From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

COMMENTS & OPINIONS
Youths Will Salute Where Sierra Leone's President Fails BUT...
By Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Mar 1, 2010, 15:28

I have to confess that sometimes I do feel sorry for our President and believe it or not, there is not a single daily prayer I make in which I do not include him in the list of people I ask God to guide and protect in his duties. It must be difficult balancing the act of accommodating the views of various interests groups without hurting one over another. Just take a look at the ridiculous pressure the President had faced from a few misguided souls who wish to browbeat him into relieving Afsatu Kabba, his hardworking Minister of Fisheries & Marine Resources of her duties. President Koroma has, rightfully so, refused to succumb to them BUT whilst he is to be praised for standing his ground and doing the right thing, he is to be faulted today and in the future over his gross inability to publicly acknowledge the great work that Afsatu Kabba has done at that Ministry since he sent her there just last year. It is unkind for Mr. President to see nothing wrong in publicly lambasting his Ministers only for him to refrain from doing the corollary:- Publicly praise them when they deserve it!

Take the case of Haja Afsatu Kabba who should today be lifted sky-high by President Koroma as a heroine but who is being vilified so unfairly by people. There are wild rumours that Haja Afsatu Kabba will be charged to court this week but I tell you my people, that woman named Haja Afsatu Olayinka Kabba is a blessed woman who will continue to triumph over her enemies even if charged to court. Just look at what happened this past weekend when, once again, due to the innovative steps she has brought into the Ministry, another two Ghanaian trawlers named Tsu Kwei 1 and Tsu Kwei 2 have been caught poaching illegally (What is it about these Ghanaian trawlers?!).

That is not all. Guess what else? The two trawlers are said to be linked to the same infamous Damorbak Company as their local agents! Do readers recall the name Damorbak? If not, well let me cast your minds back! The Local Agent of Damorbak is a member of the FISH MAFIA who, a few weeks back, made false allegations against Haja Afsatu Kabba in the case of two other Ghanaian pirate vessels, SeaGod1 and SeaGod2 that were intercepted and charged to court for illegal poaching!! If there is any justification to dismiss those unsubstantiated Damorbak allegations against Haja Afsatu Kabba, last weekend’s catch of TsuKwei1 and TsuKwei2 was it! Indeed, as the Creoles say: GOD NOR DEY SLEEP!

All what Afsatu Kabba has been doing is to work for Sierra Leoneans to benefit from their God given Marine Resources and in the process, she has stepped on powerful toes! And these fraudulent powerful toes employed an army of tactics including unscrupulous journalists, to bring down a woman who should be hailed inside this country!

Yes, I insist that Honourable Afsatu Kabba is a heroine. There have been so much lies against the woman that those in possession of the full facts of the matter have been flabbergasted at the viciousness exhibited both within and without the world of journalism! Some people whom we had come to expect the most of within the corridors of journalism have simply let themselves down with the arrogance they have portrayed in their coverage of this matter.

How can anyone call out for "Down with Reckless Journalism!" when he manufactures non-existent quotes from an Anti Corruption Commission Report and uses the manufactured quote to recklessly defame another person?

How can anyone stand up and barefacedly speak against "personal interest journalism" when he has brazenly turned himself into a tool to be used to serve the interests of his personal associates?

How can anyone say he is promoting the good and eschewing the bad when he refuses to retract a grossly malicious and defamatory international news broadcast; which refusal and delay might eventually cost his Principals in London a whopping sum of money in damages?

In a continuation of the malicious attacks on the Honourable Minister, some people want the world to believe that the Anti Corruption Commission found her wanting for what they quoted as "fraudulently awarding a contract which served only personal interests". The 22-paged Report on Income Electrix is readily available! It is also searchable in electronic form which means it takes only a matter of seconds to click and know if it contains any of the following words: (1)fraudulently (2)personal (3)interests. It will also be good to read the second paragraph of Page 19 of that cited Report.

Poor Afsatu Kabba has borne the brunt of a sustained campaign to humiliate and defame her. A campaign by those who fear her growing nationwide popularity! Hon. Haja Afsatu Olayinka Ebishola Kabba is tall, black & beautiful, well spoken, well educated, has a commanding presence, has charisma and she is so very likeable which all translates to her massive nationwide grassroots support! FACT!

And so those who fear her crowd-pulling charisma make up allegations. There is a new allegation against Afsatu Kabba every other day. Today, it is black magic at Waterloo; tomorrow she stole lands under SLPP and the next day she is a secret PDP backer. Then will enter the Concerned Coward Elders with their barely literate, anonymous letters, etc. etc. There is a new allegation every single day!

For example, there is the oft-repeated nonsense that Haja Afsatu Kabba employed her sons to work at her ministry. One tabloid even published letters of appointments complete with names of three of the alleged ‘sons’! And they want the President to take action on this erroneous allegation? How can he?

For those who do not know, please be informed that before he moved to Hill Station after he won the Presidency, H.E. President Ernest Bai Koroma and his family lived for some fifteen years on the same street in Marjay Town, Goderich as Haja Afsatu Kabba, her husband and four sons. The two families (Koromas & Kabbas) lived just a few yards apart on the same hand of the same street and knew each other quite well for some fifteen years!

