April 1, 2016 By Victoria Saffa
Erstwhile chairman and leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), John Oponjo Benjamin, has said that President Ernest Bai Koroma’s new cabinet and ambassadorial appointments were heavily tainted by tribalism.
He made this statement yesterday during a press conference in his office at Campbell Street in Freetown.
According to the opposition flag bearer aspirant, the changes in government should have reflected the diversity of interest groups and people in the country, adding that the president rather opted for All People Congress partisans. “What that means is that if you are not APC you cannot be guaranteed a job in the country anymore,” he said.
He said the president did not only recycle some of the more discredited and tired old ministers, he also brought in people whose character and integrity are questionable, adding that “Sierra Leone is bigger than any one of us and therefore what our leaders do, should for the sake of God, have the country paramount in their minds.”
Benjamin also criticised the decision of President Koroma to swap the Finance Minister and the Bank Governor, who according to him are the most important people in the government. “This is an indication of policy failure on the part of the government and that the country’s economy under these two men [Dr. Kelfala Marrah and Momodu Koroma] has gone from bad to worse,” he said.
He said that the APC government’s policy of profoundly projecting tribalism and marginalisation was hurting the people, adding that party had learnt nothing from the country’s political history.
“Many of the people we see kicked out of this government are because of tribe and they are not APC; there is a long list of them who thought by leaving their own party for the APC they were doing us a favour. This is another example of how this government has interfered with the development of democracy in this country,” he charged.
Mr. Benjamin, who does not shy away to speak his mind, said that youth unemployment in the country was alarming, despite the famous pronouncement by the president that he would die for the youths. He said hundreds of thousands of youths are in the street looking for jobs, and that if you are not APC you could not get a job.