JOHN ERNEST LEIGH
Dear Dr. Banya:
The Concord Times of February 11, 2005, quoted you in its lead news report as declaring that:
“John Leigh is a frustrated and utterly ambitious man whose
outburst would not dent the image of the party” [SLPP].
The newspaper further reported that you said that all those who think they are members of the party and would want any internal reforms should make themselves available at the party’s convention scheduled for late next month. You then went on to label Mr. Moijueh Kaikai, an official of our party’s UK branch, as also ambitious and “misguided” and who mislead others without checking his facts ….
I am availing myself of this opportunity to respond to your above-cited statements, which in the absence of any correction from you or your staff, I assume were accurately reported by Mr. Ibrahim Seiburch at the Concord Times.
You are absolutely right: I am frustrated but not in the warped sense implicit in your remarks! Assuming for argument sake that you are right about my purported frustration, what is the proper way to address an SLPP Chief Patron’s frustrations? Would you put forth the effort to address the underlying cause or causes of his frustrations or poke fun and laugh at him as you seemed to have done when you spoke to the Concord Timeson the 11th instant?
Is your gloating over a Party Chief Patron’s sufferings an appropriate response? Is this childishness your idea of proper Party leadership?
For your information, I am deeply frustrated, like millions of Sierra Leoneans, SLPP members, patrons, office-holders, sympathizers and supporters at home and around the world, because of the demonstrated poor leadership of our party that resulted in the trouncing of our party candidates in the recent local government elections in the Western Area by opposition party candidates and by independent candidates who should have been allowed to contest under the SLPP symbol.
By foisting your apparently unqualified spouse as the SLPP candidate for the office of Mayor of Freetown, you mindlessly offended a lot of already frustrated party members and the well-informed voters of Freetown who are now convinced that our great Party does not understand, let alone care about the very deep-seated problems confronting them in our nation’s capital.
It is my view that no party official has the right to put his and his family’s personal interests above those of our party, especially in a place crying for relief to solve manifold problems associated with rapid, unplanned urbanization and war damage. In my view, promoting or allowing a poorly qualified candidate for the high office of Mayor of Freetown amounted to reckless and selfish leadership.
It further demonstrates the complete absence of what is required for proper, effective Party leadership, the type of leadership necessary to strengthen our Party so as to help rebuild a nation devastated by a vicious war provoked by the same exact type selfish and uncaring leadership practiced by pre-war regimes of which you’re a high official.
FRAUDULENT PARTY ELECTIONS
Second, others and I are frustrated by repeated kahlow-kahlow election practices within the Party. I have received numerous complaints from genuine party members across our land that under your chairmanship, SLPP officers are helping to sabotage internal party democracy; destroy respect for our party’s leadership and provoking a huge party split by using crooked means to “elect” and foist upon the body politic, Party District Executives and Convention Delegates loyal to regime insiders.
The usual means employed, I am told, is the repeated use at the very last minute of bogus lists of party members qualified to vote for District and Constituency officers and imposing fake convention delegates unapproved by the legitimate party members. Today, tension, anger and frustration permeate party organizations within many districts.
Third, others and I are frustrated because under your failed leadership, vindictive watermelon marginalizers are operating the Party for their personal benefit and marginalizing party members. Party officials are vindictive to those who disagree with them. Party offices are used as instruments of corruption rather than engage the Party as an instrument for the advancement of nation-building policies for a better future for all the people of our country.
The greed, selfishness, ungratefulness and vindictiveness that characterize party activities under your very poor leadership, are a cause of great concern by the party’s rank and file throughout the country and abroad. Many of us fear that the possibilities for a massive party split under your watch are real and fast approaching.
Fourth, others and I are frustrated by the repeated bombardments against the SLPP-led government for corruption by the people of Sierra Leone and by the international community as represented by the International Crisis Group, Transparency International, Human Rights Watch, British Cabinet Ministers, the United States Government, the European Union, etc. and you as Party chairman is doing little or nothing about this shameful situation. Where is the leadership we expect from you?
IT IS MY RIGHT TO RAISE ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION
I played a key role in electing the SLPP government that is been criticized nationally and worldwide. I played a huge leadership role in restoring constitutionality to our country and in isolating Charles Taylor as the enemy of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Therefore, I have a right to feel frustrated because the corruption problem debilitating Sierra Leoneans refuses to go away. In fact, government corruption is said to be even more rampart and spreading than ever. Your willingness to quietly co-exist with the rampart corruption within the government established by our party increases my frustration and that of many others.
THE ?UTTERLY AMBITIOUS’ ISSUE
You spoke disapprovingly that both Mr. Kaikai and I as “utterly ambitious” individuals. Why? Are we the only individuals who wish to move up within our Party ranks?
How about that new comer to our Party who wants to succeed President Kabbah as Party Leader and President without first doing any thing good and lasting for our party like I did in 1995 and 1996? Where was he then? What has he done for the SLPP since he became an officeholder? What did he do for Sierra Leone during the inter-regnum? What is his background? Is he more qualified than me in any way, shape or form? Is he not ambitious?
