By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
Well, I don’t normally try to put my mouth where only my fart is. Or putting my money where only my ears are. Sure, I wouldn’t even bet in favour of sanity in any political organization in which the top three contenders had their political apprenticeships in a military government. I will only, and sensibly though, bet on conflagration in that organization!
Those of you who have read Chinua Achebe’s “Anthills of the Savannah” could remember the imagery of “the three green bottles”? That is what is at present happening to, and in, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). In Achebe’s “Anthills of the Savannah”, the entire plot revolves around three schoolmates who later in life happen to be key players in a military government: Sam the Head of State of Kangan, Chris the Commissioner of Information, and Ikem the editor of the National Gazette. And the story ends when the “last green bottle” (Chris) dies in the very conflagration which the trio seems to have set in motion.
And in relation to the status quo in the SLPP, the plot is now revolving around three former juntarists and friends: Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, John Oponjo Benjamin, and Julius Maada Bio (deliberately highlighted in the order they exited the National Provisional Ruling Council—NPRC 1 and 2). At present, every conflagration in the SLPP is sure to revolve around these three personalities. And because of this, everything that that party now touches turns into dross.
Now with Dr Yumkella tactically slipping from the radar due to the registration knockout and the “I have never voted either for the APC or SLPP issue and other issues; John Oponjo Benjamin seems to be the new kid on the block. And rightly so, he is. And he seems to be up to the task.
And you can love to hate him for his forthrightness about the unsuitability of his former junta colleague—Julius Maada Bio. Some time ago, I One Dropped that Mr Bio was the ruling All People’s Congress (APC)’s favourite candidate in the SLPP simply because he would be the easiest to beat amongst the lot in any presidential election in Sierra Leone. Be it the next, the next after the next; and the next-next after the next-next, he will still be easily beatable in any presidential election!
That thought seems to have suddenly gained currency in the “Team JOB” camp at No.79 Campbell Street in Freetown. Last Wednesday, Mr Benjamin echoed it on local Star Radio that Maada Bio couldn’t win elections in Sierra Leone even if he contested 20 times due to his bad records. He accused Mr Bio of being the one behind the perpetration and perpetuation of violence within the SLPP.
Well, “if crocodile comes out of the river and tells you that alligator is sick; who are you to deny?”(said the Nigerian celebrated writer the late Chinua Achebe) But wait a minute. Can Mr Benjamin himself win a presidential election in Sierra Leone? Well, I don’t think he is even qualified to be a presidential candidate under the present 1991 Constitution which states that to be suitable for the presidency of Sierra Leone, one’s father must be of Negroid descent. And Mr Benjamin’s father, it is alleged, is (or was) a German whose surname is (or was) “Hirsh”. And do you remember John Akar who composed the instrumentals of Sierra Leone’s National Anthem? What happened to him when he did try to contest a parliamentary election in one of the Moyamba Constituencies of yore? Ex-President Siaka P. Stevens refused him symbol on the grounds that his father was a Lebanese!
But let’s forget about paternity issues for the time being and come to the issue of what John Benjamin said about the very SLPP he intends to mascot in the next presidential election. Apart from figuratively yanking down the trousers of Julius Maada Bio by emphasizing the latter’s unsuitability; Mr Benjamin brought, or brings, out the horrid fact that the SLPP is still unfit to rule Sierra Leone. For when he was asked if he truly believed the SLPP with all the infighting would be able to offer the badly needed change in the country; he truthfully noted that he was very much doubtful and not optimistic that non-SLPP Sierra Leoneans would trust them because they couldn’t sort out their own differences internally.
Again, this brings me to the imagery of “the three green bottles” in Chinua Achebe’s “Anthills of the Savannah”. With John Benjamin now harping on
Maada Bio’s unsuitability for the presidency of Sierra Leone; with Dr Yumkella now being a sort of distant echo, and John Benjamin seeming to have paternity problems that might bulwark his presidential ambitions; I’m waiting to see who will be “the last green bottle” amongst the three former juntarists. Will Maada Bio be “the last man standing” (to borrow the hackneyed phrase of Emerson Bockarie) amongst the trio?
But either way the coin is flipped or would be eventually flipped; the SLPP is heading for an apocalypse. Or you could call the would-be conflagration a SLPPpocalypse. And that SLPPpocalypse seems nigh! I’m not wishful-thinking on this. But that’s how things would be for the Greeners who are still clinging onto a barren palm tree!