Maada Bio replies Dr. Sama Banya

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 April 2014

Dr sama BanyaDear Dr. Banya

Let me start by thanking you very much for your selfless efforts, toward the advancement of our Party, and your public display of fortitude and honesty, not only regarding issues affecting the SLPP – but the nation.

I pray that we all live long to see the re-emergence of our great SLPP, as the ruling Party.

I read your open letter addressed to me, dated April 15, 2014.

I usually prefer to discuss such issues, using the Party’s structure, as they bother on certain allegations against party members.

However, since you have written an open letter to me, I feel compelled to respond to you, using the same medium. But I promise to further discuss these issues with you privately, at a later date of your earliest convenience.

As you would know, I have repeatedly denounced violence in all forms, and have dissociated myself from the instances of violence reported to me.

I have never missed an opportunity to admonish SLPP members and supporters, to be law abiding and refrain from violence.  

In the most recent meeting with the general membership at the Unity Headquarters on March 22, 2014, I re-echoed my call for peace and unity in the Party.

Maada Bio 2014I have also implored past and current executives, to enforce the Party’s Disciplinary Code of Conduct, irrespective of the personality involved or their affiliations within the party.

But you can also agree with me that, it has been usual for those opposed to me, to blame me for misconduct of any SLPP member, even when I have no knowledge of the person or the incident, and even when I am out of the country.

The only rationale I can fathom for such blame game, is the desire of these people to slur my name for their personal political interests.

Let me now address the three specific instances referenced in your open letter:

On two of these; the allegation of insult against Dr. Yumkella’s family members; and the assault against the Northern Regional Party Secretary, Mr. Sorie Fofana; I would like to categorically state that I have no knowledge of the incidents and perpetrators, and have not been informed of any investigation that has led to the conclusion, that they were my supporters.

Since 2013, I have been in the UK for most of the time and only recently returned to Freetown for the funeral of Late President Tejan Kabba.

No one reported to me, formally or informally, any occurrence of violence perpetrated by any of my supporters.

It is reasonable to expect that I could not have taken action with regard to any incident, which has not been reported to me, or of which I have no knowledge.

As one of our elders of the Party, I would restate my request that going forward, if you receive any complaint or witness of any incident of violence by any party member, then we should ensure that the complaint of violence be referred to the National Executive for appropriate disciplinary action.

In any instance of violence where a specific supporter is mentioned and the allegation is proven, be rest assured that I will take appropriate disciplinary action.

J O BenjaminOn the recent issue in Kenema involving Mr. John Benjamin, I learnt about it hours later after the Church Service and immediately commissioned an investigation.

The investigation was generally one sided, because I could not access anyone on the other side. I tried to call Mr. Benjamin to hear from him what exactly happened.

I was, however, disturbed that the Awareness Times report of the incident blamed me.

I had hoped that, in the interest of the SLPP, Mr. John Benjamin would have called me before going to the Press to discuss the matter. Unfortunately, he did not, but promised in the same Newspaper Report to do so.

To date, I have not received any report from Mr. John Benjamin or an executive of the Party on the matter.

I would have liked to discuss this specific matter with him, and also use the opportunity to further discuss the way forward on discipline and unity in our Party.

Let me also use this medium, to state that I will always endeavor to avail myself to discuss with Mr. John Benjamin or any other senior member of the party, on the way forward on the discipline and unity in our party.

Notwithstanding this, I have since then taken an internal disciplinary measure based on my investigation.

You further requested that I identify the unruly elements and throw them out of my camp. Let me state again, that I do not have any camp other than the SLPP.

As an ex-military officer, I take disciplinary measures against those close to me, and do not encourage unruly people to come to my residence or private office.

I again implore you to encourage the national executive to address acts of indiscipline against fellow Party members. For those I know and close to me, I promise to take necessary actions against anyone found wanting of violence – be it verbal or physical.

Once again, let me use this medium to condemn all forms of violence – verbal or physical, against Party members or members of the public.

SLPP final push in FreetownI am confident of my popularity and the integrity of the SLPP delegates to vote for me once again, as the next flagbearer of our great Party, through free, fair and transparent elections.

Let me reiterate my commitment to peace, unity and democracy.

Those who have worked with me, know that I do not have a problem with opposing views.

After all, it is normal for some people to dislike someone, no matter who that person is, or what that person does.

