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Archive for May, 2005

CHARLES MARGAI GETS BAD RAP FOR ‘SON-OF-FOUNDING FATHER’ OBSESSION

Monday, May 30th, 2005

 charles margai 06

Monday May 30, 2005

Many Sierra Leonean activists in discussion forums and the diaspora have advised Mr. Charles Margai to discuss what he will do for Sierra Leone if he becomes President , instead of being obsessed with talks about being the son of the founding father of the ruling SLPP. 

Margai, son of former Prime Minister , Sir Albert Margai, is one of the leading contenders for the position of Standard Bearer of the ruling SLPP  and the Presidency , following the retirement of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in 2007. 

Recently, when he announced his intentions to be President, his speech was distributed all over the country and the internet. Though many Sierra Leoneans believed that he stood a good chance to accomplish his aims, they however had problems with some portions of his speech.

Margai said in his speech that “No man born of a woman” will stop him from becoming President this time. Sierra Leoneans took exception to the fact that Margai  quoted Macbeth inappropriately. Macbeth was on the road to becoming a bloody dictator when he made that boast.

Sierra Leoneans also want Mr. Margai to stop harping on the point that he deserved to lead because his father was a founding father of the SLPP. According to them, Margai was making it appear as if he had kingship rights within the SLPP. Some SLPP demanded to know how many sons and daughters of the founding fathers of the party had been given chance to participate in the party let alone hold top positions.

Margai, people advised, must stick to the issues and what he planned to do for Sierra Leone.

Grand SLPP Convention the arbiter of Sierra Leone’s destiny

Monday, May 30th, 2005

 

Monday May 30, 2005 

The long-awaited SLPP Convention , where President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s successor as Standard Bearer of the ruling party will be decided, looks like the arbiter of Sierra Leone’s destiny .

 Whatever happens at that convention will have a long-term  impact  on Sierra Leone’s socio-economic and political future in an era of national recovery and national reconstruction.

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KABBAH AND BEREWA : WHAT ARE THEY COOKING ?

The first issue that will become clear after the convention is whether the SLPP  will win the 2007 General Elections. The choice of Standard Bearer is everything for the ruling party. Sierra Leoneans appear stoic and disinterested presently, but they are not sleeping. They will be looking out for an SLPP Flagbearer that cuts across all regions like President Tejan Kabbah , whose political personna appealed to all regions in the country. This is presumably why SLPP supporters are being urged to go to the convention and vote with their hearts and minds , not with their sentiments. The fate of the party is at stake.

Any mistake emanating from the SLPP Convention will be capitalized upon by the opposition, though they are in disarray presently and the political prostitutes among them are looking for every opportunity to cross over to the the place where the bread is buttered presently–The SLPP camp. The dramatic and epic events of 1967 are starring ominously at the SLPP. They cannot afford to suffer another stunning defeat caused by internal problems.

But the convention has every genuflection of significance more so for the future of our country. The Sierra Leonean people are crying for a change . They are tired of the empty promises of their politicians since Independence 44 years ago. They want to see progress, real tangible and measurable developments that will transform the lives of a people who presently have no pipe-borne water, good roads, well-equipped hospitals, or electricity. They desire to see an upliftment in their socio-economic status so that they can go to bed with their stomachs full and their children able to attend school without any fear of being driven out for their fees.

After all, we are a very rich nation.For our size, the superfluous concentration of mineral and other natural resources in our country is second to none in Africa. A small country like Sierra Leone has all imaginable mineral resources like diamonds, gold, bauxite, iron ore and a generous expanse of virgin forests , rivers and streams.We are even blessed with brilliant weather , with droughts unknown in our country.

Therefore, if we are suffering in Sierra Leone, we have nobody to blame but our unprogressive leaders and corrupt citizens .And so when SLPP supporters go to their convention to vote in their presidential candidate,  they must bear all these facts in mind, not just the destiny of their party.

Do we need another 5 years of the Kabbah legacy ? Will Solomon Berewa make the difference that Kabbah failed to make ? Will he deliver the goods that Kabbah failed to utilize ? It is up to SLPP supporters to decide. At this initial stage, the onus is on them to showcase the best possible Standard Bearer that the nation will accept and cast their votes for in the elections.

