Sunday, March 31, 2013

To My Sisters: African Mothers

Miatta Kaisamba Turay
Africa should consider this century the "Century of the African Mother" The African woman has always been the bedrock of the family, but the African man has either always been too slow to realize this or may have never realized this fundamental truth at all.

African men go to their graves with the illusion that they were the champions in the family, not realizing that it was the mothers that were the true champions, the real unsung heroes. 

There are those who grew up in Africa and had great nurturing relationships with their fathers, but for the majority of us, it was always our mothers who provided that strong parental bond. Father will see the bag of rice in the corner and assumed you had no need to be hungry. It was always your mother who asked whether you had enough to eat that day. It was she who ensured that you went to bed with food in your stomach and a warm blanket to keep you warm.
Massah Kanneh

In the morning, our fathers reached into their pockets, gave money for food and then went about their business of being the ones that wore the trousers in the family. It was our mothers who made sure we had the cold morning shower before we went to school. They made sure our uniforms were clean and our faces well oiled against the dry and stinging cold Harmattan winds that blew down from the western Sahara. Our mothers made sure we had just enough money to buy that "bread and aborbor" during lunch. When we came home from school, they made sure we did not throw our books around, but did our homework and prepared for school the next day.

Mariama Bhonopha
When there was an uproar or fighting in town, our mothers would drop all they were doing and rush out and about, not stopping until they found us and guided us home like gentle shepherds carefully herding a flock of lost sheep to safety, checking them over and over to make sure they were alright, to make sure everything was okay.

From Prince Nico's "Sweet Mother" to my cousin Steady Bongo's "Haja Watta" our singers and minstrels have immortalized in song the great love that exists between mothers and child.

Musu Kaisamba
As opposed to other cultures where you grow up upon reaching the age of 18, you never grow up in the eyes of the African mother. You can be fifty years old and your mother will still treat you like the baby she had many years ago, the truant child pretending to be sick that she chased to school, the rascal child that she quarreled with the intolerant neighbor lady for. You could be the president of the country, but you will always be her little one.
Edna Kebbie Swaray
Fatmata Theresa Kebbie

For those who have mothers that are still alive, treasure them.  Fuss over your mothers, ask them for their blessings, let them give it to you while they are still around,  for there is no loss more profound, no pain more deep, no mortality more final than the death of a mother.It is like the loss of a shade that has covered you throughout your life, like a great cotton tree that shades a small village from the elements; from rains, storms, tornadoes and all the raging pandemonium nature can bring.
My Minnesota Sisters

On this Easter Day I ask God to bless all the women in my family and mothers all around the world. I dedicate this Easter day to the sisters in my family and to Sierra Leone women all over the world.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sierra Leone Political Update: SLPP's Brand New Frog

MTS Central Corrdinator
Mr. Andrew Keili
Yesterday was a busy day for some members of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown. Out of the flames of the recent acrimony and systemic crisis that has gripped the party leadership, leaving ordinary members confounded, discombobulated and feeling  like Sahelian grass trampled under the feet of stampeding elephants, a new movement has arisen, the MTS, the Movement for The Transformation of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, which thankfully the founders had the sense of not labeling (MTSLPP), but Simply MTS, thank God for small mercies.

MTS is a mottled group of members of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party. Many of them are returnees of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) who abandoned the SLPP before the 2007 presidential elections in the country, after the loss of Charles Francis Kondo Margai in the SLPP  flagbearer race to former Vice President Solomon Ekuma Dominic Berewa. Charles Margai left with a substantial membership of the party to form the PMDC, a party whose fortunes has withered substantially in the past five years and now has no seat in Sierra Leone's Parliament. In 2012 the SLPP was able to retake most of the seats it lost to the PMDC in the November elections in the country. The other members of the MTS draw mostly from supporters of the movement's Central Coordinator Mr. Andrew Keili, an engineer who was a candidate for the 2011 SLPP flagbearer contest garnering a respectable 9.5% of the votes in a field of 19 presidential aspirants. The rest are folks disgruntled with the current leadership struggle and want to have a voice of their own within the party.
Alpha Timbo in Suit

According to the Central Coordinator and leader of the MTS, Mr. Andrew Keili, the formation of the MTS was necessitated by the current rancor and animosity among the party leaders that has substantially reduced the political standing and prestige of the once great party. According to Mr. Keili, the SLPP that once labeled itself as the party of the rule of law, respect, and  tolerance has degenerated into the exact opposite and is now characterized by chronic election losses and continual infighting. After the loss of two successive elections, party members he said, were demoralized, frustrated and needed a new direction.