What I detest is a calculated smear campaign and hate messages, against fellow members, which is a common practice of unpopular politicians who lack attractive message for the people.

Smear campaigns and hate messages are provocative, and are the root cause of most of the intra-Party violence.

I call on fellow leadership contenders to cease smear campaigns and hate messages, as they are divisive, and do not in any way benefit our people.

I once again urge my supporters to restrain themselves.

I would like to inform them, that there are calculated moves to stop us from achieving our goal, through negative publicity and calumny campaign.

As we move towards the next election of party presidential flagbearer, people opposed to me will do everything to provoke them, with a view to using the opportunity to portray me as a violent person – a strategy that has not worked well for my opponents so far.

Finally, I again urge the National Executive to re-constitute the Disciplinary Committee, and they must meet regularly to discuss all acts of indiscipline in the Party.

Once more, let me thank you for your continued support to our Party, as well as your wish for peace and unity in the Party and the country.

Let me also assure you that I am always available for your advice and wise counsel, which I have always benefited from. I am sure you know, I have always taken such advice seriously.

One Country One People

Brigadier Julius Maada Bio (Rtd)

SLPP 2012 Presidential Candidate

1 Comment

  1. SLPP vs Julius Maada Bio

    This is another example of dishonesty and deception by Julius Bio. He said people are smearing him, when Dr Banya told him his supporters are responsible for violence and rudeness in the SLPP.

    He denied knowledge of the violent behaviour of his thugs, but what did he do when his female thug – Titi Brewah who turned a body guard, attacked Josephus Fengah – former NEC official, right in front of him in Bo?

    He denied having a camp, but claimed SLPP as his camp. Yet we know that he has a group within the SLPP who are very aggressive, vocal and rude, and who have vowed to accept no other person to lead the SLPP other than him.

    He said he had disciplined his thugs who have harassed people, but there is no evidence of this.

    “As an ex-military officer, I take disciplinary measures against those close to me, and do not encourage unruly people to come to my residence or private office.” Either Bio is not in control of his campaign, or he is unwilling to deal with the violent thugs in his camp.

    He did not cite any convincing evidence to show he had disciplined his thugs. But the very suggestion of the said disciplinary action, is an unwitting admission that violence and rudeness have been perpetrated on SLPP members from within his pa-o-pa camp.

    He complained of smear campaign and hate message against him. But I invite him to accept that there is a difference between hate and smear; and a factual situation.

    The party is not impressed with his despicable public records, which were committed in a different set of circumstances, which the SLPP had to fruitlessly defend in 2012.

    Those of us who wants the SLPP to take state house, are helpless to defend a man with such questionable character and terribly bad verifiable allegations of corruption.

    As a party, it is imperative to separate our presidential candidate from the incumbent leadership that we accused of corruption and mismanagement. We cannot afford to deny the national voters a matured and credible alternative presidential candidate for the the 2018 presidential and general elections.

    The official allegations made against him by a former SLPP president – Tejan Kabbah about public theft, corruption and the transfer of proceeds from the illegal sales of Sierra Leone passports into his personal offshore bank account, coupled with the fact that the Americans have barred him from travelling to the USA for misconduct, are not smears but facts.

    This is an election nightmare for any party to contend with. We must talk about it and confront it as a party, and that does not make us an APC supporter.

    If one wants to lead a party and become president, his public records and character must come under scrutiny. If the SLPP is serious about winning the 2018 elections, it is imperative that the party elects a credible alternative that the party can sell and rally around – to lead a united campaign, against an incumbent we all agree is corrupt.

    Julius Bio does not have any integrity or moral compass to articulate the SLPP campaign against the government’s mismanagement, when our former SLPP president did not only accuse him of corruption, but that he lied when he claimed he voluntarily agreed to hold the 1996 election, which ushered in an SLPP government.

    Bio called on the national executive to discipline his thugs. But he denied this same action by the former NEC chairman – John Benjamin, when the latter became the target of his thugs for refusing to support him.

    The current executive, with the exception of the level headed blue blood SLPP chairman and few others, cannot be trusted to discipline thugs, as they are known vocal supporters of Julius Bio. Violence of any kind, including intimidation and abuse is a criminal matter and those involved should be dealt with by the police, including expulsion from the party.

