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The challenges to political leadership; a case study of John Benjamin

The challenges to political leadership; a case study of John Benjamin

Leadership comes directly from the Almighty God and nothing more than that. It could be political, as in the case of a party leader or religious, as in the head of a church. From the social perspective, we have seen how leaders in even clubs tend to demonstrate their power. One can be a leader for a given club; say a social club on campus.  Even within the family, there is also leadership for if the father fails to show that he is in charge, it becomes problem-no control, the children become failures in live. So this justifies why leadership is needed in any given setting. 

Simply put, an online definition refers to leadership as ‘a process of getting things done through people.’ Another suggests, that ‘leadership is much more than management. It is the ability to lead a group of followers effectively, make them and the organization successful, and still maintain valid principles and ideals. Leaders must have followers to be successful, and they must know how to treat the followers to ensure their success….’

But there are challenges to the whole idea of one leading. When President Koroma was leading the All Peoples Congress party; he went through a number of challenges. He was literally taken to all the courts in this country, but he stood his ground and was able to overcome these challenges.  I recalled when he was canvassing the support of the people of this country; President Ernest Koroma would travel the whole of this country, after attending to court proceedings here in Freetown.  I truly admired at the way President Koroma succeeded in reaching the apex of Sierra Leone’s leadership, since it was not an easy task for him.

However, the challenges that he was facing never prevented him from moving to places; and that never also prevented him from even making political gains. Bo was and is still the stronghold of the SLPP. This is no secret. Ernest Koroma and team, including few journalists like Umar S. Jah, now in Germany, Ali Joshua, then of Independent Observer  and yours truly had just entered Bo, during one of his several campaigns when he was literally prevented from addressing his supporters by the then Paramount Chief of Bo. But when he (Ernest Koroma) got the chance to address his party supporters, he was able to win more support and sympathy. That was a challenging moment for him which he defeated.

Biblically, Joseph had to suffer before he became the man we now know him in the Bible. Joshua, in the Bible was a good leader, just like Moses but at one point he was afraid to accomplish an assignment given to him by God and in the book of Joshua 1: 9 God spoke to him and said ‘Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for Jehovah thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest…’ Leaders must be ready to face challenges for the Almighty God is always with them.

I read of plans to ‘impeach’ John Benjamin, Chairman of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party. The reasons, as reported, had to do with his position on the resignation of the ACC Commissioner. From the reports, some party functionaries were not happy with the position of Benjamin.  But I will want to say to John Benjamin, that these are the challenges of being a leader but he should endeavor to do his best in performing his roles as a party leader to the best of his ability. I had an interview with Benjamin on one occasion and I must say, I was impressed with him. When President Koroma was in opposition, I had several interviews with him as party leader and he was very impressive with his utterances then and even now, he has just moved to another level. 

Political leadership from an African context is not as easy as one would imagine. This I am pretty sure, Mr. Benjamin is aware of. But may I say, that it won’t serve anybody well to begin to think of how to ‘impeach’ a leader when Sierra Leone barely has few months to its general elections. Practically, I have often argued, that the chances of defeating President Koroma in the pending 2012 elections could not be as easy as one may imagine, for it is factual, that there is always the possibility of allowing a President to go for a second term. This was the case with President Kabba (h) in 2002. But that should not be interpreted to mean the SLPP should lose sight of working hard to help run the affairs of the state as a party in opposition.

An advice from an opposition party to a ruling party may be in the interest of national development. Therefore, whatever problems exist in the SLPP, just as was the case with the APC prior to the 2007 elections, efforts should be made to handle such problems in the interest of (1) the party and (2) the state.  Leadership is not easy, but people should support the efforts of their leaders, be it the SLPP, APC or PMDC for the smooth running of their party affairs and the state. I thank you.

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