Their candidate, Francis Gbondo, mounted a vigorous campaign that was given a shot in the arm by the visit of the London-based former SLPP flagbearer Julius Maada Bio and his Paopa (by all means necessary) political activists.
Unfortunately for Gbondo, the Paopas only succeeded in creating more chaos that necessitated the bringing out of the army to restore order after a vehicle belonging to the Deputy Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Karamoh Kabba was burnt down and several people sent to hospital.
But the violence and confusion aside, the SLPP knew even before the election that Tom Tucker (seen on the right in photo with supporters) was just too much of an opponent for their man. Here is why:
The late parliamentarian whose seat was being contested for was the uncle of Tom Tucker the APC candidate and the current Paramount Chief is also a relative.
Tucker himself comes from a ruling house in Kono; his mother contested for the paramount chieftaincy at one time.
Tom Tucker is a well known and very popular businessman and politician in Kono where he was born, went to school and grew up before leaving for university studies (Business Administration) first in Uganda and later the United Kingdom.
He had the full backing of the enormous APC political machine behind him as holder of the party symbol. Vice President Victor Foh, a former party secretary general and the current secretary general Alhaji Osman Yansaneh paid a visit to Kono just before the bye election during which they met with traditional leaders and APC stalwarts. When the APC political machine goes to the political theatre like that it means the battle is half won.
Tucker, with the backing of the ruling party, had the material and human resources to launch a monumental campaign far bigger than Gbondo’s resources. Gbondo’s party, the SLPP, is famous for its penny-pinching and Western style of politics that does not resonate very well with the grassroots and rural folks in the country except for some areas in the south and the east where it has become an institution. But even that is changing rapidly. The APC recently won a council seat in Kailahun a traditional SLPP stronghold.
The APC political machine is particularly interested in that bye election because it was to be held in the home district of the sacked former Vice President Sam Sumana who, they assumed, would do anything possible for the APC to lose that seat. For the APC, losing that seat will be a severe political blow not only from the SLPP but from Sam Sumana and his supporters. Hence the massive political mobilization they deployed involving senior members of the party from Freetown and other parts of the country.
Here is a video of Vice President Foh and entourage visiting Kono before the bye election that led to Tom Tucker’s victory over the weekend: