Let professor David Francis carry his own cross

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”.

7 Comments

  1. Sierra Leoneans are obsessed with academic qualifications and forget the the fact that the world is gradually transforming into a ‘can do’ culture, rather than the amount of certificates that are accredited to a particular person. Most of the best politicians in the UK or US, and as well as many parts of the world don’t even hold a Masters degree. The PhD holders are found in lecture theatres and science laboratories.

    Holding a PhD does not necessarily mean that one is very intelligent or smart – it only means a particular person has read a lot in a specific field of study, and has satisfied the requirements for accreditation. There is an interface between intelligence (or smartness) and knowledge acquisition. Presumably, the author of this piece is trying to demonstrate that the Chief Minister, holding a PhD does not necessarily mean that he is the best politician in the country – there are other traits or attributes to go with it.

    In Sierra Leone, there are hundreds of people with PhDs and yet the country is one of the poorest in the world. Undoubtedly, there is something wrong or missing here. And certainly, there must be a shift of thinking in how the country perceive these guys with high academic credentials. Are these intellectual gurus – some with a tint of arrogance and a ‘know it all’ kind of attitude – the source of this country’s downfall?

    • “Most of the best politicians in the UK or US, and as well as many parts of the world don’t even hold a Masters degree. The PhD holders are found in lecture theatres and science laboratories.” Alimamy Turay

      Bra Turay, I beg to differ with you on the above assertion at least in the case of the United States. A law degree (JD – Juris doctor) in the United States is a graduate degree. Same with an MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree. A disproportionate number of US politicians are lawyers. Others hold master’s degrees in other disciplines. Few are Ph.Ds. If you have time, please google some of the 435 members of the US House of Representatives and the 100 members of the US Senate and you will agree that I am spot on.

      If the APC has no regard for intellectual or academic prowess as has been evident in the tenures of Siaka Stevens, Joseph Momoh and Ernest Koroma, pray tell me what did high school dropouts in the names of Moijueh Kaikai and Musa Tarawally, who were full cabinet ministers under Ernest Koroma, achieve for Sierra Leone? Justapose those two with Dr. Moinina Sengeh and Francis Ben Kelfala and you will agree with me that the cabinet should not be the domain of high school dropouts.

      Are you following the waves that Sengeh is making in the international arena with his scientific and technological knowledge? And are you aware that ACC Commissioner, Francis Ben Kelfala, has just been elected president of a major West African agency that was established to tackle corruption by his peers in the sub-region?

      Siaka Stevens’ disdain for intellectualism was summed up in the following phrase: “den say Bailor Barrie, u say Davidson Nicol?” He went on to destroy the educational foundation of Sierra Leone. Hopefully, Sierra Leone will rise again under president Bio.

  2. Finally the APC propaganda machine is now on overdrive since the COI is about to be concluded. They have abandoned the COCORIOKO propaganda media that is funded by the APC lifetime chairman and leader, and coming to this credible and well respected and balanced Telegraph Newspaper – trying to throw mud on the wall and hoping some will stick.

  3. Indeed, arrogance is one of the worst attribute of a man. It diminishes intellect and wisdom completely, rendering them totally worthless and mundane because of the egos unflinching desire to impose its degenerate will on the vulnerable and the weak. Francis ceaselessly barking out orders and pushing his subordinates around, clearly indicates that he is insecure, bewildered and afraid of confronting reality with the ease that comes with thoughtfulness and gentleness.

    But let’s be sincere, the whole army of Caterpillars dressed in green running our country presently are arrogant, tribalistic men with corrupt, malicious and devious tendencies. What has David Francis done for our people that is tangible, sustainable and invaluable to our nation that everyone can see today? What exactly? Absolute nothing! Only empty, boastful rhetoric and repulsive attitudes promoting the pursuit of personal and politically motivated vendettas.

    Again, I have always maintained that this SLPP government disguising themselves as priests and religious monks, are the most dishonest and corrupt people you can find anywhere on planet earth. Criminals with doctorate degrees that’s who they are.(lol) All of them, knee deep in outright thefts and corrupt practices, led by a President with shady, despicable ways.(lol Its crazy for men like David Francis and Saffa to even think they can fleece and milk this nation dry in secret and get away unnoticed with it.(lmao) Nope not happening, ever.

