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Sierra Leone Politics : APC Party & State House Website Run By “Professionals”
By Bryan Randall (Honorary Executive Member of APC)
May 23, 2014, 17:17
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Bryan Randall, an Honorary Executive Member of the APC done ‘blow mind’!

I was a member of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) for many years and rose through the ranks to become one of its district chairmen. After 2011 SLPP convention, I observed the abrasive atmosphere which took over SLPP like uncurable Ebola virus. I advised myself to quit SLPP and join APC. I was amongst the first ‘big fish’ to join APC. I wrote my resignation letter in red ink. This is how Mohamed Azonto Kamara of AWARENESS TIMES covered my resignation in the September 16th 2011 edition of the paper:


“Thursday September 15th 2011 was a red letter day in annals of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) when one of the most committed and decent of all its political figures, Mr. Bryan Randall, Chairman of Western Region’s Central District, sent in his Resignation Letter penned down in bright red ink! It left many observers asking whether like in the Yeats poem, the centre cannot hold since Central District was now like the falcon refusing to hear the falconer”?

 

THE AUTHOR: BRYAN RANDALL

That was three years ago. Indeed, I gave six points in my letter. One of my stated points for leaving SLPP was SLPP’s personal attacks on Dr. Sylvia Blyden who was by then, publisher of this paper; a position she has since relinquished on being appointed to State House.

 

Meanwhile, TORCHLIGHT newspaper this week described Dr. Sylvia Blyden as an ‘Invitee’ to APC; dancing more than the people who own the APC ‘Tabule’. Whatever that means, it is not inspiring message to those we will wish to cajole to join our APC and help us in more victories. If you can segregate us as not owning the ‘Tabule’ but you own the ‘Tabule’ then you are making mockery of all our efforts that gave the APC and our Leader such an unprecendented victory in 2012.

 

In 2011, I was warmly welcomed into the APC by strong party members who continue to make me feel at home inside the red shining sun party. I want to say special thanks to His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma who spent many hours with me at his State Lodge to make me feel at home inside the APC under his leadership. I was given a very sensitive assignment by the President as Head of Strategy & Intelligence Unit of SPARTA, a specialised unit we created for the 2012 elections. President Koroma never made me feel like I was an ‘Invitee’ dancing to other people’s ‘Tabule’ but always made me feel a part and parcel of APC.

 

I also have special thanks for Comrade Victor Foh, Comrade Liz Manns and Comrade Minkailu Mansaray. They, and many, many others, have made me to never regret turning my back on SLPP and joining the APC. With their encouragement, I worked tirelessly with many others and when later, we were joined by Usman Boie-Kamara’s team in the year 2012, we all pulled off the biggest landslide victory ever in the history of Western Area for the APC and President Koroma. Never before in the history of this country has any President polled such high percentages in Western Area. It was because of a joint effort from many different sectors which came together.


We need to maintain that joint collective spirit and encourage one another to keep the faith and work tirelessly with strong faith so we can repeat the victory come 2018. No one group alone can do it and when we criticise each other, it must be taken in good faith and not become cause for insults and divisive comments that will subject comrades to public ridicule.

 

Will our APC, under President Koroma’s leadership, continue to raise our percentage numbers if such negative and divisive messages about one group being Tabule owners of APC and all others are just ‘invitees’? Will that not drive current and potential party members away? What makes it even more unbecoming is that Dr. Sylvia Blyden is the grand-daughter of one of the pioneers of APC’s 1967 victory and also the daughter of the APC’s very first elected Secretary General of the APC National Youth League.


Can anyone describe her as an ‘Invitee’ dancing to other people’s Tabules? If you say Sylvia Blyden is an ‘Invitee’ to Solomon Pratt and Babatunde Blyden’s party, then who do you think will be willing to risk coming onboard? If a daughter and grand-daughter is an Invitee, then who are the Owners of the Tabule? Have we forgotten so soon of how the APC in America warmly welcomed Sylvia Blyden and some even donated a red mercedes benz to her in remembrance of how she helped the APC at the turn of the century in America? Did the Majority Leader in Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu not recently confirm that the first money to rent party offices in America in the year 2000, was given to him by Dr. Sylvia Blyden?


So, if someone like Sylvia Blyden is to be insulted as an ‘Invitee’ to the APC, how will others with no prior roots inside APC, feel comfortable inside the APC? Is this the way to inspire new membership?


