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Disarmed and humbled

Disarmed and humbled

O My GOD! They’ve done it, by whose inspiration I have no idea. But to me a new day has dawned in the practice of journalism in Sierra Leone. I won’t call it a revolution but a distinct departure from the normal run of things. The pace setters are two younger gentlemen who recently stated their views on current affairs in our land, with which views I had expressed disappointment; they have now disarmed me and made me so pleasantly very humble. In addition they have given me hope and optimism that there are excellent prospects for good journalism in Sierra Leone. John Pa Baimba Sesey and Idissa Conteh, (Atomic Pen) in response to my views, have said such nice things about me, (both views could be found in the New Vision newspaper of Tuesday December 15) that for once I am at a loss for comment. All I can do here is to acknowledge their compliments and to let them know that no thanks of mine can enough express my gratitude. In just over six months, by the Grace of Almighty God, I shall hit 80, or to satisfy some of my detractors, 104. But from the two men I have learnt an excellent lesson in human relations, one that I pray would last me to the day of my recall. Thank you John and thank you Idissa. (Photo: Dr. Sama Banya)

In the months leading to the commissioning of the first phase of the Bumbuna Hydro project, there was much fanfare, yes, maybe even too much of it. Those of us who advised for the exercise of caution were regarded as malcontents and saboteurs who failed to appreciate that we were being brought from the darkest city on our continent to a country of energy and light which were going to bring us an industrial revolution that would lead us into a new utopia. Light was on the way and there we were failing to acknowledge, let alone appreciate a spectacular achievement of President Koroma’s government in just 24 months.

September 17 was crucial to the reputation of his Excellency. Now the teething troubles of a rushed job are making themselves felt. First it was the honourable minister of Energy and Water Resources who announced that Bumbuna was only supplying 60 percent of Freetown’s requirement of electricity; no wonder the frequent blackouts. This was in sharp contrast to his Excellency’s New York declaration that he had just commissioned Bumbuna which was now sending 24 hours of clean uninterrupted electricity to Freetown.

Over the weekend a team of SLAJ members led by their President Umaru Fofana undertook a sponsored tour of the works in Bumbuna. From various reports there is flooding of some villages with one of them completely surrounded by the flood waters. In addition, much farm land is now under water which will impact food security in the area.. There was an Environmental Impact Assessment Mission from the World Bank; I wonder whether they did not foresee this?

Next we have been told that only ONE of the turbines was working and sending 25 mega watts of electricity to Freetown and its environs. Further, that NPA has not developed the capacity to handle more due to the absence of transformers. The latter bring down the very high voltage that is transmitted from Bumbuna to a level that is suitable or safe for general distribution. In short, there was far too much haste in commissioning the project; at one stage I cautioned that we must make haste slowly, but who listened? The clock was ticking away to September 17.

There continues to be so many negative reports of the ongoing chieftaincy election. The debacle has led to court injunctions in some cases while in others there are reports of people introducing traditional rites in order to frighten opponents. In some other cases the courts have issued an injunction or ordered a revisit to the Declaration of Rights exercise etc. One wonders why his Excellency has not seen fit to put the whole thing on hold and carry out a thorough investigation, a suggestion that I had made before and which apparently fell on deaf ears.

The APC has this remarkable propensity to say one thing and act in quite the opposite way. The deputy minister of local government, one Raymond Kabia has featured very negatively in most of the proceedings. He is reported to have admonished the people of Kissi Teng in Kailahun district to heed the directives of the sacked minister of health Sheku Tejan Koroma as; according to him the latter was only waiting for a reassignment by the President. The same Skeku Koroma was also reported to have engaged in a verbal exchange with one of the candidates who he told the people was a thief. The man retorted that the former minister had been sacked by the President for just such a reason. Let me repeat that there were no such incidents in the 63 chieftaincy elections under the SLPP because that government insisted on the correct procedure of transparency and non interference in the exercise.   

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