We botam is an adverb, in local parlance in Sierra Leone. It occurs when people gang up against an individual they despised or who threatened them.

In politics, a bota game is a kind of forming a coalition or an alliance. It is a strategy involving parties coming together to topple the incumbent in a usually bipolar electorates.

Sierra Leone, unlike almost every other sub-saharan African countries and to a large extent other countries of the world have been govern by the two ethno-regional parties of APC and SLPP.

These parties are in existence because members of these parties indoctrinate people in their regional support bases to believe that they own the party, it is the party of your tribe , it is the party of your parents. Stay with it,no matter what.

SLPP is the party of the Southeast and APC is the party of the Northwest. I heard the above statement from a former APC government minister, who doubled as the 2018 election campaign manager made this pronouncement in an interview in America.

Few days ago, I listened to an audio sent out by my irate nephew who is the SLPP District chairman in Kenema made similar pronouncement that Kenema is 100 percent SLPP and that there will be no run off in the fourth coming elections.

Moriba Koroma made this statement after alleged motor bike riders, locally referred to as OKADA, demonstrated in front of the SLPP office chanting, ” APC BACK TO POWER”

People care more about their party winning an election than the quality of the leadership or the deplorable socioeconomic conditions the two parties of APC and SLPP dichotomy have created for them during their combined stewardship.

A man can go hungry, without electricity, without job, without proper health facilities to treat him when he becomes ill.

But this same man will be out on the streets beating up people who don’t support his party.

Our people no longer have values and pride in themselves but is this due to the grinding poverty or the primitive tribalism that kept them misquided and in boundage?

Surely, the APC was incompetent, arrogant and corrupt. I wrote my point of views and published my feelings about them.

However, the Paopa SLPP has proven to be worse than I had seen, since president Kabba ended the country’s in 2002.

The Sierra Leone electorates appears to be facing the same election dilemma like before, where a credible alternative political leadership outside of the two old parties is rejected.

It is an exercise of stupidity on the part of the victims of bad politics that keeps the failed two party system alive.

There is a lesson voters should learn from other countries, especially African countries were, parties in these countries have similar characteristics of ethno-regional complexion like Sierra Leone, changed have nonetheless happened by way of new parties or a coalition of parties being elected to power

Thus, to put my argument in proper perspective, I am making the point that if the opposition parties in Sierra Leone don’t form a strategic alliance against the paopas, the anti paopa votes will disintegrate given them the real possibility of a straight win.

The paopas are acutely aware of the potential dangers to their own election plans if such arrangement becomes solid.

In an enlightened society , the National Grand Coalition NGC will have no problem in wining the hearts and minds of voters but the aged old ethno-regional allegiances to the two old parties remains a stubborn resistant to real change in political leadership outside of APC and SLPP.

NGC is holding 4 parliamentary seats – all in Northern constituencies.

So if it becomes clear to all the opposition parties that they are indeed facing common threat from the incumbent, then their collective determination will be articulated to stop the paopas getting a second term.

This should and must supercede all other peripheral calculation in whatever political arrangement the opposition agreed on.

Simply put it — the thought of the opposition not agreeing on a credible working strategy to defeat the paopas in 2023 is depressing and the consequences for our democracy in long-term can be potentially disruptive and severe.

Thus sacrifices have to be made because the NGC, which shares the electoral district with the main opposition APC party is more likely to disadvantaged the APC than SLPP in the general election.

Similarly,the PMDC,which still have their supporters , no matter the reported dwindling of their members, will disadvantaged the paopa incumbent in the Southeast.

It is no secret that paopas are determined to take the four parliamentary seats in Kambian and send Dr Kandeh Yumkella into a political oblivion.

To preempt this happening, the least NGC could do is to form an electoral pack with the APC and the other parties whereby the latter cannot put candidates in the four constituencies held by NGC.

The NGC had already applied this electoral arrangement in the recent PortLoko bye election when the paopa incumbent invested their energy and injected massive funds to bribe voters and take a seat traditionally held by the APC.

NGC tactically withdrew its candidate, which must have helped produced a win for the APC in that constituency.

Any such electoral pack between and among the opposition parties should be based on the concept of preference maximisation.

That is,where it has been concluded that amongst all the opposition parliamentary aspirants, one of them is stronger in a particular constituency,and with a better chance of defeating the paopa candidate, it’s politically expedient for all other opposition parliamentary aspirants to step aside.

Who knows the Paopas could’ve won the recent Portloko seat had NGC contested the seat and divided the anti-paopa votes.

Make no mistake, the paopas desperately wanted to win that seat and they invested everything in the campaign, including spending vast amount of money and the sighning of their new Ronaldo of Portloko to help them win the seat.

This tactical alliance should be applied only to critical and marginal parliamentary seats and only, also, in parliamentary elections across the country.

Disputes and dissatisfactions in the award of party symbols in the paopa camp are expected to occure in certain parliamentary constituencies as before.

The opposition coalition should anticipate a fall out from within the paopas over the manner the party symbols were allocated and be prepared to exploit it by adopting paopa disgruntled aspirants as their parliamentary candidates.

It is important to note that the paopa political structure is not united as it seem.

There is the JMB women’s group and other factions fighting for supremacy and the attention of their leader, president Bio.

The paopa movement itself are divided between those who are angry with their leader for surrounding himself with diasporas and those who believed they fought on the ground to put paopa SLPP to power, but have been left out in the cold.

These are internal deficiencies that any strategic alliance could seize on and fully articulate against the incumbent.

Paopanism is a chaotic movement with nauseating ideology of violence and force that is alian to SLPP ‘s social Conservative vision of fair play, freedom, unity and the rule of law.

They are weakened by internal conflicts– some based on their women fighting for the attention of men; some fuelled by jostling for positions and control of the party executive.

As for the presidency, this is where the alliance or coalition is presented with serious strategic headache.

The alliance cannot go into the 2023 presidential elections with their individual presidential candidates.

They must decide to present one presidential candidate and instruct all supporters of the alliance to vote for the coalition presidential candidate, whether it is from the APC, NGC,PMDC, C4C, Unity Party etc etc.

This requires lots of education and public awareness on such agreement.

I see no other superior strategic avenue to be pursued in removing the paopa incumbent other than all the opposition parties coalescing rallying and coordinating resources around a single presidential candidate.

The fourth coming elections will be unlike any other elections in the past.

Democracy is at stake than never before. Accountability and transparency are at stake than never before. Our very freedom and peace is at stake.

The election data from the 2018 small margin of victory by the paopas underline the need for bote game from the outset in this particular forthcoming elections.

Time is of essence and a speedy resolution to agree on how to take back our country is critical

Bote game or forming a coalition against the incumbent in elections are necessary means to win an election.

It’s done everywhere in the world, including in almost every African countries such as Ghana, Gambia,Liberia, Senegal, Ivory Coast ,Guinea,Nigeria etc etc.

Parties don’t need to have the same ideology to form a coalition. The ultimate aim will be to coalesce and remove the common threat they collectively abhorred.

The current Israeli right wing prime minister was only able to form a government by the backing of an unlikely opponent– the Arab Israeli party.

Sure, there will be difficulties in a coalition,in any relationship for that matter, but the commitment to remove a common threat bordering the opposition must outweigh all other considerations.