First, Sierra Leoneans had become extremely frustrated with the SLPP Kabbah’s government for its inability to deal with the country’s rising unemployment, abject poverty, high adult illiteracy, corruption, and crumbling infrastructure. This led to an overwhelming vote-cast for the ruling APC, especially from the Western Area, which has become a decider in Sierra Leone’s recent Presidential Elections.
Reports have it that the current complacency of the ruling government that has led to most of the political and economic setbacks that kicked the SLPP out of power is currently resurfacing. The current economic hardship in the country alone has become of grave concern to most Sierra Leoneans who may want to pay back in the ballot box come March 2018.
Some Senior Party Officials are currently calling on their leaders to rekindle their minds and revisit their action of neglecting the Western Area, which has been providing a bulky vote for the APC in the last two elections.
Party sources say should the APC not consider the Western Area in key leadership positions like Presidential Flagbearer or Running mate, there are tendencies of the party facing political woes in both the Western Area Rural and Urban Districts.
It could be recalled that the Western Area has been providing winning for APC: during the turbulent elections in 1996, the Western Area gave APC Seats in Parliament, the rest voted UNPP and PDP. In 2002, Western Area voted APC which earn the party 27 Members of Parliament; and in the 2007 and 2012 elections, APC got all 21 seats in Parliament in the Western Area and 79 councillors.
“In all those elections there has not been any Flagbearer or Running mate from the Western Area,” a Senior Party official remarked, noting that the Western Area is now calling on the party to consider them in the next elections.
Elections result statistics show that in 2007 APC got 61.29% in the Western Area in the first round, while 68.71% vote cast in the second round; whilst in 2012 Wester Area Rural gave APC 74.3% and Western Area Urban offered 71.4%.
Prior to the 2007 elections, the rise of the APC was not entirely smooth. With so many big names in the party, conflict was inevitable. However, there was a strong desire for change in Sierra Leone, which led to its elections by Sierra Leoneans. The APC casted itself as that change needed by the people. There are signs, such as the positive manner in which the party primaries were conducted, that APC was a change to Sierra Leone’s political culture.
On Nov. 23, 2012 Dr. Christiana Thorpe, former Chairperson of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), certified the final results of the presidential election, which indicated that President Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People’s Congress (APC) was re-elected with 58.7 percent of the valid votes, ahead of his main challenger, Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), who garnered 37.4 percent of valid ballots cast. Over 87 percent of registered voters turned out to vote.
President Koroma and the APC won the general elections on some of the same issues that worked so well for late President Kabbah in 2002: continued peace and political stability. The APC increased its seats in Parliament from 59 to 67 with elections in three constituencies still to be decided. The victory came on the strength of various infrastructure projects in Freetown and around the country in addition to increased availability of electricity in Freetown and in some provincial towns. The World Bank also noted an increase in the gross domestic product (GDP) from 5 percent in 2010 to 5.9 percent in 2012. This is attributable in part to recovery of the mining and agricultural sectors of the economy.
However, with the present trend in party and as a result of the much talked about greed and selfish interests, which have overshadowed national interests, shows that the party still has much to prove; more so when the it is in transmission from the popular President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to another Presidential candidate.
“Whatever happens in these two months (September and October), APC’s biggest challenge lies ahead. Will it become another political franchise machine, operating along lines of political patronage, or could it emerge as a genuinely national, genuinely programmatic party? If it becomes the latter, that could be more significant than whether or not it will allow the SLPP outnumber it this time in the polls,” a Political Commentator said.
No doubt that Captain Momodu Alieu Pat Sowe – Regional Chairman, Western Area with his team are working round the clock to maintain the party’s grip in the Western Area. The party hierarchy should realize that it has come a long way through thick and thin to be complacent about what
contemporary political history has taught them vis-a-vis its capacity to learn from mistakes connected with the past.
Perhaps in very poor countries, such as Sierra Leone, it is impossible to spread benefits everywhere promised, and if so, there may be costs to pay on Election Day. Complacency must not be part of the APC’s Agenda in the upcoming elections. The good news is that complacency often comes after some success. The bad news is that it can spread quickly and reduce future success significantly. The best news is that it can be defeated. This serves as a warning shot for the APC.