Speaking to Radio Democracy 98.1 FM in Freetown, Mr. Keili stated that after the flagbearer race for the 2007 elections, many members defected to form the PMDC and the same thing happened after the 2012 flagbearer contest with people leaving for the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC). He said that the party is finding it difficult these days to even raise funds and a lot of people were approaching him asking, "What is wrong with your party?" It was with this declining fortune in mind and a desire restore the party to its old glory days that a group of like minded people including himself, some people in the country and some Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora decided to form a movement that would restore sanity, respectability and direction to the party. To go back to the core values of "One people one country" and stop the party being labeled as a southeastern party.
Chairman Benjamin Giving his Blessing

Mr. Keili was reminded that the Sierra Leone Peoples Party had existing party leadership structures such as the National Executive Council (NEC), the National Officers, and so on, and was asked why they had not gone through the established party leadership structures to reform the party, but had instead decided to form a new movement.

 Mr. Keili responded that it was the established party structures that were currently under threat. Decisions made by the NEC, he said,  were being challenged by members who felt that these decisions were not right and so the national executive who were the subject of most of the problems could not solve these problems themselves. Also, the party elders, he said, were compromised as the issue of who should be the next party flag-bearer has so polarized the party and divided it into opposing camps that there was no longer a neutral elder. Even the party lawyers, he said, were compromised. Five SLPP lawyers will give five different opinions on a given issue based on their position in the 2017 SLPP flagbearer fight. So Mr. Keili and his group had decided to form a movement that had nothing to do with the flagbearer fight, but was solely focused on restoring the party to its old glory. They aimed to study what was wrong with the party and try to mend it.
MTS Members

In February 2012, Mr. Keili wrote to the Chairman of the party Mr John Oponjo Benjamin asking for formal recognition of the MTS as an SLPP organization with "its major objective the transformation of  SLPP to the party that maintains the core principles on which it was founded whilst preparing to face modern challenges in elections and governance."  Apparently,  the Party Chairman thought the Movement was a good idea and gave them his blessing. So the MTS was launched this Thursday, as the new movement that would cure the sickness and disease that has infected SLPP for the last seven years. Somehow, this group was the party's new messiahs who would lead the SLPP exodus out of the morass of disunity and electoral loss, to unity and electoral glory. The MTS would be SLPP's soldiers of righteousness, with no ambitions themselves, but with the sole focus of grand party restoration. Wow, if only life was that simple, who would ever go to hell?

Unfortunately, the good tune that is being sung by the esteemed Mr. Keili, is not the same tune that is being sung by the rest of his supposedly influential caboodle, and the fat lady of discontent and suspicion, has already started to sing.
Copious note taking

The pictures from the MTS launching ceremony at the Unity Hall of the SLPP headquarters tell a different story, not one of unity. Of the most influential flagbearer contestants from 2011, only the former Sierra Leone Teacher's Union leader and former SLPP Minister of Employment, Labour and Social Security, Alpha Timbo, was at the occasion and he looked as uncomfortable as 4 year old cow facing judgement in a court presided over by a judge and jury of butchers.

Many SLPP members remain suspicious of the true aims of the MTS. In the first place, the leaders of the movement were already selected before the movement was announced to the the SLPP membership and the general public. Among the MTS leaders, there is a glaring absence of members of the current SLPP leadership, both in Sierra Leone and the diaspora. Many question the democratic credentials of a movement who leadership were not democratically elected or if they were, why were they elected before the movement was made public?

Other party members believe that with the defection of the influential businessman Usu Boie Kamara and other 2011 aspirants from the party, the race for 2017 has been thrown wide open and Mr. Keili and some others with future leadership aspiration are using the MTS to develop a solid base within the party. By posing as liberators of the party, the MTS members are skillfully angling to fill the leadership void that exists due to the current political struggles existing between the party Chairman John Benjamin and the 2012 presidential aspirant Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, who remains very popular within many sectors of the party.

The Enthusiastic Crowd
Some other people question why the members of the MTS would not just meet the current party leaders and try to mediate the crisis between them, but have to go to the trouble and expense of forming a parallel structure, complete with leadership positions, to solve a problem that would ultimately be only successfully solved by dialogue. Given the air of suspicion that has surrounded the MTS due to some unfortunate statements by some of its members, why would the current SLPP leadership even listen to them, when they are on the media, indirectly accusing them of incompetence and squabbling.

