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When the information minister speaks

When the information minister speaks

Thursday, 31st March 2011 happened to be the last press briefing for that month. It was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Information, Shaka Tarawalie and was very much to the task.

The host minister, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, in his usual eloquent manner, kept journalists spell bound as he took them on a ‘marathon’ of updates, given them a clear picture of current developments in the West African sub-region, especially events in Ivory Coast and war-torn Libya.

Contrary to earlier views held by a cross section of the public that the Ernest Bai Koroma-led government was doing nothing about our nationals residing in Libya and Ivory Coast, the minister took pains to explain government’s version of things that were happening in diplomatic circles to get our compatriots out of those two troubled countries.

By his explanation, fears should now be laid to rest: our government remains sensitive to the plight of our brothers and sisters in those two countries and that efforts were being made to return them home.

While addressing himself to domestic issues, Alhaji Kargbo spoke like the versatile and confident man he is. He was confident that his government was doing well and has done better than other governments before them.

“We are a brave government”, he declared in front of a jam packed audience.

This is the language of a man who knows the issues and the direction his government is heading to.

While making a conscious effort to glorify the successes of his government within a three year period, he was equally constrained to tell the bare truth: public displeasure over street trading and the attendant effect of traffic congestion in the city.

That is one truth no one can hide; even the most outspoken minister of information would admit that indeed street trading is a menace and a total embarrassment to a government that wants to celebrate the country’s 50th independence anniversary in a decent environment.

But how can that be possible when street trading has overwhelmed the city with motorists and pedestrians alike now finding it very difficult to maneuver across the city?

In any case, the truth has been said. The government has failed to remove the traders from the streets.

Indeed, we may hate I.B. Kargbo for what he is, but we can commend him for one good quality in him: he can speak his mind whenever he chooses to do so.

His jibe at the operation of the state owned broadcaster, the SLBC was like an upper cut in a boxing contest. ‘If you can’t perform as expected, we’ll fix you up’, he seems to say.

Many would view his statement that day as a threat, but would the SLBC crumble under that threat?

We wait to see.

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