Chairman John Oponjo Benjamin President Julius Bio
The appointment of Chairman John Oponjo Benjamin (JOB) as Senior Advisor to President Julius Maada Bio and Ambassador-at-large is a step in the right direction for the government, according to one SLPP official.
The official who chose to remain anonymous informed this medium that this appointment should have been as earlier as 2018, but that due to the “bad eggs” around President Bio, they pretend as if they can do without one of the few most experienced officials SLPP can boast of.
He explained that many SLPP senior members were expecting the President to bring Chairman John Oponjo Benjamin to work with him, just like what former President Ernest Bai Koroma did after he became President in 2017 by bringing Lawyer Edward Mohamed Turay, who served as Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Lawyer Abdul Serry-Kamal who also served as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, despite their differences. The SLPP official clarifies that of all the advisers and people around President Bio, John Benjamin is a genuine advice-giver and a man that will help shape the presidency.
He ended by saying: “if Chairman John Benjamin was part of the President’s team since 2018, things should not have gone bad like it is currently”.
In 2005, the late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah recalled Chairman John Oponjo Benjamin to national service by appointing him as the country’s Finance Minister, a position he held until 2007.
During this time, he helped to stabilize Sierra Leone’s economy, bringing down inflation, and negotiated debt cancellation to the tune of about 1.7 billion dollars, thus enlarging the fiscal space by some 90 million dollars a year because of the reduction in debt service payment.
Chairman John Oponjo Benjamin as Finance Minister also solved the perennial problem of salary delays, which at the time sometimes for over two to three months. He ensured regular payment of the wages of public employees by the end of each month.
JOB’s proudest achievement was when he secured over 56 million dollars to build a first-class highway from Kenema to Pendembu, which was the first phase of a road construction project from Kenema to Koindu to have been completed in four years.