Why are you reading this article, and you are not a member of the APC? Put it down – now!!! Okay, APC members, read, and let’s start a dialogue here. Following is an excerpt from the concession speech of the former Ghanaian President, John Mahama, after his defeat in the presidential election of December, 2016: “I will urge my party members to stop the ‘blamestorming’ that has started so that we brainstorm on how to get ourselves out of the mess we have put ourselves in. The future of our great party looks gloomy and we must start to work on how to get ourselves out of what appears like an eternal stay in opposition…” (SOURCE; Ghana: Why I lost to Akufo-Addo, by President John Mahama http://gnnliberia.com/…/ghana-lost-akufo-addo-president-jo…/).
The SLPP “Blamestorming” in 2007
Post-election “Blamestorming” is not limited to Ghana. You remember after the SLPP lost the presidential election of 2007, there were apparently a lot of “blamestorming” by most of the vaunted ‘educated’ elite of the SLPP. Let’s push back to 2002. The SLPP presidential candidate, Tejan Kabbah, had won an unprecedented landslide victory in the 2002 election – 72% of the votes cast. The SLPP held its ground in its traditional strongholds in the South/East – getting an average of 95% of the votes there; with 99% in districts like Bonthe and Pujehun. The shocker!! The SLPP beat the APC in three districts in their own strongholds in the North/West – Koinadugu, Kambia, and even Freetown. After that 2002 electoral victory, the SLPP moved into the 2007 elections with supreme confidence. They apparently thought that whoever they elected as their flag bearer would be elected President. The SLPP grossly underestimated the APC!! Why not? In the 1996 elections, the APC just squeaked into Parliament with 5% of the vote in the Proportional Representation system then; and in 2002, the APC’s presidential candidate, Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma, got merely 22% of the votes cast.
The SLPP were probably indifferent to the choice as to who to lead them to the 2007 elections. Once that choice was made, there appeared little strategy – other than ministers, and managing directors, towing behind Solomon Berewa for every campaign stop about a year to the elections. Not to campaign. But, for Berewa to ‘see them’ – and reappoint them when Berewa would become President. Too many of the educated elite among the SLPP not directly ‘laybelling’ to Berewa, formed all sorts of ‘support groups’ – more to show their loyalty to Berewa, than to strategize and campaign. The ‘masses’ quickly learned from this – and, daily, “Solo Babes”….”Belgium Sellers for Solo B”…”Shoe Shine Boys for Solo B”….sprouted up all over the country.
The SLPP’s clear reaction to the ‘SLPP heretic’, Charles Margai and his PMDC, was to public denigrate him as a “nonentity”. As it became clearer that executives among powerful international organizations that partner with Sierra Leone were manipulating the institutions they controlled to induce “regime change” in Sierra Leone, the SLPP’s public response was to encourage its “Spokesman”, Victor Reider, to go on a show of defiance on national radio!! No strategy – we learned from hindsight. Do I see a tincture of the complacency, arrogance, and proclivity of the ‘SLPP virus’ in the APC?
‘War’ is the PRINCIPAL LAW of …”God”
“The problem for us is that we are trained and prepared for peace, and we are not at all prepared for what confronts us in the real world – war…This war exists on several levels. Most obviously, we have our rivals on the other side. The world has become increasingly complex and nasty. In politics, business, even the arts, we face opponents who will do almost anything to gain an edge. Most troubling and complex, however, are the battles we face with those who are supposedly on our side…” – The 33 Strategies of War, by Robert Greene (Published by Profile Books, UK, 2007). Don’t proceed. Read that quote three times. Put this newspaper down. Reflect on the words there.
Once, on social media, I posted that “God is a God of War”. There was a howl of protest against me. The fact on what I wrote, and believe in, is so obvious that it is a wonder that any educated person would challenge my premise. The lion and tiger wage war on deer and monkey to survive. The snake and frog wage war on rat and fly to survive. Big fish wage war on small fish to survive. The human species, the ultimate warrior, wage war on fishes and cows to survive. And, every second of the day there are hundreds of billions of disease-causing bacteria and viruses that are waging war on every human being – and we can only survive by waging war on these micro-organisms. Now, you may better understand Robert Greene’s quote above on the inevitability of war. The latter part of Greene’s words on the “battles we face with those who are supposedly on our side…” I had written on in this Column two years ago in a piece titled “The Internal Enemies of the APC”. (That is another story). Politics is war in another form, one thinker famously said. Politics is another form of the ‘naturalness of war’ as God has programmed all things. For now, let’s realize that in every war , victory is more guaranteed when there is a “strategy”.
