Salone News

SLPP’s John Benjamin visits the United Kingdom

14 July 2009 at 01:04 | 696 views

The Sierra Leone People’s Party United Kingdom and Ireland branch has informed this press about the visit to the UK of the SLPP’s national chairman and leader, John Oponjo Benjamin (JOB).

An SLPP press release states that this is the first visit to the UK by the Chairman/Leader of the Party since the election of the current National Executive. JOB will arrive on Monday 13th July and spend a week in London following a recent whistle tour of the United States of America where he galvanised support for the Party and sought to bolster the determination and efforts of the Diaspora branches in ensuring the Party returns to power when elections are held in Sierra Leone, in 2012.

"The SLPP UK/Ireland Branch has established a broad based planning committee to put in place modalities to ensure JOB’s visit becomes not only a historic event but one that heralds a new beginning for the Branch and progresses the consolidation of effort to support the Party’s aspirations to regain power," the release says.

A series of events have been organised to make the visit of our National Chairman /Leader of the Party a resounding success. These include:

- Meetings with United Kingdom Government officials from the Foreign Affairs Committee and other relevant departments;

- Meetings with UK press to share the party’s vision for Sierra Leone and the current challenges of governance and how the party intends to address the issues;

- A community forum meeting with UK Party Members on 17th July 2009 – at the Walworth Methodist Church Hall, 54 Camberwell Road, London SE5 9EN, starting at 5.30 pm;

- A Grand Reception/Fundraising Gala, on Saturday 18th July at Wavelengths Leisure Centre, Griffin Street, Deptford, SE8 4RT, from 6 pm to 1 am.

- The Chairman, Council of Elders, Executive and planning committee of the UK/Ireland branch invite all members to join in welcoming our National Chairman and request that you make time to get involved in reflecting and sharing ideas on the way forward for the Party with our leader during his visit by attending the forum and reception.

"Members of the public are also welcome to attend both events and to meet with JOHN OPONJO BENJAMIN; the dynamic National Chairman /Leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party. JOB returns to Sierra Leone on Monday 20th July 2009," the release concluded.

We now bring you a report on a recent visit to Chicago by John Benjamin sent to us by Patrick Kagbeni Muana:

On July 6, 2009, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (North America) under regional chairman, Augustine Fallay, again flew the Chairman and national leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), John Oponjo Benjamin, into both Chicago, Illinois (the heartland of President Barack Obama), and then Atlanta Georgia . In a series of high-powered meetings with Chicago city and Illinois state officials, Chairman Benjamin engaged the very receptive Chicago officials in substantive discussions on how those officials can help foster democratic governance in Sierra Leone by supporting the strengthening and reorganization of the opposition SLPP.

Chairman Benjamin hinted that he was impressed by “the managerial acumen evident in the running of this vast metropolis,” and he pointed out that this is a strong lesson to those African leaders who “talk about running their countries as businesses, but who fail to adopt effective management skills and strong business ethics.”

Chairman Benjamin then met with a number of VIPs including Dr. Carol Adams, the head of Illinois’ Human Services Department who was assigned by the Governor of the State of Illinois to receive the Chairman in Chicago. The productive meeting established firm foundations for future partnership between the heavily democratic base in Obama heartland and the SLPP. An extensive visit in the near future to cement strategic links is planned.

The Mayor of the 2.8 million strong city of Chicago assigned Mike Murnane, the Director of Ethnic Relations at the Chicago 2016 Office, to provide Chairman John Benjamin with a privileged VIP overview of the Chicago Plan for hosting the 2016 summer Olympic games.

After his official engagements with Illinois state and city officials, Chairman Benjamin held a very successful town meeting of Sierra Leoneans in Chicago and such neighboring states as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. To sustained cheers, Chairman Benjamin admonished that “from the bitterness of war, Sierra Leoneans must draw the lesson that we must learn to nourish those ties that bind us rather than promote the artificial differences that blind us.”

He continued: “adversarial politics harnesses hate and discord; democratic politics and transparent governance when people believe that their sense of ownership is predictable and well grounded in the transparent and fair spirit of the constitution promotes investor confidence and stability.” He concluded, ‘the SLPP has challenged the other side by signing a peace building communiqué even over the smoldering ruins of our headquarters and as our women supporters lay raped and young members were wounded, battered, and unjustly detained by Police. Can the All People’s Congress (APC) members disown their violent record by stopping the violence and intimidation and directing their energy into working with us (the SLPP) in nation-building and in practicing the politics that protects life, liberty, and ensures the pursuit of happiness?”

Chairman Benjamin left Chicago the following day for a busy day of meetings at the Carter center in Atlanta, Georgia. A press packet with pictures of the Carter Center engagement and also a historic meeting with Dr. Andrew Young, a major historical figure in US politics who served as congress man, US ambassador to the United Nations, and Mayor of Atlanta will be distributed soon.

Photo: JOB (left) with Dr. Carol Adams in Chicago.