Delivering his keynote statement, Comrade Dr Ernest Bai Koroma said the party is in a very critical moment as its approaches the 2018 general elections. He expressed the need for party members and supporters to be proud of the work the party has done since 2007, and further urged party faithfuls to ensure the party transition to another APC government in the next general elections, saying in local local parlance; “Parwa nor to by turn, na by how u woke”. President Koroma also encouraged comrades not to be intimidated by rhetorics of regime change as it won’t work in 2018.
On the issue of flagbearership, the Chairman and Leader said every comrade has the right to vie for any position in the APC, and pointed out and that some flagbearer aspirants have beat the gun by not adhering to the rules and regulations governing the party as the APC is one family. This, the president said, is what distinguishes the APC from other political parties.
President Koroma stated that flagbearer aspirants who failed to control their supporters and in the event send any signals of disquiet in the party will have to face the consequences.
President Koroma went on to state that the 2018 elections will be his last battle while noting that he is battle tested. For him, the Chairman and Leader said, the 2018 elections will be more about Ernest Bai Koroma than the candidate, and implored all to engender the cohesiveness needed to take the party to another smooth transition.
The President of the APC/NYL Comrade Bai Mamoud Bangura who doubles as Minister of Youth Affairs said the theme of the conference is a testament to the inclusion of young people in governance, adding that the promise made by the president of laying his life for young people has been hugely fulfilled. As president of the APC/NYL, Comrade Bangura’s team has energized the entire membership, built consensus and resilience of the party across the country and continue to increase the membership drive.
During his speech, the Youth Affairs Minister presented 68 members of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) who have openly defected to the ruling APC. He said they have professionalized the APC/NYL having a team of architects and engineers, writers and commentators, established external relations, capacity building among others.
He described the NYL as the foot soldiers of the APC to tackle political propaganda and cyber mischiefs. Comrade Bai Mahmoud Bangura noted that under the leadership of President Koroma, there has been an unmatched increase in the inclusion of youth in governance in all sectors.
He added that President Koroma has demonstrated that the youth are the leaders of today and has given a new definition of leadership in several development programmes and activities across the country. He also urged the youth to pay attention and come out to register in their numbers in the ongoing national voter registration exercise.
Youth leaders from the South, North, East and Western regions also spoke well and praised Comrade President Koroma for the inclusion of young people in governance and endorsed him to continue as Chairman and Leader of the APC even as he leaves office as president in 2018.