The Sierra Leone Peoples Party already has a recognized leadership in the United States of America in the form of SLPP-NA. Many are asking whether it was wise to have a North American leadership of the MTS that is composed of members who are not members of the SLPP NA executive.

The MTS is already fundraising and requesting membership fees. Some SLPP members are wondering if the MTS is going to hand these monies to the SLPP executive or whether these monies are going to be used for MTS activities.
Is It really a new Frog?

MTS is making the right noises, but many people are left wondering whether MTS is just the same old SLPP frog, with a different croak, washed and rebranded as a brand new frog. Well as the new frog continues to croak, time will ultimately tell.

Chinua Achebe Dies

Albert Chínụ̀álụmọ̀gụ̀ Àchèbé
Chinua Achebe
Today marks the end of an era. I just learnt of the death of the great Nigerian scholar, novelist and essayist Chinua Achebe. This is indeed a sad day for Africans all over, as Chinua Achebe's first Novel "Things Fall Apart", has the unique distinction of being the best loved literary work to ever come out of Africa. No other African literary work has ever even come close to the influence the book has had on millions of student all over the world, especially in Africa.
A Young Achebe in 1972

Remarkably, "Things Fall Apart" was the first African novel that I ever read. My elder sister who was a teacher at Bannerman Commercial in those days had a copy that was always lying on her desk. My primary school literature books were Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Great Expectations, all works of Charles Dickens, a legacy of British Colonial Influence. These were the books that were used in Samaria Primary when Sierra Leone was a colony, and upon the attainment of Independence, nobody ever attempted to change the school's literature curriculum, so we grew up reading the literature of Charles Dickens, which was not really bad, as his characters and description of poverty was particularly true to the African situation.

One particular day after school, it must have been in class six or seven, I picked up my sister's copy of "Things Fall Apart," looking for something to read and embarked on the greatest literary journey of a lifetime,  an experience I will never forget. Reading that novel for the first time was the most significant literary experience of my life. I never studied "Things Fall Apart" in school, but I must have read that book from the first page to the last page over 100 times, and that is no exaggeration.

We grew up admiring, loathing and feeling sorry for the book's the Main character, Okonkwo, a man  so full of pride and the fear of weakness and failure, that the fear of appearing weak ultimately led to his downfall. I never studied literature beyond form three, so I am no literary expert nor do I pretend to be. All I can say is that for somebody who was born in rural Sierra Leone, Chinua Achebe made me understand the politics of village life and made me appreciate the significance of West African traditions. His parables and proverbs are just out of this world.

Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" was a true labor of love. There is no character in the book that you cannot relate to. From Okonkwo's lazy father Unoka to the boy Ikemefuna who was exchanged for a grievous crime, Achebe took great care to develop and portray all the characters in the book is such detail that you grow up feeling as if you knew them in real life and that was the true power he had. There are so many African proverbs in "Things Fall Apart" that we grew up quoting him in school, to show how educated we were among our fellow students.

The only book by Chinua Achebe that I studied in school was the children's book "Chike and the River" which I read in form 1 in Bo School. "Chike and the River" is a powerful story of the mishaps and adventures of a small village boy sent to live in the city. It  always made me remember my own experience of being uprooted from my Methodist Primary School in Segbwema to Samaria Primary School in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

 "Things Fall Apart" (1958), was Achebes's seminal work. It later led to such literary works like "No Longer at Ease" (1960),  "Arrow of God", (1964) "A Man of the People" (1966) and "Anthills of the Savannah" (1987)

Albert Chínụ̀álụmọ̀gụ̀ Àchèbé, who was born on November 16, 1930 and died today March 22, 2013 also wrote many short stories, essays and political commentary and was an ardent critic of successive Nigerian governments. There are many people who believe that it was a real shame for Achebe to be passed over for the Nobel Prize in Literature in favor of less influential African writers.

During the Nigerian Civil war Mr. Achebe joined the Biafran government as an Ambassador and has twice turned down offers by the Nigerian government to grant him national honors. Mr. Achebe who has been residing and teaching America for a long time after a serious accident died last night in Boston, Massachusetts. I will ask a Nigerian friend Dr. Theophilus Ejorh, another contemporary Nigerian writer to write a tribute for publication in the Segbwema Blog.

I learnt of Chinua's death today from a Facebook post of my college mate John Moses Kamara

Sheku Sheriff
Segbwema Blogger

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Israel Rejects Sierra Leone Government Model

Tel Aviv
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has finally bowed to pressure from the chairman of the Yesh Atid Party Yair Lapib, the leader of the Habayit Hayehudi Party Naftali Bennett and the Chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party Avigdor Leiberman and decided to considerably reduce the number of ministers in the new government.

