Presidents looking for second terms clear stumbling blocks on the road to actualise their plans. The stumbling blocks are ministers and other top cadre public and civil servants who eye the presidency. Like any other President in Africa, President Bio does not hesitate to clear his way through.
The President Bio is highly determined for a second term and would stop at nothing to make it happen. In one of his visits to the provinces, President Julius Maada Bio said he would go unopposed in 2023 elections.
The statement is now one of the hottest topics for public discussions. Big debates and arguments hovered around the President’s statement. A number of Sierra Leoneans thought differently.
Regardless of different opinions, the statement of the President was put into perspective by a veteran SLPP (Sierra Leone People’s Party) politician who spoke anonymously. He told this press that whenever a sitting President said he would go unopposed, such statements should not be taken lightly.
The statement he said was a warning to ministers and public officials who wished to show up in the race for the SLPP flag. Most times, he said, incumbent presidents embark on a campaign of dismissals when occasion calls for that. The veteran politician cited former Chief Minister now Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Davis Francis as one of the potential stumbling blocks that has been cleared. He said the former Chief Minister was just one of the victims of the Bio administration.
According to the Veteran politician, the Chief Minister nursed political ambition within and project power outside.
Prof Francis, he went on, had already built a cult of personality around him. He supervised all Ministries and approved their policies before implementation. He appears to have worn the regalia of a crown prince as his position bore the semblance of a Vice President.
The powers enjoyed by Prof Francis puts him in a class of his own in the Bio administration. The privileged and lofty status enjoyed by the former Chief Minister made him nurse an intention of aspiring to become President through the polls. Prof Francis was quoted to have said: “The next President would come from Kenema, the heartland of the ruling SLPP.”
Kenema, the eastern headquaters, is his hometown. Kenema is not only SLPP’s heartland, but a citadel of the PAOPA ideology and campaign. Kenema was first to welcome the PAOPA movement after it was formulated between 2016 and 2017.
The PAOPA slogan according to PAOPA SLPP means the acquisition and exercise of power by means of all possible coercion a leader may care to employ. It is a Machiavellian philosophy which underpins that a leader is at liberty to use all means at his disposal to continue his political existence.
In short, the end justifies the means meaning the goal the leader wanted to achieve dictate the method to employ. The statement saying the next President coming from Kenema is one that worries any President.
President Bio is no difference, it worries him.
He therefore must extricate himself from the quagmire by seeing the back of the Chief Minister out of State House. It is also clear that President Bio did not take such statement lightly. Professor David Francis was ready to answer to the call of the masses.
Chief Minister’s statement made him a potential threat, and that threat was dealt with. The transfer of the former Chief Minister to Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a starting point.
Taking off the chief Minister outside the Bio administration is anticipated should President Bio strive to achieve his aim for a second coming. The President would also similarly deal with any minister that nurses any intention to run for the flag.
The former Chief Minister is almost gone, and others are expected to follow. The President’s line should not be crossed. Movements embarked upon by President Bio are almost the same as those embarked on by former President Ernest Bai Koroma.
Former President Koroma also relieved ministers and other top government officials of their duties to completely eradicate political archrivalry.
Former Minister of Works, Alimamy Petito Koroma was removed as a former Minister over allegations of potholes. The allegations are not watertight, others says, it was because he eyed the presidency. He wanted to become the next President after former President Koroma.
It was a move the former President did not countenance. The only allegation for which former Minister Koroma lost his ministerial post was the potholes saga in the city. Other highly placed government officials lost their posts as well notably, Dr Richard Conteh.
Dr Conteh was Chief of Staff in the Koroma regime, but lost such status as a result of corruption allegations. Other government officials not mentioned here also succumbed to the same fate. Another school of thought have however advanced different arguments.
In their arguments, attention was paid to the power of the incumbency to rig elections. An opposition politician has told this press that the only way the current President would go unopposed is through election rigging.
The politician spoke on condition of anonymity in an exclusive interview. Considering the President’s leadership style, he said, there is no way the president would go for a second term let alone go unopposed.
He said President Julius Maada Bio had nothing impressive that would qualify him an ‘unopposed status’ status in politics. Even if President Bio governs satisfactorily, it would be difficult for him to be returned unopposed.
“The President has to face opposing forces in his party as well as outside his party,” he stressed.
President Bio’s internal forces seemed to be more potent that the external ones. It is widely reported that many potential flag-bearers are emerging in the party.
It is one of the deepest secrets which the President does not and cannot understand. President Bio is deeply indicted within the SLPP.
The indictment revolved around the little success he recorded since he came to power. SLPP (Sierra Leone People’s Party) youths, few months ago, called for a new flag-bearer within the party.
One of them had remarked that they loved the party, but the driver must be changed. He firmly believes that the state vehicle would go nowhere if the President remained on the driving seat.