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NEWS : Politics  

Lawyer Jenkins-Johnston forces Sierra Leone Government to Robustly Engage Media
By Mohamed Kamara & Aruna Turay
Feb 13, 2013, 17:17
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...but Government Spokesman says Jenkins-Johnston should utilise those lessons learnt in Sunday School about how to address a Nations Leader

In todays edition is an Open Letter to the Head of State from the President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association who was writing in a private capacity. Lawyer James Blyden Jenkins-Johnston expresses frustration over what he says is unexplained blackout. He demands for answers from APC-led Government and H.E. President Koroma. Indeed, the letter sparked off a furor with APC Government Spokesman, Hon. Alhaji Alpha Khan, Minister of Information and Communication lambasting the tone and diction of the letter as disrespectful, unethical and unfair to the President. Hon. Kanu was speaking in an exclusive discussion with this paper on Tuesday February 12th 2013, at State House.

 

According to the Minister, J.B. Jenkins-Johnston has all right to ask questions of the countrys leadership if he feels dissatisfied or frustrated over any issue but he said such questions should be directed with respect and not insolence.

 

Hon. Alpha Khan further expressed dismay over the choice of words used by Jenkins-Johnston in the letter, which according to him are very insolent. He said Jenkins-Johnston called the letter an open letter meaning it was for everybody but that the insults were addressed directly to the President meaning Jenkins-Johnston was not genuinely seeking answers from the President but finding a way to publicly insult the Head of State.

 

Govt Spokesman says Jenkins-Johnston should not forget Sunday School lessons on respect for leaders

 

The Minister said reaction from those who voted for the President has been displeasure especially with Jenkins-Johnstons used terms like sick joke.

 

If he is a joker, our President is not a joker and such terms must not be used against a very important personality like the President who is the first gentleman of our State and above all, the Fountain of Honour.

 

Hon. Kanu said Jenkins-Johnston was raised in fine Christian background so I think as a youth, Jenkins-Johnston must have attended Sunday School classes where he must have been taught the values of showing respect to leadership as leadership comes from God. He cited many biblical verses which should guide Jenkins-Johnston when addressing a President.

 

Jenkins-Johnston: They say youre so frustrated you forgot Sunday School lessons on respect for leaders.

 

Minister Kanu said it was very unfair of Jenkins-Johnston to say in his letter that the supply of electricity in Freetown has seriously annoyed and aggravated him to the extent that he has now decided to publicly write to the President so insolently.

 

Where was Jenkins-Johnston when the Sierra Leone Peoples Party was generating 3 Mega-watts of electricity and the entire country was in total darkness? He seems to be suffering from selective amnesia, opined Alpha Kanu.

 

Jenkins-Johnston, he went on, should be very grateful that when President Koroma came to power, he improved the generation of electricity from a mere 3 Mega-watts to 70 Mega-watts within a period of one year and everybody in the city, including Jenkins-Johnston himself, was enjoying uninterrupted electricity supply in their homes and offices and had long since forgotten what prolonged electricity power outages were.

 

The Government Spokesman reminded of several recent media publications and broadcasts which had explained to the people that there had been a recent mechanical breakdown at the Bumbuna Hydro-Electric Power Dam. He wondered where Jenkins-Johnston had been when all these explanations had been going on in various media about the problems at Bumbuna.

 

Is it he did not know the Government has been explaining the reason for the blackout or is it that he just wanted to be insolent to our elected President? Hon. Kanu pondered adding that even with the current low level of electricity supply, it is still now four times better than before his APC government took over the reigns of governance.

 

Meanwhile, in a live TV broadcast to discuss the matter, APC government officials and media spokesperson and engineers at the Bumbuna project say they are working to resolve the problem and restore the improved electricity supply that the citizens had now gotten used to since the advent of the APC Government in 2007.

 

EDITORIAL COMMENT:

Please See Below for the letter from J.B. Jenkins-Johnston which has finally forced various arms of government to speak through more widely read media like Awareness Times. Many Sierra Leoneans including top government officials, simply do not know which news media are widely listened to and/or read by the populace. It is indeed a fact that officials have been utilizing certain media to explain Bumbuna mechanical damage but since those media are not well read nor widely listened to, the pertinent messages had not been widely heard. Jenkins-Johnston was right to complain though his letter's diction and tone is subject to debate.

 

The fact is that Governments media strategy has been in need of overhaul for several years now; since days of erstwhile minister Alhaji I.B. Kargbo.

 

It is hoped by many citizens that new minister Alhaji Alpha Kanu, will be able to implement better policies to more robustly engage the citizenry.


AN OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY

THE PRESIDENT.

"Will the Agenda for Prosperity work without Electricity?"

-        By J. B. Jenkins-Johnston, G.C.O.R.,

(A  totally Angry and Frustrated Citizen.)

 

Your Excellency, I am normally a patient, understanding and long-suffering person, and I do not get annoyed, nor do I lose my cool very easily. But I must confess that since about a week before the General Elections in November 2012, The non-availability and/or constant disruption in the supply of Electricity  in Freetown has seriously annoyed and aggravated me to the extent that I have now decided to write this letter to you. The Electricity situation has been deteriorating steadily and is now at rock-bottom, thereby causing serious inconvenience, and substantial financial losses to citizens, and further putting the lives of citizens in danger by encouraging armed robbers to operate easily under the cover of darkness at night. Even for those of us who are really fortunate and lucky to be able to buy generators find that they are expensive to fuel and maintain, and as in my case, the poor generator has packed up due to overuse and overwork.

 

        I recall that during the last election campaign, a lot of noise was made about the completion of Bumbuna, and the fact that we were now going to enjoy continuous electricity in Freetown. What a sick Joke!! The Electricity situation is worse now than it has been in a long while.

 

        So Mr. President, what is the truth about Bumbuna and the Electricity Supply in Freetown? How long are we going to continue suffering from this Blackout? We the citizens want answers!! Honest, Truthful and Sincere answers, not excuses. We want answers from N.P.A; we want answers from The Minister of Energy; and we want answers from you, Mr. President,  for  whom the citizens of Freetown voted solidly in the last Election, as indeed the buck stops at your desk!! Most citizens in Freetown can no longer enjoy a drink of cold water in their homes anymore; our fridges, freezers, microwaves, electric irons and electric kettles etc are all now items of furniture in our homes. Freezers have to be emptied out and food thrown away even though they were purchased at great cost. Those who sell "cole wata", coolaid, yoghurt and cold drinks for their living are now out of business. Many offices are at a standstill because computers, printers, photocopiers etc cannot work without electricity. And the list goes on!!

 

How Long O Lord,  How Long........??

 

Is this what the Agenda for Prosperity is all about??  Can anyone prosper in such a situation of perpetual darkness??

 

We want answers, Mr. President, and we want relief from this problem.

 

Thank you, and God Bless you.

 

Yours Faithfully,

J. B. Jenkins-Johnston

(A  totally Angry and Frustrated Citizen.)

 

C.C.   

(1)  The Hon. Vice President,

Tower Hill,                                                      

Freetown.

 

(2)  The Speaker,                                         

Parliament Building

Tower Hill,                                                     

Freetown.

 

(3)  The Majority Leader, 

Parliament Building

Tower Hill,   

Freetown

                                     

(4)  The Minority Leader, 

Parliament Building

Tower Hill,   

Freetown.

                                                                                                                                                               

(5)   The Minister of Energy,    

Electricity House,                            

Siaka Stevens Street,                           

Freetown.   

                                                   

(6)   The General Manager,    

N.P.A.                            

Electricity House,

Siaka Stevens Street,                           

Freetown.


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