After a protracted delay in the departure of the newly appointed press attaches to take up offices in foreign missions abroad, the government through the Ministry of Information and Communications Monday commenced a training programme for the new appointees at the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA).
Before he officially opened the workshop, the Minister of Information and Communication I B Kargbo maintained that the job of press attaché has to do with the commercialization of the country’s image abroad to attract investors and tourists to the country.
He said he had been under pressure from the appointees but noted that there were irregularities and financial commitment to adequately take care of their welfare, adding that , his Ministry , the Ministry of Finance, Foreign Affairs and the office of the Establishment Secretary are involved in the whole process.
“Appointments are irreversible because they have been endorsed by President Koroma” he maintained. He admonished them to carry themselves with great dignity out there and to assist their various Ambassadors in disseminating information that would project the image of the country, by interacting with journalists in their host countries. On the issue of capacity building, he cited Dr. Karefa Smart and Alison Conteh as some of the role models who pursued studies while serving as press attaches abroad.
“Because of the misperception about Sierra Leone each and every government Ministry
will be provided with a web site to inform people in the diaspora on what obtains in the country” he promised. The Director General of foreign affairs ambassador Umaru Wurie congratulated them on their appointments, and advised them to work hand in glove with their respective ambassadors to project the image of the country abroad. He explained that consultation is very crucial to the enhancement of any diplomatic mission.
He further stated that, their appointments were an opportunity for them to make a mark so that other colleagues would be accorded similar opportunity.
Peter Tayoung UNDP communication expert acknowledged the information attaches as professional journalists but warned that they are not going as journalists, but to interact with journalists in their host countries to market their home country. Rod Mac Johnson consultant of the national communication strategy said he was over whelmed to subscribe to the training workshop to move the country forward. “Your job goes beyond the acquisition of a diplomatic passport and other opportunities as your job will help Sierra Leone stand tall among nations” he observed.