SLPP – the road to peace and unity

Team Tengbe Campaign (TTC)

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 March 2017

There is currently no theme that resonates with the members of the SLPP than that of unity. It has been rightly argued by Party members, and to some extent non-members, that the only feasible pathway to successfully retaking State House, is through a united SLPP.

Many flagbearer Aspirants have therefore claimed ownership of the peace and unity process, as a means of edging the competition.

Whilst this is understandable, it has simultaneously created confusion as to whom the true peace pioneer is; and more importantly, it has raised clouds regarding the true pathway to peace and unity.

In this the first of a series of articles to be published, Team Tengbe Campaign (TTC) will help you put a finger on how it all began.

We will adopt an evidence-based approach, as this is the only credible way to distinguish our claim from several other prior claims made by various Aspirants.

Below we reproduce the first letter Dr. Tengbe wrote to his colleagues, to share his vision of peace and unity in the Party and his plans to pursue a course of action to realize it, basing his argument on the root cause of the Party’s problems and his ‘flag bearer approach’ to resolving them.

Dr. Bonopha J Tengbe articulated his quest for peace and unity, in the following letter written to all aspirants in August, 2015:

To: Flagbearer Aspirants, Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP)

From: Dr Jonathan Tengbe, Flagbearer Aspirant, SLPP

Date: 11th August 2015

Dear Colleagues,

Letter to Flagbearer Aspirants of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) on the Way Forward for UNITY within the Party

I am addressing you on an issue that is very close to my heart in this campaign. It concerns the need for all of us to unite as a Party and set the pace for all our supporters to do the same.

(Photo: SLPP – Tengbe peace conference).
As you are aware, I started this journey towards uniting our party when I was elected Chairman of the Movement for the Transformation of SLPP (MTS), which position I formally relinquished in July, 2015 to allow other perspectives to bear on the peace process, even as I have become increasingly busy with my own campaign.

The achievements of the MTS in terms of providing a peace blueprint is vital but its successes among the general membership should now be subordinated to the overarching efforts of the aspirants, for I believe that when the heads unite, the body will.

(Photo: SLPP – Tengbe peace conference).

My experiences as Chair of MTS gave me an invaluable aerial view of the problems that continue to pervade our beloved party and have confirmed to me, that unless we are all willing to bury the hatchet, our long awaited return to power will evade us again.

This is the brutal truth that we must face and which ought to form the platform of discussions among ourselves and within our campaigns.

(Photo: SLPP – Tengbe peace conference).

Armed with this realisation, I visited Sierra Leone on 23rd July, 2015 for a ten-day’ national tour among party members, during which I addressed the thorny issue of unity at all the Regional Party Offices, including the National Headquarters in Freetown.

It suffices to note that the feeling regarding unity in the party is mutual between the diaspora and the country.

The popular cry of the party stalwarts, loyalists and general membership alike, is that the intending aspirants must champion the unity process and it must happen NOW. (Photo: SLPP – Tengbe peace conference).

Consequently, I have directed my campaign to roll out our planned unity conference of all aspirants, scheduled for November, 2015 in London. The choice of London for the Unity meet is mainly on the basis of proximity for our colleagues in Freetown and the ease of organising the event for my team who will be the host.

A lot is already underway for this meeting including a floating booking for a venue, until we agree on the most suitable date in November, considering our busy individual schedules. (Photo: SLPP – Tengbe peace conference).

I anticipate that any subsequent meeting that may arise from the conference, would be held in Freetown.

I believe that some of our colleagues may cherish the idea of a coalition but my view on this is that it should not be used as a proxy for unity amongst ALL the aspirants, which therefore means that it may be a premature move currently.

I am certainly aware that where there are commonalities of policies, objectives and strategies, it may be logical and even expedient for a coalition to occur, but doing so in the midst of disunity will be polarising and only deepen unnecessary animosities. In fact, it forms a primary reason why we should redirect our efforts at uniting the party first, and to do so NOW.

I will not be remiss in commending my colleague, Allie Kabba for a piece his campaign wrote in this vein; and whilst welcoming him on board, I encourage all of us to see the need to act now and to act together to allow this process to commence without any further delay. (Photo: SLPP – Tengbe peace conference).

I will also assure Dr. Kabba that all his concerns and suggested issues have already been exhaustively captured by the agenda items, which I will communicate soon, except his desire for aspirants to contribute $20,000 each to a common party fund.

I will speak with him privately on this, as I am convinced that we must first secure unity before injecting further funds into the party. I obviously view his suggestion of beefing up the party kitty as significant, but I do not want issues of monetary contribution to get in the way of our unity drive just yet.

This, however, engenders a serious divergence of opinion (between the two of us) on how to proceed, as my colleague is seemingly suggesting that our financial contributions will signal a message of unity to our supporters and should be the first act in the unity process.

Mindful of the compelling need for unity, I am certain that other aspirants have their own ideas; thus the key driver for this conference is precisely the need to draft a common approach to uniting the party.

This is a formal appeal to all and an invitation to attend and partake in this important process for the party we individually intend to lead, but I will follow this up with personal calls to each of you for initial discussions and finalisation for such a vital brainstorming conference.

Thank you, friends and wishing that we will “hang heads together” soon.

Warm Regards,

Distribution list: Dr Allie Kabba, Mr. Alpha Timbo, Mr. Andrew Keilli, Dr Christian Sam, Mr. Ernest Ndomahina, Mr. John Oponjo Benjamin, Mr. Jonathan Sandy, Rtd Brig. Julius Maada Bio, Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, Mr. Munda Rogers, Mr. Umaru B Wurie. (End of Letter).

This article intends to provide facts about the initial efforts that Dr Jonathan Tengbe (Photo) and his Team Tengbe Campaign put into the peace process of the SLPP, which paved the way for the formation of the All Aspirants Alliance (AAA).

It highlights the original intention of an alliance between all aspirants, rather than coalition of a few aspirants which as we have witnessed recently, may have brought about the near collapse of the recent peace process.

Several other letters were written and sent to all Flagbearer Aspirants on a weekly basis, that argued the case for a ‘flagbearer approach to the resolution”, which helped to modify the conference arrangements (especially the final agreed venue at the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex) and brought the Aspirants fully on board the platform of peace and unity.

Our next article will highlight how we engaged Party stakeholders to lend support to the Team Tengbe unity process. (To be continued).

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