''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 2

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Wednesday February 1, 2012 - Revisiting the APC Manifesto - Holding the government to account. What the then opposition promised the people. More than four years on - promises delivered?

In the run-up to the 2007 General and Presidential elections, the opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) party led by one Ernest Bai Koroma went to town on an SLPP-led government that had become less caring, arrogant and with officials only prepared to listen to praise singers. This led to a wave of accusations from the APC and indeed concerned members of the public that if the SLPP was given a third term, never mind the violent disruption of the beasts of no nation on May 25, 1997, the country would have been in reality a one-party state that would have put more oil in the allegedly corrupt machinery of the SLPP and allied interested parties.

And so it was with a somewhat breath of fresh air that the Sierra Herald welcomed a change in the leadership of the country, (this despite Christiana Thorpe's illegal cancellation of votes in some parts of the country) hoping that having seen the wrong areas of governance during the President Kabbah administration, the much younger and promising Ernest Bai Koroma would deliver on his promises to make life easier on the people.

Our hopes were raised after taking a look at the manifesto of the opposition - a document that put on record for the education and analysis of living and yet to come generations of what good governance should be all about.

These opening lines, the preamble of the opposition's manifesto included this  - "The All Peoples Congress Party affirms its belief in the supremacy and inviolability of the constitution of Sierra Leone and the sovereignty of our people. As a government we are committed to the strict observance and enforcement of it provisions. We will therefore conform to the spirit and letter of the constitution" gave us hope. Hope that after being in the political wilderness for some 15 years after it was kicked out of power by the same boys in khaki who were recruited by APC party bigwigs, concubines, associates and relations, lessons could have been learnt from the massive celebrations that followed the April 29, 1992 revolution of freedom from the suffocating, murderous and thieving talons of the pre-April 29, 1992 governments of Siaka Stevens and Joseph Saidu Momoh.

Hopes were indeed raised when that document, the APC manifesto that is, lambasted what it termed the lack of transparency in the affairs of government, rampant corruption as well as painting a picture that with a government of the APC in power, all will be well and that Sierra Leoneans, to quote the late Joseph Saidu Momoh in Parliament in late 1985, will now eat from the table, no longer picking up the crumbs from the table at which sat the corrupt including Sierra Leoneans and foreigners of such inclination.

These lines in that document also gave hope, not only to APC party supporters, but to the many Sierra Leoneans who had never seen, witnessed or experienced what good governance was all about; people who were not yet born, or if they were - just too young to know what Sierra Leone was like just after we gained independence from Britain in 1961.

"The challenge of any incoming government in 2007 will be to reverse this trend, by establishing proper governance and sustainable development, and generally breaking the depressing cycle of poverty...in every nation today, the principles of transparency and accountability and the elimination of corrupt practices are generally recognized as indispensable attributes for good governance. An APC government will ensure the strict adherence to these principles and practices, and will subject itself to an African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and any other international benchmarks...executive interference, coupled with the pursuit of political party interests have clearly undercut the constitutional role of the legislature...our immediate and general concern for our people will be to provide the basic social services which many other countries take for granted, but which our people continue to be deprived of. Necessities such as affordable staple food (rice), electricity, water, basic health care, an expanded education system, and jobs for the bulging numbers of unemployed youth. All these will be our focus."


So more than four years on - was this document all sound and fury signifying nothing but a cover, yea an excuse to flog the people with scorpions after the whips of the SLPP?


Let us start with the APC's belief in the supremacy of the constitution as stated in their manifesto

"As a government we are committed to the strict observance and enforcement of it provisions. We will therefore conform to the spirit and letter of the constitution"

In Chapter 2 of the constitution could be found "The Fundamental Principles of State Policy" which among others state -

a. sovereignty belongs to the people of Sierra Leone from whom Government through this Constitution derives all its powers, authority and legitimacy;

b. the security, peace and welfare of the people of Sierra Leone shall be the primary purpose and responsibility of Government, and to this end it shall be the duty of the Armed Forces, the Police, Public Officers and all security agents to protect and safeguard the people of Sierra Leone; and

c. the participation of the people in the governance of the State shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

Even more importantly is the section on "Obligations of the mass media -

"The press, radio and television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Constitution and highlight the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people".