How about the woman you wanted to be the SLPP Mayor of Freetown? What has she ever done to strengthen the SLPP? Is she not utterly ambitious? What are her qualifications? Are they sufficient for the position of Mayor of Freetown? Has she done more for the party than Mr. Moijueh Kaikai? What, when and where has she contributed to our Party? What has she achieved so far for herself prior to her selection as our Party’s candidate for the problematic job as Mayor of Freetown?
Isn’t she recklessly ambitious? Or aren’t you recklessly ambitious for her?
Do you approve of the ambitions of party insiders who are using foul means to insure their re-election while splitting our Party in the process?
MY REAL AMBITION
For your information, I am very ambitious for my country. I want to see Sierra Leone become a prosperous, peaceful society with flourishing democratic systems of governance both within all governmental units as well as within all political parties and all public, social and private organizations and within each family unit. Successful countries have accomplished such.
Sierra Leone, too, can become a successful country. We do not always have to remain in last place. But under your ridiculous leadership, we are likely to remain in last place.
I am very ambitious for democracy in Sierra Leone that was why I initiated and led the campaign to restore the duly elected SLPP government and our then five-party parliament to their rightful places at the apex of our society after it was violently overthrown on May 25, 1997.
I am ambitious for long-term peace and stability in my country that was why I defined Charles Taylor and his activities for the world community so the international community would understand our people’s predicament and thus come to our rescue.
I am ambitious for the success of my Party that was why I paid to help resurrect it in 1995. I am ambitious for the future of my Party that is why I invested my money and time to travel in all 12 provincial districts and in the Western Area to find out whether the awful news we abroad are hearing about the sufferings, the goings-on at home and the poor-image of the leadership of our Party are truthful, exaggerated or outright lies.
I am ambitious for prosperity to come to my country that is why I demand the highest standards of integrity in all my official dealings. Without leadership integrity Sierra Leone will remain in last place and poverty will continue to ruin our people.
As you can see, I am ambitious for numerous legitimate reasons. What is your ambition, if any?
BANYA APPEARS CONTENT
You appear content to continue maintaining party offices in premises full of stinking, sickening rivers of piss and piss stench. Has it ever crossed your selfish mind that the stench of rotting piss is most offensive to party members, party workers as well as the general public?
Do you think it is fair and reasonable for you to have your offices in the State House while Party workers and Party members must endure the stench of permanent piss in order to hold on to their jobs or transact Party business?
You are a trained medical doctor, why then don’t you properly lead to insure that the highest standards of hygiene radiate around SLPP head offices? Rather, you seem to me to be content with the very unhealthy sink of piss at Party headquarters and, perhaps, you may care nothing about the diseases contained in the rivers of piss flooding the entranceway.
When I think of SLPP offices in Freetown under your low-quality leadership, the nursery rhyme Old McDonald Had A Farm immediately comes to mind. But instead of “a quack, quack here and a quack, quack there; here is a quack, there is a quack”, etc. all that comes to mind is “piss-piss here, piss-piss there, here is piss, there is piss, smelly, stinking, stenching piss, piss-ppissss everywhere.”
You should be ashamed of a piss-saturated leadership. Piss and continuous pissing inside party premises degrade our party image and invite disrespect for Party leadership. Piss in Party premises is denting our Party’s image. My work and reputation enhance our Party’s image.
I know the time may soon come when party offices may be relocated. But in the meantime, we ask that you address the disgusting piss problem – if only to end the shame, the smell, the unhealthiness and the frustrations of thousands of Party members, sympathizers as well as the general public.
IT’S UP TO DR. BANYA
So, Dr. Banya, please decide for yourself how best to address the issue of public frustration. You are free to laugh at the frustrated, gloat at them or ignore their cries for help. But you are also free to address the legitimate concerns of those frustrated by your chaotic leadership, a leadership characterized by endless pissing at Party premises; insatiable greed, selfishness, ungratefulness, vindictiveness; party in-fighting and crooked internal elections and other alleged nefarious practices.
PISS & THE PARTY’S IMAGE
Your claim that I won’t be able to dent the Party’s image is superfluous.
You also failed to give even a single example of what I might have said or done to warrant such a heavy accusation. Why would a party member like me want to dent our Party’s image, a Party I worked so hard and generously to strengthen?
For the information of Party members, I have no interest in damaging our Party’s image. On the contrary, I have always sought to protect the Party’s image and to enhance its reputation nationally and worldwide.
My association with the Party brings successes to the Party. I contributed heavily to our 1996 electoral success. What did you do for the Party then and since? After the AFRC overthrew our government, I worked around the clock, seven days a week for nearly a year to successfully help bring back home our elected government and parliament then in exile in Conakry. What were your contributions, if any, towards the success of that heroic achievement, the first ever in Africa not only to reverse a coup but also to reinstate the exact government overthrown? Even then I did not rest.
