There are at least nine candidates competing for the SLPP presidential flagbearership.
A massive turnout of supporters is expected at the event in Kenema on Saturday, 28th May, which will be followed by a launching tour of Kailahun, Bo, Kono, Kabala and other strategic cities and towns, where Alie will meet large numbers of grassroots members and delegates, who will be taking part in the forthcoming party convention.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph talks to Alie Kabba.
A spokesman for Alie Kabba in Freetown told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that “the game plan is to win with a convincing margin. Momentum is on our side at the moment.”
The editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Abdul Rashid Thomas, spoke with Alie Kabba, about the formal launching of his campaign and declaration of his interest to stand for the presidential flagbearership, and put the following questions to him.
Q. Since arriving in Sierra Leone last December, You have been very busy travelling the length and breadth of Sierra Leone, talking to people about issues that matter to them most – the economy, poor governance, injustice and the government’s poor performance record in running the country. How would you assess your chances now of winning the forthcoming SLPP flagbearership election?
Kabba: Campaigning from abroad and being in the arena are very different things, as I quickly found. I know that the radical progressive vision that I want to implement on behalf of our suffering people is practical and comes from deep love of country. But, it is necessary to be here in the trenches with the people for whom I am fighting the good fight.
I think that the Alie Kabba Campaign has made significant strides in broadening the base of support in all regions and among key demographic groups.
Yes, I have travelled the length and breadth of Sierra Leone on a ‘listening tour’, and met with stakeholders from all walks of life.
I have consistently and fearlessly spoken out on their behalf and articulated my vision for the country everywhere I have visited – in the slums of Freetown as well as desolate communities, in places like Kailahun, Pujehun, Kenema, Tonkolili, Bombali and Bo Districts.
I have focused on the positive role that SLPP could serve as a vehicle for systemic change that will restore our national dignity and optimism about the future, after years of APC misrule.
I am humbled by the overwhelmingly positive reception I have received everywhere in Sierra Leone. The unemployed youth in street corners and ‘ataya’ bases; underpaid teachers and nurses; market women who toil under the hot sun; okada riders who are harassed daily by the police; fishermen with little or no fish to sell after a long day out in the sea; retirees who struggle to get their pension – they get it and they know that I represent a hopeful break from the shackles of greedy and corrupt politicians.
They know that real solutions, and not mushy warm-over, are needed to stop the downward slide of the country; and they know that I can fight the good fight for them to make Sierra Leone a shining light on the hilltop of Africa.
As an activist and community organizer, I like my fighting chances in the race to be the next President of Sierra Leone. I take nothing for granted, as I take my winning message on the road across the country.
Looking at the dynamics of the race from many critical angles, an increasing number of keen observers on the ground now assert that I offer a highly competitive platform to win and take SLPP to State House, with a majority in parliament.
Q. On Saturday, 28th May, you will officially declare your intent to contest the SLPP presidential flagbearship, and effectively launch your national campaign to become the president of Sierra Leone in 2018. Tell us about the campaign.
Kabba: The campaign has been great. I have seen the extent of the economic devastation our beautiful country is going through. I have been able to speak out on bread and butter issues. And I have consistently articulated a radical progressive vision, that is necessary to lift this country from the muck.
I have been able to break bread with my fellow citizens in villages, towns and hamlets throughout the country. And I have met with stakeholders from all strata in the party structure.
I have not just been making speeches. I have been listening and listening well, too.
I have strategically laid the foundation of a new kind of campaign architecture, that will harness the power of the voiceless and marginalized 99% to achieve overwhelming electoral victory and knock out the greedy and corrupt 1% from power.
I have invested time and energy in engaging the youth, whose future has been battered by failed regimes for far too long.
I believe that it is time for the youth of Sierra Leone to unleash their power and energy, to ensure that the country gets back on the path of sound democratic governance, rule of law, and real prosperity for every citizen.
Today, in spite of monkey wrenches thrown at me, I can say with confidence that the state of my campaign for the SLPP flagbearership and President of Sierra Leone is excellent.
Ours is the fastest growing grassroots campaign in the country, fueled by our passion and patriotic zeal to end the predatory politics of the current ruling cabal, whose primary expertise lies in siphoning public funds to their private bank accounts.
