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Alpha Wurie Praises Pa Kabbah & Pa Berewa
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Feb 25, 2009, 17:18
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Former Minister of Education, Science and Technology has showered praises on the diplomatic skills of former President Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and the negotiating savvy of former Vice President Solomon Ekuma Berewa.

13 Branches of the Palm Tree Representing Western Area and the 12 Districts of Sierra Leone

Speaking at the northern region convention of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in Makeni on Saturday 14th February 2009, Dr. Alpha T. Wurie said the know-how of the two leaders "guided us from conflict to peace". He was speaking on the theme: "Repositioning the Party for Governance in 2012" when the learned former minister pointed out that "We should be proud of our achievement. We should be proud of our leaders."

R-L: 1st Row: S.B. Marrah, Maigore Kallon, Mannah Kpakpah, Abdul Thorlu Bangura, Shirley Gbujama, Elizabeth Lavalie.

Full text of speech delivered by Former Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Alpha T. Wurie on the occasion of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) Northern Region Convention, on Saturday 14th February 2009, Valentines Day.

REPOSITIONING THE PARTY FOR GOVERNANCE IN 2012

Today is indeed a Special Day.

The ever united Pa Tejan Kabbah and Pa Solomon Berewa

Once again members of the SLPP Family are gathered at the provincial Headquarter Town of Makeni to deliberate and make choices. We did so in 2005. We were at the helm of the seat of Government. Today we are at the helm of the opposition. What did we do in 2005 that resulted in this change of fortune? Should we repeat what we did then? Should there be a change of stance? What has transpired from then to now? What are the lessons learnt? From these lessons we should now reposition ourselves to return to political power through the ballot box.

The charismatic former Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Alpha T. Wurie

We can only do so by going back to the drawing board, starting with a full stocktaking of the history of this party

One Country One People

One People - One Country

That was the rallying call of our People in the fifties. That is what it is today or rather should still be. It is therefore imperative that we do not see ourselves in factions be it regional or tribal. It is imperative that we see ourselves as one people. After all we are only Five Million in population, less than any one state in Nigeria. Why do we continue to enhance tribal groupings as political parties when our major tribes are strictly local and not cross border? Are we seeking to reduce our chances of effective communication in this global age?

The drive of our forefathers having been to unite this country into one cohesive entity, the palm tree was chosen as that symbol of unification, because it has thirteen branches representing twelve districts and the Western Area, all of equal standing.

The first meeting of the party was held in Bo, with Amadu Wurie from Port Loko as its first Secretary and Bai Farma Tas of Kambia as its Interim Leader. Who then in his right mind can describe this party as Non-Northern? Nonetheless we have to be poised to fully embrace the party as ours and show that from the outcome of the deliberations here today.

One People One Country!!

We lost power in 1967 as a consequence of internal party squabbles. Even after Albert Margai, the fractiousness continued with one group pro Salia Jusu Sheriff as the Parliamentary Leader pitched in a dearth struggle with those who were pro M. S. Mustapha as Party Leader.

In this weakened state we stayed in the doldrums for close to three decades during the one party imposed on the nation without serious opposition from us.

But we did bounce back in 1996! (Emphasis).

Under the proportional representation system we won the lions share of the votes and Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah became our President.

This transformation could not have occurred without the Political commitment of a group of Young People who designed and engineered that change: Emmanuel Grant, Abdul Thorlu Bangura, Dr. Prince Harding, Momodu Koroma, Foday Yumkella, Abass Collier, Mohamed Daramy, Suliaman Tejan Jalloh, Theresa Koroma, Dickson Rogers, Okere Adams & Elizabeth Lavalie to name a few.

This core relentlessly analysed people and strategically selected Pa Kabba as a Vote Winner for the Party. He did not campaign. He did not buy votes. It was the SLPP Fraternity that analysed the needs and requirements of the day and selected the right person after extensive consultation. Yes.Consultation. That is the SLPP way.

We served 10 years at the helm of Government during the very difficult period of our civil conflict.

Homes were scattered. Children committed atrocities. Women were molested. Our country was brought to its knees. Yet the consummate diplomatic skills of Pa Kabbah and the negotiating savvy of Pa Berewa guided us from conflict to peace.

We should be proud of our achievement. We should be grateful to our leaders.

One Country One People!!

This singular achievement propelled us through the 2002 Elections. We made gains in the North. We made gains in the Western Area. We did spectacularly well in our strongholds. The people gave us another mandate of five years, as they sang We dae for you tiday/ We dae for you tumara, We go vote for you tae go.

2002 2007 saw the consolidation of peace and the creation of institutions and programmes to address extreme poverty NaCSA, SABABU, NASSIT were programmes with tremendous impact on the Rural Poor. Sierra Leone was retuning to Statehood once again. We negotiated for our debts to be wiped out.

As a party, we were confident of continuity in Governance, and rightly so. But no man should be over confident. We came to the 2005 Makeni Convention with an "Arrangement" far from the in-depth consultation before selection of a leader that occurred in 1996. People felt aggrieved. Some left the party and others were sacked while others still created a New Political Party.

The SLPP which was created as a unifier of people was splintered. Things fell apart. The centre could not hold. The seeds of the beginning and of the end of that SLPP Era were sown.

