BY KABS KANU :
There are some people you just love and respect from the word go. Mr. Unisa Sesay, the happy-go-lucky former Communications Director at State House and now an Information Commissioner is just one such man. I loved and respected him without even first setting eyes on him , and when we met for the first time during the 2011 United Nations General Assembly in New York, we struck a cord. The excitement and enthusiasm of meeting each other for the first time was profuse and mutual. We worked excellently together and we always took breakfast and lunch together. He would always wait for me to arrive from New Jersey before we went down the Intercontinental Hotel to their buffet to enjoy our breakfast .
I respect Mr. Sesay’s work as a member of what I have labelled the Government and Presidential press corps.
UNISA SESAY : Allowed ignorant panelists to lure him into bellful talk in Freetown last Saturday.
However, Mr. Unisa Sesay joined forces last Saturday with some ignorant public officers to try to tarnish the good name of his colleagues in the press corps and I am not happy with him fpr doing so .
There are some faceless officials in Freetown, who after stuffing themselves with Fufu and bitter leaves , backed with liquor , perpetually engage in what I have often described as BELFULL TALK ( Sleepy, foolish , vain and meaningless after-dinner banter ). This was the kind of discussion we heard on SLBC-TV last Saturday evening. The panelists looked like men who had overeaten and had had too much to drink, and needed only their couches to recuperate from the hangover. They were so out of touch with the reality in the government international media that only vain babblers like them would have found any sense in what they were discussing. But this is what you get when you have public officials who have ears , eyes, brains as well as a mouth, but use one more than the others( Their mouths ).
I respect Unisa Sesay’s power of observation, and that is why I am still at a loss to understand how Mr. Sesay could have joined forces with a bunch of losers during a discussion on SLBC-TV to make such a silly statement that government press attaches and media operatives working in the diaspora did not understand their work and were doing nothing to defend President Ernest Koroma and Government from attacks.
Only people who just woke up from a Rip Van Winkle-like slumber would fail to see how much some of the press attaches and some of the government media operatives abroad are working very hard to defend and protect the government from the maelstrom of media attacks from opponents of President Ernest Koroma and the Government, and the obviously biased Western and international media. One only has to read our online papers and our articles and the work sent by some of the press attaches, or go the social media, to see how the government is solidly being defended by the media personnel and APC operatives abroad and how those panelists in that program talked nonsense last Saturday.
When supporters of the opposition, the government’s detractors and the errant British Parliament and Guardian newspaper last week completely distorted circumstances and events surrounding the detention of journalist Dr. David Tam Baryoh under the State of Emergency regulations, we have only been waiting to get all the facts to the contrary. Now that we have the truth, ironically from Dr. Tam-Baryoh himself who has stoutly rebutted the reports that he was beaten and jailed among hardened criminals, Unisa Sesay and his hollow men should wait and see how we are going to deal with the British Parliament and the Guardian newspaper.
In the face of all the media psychodrama around , some of us have been proactive and have not allowed any allegation against President Ernest Koroma and the government to pass without response. Whether it was Sorious Samura’s botched Timbergate investigative report or Emmerson’s discordant musical diatribe against the government, or the “After You Nar You ” uproar in the social media or the general misunderstanding among Sierra Leoneans about the State of Emergency provisions or the constant efforts by the Western media to profile, stigmatize or ostracize our President and government , we have always responded robustly. We invite Mr. Unisa Sesay, Mr.Abdul Karim Mbawah and others to read our editorials and op/eds in COCORIOKO , which, I do not need to tell them , is one of the biggest and most widely-read Sierra Leonean newspapers in the international world , a paper so recognized for its treatment of Sierra Leone issues that the CDC has asked that the paper become one of the reference resources for the fight against Ebola. In addition, Cocorioko has a very strong presence in the social media , with one of the largest Sierra Leone forums, where we also defend the President and government so vigorously that we receive the brunt of the verbal abuse, blackmail and threats directed at pro-government media operatives. Not a week passes without a bitter clash between me and the President’s and the government’s detractors . While some public officials are busy chasing juvenile girls in Freetown, it is some of us the media in the diaspora, who spend sleepless nights defending this government and being fought brutally and subjected to all kinds of profanities and caricature by detractors of the government. Many people have asked me how I cope with the verbal abuse by the increasing rude anti-government operatives.
