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In Sierra Leone, Sylvia Blyden to Hold Another Radio Discussion
By Aruna Turay & Dauda Koroma
Apr 18, 2011, 12:08
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Listeners of veteran journalist David Tam-Baryohs Monologue Radio programme, were let down last weekend when a much-anticipated live radio interview between the Publisher of Awareness Times, Sylvia Blyden and Tam-Baryoh was de-railed; thus causing Dr. Sylvia Blyden to now start arrangements to have another uninterrupted Nation-wide Radio broadcast on the issue under review. The issue is existence of SLPP as a political party viz-a-viz Supreme Court Case and the scapegoating of Awareness Times by certain SLPP operatives. Blyden will work outside of the Philip Neville and Tam-Baryoh Citizen and Star Radio network for her next planned nationwide radio broadcast.

Lamentably, the much-anticipated interview, which had been slated to commence at 9pm did not commence until 11pm and even then, Tam-Baryoh did not allow Blyden to complete making her points when he abruptly brought in other commentators to interject lengthily into the programme.

However, the short time that Blyden was allowed to put her points across resulted in her raising an alarm to all SLPP members that the case in front of the Supreme Court which was taken there by Dr. Bu-Buakei Jabbi, was not to be considered as a matter to be trifled with. She compared the recent dissolution of the former Egyptian ruling party by an Egyptian court to what could be the possible outcome of the present case if it was not well handled by SLPP members.

Blyden warned the SLPP that if such happens according to Sections 27 & 29 of the PPRC Act of 2002, it would be difficult for anyone to blame the ruling APC party as it would have been caused by an SLPP member in the person of Dr. Jabbi taking legal action that ended in the Supreme Court cancelling the registration of the SLPP. Such cancellation, she warned could happen if the SLPP concedes that it wilfully contravened Section 35(2) of the National Constitution.

Blyden also made public her views on SLPP Flagbearer aspirant Maada Bio in the short opportunity available. She informed listeners that contrary to a recent letter from Maada Bio, SLPP Leader John Benjamin had made several efforts to talk to Awareness Times to make peace with Maada Bio and resolve their differences. She revealed how on Friday January 7th 2011, John Benjamin himself, Mr. Maada Bios National Coordinator John Tucker and another Maada Bio strongman named Abdulai Bun Wai had all met at her residence to initiate discussions on the problems arising out of violence perpetuated against journalists of Awareness Times.

During the meeting at her residence, she revealed that she had insisted to Tucker in the presence of John Benjamin, that only a public distancing of Maada Bios Campaign from violence against journalists would convince Awareness Times that Maada Bio now understood the role of a democratic leader and also respected the role of journalists in a democratic and free country. She lamented that Bio, by his actions towards journalists, had shown that if he ever went near State House, he would take the country backwards from where the SLPP of Tejan Kabbah had advanced the country.

She posited that a potential presidential candidate of merit would have quickly and publicly distanced himself from the beating up of a journalist. She also revealed how her affected staff, Bampia James Bundu and Abdul Fonti had spoken over the phone to the SLPP team of Benjamin, Tucker and Bun Wai during which it was made clear they would not pursue the matter at the Police, if a Public Statement from Bios Campaign Team clarified that his phone call to the newspapers Editor was not sinister but had been misunderstood and in which Statement, Bio would call on all his supporters to allow journalists to go about their work unimpeded by violence and threats.

Sylvia Blyden however revealed that despite the willingness of the newspaper s affected journalists, Abdul Fonti and Bampia Bundu to reconcile with Maada Bio, it was Bio himself who had refused to keep to his own part of the arrangement as agreed to on January 7th 2011 rather his regional coordinators had subsequently intensified the problems with insulting interviews against the newspaper. This, she recounted, was why Awareness Times was so surprised to read the Letter from Bio accusing John Benjamin of having done nothing to assist him in his self-inflicted problems with journalists.

Whilst it was clear that Sylvia Blyden had some more revelations to make, unfortunately, as if pre-planned or directed by some un-seen hand, Tam-Baryoh severally abruptly cut off Sylvia Blyden to interject other voices thus making the smooth flow of the programme nothing to talk about.

David, this is not what we had arranged, a dismayed Sylvia Blyden stated over the air to Tam-Baryoh to which Tam-Baryoh mumbled something. However, what really dismayed many listeners was that after the interview, Mr. Philip Neville of Standard Times Newspaper, was brought on air and given what seemed like an endless period of time to rant and rave in support of Mr. Maada Bios presidential candidacy which Neville described in glowing terms.

Neville is known to be a key component of the success of President Koromas current incumbency which is why his undiluted support for Maada Bio last evening left many SLPP members in a state of intense suspicion for Maada Bio. SLPP supporters have also expressed to us how they were determined than before to ensure the party did not make the mistake of voting in Bio as his tainted image was an easy target for APC to massacre. It now dawned on all listeners that Maada Bio was the preferred candidate of Philip Neville whilst Usman Boie-Kamara, another SLPP Aspirant, seems to be the person whose candidacy instils the most fear into Philip Neville. As Neville ranted and raved over the radio airwaves in support of Maada Bios candidacy, he kept on repeatedly lambasting Usman Boie-Kamara for no good reason.

Meanwhile, Sylvia Blyden made it clear to all listeners that she was disappointed that the SLPP Leadership had refused to publicly denounce the violent actions of Maada Bio given Bios recalcitrance. Blyden said that given the depth of hatred, lies and malice shown towards her newspapers dedicated staff by both Maada Bio and some of his SLPP supporters, if the SLPP made the mistake of choosing Maada Bio as their 2012 Presidential Candidate, it means SLPP was now telling the voting public that SLPP endorses intimidation of journalists; especially those from Awareness Times newspaper.

Sylvia Blyden recalled Awareness Times had been lampooned and maltreated by APC, their privies and agents simply because the newspaper had never relented to defend the interest of affected SLPP members. She then went on to advise SLPP delegates to take note that many, many citizens were closely watching how SLPP treats Awareness Times since the saga started with Bio first threatening and later, supporters of his beating up the papers journalists with not a single Press Release issued by SLPP to condemn the nefarious actions but only quiet apologies were rendered which she said, in a very determined mood was not enough.

She described those equating the depth of feelings against the actions of Maada Bio to their SLPP internal leadership problems, as seriously underestimating what had happened to her journalists. She warned the SLPP not to reduce the problems of her journalist being beaten up to that of SLPPs in-fighting about John Benjamins leadership style as the issues were not one and the same.

Meanwhile, a strong supporter of Mr. Maada Bio, the recently resigned SLPP Publicity Secretary Hon. Musa Tamba Sam has described Awareness Times, its Publisher and all journalists working at the newspaper as quacks with no credibility. He told David Tam-Baryoh over the radio airwaves that he did not give a damn about what the newspaper wrote as the newspaper was of no significance in Sierra Leone. Tamba Sam informed,  he spitefully resigned to embarrass John Benjamin but that he would be running for re-election as SLPPs Publicity Secretary at the next SLPP Party Convention. Publicity Scribes normally have good media relations.

I.J. Kabbah, Womens Leader later came on the air to defend Benjamin over Tamba Sams allegations.

Meanwhile, the date of the next Sylvia Blyden Nation-wide Radio Broadcast will be released shortly.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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