From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

COMMENTS & OPINIONS
Presidential Oversight as Press Team Becomes Incompetent
By Ahmed Kamara (Newstime Africa Magazine) in London
Oct 20, 2009, 17:09

"When you assume the presidency of a country, Sierra Leone in particular, that is ranked at the bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index; a country that has denied its media the freedom to operate freely; a country that has seen its own people killed on the orders of another president in his quest to regain power; a country that is rich in minerals but has never enjoyed the proceeds of its wealth because of flagrant corruption, greed and mismanagement by government officials; a country whose people experienced a brutal civil war that saw many killed and thousands maimed for life: a country where only about 40 percent of its people are literate; a country where armed robbers are at will to carry out broad daylight robbery as a result of the impotence of the head of the police and law enforcement?—?the first thing you should do is to surround yourself with a credible team that will be acceptable to your people and that is efficient and up to the task of governance. ""But I must report that this is not the case with the current makeup of the government of Sierra Leone.

I can tell you that most people in the Koroma government are either people he knew from college days or when he was head of one of the country’s major insurance companies or mostly close or extended family members of his. Sometimes becoming a ‘somebody’ in Sierra Leone requires only a simple recommendation by another ‘somebody’. And sometimes to get an appointment as an Ambassador or High Commissioner to another country you only have to either become a member of the ruling party’s executive branch in that country or have supported the party financially during the campaign period to get elected. Appointments should not be made by association or in the interest of political protection or manipulation. This is an attempt by me to encourage the presidency to effect a change of policy.

""I can count only a few people in government or holding high office in Sierra Leone that merits the position they have through qualifications or experience. If you are in the press and are constantly attacking the opposition parties in Sierra Leone the chances are that you will get to be appointed as a ‘Press Attaché’ in one of the country’s Foreign Missions abroad. On the other hand, if you are a newspaper editor and you constantly presenting the government as credible, you might be considered for a diplomatic appointment as well. ""How can such a government claim any credibility in its dealings with other states? As a leader, you may have the best of intentions for your country but if you do not have a team that is worthy of confidence, your leadership will always be questionable. Looking at some of the initiatives President Koroma has embarked on since he came to power, you can tell he means well for his people. In just a few months of assuming office he ensured that electricity was restored in a country that has suffered years of blackouts. Tasks forces have been setup to examine ways to end corruption and utilize the country’s resources in the best interest of its people.

These I must applaud him for. But examine the case of Abdul Serry Kamal, who happens to be the current Attorney General and Minister of Justice; what credibility does he have? This press recently reported the corrupt practices of Kamal and his apparent disregard of the rule of law and bringing disrepute to his office by taking money from innocent people and depriving them of justice. Such a man should not be involved in the running of any country. The plausibility of any government will always be at stake when it expresses governance imprudently. ""Worst of it all, with this backdrop, you then surround yourself with a press team that engage in media confrontation with others in the press in your honourable name.

That is just not acceptable. The press team’s role is to present your office and government in a dignified way to your people and the world. Your press team should be worthy of emulation. A Presidential press team should only include those who have had the professional training of media amity and is capable of damage limitation not damage inception. It is without doubt that the present presidential team may possess the journalistic qualification in their current positions, but do they possess the skills, temperament and knowhow that a presidential press team requires to help promote and reclaim the dignity that the office of the president carry??—?you decide!



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