The burden of an estrange VP


March 31, 2015 By Gabriel Benjamin 

Sacked Vice President, Chief Sam-Sumana
Sacked Vice President, Chief Sam-Sumanam

The news that Vice President (VP), Chief Sam-Sumana has been sacked didn’t come as a surprise to many. I had written about it few weeks ago. I saw it coming. The stars were not aligning in his favour. The political punches were coming in rapid succession. There was a plot to take him out of the government, and it seems Chief Sumana was not getting the message. He never knew his days as VP were numbered.

Chief Sumana’s country men are his greatest nightmare. They made President Ernest Koroma to relegate him to the worst background. They have an unbridled hatred for him, and they worked hard to see that he is not recognized in the political space. They have all been out to humiliate him, and to make mincemeat of all the good work he has put in for the party. They see the VP as a green snake in a green grass, who was supposed not to have come into this government.  They see him as a night snake, which nobody can detect where its head actually lies. They see him as a two-headed snake, when one cuts off one of its heads, the other head will pose for a fight. They see him as a dangerous political harlot, who “lies down” for everyone as long as it could brighten his chances of succeeding President Koroma.

But Chief Sumana was feared during the 2007 campaign days by all members of the APC not only because of his deep pocket, but because of the region where he hails from – Eastern Sierra Leone, where the swing votes reside. The question on the lips of everyone is why was the VP sacked and humiliated so shamefully? People are wondering how such a thing could happen to Chief Sumana, one of the formidable pillars of the APC before the 2007 general elections. In fact, he was the de facto standard bearer of the APC. There are reports that he was the biggest financier of the 2007 elections that brought the ruling party into power.

Although many have continued to insist that Chief Sumana has never taken his eyes off the presidency, it was gathered that no sooner President Koroma took his oath of office for his second term, Chief Sumana began working towards realizing his dream of becoming President. In fact, this landed him in trouble in the early days of the administration’s second term. It is also the main reason for the relatively cold war between the first two gentlemen. But dependable sources say that Chief Sumana did not make much progress because most of the APC stalwarts do not share in his vision and are fiercely loyal to President Koroma. This affected the President’s relationship with his VP.

For President Koroma’s die-hard loyalists, a key political obstacle is overcome. There are still many days before the 2017/2018 general elections. They believe that the President can now effectively stir the ship of the state towards the right direction and strategically position a trusted ally as his successor. They also believe that the President is now appreciating the fact that all along, he has been with a chameleon as VP, one who was only out to satisfy his personal ambition rather than that of the country or his party. It might be that President Koroma is just regaining his political consciousness; it seems his few days sojourn in Brussels gave him an ample opportunity to reflect on the things that are wrong with his leadership style.

But I don’t believe that for President Koroma to deliver on his electoral promises to Sierra Leoneans, he must first sack his VP and his loyalists in government. As I have said before, Sierra Leone’s key problem is corruption and a lack of good and decisive leadership; it is the bedrock from which all other problem emanated. If corruption is curbed, every other problem will vamoose in a jiffy. With a purposeful and decisive leadership, everyone will accept responsibility for both their actions and inactions.

Rumours of a cabinet reshuffle are widespread and some of the ministers and advisers who have been misleading the President, making pronouncements that put the administration in bad light, redundant and incapable of running their ministries effectively, and most especially those sympathetic to the VP, may get the boot.

I wrote about a grand plan by his party men to ease him out of his VP position after expelling him following allegations of “anti-party activity, fomenting violence, deceit, false statement amounting to fraud, inciting hate, threatening the personal security of key party functionaries, flouting of rulings and decisions of the party, carrying out anti-party propaganda, and engaging in activities inconsistent with the achievements of the party’s objectives”. However, the VP continues to play down the allegations leveled against him by the Ibrahim Ben Kargbo nine-man investigation committee set up by the party’s highest decision-making body – the National Advisory Council (NAC).

Despite his expulsion and sacking, the dust raised is yet to settle. Chief Sumana, to my understanding, has resigned his fate waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision. The survival and sustenance of the fragile peace enjoyed by Sierra Leoneans now rests in the hands of the Supreme Court.

Also, due to enormous pressure being piled on the government from civil society organizations, the media, the Bar Association, the international community, and the overwhelming sympathy the VP has gained since his recent ordeal, there is a ray of hope for him. Chief Sumana is also determined to contest all the allegations against him in a competent court of law.