SLAJ President Underscores that Engagement Does Not Signify Weakness but Strength

Cautioning President Bio…

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Ahmed Sahid Nasralla
Ahmed Sahid Nasralla

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

Maybe those who have been dogmatically nurturing the wrong notion that the media is of late not calling things by their real names may by now having a rethink when they listened to the remarks of the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla , during the engagement between President Julius Maada Bio and the Civil Society Organizations plus the Media on the 18th August, 2022 in the wake of the August, 10 violent protests.

The SLAJ President started by re-echoing SLAJ’s condemnation of the unfortunate incidents starting from August 8th to the violent protests of August 10th, 2022 extending, on behalf of the Association,  heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, including police officers, as a result of those incidents.

He told President Bio that various sections of the populace should take responsibility for what has happened- the Government, the Opposition, the Security Sector, the Media, CSOs, our Traditional and Religious leaders, Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora reiterating that all of us are responsible.

The unassuming President of SLAJ opined that if there was have a correctional center as big as Freetown, he would have recommended that all those he has mentioned were responsible should spend some time there in order to go through some form of mindset rehabilitation before released back to their respective communities and society at large.

He, however, digressed that since we don’t have that, the engagements the President has started with key stakeholder groups in the country can suffice underscoring that such is the way the President must go.

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla cautioned that, as a nation, we need to pipe down maintaining that we are playing too much politics and the politics is dividing us across the middle.

“The politics is diverting and distracting Government from focusing on the NEW DIRECTION that you promised Sierra Leoneans,” he intimated the President and by extension all Sierra Leoneans.

He emphasized that the too much politics is promoting hate and hypocrisy; undermining patriotism, nationalism, and peace and national cohesion.

“The too much politics is eroding our core values of labour and expect, dignity in labour, excellence, dedication to duty, integrity and trust,” he continued stressing and admonished all to please de-escalate.

The SLAJ President told President Bio that as Father of the nation he should be the last person to get angry provided if he wants to get angry at all.

He continued telling the President that his approach in response to the unfortunate incident in the country should be conciliatory in tone and in action.

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla admonished the President to tell the citizenry that he understands the problems of the country and he is doing something about addressing them and to tell them in the language they understand and by stressing that that doesn’t mean people should take the law into their hands.

He called for deliberating the problems and for all to play a role in addressing them as the President is doing now with various stakeholder groups in the country underscoring that it is the way to go calling at the same time to punish law breakers using due process.

“In the midst of our problems let us sit down and talk. Lek we kin say pa krio- mek we sidon talk man to man,” he reiterated calling for engagement saying such  is not a sign of weakness but strength averring how the President will succeed to break down recalcitrant and ill-motivated people when he talks with them rather than talk to them or talk at them.

He stated that as a leader of a smaller but very troublesome community within the bigger Sierra Leone community such is the approach he is using and it is yielding good results for the media in Sierra Leone.

He commended the President by maintaining that under his leadership, they have achieved great things for the media in Sierra Leone adding how he cannot solve the problems of the media because they are many likening them to onion shells of which when one peels one layer another layer appears maintaining that he could only do his best.

The SLAJ President said it is the same with the President expressing the view that he can only do his best and posterity will judge him.

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla stated that SLAJ is calling for an independent and impartial inquiry into the incidents of August 10th to get to the bottom of the underlying issues suggesting that the law should take its course.

He said images of the August 18th violent protests were shown on international media screens across the world; and now they are also showing images and reporting news stories of extra judicial killings and unlawful arrests and detention of civilians lamenting that such is not good for the country, not good for the President’s leadership underscoring how those are the things the international community will use to evaluate the country stressing that is not the Sierra Leone that we all know and love.

To the opposition, the SLAJ President advised them to please change their approach expressing the view that as opposition their responsibility is to provide an alternative to the Government averring that they are a shadow Government; a Government in waiting.

He said if Government says it is going to build a bridge from Freetown across to Lungi and it will cost the country X amount and it will take Y years to complete, all expect the opposition to give the masses an alternative.

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla said  it is expected of the opposition to say that it is good to have a bridge to Lungi but it is a long term project with huge capital and as an opposition, and if we were in Government, we will focus on the immediate needs by procuring 2 or 3 ferries as it will cost us less, and it will ease the transportation challenges to and fro Lungi in the interim.

He said that is the kind of opposition we want.

“Nor to Opposition wea just de go en hol meeting all over the place and fan ethnic rivalry and say den wan ya we de pull dem na power by all means,” he said.

The SLAJ President intimated that he does not remember the opposition condemning and calling on the public to disregard the invectives, inciting audios and videos coming from Adebayor and his likes, all of which basically makes the elected Government unpopular and favors them as Opposition.

“The Government is stretching its hand for dialogue, reach out and grab it,” he told the Opposition stressing that their role is not to undermine the Government of the day but to work with it in the interest of the general good.

To Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora he said they also need to pipe down expressing the view that before now they were a blessing to the country through their endless and much needed remittances to family members and loved ones to help cushion the difficult economic situation.

He lamented that nowadays, some of them have become something else as all they seem to be doing now is to share vulgar and inciting audios and videos far and wide because  they have unlimited data.

“You open unregulated online TVs, radios and Facebook live programs to talk about issues happening at home that you know very little about,” he expressed disgust and asked what they are actually doing out there.

He told them that when they succeed in burning the country, then they will not have a motherland to come back to and will spend the rest of their lives as slaves in other people’s countries.

To the media he said he has responded as if the media is the only Saint left in the country saying they are absolutely not as they are equally liable for what is befalling the nation.

He said the media, as it is usually said, is a clear reflection of the society called Sierra Leone and so the media is part of the problem.

The SLAJ President, trying to qualify his condemnation, said there is a newspaper called, “Night Watch”, which is notorious for criticizing Government.

He said during the sit down strike the newspaper carried the banner headline on its front page:  “Adebayor is Popular than President Bio”.

Again, he pointed out that the day after the President gave his stern nationwide address in response to the August 10th incident, the newspaper got the message correctly and carried the following headline: “Maada Bio is in Control”.

He said he is  not sure he is the right person to evaluate the media saying he will  leave that to the people and pleaded for help  to make the media become better placed to safeguard democracy and promote peace and national cohesion.

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla disclosed collaboration with the international community to see how they can work together to strengthen the media to play their part in the coming elections in a professional and responsible manner also calling for the need to invest in public interest media to prevent the media from being used as a tool to destabilize this nation.

With regards the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) he said we are all mourning with them as they have lost loved ones but they should also be concerned about the living further encouraging the SLP to show concern for civilian lives lost and for those that have been arrested and detained by respecting their rights to legal representation and justice.

“Finally, Mr. President, I say to all of us that the responsibility to ensure the security, stability, peace, and national cohesion does not only lie with the State, or the Police or the Army but all of us,” he concluded.

 

 

 

 

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