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Missing the target

Missing the target

A writer is likely to be accorded a legendary status by his people when he writes a true and honest story but he becomes a villain when he writes a biased and untrue story. Such is the fate of Samuel Saquee who has become a villain among his own people for writing an unfair and fabricated story in his articles titled: “Mismatch and not embodiment of Kono political representation” and “The canker worm in the flesh of APC.”  (Photo: Tamba Gborie, author)

The two articles are a replication of each other, however they are worth reading. The articles are great, but there are questions to be asked about whether the articles were written in good faith, or deliberately intended to ridicule the media world by writing a biased and unbalanced article with no shred of truth and no evidence to substantiate the allegations made by the author. Moreover, whether the writer succeeded in achieving or missing his targets? It is obvious that people would want to know the precise answers to these questions. Against this background, I feel obliged to reply to both articles to clear the air for readers to make a firm judgement about the issues alleged in the articles. In contrast to recent articles about Kono, the political dispensation of the district does not reflect the issues alleged in the two articles written by Samuel Saquee. In retrospect, the two articles are a farce, misguided and the facts manipulated to the writer’s advantage intended to assassinate the character of His Excellency Alhaji Sam Sumana, the vice president (VP) of the Republic of Sierra Leone. The good thing though is that, within the entire Kono district readers were quick to condemn both articles outright for the unfair attack on the credibility of the VP. According to the people of Kono the line of action they took is without malice but to send a very strong message to the writer that they do not tolerate biased criticism. As a sign of determination the people have made it categorically clear how prepared they are to support the VP come 2012 general elections.

Since, both articles are geared towards change in the leadership dynamics regarding the position of a running mate to president Ernest Bai Koroma within the All Peoples Congress (APC) party, it is therefore equally important that the writer gets his facts right. Apparently, the articles were both written at a very difficult time when the writer was trying to cope with the Kimberlite blast that culminated in the loss of lives and properties. Therefore, the writer would be forgiven for his comments and violating professional ethics that binds all good writers. Perhaps the author’s anger directed at the right Honourable Sam Sumana is born out of the fact that as a victim of the blast his expectations were not met by the VP. What the writer does not seem to understand is that the VP cannot live up to everyone’s expectations. Besides the VP is only human and that he cannot act beyond his powers for a proper interpretation of the rule of law in a democratic state like Sierra Leone.

Ironically, the present political atmosphere in Kono district is not as gloomy as the writer blatantly put it in his articles. The political make-up of Kono district is the finest if not the most talked about in the country as a whole for being fair and open to constructive criticism. Once again, the writer would be forgiven for launching a smear campaign against an ardent hard working man to remove him from office on the premise that his presence is a hindrance to APC popular support in Kono. This is absurd, the people of Kono district found this very distressing and they have vowed to stand by the VP. Without doubt, this is a kick in the face for the author for failing to get his facts right and missing his target.

Much as I agree with the writer that it will be suicidal for him to remove the position from Kono, I consider it erroneous that he believes Sam Sumana is the right man to continue holding the position on the behalf of the Kono people. I believe it will do the President and the party a wealth of good if he is replaced by someone else from the district, because, rather than being an asset to the party in terms of winning the Konos over, his presence as VP will only chase people away from the APC, a process that is already unfolding. In this respect, if the intention of the President to have him as Vice President was among other things, to have the Kono people fairly represented, then it is hard time he started considering kicking him out and searching for potential VP materials in the district, which I believe is there in abundance. If the president is to stick with him, it will be considered by most of us Konos as him being concerned with having any Kono politician by him with little or no consideration of whether he is the true choice and representative of us”. (Sic)

This excerpt is taken from the writer’s article titled: “Mismatch and not embodiment of Kono political representation”. In theory, Samuel Saquee wants President Koroma to get rid of his VP Sam Sumana come 2012 general elections, but he failed to state any valid reason to attract the people of Kono to withdraw their popular support for Honourable Sam Sumana. Over the years several unwarranted criticisms have been directed at the VP, as usual the VP has always risen above unfounded allegations aimed at demeaning him. As charismatic as he is, VP Sam Sumana never throws any punches at his assailants like Samuel Saquee. He has always stood on the acronym; that the only proper way for a good leader to deal with those that have critical perspective about you is to defuse their criticism by giving them the opportunity to voice out their criticism. In fairness, even the devil has some good attributes but Samuel Saquee did not attest to the good attribute of Honourable Sam Sumana in his articles.  If someone was going to get rid of their maid in their entire household, they must have equally considered replacing her with a more competent maid. I quite agree with the writer that there are Konos out there that can equally occupy the position and deliver the goods as a VP, but he failed to come up with any meaningful suggestions or names of people to replace His Excellency Sam Sumana. To call for a change in leadership is fine, but to treat it as a comic story like Samuel Saquee did in his articles is awful. Conceivably it would have been better for the author to sound the opinion of the general Kono public before putting pen to paper.

During the Easter vacation whilst in Kono, I sounded the opinion of chiefs, youth leaders, journalists and other renowned people about whether the VP is doing a good job? And whether they will vote for him come 2012 general elections? I received a resounding “yes” to both questions. The people of Kono have confirmed that Samuel Saquee is standing alone in his quest to see the VP out of office. Already a defect in the writer’s campaign to oust VP Sam Sumana has started to show with prominent Konos and the chiefs distancing themselves from publications projected to drag Kono into a political mud-slinging.

