I have been looking at some of the statistics of last year’s presidential elections and have started to wonder what would have happened had Victor Bockarie Foh or Samuel Samsumana been APC flagbearer instead of the dour and inarticulate Samura Kamara.
From the voting statistics, it appears that all the APC needed to win the presidency was to be slightly competitive in the Southeast. Sierra Leoneans vote along ethnic and regional lines. This means that Foh and Samsumana would have gotten more votes in the Southeast than did Samura Kamara. That Kamara was blown out in that region didn’t come as a surprise.
Thus, all other things remaining the same, Foh, who is Mende, and Samsumana, who is Kono, could have peeled away Southeastern votes from president Julius Maada Bio thereby possibly winning the presidency. Did the tribally and regionally conscious APC learn anything from this? Probably not.
A fundamental problem with the APC lies in its archaic test of Limbaness when it comes to its presidential candidate. The candidate must either be 100% Limba or at least 50% Limba for him to get the nod of flagbearer. This perverted unwritten law has hurt the party in the past and will continue to hurt it in the foreseeable future.
Will the young Turks in the APC change the party’s fortune by wresting power and leadership from the old and tired brigades? Probably. Looking at the old and wrinkled faces of Ernest Koroma, Minkailu Mansaray and Osman Yansaneh and juxtaposing them with the youthful and vibrant faces of president Maada Bio, Dr. Juldeh Jalloh and professor David Francis gives you an idea as to why the APC is dying slowly. Politics is about imagery and personality.
I do not expect the APC to win in 2023 no matter who the presidential candidate would be. President Bio and the SLPP are gradually making inroads in the North that will yield dividends come 2023. Additionally, unlike the SLPP, the APC only wins major elections when it receives help from the government in power, the electoral commissioner or the police.
In fact, Siaka Stevens once mused that the APC cannot win free and fair elections. He could not have been more correct. The odds are weighing against the APC in 2023 and it is expected that the politically savvy president Bio will close all the loop holes for APC electoral cheating. Thus, any inspired performance by the APC would be a farfetched proposition.
Nonetheless, opening the party up and breaking it out of its effete cocoon and electing a Southeastern presidential candidate will set the stage for a dramatic comeback in 2028.
A Limba or a Limba-Themne candidate would fall squarely on his face thereby producing the usual negative result in the Southeast. The Southeast is more homogeneous ethnically than the North. Six of the seven districts in the Southeast have a Mende majority and predominantly speak the Mende Language. Thus, compared to the North with its heterogeneity, voter mobilization behind a cause is a lot easier in the Southeast than it is in the North.