By 10 am, the cacophony was practically drowning the city as supporters of the governing All Peoples Congress (APC) busted out from every part of the metropolis towards the National Electoral Commission in the city center.
Today was nomination day for the APC presidential candidate, and Samura Kamara and the APC ware determined to make an unequivocal statement that they would retain the City Council, State House and Parliament. But the people of Freetown were not the only ones in attendance, even the bats joined in what appears to be nature’s endorsement of Samura Kamara.
The Western Area, which includes Freetown, has been the APC’s bastion since 2007 when the party first swept all the local council and parliamentary seats and won about 70% of the city’s presidential vote. Even though the APC repeated the same political humiliation of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in the 2012 general elections, some of its critics have held what has today turned out to be a mistaken view that the APC has lost its grip on the Western Area. This is particularly in view of the propaganda by the National Grand Coalition (NGC), a newly registered splinter faction of the SLPP which is headed by Kande Kolleh Yumkella. Kande’s NGC, which is noted for more or less depreciating the rather minimal western Area support base of the increasingly weakened SLPP, appear to have been naïve to believe that the NGC has scooped a good chunk of the APC support.
But if anyone had entertained any doubts about the incumbent APC’s vice-like political grip on the Western Area, what obtained today should convince everyone about the obviously unmatched popularity of the APC and the possibility that they trounce, on the first ballot, both the NGC and SLPP put together.
The whistles and vuvuzelas were eventually backed up by motor bike riders and drivers honking their horns while the crowds – the young, the old and the middle aged, spun along the streets to all sorts of well scripted and rhythmic political songs. Freetown had become an APC volcano erupting and indiscriminately spewing a magma of supporters on the city, decimating opposition hopes and solidifying its support base. The atmosphere was electric as the spectacle was embarrassing for the SLPP which strenuously mobilised a comparatively weak crowd when it nominated its presidential candidate yesterday. For KYY and his NGC, they must be reeling in disbelief and despondence.
When they nominated a little over a week ago, their support was not even up to par with their SLPP rival.
Analysts believe that the incomparably vast APC support is not surprising at all. Apart from the fact that the party has been in power in the last ten years, the APC is better organised, more united, more inclusive and a well-structured party. But more importantly, it is a very functional party under an incredibly respected leader and chairman, President Ernest Bai Koroma.
The president’s appeal, observers say, goes beyond his party. Many Sierra Leoneans, especially the youth, who form the bulk of the country’s population, credit him for his hard work in transforming the country from a failed state to one widely acclaimed as a beacon of peace, democracy and development. In his 2016 address to the African people at the African Union, President Obama single out Sierra Leone as one of the countries in Africa where democracy has taken root. Ban Ki-moon, former United Nations Secretary General, in 2014, during the closure of the UN Peace Building Office in Freetown, described Sierra Leone as a ‘storehouse of lessons of how countries should transition from conflict to peace building, peace consolidation and democracy. Ban Ki – moon noted that “Sierra Leone represents one of the world’s most successful cases of post-conflict recovery, peacekeeping and peacebuilding” The Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations and Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Ambassador Macharia Kamau, during a visit to Sierra Leone in 2016, commended the president on his good governance, particularly the rule of law; noting that “Sierra Leone is certainly not where it was ten years ago; something fundamentally different has happened, and that the people have found their voice”
From peace building and peace consolidation to democracy and good governance, to infrastructure development, President Koroma’s APC has brought unprecedented transformation to the country. Samura Kamara, fully aware that the majority of the ordinary people of Sierra Leone want their next leader to build on, not to change from, president Koroma’s hard work; has made a commitment to move forward ‘Tolongbo’ with the Koroma legacy. His message has resonated well and today, the people of Freetown have resoundingly endorsed his candidature. The verdict is clear, the APC are poised to retain State House on the first ballot.