By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)…..
I don’t know if it is a Mende proverb or colloquialism. But there is a local adage that says a rat is incapable of eating a whole pumpkin but the only thing it will do is to affect the pumpkin’s price after eating a small portion of it. How true for the by-elections results in Ward 012 Constituency 005 and in Constituency 010 in Kailahun District, eastern Sierra Leone, last Saturday.
Even though the All People’s Congress (APC) lost to the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP); it is gratifying that the APC made significant inroads in a place which has always been considered one of the strongest bastions of the SLPP. It is unbelievable that in those two by-elections, the APC registered votes greater than it did in 2018 when it was in power with all the state paraphernalia at its disposal. It appears Hollywood-ish that in some polling stations, the APC would go neck-to-neck with the SLPP, and in some stations even beat the SLPP.
Take Centre 01221 and Centre 01222 as two samples of the many samples of the incredible trajectory of the APC in Kailahun District. In the former, in Station 3, the APC scored 35 whilst the SLPP also scored 35 votes. And in the latter, in Station 1, the APC polled 85 whilst the SLPP polled 82. And in another polling station, the APC scored 104 and the SLPP getting 155 whilst the Independent candidate scooping just 14 votes.
Those are just random samplings of the inroads which the APC made compared to the 2018 General Elections in which the APC was getting as low as zero percent in countless polling stations across Kailahun District. According to a quick synopsis done by Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, on Sunday and posted on social media, “…[the APC] got an increase in vote share from 6.1% [in 2018] to practically 8% [in 2021] so that’s a clear improvement….” And for which every ‘APCian’, or APCer, should “…be joyful and pop out the champagne bottles,” according to my Good Lady.
APCians or APCers should breast-beat themselves and celebrate because considering the incidents that preceded those by-elections, yet APC supporters could be brave enough to brave it to the polling stations and registered their displeasures at the hyper-corruption and maladministration which are now bywords for the SLPP. Imagine, after several brutal attacks on APC supporters allegedly by operatives of the SLPP resulting in the loss of one life and suspected arsons and displacements; yet residents could still come out and show their APC-ness is something which is more than laudable!
Another heart-warming thing about last Saturday’s by-elections is that with a shoestring budget and determination, the APC was able to battle it out with the SLPP which had marshalled state resources and personnel coupled with the implementation of blatant intimidation of opponents prior to polling day.
Yet, the APC votes swelled like an over-soaked “Bo gari”. If the APC could replicate what happened in Kailahun, last Saturday, in other strongholds of the SLPP and score 85% in every Constituency in its Northern and Western Area strongholds in 2023, then the SLPP would be a footnote in post-2023 Sierra Leone.
Now with the writing on the walls of the SLPP’s Wallace-Johnson Street headquarters showing would-be catastrophic defeat for the SLPP in 2023, the Bio-led administration seems to be turning its attention to the National Electoral Commission (NEC); believing in the Stalinist mantra of only those who count the votes that matter not the voters themselves. As the hope in the SLPP government is fast transforming into hopelessness amongst ordinary Sierra Leoneans, NEC appears to be the SLPP’s last option to continue its infliction of hardship and all the negative “isms” on majority of Sierra Leoneans.
And NEC seems to be putting in place subtle mechanisms aimed at working in concert with the SLPP in its alleged planned rigging of the 2023 Parliamentary and Presidential elections. The recent so-called restructuring at NEC is just a hidden ruse meant to further the grand plan of the SLPP.
What the Chief Electoral Commissioner has done is to shift well-known SLPP sympathizers, or operatives if you will, to two strategic positions: the Director of Operations, and that of Voter Registration and Results Management. And when one takes into consideration the fact that NEC has still not publish a comprehensive 2018 elections results on its website, then one realises that NEC has something up its sleeve.
But one thing that is certain is the fact that the APC, as a party, will not only protect its votes in 2023 but will defend them with everything in its power under the ambit of the law.
And APC supporters in Kailahun District have demonstrated that no matter the political intimidations, the wilful painting of their party as a no-do-gooder, and the pumping of state funds in alleged votes-buying; they will always show their APC-ness.
Giving the SLPP a run for their money in their own frontage and backyard has made the SLPP’s triumphs in those two by-elections look like Pyrrhic victories.
Despite the SLPP being happy with the by-elections results in Ward 012 Constituency 005 and in Constituency 010 in Kailahun District, I am happy for the votes which the APC got in a district which the SLPP has always regarded as a no-go district for the APC and its faithful.
In three years, after losing political power to the SLPP, the APC has started doing the unthinkable. And a million steps to State House in 2023 have already started with few steps in Kailahun District.
It is on that note that I will end today’s One Dropian dropping with an Ethiopian proverb that says, “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” Hope the APC faithful are getting the flow?
Cooyright: Mohamed Sankoh