February 12, 2021
By Samuel Serry Jr.
It is now apparent that whoever is elected to lead the APC to the 2023 elections would have developed the toughest skin to not only outrun the SLPP, but to also be hardened enough to withstand the political pressures and explosive shenanigans patently ingrained in our political thought processes.
Certainly, the race to become flagbearer for 2023 and its concomitant dissonance among party stalwarts may not bode well for party unity. The recent flattering endorsements for the frontrunner, Dr. Samura Kamara by other big wigs in the party may have also ruffled some feathers and shaken the foundations of unity in the party. But what has remained clear from all this is the transparent fact that, while a prominent section of the other flagbearer candidates vehemently opposed the endorsements (citing conflict of interest) with a flurry of protest letters released on social media, the vast majority of the party’s grassroots have not shifted their desire for a Samura Kamara candidacy for 2023.
In fact, what we now see is a radical shift from individual top level endorsements to grassroots endorsements.
The party leadership to whom the protests letters were addressed could decide to choose diplomacy in addressing the rancour that ensued following those top level endorsements. And while the details may not be available in the public domain, what many would imagine at a time like this is that those aggrieved senior members would be prevailed upon to understand why it is important to redirect their energies against a common enemy – the SLPP.
In any case, it is obvious that in such a political contest, animosities may only subside after a flagbearer candidate would have been eventually declared. For the APC, this is where the process of peace building and reconciliation will begin.
By now, even the most dimwitted political observer knows an APC flagbearer candidate would be going up against an incumbent president, who is not only dangerously hostile to the opposition but is very desperate for a second term. The stakes can only get higher and returning to State House cannot be a walk in the park. The dismal performance of the current regime may make it sound easy but we cannot afford to ignore the desperation to retain power as well the natural proclivity of incumbencies to turn things in their favour. And these days, even so called advanced democracies like the United States of America cannot absolve themselves from this.
Dr. Samura Kamara was clearly a first-timer in 2018 and while some attributed his loss to this, many also believe that the elections were stolen from him. Whatever your opinion, we cannot disagree that he lost through a re-run and by a very thin margin against President Julius Maada Bio.
I have often shrugged off the argument that the APC’s popularity among the grassroot is enough to ensure victory for any candidate it chooses. While there is no real empirical evidence to substantiate this claim, I am often confused by how we have allowed such flawed reasoning to dominate our cognition for decades.
It is true that the party has a very large following across,but it is also true that for clear victory, this huge traditional support base needs to be augmented by a substantial number of those electorate we normally refer to as “fence sitters.” They are predominantly Sierra Leoneans who care less about tribal or regional allegiance and often need to be sufficiently convinced about the candidates national character and leadership capability. That is one of many areas, in my view, where a Samura Kamara candidacy will be of immense value to the APC presidential ticket.
In my second piece, I shall look at the other points which make a strong case for a Samura Kamara candidacy.