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FEATURES  

Stephen Gaojia & John Benjamin (Nov. 1992 Ė Nov. 2011)
By RESEARCHERS
Oct 31, 2011, 12:28
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Stephen J. Gaojia
In his exclusive interview with us published in this edition, Mr. Stephen Gaojia reveals he is a PMDC member who does not believe in ďethno-regional politicsĒ.


We also look at the 19 years old story between him and  SLPP Chairman & Leader Mr. John Oponjo Benjamin. See below for some 19-years old History  Lessons from 1992. 


Tomorrow November 1st 2011, the newly nominated Minister of Social Welfare, Stephen Gaojia is expected to return to Freetown from Bo District to forward his documents to Parliament for approval. In this piece, we will take a look at where Gaojia was 19 years ago in November 1992.

 

Stephen Ngaojia was a student activist. In November 1992, he was Students Union President at Njala University. It was in this position that he first crossed paths with John Benjamin the current Chairman and Leader of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) who was by then the Chief Secretary of State in the NPRC Military Government.

 

As a result of one fateful November 1992 incident on Njala campus when students spearheaded by Stephen Gaojia rioted against alleged high-handedness of John Benjaminís bodyguards in maltreating their lecturer Dr. Tejan Kellar, John Benjamin was abruptly stripped of his position as NPRC Chief Secretary. Benjamin was relegated to a sinecure position at State House and relocated to a tiny office. He was transformed by Valentine Strasser and late S.A.J. Musa into a person of no relevance and little authority within the NPRC.

 

Factually, Benjaminís strong stance against corruption whilst acting as Chief Secretary of State, had not endeared him to other Secretaries of State and had especially made him become the bitter rival of the then Deputy Head of State, Captain S.A.J. Musa. Whilst Musa was feared by just about everyone else in NPRC, John Benjamin was known as singularly able to stand up to Musaís excesses.

 

In the early days of NPRC, there was a 2-months absence of Capt. Strasser on medical treatment for war wounds in America. In this period, Benjamin would use his Chief Secretary position to block corrupt deals which naÔve soldiers otherwise might not have been able to decipher.

 

Notwithstanding the fact that the affected lecturer Dr. Tejan Kellar was to go on public record to clear John Benjamin of any direct involvement in the incident involving his bodyguards, Capt. S.A.J. Musa was to use the Gaojia students riot as an excuse to prevail on Strasser to sack Benjamin as Chief Secretary and install Musa himself into Benjaminís position.

 

So it was that in November 1992, S.A.J. Musa became Deputy Head of State & Chief Secretary of State whilst Benjamin was given a sinecure position of a non-cabinet rank in Valentine Strasserís office with no authority.

 

This was to be the state of affairs for John Benjamin from November 1992 until the next year of July 1993 when S.A.J. Musa fell out with Valentine Strasser and was sent out of the country to England.  At this point, Julius Maada Bio was promoted from the NPRC No.3 position of PLO-1 to NPRC No.2 position of Deputy Head of State whilst John Benjamin was made NPRC Secretary-General.

 

Contrary to conspiracy theories propounded by those like Dr. Lans Gberie with hidden agenda to make-believe of problems between Bio and Benjamin during the NPRC years, it is a fact that the same July 1993 day in which Maada Bio got promoted to Deputy Head of State was the same day John Benjamin simultaneously  got promoted from his irrelevant position at State House to become the NPRC Secretary-General. There was thus never a reason for bad blood to exist.

 

Bottomline, Stephen Gaojia and John Benjamin crossed paths 19 years ago and they are again on varying paths.


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