January 14, 2016 By Titus Boye-Thompson (Communications Consultant)

There is no doubt that the public disparagement facing the erstwhile Presidential Adviser has to do with the concerns of ordinary citizens as they try to fathom what benefit the processing of another nation’s waste would yield in Sierra Leone, where the capital city is bereft with garbage in the streets and filth littered so conspicuously, giving the impression that we produce far too much waste for the Municipality to handle. The problems I.B. Kargbo faces invariably remain outside the realms of truth and fact but is being raised to such proportions of incredulity that he now has to dispel the notions of fantasy and fiction.

Knowing the man for who he is, Hon. I.B. Kargbo must have believed in his own invincibility and the experience of a longstanding penmanship to have allowed himself to be knocked sideways by a single misplaced word. Otherwise, he should have been exceedingly cautious in the wording of an advisory to omit any semblance of incongruity. It is also fashionable for a man of his stature to be effusive to criticism and the high degree of rectitude with which his high office demands but to which his actions now seem to be measured as fallen short. This has more to do with the sensationalism of the event than the manner in which he had regarded his actions. No man is infallible and I.B. Kargbo has shown that in this case, his good intentions may have been so badly misconstrued.

There are very many reasons why this type of reporting could be so damaging to a politician, but none the more to a man of such high standards of journalistic achievement. Anyone would be excused for blaming him for a bad word used in the wrong context because for most of his life, this man has used words to earn a living. However, if the truth be told, there has yet to be one person who would identify what he actually did wrong other than over reaching himself or for being forthcoming with a subservience that could at best be determined to have been ill judged.

Avoiding the prevarication on this matter, one needs to consider the possibilities of expanding the vistas facing a developing nation like Sierra Leone where agricultural output still lags behind population growth. It has been mentioned elsewhere that the disparity in production, income growth and wealth creation against a growing and youthful population with very little hope for a secure future would leave the consummate politician with the desire to go beyond the ordinary thought process and attempt to raise the hopes of those less privileged. The installation of a fertilizer manufacturing plant is a welcome addition to the agricultural value chain in any country but the circumstances that are being explored here seem to convulse rather than encourage those who may have become beneficiaries of higher agricultural yields and crop diversification.

The second point of this unfortunate event remains to be the swiftness of Presidential action to quell its further delimiting effects. President Ernest Bai Koroma was quick to order a full, frank but speedy investigation into the matter. As Head of State with supreme executive authority, he is in place to arrest the ensuing imbroglio and therefore his action was enough to distance himself from the fracas and rightly so.

As most Sierra Leoneans have intoned, the context of bringing waste to Sierra Leone is disparaging for the very simple reason that this does not seem to be the environment in which the necessary infrastructure is in place. To be fair, the waste of Freetown and other main urban sprawls are left to degrade on roadsides and no efforts are being made to deal with their disposal and processing in any organized manner. It is clear that if the news had been leaked that a waste processing plant is to be built for the processing of waste, to convert waste to energy or fertilizer, many would have welcomed such as positive development. It is the cart that was put before the horse that may have enraged sensibilities and let loose the dogs of war upon the good name of Hon. I.B. Kargbo.

Whether Hon I.B. Kargbo will be pardoned by an unrelenting public is a matter for time to answer but it will remain an albatross in his career going forward that he attempted the unthinkable. His may have been a matter of being diplomatically administrative in executing his duties, or maybe he was trying to assist a situation that may yet have proved beneficial to Sierra Leone, bringing in jobs and skills to a lagging economy but none of that matters now. It is clear that the misrepresentation of his actions may become the news and the non-event would always be the loss of productivity and the apparent reduction in gainful engagements for his constituents or others. By and large, this matter would be analyzed and a fair hearing of his position is guaranteed. President Koroma would pay heed to the raised eyebrows but if it is established beyond reasonable doubt that I.B. Kargbo did no wrong, then President Koroma would do well to admonish and caution him. No man is infallible, and while justice must be tempered with mercy, President Koroma has shown his capacity for mercy in many occasions.

The issue facing I.B. Kargbo could easily have fallen on another public official. The considerations that are to be made in such matters come down to weighing also the high expectations of an unforgiving public. This is one reason why accesses to communications experts are a necessary requirement for all who occupy high office.