Salone News

Kabbah’s Hammer: Benjamin in, Dauda Out

7 September 2005 at 02:07 | 674 views

By Gibril Gbanabome Koroma

In what many believe is ’punishment’ for betrayal, incompetence and kleptomania, president Kabbah has announced a mini reshuffle of his cabinet two days after the SLPP convention in Makeni.

In an announcement on Tuesday Sepetember 6,three ministers have been kicked out of the government; they are Finance minster Joseph Bandabla Dauda, Interior minister George Banda-Thomas and Energy minister Emmanuel Grant.

The new Finance minister is politician and businessman John Benjamin, the new Interior minister is former university lecturer Pascal Egbenda. Insurance executive Lloyd During assumes the position of Energy and Power minister.

Marine Resources and Fisheries minister Okere Adams goes to the dull and uninteresting Tourism and Culture ministry while Tourism minister Chernor Jalloh now goes to the lucrative Marine Resources ministry.

Former Finance minister JB Dauda, a man who has been in the political limelight for quite a long time, held various cabinet positions in former president Momoh’s government and his critics say he is a contributor to Sierra Leone’s present economic mess.Many describe him as corrupt but could not forward any evidence to prove this.He recently fought for the leadership of the party with Vice-President Berewa and lost.Berewa, it was said, was quite unhappy with Dauda entering the race after allegedly pledging his support to him (Berewa).A political analyst from Freetown says Dauda has been ’punished’for this ’betrayal’ although his APC past may also be a factor.

Former Interior minister Band-Thomas, a soft-spoken private lawyer,was considered a non-performer and too low profile a politician. It was under his watch that several hardened criminals escaped from police custody recently.The coccupation of Yenga by Guinean troops, a matter still unresolved, still anger many Sierra Leoneans with some of the blame going to Banda-Thomas.

Former Fisheries minister Okere Adams has on many occasions been accused of various sorts of corrupt practices by the Freetown press.He was recently arrested and briefly detained by the police on the orders of the Anti-Corruption unit in the city.His ’demotion’ to the unattractive tourism ministry is considered by watchers as a way to keep him out of the limelight and to give him time to do his other job as Organising Secretary of the ruling party.

Energy and Power minister Emmanuel Grant supervised a ministry that could not provide electricity for most of the country most of the time.One wonders however whether his replacement, the elderly Lloyd During, could do any better.

The new Finance minister, John Benjamin, is a man who has more enemies than friends.He was one of the brains behind the 1992 NPRC coup that overthrew the APC leading to the execution of many prominent personalities in the country.Sierra Leone under the NPRC was the scene of many human rights violations and economic plunder by the military junta and their civilan counterparts.Many Sierra Leoneans blame Benjamin for being part of that junta although no concrete evidence has yet surfaced which could be sufficient to nail him as a thief or bully.
Benjamin’s friends say he is a no-nonsense individual with impressive business skills and a deep love for his country.

Photo: John Benjamin--- will his past haunt him?