By Sheriff Mahmud Ismail
Undoubtedly, the outcome of the 2018 presidential polls shocked the All People’s Congress (APC), punctured the nerve and fibre of the Party, causing dissonance and disorientation among its rank and file. The vast majority of the membership and followership have therefore been demanding constitutional reforms and for a new party leadership. While some have been doing so rather quietly; others have been tempestuous, almost contemptuous. The divergence on how the changes should be brought about constitutes one of the few hindrances to the process.
The outgoing Chairman and Leader, former President Ernest Bai Koroma, on his part, had expressed desire to step down even before the elections results were announced. But as the sage would say, “If the hook didn’t catch the fish, someone should account for the bait”. That accounting process had begun with a nine-man committee to investigate what was responsible for the party’s 2018 electoral performance.
One of the recommendations of that Committee is a reform of the APC Constitution, particularly relating to the filling in of national and other officers of the party. That Constitutional Reform Process itself had been commissioned but understandably, the fallout from the unexpected outcome of the 2018 presidential polls and the lack of magnanimity on the part of those who were announced as winners warranted some amount of delay in the APC’s internal transition process.
About 18 months after the April 2018 presidential run off, that sluggishness has engendered palpable anxiety among a good number of APC faithful. Many agitate that the continued delay in concluding the constitutional reform and the declaration of a timetable for a National Delegates’ Conference (NDC) doesn’t serve the collective interest of reorganising into a formidable party ready to govern once again.
This incontrovertible fact is not lost on the man who has led the APC since 2002. The former president is expected in Freetown this week for an engagement with the Party leadership on the revised constitution and possible timetable for the party’s NDC.
“My position has always been that after being at the helm for this long, it’s really time for fresh heads and hands to carry on with the business of running our beloved APC. Eventually, a new leadership has to emerge – it is inevitable”, said the outgoing chair and leader to a cross section of the APC Northern Region Executives.
The APC leader, who still enjoys considerable goodwill among the party’s rank and file, holds the view that “the Party must go to convention earlier enough to conclude the election of flag bearer, parliamentary and council candidates”.
To achieve this, the Party, especially former flagbearers should close ranks, rein in their many supporters; focus on getting a new leadership under the new Constitution and reenergise the Party ahead of 2023.
Already, the outgoing chair and leader has reiterated that, the Consultation Clause in the Draft Constitution should not stall the process saying: “Whatever that is deemed as controversial and objectionable should, in the interest of the general good, be expunged in order for the process to forge ahead”.
This renewed determination by the outgoing APC chairman and leader to expedite and conclude the reform process in collaboration with his Comrades at Old Railway Line in Freetown, could not have been more reassuring to both the APC and the country at large. It comes amid an increasing national consensus that those who skidded to State House since 2018 appear to be insipid and puerile; suffocated by a dearth of administrative tact and a scandalous detour from nation-building.
Political analysts agree that the current dire governance and socio-economic realities berating the nation, have underscored that the APC was on the right path and if the party were to put its act together and function more effectively in unison, reclaiming State House in 2023 will be less difficult.
That truth, like a cork, remains stubbornly afloat no matter the number of times anyone tries to push it down the water.