President Koroma knows all of Haja Afsatu Kabba’s four sons not only by face but by name. In African tradition, it is correct to say he helped to bring the four sons up. And this is why he must have laughed to himself when he saw a local tabloid publish the names of three people referred to as "sons" of Haja Afsatu Kabba of which only one was her son. None of the other names are even nephews let alone blood relatives! Indeed, many are curious to know the truth behind this talk about ‘Employment’ of Hon. Afsatu Kabba’s sons.

HERE ARE FACTS:

Twelve (12) young people who believed in the vision of President Koroma to realise revenue from our coastal waters, volunteered their time and energies to serve their Nation as UNPAID temporary surveillance officials who then uncovered massive fraudulent activities that were taking place all over the country’s coastal beachfront. They were not formally employed and they had no office space at the Ministry. They were mere volunteers who worked directly with the Director of Fisheries to whom they reported any sign of illegal fishing for the latter to speedily take action upon. My investigations reveal that these UNPAID youth volunteers were even granted audience with His Excellency the President during which the enthusiastic youths briefed him on the HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL outcome of their volunteer efforts.

Their efforts at uncovering illegal fishing and communicating these back to the Ministry, speedily resulted in an exponential increase in the revenue generated within just nine months. This was because rather than being caught in fraudulent fish activities and forced to pay a heavy fine as mandated by Law, fish businesses recognising the stepped-up surveillance by the youthful volunteers, rushed to regularise their fish businesses and this is precisely part of the reasons why income from licenses and royalties jumped exponentially like NEVER BEFORE. There are other reasons I will look into later if need be!

Anyway, the aforementioned twelve (12) volunteers refused to accept bribes but worked tirelessly to unearth illegal fishing along the entire coastal line; all in a bid to help realise the dream of the APC-led Government of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.

These twelve youths MADE A LOT OF ENEMIES WITHIN THE FISH MAFIA but they did not care since their youthful energies were being channelled into helping Mr. President’s vision come to fruition. They worked as unpaid volunteers well within the ambit of all relevant Government Codes. There was absolutely no evidence of corruption in anything they did!

Of the 12 unpaid but enthusiastic volunteers, only one volunteer was the son of Afsatu Kabba; a young man in his late twenties, who returned home after studies in London and whilst waiting to clinch a permanent job, offered himself to help realise the President’s vision. Today, Abdul Wahid Kabba, rather than getting ‘Thanks’ has gotten ‘Opprobrium’.

Although I have not spoken directly to him on this, the young man might, rightfully so, be frustrated. He was expecting a lot of appreciation over how their team helped cause a rise in revenue from 4 billion leones to over 11 billion leones in just nine months but he is faced with sustained opprobrium which, it is reported he told the Anti Corruption Commission, is ironical!

It is even reported that he insisted to the ACC that he did not want a lawyer with him whilst he was making his statement to the ACC because he had done nothing suspicious that warranted having a lawyer. It looks foolhardy that he turned down a lawyer but it also sends a strong message out!

Yes, the only son of Hon. Afsatu Kabba who volunteered alongside 11 others, to help increase fish revenue, insisted that he would make his statement to the ACC without the help of a lawyer. That is how confident and proud he is of himself and his service to this Nation!

I feel sorry for Abdul Wahid Kabba and the eleven others whose sleepless nights and hardworking days resulted in helping the Ministry raising an excess of 11 billion leones within nine months where the Ministry had been expected to raise only 4 billion leones within one year!

I feel sorry for these twelve youths because today the issue is not how they managed to help the Director raise an excess of 7 billion leones but that one(1) of the 12 unpaid volunteers was the son of the Minister! No journalist has attempted to elicit how the revenue rose exponentially to eleven billion leones and what was the role of these 12 youths in this venture! Nope! Not one!

Yes, instead of saying thank-you to these twelve young people, their surveillance unit got lambasted and their efforts have gone unacknowledged! Thank God for Afsatu Kabba who gave them certificates of appreciation on the day the unit was dismantled; dismantled because of the orchestrated brou-ha-ha. And we wonder why Change of Attitude Campaign is failing? How can it succeed?

Now, inasmuch as we sympathise with our President’s difficult job he faces, I insist that instead of faulting President Koroma for not removing Hon. Afsatu Kabba from office, I believe we, as a Nation, especially us the relatively younger ones, should fault him for not stepping up to the plate and publicly acknowledging how these twelve young men helped his visionary female minister to perform what is definitely a yeoman’s feat! 4 Billion Leones annual target increased to excess of 11 billion Leones within just nine months and our President cannot even say Thank-You or Publicly acknowledge these young men? This is where I am faulting our President! And this is where MANY YOUNG PEOPLE are going to most seriously fault His Excellency at the next 2012 Presidential Elections! The Youths will salute their colleagues for the job well done BUT the President will regret that he could not also salute these youths and so many, many others in similar straits of unrecognised status today. There are so many hardworking youths who share the vision of the President and are working hard to help him achieve his vision but Mr. President is refraining from publicly acknowledging them. This is something he will regret. The hardworking youths deserve better Your Excellency! They deserve your open support sir.

Finally, contrary to what a few arrogant, unprofessional, journalism goblins say, Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans have every reason to be PROUD of what Hon. Afsatu Kabba has done at the Ministry of Marine Resources over the last nine months. This is why, I, Sylvia Olayinka Blyden salute Hon. Afsatu Kabba and her innovative strategies and hardworking team especially those twelve young men whom have now been unfortunately disbanded.

I salute them all even if President Koroma is unable to salute them! Bravo young men! Bravo! I salute all twelve of you for your service to this Nation!



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