Benjamin Netanyahu
According to sources in Tel Aviv that the Segbwema Blogger is in contact with, the number of cabinet ministers has been reduced to 20 with 8 deputy ministers. Before the election the Israeli government which is usually made up of a coalition of parties, consisted of 31 ministers and 9 deputies. Prime Minster Netanyahu's party Likud gets to have the majority of the ministers in the new coalition, though some Likud members likely to lose their jobs are very angry and have threatened to boycott the swearing ceremony of the new government, the 33rd government since the formation of the State of Israel.

Yair Lapid
Proponent of Small government
Talks to form a new Israeli government had stalled in recent weeks with the insistence by Yair Lapid that he will only join in a coalition if the number of ministers were reduced. Other partners also insisted that ultra-orthodox Jews who had long been excused from military service, should now be drafted into military service like every one in Israel. The new government is to overturn the privilege of exclusion from military service enjoyed by the ultra orthodox and military service will now be mandatory.

Naftali Bennett the leader of Habayit Hayehudi is to head the renamed Economics and Trade Ministry and is to head a special cabinet committee set up to seek ways to reduce the country's cost of living and break up the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few.

The Israeli model is in sharp contrast to the West African state of Sierra Leone where the number of ministers including deputy ministers is almost 60 with the excuse that problems of the country are so many that a small cabinet will be unable to function effectively. A claim that flies in the face of all contemporary economic thought and theory.

In Sierra Leone, not only is economic power concentrated in the hands of a few, but the bloated bureaucracy is so inefficient that even after five years of touting electricity projects as the major achievement of the current government, much of the country remains in darkness.
Sierra Leone Minister Alpha Kanu
Champion of Big Government

In discussing the situation with some members of the Jewish Community Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Mr. Sheku Sheriff a development economist from Sierra Leone, noted that the insistence on a smaller government by Mr. Lapid would not only reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, but would also enhance the flexibility and capability of the government to deal with both economic and security threats more effectively, and with greater efficiency in the deployment of both economic and security resources. Mr Sheriff also went on to state that in a world that is bound to be confronted with increasing uncertainty, volatility, ambiguity and complexity, as the threat of climate change, population growth and terrorism become part of the new world order, leaders in developing countries need to adopt new skills to face these challenges. There should less emphasis on numbers and greater emphasis on capacity building and technological innovation.

Sheku Sheriff a patron of the Jewish Community center and an avid Jewish historian has received an invitation from the Jewish Community in Saint Paul to visit the State of Israel in 2013.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sierra Leone Political Updates: The Segbwema Pope

Africa's Best Chance
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
I have been too busy these days to blog. That does not mean things are not happening, they are, and they have been very interesting, very very interesting.

In Rome, Pope Benedict decided that he was just too tired these days to effectively conduct his papal duties. He has secretly been thinking about this for some time. Some years ago he made a symbolic visit to the tomb of the last pope that retired about 600 years ago and laid some flowers on the grave. Many people did not think about the significance of the action then, until he announced his extremely unexpected decision, sending us history buffs into a frenzy, scrambling to find precedence.

The last few weeks a lot of questions were asked about the papal succession. Will we get another European pope or will the new pope come from elsewhere, particularly the developing world? The world has witnessed the negative correlation between the decline in Catholicism in the Western nations and the growth in the number of Catholics in the developing world, particularly in Latin America. People thought loudly that it was about time for a Pope to come out of the developing world. Why get a European Pope, when Europeans were turning away from Catholicism and even Christianity?
Pope Francis I

Some of us in Africa were even wondering if we would get another African pope. Africa has had only three popes in the history of the Papacy and they had all come from North Africa. But that was so many years ago, that even some devote African Catholics may not have not known about this particular aspect of papal history.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, we were thinking that it was now time for a black Pope. Of course a Pope from my home town of Segbwema was an extremely remote possibility, asymptotically tending to zero. Men from that town have a particular fondness for the opposite sex, which naturally precludes most of them from the priesthood and ultimately the papacy. So in the midst of all the hullabaloo there was going to be no Pope Sei I or Pope Kailondo I, no Segbwema Pope. The Pope came from Argentina and the Italians were clever enough to select an Italian born in Argentina as Pope, cunningly having a Pope with both Italian blood and Argentinian nationality. Talk about killing two birds with one stone, A European pope from the Developing world, Pope Francis I

