From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

John Benjamin is best SLPP Leader of Modern Times - say SLPP stalwarts
By Sylvia O. Blyden
May 19, 2010, 11:56

As the now widely publicised Resignation Letter of Abdul Tejan-Cole has finally confirmed the position of the Opposition leader, numerous senior SLPP Party stalwarts from both within and without the party’s national executive have denounced recent attempts to demoralise SLPP Leader John Benjamin "for saying the truth about resigned Anti Corruption Boss Abdul Tejan-Cole". Many of the SLPP stalwarts are insisting that in light of the selflessness shown in his leadership of the party and his foresight in handling issues affecting the party’s image, John Benjamin was clearly the best Leader that the SLPP has had in lately times.

On the Tejan-Cole issue, they are questioning whether their Party Leader should turn himself to the unsolicited Spokesman for the former ACC Boss who has kept his lips firmly sealed since his resignation only for the content of his Resignation Letter to confirm what Chairman John Benjamin said over the BBC that he had seen the resignation coming all along. Tejan-Cole has finally confirmed in writing that indeed John Benjamin was saying the truth and the resignation was not an abrupt one but one which had been coming since last year.

"If Abdul Tejan-Cole had publicly stated that he was facing political interference, trust me that our SLPP Leader would have jumped up and down all over the place to make some noise on his behalf but Tejan-Cole has not done so. The last time Tejan-Cole spoke to the media three weeks before he resigned, he was full of praises for this corrupt APC and for President Koroma so why should the SLPP start to manufacture reasons for why the pro-APC Anti Corruption boss has left?" asked Augustine Sheku, the Secretary-General for SLPP’s Constituency 112. He denounced a recent media interview by one Mr. J.T. Tucker also of the same Constituency 112 SLPP Branch which is a part of one of the five political districts making up the Western Area.

J.T. Tucker has told Awareness Times Monday evening that his intention in a recent Concord Times interview had not been "to molest John Benjamin" but to air his opinions as a young man within the party. He confessed that he had made no attempt to speak first with John Benjamin but stated that was because John Benjamin had caused him to be thrown out of the party’s last Convention in Bo. He however insisted that his controversial interview was not a revenge attack on John Benjamin for him being allegedly thrown out of the Party’s Convention Bo Hall. His denials are however being taken with a pinch of salt by his compatriots in Constituency 112 and all around the country as many of them lambasted him as being "ignorant of the SLPP Party’s Constitutional powers endowed on the SLPP Chairman".

The famous Mr. Victor Sheriff of Pujehun’s Constituency 91 who is the former SLPP Deputy National Organising Secretary lamented to Awareness Times Monday over the fact that there were persons like J.T. Tucker who could find it within themselves to publicly molest John Benjamin whom Sheriff describes as "the best Leader the SLPP has ever had in modern times going by his swift reaction to settle issues affecting the well-being of our party". He said John Benjamin "has been selfless in his leadership of SLPP".

Sheriff insisted that "if John Benjamin had been the Party Leader following the 2005 Makeni Convention, there is no way the PMDC would have been formed as John Benjamin displayed astute leadership skills when I felt marginalised after I was denied the SLPP symbol for Constituency 91 and left the party. The way and manner JOB galvanised forces to bring me back into the party’s fold was simply spectacular. The SLPP currently has their best ever Leader of modern times in John Benjamin and the fact that he has held the party together in the wilderness of opposition with all the treachery and subterfuges is a big feather to his cap. We should all be thanking JOB for being the spectacular leader he is."

Interestingly, many party stalwarts who declined to be named, are blaming SLPP Secretary-General J.J. Saffa and SLPP Presidential Aspirant Maada Bio as being the ones who put up J.T. Tucker into giving such an interview aimed at "molesting image of our party leader and by extension our party". They believe that J.J. Saffa and Maada Bio, knowing that J.T. Tucker was harbouring a grudge against John Benjamin for what happened in Bo, "used" Tucker to throw unnecessary punches at John Benjamin because Benjamin was refusing to support the candidature of Maada Bio instead wanting a level playing field for all SLPP flagbearer aspirants.

Efforts to contact Mr. J.J. Saffa to comment on the allegation that he was the one putting up J.T. Tucker against John Benjamin were fruitless uptil press time. J.J. Saffa, a very good friend of this press, promised to contact us after lunch on Monday but never did so. However, very credible media sources point fingers at both him and Maada Bio as being behind the ploy to molest John Benjamin. It is worthwhile to note that Maada Bio has promised Awareness Times that he will be speaking out on the issue very soon.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. J.J. Saffa has contacted the newspaper first thing this morning as soon as the newspaper hit the streets of Freetown. His interview in which he expresses his "total, unambiguous support" of Mr. John Benjamin's position on Abdul Tejan-Cole will be out in tomorrow's edition of your favourite nation-wide newspaper, the Awareness Times.

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