There is a cry for change in our country–Change to our mentality as a people ; change to our priorities ; change to our national goals and aspirations ; change to our level of patriotism and commitment; and  change to a nation that has all the trappings of modern civilization ( Civil society, good roads, water, electricity, excellent communication –TV  ,  radio, internet technolgy-better health facilities and top -class educational system ).

Do the new breed of aspiring leaders,  whose war cries have cut the stillness of the Sierra Leonean atmosphere lately,  have the political will, experience and panache to usher in this much-needed change in our country ?

The nation is looking up to the SLPP . Their choice of Standard Bearer means everything to our future aspirations .We hope they will vote for the man who is not only best for the SLPP,  but somebody who will ensure a free -and-fair elections in which the opposition too must have a stake. Who knows ? They could provide the leadership the SLPP  has failed to give the nation. 

 

PROFESSOR LAMENTS DRIFT TO ONE-PARTY STATE IN SIERRA LEONE

Monday, May 30th, 2005

 

Monday May 30 , 2005

A professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia  in the United States  , Dr. Jimmy Kandeh,  has lamented the  gradual drift to One-Party state in Sierra Leone.   Dr. Kandeh has also lashed at what he called the “Humility deficit”  in our Presidential aspirants .

Expressing his opinions at Leonenet-TAMU  last weekend on the political situation in Sierra Leone, Dr. Kandeh lamented the fact that Sierra Leone “is a virtual One-Party state now with no ideological or pragmatic difference between the  SLPP  and APC or any of the other so-called parties.”

Dr. Kandeh condemned the opportunistic trend politics was taking in Sierra Leone , where so-called opposition politicians were busy crossing over to the ruling SLPP. He wondered whether the SLPP  was becoming home to predatory and rogue politicians and asked whether the party can ever say “No to damaged poilitical goods.”

Dr. Kandeh drew attention to the fact that  John Karimu , who was once Chairman of the National Unity Party ( NUP) and  former All People’s Congress ( APC ) big wigs Musa Suma and Abdul Karim Koroma had all crossed over to the SLPP.Koroma alone, he complained, had moved to and fro between the SLPP and APC  three times. He also described Finance Minister J.B. Dauda as another nauseating example of a politician who will swing over to whichever party is in power, and “sucking up to Kabbah , rather than working to put  right the wrongs and injustices of our society “.He wondered when the SLPP  could cease to be a patronage outfit and mobilize the grassroots for development.

The University professor has also said that the humility deficits in our presidential aspirants was alarming. Since SLPP  aspirants Charles Margai and John Ernest Leigh’s speeches were published, many Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora have been commenting on them .

MEANWHILE,  news from Freetown is that another fledging outfit, the Young People’s Party ( YPP)  has planned to cross-carpet to the SLPP. According to the INDEPENDENT  newspaper, the YPP  said that its executive committee has decided to form an alliance with the ruling SLPP.

The YPP  has been showing praises on the SLPP and President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. If the party crosses over to the SLPP,  it will not surprise Sierra Leoneans because the YPP  never really made any impact , having been blighted  very early in its carreer by personality differences between the founder of the party, Mr. Cornelius Devereaux and the Chair woman, Sylvia Blyden.

PHOTO : President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah , whose government is being accused of edging Sierra Leone closer to a one-party state.

 

 

 

AROUND AND ABOUT : Of ostentation and ill-gotten wealth

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

MERCEDEZ BENZ

 

with Kabs Kanu

The other day at a social function at New Jersey , I listened keenly to  an altercation over a woman between two young Sierra Leoneans. The interesting thing about this quarrel was that both parties seemed to have set in for each other long ago .

One of them started insulting the other that the reason that person  was antagonizing him was that he was jealous of him. He told his feuding partner that he was jealous because “Ah betteh pass you far, far way” (The usual Sierra Leonean defence mechanism ). My father was a rich man, while  your’s is poor, remains very poor and will die a pauper if you are not careful..”

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The other guy, seeming unimpressed, asked , to the hearing of all : “Why was your father rich ? Was it through hard work and industry ? Was it not because he was a thief ? Was it not because he was one of those involved in the ‘yuki-yuki’ in Sierra Leone ?”, he brawled . “Bo go siddon yah. Do you think that if my father was a thief like your’s, he would live in poverty in Sierra Leone  today ?”

