Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Battle of the SLPP Aspirants - Beyond the Primaries

As the SLPP presidential candidate, Vice-President Berewa, the man widely believed to succeed President Kabbah decided on Saturday to meet all contestants for the SLPP symbols ahead of the parliamentary election.

SLPP has indeed received praises for the manner in which the exercise was conducted.

It is hard to exaggerate how much energy and resources were put into the exercise of selecting Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) parliamentary candidates for the August 11 polls. The first of its kind in the national history of party politics.

Throughout its history, the selection of parliamentary candidates for the party had been in the hands of a few functionaries, who, for most of the time did not exactly know who the constituents of a particular voting unit wanted as their candidates. Thanks to the new leadership.

Largely, unlike other parties, the SLPP have broken ranks with other political groups to give the ordinary party member a say in the selection process. (Another party tried to fake the SLPP formula!).

This, in a way, encouraged direct democracy for party faithfuls and entrenched the concept of ownership of the process. The experiment has been hailed as a huge success and outstandingly rewarding.

By giving a voice and a say to the ordinary SLPP man and woman, the party has demonstrated its belief in the fact that the party belongs to all, especially those in rural settlements.

Regardless of some difficulties and complaints from certain constituencies (which, of course, is part of an experiment) the party has shown that it has learnt from the mistakes of the last local councils' election.

Over and above the party, as a family, is the greatest beneficiary.

Firstly, the respective constituency party executives and ordinary members are now poised to make sure that their own selected candidates win their respective seats primarily through their own efforts while the national executive, the Patron Council and the Solo B groups engage themselves in making sure that there is no run off in the Presidential election.

Secondly, the very exercise brought into the party coffers much needed revenue from the sale of party cards and payment of membership subscriptions. The party was able to raise an unprecedented amount of funds recorded in recent times Thirdly, the exercise provided an opportunity for every aspirant to vigorously campaign in every zone, ward, section and chiefdom in all the constituencies in the entire country. The beneficiaries of the party symbols have now very little work to do by way of self-introduction and familiarization. This has provided a huge advantage for all successful SLPP aspirants to clinch their respective seats.

Lastly, it provided the party an opportunity for self examination of weaknesses, divisions, disagreements and disunity within the party. The party now has ample time to heal the wounds before nominations early July.

In order to consolidate these gains already made, the party's flagbearer, Solomon Berewa on Saturday summoned all contestants (winners and losers) to a family meeting. Berewa believes that the party should not be thrown into lethargy and complacency as a result of the success story of the primary elections.

The various party organs, following the meeting, must now work towards winning both the parliamentary and presidential elections by a large margin.

The cracks and divisions emanating from either the conduct of or the result of the primaries have been addressed with maturity and sincerity of purpose. And this is exactly what Berewa succeeded in doing on Saturday.

The SLPP is set to have an overwhelming majority seats in Parliament and a one dash Presidential elections, especially so when the party on Saturday decided to address, if not, look into the post primary elections fallouts before a running mate is named later this month.

As a grassroot party, it has now vowed to confront the real threats to its continuity in office. What is refreshing is the fact that the party has succeeded in rubbishing the predictions of the opposition which had hoped that the just concluded primaries would have led to self destruction and massive defections from the party.

Now, the party has proven them wrong again by engaging every aspirant winner or loser for readiness for the actual battle of retaining power. And this could be easily achieved through the current leadership under Berewa and Chairman Jah.

The combined APC-PMDC agenda to oust the SLPP from power appears to have collapsed and the party will continue to guard itself against complacency until the battle is won.

allAfrica.com: Sierra Leone: The Battle of the SLPP Aspirants - Beyond the Primaries (Page 1 of 1)