The National Chairman of main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), John Oponjo Benjamin, yesterday Wednesday 24thÂ November 2010, took off guard the Information and Communication Minister, who also doubles as Government Spokesman, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo for a baseless defence of a government that is irresponsible.
In a telephone contribution to a popular SLBC Tea Break programme where the Minister was hosted to react to SLPP MPs’ holding in abeyance their contribution to the ongoing Appropriation Bill debate in Parliament, the Chairman in very strong words condemned the APC as an irresponsible government that refuses to see things the right way, and that the government has totally side stepped the joint communiqué signed earlier this year by continuously aiding and abetting hooligans to perpetrate violence on the opposition. “What is expected of a responsible government is to condemn violence of all nature, but the APC government has woefully failed in that direction,” said the Chairman in reaction to the vehemence by the government to come out with a statement in condemnation of the Kono incident.
“The APC should not look at the Kono violence as an isolated event since the SLPP has in several instances been subjected to ruthless attacks by APC thugs,” the Chairman said, adding that it is a complete breach of the provisions of the Peace Communiqué signed by the two political parties.
According to Chairman Benjamin there is no need for SLPP MPs to debate on a budget in the face of violence and intimidation against their party. “If the government knows that the budget is important to them as it is to us, then they need to address our grievances for us to participate in the debate in a peaceful atmosphere,” he emphasized. “As I.B Kargbo rightly said, the SLPP has indeed made history by protesting against violence and demanding that government denounced it,” said JOB.
Debunking earlier claims by the APC that the police were able to handle the matter, the SLPP leader rubbished such an investigation as in his words ‘the police were part of the Kono problem and therefore cannot investigate themselves.
He expressed his total disappointment at the ‘nonchalance’ being displayed by APC functionaries for what the SLPP suffered in Kono.Â “Following the incident, President Koroma telephoned me and assured that he was going to handle the matter accordingly, but no action has since been taken and no one seems to care,” Mr. Benjamin noted. He said the SLPP is not by any means demanding an apology from government but a public condemnation of the attacks through independent investigative instruments to be speedily put in place as recommended by the party membership.
However, after what could best be described as a marathon lecture from the SLPP National Chairman on the roles and responsibilities of a responsible government, Minister I.B Kargbo was cowed into appreciating the legitimacy of the opposition’s demands. He at that juncture made a u-turn from an earlier arrogant stance that the APC would not issue out any statement on the Kono issue, neither would they apologize to anybody since it was the business of the police to investigate matters and charge to court. “We are going to come out with a public statement in condemnation of the violence that took place in Kono by tomorrow. But let me make it clear that we are not doing that because John Benjamin wants us to,” I.B Kargbo circumvented with a shamed face.
“John Benjamin cannot dictate to us as to how to run a government since he is neither part of the executive nor the legislature.”
He however, described as unacceptable the action of the SLPP to hold the entire APC to ransom for the action of a single person. “Infact, I have no record to substantiate that this Adamu, who stands accused of leading the attacks, is a member of the APC,” Kargbo said.
On SLPP MPs’ debate boycott, I.B Kargbo said posterity will judge their refusal as elected representatives to take part in the country’s budget debate. “It will go down in the annals of Sierra Leone history that the SLPP boycotted such an important debate,” he noted, while iterating that it is most unacceptable for parliamentarians to boycott a debate that has to do with the future and aspirations of the country.Â “But let me here say that that with or without the participation of the SLPP, the 2011 Appropriation Bill will safely sail through parliament,” he boasted, adding that would not stop them from administering the country.Â He referred to the stance taken by the SLPP as a ploy aimed at disrupting the electoral process in Kono. “The SLPP wants to make believe that the electoral process is marred by violence and intimidation.”
The minister is now being ridiculed by some sections of the public for his public show of dishonesty through his discordant utterances. Whilst the director of Political Affairs in the Mines and Mineral Resources Ministry, Karamoh Kabbah had earlier in a radio programme confirmed that Adamu is indeed not only a member but also a strong and well known supporter of the APC, IB Kargbo was on Tea Break disowning their very own thug.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.