Then followed a profuse expatiation of profanities but this did not stop the man from continuing   the adulation of his father. “My father did not steal like yours.He was not a thief like your father, but I am very proud of him. He is poor but he educated all of us with his own money gained from hard work. Everything he gained, he did it through his honest sweat and for that I am proud  “. Several revellers nodded their heads in acknowledgement and affirmation of his statement, having already been turned off by the proud and pompous guy who lacked common sensitivity  that bragging about his father’s riches and deriding a poor man was in real bad taste , especially so in such a public gathering .

And long before we killed off the senseless turmoil between two of the most respected Sierra Leonean young men in New Jersey, the content of the quarrel became the talk of the Baby-Outdooring ceremony ( Pull-Nar -Doe). Many people said that the quarrel showed how insensitive and conscienceless people who benefit from the corruption going on in Sierra Leone have become .  They have no scuples about yapping about it in public. They now feel that they have a divine right to the nation’s resources  and those who do not join in the orgy are cursed . The analyses of the quarrel also exposed how savvy Sierra Leoneans have become about the filthy rich in their midst. They know that corruption is responsible for creating these bourgeoisie elite. In fact, corruption has become the be-all and end-all in Sierra Leone.  And corruption is the hot talk wherever Sierra Leoneans gather now.  It is now even the yardstick by which the reasons for the prosperity of one family against another’s poverty is measured.

The logic is that one has to be a thief in Sierra Leone to flourish today. The ability to “tiff ” is the barometer that sets apart the opulent from the famished. And a young woman, who seemed to be really upset by what is going on in Sierra Leone today , explained with color and relish : ” But who can deny that fact ? It is the truth  ! ! ! It is the plain truth  ! ! ! The reason that many of us  are in a foreign country hurstling is because we are honest. We want to make our living by honest means. Do you think that if I had been a thief, I would have been in America punching  card and working 16 hours at times to survive ? No way  ! ! ! ! I would have been in Freetown too, stealing  or taking part in the yuki-yuki  life there, driving a Mercedez Benz car , living in a mansion and going to the beach on weekends to bang time and enjoy.  How dare he come and brag here about his father’s riches when the old man  got wealthy at the expense of our taxes and the government’s money ?”

We have flourished in our light-fingeredness in Sierra Leone so much that nobody who gets rich is ever considered to have acquired it legitimately. And that was the issue dealt with by another smart-talking reveler :  Let’s face the facts. Where do people get all the money they flout and use to build all those mansions and  buy all those sleek cars ? Salaries are too low in Sierra Leone and even honest business does not bring in so much revenue to support the larvish lifestyle some people are enjoying in Sierra Leone. Whenever I see anybody living such an opulent life, I know where he got the money. He is either involved in a crookish business enterprise where he is fleecing the nation of millions of leones a day or he has access to public funds which he is misappropriating .”

Few people believe that there are many honest people prospering in Sierra Leone. But everybody in Sierra Leone now seems to have accepted the bitter fact that the only way to flourish in the country is to get involved in the wholesale criminal lifestyle going on there. Being a criminal who embezzles government money or is involved in dubious and shady businesses is now the  much-glamorized profession among Sierra Leoneans. Our society no longer has any respect for people who toil honestly and conscientiously to make their living. At public functions, criminals enjoy more respect than honest citizens.

With a government  like the SLPP running Sierra Leone , the situation will only worsen. There is no change in the horizon. And the government has no stomach to end the charade. And with this sorry state of affairs, the ordinary man in the street stands to continue his catalogue of  suffering . He has been receiving the short end of the stick and will continue until Methuselah.

This is why when people believed to be beneficiaries of the financial criminal enterprise going on  in the country stand in public , denounce the poor and brag about  their  riches, they makes other folks’ blood boil . It  is a  further demonstration of the fact that  we have really fallen and it will take us a generation to grope out of the miasma.

Corruption is very despicable but it becomes more unbearable when beneficiaries become proud, pompous and immodest and brag about their ill-gotten wealth in public functions. But what to do ? We are Sierra Leoneans. 

c

 

 

 

 

Around and About

GENERATIONS YET UNBORN WILL BLAME PRESIDENT KABBAH FOR THIS UNCONTROLLED CORRUPTION

Monday, May 16th, 2005

COCORIOKO EDITORIAL

 

Monday May 16, 2005

Just a few years to go to the end of his rule, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah will find his rightful place in the Hall of Infamy  like most of Sierra Leone’s former leaders except he makes a dramatic recovery to show he is a man of business before the curtains go down on his infamous stewardship.

