This Weekend… Benefits/Pensions For EX-APC Officials

One of the unsung benefits of last week’s three days Bintumani III national peace and cohesion dialogue sessions in Freetown was the announcement by Hon. Dr. Alpha Khan that he successfully negotiated with the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) led government for the payment of benefits and pensions of all former All People’s Congress (APC) ministers, Ambassadors and other political appointees to be honoured by the Ministry of Finance, as a goodwill gesture.

He further disclosed that his request was accepted by the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, who, he said, has given instructions for the payment vouchers for benefits and pensions for all former APC government ministers and officials to be prepared immediately. The process is expected to be completed before the end of this week with disbursement starting immediately. Other contentious matters between APC and the SLPP government, he said, will be dealt with in due course. This, he said, was one of the benefits of him attending the Bintumani III national dialogue conference.

As a prominent member of the main opposition APC that had unanimously decided to boycott the Bintumani III conference, Hon. Dr Alpha Khan explained in a public statement that he attended the conference not as an APC delegate but as an individual.

Giving the reason why he decided to honor the SLPP government’s invitation to not only take part in the conference but to also chair one of its sessions, Hon. Dr Alpha Khan said, “I believe peace is a priority,” and that is why, he said, he went to put down his own views across and to dialogue with the leaders of SLPP in the government to consider APC and Northerners as their compatriots.

Hon. Khan attended the conference on the firm belief that “to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war.” Dialogue, he said, leads to resolution, noting that no war is concluded on the war front but resolved at the negotiating table.

APC, he said, still has the opportunity to correct their past mistakes which are not grave ones. “Our problems are not insurmountable,” he said, “but we have to solve them ourselves.”

It could be recalled that after the party’s shocking 2018 presidential run-off election loss to arch political rival, the now governing SLPP, the party was wracked by bitter recriminations, accusations, pointing of fingers and call for a forensic investigation of the party’s presidential election loss.

Out of that acrimonious atmosphere emerged a radical minded group of young and not so young intellectuals in the party who called themselves the National Reformation Movement (NRM) that, among other  demands, called for the stepping aside of the party’s Chairman and Leader and his national executive, accusing them of holding the party to ransom in order to continue furthering their political interests, as well as a review of the party’s 1995 constitution with particular reference to expunging the clause that allows the leadership to select national officials and the presidential flagbearer.

As members and supporters of the party took sides for and against NRM’s demands on the leadership of the party, the National Advisory Council (NAC) met in a crisis resolution meeting at the party’s Old Railway Line, Brookfields headquarters in Freetown and set up a 30-man Constitutional Review Committee whose report was due to have been submitted to the secretariat at the end of January 2019 but has still not been submitted, which prompted NRM to raise its voice again calling for publication of the CRC Report.