SLPP Old Guards Vs New Kids


By David Jabati

The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) led government of Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio is reportedly grappling with who to put where, considering the barrage of brains in its storehouse up for grab.

As the new President announces his cabinet in trickles or by percentage just as the election results were called by the National Returning Officer of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), ears are itching as the public pensively await the next set of names to be called anytime soon.

Ministerial materials as well as technocrats who can best replace the already redundant ones in the positions of trust in different parastatals, departments and agencies abound – it is a battle between the old guards and the new kids on the block who are all poised to ensuring that President Bio’s ‘New Direction’ agenda succeeds.

Old guards like Mr. John Oponjo Benjamin, who was one of the leading flagbearer aspirants of the party and one-time National Chairman and Leader of the same, is reportedly earmarked by the new President to continue his contribution to the party and country. The fact is that from what this press has gathered, Benjamin’s contribution to the party before and lately cannot be overemphasized. When the party’s headquarters on Wallace Johnson Street in Freetown was allegedly vandalized by the All People’s Congress (APC) supporters after the presidential run-off results were announced by the erstwhile Chief Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Christiana Thorpe  on Monday 17th September, 2007, it was Mr. Benjamin, the then National Chairman who gave it a facelift through the help of international partners.

From the start of the 2018 electioneering process right through the presidential run-off, Mr. Benjamin had been reportedly working behind the scenes, contributing financially and otherwise just to ensure that the party make a comeback to power. “He cannot be left in the cold,” stated an SLPP stalwart.

Another old guard, Dr. John Aruna Karimu, who was for no explained reason sacked as Commissioner General of National Revenue Authority (NRA) by the outgoing All People’s Congress (APC) government, is another seasoned technocrat with an admirable track-record which the Bio administration would not afford to leave out in its development trajectory.

Already, old guards like Dr. Alpha Tejan Wurie, Lawyer Alpha Usman Timbo, Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa and Mr. Kanja Sesay have been recognized by the new President for their contributions to the party.

So far, Rtd. Brig. Bio’s vision of a ‘New Direction’ from what The Exclusive has gathered, seems to be up with a good start as it has attracted seasoned and heavyweight academicians as evident in the first batch of cabinet ministers and other officials he has named to join him in actualizing his vision.

New kids on the block like Sahr Lahai Jusu, Yusuf Keketorma Sandi, Dr. Jonathan Tengbe, among others have already begun giving a new face to the SLPP led government.  This is a strong indication that President Bio is on the path of change in line with his vision for a new direction.

Another academic guru (New kid) that has been reportedly earmarked not only for his academic prowess but also for his immense contribution to the party is the current SLPP Spokesperson, North America (NA) Branch and two-times SLPP Conference Chairman, NA, Dr. Solomon Gembeh who is reportedly in town to add value to the Bio administration. Though he has not been actively involved in national politics, the name Solomon Gembeh is reportedly a household name in North America as far as party politics is concerned.

Digging further into his past, The Exclusive discovered that at a very early age, Dr. Gembeh joined the civil service of this country straight from college in the early 1980s and rose to the position of Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He later left for the United States of America (USA) where he grabbed a lucrative job in his area of studies – money, banking and high finance. He currently holds a terminal degree (Doctorate) in Management with special emphasis in homeland security. The learned doctor is a Subject Matter expert in the mitigation of terrorist financing and protecting critical infrastructure in any country. How that relates to Sierra Leone is the threat assessment and review of the leakages in revenue associated with the unregulated use of the country’s critical infrastructures like the international waterways where there are foreign entities harnessing the country’s oceanic products, the porous borders, how to tighten revenue management in institutions like Sierra Leone Port Authority (SLPA), NRA, among others.

Apart from the fact that he has a very lucrative career in corporate America and can just make do with that quite comfortably, it however goes without saying, by our findings that he has contributed immensely to the SLPP and intends to contribute to national development going forward. At the time when folks in North America were shying away from the SLPP and pitching tents with the nascent National Grand Coalition (NGC), he was very vociferous as the party’s Spokesman for President Bio in all conventions and political debates in the USA where he articulated the ideals of the SLPP and the new direction vision of President Bio. As a matter of fact, he was the host of a global platform where he interviewed all presidential flagbearer aspirants of the SLPP.

The trade-off therefore is a huge sacrifice to return to Sierra Leone and help actualize President Bio’s ‘New Direction’ vision.

Another possible new kid on the political block is the current SLPP Conference Chairman – NA and unarguably one of the most powerful SLPP personalities in NA, Steven Mannah, who co-hosted the aforesaid global platform in NA.