Kabbah has disappointed  Sierra Leoneans beyond the nightmarish dreams of everybody in this hapless country .Never has there been a leader on whom the nation larvished  so much hope like Kabbah. The people of Sierra Leone were even ready to lay down their lives to defy the RUF/AFRC  junta to ensure that an overthrown Kabbah returned to power. Their reward has been a Presidency that has thrown feces in their faces. The government has woefully failed to reciprocate the sacrifices of the people .

At a time when Sierra Leoneans should be breathing a sigh of relief that the government they preferred over the junta had lived up to their expectations by alleviating some of the socio-political and economic problems, the people are only full of regrets.

Economic and socio conditions have worsened and every imaginable problem is worsening in Sierra Leone. One has to be an ordinary man in the street to comprehend this. Fleeting vacationers and those receiving reasonable respectable salaries in the country are not the best persons to understand the parlous  and harsh economic realities our people have been forced to face under this SLPP Government that cares for nobody. The person  who understands it most is the ordinary man in the street  whose income and wherewithal are so meagre that  , in the face of the escalating cost of living, he cannot provide a single meal for his family.

By our tradition, a man’s best endeavor is to provide daily for his family.But when the breadwinner of a family has been rendered completely useless by social and economic condition, family cohesion itself is weakened and social problems and abberations take over. It is no wonder that  there are so much juvenile and adult delinquency, prostitution and other social evils in the country.

While President Kabbah and his ministers do not carry all the blame for the chaotic economic situation in Sierra Leone, at least they should have been seen to be making some honest efforts to alleviate the problems. But this is just what is lacking in this SLPP government—Honest endeavour and enterprise to improve conditions in the country.

The people cannot accept the over-worn excuse that there is no money in the government kitty when different realities greet their eyes eveyday. They cannot accept the government’s lame excuses when everyday they see or hear about Kabbah’s ministers and government officials putting up mansions all over the country and  and buying palaces abroad. While most of the populace can barely stand on their feet because of hunger , poverty and diseases, how can anyone convince them that  that there is no money in the country when they see mansions sprouting all over the country, constructed by ministers or government officials ? There is only one explanation : Money is abundant in the country but it is being monopolized by those in power. And this is grossly callous and wicked. Kabbah’s ministers are building mansions all over the country and buying palaces abroad like nobody’s business and nobody is stopping them at all.

How can the ordinary man who cannot afford one square meal a day for his family understand the government’s excuses when ministers and government officials  also cruise around the city in expensive limousines that their salaries obviously did not provide ? Sierra Leone has some of the most expensive fleet of vehicles  found anywhere on her streets and these vehicles are driven by Kabbah’s ministers. Where are these government officials getting the money to buy these expensive limousines ?

What is happening in Sierra Leone during the President Kabbah  and SLPP era far worse  than what transpired during the regrettable Siaka Stevens  epoch. The  “yuki-yuki”( Institutionalized corruption ), wilful misuse and waste of government money and natural resources, insensitivity to the suffering of the masses and flaunting of ill-gotten and vulgar riches that were the order of the day during the Stevens era have tripled  during the SLPP rule.

If President Kabbah feels that when he retires he will enter Sierra Leone’s Gallery Of The Greats, he is mistaken. People will forever cry with his name . Whatever illusions we once had that Kabbah was better than Siaka Stevens have evaporated, especially in the light of the continued harassment of journalists who are being punished for questioning the unbriddled corruption around them , and the imprisonment of Paul Kamara, the use of live bullets to disperse students demonstrations, the storming of the university campus by government security forces and looting of the students’ dorms and the human rights abuses reported in newspapers everyday.

Kabbah still has the opportunity to recover, deliver and preserve his legacy from calumny. He has to , first of all, establish accountability in the handling of the country’s money and end the orgy of economic feasts being presently enjoyed by his ministers and public officials. Secondly, the President must fire those officials who are not delivering anything but only live to filch government money and properties by night by day and fish for more dirty lucre by night . Thirdly, the government should try to establish price control and stop the fleecing of the poor people by hawkish business men and traders. Fourthly, it is high time that the government restored the basic amenities of life to the people, like pipe-borne water, electricity , good roads , well-functioning government hospitals and schools and colleges. Sierra Leone is sitting on abundant blessings of natural resources.With diamonds, gold, iron ore, bauxite, and other natural resources in our possession, we are too rich not to be the wealthiest nation in West Africa.

