Bio For SLPP Leadership -Chief Minister Not Interested Prince Harding & Batilo Songa To Battle For Chairmanship

There is no smoke without fire. Severally, from different sources within the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), it has been heard that the National Executive Council (NEC), the party’s second highest decision body wants to review the Party’s constitution ahead of the coming January 2019 National Delegates’ Conference.

Sources intimated that the review is to separate the position of Leader and Chairman of the party. With this done, it will enable the head of state, President Bio, to vie for leadership of the party. As it is, the Leader and Chairman of the party is a very powerful position, as it is only he who has the power to summon NEC meetings. The elders want this to change. They are said to be supported by the SLPP parliamentarians.

Calls by SLPP elders for the two positions to be separated came to the fore after the hostile atmosphere that has been created in the party between supporters of the current Chairman and Leader, Dr. Prince Harding and his challenger, Jimmy Batilo Songa, with the former seen as home based and the latter a Diasporan.

Immediately Songa who is the National Publicity Secretary declared his intention to vie for the party’s topmost position, verbal and physical assaults started taking place at the SLPP headquarters in Freetown between supporters of the two antagonists. In one of the clashes, police had to be called in from the nearby Central Police station to separate the supporters who engaged themselves in open combat.

This development did not sit well with the head of state. During a visit to the party headquarters to appease aggrieved, discontented youthful party supporters, he called for peace and calm to prevail in the party and between its members. He warned that he would not hesitate to take drastic punitive action against any party member found wanting of inciting violence and disunity in the party.

The clash between supporters of Dr. Prince Harding and Songa in Bo last month during the NEC meeting that resulted in police inviting Dr. Harding and Songa for questioning after their supporters disrupted the peace in Bo further convinced party elders that  with the party tasked with delivering satisfactorily on its 2018 election promises in order to be reelected, the best way to prevent the party from splintering into antagonistic factions is for the President to be elected as political leader of the party. This, they said, will make everybody subordinate to his command, whilst the Chairman remains as administrative head of the party and answerable to the Leader.

It could be recalled that before John Oponjo Benjamin took over leadership of SLPP, there was separation between the offices of Leader and Chairman of the Party.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, who it was rumored was also interested in leading the party has said he is not interested in leading the party as his focus for now is on helping the President and the party to deliver on its election promises to the people. Should the party review its constitution to separate the Leader and Chairman position, which will leave the floor open for Dr. Harding and Songa to battle it out for the Chairman position.

It is also known that Alhaji Momodu Koroma and another SLPP elder living in the Diaspora are also interested in vying for the Chairman position. Furthermore, many people have expressed their intention to vie for the various elective national positions at the next delegates’ conference, including that of Secretary General currently held by Lawyer Napoleon Koroma.