Ex-Concord Times Editor faces Parliament, promises independence of SLBC

October 16, 2020

By Jariatu S. Bangura

The smile shows it all…erstwhile editor would have a good time at the state broadcaster

Members of the Appointment and the Public Service yesterday interviewed erstwhile Concord Times Editor, Abu-Bakarr Sheriff Esq. as proposed member, Board of Trustees of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).

During the questioning session, Deputy Leader of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC), Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, told the nominee that the SLBC where he is going to serve as board member was set up as one of the post war institutions to promote good governance in the country.

Hon.IB Kargbo questioned the nominee as to what extent will he contribute to the promotion of good governance while serving as board member.

Lawyer Abu-Bakarr Sheriff responded that as one of the members of the board of Trustees, he has a statutory duty and responsibility to ensure that the SLBC is independent and should serve to promote the rule of law, peace and democracy in Sierra Leone.

He said as members of the board, one of their tasks as per the Act is for them to provide policy guidance and supervision, and that with the cooperation of other members of the board, they will ensure that what is stated in the statutory instrument is adhered to and followed to the letter.

On his part, Leader of the Coalition for Change (C4C), Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina, showered praises on the nominee and stated that he is of the belief that the nominee will satisfy the Committee on Appointment and the Public Service.

He said with the nomination of Sheriff, the President showed that he understands the issues of the day by bringing in a respectable lawyer to the media, whom he believes will help to address the many challenges and that of legal issues of the SLBC in the future.

“I shared classroom with Abu-Bakarr Sheriff and there I came to understand that he has a very good attendance records, and he is a fine communicator of all ages. I just want to tell this committee that this country will have no regret having quantified Mr. Sheriff in the coming days at the plenary level,” he said.

Deputy Leader of Government Business, Hon. Bashiru Silikie, said the nominee is going to SLBC at a very challenging moment, taking into consideration the emergence of new televisions and radio stations.

“We have for instance the AYV which is providing coverage in most of the district headquarter towns and currently they have overtaken the SLBC.The SLBC should be a state broadcaster, which means they should take the lead. If you are approved by this Parliament and you go to the SLBC what new measures will you put in place so that the SLBC will take its rightful place in society?” he questioned.

Mr. Sheriff responded that as an appointee, he is not only a lawyer but has also served as a distinguished journalist and that the challenges faced by the state broadcaster, are not new.

 “I will be working with a group of nine other board members if the committee will deem it fit to approve my appointment. What I will bring is my experience, both as a lawyer and as a journalist and also that of a civil society activist at some point. SLBC has a few potential having been established in 1935 as state own broadcaster and in 2009, we saw the transformation which we are seeing now,” he said.

He said the SLBC has made a lot of progress, though there is still need to enhance that progress. 

“What I will bring  is to help in the digitalization transformation which I will say is going to be difficult but we still have a lot to do because going by the Act itself, it gives the state broadcaster the mandate to ensure that its information. Entertainment and education are broadcast within the local premium in this country,” he said.

He said everyone knows that there are some parts of the country that do not necessarily have signals.

He cited the inadequacy of budget allocations hence they will crave the indulgence of government through the Ministry of Finance to increase allocations in order to spread the coverage to other part of the country.