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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Koroma ĎDictatorshipí in Sierra Leone?
By Sylvia O. Blyden (in London)
Aug 8, 2012, 17:14
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My detractors, many of who are safely cocooned in various civil cliques, like to give the impression that I am of no significance in Sierra Leone. However the time and energy they expend in critiquing my work (overtly and covertly) speak volumes of how significant I really am in their eyes.

 

I am amused to learn pro-SLPP media this week resumed reproduction of my critical articles. I am told one Jonathan Leigh even dedicated five pages (yes, five pages!!) of each one of his editions this week to simply reproducing my past articles criticising President Koroma.


One, dated August 14th 2010 was my reaction to a rambling Ministry of Information Release. In it, I had debunked Governmentís strong position that I was an opposition member. I opined that my criticisms are what will help to curb dictatorial tendencies (which all humans are prone to).

 

I have always loved my independence. I currently see myself as Sierra Leoneís most independent journalist no matter what is said of me.


A good leader never HATES his critics but instead learns from them and finds ways and means of improving based on such criticism of his person. I have admired Koromaís ability to amiably smile when we meet despite my harsh criticisms of him. He knows I meant him no ill and he knows my sustained criticisms have helped to make him what he is: One of the best Presidents that this country has ever seen! He makes me proud to have served Sierra Leone as a journalist under his Presidency.

 

Finally, if people want to know my true position about President Koroma viz-a-viz his democratic credentials versus his dictatorial tendencies which are tendencies all humans naturally possess, they should read my piece on Page 3 today which was first published in April 2011 (some eight months after the article of August 2010 which SLPP media are now parroting).

 

That April 2011 article precisely captures my current position about President Koroma. I have decided that it will be reproduced every single day for the next one week inside AWARENESS TIMES. :-)


(First published on April 5th 2011)

President Koroma has been¬†benefitting from both¬†criticisms & praises of Blydenís pen
APRIL 5TH 2011: Last weekend I had dinner at Wilfred Sam-Kingís Taia Hotel and I got chatting with both Sam-King and a renowned Sierra Leonean professor visiting home from Oxford University. The admiration of the Oxford Professor for the work Awareness Times is doing was palpable and he repeatedly expressed so. Like thousands of Sierra Leoneans around the world, the Oxford Professor confessed he could not consider his day completed without first logging on to Awareness Times. One thing I told these two fine gentlemen last weekend was that if I am able to legally but critically evaluate this APC-led regime of Ernest Bai Koroma inside my newspaper, it is because the President, like his predecessor Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, has proven to understand the importance of freedom of expression in a democracy; albeit a few unfortunate scenarios here and there.

I could see the surprise on the Oxford Professorís face when I recounted to him how an Awareness Times staff has been allowed to walk into State House every single weekday morning, from September 19th 2007 until now, to hand over a complimentary copy of each dayís Awareness Times newspaper to one of the Personal Staff of the President for the attention of the President; regardless of what is on the headline for that day.

I even recounted how President Koroma stopped, on his arrival one day, to chat with one of my staff doing the delivery of his Awareness Times newspaper. On that day, he allowed my staff to walk up the stairway of State House with him and whilst they were walking up, the President reportedly turned to my staff and, with his tongue in cheek, he asked of my staff what criticism of him was in Awareness Times for that day.Truth be told, first President Kabbah and now, President Koroma, have been giving a lot of meaning to what a democratic and tolerant African Leader represents.

Certain SLPP Flagbearer Aspirants will do well to learn from President Koromaís attitude of tolerance to media criticisms. Can anyone imagine a Maada Bio Presidency allowing copies of Awareness Times, which are critical of Bio, to be delivered to State House?

Anyway, letís move on. When I read yesterdayís indictment of the Police and Prisons in Koinadugu in a State House dispatch, I could not but applaud the President for being so honest as to allow the Presidency to be the one to state the serious social problems, as uncovered, so as to open up public discussions on them.

Bottomline, what I am trying to say today is that even though I do not like the sycophantic attitude of those, like the SLAJ President Umaru Fofana, who recently publicly thanked our Head of State for ďnot jailing journalistsĒ as if Ďjailing journalistsí is a normal thing for Heads of States to do, I will be the first person to join those asking for the Almighty to continue to bless our President for his tolerance to criticisms even as the Hawks in this Government would wish not. May God Bless President Ernest Bai Koroma for his tolerance. Amen.


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

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