From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

As APC Spokesman condemns SLPP monthly briefings : JOB Questions Alpha Kanu’s Political IQ
By Bampia Bundu
Jul 2, 2010, 17:22

John Oponjo Benjamin (JOB), National Leader and Chairman of the main SLPP opposition party in Sierra Leone has yesterday July 1st 2010, scorned the Political Intelligence Quotient of Hon. Alhaji Alpha Kanu, the Spokesman for ruling APC party who doubles as the Minister of Mines and Minerals Resource. Benjamin ridiculed Alpha Kanu’s opinion that National Leaders of Political parties should only engage in political briefings through their party’s elected MPs. JOB asked if Alpha Kanu really understood what political plurality was all about as against the limited role of legislators in parliament.

“What if a brand new party were to form today in Sierra Leone; Is Alpha Kanu saying they should not have a platform to speak until they first get elected parliamentarians? See how funny his logic is?” Benjamin chuckled.

Benjamin was reacting to the swipes thrown at him by both Alpha Kanu and Information Minister I.B. Kargbo at yesterday’s Government weekly press briefing. Kargbo and Kanu had said that it is wrong for opposition SLPP to hold press briefings on monthly basis.

John Oponjo Benjamin

“If they as opposition party want to take up issues with the government, they should either write or use their Parliamentarians to pass their message to the government,” Alpha Kanu had stated, though he failed to say whether it unconstitutional or not for John Benjamin to call up such press briefings.

Hon Alpha Kanu had also described the SLPP as “a divided party” as according to him one side is headed by Momoh Pujeh in Parliament and the other headed by the Chairman, John Oponjo Benjamin. He said there is a democratic forum wherein both the ruling and opposition parties debate issues in the House of Parliament, adding, “We only recognize the Momoh Pujeh side of the SLPP as that of John Benjamin is illegal and not recognized.” He advised that John Benjamin register the party as a Civil Society Organization if they want to be holding frequent briefings as he opined it was illegal for Political organizations to hold regular press briefings.

“There are stipulated dates for political parties to engage on political issues, and once that is finished every body should join force to develop the country,” Kanu opined.

In reaction to these points, John Benjamin reminded Alpha Kanu about the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association. He also called on Kanu to reflect back on who it was who extended an invitation on behalf of the SLPP to the APC for which Alpha Kanu recently graced the SLPP Convention in Bo city. “Was it John Benjamin or Momoh Pujeh who invited Alpha Kanu on behalf of the SLPP? If John Benjamin is unrecognised and of no significance to the political sphere then why does Alpha Kanu’s boss President Koroma write to me seeking my consent for decisions in which the law demands consultation with political parties? Why not just write to Parliamentary Minority Leader?” Benjamin asked, whilst adding an assurance that “infact, no SLPP parliamentarian is confused about my leadership role in the party and certainly not Momoh Pujeh. All the confusion is inside Alpha Kanu’s head. It is what he would like to happen but it will never happen. The SLPP only has one Leader who is also the Chairman who steers the party and who will continue to engage the public on behalf of the SLPP through regular press briefings. Period.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo had also stated at the Government Press Briefing that they can as well take the SLPP “man to man” on a daily basis as there is no body in the SLPP that is fluent like Alpha Kanu and himself. Kargbo also said he preferred for JOB to keep himself quiet whilst he advised JOB to contest for parliamentary seats if he wanted to be taking on issues.

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