October 1, 2022

Managing a party in crisis in a turbulent period calls for a tough political strategist. Such politics is not meant for anyone who has been out of touch with the country’s political realities for too long. Dr Abdulai Osman Conteh apparently struggles to put APC on the right path after he was made leader of a 54-member interim body to handle the party’s internal democracy.

Dr Conteh temporally took over the party’s leadership after a high court in Freetown declared the Koroma-led executive illegal. As the party’s interim leader, Dr Conteh must ensure that lower level elections are conducted to put in place the right structures in the party.

He must also ensure that the party is taken to a convention in coming months. Dr Abdulai Osman Conteh is one of the most outstanding legal luminaries of all times. He was one of the framers of the 1991 Constitution when he was Attorney-General. He was also a sitting justice of the Appeals Court in the Bahamas.

Despite the worthwhile experience, Dr Conteh’s ability to handle APC affairs has been repeatedly called into question.

Sanity is expected to return to the APC after the Adrian Fisher’s verdict almost two months ago. The verdict restrained over 100 party APC officials including Chairman and Leader, former President Ernest Bai Koroma and the Secretary-General from taking active part in any party activity.

The lawsuit was filed by a Sierra Leonean diaspora, Alfred Peter Conteh who invoked powers of the court to declare the party’s executive illegal. To him, the executive’s mandate is long overdue, and must give way to a new one. The court agreed with the litigant’s stance seen in its verdict.

21 days have lapsed without an appeal from the APC meaning the party accept the verdict without question. The party’s failure to appeal to a superior court means the verdict is fair. Despite the party’s acceptance, its officials are seemingly quite disrespectful of the verdict. The Secretary-General, Osman Yansaneh has shown no sign of going away.

He still holds the forte at the party headquaters at Brookfields in Freetown. But, the biggest surprise is the judiciary’s seeming inability to restrain Yansaneh and others from taking active part in the party’s activities. Yansaneh’s insistence on operating as the party’s secretary-general put him at risk of trampling on the court’s verdict.

His move in occupying the seat of the secretary-general makes Yansaneh a fit object for contempt of court. No one flouts court orders and do away with it as Sierra Leone is a country governed rule of law processes. Investigation conducted by this press has shown that the APC secretary-general is playing the PAOPA politics.

Such politics is to embark on a clever manipulation of party’s grassroot supporters to make the party headquaters a no-go area for other flag-bearer hopefuls. Key party members and supporters have been plunged into doubt about the Yansaneh’s tactics.

His action is holding the party to ransom especially at a time the party must have put its house in order and get ready for the convention. No one could dispute the claim that grassroot politics is about political thuggery.

Youths who are completely clueless  about the political machinations and manoeuvrings may readily accept the call for violence. Yansaneh seemed to have borrowed a leaf from the PAOPA tactics which ensured President Bio’s victory in 2018.

In realising such objective, grassroot members and supporters were utilised by a crop of highly experienced politicians in the SLPP (Sierra Leone People’s Party). During such period, SLPP headquaters was transformed into a battlefield.

The youths were ready to unleash brutality to any presidential party member that wanted to stand in the way of President Julius Maada Bio. Political thuggery at SLPP office at that time shut off most party members from the building.

Only the preferred choice, Julius Maada Bio enjoyed a smooth and easy stay in the party headquaters. On several occasions, Bio’s main challenger, Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella would be prevented from entering the party office to attend important functions.

Constant pressure, thuggery and brutality made flag-bearer aspirants to bow. As the hulabaloo continued unabated, other aspirants backed out of the race. Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella too left and formed his own party, the National Grand Coalition.

For Yansaneh, it is yet unclear, the flag-bearer aspirant he has at heart. Insider sources however intimated this press that it is very difficult to know the candidate Yansaneh is paving the way for. But, what came out clear is that the APC Secretary-General is smoothening the road for an SLPP second term so that he could evade corruption trials.

Ambassador Yansaneh is one of prominent former government officials that would be roped in for corruption offences by the New Direction administration. The matters are being looked into by the court with a view to hand down a verdict.

As the bombshell is about to be dropped, Yansaneh and others hide behind the party to keep their head above waters. Services of grassroots would have to be employed to do the bidding. The bidding is about thuggery, a major feature that has characterised Sierra Leone’s politics for lengthy years.

Relieving those answering to corruption charges of their posts in the APC has been one of the major calls of key party members. The litigant, Alfred Conteh too was totally opposed to the retention of those with court matters in the party.

In his argument, Conteh foresees and fears a disqualification of a President who would emerge from the APC if an official with a corruption case is used as a flag-bearer. Other senior party members hold a different thought.

They have always argued that   that a political compromise or APC sell-out to SLPP is possible as long as executive members have albatrosses around their necks. Dr Abdulai Conteh who should lead the party at this time apparently could not provide the required leadership. Despite his legal expertise, APC’s political terrain, as of now, is too rough and rugged for a centenarian to easily navigate. Dr Conteh has been out of Sierra Leone politics for too long.

He rarely comes to the attention of Sierra Leoneans owing to his long sojourn in the diaspora. The only time Dr Conteh came to public attention was the publication of an article he authored challenging former President Koroma’s ‘supreme executive authority’ following the arbitrary  dismissal of former Vice President, Chief Sam Sumana.

Dr Conteh made a strong argument in that article condemning the actions of former President Koroma. However, the task Dr Conteh faces is too daunting. Apart from being out of mainstream party politics for years, age would also not permit him to provide the leadership the party needs at this time.

The party officials must thin again.