18. 05. 27
posted by: DR. SORIE GASSAMA

One important lesson that the former APC government failed to realize is that power is not absolute. While it is true that life is a foreign language mispronounced by all men, the APC leadership over mispronounced it from the very first day power was handed over to them in 2007, and forgot that the city is not a concrete jungle, but a human zoo were men regardless of their status quo must obey the rules governing the civilized world to the letter.


All wise men must know that no brilliance is needed in the law, and that ideal leaders must arm themselves with common sense and relatively clean fingernails. None of these were unfortunately part of the APC government of the recent past. The Chairman for Life of the APC party started his policy of marginalization from the very day he assumed the baton of leadership, while his henchmen who could have helped veer him to the right path stood by, did nothing, and instead called him “World’s Best,” thereby creating a Coriolanus of the 21st century. Though it is worth noting that the latter’s downfall was brought about by pride, not hate. Below are the key factors that brought about the demise of the APC:

The first task of an ideal leader is to bring people together, not separate them. The former president started his policy of marginalization not long after he was handed the presidency by His Excellency Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.   His first target was the Biriwa Chiefdom in the Northern Province where he illegally and forcefully removed from power a democratically elected paramount chief from the Mandingo tribe, and replaced him with one from the Limba tribe. Shortly after that, the Mandingos and Fullahs lived in constant threats from the Limbas . This created a bitter feud among people who before this lived in perfect harmony resulting in bloody battles according to eyewitnesses. As if this was not enough, the sign at the frontier which before read “BIRIWA CHIEFDOM” was changed to “BIRIWA LIMBA CHIEFDOM,” an indication that only the Limbas had right to exist in the chiefdom, a tribal apartheid that brought in hate, not love. This disenfranchised those Mandingo, and Fullah voters who had voted for him earlier considering him as a son of the soil. Considering his tribal apartheid policy, he created a bunch of enemies for his party that unanimously voted against him this time despite the intimidations they went through by the dominant Limba people. All I needed was to put together foot soldiers to go to those villages to educate those disgruntled Mandingos and Fullahs who to vote for, and how. That did the job. Every vote counts so that those votes helped to make the SLPP win a reality.

The second factor that dealt a blow to the APC campaign was the president’s marginalization and forceful removal from power of a democratically elected Vice President without whose help his dream of being a president would have never come to fruition. This was seen by most, especially the proud Kono people as the most ungrateful act, and they promised to pay back in kind which they gracefully fulfilled in March by voting massively for the opposition SLPP party, thereby shifting the balance of power. When the president took the law in his own hands and disgracefully removed the Vice President from power, he failed to take the interest of his party into consideration. He was selfish in thinking that, it was his final term and never cared what came after. At that time, none of his followers cared to advise him of what the consequences of his illegal behaviors might have led to. To consolidate their own positions and continue receiving the illegal Brown Envelopes, all his followers could do was heave praises on him calling him “The World’s Best.” His party members viewed him as their demi god, and were very scared of him to the point that they idolized him, and were very scared of telling him the truth even in private. People were a little surprised therefore to learn that the same president who stood tall yesterday believing that he was above the world could lay flat on his belly asking Sam Sumana’s mother to intervene on his behalf so that Sam would ask his Kono people to vote APC. That was a great fall, one that all humans must look at as an example, and stop being bumptious, or exhibiting self-importance. He and his colleagues erred in believing that the Kono people could be easily fooled, and be easily bought which was another sign of basic illiteracy. They should have delved into the history of the Kono people to know that as much as they are accommodating, they are people of pride who respect themselves to the utmost, and ought to be respected in return. You can’t disgrace a people, turn around, and ask for their help when you want to use them for a third time.  What the former president forgot was that the Konos had always been SLPP supporters, but voted for APC in the last two elections not for any love of the APC, but to support one of their own. When their own was disgracefully forced out of power by a president who believed that he was above the law, a president who refused to respect the constitution, they saw March 31st as a day of retribution, and voted massively for SLPP. This to a large extent tilted the votes in favor of SLPP and will for a long time. While the CHAIRMAN FOR LIFE of the APC must be blamed for this, his advisers must equally carry part of the blame. A little advice then might have saved them the embarrassment of the day.

