January 20, 2016 By Titus Boye-Thompson, Communications Consultant
The truism, no news is good news cannot be further from the truth when the no news is displaced by false news, lies and innuendo. The damage that is done to good governance is uncountable and so it is that Sierra Leone suffers from a whole raft of lies and misinformation that is peddled on the social media networks. This not only accords for a bad image of the country being portrayed in the international stage but a lack of coherent Government response or a diminished reaction to falsehoods leaves the Government open to ridicule. In the recent past, the campaign of misinformation has shown itself to result in a direct attack on the President, who has in any event, worked very hard to build a very good reputation on the international stage.
Some have pointed the finger to the President himself, directly blaming him for lack of decisive action at times when the public dismay warrants his intervention, sending a signal that there are some in his Government or at the periphery who are untouchable. The recent imbroglio between the Minister of Sports and the former Defence Minister is a case in point. The merits of any case against the former Defence Minister notwithstanding, in exercising his civic right to stand for a civilian office, he deserved the assurance that his rights must be protected by law or otherwise clearly debarred by the very law we all should respect. The independence of sports and its administration is left circumspect when the sitting Minister is allowed to make the rules as he goes along or when he feels that he has intrinsic powers to act as gatekeeper in amateur or professional sports governance, a principle largely frowned upon by international sports governing bodies. Yet certain events have caused severe embarrassment to this country by the public spats between the Minister and a host of others seeking to play a role in sports administration in a manner not entirely pleasing nor acceptable to a large degree by local and international observers.
In an attempt to avoid the risk of seeming personal, the focus must be turned to the whole raft of public office left unfilled and some of which are a cause for administrative haranguing. The President must have a pool of well qualified and capable people to fill these vacancies, surely. There are people who have served this President well in the past, with undivided loyalties and a commitment second to none. Now some of these people sit by and watch as those who had very little to do with the ascendancy of this administration come into lucrative positions and offices of high prestige. There would be no turning of heads if such has been done on the basis of a clear and transparent formula and that the distribution of largesse had been regionally balanced. But for the result of high office and positions of authority to be seen more widely distributed along the Bombali/Tonkolili axis and to the detriment of other parts of the country and I daresay at the expense of those more ably qualified, then it begs the question as to why such occurrences should be tolerated.
In a fair world, the President should be able to identify talent from outside his close confidantes. He is open to the advice of others but alas, it is clear that those with proximate access are themselves restricted in their own personal networks outside the Bombali/Tonkolili axis. In the event, the result creates a wanton disenfranchisement that can only be exacerbated by a President who refuses or fails to expand his own pool to engage others from outside his circle of friends.
There is a cautionary note here. When such a situation persists, people tend to get the wrong idea of a Government that has achieved what other Governments both in the pre and post war periods of Sierra Leone’s history have never fathomed possible. There is no doubt that this is a President who has an energy and a vigour for success and development. That he has so far been badly served by some of his own people is an understatement but the nature of the situation is clearly supportive of a circle closely knit and largely loyal to the Presidency.
There is also the President’s resolve to be fair and generous in his dealings with people. No doubt, his prior avocation in the insurance market calls for patience and a resilience unsurpassed in other politicians of hither fields. President Koroma shows that sense of fairness and an accommodation that is far out of step with the realities of Sierra Leone society. Where others would call for the heads of high executives to roll, President Koroma would be patient in dealing with individuals, always looking to see for himself that the wrongs are of such magnitude to warrant instant dismissal. In the current case involving Hon. I.B. Kargbo for example, the country would accept an understanding of the exigency of the situation and leave things at that rather than for an all out vendetta against the honourable gentleman, an elder statesman and a doyen of APC politics. For his part, Hon. I.B. Kargbo would be well advised to find the time and space to apologise for the discomfiture that he had caused the President personally, because when the news broke out, there was a very personal discomfiture felt by the President for the whole messy saga. It is oft said, “no man is infallible” and in the event, President Koroma may do well to be forgiving of some, to allow for second chances and to mandate that those who may have caused him disparagement in the past, be given a chance to serve again and to make amends for the benefit of the nation. After all, there are those who may still have a lot to do, to change their game and to make positive steps for development. Past ministers, former heads of entities and even friends of friends who may have suffered setbacks must be brought back into the fold. Not least to lessen the intransigence of the Bombali/Tonkolili axis and to negate the unwarranted accusations of favouritism levied on a good man.
President Koroma is expected to make these remaining years a time for reconciliation so that when the time comes for the APC to go back into a battle for the heart and minds of the people in this country, all must be singing from the same hymn sheet. This is a party of diversity and the cracks that have opened in the past must now be patched up and repaired. The time for reinvigorating this Government is now and those who are ready to serve must be given a chance. To restrict or debar some from being useful would only lead them astray to other regions where they can be free to hurl invectives against a noble administration.
President Koroma has no doubt served and by his singular vision and commitment changed a lot of things concerning the development path of this nation. This is not a job to be done on his own. Maybe now is the time to allow others to lend a hand. Fill up the current vacancies and find your right people for the right positions as you have done with this latest batch of appointments in Agriculture, Attorney General’s office and the Judiciary, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, amongst others.