Of course Sierra Leone at large was not bound to get a pope soon. Bill Gates, the world's richest man, would have sent a special delegation to the Vatican to ensure that that the GAVI Alliance money that was so blatantly squandered by health officials in the country would be accounted for, before the country's archbishop will even be allowed near the Conclave of Cardinals. So there was no Pope Ernesto I.
Where is my Money?
Bill Gates

Corruption has always been rampant in Sierra Leone and has been ingratiated into the national fabric, desensitizing most of the citizens to its occurrence. But the gall and audacity with which the GAVI Alliance funds that were meant to help children in a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world were pilfered was truly appalling and absolutely revolting.

The GAVI Alliance is a subsidiary of the Gates Foundation that is committed to "Saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing access to immunization in poor countries." Senior officials in Sierra Leone's ministry of health jumped at the GAVI immunization cash like a group of 50 hungry monkeys rushing at a bunch of 5 ripe bananas.  The group of criminals included the top healtgh officials in the country and 7 medical doctors who had taken the Hippocratic oath to protect lives.

Of course it was Bill Gates' money, the richest man in the world and one of the greatest donors to the international institutions that control the purse string of Sierra Leone. So at the emerging and embarrassing scandal, the officials of the country pretended self righteous indignation and indicted 29 people, with all the fanfare of a Christmas parade filled by a group of rowdy drunks. The truth of the matter is that they knew that they had messed with the money of the wrong American. When the country's Auditor General revealed blatant official corruption just a few weeks prior, it had all been hush hush and noting had come of it. By next year the the Accountant General will likely be replaced by another Koroma and future reports will be compiled by accounting graduates from UNIMAK, end of story. But eating Bill Gates money, the man responsible for developing some of the most effective computer accounting software in the world, was a manifestation of the stupidity of the third world criminal.
Where is My Injection?

But common Sierra Leoneans are not fools, thanks to God. After a period in which there was no fuel in the country and the end of an election after which the country was plunged back into darkness, the President's blue eyed boys spent billions of Leones on a second inauguration that was meant to showcase the messianic qualities of the world's best leader. Invitations were sent throughout the world and all over the country. Come Friday the 22nd, the president and his men were welcomed by a half empty stadium, as only scared civil servants and drunken revelers in need of their next pint showed up to the bogus charade. Those who had other things to do stayed at home and that was almost all of Freetown. Of the world leaders, only Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf bothered to show up, she was on her way to a conference and said "well, what the heck"

Now we are hearing rumors from Politico that President Ernest Bai Koroma does not want the country's VP Sumana Timber to be the next APC flag-bearer. With Satanic journalist Blyden  close to the president's ear and Sumana's arch nemesis Diana Konomanyi now in the country's bloated cabinet, the president now has new in-laws from Kono and politico reports that EBK has told his wife that VP Sumana is not a welcome guest anywhere near him.

With Sumana's ally Victor Foh exiled to China to study communism and the APC convention yanked from Kono back to Freetown, there is much juice from Sierra Leone this week to fill a few pages of the Segbwema Blog.

While all this is happening the leaders of the main opposition SLPP, are fighting over sixty thousand dollars, insulting each other and inviting the police to beat each other up. Sierra Leone may be poor in many ways, but is always very rich in Wahala. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

John Benjamin Silences APC Critics For Now

John Benjamin
SLPP Chairman and Political Leader
Over the past few days, the Sierra Leone government propaganda machinery has been working overtime trying to make mountains out of mole hills.

 The government  has been recently plagued by an embarrassing credibility gap brought about in recent months by the withdrawal of vital medical assistance to the country by The GAVI Alliance, a subsidiary of the Gates foundation, over the embezzlement of over a million dollars in funds meant for the medical welfare of sick children in the country.

 The country has also been suspended by  the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) a mining watchdog group for a lack of transparency in mining operation in the country. All these negative news following on the heels of an Auditor General's report that could not account for billions of Leones in public expenditure, with public outcry on the expenditure of billions of Leones on a presidential inauguration that was mainly boycotted by the people, even though the day was declared a public holiday.

As if these were not enough bad news , the country has been plunged into perennial darkness as the cosmetic repairs done to the electricity grid during the recent elections seem to be coming apart at the seams, following weeks of the state running out of petroleum products, resulting in massive fuel lines all over the country.
President Ernest Bai Koroma

To divert attention from these horrible trends  the now Blyden led propaganda machinery has been working over time to put out feel good news in the midst of the economic chaos. With vital bridges collapsing due to reckless neglect, the focus these days has been on the withdrawal of sixty thousand dollars from the accounts of the Sierra Leone People's party by the party Chairman and Leader, John O. Benjamin, a former minister of finance who managed to secure the forgiveness of millions of dollars of loans to the country during his tenure.