There is no reason for the suffering in Sierra Leone. Absolutely no reason at all. But until corruption is made a crime in Sierra Leone, things will never change.

Police Brutality at Lumley Beach Roundabout

Sunday, May 15th, 2005

In the early hours of this morning, the Sierra Police raided the Lumley Roundabout where Lumley Beach Dot Com is situated and in an attempt to arrest alleged loiterers and diamba smokers, they carted away one of Sierra Leone’s foremost international human rights activists named Allan Quee. But not before giving him a solid beating, tearing his clothes up, kicking him in his private parts and causing him to bleed. His crime? He stepped out of my Internet centre where he was browsing to question the police as to why they were cruelly dragging a lady on the streets into their landrover.

The police said that the lady was a prostitute and Allan Quee should not question them. Poor Mr. Quee proceeded to try to tell them about the training he has been involved in with the British and with UNAMSIL trying to educate the new Police Force about human rights and citizens rights especially during arrests. Mr. Quee condemned the act of dragging a lady on the streets of Freetown with her skirts all up and exposed. This is what caused his beating up and his handcuffing and arrest. Additionally, in their efforts to “cleanse” the area of “loitering vermin”, the police arrested four chinese citizens who were out looking for food to eat. They said the Chinese should not be on the streets. The chinese guys unfortunately retorted that they had all right to be out in the morning hours. They were also manhandled, handcuffed and bundled into a waiting landrover. The Chinese whilst being carted off, exclaimed “Sierra Leone, big problem still in here. big problem. big. very big problem.” Did I hear you say, “There goes the Chinese tourism package”?

It must be noted that one of the leading police involved in all this was stark raving drunk and was even holding a can of extra large Heineken beer in his hands. When I went to the station at 3am this morning, he still was in full police uniform holding the beer (some say it was his third or fourth that night). His name is Inspector Bombas Palmer or so he identifies himself. Several of the other police officers we met at the station tried to threaten and intimidate us. I took out my mobile telephone which records video clips and I made some sensational video recordings of the intimidation efforts. I also took a video recording of the drunk Inspector Bombas Palmer who says he has over 30 years experience in the police force. they had no idea that my telephone also records videos.

Quee’s younger brother was also bundled into the landrover right in front of my Internet Centre and Quee’s jeep was also given a “beating” with a gun-butt denting the jeep in the process. Quee and his brother managed to get someone to call up their uncle Colonel Benjamin but all efforts to get the senior police officers tonight almost proved fruitless as all their phones were turned off until we were fortunate to get Superintendent of Police Patrick Johnson (former ADC to VP Berewa) who rushed to the Congo Cross Police Station to meet the situation. It is now 6am here and more updates of this unfolding drama will be revealed later. But one thing is sure about all of this. A precedence has been set and a legal precedence has to also be set. The Police are not here to brutalise citizens and foreigners. They are being paid with our tax payers money and they cannot use our own money to brutalise us and to ruin the potential of turning Sierra Leone into a tourist haven with arbitrary arrests and beatings of innocent people. The Inspector General of Police and AlShek Kamara of the Police Disciplinary Committe recently set a very commendable example by disciplining police officers who brutalised Awoko journalists. We hope that they will also discipline these errant drunk police officers but we also hope that a criminal case can be brought up against the Sierra Leone Police by those innocent citizens giving that beating and bleeding this early morning.

Stay tuned for more updates…

SYLVIA BLYDEN  REPORTED AT THE SIERRA LEONE FORUM

MOMOH PUJEH IN THE HOT SOUP AGAIN : ANTI-CORRUPTION INDICTS HIM AND 5 OTHERS

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

 

Thursday May 12, 2005

Former Minister of Transport and Communication, Momoh Pujeh was among six people indicted in Freetown today by the Anti-Corruption Commission ( ACC).They were indicted for purchasing a substandard fork -lift  at the Sierra Leone Ports Authority.

Those indicted today included the former General Manager of the Ports, one-time soccer idol, Patrick Kemokai ;the erstwhile  Chairman of the institution, Mr. Mohamed Dabo and Ports’ Spokesman , Emmanuel Senessie.

