APC In Dilemma

 

Like a ship going through the eye of a storm, concerned members and supporters of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party are praying that as they are going through a difficult trying period, cool heads prevail so that with all hands on deck, the ship would not break into pieces and that they can safely reach calmer waters.

It cannot be denied that rancor and ideological conflicts have plagued APC ever since the results of the 31st March,  2018 presidential runoff election were announced on 4th April, 2018 that saw the party lose the seat of state power to their arch political rival, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). As it stands, there is running battle going on inside APC between the reformers and the old guards, with the reformers under the name of National Reforms Movement (NRM) agitating vociferously for a change of the old guards.

Dating back to around mid last year, the NRM amidst the anguish and wringing of hands that APC had been plunged into by their shocking presidential election loss, NRM stepped out of the blues and accused the National Advisory Committee (NAC), the second highest decision-making body in the APC, of being responsible for the party’s calamitous election defeat and called for not only a constitutional review, but also the resignation of the current NAC.

As the tug-of-war between the two forces took place, NRM succeeded in winning a critical concession from the old guards – acceptance that they were part of the party; that they have a right to call for reforms and therefore acceptance by the executive that a constitutional committee would be set up to review the party’s 1995 Constitution with particular reference to the selection clause. The committee was to have submitted its report at the end of this January. When the committee failed to publish the report without communicating to the general membership as to why the delay, the NRM came out again strongly to reiterate their demand that the current NAC or National Executive should go. The movement accused them of trying to manipulate to keep themselves in position until the 2023 national elections.

As the matter stands, the party is in dilemma as both sides refuse to make further concessions to each other, with some insisting that the old guards should go while others say they should stay. Those who want the old guards to go have argued that they (old guards) are unable to play up to the ruling SLPP because they have been intimidated by legal actions, at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the three Commissions of Inquiry investigating senior officials of the erstwhile APC Government. Therefore, they are afraid to stand up and speak the truth because of the issues swirling over them and should therefore take the backseat and give space to people, who the current government has nothing against, to lead the party.

On the other hand, those supporting the old guards to stay on and continue to provide the party with leadership have argued that the current NAC have since the party lost the 2018 elections tried to unite the party and meet with APC victims of post-election violence, those who lost their jobs and those that have been marginalized and bullied. They have also been attending funerals of party members and assisting those who are financially constrained. Along this line, those in support of the current NAC also argued that their financial power, know-how, maturity and experience are crucially needed by the party to win the 2023 national elections.

Above all, some of the current executive members are seen as relevant to the party because you need strong people in leadership positions to guide and protect the party at a time when, according to them, it is under heavy siege from the ruling party. “Those calling for this executive to go should realize we are going through a tough trial period and any change of leadership now will spell disaster,” one supporter of the old guards said.

Moreover, there are many who are concerned that the way and manner the reformists are going about the business of agitating in an uncompromising attitude for change is doing more harm than good. Instead of trying to split the party ideologically, they would be called upon to respect party unity as there is dire need for the party to stay together during this difficult transition period.

Meanwhile, though the current National Chairman and Leader, erstwhile President Ernest Bai Koroma has made it categorically clear that he no longer has interest in the party leadership, he however cautioned that quitting now would spell disaster. Moreover, leaving now would be seen by many as a betrayal of the party at a time when it is under the weather. As such, many party members and supporters from within and without the party have questioned which way would APC go into 2023?