By Saa Kaimachiande…
This is another article I wrote almost 5 years ago that might have significant perspective on issues that are frontal on the public view today as it was then. Read and judge. Certainly, the more things change, the more they seem to remain the same!!!!!
The first and foremost decision a presidential candidate makes with profound national implications is the appointment of a vice-presidential running-mate. It is a decision that is exclusively left to the candidate’s judgment because it is viewed by almost all intellectuals of various shades as a very personal undertaking with an overtone of a religious fervour. The presidential candidate is therefore left to his devices to conjure up, by retrospectively going into his/her inner-self, and critically viewing and analyzing various reasons why he or she is absolutely convinced that the choice he or she is about to make or has made, is right on the money. Once he/she makes what could be seen and considered as an objective decision, he or she/becomes wholly and solely the title holder of that decision. It is his or hers for keeps sake.
Given, a candidate might choose a particular person because he or she may have consequential effects on a significant electoral region and specific demographic groups as in the case of Maada Bio, when he settled on Dr. Kadie Sesay as his vice-presidential candidate. Bio obviously looked at the demographics of women in our country coupled with her obvious Northern connection and saw a potential goldmine of electoral votes in her. On the contrary, other Presidential candidates might have other reasons for choosing a particular candidate for the VP position. For instance, it could be that a particular VP candidate is selected because he or she is of a stature that does not cast a” preemptive shadow” over the presidential candidate thus making them feel diminutive in the eyes of the nation.
On the other hand, certain Presidential candidates might choose a specific person because that individual has a national and political stature within the country and in his or her party respectively and that ignoring that individual mighty be at the detriment of the candidate’s interest as was the case with S.I. Koroma who was enormously popular in the North; the then President Siaka Stevens was not at liberty to ignore that reality even though he was very suspicious of him as was clearly revealed when at retirement he conspicuously decided to hand reins of power not to his VP, but rather, to his fellow Limba tribesman, Momoh, who by no accident, also happened to be a military brass. You could visualize the true picture here??
Still further, candidates do appoint running mates based on the financial prowess of those individuals, more so, if the party in question is in dire financial straits. Indeed, this was the case with the APC in the last general elections when the Potential President, Ernest Koroma, curiously went against unwritten Party Rules of succession, and decided to settle on a political amateur, Samuel Sumana, who by some accounts was not even a Party Card carrier. Since their party assumed power, “the chemistry” between the President and his VP has never been in balance as witnessed by the failure of the President in supporting his VP in any way or form to get a foothold with his constituent by the APC government’s apparent failure in granting earmarks and “pork-barrel” project to his constituency.
Furthermore, other character traits of immense value that may perhaps supersede the aforementioned characteristics in a potential VP candidate that a careful and a more through Presidential candidate may consider in choosing a candidate that is a heart-beat away from the presidency, is that distinguished quality of a person with an uncompromising character; that person that view the laws of the land not as nuisances, but as the paramount arbiters that keep the nation whole, yet dynamic and impedes it (the nation) from sliding into the dark recesses of a free-for-all corruption. That individual’s character, i.e., his/her wildlings and dealings must not only be above board, but must be seen to be above board. The person must be willing and be able to judiciously use the laws through its enforcement agencies to ensure that all negations of the rules are brought to the book without relevance to stature, tribal, family, or political connections, and business interests. In short, there would be no sacred cows in the eyes of that individual.
Indeed, in choosing his VP, the then Presidential candidate, Ernest Koroma, would have been well advised to have intimated himself with these must-have character traits in his putative selection. If President Koroma were to therefore dispose of his VP for any reason whatsoever, his judgment must therefore be called into question without a scintilla of a doubt. The appointment was his alone. Even if he had advisers, I hope he did, to give him objective views on his selection process, it was our President, and him alone that selected that answer from among those objective views and therefore must be held accountable should that answer go wrong. Is it possible that the character trait that was weighted most in the President’s view while making his selection was the relative financial acumen of the VP?
It must be noted that our President, Ernest Koroma, and his VP Chief Sam Sumana come from the murky cutthroat world of business—the President with an insurance business connection, and the VP, with diamond business connections both of whose lingua franca is limited to one word, “PROFIT” at all costs. The insurance business that our President was involved in is characteristically viewed by many in our country as a pick-pocket institution that grabs money from policy holders but leaves them in the lurch when they are involved in an accident and it is “Payday” for them. In essence, it is all about self which is more or less greed incarnate; maximizing profit by any means necessary at the behest of the people. It is that type of world of greed and absolute corruption that our President and VP emerged from to lead us on a road to nowhere.
When the VP was appointed as running mate, it was conspicuously because he had the financial means through his partners to carry APC to victory. What most people failed to understand is that there is no free meal in the business world. By the VP’s partners investing so much treasure in the winning ways of the APC party, they expected returns without second thought, and a huge profit margin on their investment, to boot. I would surmise that promises were made to the investors. Promises made must be kept. The President and his VP had to show up one way or the other. Therefore, when we hear about timbers being illegally logged in our endangered forest, and departmental rules that are meant to protect the forests against illegal lumbering are being set aside in the President’s office in tandem; and we see huge tractor trailers carrying mountain loads of illegal timber to our sieve of a port, each and every Sierra Leonean must be left baffled by these horrendous occurrences. What is wrong with this picture?? The mixtures of unscrupulous business practices with politics more than likely create prodigies of extreme greed and corruption.
This is the President’s creation and he alone must carry that “cross.” The dictum, show me your friend and I will tell you your character defines the attractive forces between our President and his VP. To believe that our President should simply dump Chief Sam Sumana and everything would be smooth sailing for the APC is to naively believe that there would not be another day after a stormy weather. With the mountain load of corruptions scandals that are being revealed every passing day, unloading the VP would definitely be a tacit admission of guilt by our President and the APC, which would more than likely lead to the party’s undoing. There is no way the President can paper over these degrading and diabolic stories of corruption in the highest echelon of his government with a carefully choreographed resignation on of his VP. If it were in America, the apc government would be a goner. I hope the greater masses of Sierra Leoneans would stand up not for what is convenient but, rather, for what is right. We may want to wholly blame the VP, but corruption in this apc government is in a pandemic state; very much stabilized and ingrained. It is well and alive may never be eradicated under their governance.
Our President must therefore assume responsibility as it was his decision, and only his, that brought the nation to the precipice that we have precariously found ourselves. As a matter of fact, it is indicated in the Unity Paper that Transparency International, a Global Corruption Perception Index that tracks, quantifies and assign grades to various governments of world based on the incidences of corruption in their governments has assigned a 2.5 grade to Sierra Leone, meaning that the APC government is at the bottom of the T-bowl when it comes to corruption. How much low can Sierra Leone go in the eyes of the world before this government become mindful of its corrupt ways???