We demonstrated the following characteristics:

(i) Ungratefulness: Our Saviour Chief Hinga Norman who the people extolled as our Hero and a major contributor to the return to peace was arrested by our own very Special Court.
(ii) Our people could also be ungrateful. The SLPP supported children at school by payment of school fees including exam fees. Families were supported by NaCSA to return home. Micro-credit facilities were issued to activate the economies of several homes. Yet you hear people say what has the party done for me??
(iii) Lack of respect: Previous Elders that had served the party well were discarded and had little to say in party affairs.
(iv) Malice and Backbiting became the order of the day, as new political entrants viciously fought to elbow out the old. The Regional political heads that had emerged could hardly be described as "team players", each having had his own agenda.
(v) Any institution involves a pecking order. Some could progress rapidly in relation to the others, but the group should always be able to assess where you belong. Our party had no such hierarchy. Any new comer with some funds, or highly educated is catapulted to the helm of the party even though they would not have imbibed the partys culture.
(vi) The issue of the self over party interest then became apparent. This widened the divisions within the party with regards the choice of "Running Mate". Since the culture of Monkey woke, Monkey eat was constituted, aspirants competed in hiring chant groups/ Regional groups/ yelibas to extol their virtues to the Leader. Over ten aspirants emerged. The North became divided.
(ix) Because of the new sycophancy that prevailed, our campaign involved trailing the flag bearer wherever he went, and bribe to be allocated seats as close to him as possible. Some call it "Strategic Location", all in the name of visibility for running mate. Did we campaign in our Constituencies?
The core SLPP stayed in the background, watching this new found phenomenon unfold. What was becoming of our party?
What would have become of us if we had won?
(vii) New Campaign Structures were created Nacama, Friends of Solo B, Solo Babes, Allied Forces, Working Groups, etc. - all outside the main framework of District/Chiefdom SLPP Executives.
(viii) Funding to the main SLPP structures dried up. The structures in place were unlinked and created parallel systems. This did not work.
(x) Our programmes after 2002 were well focused on supporting the Rural Poor. Rightly so. This was in line with the Tenets of poverty alleviation. We however did not adequately address the urban population and infrastructure.

No Electricity in Freetown
No Water supply in Freetown, Kono and Makeni

Weak Road construction or rehabilitation programmes to provide employment opportunities for youths or to show structural achievement Goderich peninsula stretch would have served the purpose if it had been completed.
(xi) Having negotiated debt relief and started to benefit from the debt dividend we agreed not to access Le 540B stashed at our own Central Bank. What naivety? Our programmes were starved during election year, yet we accepted not to access our money in our Controlled Bank.
(xii) The introduction of Primaries to choose candidates was a new phenomenon. Aspirants became financially bankrupt after this exercise and had little funding for the actual campaign.

The eventual results spoke volumes. The people wanted a change. Our Team was not considered "Fresh Enough" to provide that change. Yet we did remarkably well.

Analysis of the result demonstrates:

(1) SLPP strongholds are infiltrated by other parties
(2) The perception of non-support in North and Western Area is not correct.

THE WAY FORWARD

We are a strong party. We are a strong people. We have returned to the very sight where we started our demise to Reposition ourselves for 2012.

We have learnt our mistakes, and are stronger than before.

SLPP Stronger than before
SLPP Stronger than before

We now know that:

(1) Elections involve

- Winning the hearts and minds of people
- Courting the International Community particularly Neighbouring Countries
- Being in the good books of the security apparatus. Management of Elections is as important as winning the Hearts and Minds of People
- Repositioning the party to counter intimidation as we continue to extol the virtues of peace dividend.

(2) The party was crafted on the spirit of oneness similar to the motto of the Fourah Bay College Not for self but for others.
Of late the self self-self; me-me-me, has become too strong.
-It is vital for in depth consultations to be used for sensitive decisions/positions

(3) Use of money as campaign tool must be discouraged. These positions are non salaried and deemed as Service to the party. Those that bribe others to aspire to these positions cannot have the party at heart but themselves.
- People elected to serve must be "Team Players". However good you are, your interpersonal relationship is vital for you to be a unifier not a divider.

(4) Party Structures:

- Chiefdom Executives/Constituency Executive/ District Executive/ Regional Executive are the representatives of the party.
Other associates/ groups are not the party organ.
They could be complimentary to the party structure but should not supersede the party structure.

(5) We lost or did poorly in certain Regions. Executives in those Regions should graciously step aside and allow injection of fresh faces that will reflect the tribal mix of the constituency. It is wrong to have an Executive in the Western area for example that constitutes people from one Region of Sierra Leone.
-People chosen should be trust worthy and should appreciate the culture of the party. We should be careful about Watermelon Politics.
(6) Our linkage with media print/electronic was weak; such that programmes and policies were not disseminated to the people, both local and in the Diaspora.
-The Unity Radio: has started to address this but requires names of leading promoters from all Regions of Sierra Leone, such that every tribe would have a voice they associate with
-It is also time that we consider exclusive SLPP television programs at SLBS or our own TV Station.

(7) We should reconcile with our key players

Dr Prince Harding
Abdul Thorlu Bangura
Emmanuel Grant
Banda Thomas
John Leigh (USA)
Theresa Koroma

(8) Each party member is as important as the other. Therefore all members must learn to contribute financially, however small, to the party on a monthly basis. Each member should be able to do so with pride and conviction that the party is ours. Those that have the means to do more.so be it. This should be done willingly for the party but not for the position. But they should not see themselves the divine Leaders of the party.
(9) Require a team for strategic thinking that would incorporate all shades and views but always keep the culture of the party in focus.
- Encourage new members in a focused and gradual ascension profile not motivational catapulting strategy.

In choosing a leader, factors to consider should include:

a unifier
a builder and supporter of the weak
a visionary for the development of Sierra Leone
a face that portrays hope

One Country One People
SLPP Stronger than before
SLPP 2012 12 Oclock SHARP


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