In order to give the propaganda machinery something else to do, the SLPP Chairman John O. Benjamin has released details about the sixty thousand dollars and have challenged his detractors within the party to adopt the same level of transparency.

Citizens are also calling on the Ernest Koroma led Agenda for Prosperity government to  respond to the accountant general's report, but as of now, the silence from government has been deafening.

Reproduced is the Expenditure Statement of the SLPP Chairman

A$10,000 @ Le 4,330 43,300,000
1Legal fee to party lawyers30,000,000
2Bye Election at constituency 9210,000,000
3internet modem for Finance office450,000
4Routine meeting of national Executive700,000
5Initial funeral Expenses re Dr Kadie Sesays daughter1,000,000
6Welfare Assistance to constituency 92 stakeholders1,200,000
B$10,000 @ Le 4,330  @ Le432043,200,000
1Legal Fees for court case - kenema1,015,000
2Legal Fees for court case - Bo33,000,000
3Welfare to police ( office security) - 20 - 27 feb490,000
4medical assistance to Rachael (staff)175,000
5Repair & Maintenance re Deputy Chair & Leader1,810,000
6Repair & Maintenance re national secretary General1,700,000
7Routine meeting re investigative committee20,000
8Repair and Maintenance of two cupboards re  Chair &  deputy114,000
9Payment to universal for coverage dated 19/10/122,000,000
10Payment to universal for coverage dated 30/8/121,000,000
11Repair & maintenance of office chairs re deputy Chairman and Women's Leader400,000
12Publication - unity paper production -27/2/131,247,000
13Electrical item purchase- socket15,000
14Photocopy/delivery and stationery57,600
15Entertainment/hospitality re drinks chairman,s office25,000
16Photocopyuments of Finance doc30,000
17Entertainment re Journalists70,000
Staff salary feb'135,780,500
unity newspaper - staff salary1,400,000
welfare assistance - communicstiond director450,000
welfare assistance - police (securities at HQ) -28 feb - 6 Mar490,000
Welfare . Bo court case500,000
Phone top up re Admin sec19,500
D$5,000 @ Le 4,330  @ Le432021,600,000
Annual Leave re B W Boakari1,800,000
Repair & Maintenance vehicle re Dep. Chair & Leader1,400,000
Publication - Unity newspaper production3,018,000
Legal representation fee re t shirt court case - lawyer Gevao1,000,000
Salary advance re Kef100,000
delivery re Henry Koroma15,000
Fuel re national Treasurer112,500
Misc admin - tips 70,000
Routine meeting re investigative committee72,000
Routine meeting re investigative committee21,000
Fuel re Deputy Chairman & Leader112,500
Top up phone credit - deputy Chairman & Leader40,000
Travelling - national women's leader570,000
welfare - release of detainees from prison300,000
welfare - release of detainees from prison expenses250,000
Tour of E. Province re Sahr Sandi, YG leader, Yg Sec Gen8,000,000
Fuel re National Chair & Leader700,000
Repair & Maintenance vehicle tyres re Chair & Leader2,000,000
phone top up  credit re securities20,000
phone top up  credit re national secretary general80,000
Welfare to bo court case members500,000
Welfare to Njala SLPP students 150,000
E$3000      balance le460,000
BO Party House Acquisition - Preliminary Expenses re Kpulun12,500,000
Transfer from Dollar A/c slcb to Leone a/c ($20,000)87,000,000
G Amount Stolen following seizure of my vehicle
Party money                                                          $5,000/=
Party money                                                          le 460,000/=
Personal money                                                   Le 202,000/=
HAmount in hand                                                    $5000
1Expenditure category A                                                    $10,000/=10,000
2Expenditure category B                                                     $10,000/=10,000
3Expenditure category C                                                      $ 2,000/=2,000
4Expenditure category D                                                      $ 5,000/=5,000
5Expenditure category E                                                       $ 3,0003,000
6Expenditure category F                                                       $20,000/=20,000
7Expenditure category G                                                       $ 5,000/=5,000
8Cash in hand                                                                              $ 5,0005,000
Bank charges $115 per $10,000/=                   $115 *6690

John Benjamin Reacts to Detractors

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.

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