By Amin Kef Sesay – 18 August 2019
Newly-elected President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla aka D’ Monk, on15th August, 2019 at the British Council hall gave his maiden inauguration address.
Speaking before a galaxy of journalists and guests, he thanked the outgoing Executive, especially the three who were actually going out; President Kelvin Lewis, Vice President Sammy Haffner and former Assistant Secretary General Sulaiman Stom Koroma.
He went on to state that the SLAJ constitution proscribes guidance ‘we need as we try to settle and pursue our goals.’
He spoke about presiding over an executive which considers continuity with the good programmes, as he is determined to push SLAJ forward. He urged all and sundry to maintain the good attitude and dedication to teamwork.
He thanked the general membership, saying he believes that the lessons learnt will be taken in good part. ‘It is time to roll-up our sleeves and buckle our boots. Let’s get to work. The challenges ahead are many, but we are determined. We’ll listen; we’ll consult and we’ll engage,’ he said.
He maintained that his priority challenge is two-fold: The first is to accomplish the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, adding that we are encouraged that our determination seems to be in sync with the political will of the leadership of the current government of Sierra Leone. But so it was again with the previous government.
The second historical challenge, according to him, is to ensure responsible practice across the board, even with our politically motivated colleagues.
‘We have a program on Mentorship and Training. We will knock on as many doors as possible for support in the area of general media trainings, specialized trainings, capacity building and sustainability for our membership and their media houses. We will work with the Mass Communications Department at Fourah Bay College to support us develop training formats. We therefore urge all practicing journalists, as well as PROs, who are not yet members of SLAJ to come under the umbrella body, when we announce the notice for new intakes. We will reconstitute our Disciplinary Committee and give them the necessary support to be proactive, efficient and effective,’ D; Monk said.
He said however that in the meantime, ‘we encourage our colleagues to apply the same professional and ethical ethos provided in our Code of Practice and the IMC Code of Practice on any media platform they ply their trade. We want to caution our colleagues, and the general public- especially the so-called citizen journalists- that the seditious laws, criminal libel laws and the civil defamation laws (in fact the whole of Part 5 of the infamous Public Order Act of 1965) are applicable on social media as well. So be mindful with your exchanges on social media; be careful with your opinions, your posts, what you culled and what you share’ he warned.
He had words of encouragement for Regional Executives, affiliate bodies – SWASAL, SLRU, WIMSAL, SLCRA, PPG etc., including The Guild of Editors and Radio & TV Station Managers.
He said they will work closely with the IMC, NATCOM and MRCG.
He noted that ‘finance is our biggest hurdle to efficiently administer SLAJ and support our regional executives and affiliate bodies.’ He added that the only way SLAJ can get money, apart from membership dues which are meagre, and the government subvention which we have started receiving, is through grants or projects.