From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

President Koroma is not the State
By A Comment By Sylvia O. Blyden
Jan 20, 2010, 17:08

This piece is to help educate our good friends at Julius Spencer’s Premier Newspaper and Mohamed Bangura’s Atomic newspaper whose editorialising yesterday exposes a misunderstanding of the distinct difference between the respected gentleman currently acting as President of Sierra Leone and the State Nation itself. As senior journalists with years of experience, I expected much more from newspapers operated by Spencer and Mohamed Bangura.

President Koroma is not the State!! President Koroma leads the Governance of the State but he alone, is not even the Government. The Government is made up of the Parliament, Judiciary and Executive. So H.E. the President alone is not the Government let alone should he be mistaken to be the sacred State itself.

Gentlemen, the State is an entity made up of ALL OF US – You, Me, Ernest Koroma, John Benjamin, Charles Margai, Emmerson, all the borbor pains and titty strains, etc. etc. down to the least beggar on the street. Each and every single Sierra Leonean makes up the State.

Therefore, when the Police take up a criminal matter on behalf of the State, using State resources, they do so not on behalf of President Koroma, but on behalf of every single one of us in order to keep law and order in our society.

President Koroma is not a Life President. If he is lucky, in the next 30 odd months, we will be preparing jubilant scenes to celebrate his re-election. If he was not destined for a second term, by that time, he will be just another Mr. Koroma. So, let us stop turning our leaders into demagogues. Just look at Strasser today! In his twenties, he was called the "Pa". Where is the "Pa" today?

Gentlemen, the country expects you to educate the citizenry on these issues; inspire the citizens to first of all, know their rights and freedoms as enshrined in our Multi-party Democratic Constitution and to also stand up for those rights. This is imperative on us the educated opinion-makers since we are only now trying to consolidate our hard-won democratic culture!

Gentlemen, please avoid being lured into becoming proxy griots. Long after President Koroma will have handed over office and infact, long years from now when the President would have joined his forefathers in the Great Beyond, the State of Sierra Leone will continue to exist and so will the Archives of what we are penning down now!

Gentlemen, the other day, I was exploring with the youths of Koinadugu, the Nineteenth Century Published Report of the Year 1872 Expedition to Koinadugu of my Great Great Grandfather, Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden I, the great Panafricanist and oft-described foremost intellectual black thinker of his time, who explored the hinterlands of West Africa. His 1872 report currently in Her Majesty’s archives in Great Britain, opened up not just Falaba in Koinadugu but other places to the eyes of the Western World. I felt so proud when I read his courageous Reports and the published letters to him; one of which requested him to enquire after Livingstone during his expeditions. 138 years later, I have every reason to be proud of the work of my ancestor and 138 years from today, I want my descendants to also be proud of any work I am currently doing. This is why I cannot be cowed into selling my conscience regardless of how much unfounded opprobrium is heaped on my head to intimidate me.

Gentlemen, what you publish today is going to be read by your descendants decades from now. Do you want them to lump you into the category of sycophants and griots (yelibas) or do you want them to sit with their peers in the future and proudly say, ‘look at the mark my ancestor made in his/her days’? Please do not sell your conscience in this present! Think of the future! Where is Valentine Strasser today? Where is J.S. Momoh? Where is Siaka Stevens? You very well know that the Government is different from the State and the President is distinct from the State. So why portray otherwise in your editorialising?

If the President is personally annoyed over something, neither he nor any of his surrogates have the right to utilise State resources to help assuage his personal anger towards aperceived offender. It is to ensure such blatant misuse of State authority does not happen that National Constitution created THE OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN.

If I offend President Koroma’s personal sensitivities, neither President Koroma nor the Attorney General; neither the Inspector General of Police nor the Presidential Press Secretary has the right to use State resources to hit back at me. Such actions are shameful and a total disgrace to our democratic values. Imagine if Bill Clinton had sent his Attorney-General, Police Chief and Press Secretary to use State Resources to chase after and charge to court those journalists who first reported on the Monica Lewinsky scandal? Keep in mind that initially Bill Clinton vehemently denied the allegations!

What Sierra Leone needs now are strong institutions and strong-minded leaders in all spheres who will help us strengthen the foundation we inherited from former President Kabbah’s regime. What we certainly do not need now are cowards using State resources to hit back at a woman who offended the President on a personal level. There are better ways to spend our resources!

Bottom-line, whilst I gratefully appreciate President Ernest Bai Koroma granting forgiveness on a personal level to a friend who offended him, what I will NOT want anyone to make a mistake on, is the fact that the Government has no business forgiving me of anything. I did not offend the Government of Sierra Leone. On the contrary, it is Government operators who have seriously offended me with their abuse of State resources to settle scores on behalf of the President when the President is not the State nor is the State synonymous with the President.

Gentlemen, the President (Ernest Koroma) and the State (Republic of Sierra Leone) are not the same. Please do not confuse them as being synonymous. They are not. Maybe they were under the late Siaka Stevens but certainly NOT in this our contemporary democratic times. LONTA!

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.