From all indications, it is abundantly clear that the articles are stage-managed to test the resilience of VP Sam Sumana. The claims made in the articles are exaggerated, misleading and baseless to present an untrue picture of the VP. In “Mismatch and not embodiment of Kono political representation”. The writer wrote “If anything, he has at least succeeded in acquiring luxury vehicles for himself and his close associates and motor cycles for his band of hoodlums locally tagged as “long bench”, for the purpose of expediting their swift movement in and around town in furtherance of intimidating and perpetrating all sorts of unspeakable deeds on people he believe to be his enemies”.

From a broader viewpoint, the writer firmly believes that the VP controls a group of feral gangs going around Kono causing mayhem and threatening people. This raises several questions about law and order in the district as a whole. In this respect residents of Kono would want to ask the writer; what are the police doing in the face of crimes like this? Above all, why there is no press release about despicable events like this, as the author claimed? Once again, Samuel Saquee has thrown the credibility of our police and the media into doubt. However, thanks to an independent team that conducted investigations into the claims, the team concluded that there are groups of gangs operating in Kono district, but there is no evidence to link the VP to any gang activities within Kono. In the entire district itself the police, despite the difficulty of the work they do, have being remarkable in discharging their duties. Of course the media in Kono will not stand by whilst threat, intimidation and abuse unfold at their door step.

After reading the articles, you wonder how many people would want to read them for the second time around. The articles exhibit an outright attack on the VP’s credibility, the police and the newspaper writers in the district. I thought writers are role models in writing an honest, fair and balanced story? Nevertheless, the media world will be forgiven for failing to stand up and point out these flaws to the author.

With all respect to the writer, to say the least he clearly misses his target. The people of Kono knew that the articles should have been directed at the paramount chiefs (PCs) among other things; they have traded their freedom for longevity in power. ‘Kick backs’, bribery and corruption are just few of the hall marks of the PCs of Kono district.  There are several questions for the PCs of Kono district to answer regarding Koidu holdings and the Kimberlite incidents respectively. A good proportion of those questions will be directed at PC Paul Saquee for carrying a bulk of the responsibility regarding mining activities within and outside Koidu Town. In fairness, most people in the district admire PC Paul Saquee for his polite approach to issues affecting his people. But over the years he is gone from being a saint to an enemy. His money ‘grabbing tactics’ in the name of ‘NA HELP AH DAE HELP YOU’ is alarming. If this is what PC Paul Saquee calls helping the people then let him shove his help under his carpet because no one needs such type of help. Bribery coupled up with corruption aimed at reaping off from the poor has been exposed and he is now dubbed as an enemy of progress and champion of corruption.  Thanks to the media in Kono for working diligently to bring this to the attention of the general public. Once again I will draw the writer’s attention to one fact; ‘you can fool some people some time but you cannot fool all the people all the time’ says Bob Marley. In both articles the writer made a robust attempt to divert attention from PC Paul Saquee’s misconduct within and outside Tankoro. For some reason the writer briefly mentioned Koidu holdings but fell short of giving detailed analysis of the company’s activities. Can the author explain to us the several dealings PC Saquee and Koidu holdings have negotiated in the last couple of years and how this has impacted on the people inside Tankoro and Koidu town in general?  Can he also tell us why there is unrest among the people within the Kimberlite vicinity all the time? Absolute peace and tranquillity will only return to Tankoro and Kono as a whole if PC Paul Saquee abandons his double standard dealings with strangers and mining companies like Koidu Holdings.

In another article titled; ‘The canker worm in the flesh of APC’: the writer wrote “I doubt whether the Vice President has contributed a single cent towards the rehabilitation of our people since he came to power, so let him and his misguided student activists leave us alone”. The writer, a one time student activist himself should think again. If the writer thinks that those students are misguided, he is making a terrible mistake. People do not consider student activism bad as Samuel Saquee thinks. In fact, people regard student activism good to take on corrupt administrations. But Samuel Saquee has joined the bandwagon of corrupt writers to criticise students attempting to put the things right affecting their land. PC Paul Saquee should know better and withdraw the case from the court and resort to a gentleman’s agreement. Above all, PC Paul Saquee owes the students an apology for causing trauma in the lives of the students.

As Konos, it appears that we are losing sight of our aspirations; to work together and render support to the few Konos in better positions to enable us to develop our land irrespective of party affiliations. The people of Kono have evaluated the two controversial articles and concluded that the criticisms were not constructive but destructive intended to provoke an atmosphere of political mud-slinging and unrest. The people are eager to get their towns and villages sorted out. They are keen on living a better quality of life and improving their communities. What they are not prepared for is negative media aimed at causing unrest in the entire district.

It takes years to build a reputation, but it can be destroyed in seconds. If this is wrong then once again Bob Marley would never be regarded a legend for his attestation to reality. The two articles in contention would have made a perfect reading and the author a legend like his own very hero Bob Marley, if he had attested to reality by presenting a fair, honest and balanced article rather than stage-managing the facts.

Without question, the opinion of the people of Kono rests with the fact that the writer misses his target and constructive criticism should be reasonable and just for the public to make a fair judgement.

Tamba Gborie, London, UK

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