    We will watch them vigilantly like merciless Pit bulls and attack dogs hunting down thieves. Like lions outpacing their prey, we will stay with them everywhere as they run and finally devour them to pieces. That 1.5 million dollars of corrupt money that appeared out of nowhere belongs to them – Bio, Francis; and the rest of the criminal cabal cannot run away from it. Nope,they OWN it. Like the rest of their miserable, corrupt possessions, it belongs to them…..Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  4. I don’t know where the perceived arrogance that forms the nucleus of this article is coming from. Some of us knew Professor Francis before he joined the PaOPa Government. One thing you would not accuse him of is arrogance or show off. However one thing you would hate him for is discipline. Perhaps he is disciplined to a fault; and in Africa when you are disciplined you risk running foul with even your own compatriots.

    Professor Francis cannot be proud of his academic prowess as there are many others who have made similar strides. Dr. Alpha Wurie bagged his PhD before the age of 27. Dr. Francis Kaikai had his PhD before the age of 29. There are so many and I am sure that Dr. Francis knows about these brilliant academicians even within the government he is serving.

    Sierra Leone is known for killing or frustrating those who believe that only discipline in public and private office would expunge us from our current quagmire. Was GMT Kaikai not labelled arrogant and subsequently executed on false accusation because he dared challenge his boss Bambay Kamara by going after Bambay’s paymasters -corrupt businessmen and smugglers?Similarly Francis Minah who was the only person to tell Momoh as it was, was seen as a threat and the society connived to get rid of him. Once that was done, President Momoh became puppet and we all know how it ended.

    Maada Bio would be foolish enough, if at this time he does not come around the only disciplinarian around him. If he allow Professor Francis to go, as he threatened few months ago, which caused Bio and his wife to go clandestinely to Kenya to have the elder Francis our Ambassador to Kenya to talk to his brother to stay put, Bio would be exposed.

    I hope Bio would remember his statement to the TRC. In his statement he had claimed that the late SAJ Musa’s wife was overambitious and had pushed SAJ MUSA to do things that became daunting in the NPRC. Today, Bio’s wife (I still do not want to believe it) – I have heard, is pushing Bio against the Professor who is one of his most disciplined lieutenant in his government. It was the same for Alie Kabba I am told.

  5. Wow!!! A barrage of personal attacks wrapped in inaccuracies from an insecure APC apologist. Professor David Francis holds a Ph.D in International Relations from Southampton University in Britain. Although he was the head of the department of Peace Studies at Bradford University, he never attended that university. The APC-maligned Professor and Chief Minister is also the author of nine books and over fifty academic journal articles.

  6. It would have made sense to point out that the allegation made against our Chief Minister was fabricated and intended to malign his reputation, as subsequent investigations by CID and ACC have concluded. But if you are to admit that, you will be running the risk of then exposing the hidden hand of the APC party and their operatives to embarrass the Chief Minister. So, it is not surprising that you bring into question his academic background and his so-called perceived arrogance towards his subordinates to make it appear as if he deserves this humiliation.

    The fact is, Professor David Francis was very instrumental in bringing to light the massive theft and corruption under your APC party leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma, that has lead to the commission of inquiry and the subsequent declaration of the assets of the APC Ministers in an effort to find out the source of the excessive wealth most of them accumulated at the expense of our country men and women. And you can try as much as you can to muddle the water but the average Sierra Leonean is smart enough to see through your political calumny.

    Instead of directing your misplaced anger against people who are genuine in their commitment to transform our country, I think you should mount a spirited campaign to oust the old guards that have caused so much misery for your party; and to uncover why the APC party has become so detested and infamous in the eyes of our fellow Sierra Leoneans. There is a saying that those who intend to eat with their hands should ensure that their hands are clean, for risk of contaminating the food for others. Your attempt to castigate the Chief Minister can best be described as yellow journalism and another of your poop droppings.

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