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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

The Current Fiasco of the APC North America Branch
By Brima Michael Turay (BMT) Sec Gen Arizona
May 26, 2009, 17:20
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Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a concerned member of the APC Arizona Chapter and the current Secretary General of the said Chapter, I wish to present the following observations regarding the current issues and subsequent suspensions of the North American Branch Chairman, Mr. Osman T. Conteh and the President of the Washington DC Metro Area Chapter, Rtd. Colonel Idriss Kamara. I have not had the opportunity to meet Mr. Osman Conteh and have only met Rtd. Colonel Idriss Kamara casually during the days of the NPRC. I therefore have no personal interest other than the interest of making sure that we continue to build and sustain a formidable team of strong men and women who have Sierra Leone as their first priority over any other political or social priorities. I read some of the correspondences and Communiqus as well as the suspension letter from the APC National Secretary Mr. Victor B. Foh. I have seen some of the intricacies and anomalies surrounding these suspensions and I now want to point out some basic truths:

The altercations between Rtd. Col Idriss Kamara and Chairman Osman T. Conteh:

That Rtd. Colonel Idriss Kamara and Chairman Osman Conteh had a very serious and heated verbal confrontation during one of the Branchs Teleconference meetings was something that I would describe as unfortunate and very embarrassing to the branch and to the National body. I respect both men but no matter how simple or serious the disagreements might have been, these seemingly fine young men should not have chosen to settle scores in this manner in the first place. Their actions clearly demonstrate professional impropriety, for which they both deserve some punishment for lacking of self-restraint.

Investigation/Facts finding Approach: The investigations by the three-man committee and the National Secretary General into the alleged misconduct by the two senior officials seem inconclusive. It seems to me like the North American Branch Chapter Presidents were not allowed sufficient time to probe into the issues and come up with a verdict on the two men. If this is the case, I think this is a very dangerous and debilitating approach to conflict resolution. It would seem like a very unfortunate precedence has been set. One that will someday come to bite us in the face and leave us blinded to the realities of sober conflict resolution methodologies. The Chapter Presidents, regardless of how serious an issue or issues might be, deserve to have the opportunity to exercise their impartial judgment on the said issue(s) and present recommendations to the National body. We need to have trust in our Chapter Presidents. After all, they are our mouthpieces when it comes to reaching out to our support-bases across North America. If we chose to ignore their voices today, it will be difficult to attract their attention in 2012.

The Suspensions from the National Secretary General, Victor Foh:

The suspension letter from the National Secretary General to Mr. Osman Conteh also contains a statement, which directly revokes the suspension of Rtd. Colonel Idriss Kamra, without any published facts on the findings. I was with the opinion that the suspensions were handed down so that the National body will have time to confer with the branch executive and come up with a way to handle this unfortunate situation. The fact that the Colonel is not under suspension pending the conclusion of investigations is, as a matter of practicality, another dangerous precedence. I may not have been an authority in conflict resolution techniques but I do know, for sure, that any suspension of a leader for alleged wrongdoing without satisfactory investigation into the allegations will potentially serve as a recipe for bad governance. I am scared to death as to what this action will lead us as a branch and as custodians of our Partys ideals in our respective Chapters. The allegations of fiscal impropriety and misuse of power contained in the petition from Rtd. Colonel Idriss Kamara against Mr. Osman T. Conteh are very serious and require steady probing to come up with the facts. Every APC supporter would like to know if these allegations have any merit at all. It is my assumption that the National body and the North American branch would not like to see the branchs resources misused by any official of the branch or an official of the national body. It is therefore our collective responsibility to probe, very carefully, into any allegations of wrongdoings, especially financial improprieties. If the allegations by Rtd. Col Idriss Kamara are anything to go by, I think it is important for us to know, between the National Secretary General and Chairman Kamara, who is telling the truth. We should continue to hold our officials responsible for their shortcomings without compromising the strength of the North American branch. The APC party, in my opinion, is more than one National Secretary General and a North American branch Chairman. The branch has many silent supporters who have done incredible things and have made selfless sacrifices over the years. They deserve our commendations and truthfulness. Let the facts be revealed as a surgical way of dealing with the current fiasco.

Leadership Representation:

The National Secretary, Mr. Foh, stated in the suspension letter that his decision came after consultations with the honorable Ambassador, Bockarie Stevens and the president of the Republic, who is also the leader of the party. This, in my opinion, is also something of great concern. Why would a branch matter draw the attention of the Ambassador, the National Secretary General as well as the President of the Republic? Let us remember that leadership has some inextricable uniqueness that comes with it; the destruction of which poses a serious threat to the center that holds everything. We have to have policies in place to deal with internal matters and we must learn to respect those policies. I dont think the president of the republic would like to hear about some of our human indifferences in the North America branch because he has a country to run. We therefore have a responsibility to wash our dirty linens within our enclave and present our best side to the public.

