This is the first public interview with the Vice President of Sierra Leone since his political party the All People’s Congress announced they had expelled him as a member for issues ranging from violence, to anti party activities and allegations that he lied about his educational achievements, and his religion. The interview was conducted by journalist Asma James of Radio Democracy 98.1 and broadcast on air.
The issue of educational merit as they have begun to say is that I did not attend university.
Durinf the 2007 and 2012 nomination time when His Excellency graciously accepted me as his running mate, on both occasions on the forms I filled at NEC, I clearly indicated that I had a Bachelor’s Degree. Also if you go to the internet and on the State House website or if you Google my name, you will find that there is nothing mentioned above a Bachelor’s Degree. So if there are any insinuations or allegations being put forth that I said that I have a Masters Degree, they are baseless because I never said such, or discussed that with anyone. I attended Metropolitan State University in Minnesota and as I speak to you right now I am considered as one of the notable alums from that institution.
You can check with the University. In 2010 when they recognized me, I traveled there with the current Minister of Transportation who was then the Minister of State in my office and we went there together along with Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Bockarie Stevens.
On the issue of religion, as I have heard I don’t know who would challenge my religion because our Secretary General is a big Alhaji and a big muslim. Not only talking about my background, my parents, my grandparents were all muslims. When you utter the Shahada what is more beyond that. When you come to my house you will see my small mosque there, if you go to my home town, my community is a muslim community. Ninety-Five percent of the people in my community in Yomadu are muslims. So that it is being said that I am a Christian, that I went to Murray Town and made a declaration there for 2 days, those are all lies. My mom is here with me at Hill Station. She is a member of the muslim jammat here in the Hill Station Mosque. All of this is indicative of what people can do when they want to create chaos and at such a critical time when we are focused on fighting ebola we shouldn’t be focused on issues like these.
On the issue of violence…I have been Vice President in this country since 2007 and I believe I have proved myself to be a very responsible person. Everyone in this country knows that I am a peaceful person demonstrated in my working relationship with my superior. I don’t know how anyone can then say that I am responsible for thuggery in my homeland of Kono. Why would I stop Ministers who are going there with projects….For example when they said that the Minister of Education was in Kono, I was out of the country, I was not in Sierra Leone. When I got back I heard of the unfortunate incident that had happened and I tried to find out and I called the Minister but he never came. So what can I do? At the time when there was strife at Koidu Holdings, I flew in and addressed the issue.
On the issue of anti party activities…How can i, me Sam-Sumana, second generation APC, knowing full well what my father went through, knowing my father’s relationship with the late Siaka Stevens to make sure that what he believed in was the APC party. The issue of partisan politics in Kono Distrist, we know when you call the name Sam Sumana you have no where to go but to the APC. So to say that I would go and form a new party.
I have a good background in the APC so to say that I went to form a new party, Rainbow Coalition or Sierra Leone Democrati People’s Party why can’t people go to the PPRC and check if that indeed happened. Not only would you not find my name there, I haven’t even been to that office during this second term or sent anyone there. The only time I have called the PPRC Chair was once and it was on other issues of resolving indifferences at the time. That I have formed another party is an absolute lie and those people spreading that want to create a wedge between myself and my superior. So I want to say to you that regarding my expulsion, we would have to go through the party’s constitution but to say that the anti party activities, the issue of violence, the issue of religion, educational background and merit, are all lies, and they are baseless. When I come out of quarantine I will address them. So if you are to ask me about the expulsion from my party, I will wait until I come out of this process, of the 21 days with ebola so that I would be able to address this accordingly. I will continue to reach out to my superior, to let him know that what is being alleged is actually not true.
Asmaa James: You say you have not received a letter about your expulsion but what if you were to receive it this morning would you still remain as you have said a member of the APC party?
Vice President: If I am to receive a letter there are provisions in the constitution, that tell you what to do so I will make sure to respond to the letter and as a law abiding citizen take the necessary steps to resolve this issue. So that we will have the truth.
Asmaa James: On the issue of the the process used by the party, you said you testified to the party but there is also information that they have your voice on recordings. But first lets talk about the process where you satisfied with the way it was set up?
Vice President: I respect the Chairman and leader of our party whole heartedly. He is not only the chairman of the party but also my superior, my boss…but after the committee was set up and the investigation was set up I can’t say that I received any word from them prior to the delivery of this verdict, no I did. I received a message from the party’s secretary general that I must attend this meeting that was held but I told him that I could not attend because I was under 21 days of quarantine.
Asmaa James: Is it true that you were played recordings of your voice which led to the allegations? Did you hear them?
