-Says RUFP Presidential Aspirant
February 20, 2018 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
Presidential candidate of the Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP), Madam Jemba Gbandi Ngobeh, has told Concord Times that the country’s democracy which they fought to restore a decade and half ago is in a ‘terrible crisis.’
“Our democracy is in terrible crisis. The Judiciary has come under mockery. The latest one has to do with the sacking of the elected Vice President. Corruption is everywhere, greed, regionalism and nepotism are very visible. These are some of the issues that brought the revolution that we led,” she told our reporter. “We fought for democracy and we would always stand for it. If we win the March 7 elections we would bring power and wealth to our people. Let me assure the general public that this party is a revolutionary party that brought awareness to many people. So many people came to Freetown on the ticket of RUF,” she said.
Madam Ngobeh was running mate of the RUFP in the 2012 elections, but now the party’s presidential candidate for the 2018 elections. She told this medium at their No.22 Antana Street office, Portee, east Freetown, that she has vast experience in politics and that she would win the March 7 polls.
One of only two female presidential aspirants in a male-dominated field of sixteen, Madam Jemba said that during the war she was a cook for the guerrilla outfit and later became coordinator of schools in RUF areas in 1997/8 – Kailahaun, Makeni, Kono, Koinadugu and Tonkolili districts.
She also served as a Public Relation Officer for the women’s wing in the RUF, adding that she collected arms from female rebels whom she sent back to school and other vocational institutions.
“During that period, I lured the women into believing that the war was moving to an end. As a proprietor of schools myself, I collected arms from them and employed them as teachers, while some of them were sent back to schools,” she said. “I am a proprietor of seven government assisted schools. I have four pre-schools, two primary and a secondary school. All of these schools are in Kailahun.”
When asked whether she was not angry with the organisers of the presidential debate for excluding her, she described the decision as ‘unfair’.
“Yes, I am. The debate is organised for presidential candidates and I’m one of them. So, if they exclude me, I should be angry. It is not fair, we should be treated equally. All of us paid Le30 million. I note the reasons proffered by the organisers but I was not convinced. Yes, all of us should not be heard, but what about gender parity? We have two female presidential candidates for March 7 ballot papers. Opportunity should have been given to one of us to be heard in that occasion. Those things are not good. We fought for injustice in this country. But, if that is what the organisers deem fit, we have no problem. The RUFP is committed to peace. We brought democracy in this country. We will stand for it,” she said.
The revolutionary-cum-teacher-cum-politician said the RUFP has enough human resource to run the country and that their brand of politics eschews syphoning state resources.
She denied claims that they are part of the Musa Tarawalliy-led CDP coalition, but admitted there was leadership struggle in the party, which culminated into three executive members joining the CDP.
“If that is what Mr. Tarawalli says, then I am afraid. Only three party executives defected to them. 95% of our members are together now. There was some struggle but that is common in any other political party. But, we have settled it and last month a delegate conference of 250 members converged and elected me flag-bearer for the March 7 elections. We also used that occasion to fill the vacancy created by the defectors,” she explained.
The 65-year-old promised that her revolutionary party would improve on gender empowerment and agriculture if they realise their dream of ruling the country through the ballot box
She noted that food security was a major concern to their party and that there was every need to strengthen the local food production sector.
In the area of gender empowerment, Madam Ngobeh said her first priority would be quality education for girls at all levels, opening vocational and business training centres for young women and enact laws that would enable women to own and control land.
“I would ensure women’s participation in every cadre of life. It is a fact that political empowerment would bring economic empowerment. A country in which a woman needs permission from her husband to travel, to work or to open bank account, in which she cannot buy or inherit land, or in which she is the first and easiest victim of conflict, has a long way to go. For this to change, there is need for Sierra Leonean women who form the majority of the voter population to vote the RUFP so that we will review the legal framework that holds women’s potential back,” she noted.
Quizzed whether she would accept any appointment in government after the March 7 polls, as her predecessor Eldred Collins did, she said no, but added that everybody has their own way of doing things.
She refuted rumour making the rounds that her nomination fees was paid by the ruling government.
“This party has its members in the diaspora who do support us, and besides, majority of our members are employed. So how could we allow to APC pay our nomination fees?” she questioned.