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NEWS : Politics  

Sierra Leone Peoples Party Stakeholders React to Maada Bio's Letter
By Awareness Times
Apr 11, 2011, 13:27
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Hundreds of stakeholders of Sierra Leones main opposition party have varyingly contacted this newspaper through phone-calls, visits, letters and emails to roundly condemn one of the partys aspirants for flagbearer, Retired Lieutenant Maada Bio. These SLPP members include a huge chunk of the partys other aspirants who openly express how they are disgusted with what they see as clear blackmailing tactics of Maada Bio that attempt to hold their party and their National Leader to ransom.

In the face of an unwanted image of growing lawlessness and violence that have taken over their party, it is now clear that whilst SLPP members, have held back their feelings all this while because of the spirit of camaraderie and a desire to protect the partys image, a recent Public Letter from Maada Bio directed for the attention of the National Leader and Chairman John Benjamin, and well publicised in the local media, has been the straw that has broken the camels back and opened the floodgates of condemnation for Bios blackmailing tactics and against his supporters violence and drugs usage.


The former National Organising Secretary of the Party, Mr. Okere Adams has now taken a back seat in the SLPP but he was never hesitant to express his admiration and appreciation for John Benjamin when he contacted this press-house last weekend. According to Okere Adams, Maada Bios Letter asking for John Benjamin to take a position against a media house Bio had a personal problem with was "total nonsense". Okere Adams believes that after all the hard work undertaken by Mr. John Benjamin, any SLPP member who insults John Benjamin either in newspaper pages or in public fora will bring Hakeh (retribution) to him or herself.


One of the first persons to express his readiness to be interviewed on the impugned Letter and the subsequent fall-out of the letter was another SLPP aspirant in the person of Lawyer Alpha Timbo who spoke to Awareness Times last Friday. According to Timbo, the letters from Bio and another Bio supporter, Hon. Musa Tamba Sam, were "very unfair to John Benjamin, the Chairman". The Bio and Sam Letters had tried to tackle Benjamin for not publicly condemning Awareness Times articles against Maada Bio.

"Look at the terrible untruths that have been written against me just because I am a leading contestant for the position of SLPP Presidential candidate? One certain newspaper which I will not name, has written many disparaging things about my private and public life," Timbo pointed out adding that although it was a sustained campaign of articles against him inside that particular newspaper that lasted for several weeks, nevertheless, he never tried to intimidate that newspaper nor did he have any of his well-known supporters attacking that newspapers journalist as a result of those articles. This is in sharp contrast to supporters of Mr. Maada Bio who had attacked and beaten up a journalist from Awareness Times, Bampia James Bundu.

Having prefaced his points with the above, Lawyer Timbo then went on to look at the substance of the current issue which was the allegation by both Maada Bio and the resigned Publicity Secretary, Hon. Musa Tamba Sam that it was a so-called "failure of leadership" for the SLPP National Leader to have maintained a silence rather than come out to defend the violence being promoted by supporters of Maada Bio for which Bio has faced sustained criticisms.


"That is unfair. It is tantamount to blackmail. Mature Politicians should know how to handle the media. If Maada Bio does not know how to handle the media, why should he blame John Benjamin?" Timbo pointed out adding, "What if the media now turns around to blame John Benjamin for not publicly denouncing the violence by supporters of Maada Bio but keeping silent so as to protect Maada Bio? What will Maada Bio now say?"

According to Timbo, who suffered serious negative publicity inside a certain local newspaper, if any of his supporters had attacked any journalist working for that newspaper, his reaction would have been to, "immediately issue a press statement" in which he would have distanced himself from such unconscionable violence as well as "condemn any form of violence towards a journalist".


Timbo also insists that from the point when a known supporter of his would have been involved in a physical attack on a journalist, as a mature politician and a lawyer who knows the ramifications of such actions, he would have "personally done everything possible to ask Elders to arrange a meeting between myself and the affected newspaper" during which meeting he said he would have "worked hard to pacify the journalist and newspaper staff for the physical attack against one of theirs".

According to Timbo, rather than expect National Leader John Benjamin to be the one to do the dirty job for him, Maada Bio should now realise and accept that the mess he has brought upon himself was caused by his own failure to understand the realities of how a matured politician should behave. Timbo lamented the dragging of the SLPP through the mud by the letters written by Maada Bio and Hon. Musa Tamba Sam.


Timbos above points were also re-echoed by other aspirants. In tomorrows edition, we will carry the interview given to us by Mr. Momodu Koroma who has described John Benjamins current leadership of the SLPP as "the leadership that this party has been waiting for all these years". Mr. Momodu Koroma, a former Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone, was also asked by Awareness Times about last Fridays commentary by a journalist in which members of the international community had been named. Momodu Koroma is known to be close to the journalist, Sorie Fofana. Momodu Koromas response was quite poignant.

"I consider Sorie Fofana to be a younger brother but I have been so disappointed and dismayed at some of his recent publications especially as our National Leader John Benjamin has behaved like a perfect gentleman all of this time and has never said a single word in reaction to Sorie Fofana. As far as I am concerned, John Benjamin has been above board in all his actions since he was elected as our Leader," Momodu Koroma insisted.

More on Momodu Koromas support for John Benjamin will be carried in our next edition on Tuesday. Throughout this week, we will be carrying the opinions of numerous other SLPP Stakeholders about the quality of leadership that John Oponjo Benjamin has provided for SLPP so far viz-a-viz the contents of Maada Bio and Hon. Tamba Sams Letters.


In Wednesdays edition, we will carry the interview given to us by Reverend Joe Moiba, another flagbearer aspirant who says he is "100% satisfied with the leadership of John Oponjo Benjamin". According to Moiba, Maada Bio was taking advantage of the nature of John Benjamin to remain quiet rather than wash dirty linens in public. However, he sounded a warning that Maada Bio should no longer take silence from the SLPP membership for granted if he was now publicly disrespecting the National Leader.

"Empty drums make a lot of noise but the quiet majority are fully in support of John Benjamin. His re-election as National Chairman is not contestable. We will sweep him back into the leadership following which we are all going to rally around him and around whichever of us nineteen aspirants emerges as Flagbearer; so as to deliver 2012 for SLPP," Revd Joe Moiba told this press.


Dr. Anthony Soyei informs Awareness Times that "John Benjamin has done extremely well under the circumstances of an opposition party. I do not subscribe even 1% to what is contained in Maada Bios letter. It was pure rubbish. John Benjamin has not only taken a neutral position in the contest for flagbearer but he has instilled sanity into the SLPP. We now have rules and regulations which we all must obey. Blaming John Benjamin for your failure to maintain a good relationship with the press is rubbish. Total rubbish".


Engineer Andrew Keili tells Awareness Times: "As far as I and I believe, a good number of sincere and committed SLPP members are concerned, John Oponjo Benjamin did not deserve to receive that kind of letter from Maada Bio. JOB has shown no favouritism towards any one of the nineteen candidates. He has also shown no bias against anyone. I certainly do not agree with the Letters from Bio and Hon. Musa Tamba Sam." According to Keili, "What John Benjamin has been doing is to restore the partys image back. SLPP has Rules & Regulations which we signed to abide by and so we must abide by what we appended our signatures to." Keili insists SLPP will express gratitude to Benjamin with a landslide victory at his re-election as Chairman/Leader.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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