Ibrahim S. Sesay: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2020:
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are independent entities and ought to know very well their mandate. The President calling them to a dialogue with regards how they should go about doing their job is suspicious. It’s just a trick to curry favour.
Hopes that CSOs would for once become vocal are further dashed. Just watch this space, you would never see most of them already known to majority Sierra Leoneans hold GoSL responsible on anything.
The journalists were once wooed by the president through cocktail parties. We all see what happened afterwards.
They automatically became reticent on burning issues but went ahead with twisted stories to deceive the populace, though social media caught them out.
It became shameful when journalists start looking at citizens in the eyes and tell crooked stories.
Sierra Leone journalists are dependent on government officials for information on host of emerging issues.
Even though AYV journalists went early to Pademba Road Prison during the riot on the 29th April, 2020, they could not give any independent report on what they saw happened on that fateful day, like CNN, MSNBC, FOX-NEWS, etc would do without fear or favour.
With their big cameras, they hide from the people all the scenes they filmed during the riot.
Journalists have become so afraid to ask government officials critical questions bordering on good governance.
When the Minister of Transportation and Aviation, Kabineh Kallon was seen taking part alongside thugs in the destruction of ballot boxes and other electoral materials in constituency 110 in Goderich in the presence of police officers, no journalists, including Umaru Fofana and Civil Society activists reported or wrote a single piece on that matter.
They all became morose and taciturn on such wanting destruction on public good.
Violence in Kono, Bo, Kenema and Kailahun immediately after the 2018 elections got glorified and legalized by that violence in Goderich as the perpetrators though known, none was arrested.
Had that been condemned loudly by CSOs and journalists, things would have been different with regards violence. They have to start nipping bad things in the bud.
This CSOs-President Bio meeting in sycophantic Sierra Leone is just going to keep them more silent than before on abuses of human rights in the country, unconstitutionality matters and bad governance issues.
I must doff my hat to Marcella Samba Sesay. She is special – a true patriot. Sierra Leoneans are no longer gullible. They see and understand what happened every day, and with a true conscience can make good judgement by themselves.
If the journalists and CSOs fail to intensify uncompromising pressure on government to deliver the general good for the people through honest criticisms, the people have eyes to see and a good conscience to draw conclusions.
We have to understand tese civil society organisations only represent a small section of society not all sections of society. Yes it is a good thing the President and his government are trying to engage with these organisations, after the recent spate of violence and political intermediation in the country. Whether the intention is to reassure weary Sierra Leoneans or trying to demonstrate to the international donor community, that all is quiet in the western front and government is working to lower the political tension in the country is a whole different kettle of fish.
Everyone knows the biggest elephant in the room that everyone tries to avoid is the opposition All Peoples Congress party. Iam not suggesting the President has not tried to reach out. My contention here is these two parties should not hold a gun over the head of seven million people in their game of brinkmanship. Some might see this longest running soap drama as taking part in a political drama series. But for the ordinary man and woman working in the markets of Krootown Road or PZ or indeed struggling people in other parts of the country trying to feed their families are not amused.
The power to elect public officials is in our hands – you and me. If these two parties can not sort out their differences, it is high time we elect a third party candidate and see where that takes us, or better still adopt the Swiss model of federal government. Take away centralised power from Freetown and hand it over to the paramount chiefs in the chiefdom. We are almost the same size as Switzerland but world’s apart in development.