Vice President: Not to my knowledge, I was not at that meeting.
Asmaa James: Time and time again at press conferences remarks had been made about problems between yourself and the President and you he had both said that there were no problems between you two. From 2012 according to what people have been saying is that you and the President have not been on speaking terms so don’t you want to say that you deceived the country because you didn’t let people know that you were not on good terms?
Vice President: To say that we have not been speaking and have not spoken since 2012? We have been talking however I will not lie to the nation, we do have estranged relations over certain issues. In the sense that people have tried to widen the wedge. However, I believe that I owe a lot to President Koroma, not just as I tell you that he is the Chair and leader of my party, my President, my boss, my brother in law, and my older brother so i always respect that so I remain loyal to him and I wouldn’t challenge him.
Those people who have tried to widen the wedge between myself and the President are doing a disservice to the nation because we should all come together to build this country as we have learned from the past. We have seen what has happened in the past and now we have a President to lead us we must embark on development and this is what I follow through on. I follow his Agenda for Change and his Agenda for Prosperity. Even during the ebola outbreak that is what I have been doing, visiting the country making sure that I play my part. I support my boss 1000%. Anyone attempting to create a wedge between us is unacceptable and is not doing the country any favors.
Asmaa James: On the issue of violence what specific allegations were made against you and who was it that testified against you.
Vice President: The issue of violence like I said I did not receive their report at the end but they had asked me during the investigation to comment on an issue relating to the current Minister of Lands who was the Minister of Internal Affairs. Even looking at that, there was no iota of truth to it. I was at the national stadium when I received a call on the issue and I spoke to my superior about it. If there are any other allegations, I know nothing of them because I am not privy to the rest of the document.
Asmaa James: Mr Vice President do you feel disappointed that this has happened while you are in quarantine? Also the word about town is that you had brought money to the party and that is how you became Vice President and you have spent enough on the party. Do you feel disappointed at this point in time.
Vice President: The issue of bringing money to the party should not be of any concern at this moment in time. Like I have already said, I am not first but second generation APC and I believe in my Superior that gave me the opportunity to work with him and what ever I was able to do to support him I would. Am I disappointed that this is happening while I am in quarantine yes its natural but I know that we will resolve it as a party.
Asmaa James: So then it is not true that you had gone and formed another party?
Vice President: I was born APC, I will die APC
Asmaa James: Even if you are expelled?
Vice President: I was born APC, and I will die APC
Asmaa James: But how will you be able to participate in the process if they expel you and you end up receiving your letter?
Vice President: As for the expulsion if I get the letter like I have said, we will go through the process, and when the case comes to the light this this will be addressed accordingly when I receive the letter but as I said I am still a member of the Party as I have not received a letter.
Asmaa James: So if you are impeached in parliament what will you do?
Vice President: We have not yet gotten to that part so we shouldn’t even think about that. Let us wait. We haven’t gotten into that.
Asmaa James: Why have you remained quiet all this while through all these allegations?
Vice President: We lead by example. My boss isn’t the kind of person who likes to talk unnecessarily (or a lot). He prefers action. So why should I deviate from that and talk a lot. In any case with all these allegations the entire nation has seen that for each one brought forward I have been found not guilty or not wanting. I have been through all of this before and I will continue to show the nation that I am not what some people think I am but what I believe in and what I know and I will go by that.
Asmaa James: You continue to call the President your boss and your superior. Have you spoken to the President since you started your quarantine?
Vice President: Yes we have spoken, we spoke before he left the country and we have spoken upon his return.
Asmaa James: How would your describe your boss?
Vice President: As I have already told you, it was President Koroma who gave me the opportunity to work with him. There were 14 of us on the list and he gave me that opportunity to work with him. If someone gives you that opportunity to work with him and we started very well in all areas and not just as my boss like I said, my Superior, and President and the Chairman of my Party and he is married to my sister, his children are my nieces so obviously there are family ties also. What ever happens, however this ends one thing that will always remain with us is family. And that is something that I cherish as it was by providence that it came to be and not by mine or his wish.
Asmaa James: What is it about Kono, and the issues amongst people to Kono that have caused problems leading up to where we are now?
Vice President: In life it is God that destines all. And what has been destined is what happens. I don’t want to take you to back into the history of it but by my knowledge of what happened in 1957 to the present day. We all know about Saika Stevens and party politics in Kono. This not withstanding as we move forward we need to learn. We need to grow and accept that at any given time there can only be one leader in a community, and we need to obey that and respect that.