According to reports received from Freetown, the 6 men will make their first appearance in court on Monday when the charges against them will be read to them.

This is the second time that Pujeh has been arrested for alleged corrupt acts. Three years ago, he and his wife were arrested after being found in illegal possession of diamonds . Pujeh and his wife beat the rap and he even went on to become a Parliamentarian.

Kemokai is the most popular man among those indicted in this case. In the 1970s, he was one of Sierra Leone’s greatest soccer stars, starring for local side, Old Edwardians and the national team, Leone Stars.

Pujeh is also popular because he also served under the APC  government in the 1980s.

PHOTO–VALENTINE COLLIER

President Kabbah intervention is timely but not commendable

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

First_Name:  Joseph Seidu
Last_Name:  Sherman
Email_Address:  jsherman68@hotmail.com
Address:  3500 14th Street, NW
City:  Washington
State:  DC
Zip_Code:  20010
Comments:  PRESIDENT KABBAH INTERVENTION IS TIMELY BUT NOT COMMENDABLE.

The intervention of President Kabbah in securing the unconditional release of Journalist Olu Gordon is a path in the right direction but not commendable.  If President Kabbah is serious about stopping the misuse and abuse of power by his lieutenants,it is high time he prosecutes these unscrupulous government   officials for violating the constitution and trampling on the rights of innocent citizens.

 

TEJANKABBAH5

Furthermore, in order for President Kabbah to show seriousness in his latest action, he should unconditionally release  Paul Kamara, the proprietor and editor of For DI People Newspaper who is incarcerated on similar charges as that of Olu Gordon.   President Kabbah should realize that the world is watching and, not listening to pleas from international organizations for the release of Paul is not only an act of impunity on his part who had lived in the western world and experienced democracy and human rights but dangerously jeopardizing the development of Sierra Leone.

  Recent news of corruption in high places and flagrant violation of citizens rights by government officials is a disgrace to a country that has emerged from a senseless and ruthless civil war which sent the president himself in exile.  If government officials continue to intimidate and incacerate members of the fourth estate as a show of power, I am afraid the path to democracy which every civilize nation is yearning for will be a sham in Sierra Leone.   The brain drain in Sierra Leone is result of a system which has invested absolute power to government officials without regard for citizens rights and due process of law.  When will functoinaries of government in Sierra Leone learn that they are accountable to the people who voted them to power?  

If their positions in government is a passport to violating the rights of citizens then they have notlearnt from the problems that caused the civil war.  It is high time President Kabbah rises from slumber and bring these unscrupulous government officials that are a disgrace and a menace to society and the international. community

If V-P Solomon Berewa meant what he said, it is good news for Sierra Leone

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

 

Wednesday May 11, 2005

Vice -President  Solomon Berewa  recently told a delegation of journalists a message that should ring out loud and clear through all the four  corners of Sierra Leone. Addressing members of the relatively new Sierra Leone Reporters’ Union , the second  man at the helm of Sierra Leone’s national affairs said he was ready to tolerate criticisms from the press.

SOLOBEREWA

VP SOLOMON BEREWA

This has been a thorny area of our national life–The paranoia that so-called public officials  have about criticisms from the press. It takes only a little time before even the most loquacious of our public officials  expose themselves that press criticisms do sting them like a bee, however loudly they may have proclaimed the virtues of press freedom and democracy from the rooftops. As we write, a whole Editor-in-Chief of one of Sierra  Leone’s most radical newspapers , FOR DI PEOPLE  is languishing in jail for his opinions. Paul Kamara was jailed for allegedly defaming President Kabbah .

The morbid intolerance to press criticisms by our politicians, their lackeys and all those wannabes is the very reason why we want to concede that if Vice-President Berewa  really meant what he said, it is good news for Sierra Leone, especially if his declaration is taken up by all other public functionaries.

There is no way that  public officials can avoid  their lives being examined by the press. Once one has thrown himself into the public limelight, he has abdicated the right to shield his life from press scrutiny. Journalists have a  constitutional right to scrutinize the lives of those who serve them .Infact, let us say it here and now that public officials have no protection from the law if only journalists are careful about the ways they go about things. There is a clause in the Libel Law that permits journalists to ask questions about the lives of those who lead them or aspire to leadership positions, once they do it prudently and state that their enquiries are in  the public interest . Where journalists fall into trouble is when they begin to introduce  accusations that they cannot prove through another window the law has opened for them–The defence of Truth by Justification. A good journalist who has studied the libel laws well, unlike a novice or layman writing for the press, should be able to place question marks around the integrity of those who serve them without falling into trouble as long as there is no implied or unimplied malice in what he says, or as long as his aim is not  merely to reduce an official to public ridicule or contempt.

