The Vice-President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Samuel Sam Sumana, has called on Sierra Leoneans to eschew dirty politics, inculcate the noble ideals of nationalism and support President Ernest Koroma’s Agenda For Change. The Vice-President said he stands solidly behind President Koroma in his drive to make Sierra Leone a better nation and warned members of the opposition not to try to divide the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC ). The elated and happy Vice -President Sumana was speaking during an exclusive interview this evening with the COCORIOKO newspaper . ( The interview was conducted by Messrs Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu and Foday Mansaray ).
VICE-PRESIDENT ALHAJI SAMUEL SAM SUMANA
The COCORIOKO interview came at the heels of the Vice-President’s exoneration during a major press conference held at his office this morning during which he successfully debunked false allegations made by a U.S. businessman . It must be recalled that a week ago , a letter from Mr. Mark Heiligman , a former business partner of the V-P , was published in the rabidly pro-opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) online newspaper, The New People. In the letter, Mr. Heiligman levied unsubstantiated allegations against the V-P and mentioned President Koroma’s name in his complaint. However, Mr. Heiligman quickly reversed himself shortly after, apologizing passionately to President Koroma for adding his name in his letter, saying that he does not know the President , has never met him in person and has never engaged in business transactions with him.
A day later, Heiligman came under fire as his own business partners on whose behalf he had claimed to talk–Messrs Todd Franck and Dave Kloeber–came out strongly to dissociate themselves from his utterances and blasted him , accusing him of a number of criminal activities and asserting that he was being manipulated by the opposition in Sierra Leone . All investigations and inadvertent goofs by SLPP operatives have left no doubt that these latest allegations against the V-P were machinated by an increasing restless and desperate opposition.
Today, V-P Sumana exonerated himself during his mammoth press conference in Freetown during which he presented documents and other records which proved that Heiligman’s charges against him were false.
COCORIOKO asked Vice-President Sam Sumana how he felt to be exonerated today .
V-P SAM SUMANA : I feel beyond myself. This is beyond me. This is beyond everyone of us. It is beyond Sam Sumana .It is beyond the APC. It is Sierra Leone that was exonerated and I am so glad. You won’t believe it. Since the press conference this morning , I have received over one thousand calls and texts from jubilant people congratulating me . They know all the efforts we in this government are making to rebrand this country for a lunatic man to just get up and try to destroy everything we have done. I am therefore glad that not Sam Sumana but Sierra Leone was exonerated today.
COCORIOKO : Where did all these charges come from ? Why all these false accusations at this time when we are few months away from elections ?
VP SAM SUMANA : The allegations were politically orchestrated. They were completely false. The SLPP are trying to divide the APC before the elections. They know I come from Kono, which holds the key to the forthcoming elections. They want us to go into a runoff. They know that if they destroy me and divide us , we will not be able to win Kono District. They are working towards a South/East divide that they will use to their advantage. It is not only Sam Sumana they are fighting. They are fighting the APC to divide us before the elections. It is not surprising that the SLPP is targeting me. I have destroyed their strongholds in Kono and the South/East.
COCORIOKO : What is the APC’ s strength in the South/East that is driving the SLPP to such desperately dirty politicking against you ?
V-P SAM SUMANA : We have 90% support in Kono District alone. I have also gone to Kailahun and Kenema and weakened the SLPP in some of their strongholds. We put in a great showing in Constituency 4 in Buedu which is the heartland of the SLPP during the bye-elections. We lost by only 300 votes which is a sign that we have penetrated their stronghold. And we have not given up. You would not believe this. One day, Dr. Sama Banya approached me and said : ”V-P, it looks like you want to take my territory from me. ” I responded by saying that I am not taking anybody’s territory. It is everybody’s territory. I made a regional tour in the entire South/East and the response from the people was overwhelming. I helped carry development projects to some parts of the South/East.
COCORIOKO : It looks like the APC understands the strategic importance of Kono and will go all out to continue holding it. Can you name some of the development projects the APC has undertaken there that is forcing you to confidently say that the APC has 90% support there ?
VICE-PRESIDENT SAM SUMANA : Even as I am talking to you right now, the poles are being conveyed to Kono to restore electricity there. The poles are on the way to Kono right now. We are also doing the study on water supply .We plan to restore pipe-borne water there too. Construction of the internal city road started but due to the heavy rains presently, it has been temporarily suspended. Work on the reconstruction of the Matotoka- Kono Road will start soon.
COCORIOKO : Some of the SLPP supporters online are claiming that these allegations against you have divided the APC . How true is this ?
V-P SAM SUMANA : This is absolutely untrue. It is all part of the dirty politics they are playing. There is no rift within the APC. This was a predominantly SLPP plot against me, the President and the party. I did not see any internal intrigues. Whatever it is, this has unified the APC even more. The SLPP is in a state of disarray. They are confused.They have no credible agenda to present to the people and so all they are doing now is to smear the name of the government. The SLPP wants to divide the APC,but they will not succeed. We are united and I am solidly behind President Ernest Bai Koroma and I fully support him. I am advising the SLPP strongly to stop trying to divide the APC.
COCORIOKO : Mr. V-P, please give your opinion about this dirty politicking that has become a feature of SLPP campaign strategy ? How far do you think it will carry them in their quest to return to power ?
V-P SAM SUMANA : The SLPP is very frustrated. They cannot match our records in socio-economic and political developments. They cannot match us in anything. That is why they depend on dirty politicking. But I want to appeal to the SLPP and all Sierra Leoneans. Dirty politics will not help Sierra Leone. Let us concentrate on rebuilding our country, inculcate the noble ideals of nationalism and support President Koroma’s Agenda For Change. Let us love our country.It is insane and lunatic to seek to damage the image of your country all because of politics.
COCORIOKO : What about the quality of journalism in the country and online at this crucial moment of our country’s history? Any perspective ?
V-P SAM SUMANA : Oh yes. Journalists must help us rebuild our country by helping to bring in more investments . They must be responsible and nationalistic. Nobody is saying they must not criticize us. But they must criticize constructively in the spirit of democracy and constructive politics. They must not seek to needlessy vilify a leader like President Koroma , whose character is impeccable and known nationally and internationally. They must not seek to vilify those of us working with him. It is wrong. They are doing a disservice to the nation. They must learn to love their country. Look at America. The journalists do not join lunatics out of the country to destroy the image of their nation.They protect their national interest. Journalists must show good examples.
COCORIOKO : What is your prediction of the elections ?
V-P SAM SUMANA : We will win it outright. No runoffs. The people of Sierra Leone will reward President Koroma for the good work he has done for them.
COCORIOKO : In conclusion, what message do you have for Sierra Leoneans in general ?
V-P SAM SUMANA : Let us be united and let us remain focussed on national development. Let us keep away from pettiness and destructive politics. Let us concentrate on constructive politics , not the politics of destabilization and smearing of opponents. We will not develop our country through this kind of politics. I also want the people to also continue supporting President Koroma and the government. President Koroma’s Agenda For Change is the only hope for Sierra Leone.