minister hails from the same eastern district of Kenema.
It goes without saying that such relationship will not permit the ACC commissioner to get down to the bottom of the investigation.
Allegations and counter-allegations of corruption by an SLPP parliamentarian, Ibrahim Conteh and Clerk of parliament, Paran Tarawallie were swept under the carpet by the ACC.
Where is SLPP’s campaign against corruption? The people of Sierra Leone asked and they need answers.
Interestingly, SLPP government also reneges on its promise of economic diversification of Sierra Leone. In its campaign in 2018, SLPP made it clear to Sierra Leoneans that the country’s economy would be diversified by resuscitating and investing in other sectors of the economy.
The purported diversification is to ensure that the country does not rely on just one sector like mining which has proved to be volatile in recent times.
To date, no sector of the economy has been resuscitated not even the mining sector.
In actual terms, the mining sector has been wrecked as Licences of mining companies notably; SL mining which was exploiting Iron Ore were cancelled without just cause.
As mining companies fold up, job losses and joblessness became widespread.
Today, Sierra Leone is in a dire economic situation ever seen before.
The economic mess is characterised by persistent hardship in the country.
The list of failures is too long to be explored in this piece but in subsequent editions.
The only way SLPP hopes to have covered up the failures is to incite and fuel hate and disunity in the APC by means of litigation for the party to remain divided till the polls.
But, SLPP’s failure to realise its objective means a devastation of its own.