5 For SLPP Running Mate

The attention of political parties and the public is normally focused on the elections/selections of presidential flagbearers who represent the faces and ideals of the parties. This, to a very large extent, plays a big role in shaping up the pattern of public votes. Normally, once a party elects its presidential flagbearer, it is left with the standard-bearer and the party leadership to elect/select a suitable running-mate to add value to the race for the country’s presidency.

It could be recalled that during the November 2012 multitier elections, when Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio was elected as the Sierra Leone People’s Party presidential candidate, he and the party leadership chose Dr. Kadi Sesay, a leading academic, human rights and women’s liberation activist whose origin is Port Loko but was born in Rotifunk in the Moyamba District, as his running-mate. The reason for this choice, according to report, was obvious given regional and gender balance.

This weekend, the opposition SLPP will from among five eligible candidates elect its presidential candidate for the 7th March, 2018 national elections. The five flagbearer aspirants are Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio, John Oponjo Benjamin aka JOB, Dr. Alie Kabba, Ing. Munda Rogers, Oseh King and Ambassador Umaru Bond Wurie and whoever emerges as the presidential candidate will have to hang heads with the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party to select appoint or select the running-mate.

According to party sources, five stalwarts in the SLPP have shown interest in becoming the presidential running-mate. They are veteran politician, Hon. Emmanuel O. Grant aka Toesman, Hon. Dr. Princess Babagigeda, Lawyer Alpha Timbo, Dr. Alpha Tejan Wurie and Amb. Umaru Bond Wurie.

With many political pundits predicting that Maada Bio, who hails from Bonthe in the Southern Province, will be elected the SLPP 2018 presidential candidate in order to strike a regional balance, he and the party will have to consider a Northerner or a Westerner as running-mate. It is more or less expected that Maada Bio and the party will settle for a Northerner as the region has the highest number of constituencies and voters. That is the region where the SLPP has a herculean work to do if it is to win the majority of seats in Parliament and the presidential election.

While all the people who have expressed interest to become the party’s presidential running-mate are very competent and capable of effectively playing the presidential support role if the party wins the 2018 national elections, many people are of the opinion that Ambassador Bond Wurie fits the role perfectly.

To start with, Ambassador Bond Wurie is a distinguished senior citizen with an impeccable record of honesty, sincerity and dedication to the party for which he is highly respected by the entire membership. Also, during all the years that the party was engaged in personality and ideological conflicts, he never took sides; instead, he was always seen advocating for party unity and peace. The party therefore sees him as an embodiment of peace and unity and his social interactions cut across regions, ethnicity and social status.

Nationally, it is interesting to note that Ambassador Bond Wurie has the political clout and commands respect among his political peers. He is the only Ambassador to have dutifully served three successive governments – the All People’s Congress (APC) that first appointed him, the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) military regime, and the SLPP when the country returned to democracy in 1996. Ambassadors are usually changed when power changes hand from one party to another, but because of his outstanding performance as a diplomat, Ambassador Wurie was never recalled by any of the three governments he served with assiduity. Rather, it was he who asked to be recalled home after serving the country in Germany.

Ambassador Bond Wurie as SLPP running-mate can play a critical role in winning votes for the party in not only his home district of Karene but also across the entire Northern Region as his roots run deep. He hails from a ruling family that is highly respected for its contribution to the region’s educational and socioeconomic development.

Should the party win the 2018 national elections, Ambassador Bond Wurie’s vast experience as a diplomat and his top level contacts in the diplomatic world would be of immense value to attract aid from development partners such as Germany and the European Union (EU).