What we need is to join hands with the President for us to build Kono. When God marks for you that it is your own time, whatever position it is accept it. I believe that is what is going on today but when people don’t want to accept leadership this is it. Like I said before T S Bangura was the first leader of the Kono people, and then came Abdul Koroma and then came Sam Sumana so if this opportunity that has come up to the highest so far to Kono land I believe that our brothers and sisters from Kono land should join hands to develop the district and not to go at each other’s throats or to say it should be me. If you say it should be me then everyone of us will be at the same level and neither will be able to get it. If everyone were a mechanic in this world, who would go to the next person? There is division of labor, accepts my choice its not your choice it is God doing. We should try to work together if we have been given the opportunity. If those of us from Kono like me having had this opportunity I should have the support of my brothers and sisters from Kono in developing the country.
Asmaa James: Do you plan on challenging the very serious allegations that have been made against you?
Vice President: As I have said, I have yet to receive a letter but yes the issue of education, religion, violence and party activities yes will be challenged so that we can have common understanding that what is being alleged is untrue.
Asmaa James: Does this mean you will go to court?
Vice President: The court is not an option right now. I will go through the party to get a common understanding with NAC and the other members of the party.
James: You’ve said the President is your boss and your Superior and that at the end of the day you are family but he was there and is on the side of the decision that has been taken against you.
VP: I wasn’t at the meeting. However the report was presented to His Excellency, the chairman and the leader of the party. The constitution of the party has a provision wherein I can appeal and so at the end of the day the decision will be taken from there. As I have said we will get over this toughness.
James: The UDM leaders says you should resign are you planning on doing so?
VP: It is not the first time….the chairman of the UDM party I hold him in high esteem but regarding what he said yesterday, the people of this country voted for us and we don’t need to disappoint them.
James: For the record, have you ever been a Christian?
VP: ***Chuckles***….I think you should go back to what I have said, I was born and raised a muslim. I was in a Christian community when I was in school. I went to a christian school initially, after that I went to a muslim school. Not that when you are in a Christian community you don’t mix with them you do as I did when I was in primary school from class 1 to form 5. I was in boarding home with the United Methodist Church Jahama Primary and Secondary School and I was in that community all along. However as it being alleged that I was baptized as a Christian, that never happened.
James: How is life for you now during this quarantine period?
VP: I thank God I am well and I am fit. I am observing the rudiments of the quarantine and we are checking our temperature and we have not had any cases from amongst us and those who went to the Hastings Center there have been no report so we thank God for that. Also, I want to thank the people of the country who have been praying for me throughout this period.
James: We saw a document on social media that said that your security did not die of ebola. Did he actually die of ebola?
VP: That is misinformation. There was a second officer who fell sick but when he went to the center they said he was not positive so it is his certificate that has been put out in public domain to say he didn’t have ebola but the first one died of ebola. Lets have it clear they are two different cases
James: So do you really believe you have support within the APC
VP: Well I thank God.
James: What does that mean?
VP: Yes I have support and I am behind my boss and whatever he does I am with him but I also have support from the party.
I want to ask the entire public temper down and remain calm. The use of invectives at people in every form on radio, TV, social media, should be stopped. Lets observe the rule of law in this country. I have one thing and that is I have my allegiance to the President of this country not just in public domain but in family as a whole. Also as a practicing muslim I believe in Islam and the doctrines of Islam.
I pray that the people of this country whether within or outside of Sierra Leone respect authority, refrain from violence and refrain from attacking people in the public domain. Let us do what is necessary to take the country forward. We need to learn from the past, looking at what happened during the civil war we have come from that, we have peace, and today there is development under President Koroma’s leadership. I am sure that if we all come together as a nation we can make Sierra Leone better than what it is.
The Agenda for Prosperity serves as a road mark for us to develop our country. President Koroma is my superior and I will continue to serve as his Deputy. Who ever says they like Sam Sumana, join me in supporting President Koroma, as we remove this whole issue of ebola I will come back and speak to the people after this quarantine and I will make a better effort to speak to you the media.
On that note I ask that we maintain law and order, continue to be calm and none of this issue of disrespecting the President, Sam Sumana or any authority. If you are on social media and you say you like Sam Sumana do what I like and respect President Koroma. I am very happy for this opportunity to speak to the people over 98.1 and ask for calm and for us to stop disrespecting authority, the President, myself, and the ministers and other stakeholders.
James: You sound very reconciliatory as if you want sympathy…
VP: Sympathy for my present predicament under the quarantine but if I have the opportunity to speak then it is to speak on the ebola scourge and ask for calm.