The resignation of James Sanpha Koroma as Secretary and Principal Adviser to the President came as no surprise to some of us, for it is true that, in such a situation when blunders happen, there must be somebody to take full responsibility for that, and this had been our expectation of Kemoh Sesay.
Anyway, the resignation of Sanpha Koroma must not be the end of the matter as there is need to thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading to the President being embarrassed, and those two civil servants who took upon themselves to act on behalf of the Secretary to the President without his consent, or that of the President’s, should be brought to book, and face the music.
If this is what other government functionaries could do whenever they are embroiled in such issues like that of Sanpha Koroma, then, we could boastfully say, our politicians are moving towards the people’s expectations. Politics is not just about attaining power, but also, giving account and taking responsibility for whatever wrong may have occurred.
I have looked at Sanpha Koroma, and I am compelled to say that, he is the proverbial cat with seven lives. Looking at his life from the days as a civil servant in the finance ministry to Momoh’s economic emergency, when he quickly fled the country in the face of allegations by the then government over his actions as head of the National Development Bank and later coming back under the Kabbah regime and appointed Bank Governor, but had to leave when his contract was not renewed due to ACC investigation, and his coming into political prominence also under the Ernest Koroma APC regime. And now, due to embarrassment he caused to the office of the President, he has again exited a high profile office under a cloud.
With his resignation, he will certainly go back into his private life at the Union Trust Bank as Executive Director. But in the midst of all this, somebody has challenged me that, Sanpha Koroma was going to make a come back in the political arena, notwithstanding the view that, he has promised to return to private life. Yes, if that is to be the case, then truly, he is the proverbial cat with nine lives.
With this, I welcome you to the Information Ministry. There have been successes in averting strikes by workers at Salpost, and an on the spot visit by the deputy minister to places like the government print department, and other interventions by the ministry.
This is the first Information Ministry that has been able to maintain a regular weekly news briefing. That takes extra skills to be able to do that because; even when Professor Septimus Kai Kai was Information Minister, it was very difficult for the ministry to organize a regular weekly briefing and this could be a success story for IB and crew.
The Information Ministry has also been able to spin government policies and issues to the general public through the Media. Spinning is a process and not an event. IB. Kargbo and his deputy have been media friendly and as such, even when the government is at times faced with difficulties in making people completely accept their policies, IB has always been on the defense side.
Notwithstanding these scores by the Ministry, there are loopholes that must be looked. One of such issues has to do with the closure of the SLPP radio station recently by the Ministry. Although the government, in a news release on May 10th denied closing the station, through their spin doctors, namely I B Kargbo and Alpha Kanu, in reality, the station was closed, and that created some embarrassment for the government.
Even during the days of the SLPP, I never heard of, or saw a situation wherein, any radio was shut down. The SLPP, to an extent, allowed press freedom to exist in the country, so when the APC did what was not expected of them, then some of us had to condemn such act
Another point is the state of SLENA. Since the Minister was appointed, I learnt, he has never attempted to visit SLENA to get himself au fait with issues at the Sierra Leone News Agency, and it is a reality that SLENA is in a deplorable state. The ministry must do something to ameliorate the condition of that department.
There is also the Communication Strategy that was initiated by the recent past government. It is true again that, Kalilu Totangi was appointed to spearhead the strategy based on his political lineage with the SLPP. But since Totangi was removed from office as Consultant, hired by UNDP, much has not changed. So we must be told of the status of the Communication Strategy, because, that even led to the creation of District Information Officers, who were initially recruited, but dumped by the past and present government.
Most of those employed as District Information Officers have either resigned their jobs, or, are engaged in other jobs, as a result of the frustration they are getting from the ministry. Imagine, paying them less than $1,000 and those at the Coordination offices receiving thousands of dollars. It sounds ridiculous.
The more people talk of SLBS, the more it becomes a boring issue. When the current information Minister was President for SLAJ, he advocated for the privatization of SLBS. It is unbelievable, therefore, that, with IB Kargbo as Minister of Information, nothing has happened. The state of SLBS is appalling to say the least. SLBS is begging for attention from government, just like SLENA, and the District Information Officers.
Or do I need to tell you that despite the pressure that IB was putting on the SLPP government for the repeal of the 1965 Public Order Act, he has not only proved to be unwilling to do away with that law, his government has become even more resistant to the issue.
When the government took over almost a year ago, Press Attaches were appointed to serve our various embassies abroad. But as I write, those press attaches have not left the shores of the country, much to the disappointment of what people had expected. They have also been put in a funny position. Recently, I was at State House, to attend a news briefing. When somebody announced himself as a press attaché designate, everybody was laughing. They should have gone as they too could help in repairing our battered image at the international arena, but the information ministry seems not to be pushing that issue.
A press attaché serves either as a diplomat or as a member of the support staff, who monitors various issues related to areas of intervention. To this end, he undertakes the planning for decisions which will be taken and makes all necessary arrangements, manages the agenda, conducts research for the study of particular matters, and acts as representative when necessary.
Recently, the Tourism Minister told me of plans to engage the Attaches in selling our image to the outside world, so the information ministry should do all it could to address this issue. But with these few problems, the Information and Communication ministry is bound to score more marks, haven scored slightly above 52%. This is my view. Till then, [email protected] is my email By John Baimba Sesay