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NOTICES & DOCUMENTS  

THIS IS NOTHING LIKE AN OPEN LETTER
By Titus Boye-Thompson, Strategic Media & Development Communications Unit
Feb 19, 2013, 17:00
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An open letter is a contradiction in terms because it gives the indication that it is a public document when in fact it speaks in its entire context to the individual it is directed. Thus when Lawyer Jenkins Johnston penned an open Letter to the President, he was making direct aspersions on the Presidency in a public forum relinquishing the benefit of a private engagement. In essence, an open letter is a letter devised by a poisoned pen, in itself an assertion that the objective of an open letter is to shame or otherwise embarrass the person addressed. It is poisonous in scope because it intends to draw bad blood or as in this event, cast wrongful and unwarranted aspersions on a public persona in the weak and insidious cover of democracy, freedom of speech and all those ascribed values of good governance enjoyed under the stewardship of President Ernest Bai Koroma

 

To argue the contents of such an open letter to the President in the case of that written by Lawyer Jenkins Johnston would in some ways lend credence to what is contained therein in a manner that would be unjustified. Furthermore, any attempt to address the fallibility of the man would be tantamount to a fallacy in logic and reasoning, specifically a fallacy of "argumentum ad hominiem," which invariably is an argument about the character of the man and not a distension of the crux of his statements or pronouncements.  Nonetheless, there is a legitimate devise in English law that allows for the distension of the character of the man as a credible witness because a man of low morals would not in any way pontificate about the disintegration of the moral fibre of a society that he is a part of.

 

Lawyer Jenkins Johnston is a well-known personality in Freetown where he has practiced Law for quite a while.His politics is not as well-known but his loyalties are expected to be in accordance with the expectations of a person of such high intellect. He of all people should appreciate that the public must at all times be reasonably assured that there is a basis of our democracy which dictates that unless confidence in its institutions are secured by peaceful means of respect and an authentication of legitimacy, then the foundations of our system of Government falls. These are very simple principles which underpin the legal system, the environment where Lawyer Jenkins Johnston has carved out a career for himself all this while. Unless there is a general acceptance that judges would act in the best interest of the public good, that they would dispense justice without fear or favour and that lawyers would represent the interests of their clients to the best of their abilities, then the entire legal system falls. That in essence is one of the major misunderstandings that Lawyer Jenkins Johnston has displayed in this very public of private letters addressed to the President and it is for those very same reasons that such an open letter must be addressed, openly and in context. 

 

There is a general responsibility to the intelligentsia to conduct itself accordingly, to address issues in a cogent and expeditious manner and to contribute to national debates and issues through established processes and procedures. To deviate from such dictates would allow for a credible assault on such a proponent as rambunctious ruffles, the rant of a heretic or otherwise rapacious and effervescent insinuations designed to undermine the fabric of an ordered society. The press is not the avenue to vent out such spleen borne of malice or politics but could very well be the medium to engage the polity on issues of grave and national concern. If one should view this open letter as an attempt to engage the polity then it is unfortunate that undoubtedly it has fallen victim to a mis-direction as to context even if the content of his epistle remains imbued with an epistemological intent. That the letter attempts at raising pertinent issues to a national platform is not in contention but the flow and language are veiled with accusations of deceit and mis-information wrongfully addressed and in some ways petulant and provocative.One would have thought that institutions such as the Open Government Initiative would be a perfect conduit of such venerations, rather than a generalist composition to the press, strewn with half-truths, insinuations and innuendos.

 

Addressing the content of the letter, Lawyer Jenkins Johnson may have legitimately touched a finger on a matter that is of grave concern to President Ernest Bai Koroma. The issue of electricity is one of his signal achievements. Considering that on assuming office, President Koroma inherited a programme that had tasked previous Governments for over thirty years. His singular drive and determination got the Engineers to arrive at a functional solution to the power generation obligations of the Bumbuna Hydro Electric Plant. The commissioning of the Bumbuna Plant was historic and epoch making. The mechanical faults that now contaminate the Bumbuna Project have  nothing to do with politics or the President's determination to solve the problem of dysfunctional energy for Sierra Leone.It is a matter to be laid squarely on the door step of the Contractors charged with the responsibility of building the plant. The simple matter of a breakdown or mechanical malfunctioning of the Plant speaks directly to the workmanship but in another light, goes to the heart of the previous arrangements inherited by this Government and the assurances accepted by the past Governments as to the functionality and adaptability of the engineering methodologies proffered by the contractors. There are also other issues of local and social malcontent, stealing power cables as they are being laid and other matters such as weakened power transmission infrastructure that had deteriorated badly on account of the implications of non-maintenance, under-use and war. For all these reasons, the former Ministry of Energy and Water Resources became overburdened in such a manner that the President had to be convinced of a reason to justify its break up to two distinct Ministries. Such is the attention that the President pays to the twin issues of Water and Electricity for the Country that he has now secured a focused approach to their development by assigning two cabinet positions dedicated to reaching an improvement in their delivery.In essence, President Ernest Bai Koroma is well in advance of the thinking of the likes of Lawyer Jenkins Johnston who may be misled to think that Government is laying idly by as basic services are disrupted. In fact, services are now being rationed in a bid to ensure that this city that has far outgrown the archaic facilities inherited by this Government are served equitably until a modern planning and distribution system is put in operation. It is no news that New dams are being built across the Regions, that water management and distribution systems are being rolled out to ensure that the population benefitting from pipe borne water is widened or that electricity generation and distribution systems are being reviewed to rapidly improve the situation.

 

All in all, the fact remains that the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma has done far more to combat the situation of poor service delivery than any other Government in recent history. The achievements detailed under the Agenda for Change are still there to sustain the growing need for improvement and the transformation to the Agenda for Prosperity. The confidence that the President enjoys as a result of his hard work resulted his endorsement at the last elections. Now is the time for patience, to allow him to get his Government in place with the reasoned determination to do more for Sierra Leone. It is the duty therefore of every Sierra Leonean to allow the President that space to make the right changes for Sierra Leone and he must enjoy the confidence that the Nation trusts him to act at all time in the interest of development.


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

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