2018 Presidential Election: APC Standard Bearer Aspirants


…..presenting an unpredictable scenario

August 10, 2016 By Alusine Sesay

As the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) gears up to elect or select a successor to President Ernest Bai Koroma, little is being said or done about lower level elections or national delegates’ conference although, like the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), many people have vested interest in the flagbearer position of the party. With many people having shown interest in the position, National SecretaryGeneral Alhaji Osman Yansaneh has infamously said that only a “full-blooded” member of the APC would be awarded the standard bearer position.

Prospect as to who will emerge as the APC standard bearer is very much unpredictable as the party is not known for allowing an open and transparent system where delegates will decide, rather a select group may anoint the successor to President Ernest Bai Koroma, with the expectation that delegates would endorse him or her, even grudgingly. Perhaps that explains why, unlike the main opposition party, some potential aspirants have been rather coy to come out openly and declare their intention to succeed President Koroma. This is especially true of Cabinet ministers, probably because of fear of losing their position.

Among the names that have been making the rounds and rumoured in the media and other private and public platforms are Joseph F. Kamara, John B. Sisay, Alhaji Alpha Kanu, Vice President Victor Bocakarie Foh, Ambassador Alimamy P. Koroma.

Concord Times runs the rule over them…

Joseph Kamara

Although he has not openly declared his intention to vie for the standard bearer position in the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC), insinuations that he is interested in the race are drawn from his activities. Prior to his appointment as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara was head of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission. However, that did not deter him from engaging in clandestine political activities, which later came into the public domain through the establishment of a support group referred to as ‘Friends of Joseph Kamara.’ He also established the JFK Foundation, a conduit through which he renders assistance to institutions and individuals in need.

Mr. Kamara holds a Masters Degree in Law and once served as State Prosecutor at the Law Officers Department and later became Deputy Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

He was appointed Commissioner of the Anti -Corruption Commission in 2011, a position he held until 2016 when he was appointed Minister of Justice and Attorney-General.

Despite prosecutorial powers given to the commission, many are of the view that he did not achieve much in fighting corruption in the country. Under his regime, the ACC lost a couple of landmark corruption cases, including the one involving former Commissioner-General of the National Revenue Authority, Allieu Sesay, while the 50th Independence Anniversary corruption case against some ruling party members stalled under his watch.

Following his appointment as Minister of Justice, Kamara promised several reforms, although few are visible, but his supporters may argue that the time is too early to judge.

However, many within and outside the APC party are of the opinion that he is the chosen one. That conclusion could be drawn from his appointment as Justice Minister, a move, it is argued, was meant to bring him in the political limelight. He may not have the facial recognition to many voters across the country, but he enjoys name recognition, due partly to intense media hype recently.

Joseph Kamara hails from Makeni, Bombali District, just as President Ernest Bai Koroma. Some political analysts are of the view that this may count against him as other party members would want the presidency to rotate.

He recently turned 50, and is married with children.

John Bonoh Sisay

He declared his intention to lead the ruling party at his residence, flanked by family and friends, sometime in 2015. He had told them that he would be happy to succeed President Ernest Bai Koroma, his maternal cousin. Sisay is one of the first to have openly declared their intention to run for President in 2018 under the APC, His bold declaration though was greeted by some amount of opprobrium from within and outside the ruling party.

Current Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Bangura, who was then leader and chairman of the United Democratic Party, called for him to resign as CEO of Sierra Rutile.

Born on 3rdJuly, 1969, Sisay holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the Goldsmith College, University of London, plus an MBA from the European Business School. He joined Sierra Rutile in 2001 and became Chief Executive Officer in February 2009, after serving as Director of Corporate Affairs. He is President of the Sierra Leone Chamber of Mines and also serves as an Independent Advisor to the Government of Sierra Leone on mining related matters.

Sisay has spent most of his life in the corporate world, especially in the mines, and is a virtual novice in mainstream politics. Moreover, questions are being raised with regards his relationship with President Ernest Bai Koroma, which might serve as an impediment to any chance of winning the flag bearer position, should he contest in 2017.

Competent sources say he is set to soon tie the knot to a German-Sierra Leonean.

Vice President Bockarie Foh

He has not openly declared his intention but speculations are rife within and outside the APC party that he is nursing an ambition to lead the party in the crucial 2018 presidential election. Many are insinuating that President Ernest Bai Koroma would emulate late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, who stood strongly behind his former Vice President, Solomon Berewa, for the flag bearer position of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, although he eventually lost. If the words of the APC Secretary General are anything to go by, VP Foh stands taller than all other aspirant as a “full-blooded” member of the party. He has been a loyal member of the party since 1970 and is a member of the APC Advisory Council. He has the enviable record of serving three APC governments, President Siaka P. Stevens, President Joseph Saidu Momoh and President Ernest Bai Koroma.

He was a vice presidential candidate to Edward Turay in the 1996 presidential election, but the party performed poorly, although he was elected to Parliament. He was the party’s National Secretary General before he was sent to the Peoples Republic of China as Ambassador.

Born on 12 June, 1946 in Jimmi, Bagbo Chiefdom, in the Bo District, Mr. Foh served in the civil service for several years, although his record there is rather chequered. He attended the Bo Government Secondary School and later entered Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, where he graduated with a BA in Economics. Foh is married to Jonta Mumie Foh; they have four adult children.

Alhaji Alpha Khan

He recently declared his intention to run for the flag bearer position at the just concluded Presidential outreach in his home town of Port Loko. Alhaji Alpha Kanu has been an active politician since the early 2000s and was elected to Parliament in 2002.

He stoutly supported President Koroma throughout the High Court case that was brought against the former by some senior members of then opposition APC, and was spokesman of the party in period leading up to the 2007 elections.

An engineer by training, he was appointed to Cabinet as Presidential and Public Affairs Minister that same year and later Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources. Before his appointment as Adviser and Ambassador at Large, Khan served as Minister of Information and Communications.

Despite his oratory ability and clout within the APC, his chances landing the flag bearer position remains in doubt, despite reportedly referring to himself as an apprentice to President Koroma.

Ambassador Alimamy P. Koroma

Sierra Leone’s current envoy to China is a grossly underrated politician who has years of experience in development, humanitarian assistance and politics. The Njala University alum also has a graduate degree in development from Germany. He became a household in the country and abroad during the civil war, while serving as Secretary-General of the Council Churches in Sierra Leone. He played a pivotal role in negotiations that led to the end of the conflict, and was one of the moral guarantors of the Lome Peace Accord, which brought eleven years of conflict to conclusion, through the Inter-Religious Council, which he helped form.

His political base may be in Mambolo, Kambia District, but his influence transcends many regions, including the southeast, where he has easy name and facial recognition, partly because of the arrow role he played during the war years in the area of humanitarian assistance to thousands of refugees and negotiating peace.

He played a key role in rebranding the APC and together with President Koroma, was regarded as the new face of the party in the period leading to the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections.

When the party won the election, he was rewarded with a ministerial position, although he had won a landslide to represent his Mambolo constituency. He first served as Trade Minister before he was moved to Works, where he was instrumental in spearheading unprecedented road construction projects throughout the country, for which he was given an award as ‘Best Minister’.

He surprisingly lost his job in late 2013, but was still politically active and loyal to his party, until his appointment as Ambassador to China this year.

He is married to Mrs. Linda Koroma, Deputy Secretary-General of the Mano River Union, with whom he has three children.