I then labored to prevent the combined 1998/99 AFRC/RUF invasion from Liberia but the leadership acted incompetently and they compounded their incompetence by improperly labeling me “the Prophet of Gloom and Doom”. I suffered in silence but remain undaunted. I subsequently pressed ahead with my next campaign to successfully define Charles Taylor of Liberia for the world to understand the evil he and others were doing to our people and country and the exact reasons for their evil conduct.
Where were you during all that time? As Foreign Minister, I learnt nothing from you, Dr. Banya. In fact, I was far more knowledgeable, experienced, skillful and hardworking than you ever were. I was frustrated, but I patiently put up a straight face out of my love for our Party and country.
It is the stinking, sickening piss stench at Party headquarters, kahlow-kahlow tactics in broad daylight, leadership vindictiveness, selfishness, ungratefulness and greed; and corrosive government corruption that have dented the image of the Party’s leadership.
The Party’s image is ok and distinct from the party leadership’s. Our Party patiently awaits the arrival of the genuine party leader who is capable of changing things for the better.
THE PARTY RANK & FILE
Please be advised that I have no problem with our Party or with our Party’s rank and file.
My concerns are directed at the Party’s backward, selfish, ungrateful and weak and vindictive leadership. This leadership is in charge of our country and the repeated acts of their most senior officials are causing suffering at home, disrespect abroad and frustration all over. British Cabinet ministers are not complaining about our Party. They are complaining about the party’s governmental leadership that leads and controls a corrupt and incompetent government.
The party rank and file is complaining about gangster tactics used by elements within the party’s leadership to steal internal party elections nationwide by the last-minute use of bogus voters’ lists and the imposition of fake convention delegates not elected by the genuine membership.
Recently, they extended their crooked tactics to the USA Washington, DC Chapter. I will deal with this crookedness later.
You should understand that it is the spreading corruption within our Party-led government, gangster tactics relied upon by our crooked party officials and insiders to gain the upper hand; marginalization of our membership, greed, ungratefulness, selfishness, vindictiveness and the unending rivers of stinking, sickening piss at party headquarters that have dented the image of the party’s leadership.
My interview with SaLone Times and Standard Times was a very quiet affair, held peacefully in a professional atmosphere. There was no shouting, no yelling at any time during the question-and-answer session. It was all very civilized and completely free of any type of conduct that might remotely be characterized as an outburst. The only outburst I am aware of occurred only in your imagination.
Under poor leadership, participating at an SLPP Convention is not a simple matter.
First, no date is ever given for the Convention except at the very last minute. And even then, only few people are informed. Under our corrupt leadership, Convention dates and venues are closely guarded secrets, as are the list of delegates qualified to participate and vote at a particular Convention. Moreover, there is no provision to challenge the credentials of the bogus delegates imposed on the Party by certain party officials.
Lists of voting delegates are kept secret and released only at the 59th second of the 11th hour. Why such kahlow-kahlow tactics?
SLPP conventions under the leadership of Sir Milton were totally different. All members would know well in advance when and where the convention would be held, who the delegates were as well as the agenda. The entire affair would be conducted under the rules of genuine democracy. There would be zero kahlow-kahlow tactics at play during Conventions under Sir Milton Margai’s exemplary leadership.
Concord Times quoted you as saying that the next SLPP Convention will be held at the end of March. What exactly does end of March mean? Can you be more specific and as soon as possible? Could you please let the entire membership know of the exact date and place for the convention? Would you make available to members true copies of the delegates lists as well as establish an effective system to challenge delegates’ credentials?
Keep in mind that this convention should have been held in May 2004 as per the Party\s constitution.
Concord Times also quoted you as saying that those who think they are Party members and would want any internal reforms should make themselves available at the next SLPP Convention scheduled for “late” March. In Bo, during the May 2002 Convention, in the presence of the entire Party leadership, I was told to “shut up” “sit down” and “go back to America” by those I consider Party nincompoops when I rose to legitimately challenge the credentials of bogus delegates from North America imposed by the convention organizers.
The imposition of sycophantic, rogue delegates upon the Party by crooked Party officials in violation of the Constitution must cease forthwith if our Party wants to avoid a catastrophic split under your watch.
I now challenge you to specify the exact date, time and place of our Party’s next Convention, together with the lists of genuine delegates and a transparent and accountable procedure to challenge bogus Convention delegates as well as a system for correctly counting all the votes cast during the convention.
PARTY FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
I also require audited or unaudited financial reports of our Party. What happened to all the monies and other assets donated and collected by the Party since November 1995?
When I ask to review our Party’s financial statements, will I be told once more to ?SHUT UP’ ?SIT DOWN’ and ?GO BACK TO AMERICA’ by kahlow-kahlow Party officials? Or will accurate and up-to-date Party financials be made available for all to inspect, review and debate according to democratic principles?
Thank you for your attention to the above matters. I pray that you start working to improve the quality of your leadership for our Party’s sake and stop heaping scorn at the plight of frustrated members or condemn members with legitimate ambitions for the success of our Party and our country.
Finally, please be advised that I reserve the right to respond point-for-point to your further public comments, if any.
John E. Leigh
Grand Chief Patron
Sierra Leone Peoples Party &
Chairman, SLPP North America Working Group