The argument of the now ruling Sierra Leone People Party or SLPP when they were reviewing the 1995 SLPP constitution is still reverberating in my mind.
That review happened in late 2008 shortly after the SLPP lost the 2007 Presidential election to the All People Congress (APC) of President Ernest Bai Koroma.
According to the SLPP then, the reason for reviewing the SLPP constitution was to make the party very much democratic and powerful than individuals, presupposing that it came to a time that former President Kabbah who was leader of the SLPP became very much powerful than the party to the point that he single-handedly gave the Party Solomon Berewa to run the flag of the SLPP in 2005.
This 2009 SLPP reviewed constitution was praised as one of the best in the sub-region, apparently copying the style of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa.
It is the constitution which the SLPP used in both the 2012 and 2018 elections for which they ended up victorious in the latter.
Critics of the new SLPP constitution, believed that there is nothing wrong with the 2009 SLPP constitution and it is a document that should have stood the test of time had it not been for apologists of President Bio who believed that their political relevance is attached to him (Bio).
In Sierra Leone, when political parties are out of power, they see nothing wrong with their constitution and they even clamor for democratic reforms but as soon as they are in power, brownnosers within this parties will want to consolidate more powers.
Now that the SLPP is in power, they have suddenly destroyed the democratic credentials they once trumpeted by reviewing their 2009 constitution to go back to the 1995 SLPP constitution which makes the Flagbearer of the Party automatically leader and his running mate the deputy leader of the party, leaving no room for internal checks and balances.
Not that everything in the SLPP revised constitution is bad- among other things it has got a youth conference and a women conference different from the national conference which will save the party resources and serve as breeding ground for young politicians
On the other hand, the now main opposition (APC) has been using the same constitution since the return to democracy in 1996 and they were happy with it not until recently when they were removed from office.
The situation in Makeni which saw former President Koroma depriving delegates of the party from voting their own candidate, kicked the party out of power and saw the rise of many reformation movements in the party, calling for one of the contentious clauses in the APC 1995 constitution to be repealed.
Protectors of the old guards within the APC, most of whom are young people were the ones who asked former President Koroma to be chairman and leader for life even in a situation that he should now be a senior statesman.
Some are uneasy that their political relevance will wane out if Koroma decides to step aside and becomes a senior statesman hence they are advising otherwise
Similarly, the SLPP, once celebrated for its democratic tenets is slowly eluding those values to create another demigod within their party.
According to Umaru Napoleon Koroma, secretary general of the SLPP, by adopting the now revised constitution, President Julius Maada Bio has not only become the leader of the party but also the undisputed flagbearer of the party while the Vice President Juldeh Jalloh has automatically become the running mate of the party for the 2023 elections.
Sadly, this has closed the door on people who might want to contest President Bio for the flagbearership of the party.
Despite the SLPP is in power, majority of their party supporters are disgruntled with the level of greed and selfishness some of those who are in positions of trust have exhibited on grassroot.
Reports have it that some have even died as a result of stress because what they thought will happen when their party is in power has not happened.
The new constitution has also made all other executive members answerable to the leader who is the flagbearer of the party and the President of Sierra Leone-given so much power to an individual.
President Bio should be careful for people around him so that he will not become a demigod rather he should ensure the party is strong enough to be able to critic his actions and inactions so that he would be a good leader at the end of the day.
It is my belief that until the political parties are able to imbibe democratic values, they won’t be able to respect those values when they are in power.