Q. What role have you played so far in helping the SLPP party resolve the deep divisions that exist in the party?
Kabba: I have made it clear, in my public pronouncements and in small strategic settings with party apparatchiks, that a house divided cannot dislodge the APC from power. Our silly internecine battles, simply hobble us as APC smiles at our misdirected fire. We need to have unity.
I have not only advocated for peace and unity, but also walked the talk.
I am a unifier with a proven record of working well with everyone in the party. (Photo: Alie Kabba – left and Alpha Timbo – right).
I believe in building bridges, not walls. I am part of everything that brings our party together. But I am not a part of anything that is against anyone in our grand old party.
I have deep affection and respect for my fellow contenders, because I know the strength of conviction someone needs to run for president.
At the end of this journey, we will have to come together, so why not make that process easy by simply showing respect for all? (Photo: Alie Kabba – right and Maada Bio – left).
We must be a united party if we want victory in 2018. As I have always maintained, we must all do our part to tone down the bellicose rhetoric and actions that are tearing our party apart. Let peace and unity prevail at all levels of our party structure. That’s the only path to victory.
Q. Are you confident of SLPP defeating the ruling APC at the polls in 2018? And why?
Kabba: I am confident that in a free and fair election and a united SLPP, we will win by a wide margin in all regions of the country. The people who are dealing with APC’s privations everyday, know that the country cannot afford five more years of APC.
They are sick and tired of the jobless and lifeless economy, and they see no light at the end of the tunnel.
Even patriotic APC folks know that they have made a mess of the country, despite the silly screams of their PR vuvuzelas. But we do need a united SLPP to fight the good fight for the people.
Yes, SLPP will be victorious, and it will be good for our democracy and economy.
Q. The capital city Freetown is in the grip of a crippling water and electricity crisis. If elected president, what would you do to solve this problem once and for all?
There is no way around the fact that the current APC government has failed to deliver on the promise of making life better for the 99% of our people. The water crisis and inconsistent power supply in Freetown reflect their inability to prioritize basic needs.
As President, I will, as a short-term measure, immediately order new pumps and machines to replace the atrocious machinery at Guma. Most of the machines and pumps are worn out and in a state of absolute disrepair.
Now, people are going to ask me: “But, Alie, where are we going to get the money?” My answer is simple: If we can waste 10 million dollars on silly red buses that breakdown left and right, and millions more on rotten ferries that don’t work, we can surely afford a few million dollars for life-sustaining water, not just in Freetown, but the rest of the country where our people are dying needlessly from waterborne diseases caused by unsanitary water.
Long term, we need modern training in water management. If we may have to bring in international experts on short-term basis to manage Guma, for example, I will do it as part of efforts to modernize and improve efficiency. We cannot afford to fool around with the health of our people.
The good news is that we are not a country in the middle of the Sahara Desert. We just need visionary leadership to fix the water crisis in Freetown and the rest of the country.
In terms of the inconsistent supply of electricity, I will have all options on the table. I am a firm believer in renewable energy, and I will allocate adequate funding for this sector in order to increase our long-term prospects for energy independence
Q. What is the key message of your SLPP presidential flagbearer campaign?
My core message is the progressive unity of the country under the SLPP umbrella. We must unite to rescue the country from the unholy mess of greedy politicians and rogue governments.
We must unite around a radical progressive vision to bring good governance to our people and to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit.
We must restore faith in government, and build an economy that lifts people out of poverty.
We must be unapologetic and unequivocal in our opposition to corruption, widening social inequality, and indifference to the plight of the poor in Sierra Leone.
As President, I will shrink the power of the presidency and size of government, and serve the nation with a solid commitment to individual liberty and the rule of law.
I will bring back the railway and establish a government-guaranteed student loan program that will enable all eligible students in colleges and universities to pay their tuition.
I will be tireless in my sustained focus to achieve national food security and manage our mineral resources to lift our people out of poverty.
I will expand the frontiers of opportunity for all with dignity and social justice. That is why I have encapsulated my vision into a simple slogan: “Everyone in, No one out! Everyone up, No one down!”