A large group of elders in the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) stormed the Garrison Street offices of the Awareness Times Newspaper in the late hours of Friday 7th January 2011 to distance themselves from assertions in a certain local tabloid that carried a banner headline “JOB, others must resign” in its Friday edition.
The SLPP elders confessed that they were seriously misinformed about happenings in the party’s headquarters, noting that they have now come to the realization that all the actions of their Chairman and Leader, John Oponjo Benjamin, were in the interest of the party.
“Since we have now being equipped with facts, we want to use this forum as an opportunity to fully endorse all of the disciplinary actions being taken by John Benjamin, which are aimed at restoring sanity in the party,” one of the elders, who preferred not to be named for now, told the Awareness Times.
The elders furthered that in terms of discipline and selfless service to the party, Benjamin is probably the best ever Chairman and Leader of the party since the days of Sir Milton Margai.
According to them, they will soon start to issue out with very strong statements in support of Chairman Benjamin’s disciplinary strides.
This endorsement of JOB’s actions came in the wake of signs of confidence in the leadership of party’s national chairman. Throngs of Sierra Leoneans continue to turn-up on a daily basis at the SLPP party headquarters to register to become members of the party under what they described as the dynamic leadership of John Benjamin.
Also contacting the Awareness Times was the National Secretary General of the SLPP, Jacob Jusu Saffa.
In a telephone conversation, JJ Saffa confirmed that the John Oponjo Benjamin (JOB) led National Executive of the party will remain in office until after the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
The SLPP Scribe explained that there is no truth in rumours and speculations making the rounds that the party’s national executive has stayed in office beyond its legitimate mandate, whilst describing the episode as unfortunate.
“The John Benjamin led National Executive assumed office on the 10th March 2009, and it is supposed to stay in office for a two year tenure which expires on March 10 2011,” JJ Saffa explained, adding that elections for national officers would only be held after March 10 2011.
“Elections for constituency, district and regional executive members, who constitute the delegates of the party, were held between December 2008 and February 2009,” he pointed out.
“All of the aforementioned elections were ratified at the 2009 party’s conference in Kenema at the time the national officers were elected” he explained, whilst clarifying that the tenures of the various executives of the party commenced together on March 10 2009 following the ratification, and expires on March 10 2011.
The SLPP Scribe furthered that at the November 27 2010 National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Makeni, it was resolved among other things that the party’s national delegates conference be held on the 5th of March 2011 in Freetown.
“It was also resolved that elections for constituency, district and regional executives, and by extension national officers (all of whom constitute the party’s delegates) be extended until after the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, because of political expedience,” JJ Saffa disclosed, adding that the aforesaid resolve of the second highest decision making body of the party, NEC, awaits ratification in the March 5 delegates conference.
“It is therefore preposterous for people to suggest that the present national executive of the party has exceeded its legitimate mandate,” he intimated.
“Apart from the resolution in the Makeni NEC meeting, the tenure of the JOB led national executive expires on March 10 and therefore the question of the authority of this executive to conduct the March 5 delegates’ conference, does not arise at all,” he insisted.
The SLPP Scribe also highlighted that it is not unusual in the SLPP to extend the mandate of its national executive for political expedience.
“The last executive of the SLPP, which I was part of, was elected in September 2005 and its tenure was supposed to have expired in September 2007,” he explained, whilst highlighting that the party’s NEC extended the tenure of that executive during the January 12 2008 party conference in Bo. “That decision was reached due to the fact that the July 2008 local government elections were few months ahead,” he said.
According to JJ Saffa, the SLPP is politically pragmatic and such pragmatism is practiced within the confines of the party’s rules and regulations.
He assured that they will never contravene the dictates of the party’s constitution.
Saffa therefore called on the general membership of the party to ignore rumours and speculations aimed at destroying the image of the party.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.