From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

As APC Threatens SLPP Chairman… JOB Exposes APC even More
By Abdul Fonti & Bampia Bundu
Sep 11, 2009, 17:32

APC’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Political Affairs has expressed dissatisfaction over certain utterances reportedly made by the Chairman of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), and demanded that the latter either substantiate or retract his statement with an unreserved apology or face the consequences.

Hon. Alpha Khanu was speaking on Thursday September 10, 2009, when he told journalists at the weekly government press briefing, that Mr. Benjamin had said in a Cotton Tree News (CTN) radio programme that the APC led government is dragging Sierra Leone back to it dark days of regional and tribal confrontations.

Meanwhile, SLPP’s Chairman John Oponjo Benjamin (JOB) has emphatically said he stood by his earlier utterances, and called on the APC to take corrective measures instead of making “stupid threats”.

SLPP’s John Oponjo Benjamin

Alpha Khanu disclosed that the APC government considered the statement of the opposition Chairman as “unacceptable” and “disappointing”, adding that their government will not take the issue lightly with the SLPP Chairman.

APC’s Alpha Khanu said the APC government would formally write a letter to JOB, and invite him to either substantiate his statement, or use the same CTN to retract the “accusing” statements he has made against the ruling government.

“Please if you see JOB, tell him that Sierra Leone is a peaceful country, and we will never go back to war, as the time for violence is over; it is now time for all and sundry to help push the country forward,” Alpha Khanu told pressmen at the Conference Hall of the Information and Communication Ministry.

Mr. Khanu said the SLPP is "jealous" of the “massive developments” so far recorded by the APC, adding that the APC will not sit by and allow Mr. Benjamin to “inject lies” in the minds of the citizens.

“I believe that JOB is jittery over what we, as a party, have achieved in just two years,” Alpha Khanu said, adding that “The SLPP was unable to match our two years achievements in all their ten to eleven years in power”.

Minister Khanu furthered that: “Those of you who know JOB, please inform him that the APC is a peaceful party. And we are committed to peace in the country”.

He said the SLPP are bent on making believe that the APC is a violent party, whilst describing the pronouncements of JOB as “false propaganda”.

He assured that the APC is very committed to the joint communiqué recently signed by the two parties.

Responding in an exclusive telephone interview with the Awareness Times newspaper, Mr. John Benjamin said he will never retract his statements, and rather urged the APC to dissolve what he termed as “the party’s incompetent northern line up” and “appoint competent citizens from all over the country”.

He said the cabinet of SLPP was of national character, whilst pointing out that the APC cabinet is almost exclusively made up of north-westerners.

Mr. Benjamin substantiated that during the tenure of SLPP, the Ministry of Finance, for example, was having a good mixture of people from all regions of the country.

“I, as Minister of Finance was from the east; my Deputy Minister 1, Joe Kallon was a southerner, whilst the Deputy Minister 2, S.B Marah was from the north. Financial Secretary Samura was a northerner; Principal Deputy Financial Secretary was from the western area; Accountant General Cyprian was from the west. The SLPP’s Head of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) John Karimu was an easterner; Bank Governor and his Deputy J.D Rogers and Mohamed Fofana respectively, were from the south and north. And Head of NASSIT Edmond Koroma was a northerner,” Mr. Benjamin analyzed, whilst questioning: “Were those appointments not of national character?”

“Let me clarify again that the APC government is a north/western lineup. APC’s Finance Minister Samura Kamara is a northerner; Deputy Finance Minister 1 Richard Konteh and Deputy Minister 2 Momodu Kargbo are both from the north. Financial Secretary Edmond Koroma and the Principal Deputy Financial Secretary Richard Cummings are from the north and west respectively; Accountant General Koroma and NRA Commissioner General Alieu Sesay are both from the north. Bank Governor Sambadeen Sesay is a northerner, whilst his deputy Edrina Coker hails from the west. The Head of NASSIT Gibril Saccoh is also a northerner,” JOB exposed.

He pointed out that the north/western list is endless, whilst adding that even the Board Chairmen of both the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and Rokel Commercial Bank are from the north.

JOB said it was therefore unfortunate for the APC to summon a press briefing to assassinate his character for merely pointing out their incompetence at giving a national face to governance.

Mr. Benjamin ended by asking: “Between the APC that has made wrong decisions to hire only Northerners and Westerners and poor John Benjamin who only exposed the act of their tribal and regional slants, who is not committed to uphold the dictates of the joint communiqué?”

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.