19th November 2016: OPEN LETTER TO HON. MOHAMED BANGURA, THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS
Dear Honourable Minister,
I write to express my sincere frustration over your failure and inability to maintain very good external relationship between the people and the Government of Sierra Leone.
Upfront, let me recall an example of your cultivating bad relations. In August this year, you wrote a letter to me ordering me to retract a very very credible report I wrote in Awareness Times. You were just trying to intimidate me because you felt I was a woman whom you could bully. You forgot that though I am the iron lady, I am the owener of the Nation’s most widely read newspaper. That bullying act of yours drew my attention as to whether you really know what you are doing in trying to intimidate a popular newspaper instead of try to woo it over to your side. I have since studied you to understand if the points raised by your critics about your credibility and ability to head the ministry, prior to, and during your parliamentary approval are indeed true.
What I have concluded from closely studying you is that, your flawed leadership of that ministry has exposed other ministers and supporters of the All Peoples Congress (APC) Government to ridicule and unnecessary hates. On a daily basis, our government leaders and supporters are subjected to needless molestations because you have not provided the protective shield they deserve.
Most importantly now, is the inability of your ministry to respond to the outcry of the public over the arrest of one Theresa M’boma for allegedly circulating hate messages on social media.
In the meantime, I do not want to ask about the position of the government in response to your insistent lapses. However, I want to unreservedly blame you for the current public dismay against the government of His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma. This is a result of your failure to educate the public about the arrest of Theresa M’boma for a period now spanning over three days. I feel this is a cause for concern.
Just two days ago, outgoing American President, Barack Obama during his ongoing last world tour, stood shoulder to shoulder with German leader Angela Merkel and warned all leaders around the world not to underestimate Social Media. People could see the pains in Obama’s eyes as he hinted of how unchecked propaganda on social media got voters in America to vote his party out of office. Angela Merkel agreed that all governments should not leave any propaganda on Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp unchallenged. What the two powerful World leaders were saying is that Social Media is now more powerful than their governments. Social media is the humbling equalizer wherein governments have to swallow humble pie and engage the governed citizens toe to toe. If not, they lose office. Like Donald Trump has used social media to cause Obama’s party to lose power.
Despite this growing awareness of the power of social media, when one comes down to Sierra Leone today, there is not even a single statement that has been issued by your ministry on such a very very important State issue that has dominated social media for many days now. This is totally unserious of you!!!!!!
Instead of focusing on your job, you are more or less concerned about issuing a Minute Paper in which your ministry is threatening more arrests for social media users. This is totally disgusting!!! The questions now in the minds of many are: at this moment, is such a Minute Paper really addressing the demand of the public?? Or is it that you do not know your job??
Administratively, it is obligatory on your ministry, as the official mouthpiece of government, to elucidate on the position of government on the arrest, because it is clear that Theresa may have been charged for Publishing False News or for Seditious Libel – both of which, we all know, are crimes against the State.
The public demands answers to what actually are the contents of the charges levied against Theresa. The public is restless as the detractors are having a field day with your silence over the matter. Nature abhors a vacuum so your silence is being filled by propaganda from Ernest Koroma’s detractors.
Let me also at this point clearly state that I am not questioning the court’s indictment of Theresa. Also, I am not questioning the actions of the erudite magistrate of the court on the case so far. Instead I am asking the Ministry of Information and Communications to educate the general masses on why Theresa was arrested and charged. Keep us informed so we can better make our judgment.
Apparently, most people are afraid of even asking you these questions for fear of being arrested. Far from me!!! I serve my conscience and the people of Sierra Leone. I cannot continue to live in a situation like a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat, that is not even in there. Therefore, I demand answers to my points raised.
Why was Theresa M’boma arrested? Tell the people Mr. Government Spokesman. Issue an official signed and stamped Public Notice that will clearly inform the citizens as to why the lady is in jail. Speak out Mr. Government Spokesman!!!!!
Whilst I await your timely response to my request, I also hope that you will put on a proactive stance and learn to take your job seriously. Or better still, resign from your position if you think that you are unfit for the numerous pressures you are faced with.
Dr. Hon, Sylvia Blyden
Awareness Times Newspaper.