One of the aspiring candidates for the position of chairman and leader of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in their forthcoming convention, Lawyer Alex Bhonapha, has vowed to bring back suspended and expelled members to the party if he is elected in August.
Bonapha, who is the current chairman of Kailahun District Council, was speaking Monday in an exclusive telephone interview with this reporter, in which he also noted that if suspended members of the main opposition party are not encouraged to come back, the party could be heading for destruction.
“If the party goes into destruction, young people like us will be affected. We cannot allow the party to go into another opposition come 2017. That is why as a young person, I have decided to aspire for the position of chairman and leader so as to bring the party back to State House,” he said.
He blamed the current state of affairs in the dysfunctional opposition party on “maladministration”, adding that the current leaders of the party have currently lost their magic touch to bring members together.
Since the current chairman and leader, Chief Somano Kapen, was elected almost four years ago, the former ruling party has been bedeviled by intra party conflict, which has often turned violent. As a result, although they are the only opposition party in Parliament, with a significant minority, they have not held the ruling party to account for many woes that have characterised the second and last term of President Ernest Bai Koroma.
Thus, the lawyer-cum-politician averred that the opposition party should be seen as one that is talking for the people especially at a time when there is hike in the prices of food items and other much needed materials in the country. He added that even the dire economic crisis in the country was having negative impact on the people of the country.
“These are some of the issues the SLPP was expected to have been urging the government to address, but it is not. It is only the media that now speaks for the people and the SLPP is gradually losing its position as an opposition party,” he said.
He pledged to cement the ongoing sour relationship between the supporters of Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella and Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, two of the forerunners in the race to lead the party in the 2018 presidential polls. “If I become the chairman and leader, I will create a level playing ground for all aspiring flag bearers so as to ensure that no one feels marginalised in the process,” he promised. “I will make all efforts humanly possible for people not to feel aggrieve and leave the party.”
Asked what he has done for the SLPP to have the courage to aspire for top leadership position, Lawyer Bhonapha disclosed that he is the current Chairman of Kailahun District Council, controlled by the SLPP and that he has been representing SLPP supporters in courts all over Sierra Leone.
He said has had also been a staunch defender of the interest of Kailahun residents and descendants. “You will recall that few weeks after Kailahun was declared Ebola free, there was an attempt by some unscrupulous individuals to say that the district has got one infected person. I stood my grounds and called on the health workers to investigate the matter, which later proved that it was a lie. That is the kind of person I am, I always want things to be rightly done,” he stated.
Asked if he has resigned his position as Chairman of the Council in Kailahun, Lawyer Bhonapha said he has not, but noted that if he wins he would allow his Deputy Chairman to continue.
He said his key vision for the party was to mend wounds within the party as well as encourage everyone to aspire for positions without fear. “This is the only way that this party will come back to power,” he noted.
Lawyer Bhonapha is a legal practitioner of almost eight years standing, who is happily married with two children.