From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Ruling Party Takes Opposition Stronghold of Lugbu & Bagbo
Aug 28, 2009, 17:26

Awareness Times monitoring of the political situation in Bo district has revealed that two famous communities in the opposition stronghold district, Lugbu and Bagbo, are now under the full and effective control of the ruling All Peopleís Congress (APC) insofar as Local Governance issues were concerned.This follows the defection of one Cllr J. Stevens, who was elected as Councillor for Lugbu under the banner of the opposition Sierra Leone Peopleís Party (SLPP) but who has now defected over to the ruling All Peopleís Congress. Stevens represented the Lugbu section of the Constituency currently represented in Parliament by SLPP strongwoman, Hon. Elizabeth Alpha-Lavalie.

What has sparked some further concern in that the neighbouring Babgo community elected an APC Councillor at the last 2008 Local Government elections and that for two adjacent wards to be represented by APC Councillors will create a ripple effect in the District especially as the opposition was cash-strapped and the ruling party seemed not to have a cessation of free flow of cash.Further investigations reveal that upto ten Local Councillors from Bo District are currently compromised in the sense that they are being induced with perks and financial assistance from a trio of APC strategists in the persons of Bo District APC Chairman, Sheku Sillah, APC National Secretary General Victor B. Foh and Southern Province Resident Minister, Musa Tarawalie.

One of these councillors, Cllr Kortu (aka ONE STONE) told Awareness Times at the SLPP Party offices that he and Cllr Stevens were given a sum total of Five Million Leones and two brand new Honda Motorbikes to defect. He however confessed openly that although he had allegedly spoken to and given his word of defection, directly to President Koroma during a telephone conversation facilitated for him by Musa Tarawalie and Victor Foh, his people had warned him to return the items back and so he had returned his own 2.5 million plus his own motor-bike back to the APC and was still an SLPP member.Speaking to Awareness Times, APC Bo Chairman, Sheku Sillah boasted that "at least three" current sitting SLPP Parliamentarians and "at least ten" SLPP Councillors were now working hand in gloves with the ruling Party to promote the APCís agenda throughout Bo District. He however declined to name them for fear that the MPs especially would lose their seats in Parliament should their identities be uncovered as having switched over to the ruling APC.

He stressed that "more responsible SLPP supporters with significant followership" were switching over from the SLPP to the APC "on a daily basis". He however strongly denied that any cash or emoluments had been given as an inducement to anyone to switch political parties. Sheku Sillah claims that people are switching out of nothing but what he termed as "gradual acceptance that APC is good and SLPP is worthless"."People are not stupid. They can see the difference and they know that APC is better than SLPP for the betterment of the South so they do not want to remain on board a broken vessel but are now sailing with the APC," Sheku Sillah waxed lyrically to Awareness Times.

However, Mr. Mohamed Jabbie, the Public Relations Officer for the opposition SLPP in the District has laughed off Sheku Sillahís claims as "a big, big joke from a jester"."The APC will not make any inroads into the South. They won in Bagbo by one vote. Even then, we petitioned but the man who was representing the SLPP was bought over by Victor Foh and he stopped cooperating with the party to follow the petition through," Jabbie lamented. He however boasted that despite the financial emoluments and the alleged telephone calls between President Koroma and SLPP strongmen in the District, it will provide no benefit to the ruling party in the opposition SLPP stronghold. He insisted that even the man who won in Jimmy Bagbo known as Cllr Koker was finding it difficult to win over his own relatives to APC let alone for all of Bagbo to go totally red from green.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of hardship within Bo District just as elsewhere in the country but it is not known if the economic woes are playing a role in the reported crossing over of elected SLPP persons to the APC. It will be recalled that in Pujehun, money played a huge role in the APC winning a controversial seat in the Zimmi area from which the SLRA Boss Munda Rogers hails from. This Munda Rogersí area where the APC won in Pujehun is also home to the SLPP District Chairman Dixon Rogers and is the paternal home of SLPP National Chairman, John Oponjo Benjamin. The Southern Province which encompasses Bo and Pujehun proved to be the difficult area for the SLPP during the 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections but in the 2008 Local Government Elections, significant in-roads were made by the SLPP to regain their stronghold.

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