John Oponjo Benjamin, former Chairman and Leader of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) has said that the party’s Kambia District executives have “sell game.”
“Sell game” is a Lingua Franka term which means in English “an act of one selling his pride in the midst of a competition.” So if we are to go by the statement of Mr. Benjamin, one will say that the SLPP Kambia executives sold their pride to other parties contesting in the bye election in Ward 139, which is scheduled for Friday 30th June, 2017.
JOB as he is fondly called made this statement yesterday Monday 19th June, 2017, during a telephone call with Awareness Times Newspaper, whilst reacting to a letter earlier written by the Dr. Abass Bundu, SLPP Regional Vice-Chairman North, over the failure of the party to nominate a candidate for the bye election in Ward 139, Kychom Town, Samu Chiefdom, Kambia Ditrict, Nothern Province of Sierra Leone.
He said, the failure of the party to send a candidate in the home district of the current Chairman and Leader, Chief Somano Kapen, is a big blow to the party’s National, Regional and District executives, but that inline with what Dr. Abass Bundu writes in his letter, the party’s Kambia District executives sold their pride.
Meanwhile, all efforts to reach the current SLPP Kambia District Chairman have proved fruitless. However, we shall publish his side in our subsequent editions.
In the meantime, kindly read below for the letter written by Dr. Abass Bundu to Chief Somano Kapen.
Dr.Abass Bundu Wirtes Chief Kapen
14th June 2017
Dear Chairman and Leader:
Re: THE BYE-ELECTION IN WARD 139 (KYCHOM) CONSTITUENCY 042 KAMBIA DISTRICT AND THE FAILURE OF THE SLPP TO NOMINATE A CANDIDATE
I write to bring to your attention and the attention of the National Executive Council (NEC) the regrettable incident that led to the failure of the Party to nominate a candidate for the bye election in Ward 139 in Samu Chiefdom, Constituency 042, Kambia District, on Tuesday, 13th June instant and to request for a full investigation to be conducted by the Party with a view to taking appropriate disciplinary action in respect thereto.
2. Nominations for the Local Council Bye-Elections in Ward 139Samu Chiefdomin Kambia District and Ward 212 Yoni Chiefdom Tonkolili District in the Northern Region of Sierra Leone took place yesterday, 13th June 2017, at Kambia and MagburakaTowns respectively. Both bye-elections are scheduled to take place on 30th June 2017.
3. Whereas the Party (SLPP) was able to nominate a candidate in the person of Joseph SaiduKoroma (aka “J6”) for Ward 212 in Tonkolili District, with the active assistance and participation of the District Chairman, Abu Mohamed Koroma (aka “Koro Koro”), the Party regrettably failed to nominate a candidate for Ward 139 in Kambia District.
4. The membership of the SLPP and people in the country at large have all been asking the following questions: (i) why was the SLPP, as the main Opposition Party in Sierra Leone, the oldest political Party in the West African sub-region and indeed the Party that is generally considered as the government-in-waiting in Sierra Leone, not able to nominate a candidate in a local council bye election in Ward 139 in Samu Chiefdom, Kambia District, especially when the Presidential, Legislative and Local Council Elections slated for March 7, 2018 are so proximate?Is this not another missed opportunity for the SLPP to demonstrate to the wider national electorate that indeed the days of the ruling APC Party in government are numbered and that it is now just a matter of a few months and days before it is shown the exit door of governance in the country?
5. These are perfectly legitimate questions for everyone to ask. I, as the Regional Vice-Chairman of the Party and Head of the Party in the Northern Region, consider it my bounden duty to seek answers to these veritable questions.
6. Whenever vacancies in representation occur, whether in Parliament or in the Local Councils, the Party administration is informed by the National Electoral Commission (NEC). This particular case was no exception. The NEC duly informed the Party Secretariat which in turn forwarded the information to me as the Regional Vice-Chairman for the North. Upon receipt, I duly informed the District Chairmen in whose Districts the vacancies had occurred with clear instructions to set in motion immediately the process of selecting candidates who are popular and of good character to represent the Party, emphasizing of course that time was of the essence. The District Chairmen directly affected at the time were Abu Mohamed Koroma for Tonkolili District and Lansana M. Dumbuya for Kambia District. Chairman Koroma (aka Koro Koro) had no problem in identifying a candidate for Ward 212 after due consultation with the affected constituency. And this is how it was possible to identify and nominate Joseph SaiduKoroma as the SLPP candidate for Ward 212.
7. In the case of Ward 139, Kambia District, on the other hand, the Party encountered a host of problems. The District Chairmanship had changed hands at the last district party executive election from O. S.Fofanah to LansanaDumbuya. The persons identified by LansanaDumbuya as potential candidates were allegedly interfered with and dissuaded from accepting the SLPP party symbol. The first was Adikalie Kamara of Balanshera Island and the second was Mohamed T. Kamara of Kampdie. Things did not stop there. The Chairman of the adjacent Constituency 041, Sorie Suma, who also resides in Kychom, even allegedly declared unwillingness to recognise LansanaDumbuyaas District Chairman, professing loyalty not to the Party but rather to the erstwhile District Chairman, O. S. Fofanah, and that they would prefer instead to nominate someone to contest the vacant Ward as an independent candidate rather than under the SLPP symbol.
