Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 September 2014
Give credit where credit is due – the decibel breaking legislators and members of the executive arm of government bellowing their innocence and showing their displeasure at what they perceive as the media’s intransigence in a democratic setting, are displaying exactly why they are a bunch of spineless leaders who care about their image more, than the national interest.
Amidst a series of debilitating national crises, the staccato action of government in the Ebola fight is not a subject of discussion or parliamentary analysis; neither is the lack of social progression or the inability and unwillingness of government to safeguard its population.
To them, the perceived intransigence of the press ranks higher in the scheme of things.
Oh! So they want to shut the press up. Oh! so some of them know which law to use in our statute books to hammer the fourth estate of the realm. Yet none of them know what law to use to summon the President, when he shirks his responsibilities or to demand that the government investigate or take actions on some pressing national issues.
What a horrific own goal. No doubt acting in character, our political office holders are typically once more protecting their turf and interests, at the expense of the people and their pecuniary motives, over and above the safety of battered Sierra Leoneans.
Rather than give answers to the hard questions being asked through the press by the people of Sierra Leone, and declare a clear-cut position on some baffling policies of the other arm of government, the cry bullies and self-crowned lions have once more embarked on a misguided mission to tame and chase the leopard out of the forest, in order to restore sanity and preserve authority in their animal kingdom.
As a matter of fact, having been sweetened by the executive, the law- breakers (oops sorry lawmakers) suffered amnesia with their absolute daftness and capitulation to irrational irresponsibility, official dereliction and egotism. No wonder they are poorly regarded.
Our lobotomised goldfish parliamentarians, who can remember to pick up a fight with the press and not those who spoon feed them just don’t seem to get it that they are like an itch, and that at some point, every itch will be scratched.
They just don’t realise that they are no longer the flavour of the month which they believe themselves to be.
That their crass stupidity and irrationality, coupled with being a drainpipe of our commonwealth, makes them akin to those with whom we would not want running an egg and spoon race, let alone running the country; if we truly had our way.
It must be lost to their false trademark tendency of arrogance and impunity, that their repressive and bizarre squabbling with the press in the midst of social panic, is a reflection of the harsh reality that those we elected to serve us, as well as other appointed hangers-on in the corridors of power, have developed oversized ego and now see themselves as too important to condescend to the decorum of accountability.
While the recent ‘summon’ to media representatives for a discussion sounded like being called into the headmaster’s office (which is bad enough), the maniacal end result of pillorying the press and threatening it with sanctions makes you fear for the mental health of our omnipresent ‘gods’ in the two major political strata of governance.
Reports say the Justice Minister wants the law to bite hard; while the Defence minister sees the IMC (meant to be independent) as a paper Tiger; and the minority leader (Photo) of a moribund party (SLPP) is angered by the new found voice of a hitherto dormant media.
Well, for the information of those in the Executive and Legislative arms, what is emerging in recent months is that people across the broad spectrum of our society are increasingly disillusioned with exactly the sort of pious hypocrisy and air brushing of reality, by our slithery leaders who shamelessly manipulate or hide the truth.
The regularity of their tiny snowball of deception is causing a mighty avalanche of public derision, especially when everyone is beginning to realise that, all they care about is short-term advantage over long term national interest and political credibility.
Their disdain for the press and general impunity towards the people and their plight, which gives them the impression that they are a shadow above the rest of us, has for long been a silent irritant to a voiceless majority.
Their crass handling of some serious national issues is not a momentary aberration, but symbolic of a mind-set that is entrenched in complacency, cockiness and cliqueness.
The display of intolerance and outbursts in the safety of their hollowed chambers and realm of immunity, is an unpleasant behaviour especially in this social and politically sensitive period.
It indicates that those who, sniffing money gets the most fervent of them out of bed in the morning or at odd hours of the day, don’t really like it up their backside when cornered like church rats.
Because, if they had spared a thought for the hundreds of lives lost to Ebola, the gut-wrenching behaviour of our seedy lawmakers who are up in arms about their rancid reputation, would have realised that those at the bottom of the pile are challenging a system that robs them of their lives, cash and dignity.
Perhaps, if those in the two arms of government had paused a bit, they would have grasped the fact that the general tone of the nation, in the light of the devastating Ebola crisis has been appropriately grave.
Indeed, with their heavy load and burden, how many Sierra Leoneans actually knew that each of our MP’s received as much as sixty two million Leones (almost $14,000 or £9,000) to sensitise on Ebola, in a country where doctors and health workers were dying because the government could not afford to take care of them but prefers to wait for manna from heaven.
Apparently, where the workers are meant to survive on less than a quarter of a million Leones a month, these (dis)honourables also collect several thousands of dollars as constituency allowance, even when no one ever sees what they do with the money, and most reports give the impression that some of the ‘good’ deeds made public, are through the personal generosity and benevolence of the politicians.
Anyway, one would have thought that with the national lockdown, the parliamentarians and government ministers would have been in their constituencies leading the sensitisation drive and oblivious of such mundane issues as whatever aspersion is being cast upon them, until after Ebola had been conquered.
To my knowledge, serious politicians try to forget embarrassing past, mistakes or misconceptions by the populace. But of course, not in the case of our own power-drunk political elite, whose legendary fiddling at the edges is a roadshow that describes our spasm of democracy and political virulence.
Their questionable relationship with the democratic process, is often exposed by the veneer of the snarl displayed anytime tortuous horror mirror zooms on their deep ties of historical bungling.
This is why they often throw us into the river, just to declare the necessity of rescuing us.
But their passion and verve to get their own side of the story across, while also holding a sword of Damocles over the media and indeed the down-trodden masses, contrasts vividly with their lack of a framework to ensure that the government never let the people down again.
Whatever their perception however, they need to know that in this digital age, such threats to whip the press into line shows that their democratic ideals are still plugged to the stone age idea of “we are the Lords of the Manor”. No they are like leprosy.
I’m sorry – but to hell with them. They are our servants, not our masters.
And we, the people of Sierra Leone, through the fourth estate of the realm – no matter its shortcomings – have an implicit right to express our displeasure and disgust, as well as question the integrity and sincerity of our politicians in the murky world that they created themselves.
They are failing to realise that it is the same overbearing high handedness against the local press that has empowered the use of social media to express national frustration.
The political sluts in that house and across the corridors of power, who see the democratic outpourings in the media as an affront, would do well to get lost and find another day job where they can wield the big stick, whenever their great big yawn is disturbed or their leprosy scratched.
Let them remember just how carelessly they are right now sowing the wind. They must not complain when the time comes for them to reap the whirlwind.
Hope those of them who have ears will not only pause and listen to the national mood, but will also champion genuine change.
How I wish the much-maligned whimpering local press can display a strong backbone and not only ignore the barking tasteless threats of these enemies of democratic tenets and lovers of the glinting Teutonic grand design of a hidden political agenda; but also ensure a controlled contempt of the posturing, grandstanding, bullying and aggression – while daring the political class to do their worse. Enough is enough.