APC hierarchy must stem this madness now. APC Tabule belongs to all of us; old and new members.

State House Website


I want to turn my attention now to the most burning issue; State House Communications Unit reaction to genuine criticism. Upfront, I will say APC has strong members on social media like Revd Kabbs-Kanu, Rosie Zizer, Umaru Jalloh, Kabba Kamara, Tunde Scott, Musa Ronsho (pseudonym), Kabba Sesay, Kanthe Knana, Unisa Conteh, Ibrahim Kargbo, etc. etc. but the truth is that none of them are government officials in the country so they can only work with second-hand information when countering lies from opposition.

 

I have noticed that our beloved APC and the Government, have forgotten totally that they also have to govern the space called “Social Media”. Inspired by the India ruling party losing elections because of social media, I wrote a warning to my party – ‘APC to beware of Social Media’, published in this newspaper on 19th May 2014 especially in relation to the Facebook, Whatsapp & Twitter platform where officials of the government spend endless time bordering on issues they should never be dealing with; while forgetting about real issues that got APC elected in first place.

 

It was the truth but it rankled some at State House Communications Unit. That Monday, I never mentioned their Unit by name nor even State House in my article but because old women get upset when dry bones are mentioned, they got so angry with the genuine criticism that they turned their pen on Sylvia Blyden because she owns this paper.

 

In an epileptic manner, they attacked Sylvia Blyden saying she should speak out on a stupid, unsourced Global Times article. As a newspaper, we pointed out the better things that the Unit should be engaged on. To make it worse, they launched unprintable language on her; forgetting she is a woman and a senior appointee of the President.


I joined editorial team of AWARENESS TIMES last year and since I started, I am yet to see Dr. Sylvia Blyden step her feet inside the newspaper’s offices. I know APC officials who own newspapers and are always at their newspaper offices.


In a democratic state, every individual has a right to speak up concerning things in government circles affecting national interest.

 

However, if State House is so insecure that it can start issuing statements about rabid dogs and loose canons over simple criticisms, then APC as a Party must put itself in check and ask who controls State House, the seat of power which we all fought hard to ensure our President gets re-elected back to?

 

Who controls State House? Is it State House staff, (those parading workers), Our President (who has failed to take action against certain people), or the APC members who voted the President into office but are now gravely disappointed how people he has empowered at State House, are behaving?

 

Is the APC party in power? Or is the State House squad in Power? The squad which blocks genuine APC members from seeing President but schemers boast of how they can see and tell bundles of lies to our President and APC Leader?


Let me meticulously examine these ‘professionals’ working at State House Communications Unit. They emit dangerous utterances, mud slinging, evil propaganda, grinding recriminations; they show sagginess to their jobs (just check the State House website!), avariciousness to seat of the President even when he has over 3 years left of his Presidency and they hatch conspiracies to shield the President away from his people and try to mislead him so he betrays us and wreck APC as we approach 2018 election (the same way late President Kabbah lost control which cost the SLPP the 2007 elections).

 

State House says it has ‘professionals’ manning its Communications. Is that so? Let us examine the State House website which is operated by those who call themselves ‘professionals’. It is an embarrassment to the President and to the entire country. You can find it by clicking on WWW.STATEHOUSE.GOV.SL

 

As of this morning, the State House website of His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma, is listing the Minister of Energy to be one MR. R. ROBBIN-COKER. Who is this ‘R’ Robbin-Coker is not known. There was an Oluniyi Robbin-Coker but he has been relieved of his duties for several weeks now and the position of Energy Minister is currently vacant.

Who is 'R' Robbin-Coker? Oluniyi Robin-Coker is no longer Energy Minister

 

The ‘professionals’ at the State House Communications Unit, do not seem to understand that they are handling the website of the highest executive authority in the land and what that website contains must always be accurate.

 

Anyway, enough on this mysterious ‘R’ Robbin-Coker. Let us now examine the main welcome page as maintained by the ‘professionals’ at State House. On the left hand side of the page is a link that sends visitors to the list of Cabinet Ministers. Here is what the link says: Presedential Cabinet!


The ‘professionals’ have informed the world to click on PresEdential Cabinet!

PresEdential Cabinet??? WOW - They say they are 'professionals'


Then there is a link to official press releases. It is on left of the website. When you click on it, it takes you to a page with one single announcement on it. Guess the date of that? It is dated November 19th 2008 (six years ago!) This is work of ‘professionals’ at State House. So anyone visiting the main gateway of State House from outside gets message that since 2008, no announcement!


