The rugged road to peace within the SLPP
Someone, I believe it was the national chairman and leader of the opposition SLPP party Chief Somano Kapen who quoted the old Chinese Proverb that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” That first step was taken last Saturday when Unity Hall in the party headquarters was almost jam packed with members especially those who were visiting the party headquarters for the first time since the Bo party convention some ten months ago.
It was good to see such faces as I J, and many others who had intended to contest for various positions on the national executive council but had walked out with Alie Bangura. The embattled minority Parliamentary leader Dr. Bernadette Lahai was there as were the erstwhile national chairman and leader John Oponjo Benjamin along with John Karimu and Joe Kallon. There was Andrew Keilie and the former regional chairman south Joseph Kpulum together with Alusine Fofana the interim norther region chair. Also present were S T-J and Fode Dabo and many others. Alpha and Umaru Wurie were there as always and Morie Manyeh. Alie Bangura himself together with his close associate Joe Blell were conspicuously absent as disturbingly were all the elected members of the current executive with the exception of the national Chairman and the Secretary-General.
When I inquired later I was told that necessary and timely as the peace effort was, that Chief Kapen and Sulaiman Banja-Tejansie had made all the arrangements without as much as a word to them especially considering that they had all been voted for like the two of them. They attribute the chairman’s lack of consultation even at the best of times as one of the root causes of the problem within executive committee and the secretariat.
I have no doubt that it will be one of the earliest and very urgent matters that Bishop Humper and his colleagues would have to address. That the majority of Members of Parliament not being present also did not augur well and to compound the problem the national chairman and secretary-general also circulated a resolution in which they had suspended Prince Harding the deputy chairman and leader and the national publicity secretary Tamba Musa-Sam for three months pending a suggested investigation into their recent conduct of declaring the suspension from office of both the national chairman and the secretary-general of the party. The action if allowed may be an obstacle to bringing peace and must also be urgently addressed like the subject of the vote of “No Confidence” in the minority leader, notwithstanding any acclamation that there was only one minority leader in the person of honourable Bernadette Lahai. It was not for her to make the declaration although she could be excused as taking advantage of the prevailing jubilant atmosphere in the hall.
But I I have to emphasize that disturbing as that was it was NOT ALLOWED TO OVERSHADOW OR PLAY DOWN THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE OCCASION. Those present who had challenged the election result of the Bo convention led by Dr. Bernadette Lahai and JOB formally recognized chief Kapen and Sulaiman Banja-Tejansie as the national chairman and leader and secretary-general respectively. How nice it would have sounded to have added “And the current executive council,” but that would surely come later. However even before that the minority leader must reach out to her colleagues in the same way that Kapen MUST START TO PUT HIS HOUSE IN ORDER.
Be that as it may, both declarations were greeted with a resounding applause which nearly brought down the roof. To quote the late former President Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah in early 2002, “THE WAA DON DONE”~ (The war is over) implying that it was the end of all the squabbling and washing of the party’s dirty linen in public by its own elected members.
The idea of party matters being taken to the courts was also condemned in no uncertain terms, especially when it is remembered that by tradition the party had always had its way of settling misunderstandings and disputes.
I have written on diverse occasions that the party and its interest supersede those of any individual and how refreshing it was to hear those sentiments echoed over and over again by various speakers.
The ruling APC party must now wake up from its apparent slumber as they would soon be confronted by a vibrant, united and strong opposition both in and out of Parliament.
Long live Democracy, peace and tolerance.
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