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Is His Excellency listening?

Is His Excellency listening?

One of the attributes of any respectable journalist is the ability, the patience and thoroughness of what is referred to as investigative journalism. It is how a journalist reacts when tipped off on a good story of public interest with objectivity and impartial way that is devoid of personal bias or prejudice. (Photo: Dr. Sama Banya)

I have to say with much regret that this is not evident in 99 percent of our journalists in this country. It has to be admitted that many of them are simply interested in sensational headlines, in what may tantamount to deliberate character assassination. They carry a certain degree of arrogance and awe around themselves even as they delight in speculation and gossip. It is for this reason that when one comes across such a rare one, I would venture to say species that his attributes must be brought to the fore front. David Tam-Baryoh is a renowned journalist of longstanding who has got to where he is in the profession by dint of hard work and perseverance, accepting genuine criticisms and hopefully benefitting from them.  He has shed that pomposity which to me was always a pain in the neck.

David runs a radio station which was for a long time confined to the east end of the city, with coverage that hardly crossed the eastern police station. He runs a special programme MONOLOGUE which name suggests an air of absolute boredom. It is therefore with pleasure that as a former critic, I now acknowledge that not only is the programme not a bore, but one that is educative and delightful to hear. I had suggested once that the title was a misnomer but I suppose his listeners have got used to it and audience is growing.

In two weeks, President Ernest Bai Koroma will be celebrating THREE years in office. At his swearing-in ceremony 2007, he promised the nation that there would be “NO SACRED COWS” in his government. Again at his inauguration he promised to turn the country around and re-brand its image. Perhaps when he addresses the nation on his third anniversary he would not only catalogue the achievements of his government but would include how he has addressed the particular subject of sacred cows and the canker worm of corruption. We shall be all ears on that day.

In the meantime there is abundant evidence that some sacred cows do exist to this day. Corruption appears to be on a scale that may only be compared with the governments of Presidents Siaka Stevens and Joseph Saidu Momoh respectively.

This is where David Tam-Baryoh has made a breakthrough in investigative journalism. I would suggest, nay plead that listeners who didn’t hear last weekend’s programme would be given an opportunity to hear it in a repeat programme or preferably repeat three specific issues next weekend.

They are the Vouchergate affair in the College Of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) and the apparent deliberate attempt at cover-up and sacred cows. I would humbly suggest that his Excellency listens to that part of the programme or even to ask David for a copy of the tapes.

According to David someone attached to COMAHS had created a company to which he had channeled large sums of money on at least three separate occasions. Two separate payments for 12 and 13 million leones were made to two separate companies operated by the same person. Even with such large amounts both cheques were open and cashed on the same day. However the companies DID NOT exist neither did their addresses or telephone numbers.

Someone had tipped the President who ordered the Inspector-General of Police, not the ACC to investigate the matter. That notwithstanding the police did a good job and because they discovered fraud, the matter was referred to the Attorney-General’s office for necessary action.

That was some two months back and nothing, absolutely nothing has been done by the AG’s office; or if it has that office has not sent any opinion back to the Inspector-General.

The questions that need answers are firstly, why the AG’s office has sat on the file. Why has the minister of Education, Youth and Sports not followed the matter up with his colleague the AG as he was well aware of his Excellency’s directive as the fraud took place in his ministry? And have the police not reported the delay over their serious findings back to his Excellency even as the matter has had dragged on for two months?

In the meantime David Tam-Baryoh’s investigation has revealed that either ethnic reasons or the name of the person and his/her political connections may be factors that have contributed to the AG’s delay and silence. We must all join David in asking why. He has also heard that in spite of the ACC’s findings on the conduct of the Commissioner-General of the National Revenue Authority the only action being contemplated is to reassign him.

The non-comprosing journalist also wonders how a minister who had been removed from office for improper acts in his ministry could be sent abroad as the country’s envoy. As I have indicated if all of the above is accurate, where lies all the slogans of fighting corruption? Where lies the much touted ‘Behavioural Change?’

The case against Haja Afsatu Kabbah may only have been a smoke screen while some favoured ones are being protected. Zero tolerance to corruption and sacred cows my foot! We are neither amused nor impressed with the current events. And the For-di- people newspaper which is obsessed with the CJ, justice Toll-Thompson keeps tight lips over the COHMAS or NRA affairs.

Will Minister IB Kargbo tell us how many people in this country have access to the Internet to be able to read his APC online Daily Mail?  This man has nothing but contempt for the people of this country.

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