In Search of the President’s UN Message
Notwithstanding statements released concerning the itinerary of President Ernest Bai Koroma on the internet and over newspapers while in New York, the people have been waiting avidly to hear what their leader had to say after his sojourn at the UN Assembly.
But when the president called a press briefing yesterday at State House, it was revealed that the head of state had no concern in informing the press, and by implication the general public, but rather embarked on what can only be described as a charade with his hand picked political supporters.
The fact of the matter is that there was a serious flaw in how the whole press briefing was organized.
In honesty to President Koroma, the briefing was dominated by Members of Parliament and Ministers of the ruling government who were given the chance to ask questions.
The briefing, beyond all reasonable doubts, was not meant to be for members of the government, but rather for the nation to be briefed on what the president achieved, what he failed to do, and where he fell foul of expectations.
Unfortunately, the journalists were sent to the back of the hall while APC ministers and MPs occupied the place of prominence.
To a stranger to Sierra Leone, he or she might have assumed that the Ministers and Members of Parliament were the members of the journalists. Is this a press briefing?
There is a need for the present government to realize the importance of the press, especially the independent media, and not just their own paid up lackeys masquerading as independent media practitioners.
There is a time for a meeting with ministers of government and diplomats and there is a time for press briefings, especially after attending such an august meeting.
The president has a responsibility to the people in informing them about the progress or otherwise made, and this does not mean organizing ministers to fill the space of journalists. The reality is that such a situation will not augur well for any democratic dispensation, more so ours here in Sierra Leone.
To speak the truth the president did not make any appreciable comment worth writing home about.
The presidents answers, in response to tailor made questions fired by his own ministers makes mockery of the whole concept of a press briefing as it was all a mere embellishment of a tired speech already gone stale.
The issue of Guinea was not addressed properly, giving support to the already accepted general consensus here in the city, if not in the whole nation, that President Koroma does not have an answer for the troubles occurring in neighbouring Guinea.
There is also the issue of the Bumbuna, which has also suffered further hiccups, coupled with the concerns raised by the World Bank Group over compensation to affected land and property owners.
There is also the perennial problem of the police using live bullets against demonstrators in Lungi, for which there has not been any statement made or assurance of investigations.
There are a lot of issues the people will want to know, but it seems the president is more concerned with answering carefully concocted questions from selected Ministers, Members of Parliament and State House press while ignoring the important questions from the press.
The people want to know Mr. President and they want to know now.
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