October 9, 2015 By Winstanley R. Bankole Johnson
An interesting story is told about how, during one of their many engagements with political parties, a Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) rookie attempted to figuratively “miniaturize” the embattled Chairman of the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) Chief Somano Kapen, by abruptly and uncouthly interrupting his submissions. The Chief would have none of that. We were told he shouted back at the rookie to keep quiet and then went on to describe his tactic as what they call “political ben-tail”. At that remonstration, an unwritten code of conduct was henceforth psychologically crafted between the Chief and many in the PPRC who had previously written him off as an administrative cum political dummy.
Last Tuesday 6th October, listeners to the Democracy Radio 98.1FM Breakfast Talk Show were thrilled to yet another evidence of Chief Somano Kapen’s vintage “political ben-tail” following the most recent fracas emanating as usual, from among the several “Camps” permanently domiciled within their Party office precincts.
The crux of the matter was which side of their divided house had the right to file candidature forms to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for the forthcoming Parliamentary Constituency and Local Council Bye-Elections. It should be noted that the seeds to the seemingly eternal feud within the SLPP were sewn at the allegedly contentiously conducted and acrimonious outcomes of the 2013 SLPP Bo Delegates Conference, a resolution of which has not only overstretched the expertise of the PPRC, but has also left the Supreme Court of our National Judicature as the arbiter of last resort on the matter.
A Supreme Court “ruling” which incorporated a “ban on all elections” within the entire SLPP family might not even have had intra-SLPP elections connotations (particularly with the selection of electoral candidates in mind), yet that was the “Political Ben-Tail” capitalized upon by Chief Kapen. From the position of an involuntarily incarcerated and incapacitated “captive” for over two hours forty-seven minutes in his parked vehicle within the SLPP precincts, he was still able to deliver such a stunning knock-out punch to his detractors and rivals that not only left them gob smacked and seeing a constellation of stars, but they were also asking rhetorically-: “What hit us” (in Mende – “Gbor mu-lay ni hin??”). Pheeeewwwww!!!!
Observers believe the response to that question lie in just six (6) key words-: “Simple administrative competence and common sense”, which sterling qualities Chief Kapen has always claimed he has but which altruism many – including that PPRC rookie and possibly those in the SLPP “Pa-O-Pa brigade never believed, but have now proved to their chagrin.
To have arrived at consensus candidates based on intra-party elections would have possibly been in contempt of the Supreme Court “ruling” and opened a floodgate of petitions on grounds of such technicalities as would have disqualified the SLPP choices. That could have further possibly seen every All Peoples’ Congress (APC) candidate going “Unopposed” – a development I venture to guess our APC Party would have loathed, hence the Chief’s “political ben-tail” of consultative selections processes which won the day for Barrister Alhaji Kamara. As the NEC only accepts nominations forms submitted and counter-signed by Party Chairpersons and their Secretary Generals, one can only pity the rookie Ballay whose “election” carnival victory from the Party headquarters to his Chapel Street residence lasted only a few hours.
It has to be noted that even under sustained humiliations and intense pressure, Chief Kapen has remained focused. His right of center approach to guide the SLPP along its “One Country One Peoples” Motto route to ensure that various interest groups remain united as a family has been misconstrued by the “Pa-O-Pa” faction as a betrayal of the confidence reposed on him at the last Bo delegates’ conference. To that group might is right, with a rowdy assemblage of fanatics confusing brigandage (to pillage, plunder and indulge in acts of banditry) with the sublime attributes accompanying a brigade (the orderly marshalling of factions into a united and productive whole). To that group further, it’s either SLPP members agree that one individual is bigger than their entire Party structure or nothing else. If such parochial considerations continue to hold sway, then it is only a matter of time before the nomenclature of the SLPP is changed to reflect the initials of that one powerful individual. I will leave that to the SLPP membership to accept or challenge that status quo, but the sooner his fanatics come to realize that Brigadier (Rtd) Maada Bio is not a political party, the better.
The inability of the Pa-O-Pa faction to get their own choice acceptable by the NEC speaks volumes about their declining fortunes within the SLPP and will no doubt further widen the existing schism and thicken the bile between the factions, leaving perhaps a fresh delegates convention as the only panacea that will definitely see most of the present active players being exited permanently. This is because as things stand, their cohesiveness has irretrievably broken down. Whilst supporters of the leftist “Tormentor” would appear to have crossed a bridge too far, the “tormented” rightists would appear to have crossed the “Rubicon” and could now no longer pamper their “tormentors” further. As far as they are concerned, the “Tormentor” must go. And like the true valiant man his supporters have always claimed him to be, there would seem to be no better option open to the distinguished retired Brigadier than for him to muster his band of merry brigands into a hasty retreat back to normal life.
I will close with the following pieces of sound political advices to all and sundry because sooner or later, all feathered creatures must return to the roost.-:
– In politics, we only have permanent interests; not permanent friends.
– No condition is permanent.
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– Trust no future with any political ally, no matter how pleasant