After a long and somewhat protracted battle to select the flagbearer of the ruling party for the coming Presidential elections, the APC party of President Ernest Bai Koroma has chosen a seasoned administrator and one time World Bank Executive who has served in various capacities under several administrations as its next leader. Dr. Samura Kamara, who until recently was the country’s Foreign Minister, was the surprise choice of the party after a mammoth meeting held in the Northern town of Makeni over the weekend. Samura Kamara has a distinguished public service record after serving as Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, and then Finance Minister, and subsequently Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone. It was during his tenure as Finance Minister in the Koroma administration that the country recorded double digits economic growth. And he is seen by the IMF as a safe pair of hands after serving the world body as a top executive.
Samura Kamara is an economist by profession and was born in Kamalo, Bombali District, in the North of Sierra Leone on April 30, 1951. He brings to his new position an enviable academic portfolio and outstanding reputation as an international public servant. As Chairman of the African Caucus constituency meetings, at the IMF, Dr Samura Kamara helped with negotiations that resulted in the continent getting the third chair on the World Bank Executive Board and a Second Alternate Chair in the IMF Executive. When Sierra Leone as a country faced significant challenges requiring thorough and sometimes sophisticated international coordination, Dr. Kamara rose up to the occasion: he succeeded in bringing back recovery after the turbulent civil war and through the recent Ebola crisis.
If he succeeds in winning the presidency, Dr. Kamara will have the opportunity to channel through his belief that monetary integration for the continent is one way to push for Africa’s development. Kamara’s thesis at University was on the monetary unification of West Africa.
Dr. Samura Kamara may have little difficulty putting together a winning team of cabinet colleagues to help him steer the state through to economic and political prosperity, as amongst the other aspirants who were challenging for the flagbearer position were some excellent and outstanding public servants including but not limited to former Works and Infrastructure Minister, Alimamy Petito Koroma, a God Fearing man who was before assuming any political role, the head of the Council of Churches in the country and a man who on several occasions has been named as the best performer amongst the president’s Ministers when he was Minister of Works. He also has a reputation for being a man of the people and extremely popular amongst the grassroots of the party. It has been reported that he has a generous heart and always a helping hand in times of need.
Another cabinet colleague he should call upon is the very eloquent and highly educated Alpha Kanu, who was one time Minister of Presidential Affairs and later, Minister of Mines and then Information before becoming an Important Special Adviser and Ambassador at Large to the president. Alpha Rashid Kanu has acquired a wealth of experience in government, something that will prove very useful if he was to serve again as a cabinet minister under Samura Kamara.
Sierra Leone will soon go to the polls to choose its next president and government, and the two main political parties are already lining up their flagbearers. The opposition SLPP party, the oldest political entity in the country has recently been embroiled in a nasty battle that has seen some rival supporters killed and some attacked viciously and wounded. Not surprising at all as this is always reminiscent of the SLPP, a party made up mostly of hoodlums and undemocratic officials who believe the only way to assume power is by violence and not by the ballot box. And it seems the SLPP has not learned its lessons after being thrashed in the 2012 elections by the APC party of the current president Ernest Bai Koroma. The rivalry though has taken a new twist at the helm of the SLPP party as you now have more credible candidates vying for the flagbearership, but the backdrop of violence may potentially deprive them of any chance to clinch power in the coming elections. For the SLPP to continue to enjoy the support of most southerners, it needs to win back power and establish itself as a potent political force once more. But the way things are unfolding, that may not happen soon.
The fact that the notorious coup plotter and former Junta leader, Julius Maada Bio’s name is once more listed as a potential flagbearer, spells disaster for a party whose name has become synonymous with failure, corruption, and violence. No matter how the SLPP paints itself green, the chances of winning an election in Sierra Leone is nil. Potential flagbearer, Kandeh Yumkella, a former UN Undersecretary General and Director General of UNIDO had offered the greatest hope the SLPP may have had but it seems the aloofness, treachery, and subversiveness of the party hierarchy may be his biggest stumble block yet. Bio’s relentless pursuit of power out of greed may finally spell doom for a party that sells itself as the party of the people.
The SLPP’s lack of cohesiveness should not be taken for granted this time by the ruling APC. With its current leadership, the party has enough clout to sell itself to the electorate after delivering the biggest economic and infrastructural transformation the country has ever seen since independence under the outstanding leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma. Koroma has become the darling of the West as world leaders queue to have him by their side to register their admiration and respect for the remarkable work he has done to change the face of the sub-Saharan African state. Koroma’s reputation and achievements may become an important asset for Samura Kamara as an important milestone and legacy have already been carved out for the ruling party and it will be Kamara’s task to build on that and express his manifesto to heavily reflect on that.
By electing Samura Kamara as the next president of Sierra Leone, the country will be choosing a fine gentleman with an impeccable track record as a go-getter and one who has always put his country first by being its voice during pertinent international monetary deliberations including delicate negotiations on world trade and the global economy.
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