Titus Boye-Thompson, Communications Consultant
The announcement of Dr Jengo Stevens as adviser to the Vice President has numerous ramifications, the crux of it being that this must have been a master stroke by His Excellency the President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma. He has with one fell swoop taken the rug from under the erstwhile elected Vice President whilst shoring up the legitimacy of the appointed plenipotentiary. How masterful this move is, is yet to be seen but the immediate repercussions of this in the camp of the erstwhile VEEP is the feeling of a massive shakedown of confidence by the loss of a major ally with unquestionable clout in the All Peoples Congress (APC) Party.
How did we get from there to here would be the question in the minds of major supporters of VEEP Sam Sumana at this point in time. Firstly, they should note that the sidelining of Harriet Turay is much more than collateral damage in the attempt to reduce the functional operability of Konos in such close proximity to the executive. This circumstance has been of their own making and the presumption that a Kono primacy would necessarily ensue as an overriding factor in key decisions in the future by the demise of Sam Sumana is not only puerile but at most futile. The conspiracy to oust Sam Sumana came from within his own circle, his main constituency and community of equals. The presumption here is that whatever blame is attempted on President Koroma, due consideration must first be given to the fact that his work was cut out by those who were to all intents and purposes supposed to have been closer to the situation than most. That these people deemed fit to act in the way they did presupposes that they may have suffered from that proximity in some respects and enough for them to turn so violently against their man. What is now left to be determined is the President’s temperament, which under certain circumstances could be seen as perfunctorily necessary to reduce the damage to the office of Vice President when others so close to its incumbent start a campaign of vilification and angst. There is therefore a case to be made outside the other more presumptive context of constitutionality. Incidentally, it was the very same Sam Sumana who was quoted a while back as being reliant on the constitutionality of his position for the safety of his tenure. His actions to test that foundation of democracy must be respected and he ought to be able to access the best legal minds on the matter. Sadly, he choose to opt for a choice upon which his primordial bias is predicated.
What has not been put in the public domain thus far has been the machinations hammered in the back rooms of the APC Party, that gave rise to the rapid loss of confidence in the VEEP which ultimately has led to his expulsion. The circumstances of his removal from office as Vice President must have had its own ramifications that have thus far not been taken to a logical trajectory. The move in the party is against him and this appointment of Dr Stevens to the Office of The Vice President as Adviser is intrinsically signaling the dissipation of the VEEP’s significance in the APC. The question people asked at the height of this imbroglio is why the party had turned on its own in such a forceful and determinable manner. Nothing can be taken for granted here and in some ways, those who were acceptably moral guarantors of Sam Sumana have nailed his coffin so determinedly. When the question is asked, it should be considered alongside the thesis that he Sam Sumana, had unwittingly turned the party against himself by his inaction rather than by any single deed he may have done.
Alternatively, It may be an ignominious truth, that Sam Sumana is suffering from some dastardly deed to have warranted such dispersal of his own base within the party hierarchy. Having said that, the other matter which is the cause for grave concern amongst Sierra Leoneans, especially those in the Diaspora, is the allegations of constitutional perversion that his removal from office raised up.
Whilst the adherence to constitutionality brings into light another character flaw in the case being made by Sam Sumana but to an extent detrimental to his cause, he is known to be a forceful person with an astute disposition, well versed in what may be referred to as “street tactics.” An enfant terrible amongst his business associates, Sam Sumana is a shrewd businessman in a way that his tactics may not be feasible in politics and it is that shrewdness that may cause his undoing, if he loses sight of the big picture. The matter now in the courts would not necessarily hand him back his authority. No matter what, that authority is gone and it may be construed as poignant that those who gave him that authority or who were instrumental in his attaining that power threshold are now leading the charge against him.
At a time like this, the Executive must continue to show steadfast leadership to leverage all battalions of support around him. Dr Stevens may have done well to accept a position that stalks his previous position but his ascendancy to that office could tell more of a story of what is to unfold than not. The party is in need for coalescing that spirit of consideration for all its talents, a trait so well displayed by the firmness of purpose with which the party is now moving towards protecting its Executive, the Chairman and leader. The extant call to party loyalty exhorts that closeness but the suspicion that only a particular section of the party are privy to the spoils would cause some to break ranks. Leadership is more about readily accepting than entrenching differences that result in exclusion.
There is no doubt that there are those with skills and talents to move this process forwards, their interests should not be left to fallow on a blanket call or expectation for party unity to their own detriment. The call for a shakeup of the Government is urgent and immediate. It is time for the Government echelons to reverberate that vibrancy that only a reshuffle could bring to it because as it is now, there has been a loss of creativity and lack of direction. The distraction caused by the Ebola crises is not to be disregarded and therefore the energy required to rebuild from that shambles cannot be found in a Government embattled with infighting and malaise. When all is well considered, the distension of Sam Sumana from the party structure should be the catalyst for a wider reorganization of governance. The promises on which some stood are being eroded by inertia, the expectations of others are subject to depletion and the dismantling of support structures do not augur well for the party unity that is required at these times. The struggle to be heard among the clamor of those who have contributed nothing to the survival of the party drown out the very credible pleas of those who work hard at night as others sleep to stay the calm and to hold at bay the antagonists. A cabinet reshuffle will not be acceptable if it is merely an exercise of musical chairs but a demonstration that all those who are constantly striving to muster support for party aspirations hitherto without recompense, must be addressed. No one should be left to feel as if they are being sidelined when their contribution and input is of such significant value. The loss to the party would in some way be identified by the moment in time, when disenchantment sets in and become rampant as those who make valuable contribution see themselves being deliberately excluded. This should stop.