|John O. Benjamin|
Chairman and Leader of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party
Good afternoon Ladies & gentlemen of the 4th Estate.
Since we met here some time ago a lot of developments have taken place both within our party and without. I am delighted to welcome you all here again as usual so I can give a full report on recent developments share at first hand these recent developments within our great party, the SLPP as far as I am concerned.
This is a special press conference which has been convened mainly for two reasons: To respond to certain issues that has been in public domain and subject of discourse for the past several weeks. As a political leader, I have to be responsive and address the concerns of the membership of our party, the SLPP and the public at large. I also want to ensure that the SLPP ideal for transparency and accountability are upheld, giving out information and explaining issues that affect the party.
They say he who hides his secret from his son exposes him to his enemy. As Chairman and Leader of the SLPP, I think if anyone should know about how our party is run and what is taking place, it will be me. I have served my country in various capacities, some very senior and I did so to the best of my ability.
When I got elected as Chairman and Leader of the SLPP, I took over a vandalized office, no chairs, no desks and nothing to work with. Our party’s account was in deficit of over Le150 million. I worked tirelessly with members of my executive to build the SLPP into a fully operational outfit recognized in and out of the country.
I made our party so attractive that we easily had nineteen people vying to become Flag Bearer at our recently held election. I believe I gave my very best to make SLPP win and in spite of all my efforts some uncommitted and mischievous people have made it their business to tarnish my image and reputation.
I can understand when some of the people in the media helped in their way to put out these false and untruth stories without proper investigation. How can the party’s National Secretary General and the
National Publicity Secretary devote their time destroying the image of their Chairman and Leader and by implication, our noble party the SLPP.
On the contrary, as Chairman and Leader of our party, I have made numerous financial sacrifices just to get the SLPP operational. I do not receive a monthly salary. I continue to pay my own security men and some of my staff from my own resources. Most of the time I also use my own money to cover our campaign across the country.
The party’s campaign funds were directly controlled by Madaa Bio and Kadi Sesay who to this moment I am speaking to you have never accounted for them to the SLPP National Executive.
Most of you here, Ladies and Gentlemen must have received a copy of a recent SLPP Bank statement which was widely circulated by no less a person than Mr. Sulaiman Banja Tejan -Sie, the National Secretary General of the SLPP.
That bank statement was accompanied by a longish cover note privately addressed to our bankers. Did it occur to any of you why a very senior member of the SLPP would be personally distributing such a very confidential document? How many of you here Ladies and Gentlemen would like to see your bank statement in the street let alone publish in the newspapers?
Why did Mr. Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie not deal with the issue of the bank statement internally by confronting me or the National Treasurer about money purportedly withdrawn from the SLPP bank account?
But what Mr. Banja Tejan-Sie does? He ignored the internal mechanisms and procedures to deal with such matters and went straight to newspaper houses with copies of the SLPP bank statement and a letter which he himself had addressed to our bankers. I have a catalogue of evidence to prove that Mr. Tejan-Sie’s recent action inimical and has not been in the interest of our party.
The SLPP has very clear guidelines of how it operates it finances and account.
What I can tell you is that none of those guidelines were breached nor was the $60,000 drawn from the account was for personal use. We used the money for party purposes and we have documents to support it.
Now surely, your next question is why would Mr.Banja Tejan-Sie, the National Secretary General of the SLPP want to publish these bank statements? Well, the answer is simple. Mr. Tejan-Sie is trying desperately to divert attention from some of his criminal activities which have recently been discovered and are fast catching up with him. My refusal to join him in these activities has suddenly made me a prime target for vilification and malicious propaganda. Those matters are now before the courts and I would not go into details.
The same is true also for Hon. Musa Tamba Sam. Mr. Tamba Sam issued a press statement after Mr. Tejan-Sie had personally taken copies of our party bank statement to various media houses. Again, like the National Secretary General, Hon. Tamba Sam did not choose to deal with the issue internally but to go public, libelously accusing me of all sorts of ridiculous things personally. This is a man who could not even win his own seat for Parliament. But that’s another matter.
Now, here is a man who was on the verge of crossing over to the APC. He had called a family meeting to inform his people that he had been offered a job in the APC and was going to leave the SLPP. Ladies and Gentlemen, this was the FACT! His own family members told me this and several other credible sources within the APC have told me that Mr. Tamba Sam has been lobbying for a job in the government.
The moment I had all the evidence of Mr. Musa Tamba Sam’s treacherous behaviour as National Publicity Secretary of the SLPP, I immediately set about to stop him from defecting to the APC. As Chairman and Leader, I thought his defection would have been another embarrassment for us as a party and for me personally. To see one of our high profile national officers crossing over again to the APC would have added to the list of opportunists who have already defected from my district, Kailahun to the APC.
I could not have sat back and see this traitor defect. I know he is a desperate man. So what did I do to stop him? I took the phone and started calling up some of our members and close friends in the Kailahun District. Some told me they already heard the news and suggested how we could stop him. So we went all out to stop Mr. Musa Tamba Sam from joining the APC.
This is the crime I have committed as far as Hon. Musa Tamba Sam is concerned and the only way to get back at me is to malign and embarrass me.
Finally Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to take this opportunity to inform our committed members of the SLPP including our MPs that in spite of all what is going on around the party, we are still pursuing our matters (elections petition) with the courts. I can assure our members that this party is bigger than all of us and will remain so. This is not about John Benjamin but about the SLPP.
I thank you all.