By Foday Moriba Conteh
It was a holiday like scenario in the city of Freetown on the 29th May, 2023, the day the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) Party officially launched its Manifesto initially at the Lagoonda Complex in the West End of Freetown and later at the Attouga Mini Stadium in the East End of Freetown, where the vast majority, mainly from the East End of Freetown were in attendance.
APC supporters turned up in Chinese numbers, most of them in jubilant moods, clad in party T-Shirts, caps and other attires with red and white as dominant colours, some chanting political slogans others expressing high optimism of emerging victorious after the Presidential, Parliamentary and Municipal Elections slated for the 24th June, 2023, were as some, based on keen observation, did not even have an inkling of what they were going to witness but out of loyalty simply just followed the crowd, especially to the Attouga Mini Stadium where political statements, full of criticisms against the ruling SLPP Government, were made by various personalities of the party with the statement of the APC Presidential Flagbearer, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Samura climaxing the highly politically charged event.
Amidst a lot of high political expectations and speculations, Samura Kamara, the All People’s Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate, unveiled to supporters, the nation and International Community his manifesto which could be best described as a Ten Point Comprehensive Manifesto with emphasis being placed on fostering national cohesion, addressing economic challenges and promoting sustainable development across the country.
The high point of the event was when the Presidential Flagbearer, Samura Kamara, succinctly outlined a ten-point plan, encompassing his vision for a prosperous Sierra Leone founded upon empathic and service-oriented governance, technical competence and the utilization of data, technology and innovation.
Dr Kamara highlighted the key points of the manifesto in his speech, emphasizing the need for unity, progress, and inclusivity.
“We are one nation and we need to work together to build a better future for all our citizens,” Dr Samura Kamara said. “Our manifesto outlines a clear and ambitious plan of how we can achieve this, by investing in our people, our communities and our planet,” he told a jubilant crowd.
The noise from the supporters became deafening when he said: “The Change We Make on June 24th Will be as Significant as The One Our Nation Made on 27th April 1961.”
Dr. Samura Kamara’s message of unity and progress encompassed in national cohesion resonated so strongly with attendees in such ways that the event generated a significant momentum for the campaign going forward.
He said to the excited supporters: “Under my presidency, founded upon the principles of empathic and service oriented governance, technical competence, and recognizing the power of data, technology and innovation, the APC pledges to:
- Build One Nation- Rebuilding National Unity and Cohesion.
We shall take immediate steps to restore national cohesion, peace, and unity in Sierra Leone. We shall foster the equitable distribution of opportunities and undertake constitutional and institutional changes to entrench decentralization and local governance, and ensure fair, transparent and protected access to resources.
2 . Address Economic Deficiencies and the Cost-of-Living Crisis at the Structural Level.
We shall restore macroeconomic stability and work towards transforming Sierra Leone from a consumption to a competitive production economy. This will include prioritizing private sector development, particularly indigenous businesses and in rural communities, leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), as well as other trade blocs and agreements; and harnessing the potentials of digital transformation.
- Intensify Efforts in Job Creation and the establishment of pathways for every adult, especially the youth and women, to earn a living wage.
Through sustainable cross sectoral interventions, we shall collaborate with local and international partners to create jobs while simultaneously reforming and capacitating the civil and public service to prioritize efficient and effective delivery of services.
- Accelerate Investments in Our People, with a specific focus on the capabilities of our children, women, and youth.
We shall enhance efficient and equitable social spending, elevating the quality of life and explicitly caring for the most vulnerable segments of our population, including women, youth and People with Disabilities (PWDs.
- Accelerate Investments in Physical and Digital Infrastructure Development. We shall pursue responsible investments in energy, transportation, water supply, urban planning, affordable housing, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). We shall also foster regulatory frameworks for mutually beneficial partnerships with the private sector, international financial institutions, development agencies, and regional economic bodies.
- Deepen and Strengthen Decentralization and Rural Development:
We shall revive our decentralization programme, and support the administrative and financial empowerment of all local councils on a foundation of accountability, respect and fairness, Urgent measures shall be taken to restore the confidence of our development partners in this critical pillar of our progress. We shall also restore respectability of our chiefdom governance structures and facilitate their effective functioning.
- Enhance Democratic Good Governance and the Rule of Law:
We shall uphold democratic principles, protect human rights, intensify the fight against corruption, and build robust institutions. We shall give ‘Power to the People’ by creating platforms for them to make inputs into decision-making processes and to hold Government accountable for its actions or inactions.
- Protect our Environment and Respond to Climate Change. We shall roll out improved natural resource management strategies, climate change-focused mitigation and adaptation measures, including the creation of green jobs.
- Strengthen Economic Diplomacy.
We shall foster strategic partnerships with other jurisdictions, align priorities, ensure value for money in ongoing and future investments, and pursue mutually beneficial partnerships with deep respect for their taxpayers while safeguarding our sovereignty and national integrity.
- Foster partnerships with the Diaspora for national development.
We shall map our diaspora network collectively identify areas of expertise and interest and create a welcoming environment for mutually beneficial engagements and investments.”
As Dr Samura Kamara ended his address, party supporters went wild with political songs and slogans rejoicing with a magnitude that gives one the feeling that they were already celebrating victory. The end of the event coincided with the evening rush hour causing traffic jams, with some having no alternative with few public transports available but to walk long distances to their various destinations.
According to a political commentator, the magnitude of APC supporters that turned out to witness the unveiling of the Party’s Manifesto was a pointer to the fact that the elections are going to be really competitive predicting that it will not be easy for either the ruling SLPP and the main opposition APC to emerge victorious in the first ballot meaning that definitely there will be a run-off election reiterating that indeed it is going to be a clash of the titans.