The ONLY press release available on Press Release section is dated 19th November 2008!!!

 

Still on web front page, this time to right, is a glaring duplication; entitled again as PRESS RELEASES and under it are releases with most recent one being dated June 2nd 2010 (Yes, FOUR YEARS AGO!!!) and authored by former Press Secretary Sheka Tarawalie with title of “I STILL VERY MUCH ENJOY tHE CONFIDENCE OF THE PRESIDENT”. It rambles on and on to visitors about an irrelevant newspaper article. ‘Professionals’ indeed!

 

A Duplication of sections named Press Releases. The second 'Press Release' section has the most current one to be dated 2nd June 2010. It is from Sheka Tarawalie rambling on that he still is the Press Secretary to the President. That was four years ago.

All the wonderful achievements of this President are not analysed on the website. When you visit professionally created websites of other African Presidents and compare it to the one maintained by the ‘professionals’ at State House, you will howl in pain at how shoddy an appearance Ernest Bai Koroma’s professionals are making him to appear to outsiders.

 

There is no active section that is highlighting progressive achievements in the Top sectors of the Government. Nothing of progressive reductions in Maternal Mortality, or massive roads infrastructures all over every district or the solar lights. There are no exciting interactive sections but just one long lump in the middle of the website where all updates are  unceremoniously dumped together.


In that dump, the Item Number One as of this morning, was about a businessman showing his new award to the President as far back as Tuesday this week. Yes, since Tuesday, all other activities of President Koroma have not been put on State House website by the ‘professionals’. They have been too busy writing about rabid dogs and loose canons.


Now, let me talk a little about the recent vicious attack on Mohamed Azonto Kamara whom the ‘professionals’ falsely accuse as being Dr. Sylvia Blyden. The ill-written article said it was not the business of State House to utilise their idle time in managing the image of the Government from allegations of millions of dollars swindled from international peacekeeping funds. They said Defence Ministry should handle their P.R. and State House has no business with specific ministries news or communications. But interestingly Item Number 3 on the website is a JOB VACANCY FROM EDUCATION MINISTRY.


“The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announces vacancy for the position of Chairman of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC)”
is what is dumped right there on President website as the third most prominent update; an advertisement from Education Ministry!

Job Vacancies for the Ministry of Education where a certain functionary is dying to be appointed as the next Deputy Minister of Education.


So, if the ‘professionals’ at State House can cheaply turn the President’s website into an advertising agency for jobs, what is wrong with helping to protect the image of the Government from undue allegations about stolen international peacekeeping funds?

 

Frankly speaking, the entire State House website, like the so-called State House Communications Unit itself, is a huge embarrassment. The advent of social media has changed the way the world communicates. And if ‘professionals’ at State House are too thin-skinned to take my criticisms, they have no business being at State House. Going by the shabby state of State House website, many will agree with me that these ‘professionals’ are liabilities more than assets.

 

I hope no one at State House will call me a rabid dog for this piece. But if they do, I will not be surprised as their level of ‘professionalism’ makes them to be what they are. If State House who should be the backbone of the President is so unsettled, when middle level workers like Jarrah Kawusu Konte can publicly attack senior ranked officials calling them “loose canons” and “rabied dogs”- with the President refusing to act; I wonder! Is State House a battle field?

 

I have intelligence which shows Special Executive Assistant to His Excellency, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden has on many occasions, quietly saved government from many embarrassments.

 

All we want is for our dear government to govern in peace in all places under its sphere of influence, cyberspace included. So, if I write an article saying more government officials must join the APC non-officials on influencing social media, it is no reason to call Sylvia Blyden to be a rabied dog. President Koroma cannot appoint a woman who worked so hard for him in 2012 and then turn around and pretend not to see whilst his hirelings call her a loose canon and a rabied dog.

 

It will be more humane for President Ernest Bai Koroma to announce he has sacked Dr. Sylvia Blyden from her job than allow this ‘rabied dog’ insults to continue. Let our APC leader think on this as the situation now is untenable.


Meanwhile, those of us who joined the APC with full confidence in his leadership, are watching this saga closely – very closely. Ungratefulness is a sin and when we left SLPP, we did not think APC is an ungrateful party so we joined APC with all our hearts and have never looked back. Our APC leader, please do not put us to shame. The APC Tabule should belong to all of us!!!


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

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