The Ernest Bai Koroma led All Peopleís Congress (APC) government has done a very fine and admirable job so far of keeping this country intact and free of the problems their critics had envisaged; but in other ways the Government seems to be operating like a somersaulted vehicle with no central control. It is no secret that certain ministers are very notorious in interfering into the duties of other ministers with impunity. These ministers in question have taken upon themselves to do things without consulting others, believing they are the Alpha and Omega of everything, as far as the running of the state is concerned. Good for them but bad for Ernest Koroma who is our President and the one supposed to be fully in charge and running all our affairs for now. One of such ministers involved in interfering into issues that are not within the mandates of their ministries is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura.
|Foreign Affairs Minister Zainab Bangura
Among several other occurrences of what I am trying to hammer home was the role played by this madam during the Ďundisclosed agendaí sojourn to Sierra Leone of the Libyan President, Moammar Al-Gadhafi. From my own look of things as far as the entire preparations of that visit was concerned, the Foreign Affairs Minister acted in the capacity of the Ministers of Internal Affairs, Information & Communication, Transport & Aviation, Energy & Power, Public Affairs, etc. etc. etc..
This was not because these other ministers, in whose capacities Zainab was acting on, were not in willingness to act in their assigned responsibilities, but simply because the Foreign Affairs Minister and some of her cohorts had developed some backyard complex over the wealth of the Libyan leader long before his proposal to visit Sierra Leone. Yes, this was even the reason why the Foreign Minister might not have properly scrutinized the Ďnote verbalí that was sent by the Libyan Authorities to Sierra Leoneís Foreign Ministry. How can a request of a four day Presidential visit of such a high profile world leader be sent with no specific information as to what the visit was all about? Maybe Zainab can find a way of explaining that, but what could she say with regards the Libyan advance delegation that was already mid air even before she got to read the note verbal?
A substantial evidence of the angst that had already griped some of these government officials on the visit of Gadhafi was the pronouncements made by Zainab Bangura and Alpha Kanu on the press briefing that was held to inform journalists about the unusual visit of the Libyan prexy. When some sober minded senior journalists raised concerns of security and other negative implications of a visit with an undisclosed agenda, Zainab just swept such concerns under the carpet and started shooting off-tangent about a "blessing in disguise for such a respected and wealthy world leader to propose a visit to a third world country like ours."
This was a clear indication of our Foreign Ministerís willingness to mortgage the integrity of Sierra Leone and its citizenry to the rich Gadhafi. It is far fetched from the possibility for President Ernest Bai Koroma to send a Ďnote verbalí with an undisclosed agenda to the Libyan government for a four-day visit to Libya with an advance team already mid air and he is welcomed. But simply because the wealth of Gadhafi cannot be overemphasized coupled with the goodies the government was expecting to materialize from the visit (courtesy Zainab Bangura), mortgaging the countryís integrity or the citizenryís security and concerns was the order of the day.
Now, I want to also look at the terrible embarrassment that the selfish, sole-making arrangements of Zainab Bangura caused the most hardworking minister in the person of Haja Afsatu Kabbah. I am of the strong conviction that the Energy and Power Minister, Haja Afsatu Kabbah was not given a prior notice on the meeting of Members of Parliament with Gadhafi. That meeting at Parliament building was disrupted with an embarrassing power cut at around 7pm in the evening of Thursday 1st January 2009. According to investigations, it is normal for the electricity supply from the National Power Authority (NPA) to go off in Parliament at 7pm daily during certain switch changing so the innocent engineers at the NPAís Falcon Bridge who had no knowledge that Gadhafi was even at the Parliament simply cannot be blamed if the electricity supply got cut off.
However, if only Zainab Bangura had consulted with or even informed her colleague Minister of Energy & Power about that dayís itinerary for the Libyan Leader, Sierra Leone and President Ernest Bai Koroma would have been saved such an embarrassment because naturally, if the Energy and Power Minister had been informed of the meeting at Parliament, she, as the real Ďfoot soldierí of President Ernest Koroma would have moved heavens and high waters to ensure both NPA and back-up power generators were on constant supply throughout the parliamentary programme. However, Zainab Bangura just decided that her colleague Minister was not to be invited to Parliament and amazingly whilst Afsatu Kabba was at her residence awaiting to be told where next the ad hoc protocol arrangements were to be held, Zainabís protocol officers had simply forgotten to inform the Energy & Power Minister that there was a function being held for Gadhafi at Parliament. This unbelievable oversight makes me recall a recent front page newspaper tabloid allegation about Zainabís supposed long running hatred for Afsatu Kabba. I am now starting to wonder if there is indeed truth to that screaming front page headline of the Atomic Newspaper. I stand to be corrected, but I am of the opinion that this was a deliberate attempt by Zainab Bangura to sideline and further scapegoatize the hardworking Afsatu Kabba. President Koroma and Afsatu Kabba are both victims of that disgraceful power cut. All because of the kapu-kapu style of leadership being practiced by some government functionaries who want to command and control everyone in this land.
Before I end, may I congratulate Hon. Afsatu Kabba for winning the APCís Best Minister of the Year 2008. No doubt, some of her hardest critics calling themselves her colleague ministers must have felt they had been more deserving of such credit. I only wonder how come a Minister who travels with a President to the USA only to arrange a lunch date with President George Bush for just the Minister alone whilst the President could not even get to meet a lowly congressman had it not been for actor Isaiah Washington, should think such a minister deserves to be awarded with anything!
Certain government functionaries are seriously bent on personalizing state affairs to promote themselves in the media spotlight and satisfy their interests at the expense of the state and other government functionaries including even their own boss, the President. President Koroma will do justice to himself and to this country if he takes his time to closely monitor the activities of these selfish kapu-kapu ministers and take appropriate actions. Otherwise, he will have no-one to blame but himself when things start to fall apart because the center could not hold.
¬© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.