Peace, Reconciliation and unity are the most desirous values that should be craved by the main opposition, All People’s Congress (APC) at this critical moment in Sierra Leone’s political landscape. These values, if adopted, would strengthen the APC more than ever before as the country faces 2022 and 2023 local government and general elections.
The country’s former Vice President, Chief Sam Sumana is an embodiment of those values, and will leave no avenue unexplored to see a peaceful, united and progressive APC. He believes that it is only peace and unity that will make APC a formidable force.
Chief Sam forgives and does not revenge, he understands and does not suspect, he befriends and does not backstab, he wants peace and not conflict in the APC and Sierra Leone. Owing to such qualities, Chief Sam has become a personality for admiration by many key personalities and party stalwarts within the APC including the former Presidential Spokesman, Abdulai Bayraytay.
It is incontrovertible that the main opposition, All People’s Congress has suffered a lot in the hands of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party. The suffering constitutes one of the greatest lessons that the APC can learn from and make the party stronger than ever before.
Chief Sam has exhibited qualities of patience, Forgiveness and tolerance within the APC than any other politician the country has ever seen. These are qualities that signal the advent of a pious and God-fearing leader in the governance of the state.
At a time of provocation and intimidation, Chief Sam has demonstrated the greatest degree of patience that ensured peace and quietness in the state of Sierra Leone. He exercised self-control at a time he must show the greatest anger because he believes that he who controls his temper controls situation.
He also believes that leadership is about managing a situation before it becomes a crisis. The time referred to in the earlier paragraph was one in which several allegations were slammed against the former Vice President at the peak of his progress and success.
He is a man who was expelled from the party in the face of allegations of lies, anti-party activities, and fomenting violence in his home town Kono in the east. Although these allegations, to many APC stalwarts, are unsubstantiated claims, the former Vice President bowed to the investigations of the National Advisory Council (NAC) of the APC because he wanted Peace in the country and in the party.
The NAC investigation resulted into an expulsion which became a precursor to his eventual removal from Office of the Vice President. On the eve of his removal, the country was at a standstill as Sierra Leoneans expected the Chief to bounce back considering his popularity with the masses and his stake in the country’s body politic.
Chief Sam who was poised to see a peaceful and prosperous Sierra Leone resorted to no violence, but used legal means in defence of his rights as a citizen of Sierra Leone. Even when the verdict of the nation’s highest court did not favour him, he sought solace at the ECOWAS Court where the verdict of the Supreme Court was overturned in favour of Chief Sam.
The ECOWAS Court ordered Government of Sierra Leone to compensate Chief Sam financially, but, government is yet to comply. Chief Sam was not bothered in the absence of a compensation package because he was content with his little means.
He came back to Sierra Leone and practise politics within the confines of the law. The Chief made history as he clinched eight parliamentary seats with a young political party, an achievement rarely seen in the country’s political landscape.
To the greatest amazement of many Sierra Leoneans, Chief Sam showed a high spirit of reconciliation when he met the former President in the north-eastern headquarters of Makeni to let bygones be bygones. The smiles and hugs between the two personalities symbolised helped strengthen peace and security in Sierra Leone, and Chief Sam became an admirable personality.
At a time the former President is hunted by the ACC, the former Vice President is with him, and no way can it be interpreted as shedding crocodile tears. Today, Chief Sam is steadily producing a third force in Sierra Leone’s politics, as the Coalition For Change (CFC) party commands the third majority in parliament.
Chief Sam’s genuine forgiveness and reconciliation with the main opposition APC crystallized in parliament when disciplinary action was instituted against CFC members who voted in favour of the approval of the current Chairman of the National Electoral Commission.
As a result of voting in support of the ruling SLPP, the CFC parliamentary leader, Sahr Emerson Lamina was stripped of his leadership status. A legal wrangling ensued as he too bounced back with a legal suit claiming that the CFC executive is illegal.
The judges are yet to arrive at a decision in respect of either Sahr Emmerson Lamina is right or the CFC executive. Again, the hulabaloo and stand-off within the CFC is also a clear manifestation of a great love for the APC by Chief Sam. The emergence of the conflict could be attributed to the love and support Chief Sam has, for years, nursed and nurtured for the APC, the party of his forefathers.
Chief Sam’s tolerance even with members of other political parties is conspicuously made clear at a time he faced waves of humiliation in the hands of SLPP Government officials. The SLPP Government has always treated the former Vice President with disdain and contempt when he got back to his root.
Security details that used to guard the former Vice President were immediately withdrawn following his return to the APC, and government’s illegal move exposed Chief Sam to a number of attacks and brutalities especially in the hands of security operatives.
The withdrawal of security details from the former Vice President captured the attention of the country’s supreme law-making body, parliament. It was a sensitive issue which compelled parliament to summon the former Inspector-General of Police, Dr Richard Moigbeh to justify the withdrawal of guards from Chief Sam.
The Inspector-General did appear before parliament, but the defence he brought forward was never water tight. The IG’s defence went a long way to discredit him, and his competence was put to the greatest test.
The question frequently asked by the public was why the IG provided security for Chief Sam after he left office and later withdrew them. In one of his visits in the provinces, Chief Sam never had a smooth ride with the security operatives who fired teargas canisters at him in the midst of allegations that the former Vice President was on the move to undermine the security of the state.
No iota of evidence existed at that time to support such claims. It was a move to justify their brutality on the former Vice President. In the midst of the scuffle, Chief Sam remains unruffled to ensure that the peace he and the former President have worked for many years both for the APC and the country takes a sound footing in the country.
In another provocative action on the part of government, benefits, pensions and ex-gratia have been paid and are being paid to ministers and officials of the former administration with the exclusion of the former Vice President.
In the campaign during 2018 elections, President Julius Maada Bio made it clear that Chief Sam had a right to his benefit and pension and other fundamental rights of a citizen of Sierra Leone.
President Bio appeared to have been a stout defender of the rights of a peaceful and law-abiding compatriot, Chief Sam, but the defence has proved lately to be a mere campaign rhetoric. Chief Sam honours and adores the notion that in the midst of many, we are one; and it is only peace, true forgiveness and reconciliation that can rebrand politics in post-conflict Sierra Leone.
It is only error owing to vagaries and frailties of human reasoning that cause the strained relationship between the former Vice President and his former boss, Ernest Bai Koroma. Such error should not be allowed again at a time the APC seems fully prepared to take over State House in the polls. Chief Sam has forgiven because he knows that to err is human and forgiveness is divine.