Ernest Koroma’s Joy, John Benjamin’s Blues!

15 June 2009 at 03:25 | 868 views

Postmark London

By Sorie Sudan Sesay

I had advised my colleague at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington not to be bothered with recent developments linking Ambassador Bockarie Stevens with allegations of attempts to embarrass the Chairman of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

John Oponjo Benjamin has been at the centre of a well orchestrated campaign from a tiny section of the press after he was detained for several hours by immigration authorities in the United States of America.

Coincidentally, that was about the same time President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma was enjoying massive welcoming support from fellow Sierra Leoneans in London who had gone to welcome him on his way back home from China.

London is definitely not Sierra Leone where people probably go to rallies just because they want to sing or dance to bubu songs - London is a strategic place where time means everything.

So for people to sacrifice their efforts and time for over six hours in the cold just to give the President that rousing welcome tells a different story particularly when this comes at a period of consistent press attacks on not only his government, but also his personality.

To me, the London euphoria should be a booster to the President and team that they still have the massive support of the people behind them.

Frankly speaking, the arrest of Benjamin is obviously being blown out of proportion to say the least, but at the same time, one can understand the direction our opposition is heading towards.

This is just one of a few calculated dirty politics against the APC as part of a game-plan by the opposition to either gain public political sympathy or divert the attention of the ruling party from more important national issues.

Not too long ago, the opposition made unsubstantiated allegations of rape against the APC following clashes between the two political parties. The allegation was not only dismissed as false, but is also seen by many as very ridiculous.

One political commentator questioned: “How could women be raped in broad-day light at the same time people were running helter-skelter for dear life?”

John Benjamin’s story is no different to that of the issue of alleged rape of women at the offices of the SLPP.

Come to think of it, the SLPP Chairman is obviously not a strange figure as far as the politics of Sierra Leone is concerned. He is a very famous but unpopular politician seen by many as the Political Babangida in Sierra Leone’s politics. That nightmare, undoubtedly, will ever live to haunt him no matter how crafty and desperate our colleagues try to white-wash him.

The fact remains that Sierra Leoneans are far above those petty issues and can distinguish between facts and lies.

This whole brouhaha started with Ambassador Stevens coming under intense fire for what the opposition described as executing’ a plot from his Freetown superiors to have Benjamin embarrassed in the USA even though common sense is enough to tell them that the Americans will NEVER stoop so low as to delve into our petty national issues.

What some of our colleagues do fail to realize is that popularity is not a cheap commodity and it is obviously not something one can easily achieve overnight at the expense of others.

It is therefore crazy for people to go around attacking others like mad dogs in an attempt to cover the truth. This will not help the situation - it will only worsen the situation.

The fact remains that Benjamin’s role as Chief Secretary of State during the NPRC regime is nothing good to write home about. And as Abdulai Baraytay of the Foreign Ministry puts it, “the age of impunity is no longer tolerable”.

Who knows, Benjamin may be haunted by sins of the past. To me, this is just the beginning - otherwise, let’s wait and see!