    To regain voters’ trust and show them that we are ready to govern, we should not tolerate the wayward behaviour of Bio’s supporters. Their conduct has damaged SLPP and our proud history of political tolerance, non-violence and inclusiveness.

    Leadership contest has always been problematic for the SLPP. But it is only when Julius Bio’s name surfaced in the SLPP that the party has been plagued by violence, indiscipline and gross rudeness – directed at anyone who does not sing the pa-o-pa slogan: “NO BIO NO SLPP.”

    This, more than anything, has brought the party into a quagmire and disrepute.

    Bio said he was not aware of the rude and violent behaviour of his supporters against party members. But contradicted himself, when he said he had disciplined some of his thugs.

    He detested what he called a smear campaign against him. Surely, he should be aware that one of his disciples by the name of Kanji Daramy, had called me on a public forum – “a rapist and a vagabond with smelly mouth”, for opposing his divisive bid for re-election. It is offensive for Bio to deny knowledge of the appalling behavour of his thugs, but complained about people smearing him, when they challenged and exposed his election losing public records.

    Bio ended with his trade mark deception by saying that he is popular. But his acclaimed popularity is not supported by mathematical facts and logic. How can someone be popular, yet his supporters are now being indicted by one of them – Dr Banya for violence and intimidation in the party?

    Besides, only 38 percent of the delegates voted for him in 2011 as presidential flagbearer, with substantial number of them deceived about his qualification and suitability for the job; and some did so under duress and intimidating circumstances of secret oath-taking ceremony.

    Thus over 60 percent of delegates did not vote for him. With just 38 percent, Bio lacks the capacity to form a broad coalition to unite the party, largely but not exclusively because he is a polarising figure, as we have seen from one of his strongest supporter Dr Sama Siama Banya, who blasted him in an open letter for his violence.

    Julius Bio took SLPP to the worst election defeat in history. Under his leadership, SLPP lost all but one parliamentary seat in Kono; lost all the seats we held in the north in 2007; did extremely poorly in western area than Berewa pulled in 2007, despite the PMDC split which, without it, Berewa could have won in the first round.

    On the contrary, Bio went in to the election without any electoral competition from PMDC, as its membership were disgruntled with their leadership and had returned back to SLPP. Whereas Berewa pulled 38 percent of the national votes, Bio pulled less than 38 percent, of the national votes, making him less popular than Berewa, who was believed in some quarters to be unpopular.

    There are two important questions that flow from the point I have made. If Bio won the last flagbearer election by only 38 percent and lost the election by nearly half a million to the APC , he cannot improve on these after he had missed the opportunity to deliver a win in 2012.

    The 38 percent delegates who voted for him in 2011 would ask: why should we vote for you again after you had assured us of victory in the general election but failed to win?

    The same question will be asked about the results of the general elections, which is: if you took us to the worst defeat against a party that has so many failings, why should the national voters trust you as a credible alternative, withe the SLPP having some of the best presidential materials who can appeal across the regions of Sierra Leone?

    Julius Bio is not popular at all in the mainstream and silent majority of SLPP. He is popular with his factional supporters – the pa-o-pas who have exhibited a common characteristic of violence; intolerance, according to Dr Banya’s open letter – rudeness, aggression and very vocal.

    Dr Banya was quite right when he warned that the party is greater than Bio. Maybe Banya’s open letter was also smearing Julius Maada Bio?

    It is time for Bio to get the message loud and clear. It is time for him to cooperate with others with better prospects of winning national elections, and who are acceptable to the national voters and stop acting. Because it is clear to me that he could not win the presidency for SLPP in 2018, just as he woefully failed to do so in 2012.

    It would be irresponsible for a party like the SLPP to re-elect him, only to be confronted again with a fruitless defence of allegations that are verifiable.

    I warned the party in 2011 that it would face serious defeat if they elect him. Losing that election has strengthened my conviction even more, that even if the party were to elect him 20 times, he would lose 20 times.

    The party is not waiting for Julius Bio to be re-elected to improve on the dismal election results he achieved in 2012, as argued by his supporters. But we are determined to change the course of history, by defeating the APC incumbent with a landslide. We cannot do this with Julius Bio leading us once again.

    I trust my message is clear.

    Yankuba G Kai-Samba
    Former UK and Ireland SLPP Secretary General

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