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SLAJ and the reality check

SLAJ and the reality check

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has come a long way. In the past two years, it has gone through numerous and varied reformations, and this time, it seems a facelift has been added to the organization in terms of the manner of administration and organization. Now it can boast of a composite structure we can call a Secretariat as opposed to the creepy space it had on Garrison Street prior to the Umaru Fofana administration. (Photo: SLAJ President, Umaru Fofona)

News from the just concluded AGM in Makeni is also quite encouraging, coupled with the fact that all regional executives and secretariats are also very active and functional. Whilst this might be called a feat that was not in the infinity of SLAJs existence, we should also point out that other areas in the function of SLAJ are actually perishing to the extent that it appears SLAJ is not even existent when it comes to ad hoc advocacy and public representation.

We can also say its an achievement for the present administration at SLAJ to have been able to get the Supreme Court to make ruling on the constitutionality of Clause 5,6 of the 1965 Public Order Act even though it did not turn out to be the way SLAJ expected it.

But the truth still remains that SLAJ has reneged on the tradition of hard core advocacy and the continuous engagement of government on matters of policy and public interest. In the days of now ‘prodigal’ journalist and Civil Society Activist Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, it had almost become a matter of policy for SLAJ to be accorded a stake holder role in the running of the country. As such SLAJ had a say in almost everything of public interest that obtained in government parlance; serving as the voice of the voiceless and at the same time being the principal censor of our intermarriage government system where all arms of government are fused in purpose and in deed. That principally earned the organization the respect it carried as stake holder; underscoring it function as the Fourth Estate-the 4th arm of government.

The likes of APC-cum Ibrahim Ben Kargbo earned their ticket on the present government because of the stance SLAJ held and executed even though the administration of the association was not as serene as it is right now. 

But as sanitized as the present system in SLAJ is, it certainly is deficient of the steam that willed its fame and public participation. There is less engagement of the present government on public issue even though the imprudence of the government abounds. Reasons for this are not quite clear but the division that occurred after the last election when those that lost took to acrimony and divisive actions could not be dissociated from current happenings in SLAJ. Splinter organizations have shot up even though one cannot ascertain their survival but they have certainly thrown rubbles into the smooth existence of the organization.

Whilst the divisions in SLAJ now remain as part of the new reality, and equally so possess elements that suggest that to broker unification will be Herculean and seemingly impossible, this at the same time does not stop the organization from its requisite functions.

A few individuals must not disrupt the proper functioning of such a well established national organization that is of so much credence to the development of the country.

SLAJ must be able to function without the input of those that think they must hold it to ransom.

Alhaji Umaru Fofana as he is sometimes called and his team certainly need to turn such sleaziness around for the sake of the country and national development if not for their own sake.

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