Dilemma:

We now find ourselves struggling to understand and decipher the reasons for the underlying current that is propelling all of this. This struggle is, in itself, a very solid premise for discord and discontent. This should therefore concern every member of the North American branch and certainly every supporter of the APC. We cannot afford to work in isolation of one another. We have never succeeded as a political party by working in isolation. We have always won elections when we come together, regardless of our likes and dislikes, to fight a common cause. We need to keep that same spirit because it is the centerpiece of our strengths in fundraising, organizing, reaching out, forming strong coalitions and standing firm even in the midst of adversity.

The Constitution of the North American Branch:

The very subtle but legitimate provisions of our By-laws should not be ignored in place of quick fixes. As a matter of honesty and straight talk, it is very scary to do so. It is scary because it will set a precedence that many members will come to exploit whenever they have the opportunity to do so. We cannot afford to operate outside of our constitution. This document should not be used for the sake of convenience. It should uphold our values as much as it reflects the same values. Whenever we have had misunderstandings in the past, we have always resolved such misunderstandings through basic rules of common sense as ensconced in our constitution and By-laws. Let us continue to follow that same spirit of conflict resolution as we forge ahead toward 2012.

Advisory Committee:

It seems to me again that the Advisory committee of the North American branch was not given the mandate to handle this issue and come up with a resolution. This, by all stretch of the imagination, is a very clear example of how not to resolve an issue. We have to be very fair and impartial in our judgment over issues of controversy. We are a political organization and therefore should be opened to criticism and allow for transparency and probity. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing but much is wrong with being disagreeable.

The Petition by Rtd. Col Idriss Kamara:

The petition by Rtd. Colonel Idriss Kamara against Chairman Osman T. Conteh seems to have ignited and prompted the Chairmans suspension. Rtd. Colonel Kamara did not make a statement condemning the manner in which the verdict was handed down against his partner-in-crime. He should be concerned that as an aspiring leader, this is not a very attractive approach to conflict resolution. The same weapon could be used against him someday. We do not want to breed factions in the North American branch. We want transparent and loyal participation in the politics of our country. Yes, it is true that the APC part is currently in power and therefore has all the money to win the next election. As we know, experience has taught us that money is no longer the answer to our politics. Our power to organize and stay the course has always been the guiding spirit of the APC and we would be failing in our duty if we let that organizational power slip away from our grip. I do not know Rtd Colonel Idriss Kamara and suspended Chairman Conteh enough to form tangible opinions of them but I suspect that there is some kind of power struggle between them. Consciously or unconsciously, Rtd. Colonel Idriss Kamara and suspended Chairman Osman T. Conteh both seem to be hanging on each others throat when it comes to matters of leadership within the branch. The petition by Rtd. Colonel Idriss Kamara against Chairman Osman Conteh speaks to these assertions. Leadership is like a process in motion. Every step of the process requires the support that usually propels the process to the next step. Any break or weakness along the support network will render the process ineffective

Conclusion:

I know what we all had to go through before the APC was able to capture power again. I have not benefited personally from my contributions to make this possible but I am grateful for the way things have changed since the APC assumed the mantle of leadership. This is a chance for the APC that must be cherished and protected if we ever want to leave an indelible hallmark in the political arena of our nation. The National leadership of the APC must, unequivocally, acknowledge our contributions toward the success of the APC. We should make sure that our hard earned pennies are put to work for the right purpose. If there is an allegation of fraud or intended fraud, we have the responsibility to pursue those allegations. After all, we are the ones who would be responsible for doing the dirty jobs at chapter level to raise some of the money that would be needed to finance the elections in 2012. We must not allow our voices to be diminished by threats and intimidations. We are the APC as the APC is to us; and we must always bear this in mind. There will be no APC without us and if we compromise our worth and usefulness to the party for the sake of expediency, we would face very bitter questions to answer in the end. Let us act now and act fast. The North America branch has the right to succeed under the legitimate leaderships.

Having made these observations, I humbly appeal to the National Secretary and the surrounding leaderships to look very critically into these issues once again and honor the voices of the majority. Let us try to maintain a stable leadership because stability is what we need if we are going to win the next set of elections in 2012. Let us return to the table of "facts finding" so that we can finally arrive at a decision that will seem impartial and acceptable by all parties involved. This is good for our politics and certainly for our ability to work together as a team. May God bless us all and help us make the right choices and the right judgments!

Brima Michael Turay (BMT) Arizona Chapter
602-413-9373


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