There are other government-employed media personnel who have been in the trenches fighting doggedly to counter every wild and false allegation against President Koroma and the Government. Mr. Pasco Temple, the Information Attache in Washington DC, frequently lock horns with the government’s detractors in the social media. Where were Unisa Sesay and his collaborators last week when Pasco Temple and I held Facebook spellbound with verbal skirmishes with people who wanted to give an inaccurate picture about State of Emergency ? Mr. John Baimba Sesay in China is very active in the social media promoting the works of the government. Mr. Sorie Sudan Sesay, the Information Attache in the UK, who is Publisher of SIERRA UPDATE, another most widely-read newspaper online and in print , has also been fighting dauntlessly to defend the government. The Information Attaches in Belgium , the UAR , Germany and Ethiopia , Messrs Chernor Ojuku Sesay , Alhaji Jalloh , Umaru Jah and Abdul Karim Koroma respectively and Mariama Coker in Liberia , are also doing a magnificent job and deserve commendation. The Information Commissioner ( North ) , Mr. Daniel Kanu, is another active defender of government in the social media. Not all these attaches are involved in fights with the anti- government operatives , to be frank, and I wish they do, but they are advertising the activities of government, and that too is commendable.
We must also give credit to many APC operatives, who , though not formally employed , are defending the government heroically in the social media. People like Umaru Jalloh, Gunter Daramy, Tunde Scott, Ahmed Taqi, Manso Turay, Septimus Kanu, Lamrana Bah, Moses Ben Kanu, Unisa Thorlu Conteh, Abubakarr Kamara, Abdul Tejan Kargbo, Susan Bona, Rose Zizer, Alhassan Spear, Amadu Manjamadu, Numeh Sesay , Gombu Smart etc.etc are contributing one way or the other in repelling attacks on the government.
If Mr. Unisa Sesay and others do not know the importance of social media today in getting across the government’s agenda and achievements, I would advice they take courses on the NEW INFORMATION ORDER and the NEW MEDIA. Any government that loses the battle for hearts and minds in the social media will soon lose its foothold on power. This is the reason that we are all encamped at the social media. In today’s media architecture, that is where the battle is won or lost. We are determined not to allow the opposition and detractors to establish a stranglehold in the social media and we have been successful, otherwise people would not have been so intent to abuse us with the vehemence one often sees.
Another thing that Unisa and those other poor panelists should realize is that in today’s media configuration, no government will be able to silence dissent completely. In the olden days of the 1970s and 1980s when the World-Wide Net was unavailable, governments were able to silence detractors by controlling newspapers and the radio and TV. In today’s world, dissent operates alongside government media promotion and advocacy because nobody , not even the greatest nation in the world –the U.S.–can control the internet and social media . Today, every Dick, Tom and Harry has a voice , thanks to the internet and social media. Anybody can set up a blog or online newspaper or forum or open a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, through which he can launch all kinds of attacks on Presidents, ministers , government officials and even private citizens and enemies. Nobody is immune from scurrilous attacks today. Therefore, the fact that the government is being attacked from all angles does not mean that government press attaches and media personnel are not doing their jobs. At best, they are presenting the government’s side of the story and that is the most important thing today in our uncontrollable infomedia-saturated world.
Though I do not want to blow my own horn, I must let Mr. Unisa Sesay and his acolytes know that I have granted interviews with credible international newspapers and TV to defend President Ernest Koroma and Government on the Ebola efforts in Sierra Leone , in my capacity as Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN. I have also met with CDC and U.S. Department of Health officials as well as help to organize press conferences with the international media to get the Sierra Leone Government position and efforts to beat Ebola to the international world. Even this week, we will be organizing yet another international press conference, featuring the Deputy Government Spokesman, Mr. Ajibu Jalloh.
The problem with misguided officials in Freetown is that they think that the whole world revolves around them. They do not know that there are people in the diaspora working harder and better than them.