But do our public officials  recognize these rights  ? You bet they don’t.  They do not have any learned conception about the role of the press in society. They consider every question asked about their lives as an unnecessary intrusion into their lives or defamation. That  is not so. Those who serve society must be morally impeccable and mentally fit for the tremenduous task of governance. It is the duty of the press , as the watchdog of the state, to ensure that nobody ascends the dais of leadership without bearing these essential qualities , for leadership roles are for people who are role models or whose mental fitness could be not be doubted. .

We hope Vice -President Berewa meant what he said and that other public officials in Sierra Leone would emulate his gesture. Sierra Leone cannot be rebuilt by dishonest men and women. Only men and women of probity can build or rebuild a nation. .

 

Kabbah’s Government shows how much it prizes the lives of Sierra Leoneans

Sunday, May 8th, 2005

KABBAH’S GOVERNMENT SHOWS HOW MUCH IT PRIZES THE LIVES OF SIERRA LEONEANS  

No serious government will allow , let alone orchestrate , the carting off of hundreds of her precious citizens to a dangerous country like Iraq  on a suicidal mission to work  as cleaners, cooks, and labourers for a mere pittance of $175 a month. Any government which really cares for the safety of her people would have cried down the whole arrangement even if the poor souls about to put their lives in danger were  paid more .After all life is far more important than money , more so in a country  with strong extended family traditions like Sierra Leone,  where the death of one single citizen impacts on the lives of  lots of other people in the community.

That the government played a hand in seeing her citizens  used as canon fodder for violent Iraqi rebel groups and U.S.  bombs is another clear demonstration  that the SLPP government does not have the interests of their people at heart.  And just like that , Kabbah’s government has made Sierra Leone a  laughing stock all over the continent , as callers to BBC African programs have demonstrated. If the government cannot provide jobs for her citizens, should it seek an escape route by pushing them into harm’s way ?

Did these doomsday recruiters of victims headed for sheer slaughter in  Iraq go to other African nations ? This newspaper can wager a bet that they certainly did , but we are certain that they were cried down and probably chased out of some of those countries by the caring governments who even concealed such suicidal opportunities from their citizens. . Anybody who has been a responsible father will admit that times had come when he concealed certain opportunities from his children for their own good, for it  is only a foolish father that , for instance, allows his son to undertake employment that has “Kasankey” ( Death shroud) written all over it. But was it not in Sierra Leone also that a U.S.  company was allowed to dump hazarduous wastes in  her waters during the Siaka Stevens era  after other African nations denied the ship bearing them access to their  shores ?

We do not agree with any attempt to make it seem like life is dangerous anywhere and as a result the citizens being sent to Iraq are taking the same calculated risks that others have taken seeking employment in foreign countries. Though all countries have their dangers and risks, there is no comparison whatsoever between the danger to human life in Iraq  and the risks in other countries. For now, Iraq is the most dangerous country on the face of the globe. Rebel militia groups are arising  every day and they and the U.S  forces are engaged in daily violent skirmishes , with bombardments , rocket attacks and suicide bombings that do not only level hotels , public buildings and residential areas but leave dead bodies littering the whole place. What is more, the country is in danger of exploding into a civil war between the Shiite and Sunni muslims. The government knows too well about these dangers and  that those of her citizens making the trip are embarking on a journey of no return. It should have denied its citizens the opportunity to take the offers.

It is true that the individuals making the trip are not being coersed and will bear personal responsibility for their own dangerous choices . Their action shows the desperation that citizens have been driven into in Sierra Leone .People are prepared to die seeking the U.S . dollar in a war-torn country than continue to “suck-air” in their country. But theirdecision is plain dumb and stupid. Considering the humonguous extended family responsibilities of Sierra Leoneans that exacerbate when they seek the golden fleece abroad, the Iraq sacrificial victims will take no time to learn that $175  MONTHLY  abroad  is as worse as not being employed back home .