Strategy is not “recommendation” or noise-causing
“The word ‘strategy’ comes from the ancient Greek work strategos, meaning literally ‘the leader of the army’. Strategy in this sense was the act of generalship, of commanding the entire war effort…And as this knowledge progressed, military leaders discovered that the they more they thought and planned ahead, the more possibilities they had for success. Novel strategies could allow them to defeat much larger armies ….” : Robert Greene guides us again. I have come to the conclusion that most of the educated elite among Sierra Leoneans who are to formulate strategy for political parties and institutions confuse strategy with “recommendation”.
About ten years ago, I was in a senior management retreat of a powerful public institution of Sierra Leone. A “Strategic Document” was presented by the ‘senior brass’ of that institution. Being typically outspoken, I spoke out that the document that had been presented was not a “strategy” but a series of “recommendations”. I pricked big egos. I was forced to explain myself. I said much of what Greene postulate in the quote above. Essentially, strategy is not just about stating what you would do – it includes KNOWING through use of “intelligence”, through clever thinking, what the ‘enemy’ is likely to do or throw at you: and preparing for every contingency; and, showing flexibility on the ‘battle field’ as a ‘battle’ progresses.
Not fighting the ‘past war’ in the present…
This is another lesson from Greene’s book on war that the SLPP failed to learn: “What most often weighs you down and brings you miser is the past, in the form of unnecessary attachments, repetition of tired formulas, and the memory of old victories and defeats. You must consciously wage war against the past and force yourself to react to the present moment…Wage guerilla war on your mind… Never take for granted that your past successes will continue into the future. Actually, your past successes are the biggest obstacle: every battle, every war, is different, and you cannot assume that what worked before will work today. You must cut yourself loose from the past and open your eyes to the present. Your tendency to fight the last war may lead to your final war….” STOP!!! Read that quote again ten times. Think!!
I have heard some of the ‘Old Guard’ of the APC bragging about the “99 tactics of the APC”. What they are not telling the majority youth in the country is that those 99 tactics were possible only within a particular historical, local and international scenario. Then, the SLPP easily capitulated to coercive tactics, and war had not been experienced in the country. It was the norm all over Africa for governments to bully the majority of the citizenry to sustain themselves in power. The Cold War was on – all African governments had to do was to show alignment to one or the other of the two Superpowers, the Soviet Union or the United States; and their war arsenal would be fortified. The economy of Sierra Leone was relatively booming; and the pampered educated elite were almost sure of a gilded life no matter what political party would be in power. There was almost ONE radio station, ONE newspaper. Those dynamics have changed dramatically since 1996. The 2007 elections were not won by the APC because of the 99 tactics – but, largely because of the fratricide in the SLPP. The 2012 elections were mainly won because of the charisma, likeability, and energy of President Ernest Bai Koroma; glossed by tangible and visible development all over the country in energy, road construction, agriculture, water works; and hope perked in the youth – so that, including the 98% average victory of the APC in their Northern strongholds, the APC presidential candidate won an unprecedented fairly large votes in the SLPP strongholds in the South/East: 26% in Kailahun district; 22% in Moyamba district; 16% in Pujehun district; 11% in Bonthe district; 12% in Bo Districts. These were districts were a hitherto a 4% vote for the APC would be considered very high.
The APC can win the next presidential elections!! But, there is absolutely need for thinkers and strategists. And, putting into practice this wisdom of Greene on his book on war: “Wage guerilla war on your mind… Never take for granted that your past successes will continue into the future”. Rabble rousers and noise makers are certainly necessary in any election; but, they are useful only a month or so to elections. I am optimistic that the cerebral among the APC would join me in brainstorming – and not wait like the SLPP till after the 2018 presidential election to go into the angst of “blamestorming”. As has now become my trademark sign off on social media, “I pause… Oswald Hanciles, the Guru”.