APC: CHERICOCO AND THE FULLAH VOTE
The APC is a party of change. Five years ago, the people didn’t know Dr Samura Kamara. This past weekend they said with a booming voice, ‘Na Dr Samura we want’. He is no longer the guy that no one once knew anything about, a relatively unknown despite his storied public service record. But today, Dr Samura is the people’s choice. They said so with a resounding gong that has been heard all around the world. And people came in their hundreds of thousands to witness the formality of seeing the man of destiny get to claim the flag he has so resolutely sought after since 2018.
After the dust has settled in Dr Kamara’s long and perilous journey to the APC flagbearership, and now that the speculation is over and the APC has a flagbearer in the good doctor, the big discussion now is based on who is going to be his running mate. The very people that are saying they want Dr Samura Kamara are also demanding that he chooses Hon Chernor Maju Bah as his running mate, just as it was in 2018. They are confident that it shouldn’t be hard to convince Dr Kamara that he should maintain Hon Chernor Maju Bah as his number two.
This will make the 2023 race a repeat of 2018, only this time around the people of Sierra Leone know how President Bio rules, having suffered throughout his whole five year running and ruining of the nation’s economy. The people have decided in their numbers spanning all the political divides to get rid of the President Bio led New Direction government that has performed on the same old path they claimed was corrupt when it was trodden by members of the former government under Dr Ernest Bai Koroma.
Fullah people that spoke to this medium said that President Bio has disappointed them by not fulfilling his promises to the nation. After trusting him with their votes that enabled him to win the 2018 elections, they say they will now throw their lot behind the APC, but only on one condition; that Honourable Chernor Maju Bah is maintained as Dr Samura Kamara’s running mate. They say any other combination will be disastrous for the APC at the polls as the incumbency stands a chance of splitting the Fullah vote on the side of the ruling party.
According to politicians and people from all the opposition parties, they expect Dr Samura Kamara to maintain or keep Chericoco as his deputy because, just like Dr Kamara, Chericoco has been visible and present in Sierra Leone throughout the President’s manhandling of the economy, his harassment and threat to the freedom and safety of the persons and properties of former party officials listed on the White Paper from the defunct Commissions of Inquiry.
Those listed are under the constant threat of a court case where the people say a guilty verdict more than anything else should be expected from a complicit judiciary working under the expectation of a hegemonic and acrimonious regime.
The duo of Dr Samura Kamara and Chernor Maju Bah, far from the issues that plagued them in 2018, according to supporters and keen observers and followers of our political process, stands a much better chance of defeating President Julius Maada Bio and Dr Juldeh Jalloh this time around. This time around the whole party and nation is united behind Dr Samura and Chericoco. 2023 will not be a repeat of 2018.
Citing all the price hikes, the constitutional contractions, the police shootings, the jailing and prosecution of opposition politicians on flimsy and trumped up charges, and the continued hardships, they said the people of Sierra Leone are ready for regime change and that the only thing that Dr Samura can do to ensure that the APC wins the Fullah vote is by having Dr Kamara maintain Hon Chericoco as his number two.
This medium has been on the forefront preaching against tribalism as a credible and effective political strategy or tool. The reason is to move Sierra Leone away from tribal based politics that has left us in this continued state of backwardness and on to a politics of inclusion where our collective strengths, talents and capacities are used to further the cause of nation building and infrastructural development.
However, numbers do win elections, and sound electioneering planning will consider the strength of tribe’s numbers and how it can be used to win elections. Sounds ironic? Well, it isn’t. The Fullahs are the nation’s third largest tribe by numbers. As a people known for unifying behind their tribesmen, we should not be wholly shocked should the APC and Dr Samura Kamara lose 2023 for failing to see the need to keep Chericoco as his vice presidential candidate. There is a great chance of the Fullah vote going in one direction if Chericoco is allowed to exit the scene in what they would consider an ‘open shame’.
Fullah people say they have been discriminated against when it comes to ascending the nation’s highest office. A member of the Fullah tribe has ruled from Mauritania to Ethiopia, except for Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The Fullahs believe that they are the most sidelined tribe in Sierra Leone’s political history and landscape. For a long time the people have been hoping to play an active role in the nation’s politics without being seen as foreigners. But every time they step up to take part, they get the attention of their party’s tribal cabal who quickly dash their hopes by not electing them to the substantive positions of the presidency.
With Dr Juldeh Jalloh and Maju Bah at pole positions in their respective party it should not be out of whack for us to expect that one of these men will one day rule Sierra Leone. It is a prayer and a wish of the Fullah people to have a Fullah president. That will make Fullah people feel like they belong to Sierra Leone, a time when we can say tribalism is truly a byword in Sierra Leone’s politics as people here vote based on merit. Dr Juldeh Jalloh has given the people hope.
With Chericoco the hope is double, said a member of the Fullah ethnic group who said Chericoco should be Dr Samura’s running mate based on merit instead of his tribe.
‘We know that the Fullahs are plenty and will be voting in community for whoever cater to their hopes and dreams. Right now that hope and dream look more a reality than at any other moment in the nation’s history. If Samura Kamara wants to defeat Bio and Dr Jalloh, he should stick with Chericoco. This time around President Bio and the SLPP will be naïve to think that the people of Salone in 2023 are the same people that voted for him to be president in 2018. The people know him now and are tired of him. We want change but it can only happen with the right flagbearer and running mate combo. We want Dr Samura and Chericoco again. We almost beat them while in confusion, imagine how we will perform on 24 June as a unified APC,’ they advised.
The concerned citizens that spoke to this medium said now that the SLPP has chosen Dr Juldeh Jalloh as their presidential running mate, the gauntlet has been thrown on the side of the APC to see what they will do. The hope of the ruling party government is that should the APC fail to go with Chericoco, Dr Jalloh will split the Fullah complement vote on the side of the incumbency. The ball is now in the APC’s court.