PONDER MY THOUGHTS
SLPP-NGC ALLIANCE: MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN?
Ever since President Bio invited NGC’s Dr. Kandeh Yumkella in Kambia to “come back home”, to which he received the retort, “a hole word”, the pursuit of the “bride” has been relentless. Publicized appearances of both gentlemen together have set tongues wagging. Emboldened by mandates from the National Executive Councils of both parties to explore a strategic alliance, the parties embarked on a dalliance that has resulted in the announcement last week that they were now “engaged”. The real “marriage” has been slated for April 23, 2023 at a big “wedding ceremony”.
The public has had some glimpses of the purpose of the proposed marriage. They propose to “pool resources to ensure victory in the election of June 24, 2023 through collaboration at all levels of the political/electoral landscape”. They will also develop a joint manifesto. The goal is to promote an inclusive government that will “bring transformative development to Sierra Leone”. Undoubtedly, the “marriage vows” will be read at the April 23rd “wedding ceremony”.
To assess how this Alliance is viewed, one needs to delve into who exactly the stakeholders are on the NGC side who will be affected by this marriage. There are those who are idealistic and believe the NGC should “stay pure” as a third force party to continue playing its role as an effective opposition. They reckon that even with the impossibility of a third party winning now, the NGC project should be a long term project-say over 10 years, to break the dominance of our two major parties that have “wreaked so much havoc on this country”. If this means NGC goes down fighting valiantly, so be it! Any alliance in their view will spell the death knell of NGC. There are others who believe that NGC should be realistic and practical and should form an alliance with one of the existing major political parties to participate in inclusive governance. It would seem the “purist go-it-alone people” and others who may be dissatisfied with the process leading to the formation of the Alliance have got their voices drowned out. These include well-meaning people who have either joined the party and given active support over time and others, who are on the sidelines but nevertheless want change. The “Alliance proponents” who supported moving towards APC lost out mainly because APC gave tepid support to the Coalition of Progressive Parties (COPP) idea which had a still birth.
SLPP’s motivation has been simple. Politics is a numbers’ game and “NGC renegades”, many of whom were as green as grass should come back home and swell up their numbers to defeat the “APC devil incarnate”. The real question then for them seems to be what sort of alliance should they have with these “renegades”- a merger in which NGC would be swallowed up or a loose alliance of sorts in which NGC maintains its identity?
Whatever the case, the “wedding” is on and it has left in its wake some disenchanted members and well-wishers, some of whom accuse the NGC and especially its Parliamentary Leader, Kandeh Yumkella of selling out. Some key officials had already bolted from the NGC, accusing the party of pursuing actions “incompatible with the party’s ethos”. However, the number of people favouring the alliance within the ranks of the NGC seems to have swelled and this includes National Executive members and key patrons of the party. There have been no notable dissenting views from the party’s rank and file members. The real issue at this stage seems to be better defining the stake of the party in the Alliance.
In the final analysis, the most important person in the inclusive government debate would seem to be President Bio during a second term the Alliance deems inevitable. He will to a large extent determine the nature and membership of the next government. Though he will depend on advice from top players of the Alliance, including in particular his own trusted advisers, he will have to decide whether he wants a transformational leadership with an eye on leaving behind a commendable legacy, even if this means ditching non performers, who are politically and socially close or to preserve the status quo. The success of the “marriage” to a large extent will also depend on whether the leaders of both parties will work together with their advisers to chart out the transformative leadership that they now tout. Only time will tell.
For now, there is talk that this is a “marriage made in heaven”. The success depends on a 5-letter word-TRUST. The serene silence of the APC on this issue for now is worthy of note. An APC pundit however observed wryly- “Yes, marriages may be made in Heaven – but then again, so are thunder and lightning”.
Ponder my thoughts.