8. All this transpired before the ruling by the Court of Appeal on the 39 contested constituencies on Monday, 5th June. That ruling had the effect of annulling the district executive elections held on 3rd December 2016 that had brought LansanaDumbuya to the district chairmanship and restoring O. S. Fofanahback to that position. One would have expected this turn of events after the Court’s ruling to have brought normalcy to the situation in Samu. But that was not to be as exemplified by the following exchange of text messages.
9. For example, on Saturday, 10thJune, I sent the following text to O. S. Fofanah which was also copied to the National Chairman and Leader and the National Secretary-General of the Party:
“Dear Mr. Fofanah,
Through the National Chairman and Leader and the National Secretary-General of the Party, you have been asked on several occasions to submit the name of the SLPP candidate for Ward 139 in Kychom for the impending bye election there for which the deadline of nominations is Tuesday, 13th instant, You are yet to do this. I am now taking this opportunity to remind you again to send the name and Voter ID of the candidate before 11 am on Monday, 12th June. I must warn you that the failure to do so would lead to the disqualification of the Party from participation in the bye election and you will bear the full consequences of such failure.”
10. When Mr. O. S. Fofanah failed to reply he appointed time I followed my text with a telephone call to him. I did this in the presence of my colleague, Mr. Edward Soloku, Regional Vice-Chairman South. Mr. Fofanah responded to my call by casting blame to me for having earlier lost his district chairmanship status and for what he described as “conflict of interest”, whatever that was supposed to mean. He concluded that he did not have any candidate for the Party and immediately slammed the telephone.
11. I then reported Mr. Fofanah’s behaviour to the National Chairman and Leader, who expressed utter dismay at his behaviour. Later that day the National Chairman sent to me the following textto let me know about a directive he had himself issued through S.I. Fofanah, the Regional Secretary North:
“S I Fofanah Reg Sec on my directive has contacted d Dist C/m and assured him he fwrd d name.”
12. Then, on Monday, 12th June, O. S. Fofanah sent the National Chairman the following text which the latter then forwarded to me:
“Please I am not able to get candidate as nobody seems to be interested. The information came late. No time for sensitisation. Sorry for any embarrassment caused. The Regional Chairman is to be blamed.”
13. By the close of office hours on Monday, 12th June, it had become quite clear that O. S. Fofanah, despite his reinstatement as District Chairman by consequence of the Appeal Court’s ruling, had no intention to assist the Party to get a candidate for the Ward election. I therefore turned to other SLPP stakeholders in the District for help. They were able to persuade one Mohamed Kolleh Bangura with a Voter ID to come forward to nominate for the SLPP. Again this candidate was put under relentless pressure by certain Party members from Kambia District, and Samu Chiefdom in particular, to decline the Party nomination.
14. This unwarranted pressure continued on Tuesday, 13th June, the very day of Nomination. I was therefore compelled to address the following text to O.S. Fofanah with copies to the National Chairman and Leader and the National Secretary-General:
“Dear Mr. Fofanah,
Reports have just reached me to the effect that you have taken upon yourself to dissuade the SLPP candidate, Mohamed Kolleh Bangura, for Ward 139 from proceeding with his nomination in Kambia contrary to your duty as District Chairman and the intendment and spirit of the SLPP Constitution 1995. I sincerely want to believe this is not true and that you will now do everything possible to facilitate his nomination.”
15. Again, despite this challenge, no reply was forthcoming from O.S. Fofanah. The National Chairman responded to the copy I had sent him by saying that “your action is appropriate.”
16. On the day of Nomination in Kambia, O.S. Fofanah was observed by party members to be among the people who accompanied the independent candidate, Ibrahim Kamara, for his nomination.
17. As can thus be seen from the above text messages, there is abundant evidence that the SLPP as a Party was deliberately and maliciously deprived of the opportunity of nominating a candidate in Ward 139 (Kychom) in Samu Chiefdom, Kambia District, by persons claiming and professing adherence to the values, principles and membership of the SLPP. In my considered opinion, there is a primafacie case of both action and inaction that was deliberately calculated to bring the SLPP into disrepute and public ridicule through neglect, disobedience, indiscipline and disloyalty to the Party contrary to the SLPP Constitution 1995 (as amended) and the SLPP Code of Conduct 2016. I therefore recommend that this is a case that merits a thorough investigation and appropriate disciplinary action by the National Executive Council (NEC).
18. By a copy of this letter, I am requesting the National Secretary-General to kindly circulate this letter to the members of the NEC for information and necessary action as requested in paragraph 17 supra.
Abass Bundu (Dr.)
Regional Vice-Chairman North
Cc. Deputy National Chairman and Leader
Members of the SLPP NEC
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.