And here we have it in the constitution - that it is the duty of the mass media - the press and broadcasting - journalists in simple terms whose duty it is to hold the government, any government to account for its deeds.

And dare to hold the government to account these days?

The smoke and mirrors occupier of State House has been spending state money on "media personnel" that are amenable to the brown envelope type of journalism, buying "editors" and "independent journalists" as well as sponsoring internet outlets, the flying toilets that hurl abuse, denigration and any amount of lies, more lies and damned lies and falsehood at all perceived "enemies of the state" - the state here being their god ernest bai koroma and his gang of nation wreckers.

So first things first - why is Ernest Bai Koroma wasting so much of the country's scarce resources on so-called press attaches posted at every mission all over the world? Who is paying for their upkeep and why has he put what looks like such a premium on having a section of the media on his side?

On a casual look, one would be tempted to think that it was some sections of the press during the closing days of the President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah regime and their play on that gift of rice from Libya that could have swayed the doubters on to his side, never mind the fact that he Ernest Bai Koroma knew that what was been milled out was far from the truth. That the Libyan rice was not a hidden affair and that a Parliamentary group was set up to look into and disburse this Libyan rice as was deemed fit by Parliamentarians. We are informed that Ernest Bai Koroma as leader of the opposition was made Chairman of that Rice Committee. He never corrected the version put out by "his" press and thus paved the way for him to rely on a team of "journalists" who could lie their way into and out of every situation.

That may have been one explanation, but an even more sinister explanation could be found in all those behind his so-called media campaign to present falsehood as the gospel truth. Most, if not all those he sent on assignments abroad or who are ardent activists in the grand scheme of using lies more lies and damned lies to mask reality and the truth of what the government is up to - are believed to have had links, one way or the other, with the most brutal human rights abusing regime ever to hold the people hostage - the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil, an outfit we had consistently referred to as the beasts and their followers vermin - for that is what they represent.

In days gone by, Press attaches were to be found in key capitals where the fate of Sierra Leone was linked to what those countries who matter when it came to international matters and diplomacy said and did when debating Sierra Leone at international meetings. These attaches were to be found in London, Washington, Bonn, Moscow and a couple of others. They were recruited from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting from the ranks of senior journalists who had the needed experience in the handling and processing of government information.

And because they were attached to our missions abroad, they also became a part of the country's diplomatic corps and were trained in such skills in Freetown before they left for their various places of assignment. It was an opportunity to live abroad and quite a number of in-fighting and back-stabbing incidents were recorded as these professionals jockeyed for these few outlets that made diplomats out of them. The rules and regulations relating to diplomatic staff also applied to them with transfers effected after a stint which at most, would be four years in a post. And at the end of it all, they were recalled to serve once more at a desk at the ministry of information. Some of them got briefly attached to State House.

Unlike what one sees now - press attaches publishing anything and everything which they believe would please the President, reports from press attaches were sent to the Foreign Affairs ministry which would then without delay immediately dispatch same to the Information ministry where trained and qualified editors would rewrite such stories for eventual distribution to such outlets like the broadcasting system and the Government Information Service, the GIS newsletter as well as diplomatic reps in Freetown.

Being civil servants they were not authorised to publicly and officially comment on events and we do hope that the recent warning from the Head of the Civil Service would now send a clear signal to these erring and altogether unfit for purpose press attaches most of whose recruitment had been through a circumvention of laid-down rules and regulations by President Ernest Bai Koroma. Quite a good number of them, not trained in the art of diplomacy or the tenets of good journalism have been busy spewing all manner of abusive, false and denigrating materials on the internet and in newspapers in Sierra Leone in flagrant contravention of civil service ethics.

We suspect that because of the way they were "recruited", in contravention of rules and regulations of the Public Service Commission, the main recruitment body into the civil service, with almost all except one passing the criteria needed for such a post, they have been falling over each other trying to praise the President to high heavens while lambasting the legal opposition and all those perceived to be "enemies of the state."

Press attaches are thus government, not political party employees and should be committed to the ideals of the constitution that call on them to serve the country and not political parties.



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