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RAISING THE PRESIDENTIAL ELIGIBILITY BAR

October 19, 2015 By: Winstanley R. Bankole Johnson

The last few weeks have witnessed quite a surge in the number of (ambitious) presidential hopefuls within our own revered All Peoples’ Congress (APC) Party.  And the immediate reactions from any APC die-hard to that trend would be to investigate whatever has gone wrong with the hierarchical and systemic orderliness (and respect) for which the Party has always been renowned, and to further enquire whether a lacunae of sorts have been identified within the tolerance paradigms of the Party that is currently being exploited by the aspirants? Both questions are germane because weeks into the fray, and quite contrary to the expectations of its many followers, the Party Secretariat has not ventured to rein any or all them into order.

Two separate but apparently affluent (not influential) groups of aspirants are on the prowl.  One group is from the real economic sector (all of them CEOs in their own right), and the other consist of those still in the employ of the very man they’re all intending to ambitiously replace.

Questions

To both categories of aspirants I shall first pose a generic question. What makes you think the supreme office of the land has been so trivialized as to warrant your respective eligibility? And to those in the hire of the incumbent President I shall ask further broad questions.  What is it that makes them believe they now have the resolve and capacity to transform this country, but which they failed to have brought to the attention of their boss all these years? And is their ambition to replace their boss not tantamount to a gross betrayal of the confidence he reposed in them all along? I venture to so ask because those transformational ideas that they now purport to have were the same ones they were expected have evinced but instead of doing so, they kept referring repeatedly to the President, as if they did not have brains of your own to initiate projects or programmes.

Would it not have been more honourable for serving hands in this administration with Presidential ambitions to have gracefully resigned from their positions now, rather than to continue nursing fifth columnist agenda within the same Party that they claim to so love? No man can serve two masters. It is either he will love one and hate the other, or cling to one and despise the other. So why can’t they develop the testicular fortitude to resign now, so that they can better be able to canvass enough votes for when the time comes?

“Spot the difference”

One noticeable commonality among the “President’s Men” eyeing his seat is that none of them would have had the audacity of such a hope had he not appointed them into Cabinet Ministerial positions in the first place. So could it be that during their tenures of office they have been serving their pockets more than the State? How else could they have amassed such largesse to be dissipating so lavishly in their presidential pursuits? We knew them before their appointments as Cabinet Ministers (both here and in the diaspora), and can now clearly “spot the difference” – so to speak. Does it now mean that Presidential candidates can only emerge from among those appointed to directly serve the “Executive”? Does that not disadvantage us who might also have Presidential ambitions but regrettably were not given the opportunity to have served as Cabinet Ministers to have equally garnered as much?

Mundane Vibes

It should not surprise anyone that as in the past, instead of deafening our eardrums with a plethora of vibes of untapped issues and opportunities starkly starring all third world emerging economies in the face, their preferred means of voters’ enticement year-in year out has been restricted to mundane priorities such as-:

–           Drainage clearing by youths (which of course do not include any of their own children from overseas)  clad in T-shirts emblazoned with their photos

–          Incessant complaints and orchestrated protests covered in the print and electronic media  against inflated prices of  imported Chinese buses and costs of the new National Passport

–          Support to distressed citizens in various locations – whether by floods, landslides or fire accidents with thousands of bags of rice. Not with locally grown rice harvests incidentally (by which one would expect our poor farmers to have been capacitated), but imported rice brands, a regular access to which perennially depletes our foreign exchange reserves.

–          Guaranteeing the creation of “Chieftaincies” throughout the Western Urban (Capital City) Areas so as to reverse civilization, keep the governed in eternal ignorance and perpetuate their governance.

Anathema

To them, sustainable development objectives such as Energy, Education/Human Capacity Building, Agriculture, Industrial Growth and Export Development, Information Communication Technology Advancement and improvement in our Healthcare Delivery patterns are anathema.  In fact beyond vaulting their ambitions through subterfuge or otherwise, not one of them has obliged us the electorate with a manifesto. (So-so labo!!)

Has it not occurred to any of them that such strategies smirk of disrespect for us the voters?  And lest I forget, among the many hopefuls in this ambitious race is a very intelligent but equally naive young man who, instead of doing his job properly feels that using his entire annual rent and leave allowances to build a single bridge in just one locality will endear him to the entire nation.

In all honesty, the caliber of many now criss-crossing the country playing to their vain imaginations to succeed President Ernest Bai Koroma amply demonstrates the depths of their disregard for the esteem of the sublime office of the Supreme Executive of the State. Some don’t even have a local, let alone national appeal. Yet they believe politics is all about money. But not every Tom or Mary with jus money and nothing else to offer can be a Head of State.

Bar

In one of his many interviews, the Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), the Hon. Mr. Justice Cowan said that upon completion and submission of his final report to the Honourable House, Parliamentarians have the right to add or make deletions thereto before seeking the Presidential assent or going into a referendum. I shall leave it with Parliament to act as appropriate but the APC as a Party, being famous for re-branding institutions to reflect the pedigree, aura and esteem they deserve has a responsibility to maintain that reputation. And if my honest views are sought as to how high the eligibility bar for election of aspirants to the sublime office of the Supreme Executive of the State should be raised, I don’t believe those who have been involved in any governance aberrations or have never held an elective office should qualify.

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