By Lansana Fofanah…..
The Missing Links Between the Africanist Press Publications & The Fight Against Corruption in Sierra Leone
According to an African proverb, when you got bitten by a snake once, the presence of a lizard is enough to get you scared. That is how the word corruption is perceived in Sierra Leone as people tend to see everything as corrupt especially when they are ill-informed.
Like many before him in Africa, President Julius Maada Bio had indeed gone through the crucible of the media, and his second coming to State House is a reality his critics find hard to gulp down their throats.
In today’s social media-dominated society, the best way an opposition could destabilize the progress and achievements of a ruling government is to disseminate lies, distort information, and play on the gullibility of the illiterate masses through surrogates.
Before the name Adebayoh rings a bell even in the last village in Sierra Leone, the reason being, he emerged as a social media nuisance by reigning invectives and obscene languages on authorities through his recorded audios for he is a stark illiterate.
For someone who never darkened the corridor of academia, Adebayor saw the emergence of social media as a perfect opportunity to promote the destructive agenda of his All People’s Congress party by promoting violence, spreading hate speech from his asylum hideout in Europe.
The talk of the town was “have you listened to the latest audio from Adebayor?, He has abused the mother of this and that leader again”. Some media buffooneries even dared to call Adebayoh a credible and fearless journalist without knowing the repercussions of his hate messages on the youthful population. What a shame!!
Like a castle built on sand, Adebayoh and his spewed voice notes are a thing of the past for he has ran out of oxygen even before the match begins and no sane person even in the All People’s Congress would love to listen to his antics anymore for they also got their share of his rudeness.
Amidst the demise of Adebayoh, comes his comrade; Chernor Alpha Bah, of the Africanist Press, who is now on the rampage to create a niche for himself in the eyes of the international communities.
Before now, little or nothing was known about Bah and his Africanist press in the media landscape of Sierra Leone.
His recent interview on Radio Democracy 98.1 confirmed that he is not a journalist but a political activist hiding behind propaganda motive to smear the image of the government of Sierra Leone.
Therefore, seeing him releasing baseless, biased, and unfounded correspondence of allege corruptions can only come as surprise to those with little or no media background.
After his failed attempt to be at the echelon of the Sierra Leone People’s Party, Chernor Alpha Bah now resorts to serial blackmail against the New Direction government; a game he is enjoying at the moment.
There is hardly any top government official that Chernor Bah and his Africanist Press have not blackmailed; ranging from the Financial Secretary, Sahr Jusu, the First Lady Madam Fatima Bio, the Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, and Babadi Kamara of Leadway Trading to name but a few.
Before the establishment of Leadway Trading Company, the timber industry was known as a mafia cartel with no accountability and transparency on the sales and proceeds from timber. Having realized that the government was losing billions of Leones from the trade, Leadway was awarded in 2018 a contract as the sole agent for the exportation of timber.
For the first time in the history of the trade, Babadi was able to generate a whooping sum of US$54 million United States dollars. That was never great news for the Africanist Press and Chernor Bah who in turn accused the Agency of embezzling the sum of Five Billion United States Dollars from the sale of timber.
Even a lunatic would find it hard to believe that such a huge amount could be tagged to the country’s foreign reserve not to talk of generating such from the export of timber. Yet he stood on a clay-legged report that was later debunked by the Audit Service as an error in the calculation of tax levied in the yearly budget in 2019.
Enjoying his first bite on Babadi and Leadway, he took on the Office of the First Lady and the Hands Off Our Girls project which to him was a waste of taxpayers money without realizing how the presence of Her Excellency, Fatima Bio, in the campaign against sexual violence saw the establishment of a Sexual Offenses Court and created more awareness on issues of girls in our society.
Before, it was taboo to openly talk about girls and menstrual circles which used to deprive many school-going pupils when they are observing their menstrual circle. But with the sanitary pad project of Fatima Bio, girls are now secured to get a healthy education.
For the first time in the history of Sierra Leone, Fatima Bio was able to champion women and girls issues to traditional leaders across the country; something that was considered sacrilege in the past. Through their endorsement, there has been significant improvement in the fight against rape and teenage pregnancy.
Under-age girls are now considered as children of Fatima Bio and any attempt to defile them or to trample on their rights will be a challenge to the policies of Her Excellency.
Such a national awareness would not have been achieved had she kept her lips sealed and decided to ignore thorny issues that have eaten the fabrics of our society. Yet, Chernor Bah failed to tell the world how an earlier campaign of any First Lady before Fatima Bio would have saved the life of young Khadija Saccoh who was rumored to have died of sexual advances and many other victims of sexual violence.
Being the Chief Minister of a government means you should be ready to take every bullet that is aimed at either the Presidency or the administration because seeing things done in the New Direction way stands to be the ultimate goal.
Such has been the plight of Professor David Francis, the current Chief Minister of Sierra Leone.
For a man who superintends over several agencies including the Directorate of Science and Technology, oversees the fulfillment of government policies, he has been the target of many for they believe he is the architect of the New Direction.
Amidst blackmail and press war against him, Professor Francis has been able to bulldoze and keep government officials on track within these years of administration.
Before President Julius Maada Bio came to power in 2018, the International Monetary Fund and other donor partners called it quit because transparency and accountability were at their lowest ebb.
Few months in governance, it took people like Professor David Francis, the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, and key others to reactivate the country and restore the lost-confidence of investors.
The country can now boast of having a strong international presence with multi and bilateral ties in place.
Under the leadership of President Bio, Sierra Leone is now eligible for the Millennium Corporation Challenge Compact which has never happened before. Thanks to the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Francis Ben Keifala who was recently recognized by the United State government for his work in the fight against corruption. Yet, Chernor Bah and cronies never have the balls to tap the government at the back but busy throwing spanners in the work of the government.
For Chernor Bah, expenditures and administrative costs done by the current administration including fuel, travel allowances of government officials, giving PIN Codes to health workers and teachers, medical treatment, or the timely payment of salaries to workers, is all a misappropriation of public funds. While he has been able to make claims and allegations of excess and reckless spending under the Presidency of His Excellency, Julius Maada Bio, on some local tabloids, the BBC, and other international news outlets, he has woefully failed to tell how those expenditures have attracted investors and the positive impacts of those engagements on the lives of Sierra Leoneans.
Truth be told, one cannot be holier than the Pope and it will be foolish for someone to assume that international communities are not aware of happenings and developments across the globe. So the days of ‘bush radio’ and political propaganda are over for realities speak for themselves.
Interestingly, one may wonder had Chernor Bah been offered the position of a Press Secretary or his many demands, would he be known today for speaking truth to power, or be seen as an anti-corruption crusader? Definitely no! But that is what desperate souls do, if it is not them, it must not be others.
For times without number, Chernor Bah has reechoed that the Africanist Press is a project; a project to disrupt the good image of the New Direction through blackmail and credible media houses like Global Times newspaper and others that have failed to publish his hogwash publications are been accused of being on government payroll; a claim he has failed to justify.
For some, a government rebuttal would be enough to set the record straight but as the adage goes, rain can beat the skin of a leopard but it can never wash away its spot, and no matter the calumnious report made by the Africanist press or whosoever, it will be hard for the legacies of the New Direction to be washed away with a wave of the hand.
Copyright: Lans Fofanah @News 24 .