The APC’S choice of flag bearer was worth taking a second look at if they wanted to be considered as serious contenders in the past elections. To begin with, a flag bearer is to be elected by party members and not selected. That the CHAIRMAN FOR LIFE made that decision solo led to the party’s total collapse. It did not only lead to a poor choice, but brought animosity among party diehards who viewed their chairman’s decision as biased and share nepotism. As such, most of them must have undermined the selected candidate thereby hurting the party’s chances of winning. I can even assure my readers that most disgruntled party diehards that vied for that position must have finally voted for parties other than theirs.  The act of forcing a presidential candidate upon his party instead of going through the democratic process of electing him was very unwise. Additionally, the selected presidential candidate was a hard sell because he was not at all appealing to the voters. He simply does not possess those leadership qualities.

The real catharsis was reached by the use of the slogan “TOLONGBO,” a phrase borrowed from the Temne language. Any fool could have seen that using a phrase from one of the dominant northern tribes for a campaign slogan will do the party no good. The word “TOLONGBO” played a great role in turning off voters from other tribes as they looked at it as very divisive. Eight out of ten people I interviewed before the elections viewed the APC’S use of the word “Tolongbo” as their campaign slogan negatively, and as such vowed not to vote for the party. My samplings were random with the subjects selected from different tribes. This showed that 100% of the subjects from other tribes loathed or detested the slogan. That ended up costing the APC a huge chunk of votes than they ever envisaged.

With an experienced campaign manager, the last but very catastrophic factor could have been easily avoided. Any political savvy could have advised the APC leadership to put a stop to the slogan which could possibly have averted the ultimate demise of the party. Unfortunately, with the party’s mantra of only involving their closest allies in all issues regardless of whether they are up to the job, they failed to smell the rat. Prior to an election, a party that is bent on winning should search for, and acquire an astute, hardheaded, and knowing campaign manager that will do all the job, and that would have done a lot save the APC. While hiring a canny campaign manager is not the sole factor to assure an election victory, it is one important factor to bring a party to a convincing end of the race.

The bombshell of all came during the first round of the elections when one of the president’s younger brothers, WHAT A MAN appeared in a video brandishing expensive liquors, and making a Malvolio both out of himself, and the party he supports. In the video, he clearly proclaimed that life was good for them, while imitating false Chinese phrases as a mockery to the masses who are against Chinese dominance in Sierra Leone. This was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. This angered the masses so much that had it not been a campaign season, people would have taken to the streets. The amount spent on the liquors that the president’s brother flanked could feed a family of five for three months. Yet while the poor starved, he as the president’s brother could afford expensive liqueurs to make merry. Had he been lettered, he would have known that the like behavior took  down the French Monarchy in 1789 and ultimately led to the execution of Louis sixteenth and Marie Antoinette. That video and the words that accompanied it remained embedded in the memories of the voting public as they headed to the polls. APC must work hard in the future to educate their supporters on how to carry themselves in public, as voters these days can no longer be taken for granted.

Wanting to disqualify Dr. Kandeh Yumkellah, Ernest did just the wrong thing, and that was spiting the people in the diaspora that did all they could to support his government both morally and financially by bringing up a foolish law that had laid dormant for ages, something he himself ignored during his time in power. That was complete hypocrisy on his side as he very much promoted people from the diaspora from the onset of his presidency to the point of even having an office responsible for them. In trying to stop a man he so much feared would remove the APC from power, he came up with a dormant law stopping Sierra Leoneans with dual citizenships from becoming MPS or Ministers. This dealt a blow to the APC Party and will continue to. I hope the new government will pay attention to this law. Those who made this law should have taken it to a referendum before making it a law. There should be no laws to prevent citizens of a country from being part of the governing bodies of that country.

The massive corruption that was part of the APC Party also remains a marker. The corruption was so adept that it could be seen everywhere. The amount of monies that were stolen in a day in Sierra Leone could have been enough to realize the free education that His Excellency Julius Maada Bio is proposing. It could also have been enough for salary increases that could have diminished or completely gotten rid of corruption. It is only in Sierra Leone that you can see public officers who earn not more than two hundred dollars a month owning properties worth more than half a million dollars. That is absurd. The voting public voted massively to stop this corruption thereby ushering in a new government headed by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio. All Sierra Leoneans can do now is rally behind him, and help him to get our country out of the financial hell that the previous government left us in.