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The stage is now set for Sierra Leone’s 2012 polls. The Electoral Commissioner – Christiana Thorpe has announced November 17th 2012 as the date for the holding of national elections. Also the opposition SLPP’s presidential candidate – Maada Bio has announced Dr Kadi Sesay as his running mate. (Photo: Maada Bio presenting Dr. Kadi Sesay as 2012 running mate in Port Loko)
The two major political parties in the country will be facing each other in what will be a tight battle for State House.
Did I hear you say battle? Well in some quarters, it will be a referendum as Ernest Koroma has ‘performed’ beyond expectation – so the people of Sierra Leone will simply endorse him once again to continue the ‘good work’ that he has started.
There are those who believe that SLPP’s election of Maada Bio a few months ago was a bad choice – making it possible for Ernest Koroma to win in the first round of voting next year.
The president himself is so optimistic that he told his supporters in London and Australia that because of his positive performance, the people of Sierra Leone are going to endorse him once again.
The recent ‘Paddle carnival’ in the capital city – Freetown is also regarded by supporters of the government as an ‘endorsement’ of Ernest Koroma for the next five years.
So if the predictions of government supporters are to be believed, the verdict is out, and it seems that there will be no battle, but an easy work over for Ernest Koroma to continue in State House for another five years.
Well, the fact is that some of us do believe that there is going to be a battle for State House in 2012, because not all of us will dance to Paddle, nor are we so blind to reality. We do know how about the economic suffering of the past four years, as survival becomes a challenge. Moreover, we do know that a day longer in politics is one day too much for those suffering in the country.
Maada Bio has named his running mate, and it comes as no surprise to many as Dr Kadi Sesay was one of the first presidential aspirants of the SLPP to have endorsed and congratulated Maada Bio.
SLPP’s 2012 election winning team is now fully in operation, and it only remains now for them to draw up their plan as to how they will bring about positive change in the country.
Well, in many elections all over the world, voters say that the choice of a running mate does not matter much when deciding which candidate to elect as head of state.
Others say that their choice is based mainly on the qualities and experience of the presidential candidates. But still, others believe that the choice of a running mate will have a great deal of influence on their votes.
Although for many voters in Sierra Leone the choice of running mate will not influence their vote, I do believe that Kadi Sesay will influence a majority of undecided male voters. Women are the least to be influenced by the choice of Kadi Sesay, as ironically, in the past women have always turned their backs on female candidates.
No matter what though, for the very first time in Sierra Leone’s electoral history, the issue of running mate will be a deciding factor at the 2012 polls.
When Maada Bio announced Kadi Sesay as his choice of running mate, many voters were immediately influenced, and have decided to vote for the opposition SLPP, while others are defecting to the opposition, but still leaving a big chunk of undecided voters.
It is not certain whether Ernest Koroma will stick with his vice president – Sam Sumana as running mate for 2012, or as rumours have been making the rounds that he will go for a change. But no matter whom he choses, that choice will have very little influence as to whether president Koroma wins the elections, for according to analysts – the government will win or lose based on their performance record in office.
In my opinion though, Maada Bio has made a very good choice by bringing in Kadi Sesay to such vital position in the leadership of the SLPP. This is unique in the party’s history.
Prior to the SLPP party presidential aspirants election early this year, Kadi Sesay was the deputy chairman of the party.
Now that she has been elevated to the running mate position – that can take her to the second most important job in the country – vice president, and the first female vice president the country has ever had.
I am very optimistic that her candidacy will have a positive effect on the elections as she has been around for sometime now. She was Development and Trade minister in the last SLPP government and her performance was exemplary. She commanded respect and was very astute in her daily dealings.
She has been one of the most decent and intelligent women around. She is an educationist who did well at Fourah Bay College, responsible for educating thousands of Sierra Leoneans.
Will the women of Sierra Leone for the first time change the country’s political status quo as SLPP has done in showing how respectful and trustworthy they can be, in implementing the ’50-50′ ideology?
Women in Sierra Leone have been complaining for years that they have been sidelined in major decision making; and they are the ones who suffered the most during the war, and still continue to do so with the country deeply buried in poverty.
This is the time for women in the country to stand up and tell the men: “enough is enough”, and that they too have what it takes to bring about the urgent positive change that is needed in the country.
But they can only do that if they rally around Kadi Sesay and elevate her at the 2012 polls to the second most important citizen in the country.
It is no surprising that Kadi Sesay has been chosen by SLPP to join the leadership, because when one take a look at the East and South of the country – where the party has its base, there is a long tradition of women leadership. They have women Paramount Chiefs because they respect women and believe women too can be good decision makers.
In the North it is impossible for a woman to be a paramount chief. She is regarded as inferior to men. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that girl child education in the North is worse than in other regions of the country.
SLPP’s 2012 campaign team is now in place and it is now time for strategizing, formulating policies and coming out with positive innovations, coupled with a strong vision for the country’s development.
It is now time for both Bio and Kadi Sesay to try and mend all the cracks in the party, and getting onboard all the other factions within the party to work as a team if they are to succeed.
Those who have decided to leave the party did it out of their own volition, and must be left to chart their own future, rather than be encouraged to return.
Election is not an easy task as there is going to be many negative comments coming out, especially now that Kadi Sesay has been chosen as running mate. But SLPP ought to feel confident that both Bio and Sesay have what it takes to weather the storm, as both have been in government before and knows what it takes to work as servants of the people.
Do not let the Paddle dancers intimidate you. Keep your focus and make sure your message is convincing and convicting, let the voters know what you stand for. Let them see the seriousness and vision that you profess. Let the women know how important they are in our society – that is why there is a female running mate for the very first time – representing one of the two major parties in the country.
Preach against violence and make sure your team uses peaceful means to settle all problems and matters. Your party is peaceful and upright, with many intellectuals that should not allow themselves to be dragged down the road to perdition.
Dr Kadi Sesay has a great role to play in the 2012 election and will play it very well, because she has what it takes to be a running mate. Her appointment I’m sure was done based on her integrity, experience and decency. She is a model and an icon to our womenfolk.
Austin Thomas, currently studying in China
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