A Commentary By Abayomi Tejan – 18 August 2019
‘Fortune favours the daring’ is epitome of President Julius Maada Bio’s incredulous, (in the minds of a fairly large chunk of sceptics,) ascendancy to the highest office in the state. Absolutely phenomenal.
It contradicted theories shopped around that any other SLPP candidate, with the exception of Maada Bio, would have defeated the APC for the third consecutive time since 1996, the year President Bio began his arduous, perilous and very eventful journey to the presidency.
That he came out victorious after two decades of trying and failing just once, in spite of all odds stacked against him proves that it was a walk worth the sacrifice, the risks and hazards. And he has won. He has arrived.
President Bio has considerable support in the south east, plus a formidable following in the Western Area in addition to congeries in the Northern Province. No doubt. No comments. No room for argument. Unless……!
Here’s the catch: ‘Unless what?’ Here begins the bickering, the banter, slander and propaganda; the scheming. The if-nots and why-nots, the constant gnashing, nagging and whining of the opposition, who would still not concede that they were now on the ‘other side.’
Juxtapose this with the SLPP’s own inter party subdued, tensions and jockeying for more relevance in a crowded house. And to it add the great expectations of the people taking the brunt of it all, provide little answers to that ominous proviso, ‘Unless….’
In other words, what manner of political contrivance could the opposition hatch that would bring the SLPP down in 2023? The possibilities are endless, with the exception of a coup. ECOWAS, the AU, the UN and the International Community no longer play ball with coupists. And they don’t tolerate those who want to cling to power either.
The only way as at now, is through the ballot, in spite of all its shortcomings. Nothing is perfect. It wasn’t perfect in 2007, 2012 and 2018; we don’t expect it to be in 2023. There would always be sore losers casting aspersion at the elections process.
The transfer of power from one government to another since 2002 is characterized by two distinct factors. One: the ability of the incumbent during his first term to maintain the status quo of the party’s Executive, and keeping the electorate and voter support base in one piece. And while ensuring there’s food on the table.
And two: the tendency in the incumbent, during a second term, to endeavour to over stay. And, the most dominant factor is the tendency of the incumbent to either influence the party’s process of choosing a successor, or bring pressure to bear on the Elections Commission to ‘cooperate.’ These are no simple chores for a novice, which President Bio, certainly, is not.
So, ‘unless’ President Bio fails to execute the above mentioned tasks with keen discretion, he would be deluding himself to assume a too presumptuous attitude to a second term bid. Anything can happen. Nothing is impossible.
President Bio may have traversed a minefield; he may have subdued his rivals and opponents. He even may have imbibed the shrewdness and skills required for successful political statesmanship as leader and president.
Yet, the president has on his hands by far more delicate and complicated task than all those pre-election adventures. Running a state is not the same thing as gunning for the presidency. For the former, the consequence of failing is as severe as the rewards for winning high, in the case of the latter.
President Bio now knows what it’s like to win an election and be the president, but he cannot put himself into former president Koroma’s shoes, who now understand the difference between the two.
Looking back all those years on President Bio’s footprints in the sands of time in his political journey so far, he has travelled a long and slippery slope.
But he now confronts an even harder terrain, riddled with all manner of obstacles, but also offering plenty of opportunities.
He must overcome those obstacles and exploit the opportunities in the interest of the people in his new journey to the 2023 elections. That journey has just begun.