Each of the twenty-three contenders for the Leadership and president of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) are competent by all indications to lead the party and indeed preside over the presidium of Sierra Leone. In the individual rights of these people, they hold strong personalities and characters which the tendency of pulling support for the party in the forthcoming presidential election.
However, these people, no matter their strong personalities and characters, have inextricably different personality traits, competences and capabilities; based on their individual experiences, which when put into proper perspective would tend to put some above others, in terms of their expected outputs as leader of the country’s oldest political party; a party that has made the greatest impact on the political, social and civil consciousness of Sierra Leoneans. Putting these traits into perspective also highlights the positive impact each of these individuals will make at the presidency as a servant of the people.
In this piece, I focus my opinion spotlight on Dr. Alpha Tejan Wurie, former Minister of Education, Science and Technology; a position he held in the erstwhile SLPP government under Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah for an enviable ten years. Being the head of Sierra Leone’s immediate post war education reformation and transformation programmes, what he did in that Ministry with regards revitalizing and reinvigorating education such that this key social obligation of government reaches every Sierra Leonean door step is remarkable and remains an effective blueprint for the future development of education in the country. This is what puts him in good stead for consideration as leader of the main opposition party the SLPP, being a pragmatist, a positivist and a realist. His works as Minister of Education are spread every where in the country, giving his proclivity to always make a difference in other people’s lives.
The ‘Sababu’ Education Programme is a case in point. It is the brainchild of Dr. Wurie, which has earned him the name, Sababu Wurie. The word ‘Sababu’ transcends most of the local tribes in Sierra Leone. The word is used in Kuranko, Kono, Limba, Madingo, Mende, Fullah, Loko, Themne, Susu and so on, and the meaning is almost the same in these dialects. Basically, it means ‘opportunity’, that is the Sababu Education Project championed by Dr. Wurie was to give opportunity to category of marginalized and less privileged in our society, the girl-child, to access and gain education. This made and continues to make positive impacts on the lives of these set of Sierra Leoneans and equally so has transformed the age-old tradition which had so kept at bay girls and women development in the country. Wurie Sababu, by virtue of the Sababu Education project demystified the taboo of having the girl-child sent to school, a tradition which in itself stalled the exploitation of those girls especially in tradition-held regions of the North and East of the country. Today, the girl-child has the urge for education by virtue of which advocacy has been stepped up against their early marriage and other inhibiting factors that militated against their human development.
Through Wurie Sababu’s vision, Sierra Leone is in a comfortable position in achieving one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), educational for all. It is through Dr. Wurie’s far-sightedness that access to education which had been an anathema in the middle level human development of the country has been enhanced, by diversifying education to incorporate technical vocational skills training, especially after the war. He notes, “The major thing that we were able to put together allows us to create major reforms after the war; the putting back of the education sector on its feet. It may not be the best strategy, but and better wrong from which a good strategy can be developed.” By the clairvoyance of Wurie Sababu, there is not a single village or town in Sierra Leone today where formal education is not a priority to all and sundry.
Dr. Wurie is a determined man. He is determined at seeing his fellow human beings development in their own right and he believes that this can be achieved with the right opportunity is given at the right time.
Administering Sierra Leone in this day and age requires resilience, commitment and ardent desire to achieve positive results. Sierra Leone does not need a leadership and a political system that bank on political schism in pursuance of sheer populism. Rather, Sierra Leone needs a leader that has human and social development initiatives and has the fortitude to ensuring their successes. This is what can be found in Dr. Wurie.
At the time he was re-appointed as Minister of Education, Science and Technology following the restitution of constitutional order in February 1998, it was already evident he would have to be the Minister of that sensitive state organ. The Teachers, in particular the Sierra Leone Teacher’s Union had already taken the decision that it must be Dr. Wurie. His mere one year on the job had endeared him to the country’s foremost labour group and its other component, the Student’s Union, comprised of educated and highly critical members. His high negotiation skills, his tolerance, and his combined acumen as an academician, technician and businessman helped him navigate smoothly through what had been turbulent times over salary increases and or reduction of fees and other charges for tertiary students.
That experience which he went through for ten years, amidst a convivial teamwork is enough to conclude that Alpha Wurie is mature enough to stand the heat of both the running of the SLPP and the presidency of Sierra Leone.
He says he believes in teamwork. Therefore as a leader, Dr. Wurie believes in working with people to develop great ideas that will have huge positive impacts on their lives.
Dr. Wurie’s ideology around togetherness, unity in diversity of ideas and the push for development correlates very well with the SLPP general principles and ideals viz; being all encompassing, non regional, non tribal, considering Sierra Leone as a single entity with no political, tribal or regional boundaries as being currently demarcated by parochial politics perpetuated by the All People’s Congress (APC) party, etc.
With his strong pedigree in the SLPP, Dr. Wurie reflects the beauty of the SLPP. He is all encompassing; he is non tribal or regionalist, likes seeing people development in dignity and he respects other people and their views, respects tradition and gives opportunity to other to grow and he appreciates intellect and appreciates the desire to achieve not for himself but for others. He asserts, “I will bank on not what I will do, but what other people will do with me as their leader.”
Dr. Wurie therefore is a new phenomenon in Sierra Leone’s politics as he is man whose name and works cut across the length and breadth of the country thus making it a household name. With him as leader of the SLPP and President, you fully assured of ‘Sababu’-the opportunity to grow and develop as a human being with the dignity you deserve. Watch out for him! Make him your choice! You will never regret you did.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.