Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 November 2019:
The reactions from within and outside the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) to the alleged wiring of $1.5 million by SL Mining into a local bank account being allegedly operated by the Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, has shown that he seems to be one of the most disliked politicians in the Bio administration.
I will not go into the journalese of the matter itself because even fly-by-night journalists have explained or written about journalistic ethics and political highhandedness, with so much punditry, that remarking on them now would make my comments superfluous.
I will not even comment on the rightness or wrongness of the hullabaloo provoked by Professor Francis’s kneejerk reaction like Macbeth when he first sees King Duncan’s apparition.
My purpose in today’s One Dropian dropping is to examine two issues. One is that of Francis-ians trying to shift the goalpost from the real issue at hand. And the other is the seemingly justifications for Professor Francis’s alleged arrogance and aloofness towards workers at State House, or SLPP stalwarts generally, simply because of his academic accomplishments.
I think it is fallacious for Francis-ian apologists to infer that the alleged $1.5 million bribe is the ghost of the SLPP’s Governance Transition Team (GTT) Report 2018 which has come to haunt the Chief Minister.
What an allegation of bribery, against a man who has carved a saintly reputation for himself, has to do with the APC as a party?
If anything, Prof. Francis became the whistle-blower himself the very day he allegedly forwarded the journalist’s allegation-seeking-clarification text message to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
To remotely argue that the journalist, Sallieu Tejan Jalloh, might have decided to investigate the alleged bribery because he has “APC-leanings” could be likened to a situation in which a father is arrested for a crime committed by one of his sons of which he has no inkling.
This is not a Garden-of-Eden issue in which sinless babies are expected to inherit sins by proxy! The issue at hand is the $1.5 million bribe allegation not the Commission of Inquiries (COIs). And if we are not talking, or writing, about the COIs then why bring the GTT Report into the narrative?
Even the disguised argument that Professor David Francis should be implicitly arrogant because he is “…one of very few… [Sierra Leoneans] to hold a PhD degree without first having a Master’s degree…” is out of place.
He is not the first Sierra Leonean to have achieved such a feat. The late Cyril Patrick Foray was a Professor at FBC without having a PhD? If being a professor should make one arrogant then why has Dr Abdul Karim Bangura, the only Sierra Leonean with five PhDs, never been recorded talking down on his compatriots?
What about Osman Sankoh aka “Mallam O”, the current Statistician General, whose academic accomplishments I am still trying to coin an epithet for? Despite all his international academic achievements, “Mallam O” has never been known for looking or talking down on his subordinates.
And to beef-up the bone above, while I was a student at, and of, the Mass Communications Department at Fourah Bay College (FBC) I knew, and still know, more than two of my lecturers who held, and still hold, Master’s degrees without first having undergraduate degrees. Even in my newspaper, The Nationalist, there is a senior Editor-cum-columnist who, without first having an undergraduate degree, holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communications from the University of Leicester (one of the best universities in the entire Western Europe in terms of Mass Communications research).
And for someone to try further to justify Prof. Francis’s alleged brashness simply because he became “a professor at a relatively young age…” is also out of sync with workplace ethics and inter-personal relationships.
Now let me analyse this “professor at a relatively young age” phrase. My research posits that Prof. Francis reportedly majored in History at FBC. After Fourah Bay College, there were years of in-betweens before he went to Britain to specialize in Peace and Conflict Studies at Bradford University.
Now my argument: From the time he left FBC to the years of the in-betweens, and to the time he went to Britain; he could have been over 30-years-old. My argument is based on the supposition that he sat the O’Level exams only once at the age of 18 (depending if he didn’t repeat a “Class” or “Form” throughout his schooling); took five years at FBC to acquire his BA Honours degree, and the years of the in-betweens before going to Bradford University.
And my research shows that in the United Kingdom, “…It can take at least eight years of college education to become a professor. Completing postdoctoral education or gaining working experience in one’s field can add to the time it takes to earn a faculty position.”
So let me hypothesize here again that the then Mr David Francis could have been 35-years-old when he started his PhD programme and that it might have taken him at least eight years working “on his field of specialty” at Bradford University before attaining his professorship. That means, I’m still postulating, he could have been over 45-years-old when he became a Professor.
That in itself, by Western standards, is not “a relatively young age” because some people get their professorship below the age of forty! A clear example is Alia Sabur, an American Materials Scientist who was born on 22 February 1989. She holds the record for being the world’s youngest professor. This is what can be called “a relatively young age” for such an academic feat.
And why are accomplished intellectuals like Benjamin Bradley Bolger and Michael W. Nicholson not being overbearing towards their compatriots because of their academic accomplishments? Bolger, who was born in 1975, “is a perpetual student who has earned 14 degrees and claims to be the second-most credentialed person in modern history after Nicholson who has 30 degrees”.
They both hail from Michigan in the United States of America. Why is Dr Abdul Karim Bangura, the only Sierra Leonean with five PhDs, not putting up ostrich feathers?
Experience has shown that arrogance is an innate trait which a person exhibits even without any academic accomplishment. Even amongst beggars in the streets of Freetown, there are some who are just overbearing in their rags! They beg with effrontery as if the would-be giver is bound by the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone to give them alms.
So let no Francis-ian apologist tells me that the Chief Minister should be arrogant because of his academic achievements.
My advice to Professor David Francis is this: He should learn to tote his own cross the same way others in the Bio administration have been toting theirs.
As Chinua Achebe notes in his novel, Arrow of God, “a man who brings home ant-infested faggots should not complain if he is visited by lizards.” Or as the lawyers would say, “He who comes into equity must come with clean hands”.